May 11th, 2018

Friday Tennis Blog: Serena Delays the Clay; Blind Tennis; More

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Thirty-six is an astounding age to still be playing professional tennis. Roger Federer, 36, wisely bypassed the grueling clay court season to heal injuries and emerge refreshed in June for the grass court season. Now the 36-year-old Serena Williams could follow the Swiss’ lead.

Serena on Wednesday withdrew from next week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, an event she has won four times, on the heels of withdrawing from this week’s Madrid Open.

The former No. 1’s stop-and-start comeback this year has included a Fed Cup doubles appearance and two early tournament losses. Returning to the WTA tour after child-birth is difficult enough, but Serena’s comeback includes the well-document difficulties she faced during and after the delivery of her first child. While she has not yet officially withdrawn from the French, it’s likely she and her team are seeing the benefits of passing on the most physically-demanding of the four Slams for a comeback during the grass court season. The shorter points, lead-up tournaments on grass, and the lavish lawns of Wimbledon will be a welcome sight for the seven-time champion at the All England Club.



USTA Florida extends condolences to the family of Ralph E. Robertson and his wife, the Rev. Kay Nowlin-Robinson, on Ralph’s passing last weekend from cancer.

Ralph was the first student in Art Richards’ Blind Tennis program on public courts in the community of Rotonda West in Charlotte County in Southwest Florida, a program supported by the USTA Florida Section Foundation. A teacher himself, Ralph held classes on how to cope with losing sight for the elderly.

“He loved his tennis,” Richards said. “He saw nothing but dark grey, and she had never held a racquet, but they had been at it since 2015.” Read more here on Ralph, Kay, Art, and the Blind Tennis program in Southwest Florida.



Madison Keys (right) interviews her mom Christine at the USTA National Campus in Orlando

During the month of May the USTA is honoring and paying tribute to tennis moms who support their children reaching their goals at every level of the game. Here’s an adorable and inspirational interview by Madison Keys of her mom Christine. See all the tennis mom’s honored hereOrlando is bidding for the 2022 Special Olympics, which could mean as much as $61 million in local economic impact and nearly 100,000 spectators, families, coaches and athletes, with the USTA National Campus involved as a site…The NCAA Division I Tennis Championships get underway today…The French Open junior draws will be headlined by American world No. 1 juniors Sebastian Korda and Whitney Osuigwe of Florida…Frances Tiafoe, a runner-up last week in Estoril, was the first American male to reach a European ATP-level clay court final in six years…Rafael Nadal’s win on Thursday in Madrid set a new record — 50 straight sets won on clay, breaking John McEnroe’s record of 49 straight sets won on indoor carpet (a surface since supplanted by indoor hard court)…It’s tennis summer camp time in Florida! Parents can find a camp, and tennis providers can register camps and win a Fun Day showcase at their camps during the #SummerOfNetGeneration.

Isner Serves Into Quarterfinals in Madrid

John Isner is the last American standing on the red clay this week at the duel ATP/WTA event in Madrid.

The No. 7-seeded Isner advanced into the quarterfinals after edging Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay in three tiebreaks 6-7(9), 7-6(3), 7-6(4).

The American dropped 32 aces over the three-set span.

Last month as the clay court season got underway, Isner described his perfect conditions, seemingly mirrored this week in Madrid. “If it’s a warm day, the clay is a little bit fast, but it’s also bouncing up high,” he said. “That’s perfect for me. I want a fast court for my serve, but I want a high-bouncing court for the rest of my game. So it’s something that the more you play on, the more comfortable you are moving on clay.”

In today’s quarterfinals Isner will reprise the Miami Open final two months ago when he faces No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev for a spot in the semifinals.


They Said It

Frances Tiafoe

“I bring a different feel, a different swagger to tennis. I’m very easygoing, and very nonchalant, it looks like, when I’m out there — I’ve got a little strut, and I like that. There’s no reason trying to fit in: Just be you.”
— American Frances Tiafoe, speaking to the New York Times

“That [Title IX] exemption allows [schools] to discriminate against the LGBTQ community while receiving federal funding…How is this even legal?”
— 21-year-old CalTech tennis player Julia Reisler writing about bringing change to policy that lets U.S. colleges receive federal funding while discriminating against the LGBTQ community, writing for SB Nation Outsports

“Sadly, what parents want and what parents hope to gain from their children’s participation in youth sports is often at a significant extreme to what the kids actually want.”
Dr. Charles A. Popkin, pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Columbia University Medical Center, speaking to the New York Times on the one-sport focus of parents and year-round training


Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

7am-5:30pm — ATP Madrid (live), Tennis Channel
9-11am — WTA Madrid (live), beIN Sports
2-4pm — WTA Madrid (live), beIN Sports

8am-5pm — ATP Madrid (live), Tennis Channel
8am-noon — WTA Madrid (live), beIN Sports
5:30-7:30pm — WTA Madrid (live), beIN Sports

1-3am — WTA Madrid (live), beIN Sports
6am-2:30pm — ATP Madrid (live), Tennis Channel