May 15th, 2015

Friday Tennis Blog: Serena Sidelined in Rome, Now Teaching Online

Bobby Curtis Junior State Championships Friday Blog Adult Tennis News Youth Tennis News


drug kingpinHow did a college-bound tennis player instead become the U.S.’s biggest drug kingpin? Then return to the game that rejected him, but one that he could never stop loving? Vice Sports spins the story of “Freeway” Rick Ross (not the rapper), whose college tennis hopes were dashed by never learning to read, eventually leading him into dealing drugs. “Tennis helped me in the drug business, without question,” Ross said. “I saw in tennis when I practiced hard how my game improved. When I took to the drug business, I took that same mentality. It’s not over until it’s over. Even though it can be match point, you can go from match point and turn the whole thing around.” Heartwarming stuff! Sounds grim, but the story includes starting a youth tennis program, supporting junior pro prospects, and you won’t believe where it ends up.


serena memeFor $90 you can learn to hit a forehand and more from world No. 1 Serena Williams. The Palm Beach Gardens resident is teaching an online class for the new start-up MasterClass, which sells online courses on a variety of topics (how about an acting class from Dustin Hoffman?). The courses are broken up into 20-24 chapters, and can be accessed from a desktop as well and smart devices. Even if you have a not-so-smart device like an Android phone. You can even upload your groundstrokes to Serena for evaluation — reportedly — but we can’t see her staying up nights to watch 3.0-player groundstrokes. The hip-hop singer Usher has a MasterClass course under production, and has invested an undisclosed amount in the company. No word if Serena is receiving equity as well as payment for helping launch the effort to fix forehands across the globe.


bouchard emojiWho does the best funny-face impressions of emojis? Watch stars such as Serena Williams, Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova take the WTA Emoji Challenge…The entry deadline is coming up for the tournament that spawned former world No. 1s Chris Evert, Andy Roddick, Jennifer Capriati and Jim Courier — the USTA Florida ‘Bobby Curtis’ Junior State Singles Championships…The International Tennis Hall of Fame museum will reopen next week after a $3 million renovation, featuring a hologram Roger Federer. The ghost-Fed will tell why he loves the game and show off some strokes…Not only did Louisa Chirico win the USTA-designated wild card for the French Open, now she wants to face Serena WilliamsAndy Murray won a match at Rome, then pulled out of the tournament citing fatigue. Meanwhile, writers and fans are trying to figure out how he is becoming the king of clay.

Qualifier McHale Remains; Williams Sisters, Isner Out in Rome

Both Serena and Venus Williams exited the Italian Open in Rome on Thursday, taking distinctly separate routes.


Christine McHale points to where she is on the map

Venus was beaten 6-2, 6-1 by the No. 2-seeded Simona Halep, while Serena withdrew from the event, citing a right elbow injury that she wants to give plenty of rest before Roland Garros in just over a week’s time.

“It actually started a little bit in Madrid last week,” said Williams, who lost second round last year at Roland Garros after entering the tournament with a lingering injury. “I’m learning from bad decisions in the past, even last year. I ended up taking four days off before Paris and practiced just a day or two before the tournament started, and you never want to enter a Grand Slam under those circumstances, especially as a defending champion like I was last year…this is the mature decision.”

The decision gives qualifier Christina McHale, scheduled to play Serena, a walkover into the quarterfinals where she will face another qualifier in Russian Daria Gavrilova.

John Isner lost on Thursday 6-4, 6-4 to seven-time Rome winner Rafael Nadal, who looked back to his regular devastating form, breaking Isner once in each set to improve to 6-0 career against the American and set up a meeting with Stan Wawrinka in the next round.

“I [defended] well from the baseline,” Nadal said after the match. “I played with not many mistakes and tried to go for points when I had a chance. I recovered tough balls, had good movement and a few very good passing shots. That is very good for my confidence, too.”

They Said It

Why are fans yelling at players during college matches! Yaaahhhrgh!

Why are fans yelling at players during college matches! Yaaahhhrgh!

“Well, I don’t think [my players] enjoyed someone standing six inches behind them and telling them ‘You suck’ and ‘Your forehand sucks’ and ‘You’re going to double fault’ every time they hit the ball for three hours.”
— Texas coach Michael Center on the new Big 12 Conference rules that allow fans to engage verbally with players during points and NCAA tennis matches.

“I like to see [juniors] play a set because I can see what kind of a tennis I.Q. they have and how resilient they are. Their character is the most important thing. It’s pretty amazing what an individual can do if he/she actually puts whatever it takes to get as far as he/she can. And that’s something that I think sometimes we overlook.”
— USTA Director of Coaching Jose Higueras speaking to The Examiner

“I think he’s a really good coach. I think it was a smart move for me. He’s coached a lot of great players in the past. He’s also a great player himself. I thought I needed some extra information.”
— American teen Frances Tiafoe on bringing coach Jose Higueras onto his team

Tennis on TV This Weekend

(times subject to change)

6am-5pm – ATP/WTA Rome (live), Tennis Channel

8am-4:30pm – ATP/WTA Rome (live), Tennis Channel

7:30am-12:30pm – ATP/WTA Rome (live), Tennis Channel