September 26th, 2014
Friday Tennis Blog: Can a Woman Coach Davis Cup?
CAN WOMEN COACH MEN? — Not according to Rafael Nadal’s coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, who commented negatively upon the landmark appointment of Gala Leon as Spain’s first female Davis Cup captain. Even after Andy Murray appointed Amelie Mauresmo as his coach, and the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs named Becky Hammon as assistant coach, Toni Nadal said Davis Cup captain is not a women’s job. “There’s a lot of living together within a locker room, and it’s not appropriate to have a woman [there],” he said. Leon at a press conference assured the agitated male factions she would simply “knock on the door.” Rafael Nadal for his part came out in support of Leon. The coaching position came open after former world No. 1 Carlos Moya stepped down following Spain’s shocking upset at the hands of Brazil in the Davis Cup Playoffs round, which knocked the perennial powerhouse out of the World Group for 2015. Seven of Spain’s Top 12 players bowed out of the tie against Brazil with injuries or other reasons.
CAN BABY GATORS BITE? — One of the most feared women’s teams in college tennis will be one of the youngest this season as the Florida women’s squad attempts to bounce back after losing the winningest class in UF history — graduating seniors Olivia Janowicz, Sofie Oyen and Alex Cercone. For 2013-14 that leaves the Lady Gators with no seniors, one junior, four sophomores, and big expectations for the incoming freshman class of Brooke Austin (Indianapolis, Ind.), Josie Kuhlman (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) and Peggy Porter (Dallas, Tex.). “What I like about this team, even though we’re young, we really have some big ball strikers on this team,” said UF head coach Roland Thornqvist. The Gators will lean on the leadership of junior Brianna Morgan (Beverly Hills, Calif.), ranked No. 14 in the ITA pre-season rankings. The UF women’s have reached the NCAA team final in three of the last four years, winning the championship back-to-back in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.
LI NA NO MAS — Women’s tennis took a blow this past week when China’s 32-year-old Li Na announced her forced retirement due to a knee injury. Li, after becoming the first player to win two Slams after the age of 29 and rising to world No. 2, was looked at to challenge Serena Williams for the No. 1 ranking, but knee injures have been a constant for the No. 2 endorsement earner in all of women’s sports behind Maria Sharapova. More importantly, the WTA loses its flagship player for its lucrative Asian market, and journalists lose interview opportunities with the humorous beer-loving tatooed non-traditional piercings-sporting player who never hesitated to show her personality or make fun of her husband in interviews.
Americans in Asia
No Americans remain in action this week at the WTA Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open in China, or on the men’s side at the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur or the Shenzhen Open in China, but U.S. players will be loading up next week in Asia.
The China Open in Beijing, a duel ATP/WTA event, will feature John Isner on the men’s side, and U.S. women direct acceptances Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, Coco Vandeweghe, Christina McHale, and Allison Riske.
Another ATP stop, the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo, will feature U.S. main draw acceptances Donald Young, Steve Johnson and Jack Sock.
They Said It
“Later, tears came from the other side of the podium: One reporter began to cry when he was passed the microphone, becoming too choked up to deliver his question. Li quickly started crying, too, and offered to share her tissues.”
— The New York Times reporting on the retirement press conference of two-time Grand Slam winner Li Na in China
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, she said yes? She doesn’t have a partner already?’ I really thought I was just in a bad situation, not going to have a partner. Then look what happened.”
— Florida’s Jan Abaza, who asked Melanie Oudin to play doubles via Facebook, with the pair going on to win the USTA Pro Circuit event in Albuquerque
“I’m not a guy who’s like a general. I was a player, so I know when to back up, when to push him…He needed a little kick. I made this kick. Look at him now. He’s on the top.”
— The humble Goran Ivanisevic, coach of US Open champ Marin Cilic
Tennis on TV This Weekend
(times subject to change)
3-10:30am — ATP Kuala Lumpur/WTA Wuhan (live), Tennis Channel
6-8pm — ATP Kuala Lumpur (delay), Tennis Channel
8-11:30pm — WTA Wuhan (delay), Tennis Channel
12-6:30am — ATP Kuala Lumpur/WTA Wuhan (live), Tennis Channel
6:30am-1pm — ATP Kuala Lumpur/WTA Wuhan (delay), Tennis Channel
8-10pm — WTA Wuhan final (delay), Tennis Channel
2-4pm — ATP Kuala Lumpur (delay), Tennis Channel