I helped out as a volunteer at the Seattle Classic tennis tournament today.
The tournament is sanctioned by the Gay & Lesbian Tennis Alliance (GLTA). The GLTA is an international body that oversees an impressive worldwide circuit of tennis tournaments (check out the table below).
The tournaments do not have prize money to speak of, but it is a great way of encouraging the LGBT community to participate in the wonderful sport of tennis (of which I am a lifelong fan).
My new Adidas tennis shoes landed on the porch on Friday, shipped all the way from Sharonville, Ohio. (I’m going to play a little social tennis this summer). Sporting goods stores seem to carry very few tennis shoes nowadays. Running shoes and basketball shoes take up all the shelf space, instead.
I guess one can play some tennis in a pinch with any athletic shoe, but proper tennis shoes have a sturdy base, and support for the player’s forefoot and toes that get dragged across the tennis court.
It is almost a done deal, that Seattle will be granted a franchise for a team to join the National Hockey League (NHL). The team actually playing is still two years away. The Key Arena stadium still has to be upgraded, and a team put together – and all that goes with it.
In the meantime, the Seattle Times is running an informal survey of its readers to determine a name and a moniker for the team. It’s now down to the final two: the Totems, or the Sockeyes – after eliminating names such as Seattle Freeze, Seattle Sasquatches and Seattle Emeralds.
The Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (33) set a new world record in the Berlin marathon on Sunday. Roger Robinson writes in Runner’s World that he is now, without question, the greatest marathoner of all time. He won every one of the last nine marathons that he had competed in.
Oh man! What an unfortunate ending unfolded at the 2018 US Open Women’s Final today. Down by one set, in the second set, Serena’s coach gestured to her to ‘move up’ (not allowed). Chair umpire Carlos Ramos gave Serena a warning, which she took very badly – as an insult, and ‘unfair’ – saying that in men’s tennis they get away with coaching all the time, and much more. (She’s right about that, but this was not the time,nor the place, to argue that). She would not stop berating the chair umpire, and at the next change of sides, called him a thief, and demanded an apology. Then she also broke a racquet on the court. When she again launched into a tirade, it was the third violation, and she was given a penalty of a whole game.
As ESPN notes, at least everyone can agree that the winner, Naomi Osaka (20) from Japan, was cheated out of an uncontroversial win.
South African sports legend John van Reenen (71) passed away on Tuesday at his home in Calitzdorp, South Africa. (He suffered from diabetes). He studied art right here in Seattle at the University of Washington until 1971, and was a world-class discus thrower at the time. He wanted to attend the 1972 Olympic Games, but was barred as a South African citizen. South Africans were barred by the IOC from the Games from 1964 to 1992, due to the South African government’s apartheid policies.
At an event in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in 1975, Van Reenen set a world record with a throw of 68.48 m. Discus throwers studied and imitated his technique, known for a long time as ‘the South African drill’. Perfecting a good technique is notoriously difficult – which may be why the world record of German Jürgen Schult of 74.08 m, set in 1986, still stands today. It is the oldest record in all of men’s track and field.
Wow! Kevin Anderson is the first South African in almost 100 years to make it to the Wimbledon Men’s Final (Brian Norton made it in 1921).
The match ran for 6 hrs and 36 minutes, Anderson finally prevailing over American John Isner, with a monster score of 7-6, 6-7, 6-7, 6-4 and 26-24. There is no ‘tiebreaker’ (played at 6-6) in the final set. To win, a player have to lead by two games (called an advantage set).
So far, the US Open is the only major tournament that dictates that a tiebreaker be played even in the final set .. but I bet other tournament committees are now going to look into doing it as well. Long matches such as these wreak havoc on the tournament schedule, and on the eventual winner’s ability to be ready for the next match. The other semi-final between Djokovic and Nadal had to be suspended, and will only be completed on Saturday.
The Wimbledon Men’s Final and the World Cup Final are both set for Sunday. (England plays Croatia on Wednesday for a place in the World Cup Final against France). So far, Wimbledon’s management has refused to budge, and will not reschedule the traditional 2 pm (1300GMT) start time. The World Cup does start two hours later, at 4 pm (1500GMT), but there is no way the tennis final will have been completed by that time.
I guess I will have to toggle back and forth – but if Roger Federer plays on Sunday, I will have to miss some of the soccer.
It might be the last Wimbledon hurrah for Federer, one of the greatest tennis players of all time. He turns 37 in August. Are there any praises still left to sing? asks tennis.com.
Update Wed 7/11: South Africa’s Kevin Anderson beat Federer today in a tough 5-set match (13-11 in the final set). Yay! for Kevin. Aww .. Roger is out after all. And England fell to Croatia, 1-2. So it’s Croatia and France on Sunday.
England went through to the final eight in the World Cup, but they made their fans bite their nails through a penalty shoot-out against Columbia.
One has to feel sorry for the team that loses in a penalty shoot-out. It’s like the tie-breaker in tennis. A stray shot, a lucky break, a bare miss, makes the world of difference between winning and losing.
I try to watch as many World Cup matches as I can, and I just love the bit of pomp and ceremony at the start. The players come out onto the field with the kids, the giant flags are unfurled on the field, the national anthems play, and the game starts.
Cruise ship season is starting up here in Seattle. We saw the Norwegian Pearl from Norwegian Cruise Lines at the pier today. She was scheduled to leave at 4 pm.
Also departing Seattle, were a line-up of yachts taking part in the Clipper Round the World race. The yachts are heading out to Panama, and will make their way up the East Coast to New York. It will take an estimated 26 days to reach Panama, and another 12 to get to New York City from there. Bon voyage!
The Masters started in Augusta, Georgia, today. Gary Player (age 82) and Jack Niklaus (78) were on hand to perform tee shots for the ceremonial opening of the tournament.
Tiger Woods (42) is attempting a comeback, but had a rough start, finishing 7 shots behind Jordan Spieth, the talented 24-yr old Texan.
Check out South African Louis Oosthuizen’s putt on the 16th. He sank a 30-footer by standing with his back to the hole, and judging the sharp break on the putting green perfectly. Big smile and a little shrug of the shoulders afterwards.
I loved the short pairs program of Chinese figure skaters Sui Wenjing and Han Cong. Their music was k.d. lang’s dreamy, languid rendition* of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, and the skaters delivered a flawless and emotional performance. Wow.
*Lang sang it at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
It was great to see the unified Korean team come into the Olympic stadium for the opening ceremony. One could argue that Korea is the only divided country that remains in the world. For example, there was North and South Vietnam (united in 1975), East and West Germany (united in 1990), and South North and South Yemen (also united in 1990). And yes, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, but one cannot see it become one country again.
I read that support for Korean unification is fading, though. Some 50% of young South Koreans regard North Korea as an outright enemy, that they want nothing to do with. The harsh reality is that there is a yawning chasm between the economies of the countries. The per capita income difference between the South and North is 20 to 1. For West Germany and East Germany it was 3 to 1.
Hey! The 2018 Winter Games is underway. US figure skater the ‘quad king*’ Nathan Chen (18) made his debut on Friday in Pyeongchang, but disappointed. He failed to properly execute the quad triple toe, and fell on another jump, ending up in fourth place. ‘Was it nerves? What went wrong?’ inquired an interviewer. “I wasn’t nervous,’ Chen said. ‘I felt pretty comfortable, I was relaxed and ready to go.’ He did admit that he ‘got ahead of myself. I think I was a little too excited.’
*Chen is the first figure skater to land five quadruple lutz jumps (four rotations) in one program. These jumps take a lot of energy, physically and emotionally. Chen is also the only undefeated men’s skater in the world this season.