Monday, December 31, 2007

Szavay says goodbye after first round

Yuliana Fedak took Agnes Szavay out in the first round at Gold Coast

Agnes Szavay, considered one of the brightest up-and-coming stars on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, failed to shine bright enough to beat an in-form Yuliana Fedak, who defeated her 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 in the first round at Gold Coast. Fedak has inconsistency problems, but when she's on, she can be a threat. In the last year--like her countrywomen, Julia Vakulenko and Kateryna Bondarenko--Fedak has raised the level of her game considerably. Unfortunately, at the same time, Ukraine's top player, Alona Bondarenko, has struggled.

I think the injury-plagued Vakulenko has the most potential, but Kateryna Bondarenko is also looking quite promising.

Injured Shaughnessy retires in first round at Gold Coast

Poor Meghann Shaughnessy. She arrived at the Mondial Women's Hardcourts tournament at the last minute because she had played (and won) in Serena Williams' place at the Hopman Cup. But in the middle of leading Francesca Schiavone (6-0, 1-0), she injured her left knee and had to retire.

What a way to begin the season: defeating Mirza, then taking a solid lead against Schiavone, then getting hurt. Here's hoping she's okay for the Australian Open.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Petrova goes out in first round at Gold Coast

Tathiana Garbin, putting up what appeared--from my view of the electronic scoreboard--a hell of a fight, defeated second seed Nadia Petrova, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of the Mondial Women's Hardcourts in Gold Coast. I didn't follow the first set, but the second was interesting, with Garbin breaking Petrova at 4-3, then serving for the set and getting broken back. It went to 5-all, and Petrova had a break point on Garbin's second serve, yet Garbin not only held, but then broke Petrova again. I missed much of the third set, but it appeared to go Garbin's way from the outset, when she got an early break.

Next up for Garbin is the winner of the Razzano-Cibulkova match.

Serena Williams arrives in Perth in style...

Defeats Hopman Cup opponent Lucie Safarova, 6-0, 2-6, 7-5. Williams' late arrival was covered by Meghann Shaughnessy.

Bryanne Stewart writes first tour blog of the season

Australia's Bryanne Stewart, the first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour blogger, is also the first player to write a tournament blog, from Gold Coast, in 2008.

Top qualifying seeds taken out in both Gold Coast and Auckland

Mondial Women's Hardcourts tournament top qualifying seed Chan Yung-Jan has been defeated in the second round of qualifying by Australian Christina Wheeler. Likewise, the ASB Classic number one qualifying seed, Jill Craybas, was defeated by Zhang Shuai of China, also in the second round of qualifying.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Chakvetadze getting treatment for left hand

Women's Tennis Blog has the latest news on Anna Chakvetadze, who is receiving acupuncture treatment on her left hand. Following the robbery at her house, Chakvetadze has had trouble getting back the feeling in her fingers because the criminals bound her wrists so tightly.

Shaughnessy downs Mirza at Hopman Cup

Meghann Shaughnessy, substituting for Serena Williams at the Hopman Cup, proved to be a worthy substitute when she defeated Sania Mirza, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. However, Shaughnessy and Mardy Fish lost to Mirza and Rohan Bopanna in their doubles match.

Williams is scheduled to play on Monday. Her opponent will be Lucie Safarova, who has already lost one match, to Alicia Molik.

Vakulenko withdraws from Gold Coast

If I had to guess who would be the first player to get injured this season, Julia Vakulenko would be one of my guesses. She has hurt her right wrist, and has withdrawn from the Mondial Women's Hardcourts tournament. Also, Yaroslava Shvedova retired during her first qualifying round against Zheng Jie; I do not know the reason for the retirement.

Friday, December 28, 2007

My 2007 list

Every year, sports writers say that it was a great year for tennis. And every year is a great year. This year was a poignant year, however. A lot happened. Here is my take on it:

Justine Henin, hands down. Henin is a brilliant tennis player who, despite a number of very thorny obstacles--a debilitating virus, personal problems, short stature--has come into her own in a very big way. Henin's control of every surface is admirable, her mental toughness is virtually unsurpassed, and her shot-making is dazzling.

Svetalana Kuznetsova. Yes, she's number 2 in the world, but she can now be counted on to mess up consistently at big moments, and sometimes in very big ways. She is especially vulnerable to Henin (kind of like Clijsters was), but she is shaky on many important occasions. My runner-up would be Anna Chakvetadze, who went to pieces in the second half of the season

Daniela Hantuchova. One is tempted to grant this designation to Serena Williams, for her brilliant Australian Open performance, but Williams could not keep the momentum going. Hantuchova, on the other hand, continued her long, slow climb back to the top after a major drop-off of several years, and managed to win two tournaments and get to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Championships, where she performed quite well, despite a 1-2 record.

Ana Ivanovic, who added some brain power to her forehand power. And I give a nod to Sania Mirza for doing the same thing.

This is a tough one, but I'm going to go with Tamira Paszek, with recognition to both Victoria Azarenka and Agnes Szavay.

Jelena Jankovic, who I happen to think is a brilliant player, but who needs to do some serious re-tuning if she is to stay in the top five and win a major. She needs to play less (she says she has taken care of this problem on her 2008 calendar), get a better first serve, get a much better second serve, and beat Henin, in order to get a psychological boost. She has had some surgery to correct her breathing problems, and that will help her, too. But if Jankovic cannot make some changes and win a Grand Slam tournament, she will turn out to be one of the biggest under-achievers in the recent history of women's tennis.

The unfortunate retirement of the great Martina Hingis. Cocaine is not a performance-enhancing drug, so even if she used it, what kind of crazy system punishes her for it like this? Hingis probably would not have stuck around too much longer anyway, but her forced 2007 exit is not the way she should have left us.

The other really bad occurrence was the absence of Amelie Mauresmo because of health problems. First it was the appendicitis, then the resulting injury after she recovered. She says she's in good health now, so we can hope for a great 2008.

The Tennis Channel--but the commentary has gotten worse lately, so I'm not exactly endorsing it.

The perennial winner--ESPN

Kim Clijsters, who left the tour long before we wanted her to. Clijsters, who left abuptly because of her pregnancy, had already planned to quit this year because of her poor, broken body.

Patty Schnyder honed her serve to make it better than ever, finessesed her way to some more finals, and still didn't win them.

Serena Williams, who came from kind of nowhere and blew everyone away.

Marion Bartoli, who--channeling Monica Seles--whacked both Jankovic and Henin to get to the finals of Wimbledon. Winning the whole thing would have been even better, but still, the artless, nonconforming Bartoli gave me my most exciting tennis-watching moments of 2007.

Zvonareva enrolls in Russian Diplomatic Academy

Vera Zvonareva, Russia's comeback player who suffered a wrist injury this season, has enrolled in the Russian Diplomatic Academy and is majoring in world economics. She has also begun publishing a blog.

Friday cat blogging--post-Christmas edition

Ziggy Stardust throws himself into the celebration

Roxie goes after the newest catnip mouse in her vast collection

Velma and new toy Josephine get ready for sleep

And an exhausted Tarzan guards the last embers of the Christmas fire

Shaughnessy steps in for Williams

The U.S. Hopman Cup female entrant, Serena Williams, will not be in Australia for the opening round this Saturday, which she was scheduled to play with partner Mardy Fish against India's Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna. Williams is ill, but says she plans to get to Perth some time over the weekend. In the meantime, Meghann Shaughnessy will play on Saturday.

If all goes well for Williams, she will play Lucie Safarova on Monday.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Tour corrects Goolagong oopsie, sets tennis history straight

It always struck me as a bit odd that the great Evonne Goolagong (who later became Goolagong Cawley) was never number one in the world. Well, it turns out that she was, if only for a brief period. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour found some lost paperwork, and discovered that for two weeks in 1976, Goolagong was 8/10 of a point ahead of then-number one Chris Evert.

So, since the beginning of computer rankings in 1975, Goolagong is now one of sixteen women to have attained the status of being number one in the world. The tour has presented her with a Waterford crystal trophy, which the Australian player called "the best Christmas present."

And once again, I give you this charming 1981 tribute to Goolagong, the player who first drew me into a lifetime of enthusiasm for women's tennis.

Henin wins U.S. Sports Academy Athlete of the Year poll

Hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world voted in the 2007 United States Sports Academy "Athlete of the Year" poll this month, and the winner on the female side is Justine Henin. Second place goes to Venus Williams.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Update on Stosur withdrawal

A couple of days ago, I posted the news that Sam Stosur had withdrawn from both the Mondial Women's Hardcourts tournament and the Australian Open. At the time, my fear was that Stosur had not fully recovered from her illnesses, but it turns out that she withdrew because she just did not have enough time to prepare. The news is still disappointing, but it is good to know that her health appears to be fine, and she will continue her training on the Gold Coast.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Australia gets yet another tennis player

Russia's Anastassia Rodionova has been granted Australian residency. Rodionova, who favors clay courts, is currently ranked number 78 in the world; her career-high ranking was 63, which she achieved in April.

Stosur withdraws from Australian Open

Unconfirmed word is that Sam Stosur, recovering from two serious illnesses, has withdrawn from both the Mondial Women's Hardcourt tournament and the Australian Open. During her recent training, she said she was not 100% recovered, but expected to be so by the time the season began. I found that a bit suspicious, and am not surprised that she has withdrawn. Very disappointing, however.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Interview with Marion Bartoli

This interview appeared in the Tribune de Geneve a couple of days ago. You may read it in French, of course, but the English translation is rather charming. Bartoli confirms that she is not likely to back down to the French Fed Cup team's demands that she leave her father/coach behind at Fed Cup matches. If she does not play in Fed Cup, she is ineligible to play in the Olympics.

Thanks to for the link.

Rum and Brandi

It's nice to see Kristina Brandi in a new ad for Rums of Puerto Rico. Here in the U.S., we rarely get to see anyone but the famous players in commercial spots.

Many of these are great ads, however, and I never tire of seeing them. One of my favorites--though I hold strong opposition to the very existence of McDonald's--was the briefly-shown McDonald's spot featuring the Williams sisters. The ending always cracked me up.

I regret that American Express did not use its Monica Seles ad during the 2007 U.S. Open. The look on Seles's face while the checkout clerk grunts with every sale ring-up is priceless.

The Sony Ericsson Cybershot phone spot featuring Daniela Hantuchova and Ana Ivanovic playing tennis on rooftop skyscrapers is another one that is very enjoyable.

I like all of the Sharapova Canon ads a lot, and I am especially fond of the first one ("Maria was here"). My favorite Sharapova ad, though, is the Nike "I Feel Pretty" spot. In 2006, when Sharapova ruled every moment she was on court at the U.S. Open, it worked out well that she was also the star of this terribly clever, ironic and entertaining ad.

Friday cat blogging--waiting for Santa edition

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mauresmo says she's ready

Despite her surgery, long recovery and resulting injury, Amelie Mauresmo has not changed her off-season training regimen, which is probably the toughest of any on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Every year, Mauresmo and her group ride their mountain bikes through the Pyrenees, as part of her rigorous three-week off-season training. Her medical advisors gave her the go-ahead to proceed as usual, which is good news.

The 2006 Australian Open champion will be playing at the Gold Coast in the Mondial Women's Hardcourts tournament. It is only the second time in four years that the Frenchwoman has played in a Tier III event.

Nice touch

When a major Sony Ericsson WTA Tour player retires, the tour website invites fans to send messages to the retiring player, and then a few selected messages are published. Today, some of the messages to Paola Suarez are posted on the site, and nestled among them is one from fan Nathalie Dechy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dokic just can't catch a break

All the optimism about Jelena Dokic's new comeback attempt, which she was starting at the Australian Open "wild card" playoffs is now dashed, at least temporarily, because of her latest piece of bad news: Dokic has a thigh injury. She arrived for her quartefinal playoff match with her left thigh heavily strapped, and she retired at 3-6, 1-3.

Contrary to what tournament officials have indicated earlier this year, there will be some "discretionary" (as in "real") wild cards given for the 2008 Grand Slam tournament, so it is still possible that Dokic will get one, provided she is healthy enough to use it. I certainly hope so.

The recipient of Dokic's latest bad fortune was Olivia Rogowska, who will next play Sophie Ferguson.

In the meantime, the wild card playoff's top seed, Monique Adamczak, was upset by Christina Wheeler, who will now face Jessica Moore.

JJ, please say you mean it

Jelena Jankovic, who burned herself out this season, says she will play about half as many tournaments in 2008 as she did this year.

Black and Huber say "Olympics, shmympics" and stick together

If you have yet to wonder what will become of Cara Black, who is from Zimbabwe, during the Olympic Games, consider this: She cannot play with her partner, Liezel Huber, because Huber has become a U.S. citizen. But the two say that they will not do warm-up tournaments with other partners, but will remain a team throughout the season.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Chinese Tennis Association to fine Peng

Behind in the third set in the final of the China Tennis Grand Prix in Guangzhou, Peng Shuai said she was injured and withdrew. She reportedly also complained about the umpire, and failed to appear at the awards ceremony. She will be fined, and a written apology may be requested of her.

Davenport named to U.S. Fed Cup team

Surely no surprise to anyone who follows women's tennis, Lindsay Davenport has been named a member of the 2008 U.S. Fed Cup team. Davenport has not lost a Fed Cup match since 1994.

Chakvetadze tied up and robbed in her house

Thieves broke into Anna Chakvetadze's house Tuesday and stole money and items valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars. Six robbers broke into the house at dawn, tied up the housekeeper and seized the remote control which let them into the house through the garage. Chakvetadze's father, Djambuli Chakvetadze, was beaten, and Chakvetadze herself was tied up. She remained bound for about half an hour, and is reportedly fine. Her brother was asleep during the break-in, and was not hurt. The thieves took $110,000 in cash (an odd thing to have in one's house), as well as jewelry and other goods, valued at around $200,000.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Worthy holiday shopping

After Atalanta offers some very good suggestions for gift-giving that will help women and girls in sports (and not put money in the hands of hypocrites and animal abusers, who have managed to get thousands of women's well-earned dollars over the years). I was especially pleased to learn that there is a Title IX store.

Title IX is, without a doubt, the most misunderstood, misinterpreted piece of legislation in this country. If you are a woman or girl or you want the best for women and girls, it is worth your time to learn how the purpose and function of Title IX have been terribly distorted, mainly by so-called journalists. After Atlanta frequently reports on these distortions, and you can learn more at the Title IX Blog and at Gender Equity in Sports.

Title IX has to do with a lot more than sports, incidentally. It was the brainchild of the great Patsy Mink, who never got over the sting of being turned away from medical school because she was the wrong gender.

Henin wins three consecutive awards

Check it out at Women's Tennis Blog: Justine Henin was just named the International Tennis Federation's World Champion. She also won a couple of awards in Belgium.

de Brito wins Orange Bowl

In dramatic compensation for not having won a tournament throughout the 2007 season, Michelle Larcher de Brito won the 2007 Orange Bowl a week ago, defeating American Melanie Oudin, 7-5, 6-3. Prior to the final, Oudin had dropped only one set--to Urzula Radwanska--during the prestigious tournament, she was on a 26-match win streak, and was a favorite to win the Orange Bowl.

Larcher de Brito, who made her Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings debut this year, was, at age twelve, the youngest player to win the Eddie Herr International title. Fans can watch de Brito on television during the summer; she plays World Team Tennis for the Sacramento Capitals.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Only 2 weeks until play begins on the Gold Coast

The Mondial Australian Women's Hardcourts tournament begins on December 31, and marks the return of three important tour players who struggled this year with illness and/or injury. Amelie Mauresmo will make her Gold Coast debut, and Sam Stosur will presumably play both singles and doubles. Mondial will also mark the return of Li Na, who has been in Germany, recovering from a rib injury.

Also on hand for the season's first tournament will be Nicole Vaidisova, Nadia Petrova, Patty Schnyder, Agnes Szavay, Shahar Peer, Sybille Bammer, and defending champion Dinara Safina.

Safina won both the singles and doubles title last year. She defeated Martina Hingis for the singles trophy, and she and her partner, Katarina Srebotnik, won over Iveta Benesova and Galina Voskoboeva.

This is the last year that the tournament will be held on the Gold Coast. Starting in 2009, the Mondial Australian Women's Hardcourts and the Adelaide International, an ATP tournament, will be combined to create a new tournament in Brisbane.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sharapova to be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Maria Sharapova will be Ellen DeGeneres's guest on the last day of the host's annual 12 Days of Giveaways, December 21.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Mirza charged with trespassing

A new, but not surprising, development in the Sania Mirza ad shoot controversy occurred yesterday when the police registered a case against both Mirza and an advertising agency for trespassing on the property of the Mecca Masjid.

You may want to sit down for this piece of news

Radek Stepanek is getting married, after all--to Nicole Vaidisova.

Changes in the 2008 tour calendar

2008 will bring some changes in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour calendar that include upgrades, new placements and the addition of a new tournament. In February, Chile's Cachantun Cup, a Tier III event, will debut. It will be held on the coast in Vina del Mar. Other changes in the first half of the season include upgrading the Bangalore Open to a Tier II, and upgrading the Qatar Total Open to Tier I status, with a purse of $2,500,000. Also, the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo is being moved from February to September.

Another big change will be the movement of the Sony Ericsson Championships from Madrid to Doha. And of course, the Olympics will be held in August in Beijing.

Friday cat blogging--holiday gift edition

Roxie opening her gift last Christmas

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Navratilova named AARP's Health & Fitness Ambassador

Last week, the AARP named Martina Navratilova as its new Health & Fitness Ambassador. As such, Navratilova will take an active role in the activities of AARP's fitness website, and will also participate in AARP events throughout the year.

(Maybe she can also explain to them what a disaster it was when the organization enthusiastically endorsed a social security plan guaranteed to screw all of its members.)

And for the holidays, here is one of Navratilova's tasty salad recipes.

Mirza embroiled in new controversy

First there was the business about her "corrupting influence" and "indecent" clothes. Then there was the uproar over her daring to promote safe sex in a country filled with HIV/AIDS patients. Now Sania Mirza is in trouble again, this time for shooting an ad at the Mecca Masjid, a historic mosque in Hyberabad.

The ad, shot earlier this week, was done without the permission of the minorities welfare department, though the police had been informed about it. Witnesses said that some of the crew entered the mosque with their shoes on, and that one of the shoved a mosque watchman who tried to stop him from entering. The police are said to have used "mild force" to disperse citizens who were gathered around the area to object to the activity.

It is likely that Mirza did not know that proper permission had not been obtained.

Brengle gets Australian Open wild card

Madison Brengle has defeated Alexa Glatch, 6-3, 6-4, to win a wild card in this year's Australian Open.

All wild cards are obtained through competition, i.e., none is being given to a player in the usual wild card sense. I have a problem with the Australian Open continuing to call the spot a "wild card" if it is not obtained in the manner that seems quite obvious a wild card should be obtained. As far as I am concerned, there are no wild cards now at the Australian Open.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sad news for tennis fans: de Jenken retires

If you are a tennis fan, the news that Sandra de Jenken is retiring may hit you as hard as hearing that a top player has retired. We haven't seen that much of de Jenken lately, so it certainly appeared that a change was in the works. She has been appointed Deputy Director of the French Federation of Tennis, and head of the Sports Management Open Tournament.

de Jenken has officiated at thirteen Grand Slam finals and two Olympic events. She was the first woman to umpire a men's Grand Slam final, the 2007 Australian Open final, and she also umpired the 2007 men's Roland Garros final.

I wanted to get a photograph of de Jenken at this year's Family Circle Cup, but just as I went to take it, she descended from the umpire's chair. Now we will be lucky to get a glimpse of her when we watch the French Open on television, for she will be the person in charge.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

What next for Petrova?

Nadia Petrova is currently training in the Turkish resort city of Antalya, and says she has her eye on the Olympics. Earlier this year, she said she had lost her motivation to play tennis and was concerned about her professional future. The talented Russian has not had a very good year, and is perhaps the biggest question mark on the tour.

Back when the Russians were emerging, Petrova was the one mentioned most often as the player most likely to make a big breakthrough first. It did not turn out that way, of course--Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anastasia Myskina all won Grand Slam tournaments, and Elena Dementieva wound up in two Grand Slam finals.

Petrova became more known for her emotional fragility and hot temper than for her tennis, which was a bit unfair because off the court, she is a person of charm and intelligence. She did not even win a tournament until late in 2005, and she probably won that one because her opponent, Patty Schnyder, who was winning the final match, hurt her hand and had to play the last set one-handed.

In 2006, she did a three-tournament clay court sweep. I saw her win in Charleston (much to my dismay--she defeated Schnyder--one of my favorites--who had taken out Justine Henin in the semifinals), and though her opponent's bad judgment helped her along, Petrova's all-court game was superb.

At that time, Petrova looked good to win the French Open, and some of us were excited by the obvious tension of Justine Henin's having some real competition for the title. But then a terrible thing happened: Petrova was injured during a pre-tournament warm-up session, and because of her injury, she was defeated in the first round. (Some tennis fans and the tennis press have a tendency to leave out the injury part when they report Petrova's shocking loss, just as they tend to forget about Lindsay Davenport's 2004 U.S. Open injury).

She was never the same again. Petrova has struggled with her serve, her groundstrokes and her attitude, and she has become error-prone. It is frustrating to watch this very talented player make a backward slide, and one hopes that 2008 will be a good year for her.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Match-fixing spotlight on Sony Ericsson WTA Tour

It should come as no surprise to anyone that several Sony Ericsson WTA Tour players have been approached about throwing matches or providing inside information. On the Baseline has the story.

Friday cat blogging--Portland edition

Bed and breakfast cats in Happy Valley, Oregon gossip about the guests

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Serena Williams gives a preview of her Australian Open outfit

Serena Williams will be wearing white and purple--a white Nike dress with purple accents over purple biker shorts--in Melbourne next month.

Says Williams, "I just think I represent all females out there who believe in themselves."

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A quick glance at the Australian Open entry list

The Australian Open entry list is out, and there are a couple of surprises on it. Evgenia Linetskaya, who I understood was retiring from tennis (and I'm glad she isn't), is in the main draw. So is Elena Likhovtseva, who I thought might be retiring, and who may indeed retire next year.

Speaking of Russians--missing form the list is Vera Dushevina, who is injured.

Some talented players will be competing to qualify for the main draw. These include Yuliana Fedak, Ayumi Morita, Ahsha Rolle, and Zheng Jie, who is returning from a long injury layoff. Bethanie Mattek will also be trying to qualify; it has been a while now since she re-designed her game, so it will be interesting to see what 2008 brings.

Eight wild cards and twelve qualifiers will join the main draw in time.

Dokic looking to make it through Australian Open wild card play-offs

Former world number 4 Jelena Dokic, who has had a harder time of it that maybe any other player on the tour, is now making yet another comeback attempt, this time in her adopted country, Australia. Dokic reports that she has been working very hard and thinks she can get back into the top 50 next year. She has made several attempts to return to the tour, yet none of them has panned out. Now she is hoping to become an Australian Open qualifier.

Though there is heavy competition, Dokic's father would probably make the top of an official Evil Tennis Fathers list, and Dokic's long fall from the tennis elite was quite obviously related to what the press likes to call "family issues," but what is more aptly called abuse and violence.

Stosur continues to recover

Sam Stosur, back in Australia and doing promotional work, is also back on the courts training, and says she is confident she will be 100% recovered from her illnesses by the time she has to play a match. Stosur had viral meningitis, complicated by Lyme disease.

Stosur says she has been reading, going to the movies and hanging out with her friends since she got home.

Groenefeld playing on ITF circuit

Anna-Lena Groenefeld, four months removed from competition, entered a $25,000 tournament near Lisbon last week, and lost to a qualifier. Her last tournament before the one in Spain was a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Tier IV tournament in Stockholm, in which she was defeated in the second round by the often-crafty Tsvetsana Pironkova.

Currently coached by Dirk Dier, Groenefeld's problems have traced to her relationship with former coach, Rafael Font de Mora, whom she accused of taunting her while she played, and of helping her opponents. The unconfirmed word is that Groenefeld and de Mora filed suits against each other.

The German player is currently seeing a sports psychologist, and is working on both the physical and mental aspects of her game. She went from being rail-thin to obese (for an athlete) within a year, and de Mora stated bluntly that it was easy to beat her because she was "so fat."

Groenefeld was number 14 in the world before she took her terrible slide down the rankings.

Davenport gets award from March of Dimes

Lindsay Davenport received the 2007 Sportswoman of the Year award from the March of Dimes last week, in recognition of her many accomplishments and her philanthropic activities.

It always disappoints me when someone like Davenport, who professes to be an animal lover and who has adopted several dogs, accepts money and awards from major animal abusers. First she did the milk ad; the milk industry is not only responsible for abusing millions of animals--it also supplies heavy doses of toxins to the humans who drink its product.

Now it is the March of Dimes, known by many of us as the March of Crimes, so extensive is the organization's abuse of animals, including dogs.

Davenport has yet to issue a word of protest against China's mass dog (including pet dog) slaughter as a way of "preparing" for the Olympics. In all fairness, no other athlete has protested, either (to my knowledge, and to my great disappointment), and the mainstream media has gone out of its way to hide the slaughter from the public.

Fans admire Lindsay Davenport for having both high principles and a spine. I wish she would take a closer look at where her money and awards are coming from.

Monday, December 3, 2007

U.S. Fed Cup coach change in the works

According to Matt Cronin, Mary Joe Fernandez will join Zina Garrison as U.S. Fed Cup team coach next year, and should take over as coach in 2009. Fernandez, possibly the best player to never have won a Grand Slam, is currently a commentator for ESPN.

Henin and Williams both nominated for Athlete of the Year

Justine Henin and Venus Williams have received nominations for the United States Sports Academy Athlete of the Year award, sponsored by and The twelve Athlete of the Month winners are the automatic nominees for the annual award. You have until Christmas day to cast your vote.