The Tennis Edition           

 

May 15, 2003

Tennis Clay Court Season

American tennis players sometimes have trouble playing on European clay. I read an article where a player spoke of the difficulties he encountered on the surface because he is not used to playing on it. 

After the Italia Masters last week (which is played on clay), I think the American tennis players need to start a Euroclay support group. 

I also read in the Houston Chronicle that the American clay the players practice on is not the same as European clay. If that's the case, wouldn't it be good if they could accurately replicate European clay here, instead of using a synthetic version, giving players the opportunity to play on alternate surfaces throughout the year. 

We put a man on the moon and rip off European perfumes all the time (the counterfeit ones in the drug store -Aisha pretending she's never bought one- Hey, I love perfume, I buy the expensive and cheap ones as well), certainly tennis court designers can accurately replicate European clay. 

Getting acclimated to the clay couldn't hurt, after all, rankings changed after the Italia Masters last week. It would be like a form of what is referred to as climatizing - similar to how England used cooling vests to help its soccer players cope with the heat and humidity in Japan in the 2002 World Cup.   

 


May 26, 2003

The French Open

I saw a few matches from the French Open today; America is doing well. I don't prefer matches on clay (listen to me, like I'm the one that has to play it). Growing up here, you are mostly used to seeing hard court matches. Actually watching our players slide is quite entertaining, if not more entertaining than the actual tennis, as there is that element of will they go off keel and end up eating clay. I'm kidding, I thought they were graceful and did quite well today, congratulations to them. Actually the ATP paid me to write that (kidding again). 

Funny highlight from a commentator about one of the matches: "If he wins he can forget to see anything like him along the way." I did laugh at that comment (and boy did I laugh), but the player he said that about needs to slap the commentator. I'm kidding.

Profound observation from the commentator: "He's playing hard court tennis on clay."

I was on line speaking to someone during the match and she knew the stats of her favorite player who was competing. I told her well done, but I don't know anyone's stats. If I were playing, I probably wouldn't know my own stats. I'm kidding; I'm not absent minded. - Aisha stops writing- …Mom, have you seen that book I was reading yesterday? I can't find it...Mom replies with her standard answer to such questions, "You don't look for anything" (Mom goes to find the book). That's cause if I say that, I know she will go find it for me. Shhh don't tell her I said that.      

What was really funny and a bit prophetic is a few minutes later during a post match interview, that same tennis player whose stats she knew said he doesn't mind what the stats page says, as long as his name is listed as the winner. I laughed and said, I'm in good company then.

Andre Agassi Charity

Yesterday, I watched a clip about Andre Agassi's charity concert that raised over 4 million dollars for charity. One of the highest donations came from auctioning off tennis lessons, one with Agassi and one with Graf. The winners paid $100,000 for each of the two lesson. 

If I pay $100,000 for a tennis lesson, I better win Wimbledon, The Australian Open, The US Open and The Freedom Open, uh I mean The French Open. 

People here have started substituting the word French with the word freedom when saying things like French fries and French toast because of France's lack of support for America and Britain during the war - it is now freedom fries and freedom toast.

I have a question, if you are going to France, when you go to the check in counter at the airport, are we supposed to say "Hi, I'd like to check into the 8PM flight going to Paris, Freedom, thank you" (not the word French, but close). I'm kidding, no hate mail, please.

 


May 28, 2003

French Open

In watching one of the matches in the French Open this morning, I noticed that both female tennis players were wearing almost identical outfits in the same color. What, did you guys call each other the night before and say "girl, what are you wearing tomorrow? Let's match." I'm kidding.


June 2, 2003

French Open

Well, there are only three Americans left in the French Open and the press is really pointing that out, along with the fact that Americans often have difficulty playing on clay. I think they are being too hard on them. They are not bad on the surface; it's just that the European players have more of an advantage because they are used to playing on clay, therefore that does not equate to bad tennis. It's like having the home court advantage due to the clay - not just the crowd.

If you compare their games, quite a few American tennis players who competed weren't moving like they usually do, almost as if they had lost their confidence for fear of losing their balance.   

There's an old saying "familiarity breeds contempt" - for some, maybe, but for others familiarity breeds confidence. When you are accustomed to and understand something, it breeds a sense of security, certainty and confidence due to that familiarity. You know what to expect and how to adapt if need be, so you feel comfortable, while people often fear and or dislike the unknown and the unfamiliar (as with racism, where people wrongfully have contempt for people who are not like them; people they don't know or understand). 


June 17, 2003

Changeovers

During changeovers, you ever notice the intense look tennis players have on their faces - wouldn't it be funny if we're thinking they are thinking about something really serious like their strategy for the match, when they're thinking about something trivial.

- Yesterday, I saw the match between Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick. He's the one I jokingly called "bullet serve" on April 8th 2003, on the diary page. He certainly used that serve to win yesterday, where he also equaled the record with a 149 mph serve. 

The funniest part of the match was when Roddick scored a point and sarcastically blew a kiss to the lineswoman because of a call she made earlier that went against him (ouch!). After that match they should rename Andy "ace" Roddick for the amount of aces he scored. Agassi did well, though. Also, what did Agassi yell out during the match? It sounded like a foreign language. 

- Speaking of athletes (well, writing of athletes) I've written captions about musicians before - well, I saw some funny pics of athletes and did a few captions for them as well:

Athletes lying down on the job

Martin...The horizontal backhand:

You've heard of Air Jordan...meet Air Andy:

Gustavo "Picasso" Kuerten exploring his artistic side by drawing a heart in the clay after winning his match:

...Then lying in the heart he drew in the clay (hey, he won, the man deserves a nap). It takes a brave, non-dry-cleaning-bill-fearing man to lay down on a clay court - I commend you:

I'm noticing a pattern here (no, not the heart pattern Gustavo drew) more examples: 

Thierry Henry's new sport which combines soccer and hurdles…
(someone call the Olympic Committee and inform them of Thierry's new discovery):

Other pics that are...

hahahaha:

Aww...Mark Philippousis "rubs his eyes after missing a point" against Mardy McFly, uh I mean Mardy Fish:

Roddick the Rockette (actually he is kicking because he missed a shot, but my caption is funnier):  

Becks in Braids - David Derek:

Thierry, there are people who rob banks dressed like that:

Soccer player Ronaldo auditioning for the Harlem Globetrotters (I'm kidding):

(Pics courtesy of Corbis)


August 13, 2003

- My little sister is very taken with Spain right now. She wants to go there and asked me if there is any Spanish in our family. I said on my side of the family there is Spanish/Latin from my grandma, who was half Brazilian (Portuguese) - never mind my little sister speaks better Spanish than I do, though I'm the one with the Latin heritage). She loves speaking to me in Spanish, as she knows the only Spanish I speak is "Pele" (kidding). Thanks to my dad, my childhood is a blur of music, Pele soccer matches, Clive Lloyd cricket matches (his friend) and John McEnroe tennis matches. 

Yes, I watched a variety of matches by other tennis players as well when I was a child and still do, but my theory is watching McEnroe flip his lid on the court traumatized me as a kid, which is why I remember McEnroe the most (you know, a good lawyer would find a lawsuit in that somewhere).

I'm getting another traumatizing flashback right now of an umpire, McEnroe, a racket flying and the sound of television beeps (make it stop, make the beeps stop). 

- Speaking of tennis, watching a match recently I began to wonder why a certain tennis player doesn't incorporate more aces into his game, he has the strength and quickness to hit good aces, as he is very fast on the court and has a good serve. 

Yea, aces are like cheap shots (get the joke?...never mind). That's what I would do (yea, like I'm actually ranked). The whole game would be aces. That's my idea of a good match, others not being able to even touch the ball, sort of like Kobe when he plays basketball (I'm kidding). In the post match interview my opponent would be whining and saying "I never got a chance to hit the ball! I couldn't return any of them. She gets on my nerves!" (I'm just kidding). 

An observation...a certain commentator says the word "masters" as though it is pronounced "monsters," due to his accent. When he said "the masters" I thought he said "the monsters," then I thought "what monsters?" (yes, I'm teasing him - hey, he jokes about the athletes). Another observation...doesn't Justin Gimelstob look like Joey Fatone from the boyband NSYNC (hmm -Aisha wondering if the neighborhoods where Justin and Joey grew up had the same mailman-...I'm just kidding). 


August 20, 2003

This is off topic, but tennis player Jarkko Nieminen's name reminds me of a rapper's name (yes, it's getting late now and I don't really want to write anything else for the article, so I decided to close it by going off topic).


September 3, 2003

The US Open

I've been watching matches and highlights from the US Open. I prefer hard court tennis. I think grass is great as well - uh, that's grass court tennis. Don't want any confusion with that one. The other kind of grass is not good for you. Last week I saw a John McEnroe interview and he jokingly referred to other players he use to compete against as, uh, sissies. John's changed so much…not! 

Pete Sampras retired last week. He's had quite a tennis career. Since he announced his retirement my little sister said she's gonna stop watching tennis in protest (um, that lasted a few days, as she watched a few matches from the US Open, but it was the thought that counts). 

My dad and I were talking about clay tennis and he reminded me that, as well as Sampras played and as much as he accomplished in tennis, he never won the French Open (that should make anyone who's lost on clay feel better). Well, it is on clay and that's like kryptonite for American tennis players (kidding). Ah clay, the red stuff. When you think about it, clay is dirt and grown people really aren't supposed to be playing in dirt (that was a joke). I've got a few more clay tennis jokes - feet of clay...clay pigeon...well, for American tennis players who don't gravitate to clay it's not clay pigeon, it's more like sitting duck (get it? ducks and pigeons are birds... never mind). 

I think the American tennis players need to start a clay support group. Picture that first CA Meeting (Clayers Anonymous). A tennis player stands up "Hi, my name is David and I'm a Clayer (bawling)." All jokes aside, it is not a surface that's to be ignored and to be fair there are Americans who have won the French Open.   

Speaking of Sampras, critics are searching to find his replacement (since when are critics talent scouts) - the tennis player to pass the torch to. But that's just it; you shouldn't seek to replace people. It's disrespectful. Critics have put a lot of undue pressure on the younger tennis players to follow in the previous generation's footsteps.

God makes each person unique. Therefore, why look for the next version of someone else. Why not appreciate peoples unique talents instead of trying to make them duplicates of someone else. 

There are young talented tennis players. For example, there's a tennis player that has a great backhand - the way he slices a backhand makes you wonder if he works part time as a chef at Benihana (ok that was a really bad joke). There's another tennis player who has a great forehand and considerable speed on the court (did he use to run for the US Olympic Team or something). 

There's another tennis player with a very fast serve (sometimes I feel sorry for the tennis ball). There's another tennis player with a great backhand  -cough- Swiss cheese cause he's, well, Swiss and he turned a few people into Swiss cheese at Wimbledon. I was speaking to someone on a message board recently and she referred to him as Fedex, but since he beat one of my favorites I told her I'm switching to UPS -raspberry-. I'm kidding.

Oh yea, what was my point again...ah, yes, they all have different strengths. So, let's not look for the next Sampras or Agassi. Let the new tennis players grow into their own game, not build or pattern it on someone else's due to pressure from the press. 

When people refer to someone as the new version of another person that achieved great success in that field, it takes away from the person who they are being compared to and makes it seem like they are being replaced - while dually taking away from the individual that's being compared (sometimes unfairly and unflatteringly) to the well established person. It robs them of their personality by putting them in a mold that God did not make them from. It's idolatrous and God dislikes idolatry. 

People have to be smart enough to take the comparisons critics and audiences make as compliments, not commandments to live by. The Bible never said thou shall be the next Pete Sampras. The Bible never said thou shall cut your hair in a blonde mullet and be the next Agassi (Recently I saw a pic of the mullet he use to wear, so I had to include that comment). It's idolatrous, will rob them of their individuality and what worked for one person sometimes does not work for another.   

Most audiences just want to see a good tennis match. It's always the hired prognosticators that look at the sport so technically that it takes the enjoyment out of it for the rest of us.


September 9, 2003

Doesn't baseball player Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez kind of remind you of tennis player Taylor Dent.  


December 27, 2003

I read an article about tennis player Andy Roddick moving to Texas and not being able to find any hitting partners (Why? you moved to Texas, not Afghanistan - kidding). One of my friends in Texas who plays tennis and runs a tennis web site said she'd hit with him, but she's too scared of his serve. He could hit with his girlfriend singer/actress Mandy Moore, but considering how he serves, girl, you better wear a helmet. Accidentally connecting with a 149 mph serve is the quickest way to forget all your lyrics and script lines. I'm kidding.


January 17, 2004


And from the "What is that?" file - I saved this pic a few months ago cause I found it so amusing (yes, it doesn't take much to keep me occupied). Why would a person who won a tourney and one who didn't smile happily in the same photo? 

Looking at the pic you really can't tell who won the tournament, can you. The guy who lost the tourney, Andrei Pavel, is smiling because he was awarded a crystal platter, I mean plaque (and not the one that forms on teeth, people - and that's not directed at Andrei or Timmy as they have lovely smiles) which he can flog on Ebay - I mean, put in his trophy case, yea that's it, put in his trophy case. While the winner, Britain's Tim Henman got a tree/antlers for winning. 

Aww, look at Timmy flying the flag/tree for Britain. Timmy, looks like you got the short end of the tree, I mean stick...(but you did get the bigger check, sorry, cheque).

Um, if that trophy is a national tree or something...sorry, I'm just kidding, no hate mail, please (oh well, there's one event I won't be allowed to get tickets to).

- While I'm on the subject of tennis...with all the first week upsets and injuries this week, whoever makes it to the Australian Open uninjured should win by default (kidding). Some may not want to win under those circumstances...but I say, never look a gift horse in the mouth (joking). 


- This week Greg Rusedeski announced that he tested positive for the drug Nandrolone, but denies taking it. Several athletes in different sports have tested positive for this steroid and some have subsequently been banned from their sport. 

A little off topic, but I say the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) should have a similar test. Any female artist found using silicone will be banned for one year. Boy, a lot of people would be strangely absent. I'm just kidding. Speaking of the RIAA...illegal downloading is down by 41% due to the lawsuits that were filed. Go RIAA, it's your birthday! (I've always wanted to say that). 

Anyway, back on topic, as I've written on here before, I do post on a tennis message board, where I joked this week that some of the side effects of steroid use are irritability and erratic behavior, which would be compelling evidence against Rusedeski *cough* Wimbledon and McEnroe and Connors due to the on court outbursts they've had (I was just teasing them, I meant no harm). 

Ironically, two days after I posted that on the message board, an article was posted that was printed two days later in which McEnroe announced that he unwittingly took steroids for six years that was later found to be, "too strong for horses." I don't think less of him for talking about it. I watched many a McEnroe match as a child with my dad and those are some of my favorite childhood memories. 

However, as you've probably deduced, a steroid administered to humans that is too strong for horses is very dangerous. What does that do to a person's system. 

More recently, ATP trainers accidentally administered supplements with contents that caused several players to test positive for steroids. Here's hoping that doesn't happen again.

It's not that difficult to fail a drug test, as Boris Becker tested positive for steroids due to sleeping pills, to which he became dependent on over the course of five years. Also, if an athlete is medicated for some reason or emergency, couldn't that cause them to fail a test as well.  

I read an article on the BBC that stated the positive test results could be due to the body producing Nandrolone naturally when other substances are broken down or from sources like contaminated meat.

In an interview tennis player Andrew Ilie said something that was very sad, but profound, "People are just happy to sacrifice their health for three years of fame."   

Though no one is promised tomorrow, it's not wise to live carelessly. You should want to live, but the sport you play should not become your life, as it will only encompass a fraction of it. God, having a family and friends are more important. 

I'm writing this in general, do not make such a mess of your life in a short space of time that you will have to deal with the effects of for the rest of your life. That goes for drugs, steroids and otherwise,  sleeping around when you are traveling on tour or becoming stressed at the direction of your career. 

That goes for singers as well. I mean, how many Behind The Music episodes do people have to watch to realize that when a person indulges in that lifestyle it has its consequences, affects their emotional well being and comes back to haunt them with other things. 

Some don't learn from other people's mistakes. Some newly famous people indulge in that lifestyle then babies start popping up all over the country, paternity suits being filed and before you know it you are in an office taking an HIV test because you aren't sure of your health because of who you've slept with. Don't gamble with your future. I implore you to appreciate what you have and not put it all at risk.   

There's a sad rumor going around about a young entertainer who slept around so much that his minders are asking for his own sake that he take an HIV test. He allegedly got someone pregnant who is known in industry circles for being very promiscuous and now they are concerned about his health. 

Stories like that are upsetting. He is really young. He shouldn't have to be concerned about things like that at his age, but because of things that happened, now he is. I'm not condemning him. I think he is a nice person. I more upset that he let himself get into those situations. He's got so much going for him and to put it all at risk for sex with someone he didn't even know is unfortunate. I pray that things will work out for him. 

Looking on at a person you can't tell if they have AIDS. They themselves may not even know. Some of you are also putting your health at risk by trusting people you do know who are lying to you about the extent of their sexual activities. So many people have said they trusted someone they knew who was sleeping around and not telling them and passed on the virus to them. 

People keep forgetting the reason HIV is spreading at such a rapid rate is because people are unknowingly passing it on to others. I remember when rapper Eazy E died there were quite a few women who were concerned they'd contracted the virus from him.

It's difficult for some to walk away from temptation, but doing so can save your life and someone else's.


January 28, 2004

The Australian Open - players dropping like flies, injury and otherwise. 

Am I the only one thinking Russian tennis player Marat Safin had been watching the movie Rocky, and to borrow a line from the Russian in the movie in my best Russian accent, going on court saying, "I must break you!" Get it, break you, break point in tennis...never mind! 

I was in a tennis chat this week where a poster named Tach spotted the word rat in Marat's name. Hmm could this be the year of the rat...(I'm kidding and I don't follow that calendar). Don't get mad, Marat, I'm just playing. 

Doesn't Marat remind you of actor Dean Caine. 

Hey, doesn't Lindsay Davenport remind you of Katie Couric. They both have cheerful personalities.

After watching an Australian Open interview on ESPN where Brad Gilbert was offered vegemite on toast and, um, politely refused, was I the only one thinking, Al Bundy (from that show that was on when I was a kid).  

Speaking of Gilbert, here's a comment that he made regarding tennis player Justine Henin-Hardenne that will have feminists everywhere trying to corner him in a dark alley (I can laugh at this cause I'm not one):

"There's well over 1,000 guys, more, who could beat her," Gilbert said. "Justine is a good little player, but she's about 5 feet, 5 inches, and about 125 pounds. She couldn't come close to beating one guy in the (Australian Open) draw."    

What about Serena, her best serve is 127 mph and she does play with more agility than some of the guys.

On to the more serious tennis question of the week... who's the better rapper Roddick or Spadea? 

Spadea and Roddick, who are coincidentally both Boca Raton residents, are the ATP's rappers. During a recent tennis event Spadea joked that he's from the rough part of Boca. And that would be where, Vince? The areas where the homes have regular sized swimming pools as opposed to Olympic (just teasing). 

- The mind is a funny thing (those of you who use yours). A lot of sports is mental. Playing smart. Whether or not you resolve you can win.

My dad played soccer professionally, also played tennis and cricket and was a coach. He says if an athlete has the physical ability to win, but has difficulties, they need mental coaching. 

Believe it or not, there is a mental aspect to winning. That's why the strongest don't always win. Apart of it is playing smart or playing smarter than your opponent, mixing up your game and actually believing you can win. You play much better when you believe you can win. 

Mental coaching does not mean hypnosis or a psychiatrist. This could be your coach, a family member or a friend who actually has the ability to get through to the person (look at the Williams Sisters, their dad is a very good coach and he doesn't play tennis - while he did teach them tennis, a lot of his success is based on his ability to get through to his daughters).

For example, tennis player Andy Roddick had a breakthrough year in 2003, which has been attributed to him changing coaches. However, in this case, he already knew how to play tennis, which genetics then his former coach laid the groundwork for. Therefore, his new coach didn't teach him that. The bottom line is he already knew how to play tennis at that point, no disrespect to anyone. What his new coach really helped him with was mental coaching/mental conditioning and that really helped him reach number one. 

That's what people sometimes need to excel, someone that can reach them, help things make sense to them and instill that confidence in them that they can succeed...and more importantly to stop them from wearing visors (you wanna talk about the visors, Andy. I'm kidding). 

Your mental state plays a big part in it. Mental grit and fortitude are important. Some people just have a mind for that. Some people are just mentally tough, while others have to be taught that. That's not just a trait for sports, it's helpful to you in everything. It doesn't mean you are mean, it just means your mental endurance is greater. 

Mixing up your game - You know what I've always thought funny, someone being able to watch tapes of your games/matches and accurately guess what you are going to do next when they play you based on those tapes. 

Seriously, there are some athletes in different sports who you can tell what they are gonna do next based on what they did in previous games. If I'm casually watching a game and can retain that info, just imagine what an opponent who studies tapes is noticing. 

Playing smart - Is it such a bad thing to try to outsmart or set someone up - no, not in the kind of way where they'd need a lawyer, I mean like in football where coaches set up cunning, elaborate plays to outmaneuver their opponents. 

For example, in tennis, sometimes I wonder why some players keep hitting the ball to their opponents like it's hacky sack, rather than consistently setting up plays, hitting it away from them and running them all over the court (or am I just being mean again in thinking that's a good thing).    

Steady nerves - If this doesn't come naturally to you it would fall under conditioning as well. If you look at some of the most successful athletes in history they have certain things in common - steady nerves is one of them, as it helps to produce consistency in your performance. A clear mind helps (then again some of your minds are clear all the time). 

Patience exercises are good. No, it's not really anger management. It's more stress management - training yourself not to get upset and to react and operate more efficiently. 

My unique, innovative, slightly unorthodox approach to this would be you-kick-their-butt-or-I-will-kick-yours and shock therapy - every time you unravel out there, the electronic device I've attached to you will give you a little shock. 

If I coached a soccer team like my dad did people would say to me "Aisha, your players have a certain twinkle in their eyes," and my response would be, "Well, shock therapy does do that to a person, uh I mean yea, they're probably just happy or something, yea that's it, happy." I'm just kidding and I do not endorse shock therapy.

Seriously, how do you react to tough situations when you are playing? Think about it. What is your common reaction. Do you become overwhelmed, unnerved or do you galvanize it and keep going like the Energizer Bunny. 

Pete Sampras was a prime example of that. He had nerves of steel on the court. I don't think it is because he was unfeeling. He did cry during his retirement ceremony (Yup, Pete cried like Halle Berry at the Oscars - I'm just teasing).

So, it wasn't that he was unemotional, it just wasn't beneficial to his game to show what he was feeling while he played...and it served him well (get it, served him well, in tennis you serve...once again, never mind!). 

Another factor is self-confidence. If you don't have that confidence in yourself other people likely won't and it will embolden your opponents. Don't second guess yourself. Humility is a very good quality. Self-deprecation is even funny, but not if you start to believe it (the self-deprecating comments).


January 29, 2004

Australian Open - Just saw the match between Agassi and Safin, and wow, what a match. They both played well, but Marat won. 

It's sort of not fair though cause his arm span is wider than the court and he's taller than the ump's chair. It's kind of hard to beat someone who can cover the court without moving. He's probably been running up mountains and lifting cars to prepare for his comeback (to be playing like that). I'm just teasing. 

Well, my friend wanted him to win and she got her wish (never mind he beat all my favorites like a drum). Fair play to him, he played some great tennis. You could see the determination on his face and it's endearing the way he berates himself in Russian when he misses a point.


February 3, 2004

The Australian Open - The finals were a bit anti-climactic. The match between Agassi and Safin was more suspenseful. Marat was tired in his match against Roger Federer aka FedEx. Another good nickname for him would be boomerang, as he kept retuning the ball. He kept returning stuff he wasn't supposed to get to. Marat at different stages of the match had that I-can't-believe-that-came-back look on his face (insert Marat sighing and berating himself in Russian here. I'm kidding). Roger changes up his game a lot. It keeps you guessing and it works in his favor.   

Marat was fatigued from playing all those long matches. Roger spent a significantly less amount of time on the court. The written commentary during the televised match stated Safin played 303 games during the tournament. My mom made a good point in that for him to come back from a whole year off due to injury and reach a final is good. She said imagine if he'd been practicing (was able to) the whole year. 


February 21, 2004

The Trophy file - Roddick won the Siebel Open and looking at that pic I couldn't help but think, my mom would turn that into a vase and put flowers in it. A shame, I know -Aisha self-righteously shakes her head- (kidding):

Well, somebody got a haircut.

And this trophy...she'd make into a mini punch bowl...why, mom, why -Aisha self-righteously shakes her head again- (kidding). Miami resident Fernando Gonzalez winning the Bell South Open in his native Chile - you should hear his forehand crack through the wind, you'd think it was a dubbed in sound effect: 

...and somebody didn't get a haircut. I'm just kidding, your hair looks nice. Your Latin, running away from scissors is apart of your heritage (just don't run with them). Hey, I understand, my grandmother was Latin as well and she had hair down to her waist.  

photo credit: The BellSouth Open 

Speaking of hairstyles, I saw the soccer match between Chelsea and Portsmouth last week and like I've said on here for months, the Latin soccer players, especially the Argentineans, always have the best curls! Check out Hernan Crespo's curls. You know, I'm tired of footie players having better highlights and curls than I do. Between Beckham's great highlights and Hernan's great curls, I don't know which one of them upset me more (kidding).


March 13, 2004

- In tennis, Vince Spadea won the Templeton Classic in Scottsdale. Ah, rappers playing tennis - Vince, I guess all that rapping paid off - just kidding (for reference to that joke, see Sound Off entry dated January 28th, 2003).

You know what’s kind of ironic, if a gangster rapper played tennis and the line call was not in his favor, he would hand out a beating to the linesperson and probably the umpire as well for being in the linesperson’s crew. I’m kidding. 

- Don't tennis twins the Bryan Brothers resemble Al Gore. They could pass for his kids. And those celebratory chest bumps they do…I see someone’s a Milli Vanilli fan (Milli Vanilli used to do that as well). Also, have you guys ever miscalculated, missed and ended up on the ground. That would be an ESPN moment. Just kidding. Between them, they’ve got 19 titles…and a few hundred chest bumps. 

- This week, Greg Rusedeski was cleared of steroid use allegations. However, the sad thing about those incidents is the stigma still remains. Not to mention all the unwanted press he received. One journalist poignantly wrote, “Rusedeski tests positive for being Canadian.”

This month, the ATP assembled an anti-doping task force comprised of athletes and other individuals ...yup, the tennis police. Imagine noticing one of your friends taking steroids and having to turn them in "Hey, put that Nandrolone laced power bar down and put your hands against the wall!" I'm kidding.   

Steroid use is very serious. 

The temptation to take steroids is great in sports, as there’s a lot of pressure to perform well.

However, steroids have many bad side effects (is there such a thing as a good side effect).

Impotence - yup, steroid use will cause the family jewels to turn into cubic zirconias (cubic zirconias, you know, the stones in your fiancé’s ring). Men are usually very preoccupied with sex. It pervades their life and their speech.

I think the ATP and other organizations are going about this all wrong. They need to pay for some advertising similar to the Truth campaign's (those are some annoying teenagers if you work for a tobacco company, but they are hilarious).

Back to what I was saying, the ATP needs to pay for some advertising with the words "steroid abuse = impotence." That'll get their attention. Just watch how effective that campaign would become. Tell them steroid abuse can render them impotent and they will pay attention.

Not to mention, another side effect is men growing breasts. Another topic men are preoccupied with in regards to women. In the commercial, tell them, “Now with steroids, you can grow your very own.” 

According to drugabuse.gov:

Health consequences associated with anabolic steroid abuse include:

Hormonal system disruptions. Reduced sperm production, shrinking of the testicles, impotence, and irreversible breast enlargement in boys and men. Decreased body fat and breast size, deepening of the voice, growth of excessive body hair, loss of scalp hair, and clitoral enlargement in girls and women.

Musculoskeletal system effects. Premature and permanent termination of growth among adolescents of both sexes.

Cardiovascular diseases. Heart attacks and strokes.

Liver diseases. Potentially fatal cysts and cancer.

Skin diseases. Acne and cysts.

Infections. In injecting steroid abusers, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, and infective endocarditis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the inner lining of the heart.

Behavioral effects. Increased aggressive behavior, particularly when high doses are taken. Depression, mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, and reduced sex drive when steroid abuse is stopped.           

I'm not a sports fanatic. I enjoy the effort players put into their matches and the teamwork. It should be more about sportsmanship and camaraderie with friends, family and fans cheering you on. 

Audiences don't want athletes hurting themselves by abusing steroids for our amusement. No spectator wants that. Sports are not supposed to be about crossing lines that injure you physically, mentally and morally. All that for entertainment? Is it really worth it? No.

I can only imagine the pressure and stress athletes face having that as a full time job and carrying around other people's expectations (That can be almost as bad as steroids). I think that's when people cease to enjoy what they do.

I'm not gonna condemn anyone who has taken steroids. It's obvious the temptation to do so is great, but athletes need to stay away from it.

I know many people want to be lauded as great, featured on the news, on magazine covers, in commercials, sign big endorsement deals, have lots of fans, people chasing them, but at the end of the day you have to deal with the decisions you make and certain aspects of that lifestyle will destroy you (particularly the sleeping around and steroid use).

Friends, fans and business associates can be fickle. If you are going to win something, win it for yourself, don't do it for other people, because at the end of the day, other than God, you just don’t know who’s going to be there for you. And God wouldn’t be putting that kind of pressure on you, as fame is fleeting and not something to be coveted. Not to mention, people’s support tends to shift with how famous you are. Ask anyone who's not as famous as they once were. However, you can't be blamed for other people's behavior that you didn't incite.

What I don't understand is why can't athletes just do like Rocky did...go back to the basics. Drink some raw eggs (and hope you don't catch salmonella) then jog for miles until you see some steps that look narrow enough to run up without passing out. I’m kidding.

I think the salmonella was really kicking in for Rocky to think that he could beat a scientifically trained boxer two times his height and body mass with a neck like the Hulk (Ah, another side effect, on court outbursts that make the Hulk seem like a wimp). However, when you will something and have enough faith you can accomplish it. Look at David and Goliath. By God’s grace, David used faith and ingenuity to defeat his opponent. He used three smooth stones and before you knew it Goliath was on the ground. Yup, God was a better manager/promoter than Don King. I'm kidding and God wouldn't do that.     

Sometimes that kind of rugged, back to basics training benefits athletes more. Look at marathon runners. Much like basketball (NBA), Africans have that market cornered and in many ways they really aren't scientifically trained (off topic for a bit, with so many black athletes in the NBA – shouldn’t NBA stand for the National Black Association – just kidding and no hate mail, please). When training for marathons, Africans often run over rough terrain and many do so barefooted (If that doesn't give you a callous nothing will).

Some modern runners would balk at that..."You want me to run through the park, by myself, with no support cushioning in my sneakers, no vitamin water, no goggles, no lip balm and no 1,000 thread count towel? Are you crazy?! This is not in my contract! Where's my agent?!"   

 


March 25, 2004

In tennis, am I the only one noticing the irony in the ATP match pairings of late. Roddick vs. Spadea, the battle of the rappers. Federer vs. Fish, the battle of the pony tails. Just kidding.  

Got Milk? - Swiss tennis player Roger Federer milking his pet cow Juliette, that he was given after winning Wimbledon (pic courtesy of the ATP):

I saw that pic last year and couldn't stop laughing (and seeing it again, I'm still laughing). At least he doesn't take himself too seriously. Speaking of Roger "FedEx" Federer, he and his cow won the Pacific Life Open last week. Ok, the cow didn't win, but that would be some scary doubles tennis...and knowing that sports apparel company that shall remain nameless, they'd probably brand a big old swoosh on the side of the cow.  

Why does Roger keep winning and more importantly, is he doing this deliberately. 

What I don't get is why the other tennis players aren't more mature about this and just shove him in his locker until the match is over like in high school (just kidding and that wouldn't be a nice thing to do). 

If that didn't work, I'd trip him during a changeover and hope the camera didn't catch it and just in case it did, I'd try to  make it look like an accident. "Dude, what happened? Are you okay? You really ought to be more careful. Do you want me to go get a paramedic?" (kidding). 

It's been said that his Swiss Miss, um I mean his girlfriend, helps him with his tennis, aww! (Get the joke...Swiss Miss, he's Swiss and she's a miss). Well, I'd kick her butt too for helping him win (Just kidding).  

Still, I think tennis players take it too well when he wins. They’re always talking about his talent and congratulating him, “Dude, you played so well.” I don’t think I’d take losing to him that well. I’d have a special dinner after the match in his honor...steak or hamburger anyone? 

-Federer wandering around in the background, perplexed saying, “Has anyone seen my pet cow?”- Yes Roger, steak sauce and ketchup have. Beef, that's what's for dinner...Got Milk? (Just wanted to see how many TV commercial slogans I could use in one sentence). They say revenge is best served cold - but in this case it would be served hot...and with fries (that's what you get for winning so much - If one of my British cousins wasn't born in Switzerland I'd renounce the whole country for him winning so much). I'm just kidding and I don't believe in being vengeful.   

Recently, he was asked on ESPN why he is not more known in America, while he is considered the Michael Jordan of Switzerland (Oh, yes, I see the resemblance -- just kidding) and is well known in other countries. Federer responded that he needed to make appearances on shows in America to raise his profile. I say he could do a few appearances...and bring his pet cow. Oh, that'll get him on the 6 o'clock news in every state. He'd be the Juan Valdez of tennis - Juan walked around with a donkey to promote coffee, Federer could walk around with his cow to promote tennis. Either that or get FedEx to sponsor you. Kidding again.  

Back to Juan Valdez for a minute, if you saw a man pulling a donkey in the middle of the supermarket, um, wouldn't you be alarmed? But in the commercials everyone just kept going like it was normal.   

Back to Federer. Often times talent is understated. Talent often goes under-appreciated. For example, there are many talented Christian artists that aren't well known in the mainstream, but they are still more talented than the majority of the artists in secular music (Leshaun Pace, Crystal Lewis, Tarralyn Ramsey and Natalie Grant could out-sing most of the female artists in the mainstream).

Still, even Norah Jones, as talented as she is and as successful as she has become, you really don't know much about her, much like Federer. So, Roger, you're the Norah Jones of tennis. Andy - Andy's the Mandy Moore (cause they date). Timmy's the Sade (cause he's British). And Pete…Pete is considered the best so far, so he’s the Aretha.


April 11, 2004

In tennis...clay season is upon us - grown men playing in dirt. You know, some of us gave that up in kindergarten. Just kidding, but being raised here, not my favorite surface, but nonetheless, an entertaining one. 

I watched the NASDAQ last week, no, not the stock market, the tennis open on Key Biscayne. Two locals won, I don’t know if you've heard of them, some girl named Serena and some dude named Andy. I'm just kidding.

The thought provoking question of the week...why did Waterford give Andy Roddick a punch bowl for winning the NASDAQ (yes, more trophy jokes, but I'm kidding) :

Roddick beat Argentinean Guillermo Coria, who had to retire due to injury. During his closing speech, he spoke in his native tongue of Spanish, which was translated into English. I’m thinking, this is Miami; you don’t need to translate it. Now, if it were in English, then you'd need a translator. I’m just teasing and I meant that statement in a good way.

...A quote from a few years ago that I read on a web site, where André Agassi poignantly said of Pete Sampras “If Pete’s child is a girl, my son will like her; if he’s a boy, my son will defeat him.” Now that’s what I call a rivalry, the kids taking over where the parents left off. They both have nice families. What if Sampras’ son married Agassi’s daughter and they had children of their own. Now, that's what I call genetically engineered tennis players. I'm just kidding.

 


May 1, 2004

Today, I read about a fire in a hotel in Rome, where many tennis players were staying and I thank God they are okay. From what was written, it sounds like a harrowing, traumatic experience. However, sadly, three tourists died in the blaze.

They wrote that Andy Roddick helped people to the roof during the blaze. They also reported that due to the smoke, one of his fellow players, Sjeng Schalken and his friends, had to jump one by one from their balcony one floor up and Andy caught them on his balcony and helped them in. He catches tennis balls and people...you go boy!

It's probably the one time Schalken was really glad to see Andy, as opposed to on the other side of the net (kidding). There are certain players one would think you really aren't happy to see on the other side of the net and he has to be one of them. A similar, funny musical equivalent would be a singer walking out on stage and seeing Aretha Franklin at the mic. I'd be like, forget this, I'm going back inside!


June 5, 2004

A few weeks ago Rainer Schuttler hilariously took a pic of a bad line call to make a clever point about how incorrect some calls can be. Shortly after, American tennis player Vince Spadea beat him on clay. Now that's something you ought to take a pic of -  one of our guys winning on clay. Vince did pretty well this season and Roddick did make it to the second round of Roland Garros, which for one of our guys on clay, is like making it to a semi-final. I'm just kidding.

Still, some of my favorites didn't fare too well this clay season. They were partial to bagels (ok, not really, but just about), therefore, for the season, I've affectionately named them the bagel boys. I'm just kidding. It was a good effort (…and pass the cream cheese). 

I've found an answer to the clay crisis. The organizers need to mix the clay with cement, then our guys won't know the difference (ok, yea, that would be hard court tennis). Maybe they could come up with a clay sneaker that would simulate the feeling of a hard court; thereby tricking them into thinking they aren't on clay. 

Speaking of equipment, let's talk about rackets, pardon me, racquets. Am I the only one that noticed that you can make the word "bat" out of "Babolat.” The racket manufacturer should have named the brand "batolat" cause that's just what it is, a bat! A bat impersonating a tennis racket. They just fanned out the top a bit = added some strings. Think you could hit a home run with that racket? I think so. I'm not complaining, though. Any racket that can get my serve up to 20 mph is alright with me. I’m kidding - you all must be thinking, she must really be bad if she can only get 20 out of a Babolat. I don't know what my fastest serve is. Hey, just as long as it is not mistaken for my slowest serve, but then again they might just be the same (sigh). Kidding again.

From ESPN: "Here's another shocker: No. 9-seeded Tim Henman became the first Englishman in the Open era to reach the semifinals at Roland Garros."

Well, try not to sound so surprised. My relatives must have been quite happy at the news. They are tennis fans/players as well. His performance at this year’s French Open should pretty much clinch a future knighthood for Timmy...Sir Henman. Even though he lost to Coria, who pretty much is clay, Tim did well. People underestimate him because he looks nice, pleasant and friendly. He really doesn't look very menacing, but his game is. Hear hear! (I've been wanting to write that phrase for so long, just couldn't find a way to slip it into the column).

When I watched his match against Coria, the first thing I thought was Timmy is looking a little brown, did he get a tan or did he get clay on him. Just kidding, he got a tan. I’m suspicious of any Brit with a tan. Kidding again. Sorry, it is my duty to the English side of my family to make British weather related jokes anytime the opportunity arises.  

From the wardrobe malfunction department…Marat, you're supposed to wait until you get in the locker room to have a wardrobe malfunction. Serena...when I watched her match against Kirilenko, at first glance I thought, is Serena wearing a bikini on court? I guess she figured it's almost summer…Next the guys will be wearing Speedos. I sure hope not. Tennis would never be the same.

I read on a tennis web site that Goran Ivanisevic felt God was trying to get him because he promised to quit tennis after he won Wimbledon but didn’t and since then he's had shoulder problems, stepped on a shell in Miami and had to have surgery to repair his foot. He said he's scared he'll get struck by lightning next. Goran, God is not out to get you. Next time you walk on the beach, wear shoes. 


June 16, 2004

In tennis, Andy Roddick retained his title by winning the Stella Artois tournament for the second year in a row. Last week, Roger Federer also won Halle. No, not Halle Berry, the Halle tennis open in Germany. This was also the second year in a row Federer won the tournament.

I think it could be the beginning of an interesting rivalry. A friendly rivalry, but a rivalry, none the less. Sort of like Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. Hey, with Agassi already inviting Roddick to barbeques and giving him advice, this could be a reality soon. For further reference to that joke, please see Agassi's "If Pete’s child is a girl, my son will like her; if he’s a boy, my son will defeat him” comment. I'm just teasing.

However, it would make for good tennis. If they need help getting the rivalry started you could always tell Federer, Roddick said something about his pet cow and you could tell Roddick that Federer said something about his visor collection. Actually, that might turn into a boxing match instead of tennis. Forget I mentioned that.     

- In soccer…last week, when asked about Arsenal teammate and France Eurocup opponent, English soccer player Ashley Cole said:

"John and Sol are well equipped to play against Thierry. Sol plays up against him all the time in training and John has played against him in the Premiership (for Chelsea).”

Ok, so basically there was no plan for containing Thierry, then (I’m totally kidding). Sol and John play very well.

My dad says mental game is a big part of winning. To make his point, he hilariously said, “If you have an argument with your wife before the match, you’re gonna lose!” You guys may wanna think about that next time. Tell Thierry’s wife that he’s been making jokes in the locker room about her cooking. It would be difficult for him to play at his best after being clocked with a frying pan. I’m just kidding. 

Ashley’s other game plan:

"We had a title to win and a record to beat but towards the end I was telling Thierry Henry I would be looking to kick him, if I can catch him!”

Ashley, trying to kick him wouldn’t have been right…tripping him would have been better. If you kick him, you’ll get carded. You cannot effectively explain to a ref why you kicked someone. Trip him and you can argue and say “I didn’t trip him, he fell over my foot!” or “he’s normally my teammate, why would I trip him? I thought he looked a bit unsteady on his feet and I was trying to hold him up with my foot.”

To Thierry: Why couldn’t you have been born in England. You know, croissants and scones really aren’t that different (ok, yea they are) a little clotted cream and jam on them and you won’t know the difference (ok, yea you will). I’m just kidding, nothing against either country. 

However, England coach Sven -Goran Eriksson was more optimistic about England’s chances against France:

Eriksson told reporters: "To be honest, whatever you play, Zidane (France) will be a headache. He's a headache for everyone.”

Well, at least Sven was optimistic, right…ok, not really. And a headache Zidane was. I mean, what was he thinking scoring those goals. How dare he! (Aisha glaring at Zidane…I’m joking).

Me personally, I think if you can spell Zinedine Zidane’s entire name, you should be entitled to a free kick (just teasing…and like my name is any easier to spell). I call him ZiZi and Z-Ziddy (get it, like P Diddy…ok, another bad joke). So nice his mama named him twice (yea, that was a corny joke on my part as well). Both his first and last names begin with “zi” and end with “ne.” His official nickname is Zi-Zou Zi-Zou, though.

Speaking of Ashley wanting to kick Thierry…it brings me to the next subject of athletes disputing calls. You can tell by the looks on their faces that they did something (I'm completely kidding with these jokes):

Roddick: What did I do?

 

Umpire: What did you just say about my mother?

Taylor: ooo you heard that?

 

Ref: Foul!

Gary: Don't make me come over there!

Kobe: I don't know how much longer I can hold him back.

 

Seedorf: "What just happened?" (Soccer- A discombobulated Seedorf after being fouled/tackled/body slammed).

 

Ref: Foul!

Carmelo: It wasn't me. It was Allen Iverson. You're confused cause we both have braids.

Ref: You aren't even playing against Philly tonight.

Carmelo: What does that have to do with anything!

 

Other funny sports pics:

Gustavo Kuerten standing by an injured John Van Lottum.

Gustavo Kuerten: Oh get up you big baby. It's just a sprain, fracture in seven places and a mild concussion.

 

Bryan Twins, Mike and Bob (tennis)

Bob: You look familiar. Where have I seen you before?

Mike: Uh, in the mirror. We're twins remember.

 

Felix Mantilla: They're not gonna show my match on ESPN! (insert crying here).

(a little tennis joke regarding people complaining that ESPN doesn't show tennis matches featuring foreigners).

Pics courtesy of Corbis


June 24, 2004

In the last Sound Off article I wrote that a friendly rivalry between Roddick and Federer would be good for tennis, sort of like Sampras and Agassi. A few days later the Sun Sentinel ran a story that a rivalry between Roddick and Federer would be good for tennis, much like Sampras and Agassi or Connors and McEnroe - with Roddick and Federer stating their opinions on it.

They said they can understand a possible rivalry, but they are friends who think well of each other…aww that’s so sweet. Ok, the head of the ATP needs to do something about that. You know, tell Federer something like… "Roddick said he’s gonna sell your pet cow to McDonalds for their new, uh, animal sanctuary –cough- value menu" (kidding).

They don’t have to whack each other with their tennis rackets or anything (though, it wouldn’t hurt – ok, yea, literally, it would, but I meant it wouldn't hurt ratings).

Seriously, they can be friendly rivals. I think the dynamic people would be interested in seeing is two gifted people playing good tennis and battling it out for the number one.

With Federer cleverly hitting like an artful painter creating a portrait and Roddick masterfully whacking the ball into the next solar system it would make for interesting viewing and reporting.

Speaking of his serve, does he really expect people to return that or to at least properly return it. In his match today, a lot of his opponent's returns unintentionally looked like lobs or was that the game plan - hit it so high that the sun would get in his eyes and he'd miss. Sun...what am I saying, the match was in England (kidding).

Speaking of Federer, a few days ago, my sister’s friend gave her an authentic autographed pic of Federer as a gift. My little sister being the astute little skeptic she is, looked up his signature and found out he really did sign the pic. Note to any man that would want to marry my sister in the future: make sure the ring is real because she will check.

P.S. - she is currently underage, so any of you try that now and I will make sure you have to adjust to life as a eunuch. I’m totally kidding. I don’t think it’s right for women to, um, Lorena Bobbitt a man.

Anyway, back to the signed pic. It was so nice of her friend to give her that (what was her friend thinking. Does she know how much she could have gotten for it on Ebay. I was secretly wondering how much I could get for it on Ebay. I’m just teasing. Besides, I’d have to con my little sister out of the pic first and she’s way too smart for that).

Another tennis observation…I think if you are a qualifier and you draw Federer or Roddick you should have the right to sue the ATP for cruel and unusual punishment.

Can you imagine being told you drew Andy. I’d be like, uh, you mean Andy Griffith, right? (I’m just teasing, I love Andy Griffith – and he’d probably win the match against me too).

However, as my dad said, with the fitness level of these guys on the tour now, anybody can beat anybody on a given day. In some ways I think that's good. It boosts new players' confidence that they have a chance.

The training regimen tennis players follow is pretty grueling. It makes you wonder if all that training and the long hours of practice are contributing to the number of injuries. That’s a lot of wear and tear on the body on a weekly basis. However, some experts attribute the amount of injuries to the fast paced ATP schedule and lack of time to recuperate between tournaments. They're only human. After a while they will become fatigued, but under the circumstances, they really can't afford to.  

Wimbledon- I’ve been watching Wimbledon this week. Can you believe it’s been raining in England. Who would have thunk it -feigns surprise-. Yes, another bad weather joke on my part and I’m totally kidding.

I saw Goran’s first round match, which was fun. He was enjoying himself and it showed. He won his match against Volandri as well.

I also saw Tim Henman’s first round match. Didn’t his opponent, Hidalgo, look like Tom Cruise, but with Fabio like hair.

Robby Ginepri’s got that Fabioesque thing going too, especially with the chiseled features – Robbio anyone? I’m just kidding.

Seriously, Hidalgo reminded me of Tom Cruise, especially the nose and mouth. He played a very good debut match. However, Tim turned it around and won the match. He played some clever tennis in the fourth set. I like it when players try to outsmart their opponents and run them all over the court. Henman is good at that. Though, after the match I thought, Tim’s gonna have to drink his Lucozade after that 3 hour, 4 setter.

Off topic a bit for a second, how come they have Lucozade in the ethnic isle of the supermarkets in Miami. You don’t really think of British as ethnic, but I guess in Miami it is.

And since this is Miami, which is mostly Latin, shouldn’t all the other food be in the ethnic isle and the Latin food in the regular isles. Aha! Never say my site doesn’t make you think…or at least confuse you. Preferably not the latter. 

Back to Wimbledon…

Roddick vs. Wang - Speaking of smart tennis, Wang Chung, uh, I mean Yeu-Tzuoo Wang played some clever tennis against Roddick.

Wang looks so young (he's 19 years old). At first when I saw him, I jokingly thought, “Hey, they’re letting ball boys play now.” However, it was another good debut match. 

Still, Roddick showed why he’s got those titles when he took control of the match and won it. When he’s losing a set he gets this controlled incredible-hulk-implosion-look on his face when it hits him, “Hey, I’m losing!” Then 90% of the time he turns it around. He ups his game at that point. 

And yes, I’m probably watching these matches too closely to be observing all this (joking). 

Federer – He’s been serving up bagels like his name was Lenders.

If I played Roger, the score would be…6-1 6-1…ok, 6-0 6-0. Still, I’d like to think he’d at least let me get a few points cause I’m such a nice person. 

However, if I did catch a double bagel, I’d request they rework the scoring system (yes, real singer-like behavior). That way, instead of broadcasting the bagel, well, double bagel (I was trying to leave that out), it would read 6-.4  6-.4. That’s sort of like half a bagel and at first glance it looks like it says 6-4 6-4, if you don't pay attention to the decimal points, which would make me feel better. Hey, reward me for my effort. Self-confidence is very important to a non-ranked player. Silly you think? Ah, but with the ridiculousness in music today regarding female artists, stupid stuff like that would fly.  

I saw a post match interview with Federer a few days ago and I have a TENNIS RELATED QUESTION…why does Roger’s tennis gear look like men’s couture?

I mean, he was wearing a nice pair of sweats with a white shirt...and it looked like couture. The sweats almost looked like a suit. I thought, did the Swoosh people make that especially for him or is it the dry cleaning. And if it is the dry cleaning, dude, who’s your dry cleaner, Armani? (kidding).

Our players (male) joked a few months ago that their clothes don’t look very pristine. Yea, the Young Americans have this laidback California casual look going – you know, like they are going to a barbeque, not a tennis tournament (kidding).

I’m just waiting for one of them to wear a pair of khaki shorts and flip-flops on court (kidding again). As for the women, Serena, the tennis court is your runway, girl.

Pick of the Week:

Arnaud “Willie Nelson” Clement 

 

I’m just kidding with these jokes. 

On an unfair note, the tiebreak error during Venus’ match ought not to have happened. She took it pretty well, though. I don’t think I would have. I would have thrown a hissy fit and demanded to speak to the Queen. Hey, I’m a singer, we always complain to the person at the top. Just kidding.


July 10, 2004

Well, it looks like I showed some foresight again when on June 16th, 2004 I wrote on this page that a rivalry between Federer and Roddick would be a good idea. Ironically, it happened, as the Wimbledon final 6 days ago was between Roddick and Federer - with newspapers now hailing their rivalry. It was the first time in twenty 20 years the #1 and #2 ranked players squared off in a Wimbledon final.

-Aisha jokingly sitting on a rug imitating pretentious gurus- Don't worry, I will use my God given gifts for good and not evil -cough- I won't try to win the lottery. Besides, I don't gamble. 

Back to the match. It was a ratings coup for NBC, up 33% from last year. From Tennis Week:

"To be honest, it's certainly bodes well for men's tennis in that this is emerging as an attractive rivalry,' NBC spokesperson Kathy Collins said."

Well, at least they didn't have to utilize my idea of whacking each other with their tennis rackets to get good ratings, as I jokingly mentioned on June 16th, 2004. The rivalry was enough to bring in good numbers.

Back to the Wimbledon final. I think Roddick and Federer played quite well. Andy gave him a real fight. The round of applause they received showed just how good the match was and how appreciate the crowd was of their efforts.

They've both developed their games a lot over the last year. After all, a year ago, neither had become the number one yet or received a lot of press. Boy, things sure can change over night. It really looked like both of them came out of nowhere to attain the success they have, when they've both been working at it for a long time and been apart of the tour for a few years. Isn't it weird how things happen that way.

As I wrote above, both have improved their games a lot, but neither have reached their full potential, which is good, as it means they can get better...and if they are playing at this level now, that could really be something to watch develop.  

...Here at Aisha Music, I like to come up with stupid stuff. This week is no different:

The “Microwave Match” award goes to Lindsay Davenport (for her quickness in completing a match). During her Wimbledon match against Sprem, I turn my head for a few seconds during the second set and the next thing I see is her running to the net to shake her opponents hand and the post match wrap up.

Quotes

From the frank, but funny file - Robby Ginepri (Miami Herald):

''I've been serving well lately. For some reason, always when the grass comes around, I start to serve well,'' he said. ``I don't know why I can't serve this way during the whole year.''

It takes a candid man to admit that. Most would have said, yea, I meant to do that (just kidding).

Off topic a bit, I wonder what Robby's favorite car is. Wonder if it's the MINNIE Cooper. And I wonder what kind of DRIVER he is.

That was a little pun/joke because he dated actress Minnie Driver, nothing against either of them. I was just kidding.

Federer showing his comedic side:

Federer is fulfilling a pre-Wimbledon promise to play in Gstaad and was pleased to hear that he will not be presented with another cow to mark his victory as he was last year.

"I'm happy. I have two cows because the cow had a calf. I went to visit her but I think the excitement was bigger from my side than her side. I hope they don't give me a sheep, a pig, a donkey or anything this year," he joked.

Haha, pretty soon it's gonna be like that nursery rhyme Old McDonald..."Old Mc Federer had a farm..." They call you Club Fed now, but if your country gives you anymore pets, they're gonna start calling you "Farm Fed" (get the joke...farm fed animals). I'm just kidding.

"I have already achieved two of the three although one is still going on because I want to finish the year as number one, but now I want to play well at the Olympics because it was such a great experience at Sydney 2000."

He has opted to stay in the Olympic Village in Athens and said: "I did it in Sydney and it was great. I stayed with the wrestlers so I was safe." (Roger Federer)

Yea, in an unrelated way, I sort of know what Roger means. I know I feel safe when I'm around rappers...guns everywhere. Just kidding, but can you blame me for making that joke with the way a lot of rappers brag about weapons.

Chants of ‘Hen-man! Hen-man!’ Screams of ‘Come on, Tim!’ And that was two hours before Tim Henman set foot on the grass (SC Times and Democrat).”

Wow, sure it was Centre Court and not Wembley. The important, tennis related question is…can Timmy sing? Does he have the kind of velvety voice that would melt butter or the scary kind that would peel the wallpaper off the walls? Just kidding. 

Speaking of Henman, he was awarded an OBE a week ago. Congrats to him. Hey, that knighthood I wrote about a few weeks ago is just around the corner. OK, yea, it's gonna take years, as they are awarded to people later in their careers to securely establish merit, but an OBE is great as well.

Timmy, now that you've accepted your OBE, let me borrow it - really, I'll give it back. Jamaica comes from British rule and my dad has the Jamaican equivalent of an OBE for his contribution to music, but he won't let me borrow his either. But hey, maybe Tim will let me borrow his. I'm just kidding.      

Speaking of OBEs, why do some people turn them down. For years I've read articles in British newspapers about someone turning down an OBE. It's your country or the commonwealth your country comes from bestowing an honor on you. Why not accept it from and on behalf of your country, in carrying on a tradition.     

- Serena has been hitting aces like her name was Andy Roddick (146 mph Wimbledon record). That kind of serving would produce a scary doubles match from those two. One of her aces was 126 MPH. Hey, some of the guys don’t even hit a 126. I like the way they ace themselves out of deficits. Like I’ve joked on here before, aces are cheap shots and an easy way to get out of a hole. I think it’s playing smart. Rallies can be fun to watch, but why risk it if you can get that ace and put that point away. Then again, with thinking like that, maybe that's why I'm not ranked. I'm kidding.

Speaking of rallies...don't long rallies remind you of hacky sack.

- It’s weird, when someone has a bad match, critics write about it like the person’s career is totally derailed and unsalvageable, then when they do well again, they write how they are dominating and they knew all along that they would make a comeback. It makes you want to ask… ok, which is it? Articles like that really don't help athletes...and no I'm not talking about any journalist in particular, as several do that. 

For years I’ve read headlines to that effect about different people. They also write that of singers and actors as well. Entertainment is such a fake, fickle business. The fact of the matter is careers usually have high and low points, but sadly, people expect you to perform perfectly each time. However, at the end of the day, you are human. No one on this earth is perfect.

- This week I saw the commercial featuring professional tennis player Taylor Dent and Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf's adorable little son playing tennis. The kid wiped the court with him (kidding). So Taylor, how much did you pay them to edit out the part where their son won the match:

Photo courtesy of Wimbledon.org

Kidding, that pic is from Taylor's Wimbledon match against Roddick. The score was pretty good, so he earned that nap.

-And from the they’ve-got-to-be-kidding department – how ironic and peculiar is Jay Z coming out with a tennis shoe. Credibility counts and in this case it’s seriously lacking. Talk about an odd pair (get the joke…odd pair… pair of shoes). For someone who has expressed virtually no interest in tennis during his career, to put out a tennis shoe all of a sudden reeks of gimmickry. I follow tennis, have since I was a kid, and from what's been written, he's been to one tennis match in the last few years. Not to mention, judging from the pics, said rapper and his girlfriend looked totally confused. Now, there's nothing wrong with looking confused at a tennis match, but if your are gonna put out a tennis shoe, yea, there's something definitely wrong with it. 

Who came up with that idea, anyway and why. Where’s the credibility and believability. Incredulity is never good for any product and from what I’ve read on the internet regarding this venture, the public doesn’t think he’s keeping it real, so to speak, as it looks pretentious.

It’s not like Jordan, as when he puts out a basketball shoe there is a tremendous amount of credibility, believability and expertise there.

But in this case, where is the point of reference, expertise and actually knowing and caring about the sport, like say a, Matthew “I’m not ranked, but I’m gonna wipe the court with you” Perry?

Matt would probably name his shoe “The Mattiati” or “The Jenerry” – an amalgamation of Matthew Perry and his tennis buddy Jennifer Capriati’s names.

For a non-tennis player and or non-tennis lover to put out a tennis shoe is dodgy. It reminds me of an article I read in the Glasgow Sunday Mail titled “Getting Wiggy with it” (June 26, 2004). The article was about an R&B singer fronting a line of well-known hair care/skincare products when the recording artist is known for always wearing loads of make-up, wigs and weaves and has not once appeared in public with their natural hair at any point in their career

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with wigs and weaves, I’ve seen many people wear great ones that looked superb, it is grossly hypocritical and smacks of false advertising to endorse a line of hair care products when a person clearly and continually wears wigs and weaves. Wigs and weaves have no use for hair care products, therefore to make those advertising claims is not right nor is it fair to the public.

People deserve better than celebrities insincerely flogging things they clearly know little or nothing about, have no point of reference for and have not obtained great results from. Where is the knowledge and expertise in that and what does that say about the brand. When a person endorses something it should be genuine, otherwise it will just reinforce public skepticism and bring criticism.

I'm not saying all celebrity endorsements are bad. Here's a positive example. There are a few other singers who have recently endorsed a certain product and I must admit, I really have noticed a visible, positive difference in their appearances regarding the advertising claims they've made, which leads me to believe the endorsements were made with integrity and the product actually works.  

Personally speaking, there are a few celebrities who have made products and or product endorsements with integrity and the results I obtained using those products testify to those claims. However, there are celebrity product endorsements that I’ve made purchases based on and when I tried the products, found them to be total rubbish.


July 24, 2004

In the last Sound Off entry I wrote that Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf and their son were featured in a commercial with Taylor Dent. It was actually a child actor (earlier in the year I saw a pic of their family in a magazine and when I saw the commercial I wondered how the baby got so tall so quick). However, the part about the kid wiping the court with Taylor was accurate. I’m just kidding. 

I watched matches from Stanford last week. The final featured Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport. Well done to Davenport on winning. They both played well, though. Speaking of Venus, I saw her match against Amy Frazier… and Amy, whatever sunscreen you’re using, girl, it’s working. For a minute I thought it was Nicole Kidman out there. I’m just teasing. I know some people, both black and white, can’t tan (a few of my family members are like that – one in particular, jokingly refers to some of us as the negros, because, well, we have pigmentation and casper doesn’t). It’s just always unusual to see un-tanned people on a tennis court.


August 7, 2004

Funny Quotes:

People say, 'Oh, it's Anna's image.' I like Anna (Kournikova), but it's no image. She's been like that all her life. Since she was a little girl she is thinking she is the best and the prettiest." - Marat Safin

Hahaha! No comment.

After losing the first set 6-1 and struggling during the second, Andy Roddick had a few choice words for himself. "Andy, you should be fixing toilets today," he yelled.

While, what you do in your personal time is your business (hey, who are we to judge) is there a story behind that, that you wanna share with us (kidding).

I caught a few matches from TMS Canada last week…and Roger Federer actually threw his racket. You been hanging out with McEnroe or something? (ok, Federer is so calm that when he threw the racket, it looked like he dropped it). Just kidding about John. McEnroe and others may joke about John’s tantrums, but he really has won a lot of stuff. Take it from me, someone who’s won …-Aisha counting tennis titles- um, yea take it from me, someone who’s won 0 titles, he’s won a lot of stuff – several grand slams (the rest of us have to buy ours at Denny’s) and quite a few other titles as well.

Roddick and Federer squared off in a final again (TMS Canada), Roger claiming the title. I think their matches are good. It gives people what they want to see – two great players with contrasting styles.    

However, both he and Roddick were fatigued in Cincinnati, Roger going out in the first round and Roddick having to work for that first round win. They both looked quite weary, but that is to be expected after all the tennis (and the level of tennis) they’ve been playing.

- In the last sound off article, I wrote about Amy Frazier’s tan-less complexion and joked about the potency of whatever sunscreen she uses. A few days later a journo from The San Diego Union Tribune asked her what brand of sunscreen she uses and she told them. Girl, you’re a walking endorsement for that stuff. Just what’s in it? Teflon? They might as well pay her for it, as it’s one of the best endorsements this year (even though she technically endorsed them for free by giving the journalist the name of the product – hey, be nice sunscreen company and cut her a check).

- Recently, ESPN aired a show on the late Arthur Ashe and the disgraceful manner in which a newspaper forced him to publicly acknowledge having HIV. It was such a gross invasion of privacy. Medical records are supposed to be private; therefore divulging his medial condition, with or without seeing his records was reprehensible. He was already struggling with the disease and that must have made it that much worse. Stress and depression weaken the immune system. The undue stress could not have helped him.

Ashe, however, composed him self in a dignified manner. He didn’t blame everyone. He didn’t curse at people. He did not let himself go. He did not indulge in debauched behavior, as a way to forget his pain, while letting down his audience. He concentrated on helping others and setting a good example.

When things are going well it’s very easy to be a good role model, but when things are bad some become alcoholics, turn to drugs, promiscuous behavior in a vain attempt to ease their pain (it only makes it worse) all the while setting a bad example. During times like that you have to look within yourself and look to God to not fall apart. To not set a bad example. To not hate and blame others. Ashe showed character in how he conducted himself. It would have been very easy for him to feel sorry for himself and publicly wallow in self-pity, but he didn’t.


August 13, 2004

Most of you have heard of rapper 50 CENT…well, now there’s rapper VinCENT, as in Vincent “Vince” Spadea. I tuned in to the Today Show yesterday morning just in time to hear Vince rapping from the Olympics in Greece. Roddick is the other rapper on the US Olympic Tennis Team.

Together, they form the rap duo B-Unit. The B stands for Boca (Boca Raton, FL) where they have residences (Hey, Boca, the Bronx, same thing - kidding).

Their debut album is entitled “Get That Match Point Or Ace Your Opponent Senseless Trying” (A pun on 50 Cent’s “Get Rich Or Die Trying”).

Their album is available on ATP records…-cough- with bootleg copies available in stadium locker rooms throughout the ATP tour (Just ask for Pat McEnroe and he’ll give you a bootleg for $5). Just kidding.

Speaking of Roddick, according to the Australian News, the women from the Australian team have a $500 bet going to see which one of them can kiss him first -cough– bimbo tramps. Just kidding, I would never call you guys bimbo tramps. I mean, why would I call you something like bimbo tramps - says Aisha with emphasis on the words bimbo tramps-

Pronunciations: The ATP needs a pronunciation guide for some tennis players’ names. While I know my name isn’t that easy to pronounce, some of you make my name look easy to say.

Mario Ancic, you don’t even want to know how I was saying your last name. The mispronunciation wasn’t pretty.

I’m demanding ATP abbreviations! It’s either that or I make up my own and does the ATP really want that (kidding). -Aisha struggling with pronunciations-:

Max Mir, Max Myrrh, ok Max M.

Alex Bo, Alex Bog, Alex Bogdanovic …ok, it’s Bogie!

Paradorn Srichaphan…P.S.

Hicham Arazi…H.A. as in HA!

And Younes El Aynaoui…ok, uh, You.

I’m just kidding, I take the time to learn people’s names. You know, like that dude from that country in Europe (get the joke?). 

But of course it’s not just in tennis, as singers like Sade have names that aren’t pronounced as they are written and people sometimes mispronounce Rachelle Ferrell’s name as well.

Robert Kendrick: I saw some tennis tournament pics of Kendrick and thought…supermodel with a racket -cue runway music- (kidding).

You know what’s missing from Kendrick. The little sparkle they add to a good-looking person’s teeth in commercials.

Just kidding, but I get jealous when I see someone that’s better looking than me, I don’t care if it’s a man! -Aisha ranting- nobody’s better looking than me, nobodyyyyy! I‘m kidding again – well, I have to say that so I don’t look conceited (joking).


September 1, 2004

Tennis

Watched Arthur Ashe Kids Day again. They raised a lot for charity. Did you guys see Andre Agassi kissing his wife Steffi after she did well. Oh great! - you know, with those two so taken with each other and still breeding, they'd probably just produce more genetically engineered tennis players. How will my future children beat a Graf/Agassi on the court (well, if they listen to their mommy and trip people during changeovers, they will win). At the rate those two are going, I'd have to coach my offspring from age 7 months for them to win matches against those Agassi's. I'm just joking.

Donald Young - I saw his interview at the charity and he was so unassuming. I hope he retains that. He has a lot of potential. He could benefit from a good, sensible advisor who knows the business. I hope he has that and I hope he does well. When you see someone young go into the entertainment or sports industry, you're almost a little nervous for them because you know how difficult it can be and what it can do to people. I hope things go well for him.


October 11, 2004

Tennis

Joke of the Week

Newbie Scoville Jenkins got a 152 MPH welcome to the USTA (well, the ATP circuit) courtesy of Andy Roddick's serve, to which Roddick joked in the San Francisco Chronicle:

"I just wanted to welcome him to the court"

That was mean Andy, funny, but mean! (kidding). Jenkins, however, looked at it optimistically, stating:

"It was a really great learning experience. I faced the worst. Everything can get better from there." 

-Aisha grinning waiting on Scoville to pull Federer's name in the draw-

To Scoville - It's nice to see more black people playing - you're still gonna get your butt kicked by Federer, but it's nice to see more black people playing. I'm just kidding, but not about it being good that more black people like Scoville and Donald Young are on the court. Well done!

Cause you know, the WTA have been discriminating against me. No, not cause I'm black, cause I can't play. Why do they care about a little detail like that, anyway.

When I called to complain, they told me to, "Shut up, go take some lessons and come back when you can actually hit the ball inside the lines." Just how much time do they think I have.

I'm just kidding, that didn't happen.

Did you guys see the US Open final. You ever watch something on TV and think, man, I’m glad that’s not me. I mean, to get your butt handed to you like that is really messed up.

You know what that match reminded me of…those movies where they send a guy out in the middle of the arena, then open the gate and release the hungry lion. I’m totally kidding.

I’d have been glad to lose in the semifinals to avoid playing Federer when he's playing like that.

I’m just kidding - don't get mad Lleyton. Hewitt almost took the second set, which is good because it means he fought back. But Roger was in the zone, so it made it look like Lleyton was playing like, um, me! I’m just teasing.

Lleyton was so gracious in his post match speech. I wouldn’t have been. It would have been, “Give me the mic" -snatches mic from head of USTA- "You knew he was playing like this and you sent me out here anyway."

-Turns to the crowd- "I would just like to say, I hate the USTA for sending me out here today to play against my will. You know, when a player clutches the pole by their locker and screams, 'you can’t make me go out there,' it’s generally an indication that they don’t want to play. It was cruel and unconscionable. I’m demanding that Roger pay my therapy bills – which I will now need after this match.”

This is why I don’t like Switzerland, –Aisha bites Swiss Chocolate and checks the time on her Swiss Watch- cause of Roger Federer. I’m just kidding about Switzerland, my cousin was born there and I have nothing against the Swiss. Roger is a gifted tennis player and congratulations to him on winning.

On to the more serious tennis stuff: Roger’s girlfriend/manager’s new hair color – girl, that color is working for you! You should keep it.

The Serena incident - the incident involving the bad line calls was really tough and not just for her. As a tennis enthusiast, you want to know that each match is a fair game, not that someone is fair game.

Serena, much like her sister at Wimbledon, handled it well. Girl, it should have been: McEnroe racket throw (hey, that rhymes) - Ana Kournikova hair toss - Jimmy Connors angry face. Seriously, I'm sorry the whole thing happened.

Speaking of that, I came across a peculiar article in the New York Daily News by Filip Bondy. It’s peculiar because it is very similar to one I wrote back on June 24th, 2004 about the Venus Williams incident at Wimbledon (scroll up to read it).

On June 24th, 2004 I wrote:

"On an unfair note, the tiebreak error during Venus’ match ought not to have happened. She took it pretty well, though. I don’t think I would have. I would have thrown a hissy fit and demanded to speak to the Queen. Hey, I’m a singer, we always complain to the person at the top. Just kidding."

On September 9th, 2004, Bondy wrote an article in the New York Daily News titled:

"Venus, Serena should employ a primary tennis weapon: The Hissy Fit"

That's a little too close for comfort. It's called plagiarism and people get sued for that. It’s way too similar to be a coincidence. It’s about the same thing - a Williams sister, tennis, questionable calls and throwing a "hissy fit" when these questionable calls happen.

The articles on this page are copyrighted and that one was copyrighted months before that article appeared in the Daily News.

It reminds me of an article I read months ago in a major newspaper that pointed out how an independent site owner complained of the New York Times plagiarizing his web page. He wrote specific things on his web page about former president Bill Clinton in Harlem and a writer from the Times stumbled on his web site and wrote the same things in his article.

People underestimate how effective these independent, blog type web sites can be. After all, Powerlineblog spotted the forgery in the George Bush guard letters and their web site was credited on CNN.

The internet is a very effective tool. Never underestimate who's reading a web site.

Still, I don't get why people choose to plagiarize this web site. While I do have an extensive knowledge of secular stuff , this is still a Christian web site that is dedicated to God. I dedicate all my work to God and if you steal from something dedicated to God, it will not be a blessing to you (there are Bible verses to support this in Leviticus and Malachi). The singers and execs that work with them who stole from this site for their work, got nothing but trouble for it and that's without me even filing the lawsuits yet (with yet being the operative word).


January 15, 2005

Ah, the new season has begun and the new goal on everyone's mind ..."Kick Roger Federer's butt!"

But don't feel sorry for Roger. He's gotten off to a good start.

-Aisha grumbling- Switzerland is gonna pay for this! Maybe if we petition President Bush he will create a special "tennis tax" just for Roger.

American Air Tax - $5 a breath (for breathing American air)

Point Tax - $5,000 (for every point you score on American soil) $7,000 (if the shot is too creative)

TMS Tax - $2,000,000 for every Masters Series you win (that'll more than clean out all the prize money)

That'll teach him for coming in at #1. I'm just kidding. Hope everyone has a good season.


February 14th, 2005

Lleyton Hewitt - Lley had people angry with and spitting at him during the Australian Open…and that was the other tennis players. He made three normally calm tennis players snap and go psycho on him.

I was watching to see which one of them would hop the net and go after him. None of them did. Really, where are your morals. We could have had a Pacers/Piston moment and you guys ruined it. If I were head of the ATP, you guys would have gotten fined for ruining that potentially great ratings moment. I’m just kidding.   

However, if it continues at this rate, they are gonna pull a G-Unit on Lleyton like what happened at the Vibe Awards. It’ll be a pile of tennis players fighting with Lleyton at the bottom of the heap (that’ll make the news). He’s gonna be as flat as a Fritolley, um, I mean, Frito Lay (ok, yea, that was a little corny). I'm just kidding about Lleyton.

Marat Safin wins Australian Open 2005 (BBC/Getty Pics)

Marat Safin - had a good run at the grand slam – literally, he ran all over the court and won, beating Hewitt. Congrats to him. He did very well at the Australian last year as well (runner up). 

Donald Young (photo credit: ITF)

Donald Young - Congrats to Donald Young who won the boys title at the Australian. A few months ago after Arthur Ashe Kids Day and The US open, I wrote about Donald and Scoville Jenkins being among the new black tennis players on the circuit. Congrats again to Donald. Well done.

Bryan Twins courtesy of their web site:

Is it just me or do those two look alike?

The Bryan Twins – I think the handsome doublemint twins, the Bryan Brothers, have an unfair advantage over their opponents. Twins are said to have a type of mental bond, which might be why Mary Kate and Ashley keep winning all those tennis titles. While they did not win the Australian, they've won lots of other titles.

I have a question for the Bryan’s. Say you guys are going out somewhere and it’s kind of windy and you want to check if you look ok, do you just look at the other one instead of in a mirror.

If you got that joke, wasn’t it funny, though!

If you didn’t get that joke, go ask your husband Nick Lachey to explain it to you. I’m just kidding, Jessica. I think she’s pretending to be less intelligent than she really is, as people find it funny (at least I hope so...kidding again).


March 11th, 2005

It’s good to see Serena Williams doing well again. She won the Australian last month and is returning to her old level of play. Good for her. She was injured recently, but she can recuperate from that. That’s the thing with sports. The real wildcard is injury.

- It seems Anna Kournikova’s got a stalker. And a brave one at that. He swam across Biscayne Bay naked, which has had sharks in its midst.

You know, you’d have a really tough time explaining how you got shark bites in those regions.


April 27, 2005

You can always tell who won the match by the pic - it's usually the one smiling with the big grin on his face:

[Aisha Photo Jacking Credit: ESPN. Roger Federer (left) and Rafael Nadal (right) @ The NASDAQ final]

Federer: "Oh look, I made you wear out your shoes!"
Nadal: "Don't worry, I'm gonna send you a bill for it!"

Just kidding, they didn't say that. I seldom call him Federer. I usually call him FedEx cause he delivers. Oh wait, that's the Post Office's slogan, isn't it ("we deliver for you").

The NASDAQ final was great. Federer and Nadal played well. It was something the way Roger came back from a two set deficit. He didn't look himself in the first two sets, but rebounded quite nicely.

Nadal played great as well and shouldn't feel bad about the match. Not that losing feels good, but he played a great match and his ranking went up.

In watching the match, Nadal reminded me of Spanish and British soccer players. He has the instincts and demeanor of a soccer player. He plays tennis like one. He's got that same look, where they stare down their opponents and the ball, while they think about their next move. Sort of like a lion staring down its prey. It's very interesting seeing that applied to tennis.

He added a very real rough and tough (not tumble) dimension to the game and Roger added the artistic quality - you know, Picasso in sneakers (trainers).

Next tennis topic...from Tennis X...

David Wheaton, who is currently the interim coach at Minnesota but cannot take over full-time coaching duties because he does not have a degree, according to the Minnesota Daily, has just published a book: "University of Destruction: Your Game Plan for Spiritual Victory on Campus," a preparatory guide for Christian students coming out of high school and adjusting to what he calls the three pillars of peril: sex, humanism, and drugs and alcohol. Isn't that four pillars? Can you imaging being a party-time freshman tennis player on scholarship at Minnesota, all like "Whooo! Spring Break! Whooo!", then you show up to practice and there's D-Wheaton with his Bible? Doh! 'Alright fellas, 100 crosscourt forehands, then prayer circle.'...

What's wrong with him thinking it's a good thing that players not be drunk, nursing a hangover, worn out from partying, drinking and sleeping around the night before. Any idiot, well apparently not any idiot, would know you can't do that and be a successful athlete.

Why would you, Tennis X, think or want to promote by default via your words, the party loving, alcoholic, promiscuous lifestyle or even venture to write as if it is something commendable, in mocking Wheaton and his book. The man wrote a book, not a critique of your web site, why are your getting your draws all in a knot over it, devoting a whole paragraph in what is a relatively small section to it, forcing me to be a smart aleck.

After an athlete knocks himself out doing all that the night before, what's left for the match the next day. It will translate into a second rate -cough- maybe third rate, performance and most likely a loss.

I feel sorry for anyone with a drug and or alcohol problem, because that's exact what it is, a problem. One that can take their health, livelihood and dignity if they don't beat it. I know people who've had those problems and the toll it took on them was terrible. It's part of the reason I don't drink and I've never tried drugs. One, it's wrong getting drunk and high and two, I wouldn't trust myself with it, as I've seen too many people get addicted from using drugs casually or on one occasion, or from just taking a drink that turns into an addiction.

No one sets out to become an addict; it just creeps up on you from that seemingly simple decision to start.

"Adjusting to what he calls the three pillars of peril: sex, humanism, and drugs and alcohol. Isn't that four pillars?"

No, it is not four pillars in the way he phrased it, as people sometimes classify drugs and alcohol in the same category, hence the word "and" after the word "humanism" in the title, rather than just a comma after "humanism." I guess he should have dumbed it down for you.

Regardless, please tell me which professional sport you know of that you can get skunk drunk, party and sleep around all night,  then go play a superlative session the next morning? Even people on steroids can't do that. That's like kryptonite to the steroids.

Alcohol and drugs and their effects alone linger in your system for days and slow down your reaction time, which is exactly what you need when you have a 125+ mph serve hurling towards you - not.

You couldn't even play good table tennis, let alone good tennis if you undertook that lifestyle, making it a staple. You'd be free to try and free to sample the consequences in seeing your career evaporate right before your eyes. *No disrespect to the table tennis people with that little joke.

I'm not saying some don't have a bit of wine with dinner and are okay, what I'm saying is you can't live out your rock star fantasy by getting drunk off your face, in essence treating your body like its a liquor distillery, sleeping around and partying all night, then go out and kick butt the next day - you'll get your butt kicked the next day, is what will happen.

Actually, rock stars can't even do that and make good music the next day. They usually stay in bed all day, looking and feeling like crud, miss their recording sessions with a dozen people waiting in vain on them, who are all on the clock at pricey rates, cause they feel too cruddy to get out of bed - other than to go to the toilet to pay a regurgitate ode to what happened the night before. Well, that's right before they turn around long enough to ask, "who is that girl in the bed?" and do they, "need to go to the clinic?" Well, mostly male musicians do that.

Back to what I was saying...

As a professional athlete, if you continually abuse your body like that you will not have any lasting success. If you look at what history tells us regarding the subject of drug and alcohol abuse in every sport, the athletes who embarked on that lifestyle lost a lot personally and professionally.

If you ask them now, those of them who are still living that is, if they regret those choices, they'll tell you yes. Many of them have made those declarations of regret in interviews - and the destructive behavior usually starts in high school and college - hence Wheaton's book trying to cut young athletes off at the pass.

Quite a few talented athletes threw away their careers because of drugs and alcohol. I'm not condemning them, because I realize it's an addiction and they didn't deliberately sabotage their careers.

My dad played soccer professionally and internationally starting as a teen (18) and in a conversation we had about two years ago, he told me he couldn't go out and drink and party with his friends like he used to when he started playing, as it would have negative effects on his game. Not to mention it translates into not getting enough rest the night before, which is very detrimental.

Who could play well under those circumstances. It just doesn't happen. If he as a teenager realized what that would do to his body, why is it you as a grown-man-writer don't comprehend that concept? Top athletes from Pele to current champs like David Beckham get that premise, have for decades, why don't you?

Oh, that's right, you don't play tennis, just slam the players...what's with slamming Serena every five minutes and bringing race into it on a few occasions when she didn’t? I sincerely hope you are black (which I strongly doubt), cause that's the only thing that would make your racially laden statements even remotely acceptable (actually, it would still be inappropriate if you were black considering what you've written).

What's with that and overly dissecting every post match press conference she gives like she speaks like Buckwheat when she doesn’t? What? You expecting Shakespeare. No athlete is. You just watched a tennis match - you want a poetry reading in the press conference after? Actually, that would be quite funny.

A lot of the athletes don't even speak English as a first language, but they try and you appreciate their efforts. You understand what they are saying, even if it isn't perfectly phrased. So, what's the problem?

Considering guys write your articles, slamming a woman every five minutes makes you look like you have mommy issues. Stick to slamming the dudes you don't like. It'll look better than picking on a girl every five minutes - a girl that could probably dismantle you on a tennis court without trying.

SPORTS: Preventing Injuries

Sports injuries are difficult, however there are ways to minimize them. According to Merck, more than 10 million sports injuries are treated each year. That's a lot of jacked up athletes.

A lot of experts say stretching helps. Warming up properly is and wearing heel inserts is another. The AAOS (American Academy Of Orthopedic Surgeons) has a helpful web site with tips on how you can prevent sports injuries. It is even chronologically listed by sport and issues like "heat injury" (and no that's not a pun on the Miami Heat). If you are an athlete you should read the tips found at this AAOS link: http://www.aaos.org/wordhtml/prevspor.htm

*Aisha Music Disclaimer - The above mentioned advice on preventing sports injuries will not help you if you are a professional athlete who is targeted by other players because you play too well and are subsequently the victim of flagrant fouls on the job that encompass kicks and karate chops, also known as assault.

Slipped Discs

I read a wonderful article on netdoctor.co.uk about slipped discs. This is something that has happened to me three times in the last 8 years, but I didn't know what it was until my dad told me, as he had that problem as well when he was younger. There are ways to prevent slipped discs, which is something athletes sometimes have. My dad had this condition when he was younger and playing soccer professionally (sports injuries). He loves sports, which as most athletes know, can put a lot of wear and tear on the body. A British coach realized the problem and was able to tell him what to do to correct it. He had to do exercises to strengthen his back and abdominals and that corrected it. He's not had those problems since. It's always best to avoid back surgery if possible.


May 31st, 2005

Nadal, Roddick, The French Open

A little follow up. I read an article in USA Today dated May 17, 2005 that stated Rafael Nadal plays soccer in his spare time. Makes sense now, as I wrote in the previous Sound Off Column on April 27, 2005, that he plays tennis like a soccer player and has the instincts of one. Now we know why.

By the way, check out USA Today's interesting description of Nadal:

"With his shoulder-length hair, white headband and trademark white clam digger shorts, looks like an island warrior swept in off the high seas."

To the journo: you been watching Pirates Of The Caribbean or something (joking).

Some are concerned that he will get burned out, but irrespective of that, he has made quite a mark in a relatively short space of time. I think that's what most athletes and entertainers strive for - to make some sort of positive, lasting, talent oriented mark on their chosen profession.

Speaking of Nadal...

The French Open is underway. The incident during his match against Grosjean was regrettable. I felt sorry for him. He was booed for 10 minutes for a disputed line call that was correct. He only speaks Spanish, and everything going on around him was in French and some English. He must have felt disconcerted. However, he obviously focused it into the match and a victory.

Solution To The Clay Crisis

While I'm writing about the French Open, none of our guys made it through. Ah, it's okay. At least they tried.

- Aisha in mad scientist mode -

This year, once again, I think I've found a solution to the clay crisis. Soccer cleats with metal spikes. If that doesn't stick you to the mud, um, I mean clay, nothing will. You can get some good traction with those shoes! (kidding).

A Good Sport

Andy Roddick was a good sport in his match against Fernando Verdasco, allowing a point that he could have claimed by not correcting the judge. The judge called the ball out. Andy told him it was actually in and Verdasco got the game turning point. Roddick lost the match and was out of the Rome Masters tourney.

I just don't know what to say. Aisha gently slaps Roddick on the back of the head, "What were you thinking?" -Aisha remembers people are watching-. Oops! What I meant was, your noble act of sportsmanship was commendable -cough- loss provoking, but commendable. Just kidding. Well, I guess if you have to lose a match, it's better that you lose playing fairly.

Being a good sport is very important. Things like letting go of a point that you could have won if you felt it wouldn't have been fair, overlooking a slight, being gracious in the face of a racial or xenophobic slur, keeping your composure in racially charged environments like some soccer players routinely have to for their job.

Winning is great, but sportsmanship is more important -cough- that's what losers say (just kidding).

 


June 30, 2005

Rafael Nadal Wins The French Open :

  

A cool shot of the runner-up Mariano Puerta:

(Pics courtesy of Roland Garros)

Continuing the Nadal theme of the last two months, Rafael won the French Open. He has definitely made his mark on tennis. Some were worried he would have gotten burned out, but he won and hopefully he won't run out of steam. At least he has that achievement to his credit.

I think tennis schedules are too grueling. It would be easy for anyone to get burned out and injured under those circumstances. You play one tournament and then you're off to the next, often without much time to recoup. The strain on the body, coupled with constant travel cannot be easy. But some chose it because they love the sport. Still, it can't be an easy life.

It's like certain recording artists - they're always on the road. I sometimes wonder how and why they do it. You gain a lot, but you give up a lot as well. On the one hand, you are living out your dream of performing, but on the other hand, you're basically a permanent tourist for years.

   

 


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