Tag Archives: Sloane Stephens

I play tennis. Where are you from?

2 Jul

Map showing the Member states of the United NationsThis map does not represent the view of its members or the UN concerning the legal status of any country,[2] nor does it accurately reflect which areas' governments have UN representation.

Tennis: no longer the domain of the USA, Australia and a handful of others, but something more akin to the United Nations.

Take a look at any event week in week out on either the WTA or ATP tennis tours, scan the draw of an ITF Futures or women’s tour event. This week, while the biggest tournament in the world, Wimbledon, is in full swing there are also tour events from Austria to Thailand. In fact 21 nations are hosting tournaments this week alone. The Davis Cup, which started in 1900 as something of a social challenge between the Americans and the Brits, now has 130 nations competing every year. It is the largest annual international sporting event.¬†Tennis is THE global game.

It’s not just the events themselves that are spread across the globe, nor the competitors, but MOST importantly the spread of talent. Look at the line up at Wimbledon for the women’s 1/4 final to help confirm the¬†point. Sabine Lisicki from Germany takes on Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. China’s Li Na faces Agnieszka Radwanska from Poland. American Sloane Stephens will battle France’s Marion Bartoli and Czech Republic lefty Petra Kvitova plays Belgium’s Kristen Flipkens. Eight players from eight countries.

If you still need convincing back it up to the 4th round – Monica Puig (Puerto Rico), Laura Robson (Great Britain), Tsvetana Pironkova (Bulgaria), Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain) and Roberta Vinci (Italy) all give credence to the internationalisation of tennis. Even if you take into account a couple of upset defeats – and plug those players back into the mix, it only serves to reinforce the view. Maria Sharapova (Russia) and Victoria Azarenka from Belarus, as well as seeded players from Serbia, Austria, Australia, Denmark, Switzerland, Slovakia and Romania. Phew. If this is the game you want to play, get yourself a 64 page passport. Tennis – truly international.

The PRO

*PS The PRO tips a Czech Republic versus Poland final with Petra Kvitova to take the title.

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US women. Out of the blue..

2 Jun

Serena Williams came into the final with a 12-0 clay court record on the year, losing just one set.

While US women’s tennis has, on the surface, looked healthy as far back as one cares to think, it has been riding on the dominance of Serena Williams. With a little help from sister Venus over the past 11 years, the “sisters” have amassed 23 Grand slam singles titles between them, Serena with an astounding tour win-loss % of .839 and Venus .800. They have battled every challenger: from Russia, Czech Republic, France, Serbia, China and even Belgium and Denmark have thrown up contenders. All the time they must have been looking in the rear view mirror wondering when, or even if, the cavalry would arrive. Where are the next line of US female players?

Perhaps they can breathe a little easier, after a breakthrough semi-final result for Sloane Stephens at the 2013 Australian Open, including a win over Serena herself. Stephens today joined Serena, Bettina Mattek-Sands and Jamie Hampton in the 4th round of the French Open. Hampton’s was a solid straight set win over WTA#7 Petra Kvitova. Following closely on their heels are improved WTA tour players Melanie Oudin, Christina McHale and Lauren Davis – all under 23 years of age.

And next in line. The prodigious junior talent, lefty, Taylor Townsend. Townsend just 17, won the 2012 Australian Open Junior Girls Singles and is the first US girl to hold the year end world #ITF junior ranking since 1982.

Taylor Townsend tennis.jpg

Taylor Townsend unleashes a forehand

While Serena is in no hurry to abdicate the throne it appears there are now likely candidates pressing their claims. Watch out for Taylor Townsend’s transition through to the senior tour. Perhaps the real question to ask of US tennis: where are the American men?

The PRO