The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, July 14, 2020

All eyes on World Team Tennis — Best Five at The IX Advice — Must-click women's tennis links

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US Open Depends On World Team Tennis’ Success

The World Team Tennis season kicked off this week at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The league decided to bring all teams to one location for the three-week season to avoid an COVID-19 disasters related to travel.

Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters, Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens and Sofia Kenin are among the players geared up to play for their respective teams.

WTT is following the “bubble” system that the NBA has implemented. However, the Greenbrier is allowing fans to attend the matches. Only a percentage of the 2,500 capacity stadium will be full, with fans not only keeping masks on, but having their temperature taken upon entry. Players don’t give teammates or anyone high-fives, and also don’t have to wear a mask on court — only when off. The league will be using Hawkeye in place of linesmen and my personal favorite, teammates will be used as ballkids.

Players and coaches aren’t allowed on court until a negative COVID-19 test is registered on-site. And that’s following the initial test at home that requires the long q-tip into the back on the nasal cavity for 5-10 seconds. While West Virginia has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases, there are fewer than 100 cases in Greenbrier County and the state ranks seventh-lowest in total cases in the country. The league said, should a player test positive, she will be removed, quarantined and paid for the remainder of the season. Should rain be a factor, only 100 fans and 50 staffers will be allowed indoors for the matches.

Now, what does that mean for the US Open?

While the Credit One Bank Invitational in Charleston was a massive success with protocols in place, the US Open will have over 256 players and just as much, if not more staff involved. The WTT season will be a great indicator of producing a “bubble” for tennis players, but only if protocols are implemented and signed by all players, like I mentioned last week.

The USTA and US Open will have much more resources to test, scan, sanitize, etc. throughout the two tournament period tennis will be played in New York. It was announced yesterday that New York City had zero COVID-19 deaths for the first time since the pandemic started. That’s great news, but there’s also a heightened risk of bringing in asymptomatic players or even players with false negatives into the area. As much as we want (and even some, need) tennis, is it truly worth it? I’ve been happy for the Tours to restart, but as numbers continue to rise with millions in the United States not taking it serious, my glass is starting to lose water.

Many European players are hesitant to travel to the United States considering the lack of structure and the government ignoring science. Apparently, the US Open won’t be seeing 2019 US Open semifinalist Elina Svitolina in New York:

No doubt: the USTA, US Open, City of New York and their partners are going to do anything and everything in their power to make the US Open a positive and safe space for players. However, we’re at a period where we can’t bank on people being smart or hoping that players take the correct precautions. No fans in attendance brings the chance of an outbreak extremely down, but it’s the “bubble” that concerns me the most. It’s time for zero-tolerance policies to be enacted and no penalties be brought to players who are afraid of making the trip — for whatever reason it may be.


This week in Women’s Tennis

The WTA joined the ATP by releasing a similar new ranking structure to best handle tennis post-COVID-19. From the announcement:

  • Under the revised system, a player’s ranking will be comprised of her best 16 results in singles and best 11 results in doubles based on the points earned between March 2019 through December 2020. A player’s ranking breakdown will include the "Better of 2019 and 2020" points earned at Tour-level and Grand Slam events. Further, a player may not count the same WTA Tour or Grand Slam level result twice in her ranking breakdown. Tour-level points added in 2020 will drop after the event is scheduled to be played again in 2021 or after 52 weeks, whichever is earlier.

Two more WTA tournaments were added to the 2020 provisional schedule, The Prague Open in Prague, Czech Republic and the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Kentucky. The Great Shot Podcast spoke with TSO Tournament Director Jon Sanders following the announcement:

In the warmest news of the week, Wimbledon announced that they will be giving players and officials prize money even though the tournament did not take place. It should be noted that the tournament still took a massive loss despite holding pandemic insurance, so this is truly a fantastic moment of sportsmanship.

The Palermo Ladies’ Open has three more Top 20 stars joining Simona Halep when WTA play resumes in Johanna Konta, Petra Martic and Marketa Vondrousova.

World No. 25 Dayana Yastremska put herself in the news by posting a picture to signify equality, but included blackface. While the attempt to show solidarity with her colleagues of color is noted, her apology definitely lack sincerity.

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Samantha Stosur announced she and her partner Liz are now the parents of a baby girl, Genevieve:

Life in lockdown during coronavirus has been challenging in many ways but personally it’s been one of the most exciting and happy times of my life. On the 16th of June, my partner Liz gave birth to our beautiful little girl, Genevieve. It has been a whirlwind time but we could not imagine life without her now.
Mum and Evie are doing well and it’s so amazing to be home with them both. We are absolutely in love with this little bundle and rolling with the happy chaos. We can’t wait for what’s to come and to watch little Evie grow up....Although not too quickly we hope! 👧🏻🥰❤️
#babygirl #homecourt #wta #tennisaustralia #family
July 13, 2020

The International Tennis Hall of Fame deserves around of kudos for their work on digitizing their entire collection and work to have the full history of sport seen by as many as possible - not just in Newport, Rhode Island.

Upcoming ITHOF honoree Conchita Martinez spoke on their Instagram Live to discuss her career that spanned three decades and a 1994 Wimbledon title.

Katie Boulter announced her #HitWithKatie initiative, aimed at anyone under 18 years old in Britian to pick up a racquet with the chance to work with the rising star.

In case she wasn’t already busy, Serena Williams has released her UNSTOPPABLE capsule collection from her jewelry line.

In coaching news, Julia Goerges has paired up with Ramon Sluiter, who brought Kiki Bertens to the Top 5, while Donna Vekic and Torben Beltz have announced their surprising split. Craig Kardon, who is currently working with Coco Vandeweghe, says a large American contingent can capture a Grand Slam, but it boils down to belief.

The most recent episode of tennis.com’s My Tennis Life features Monica Puig traveling to Charleston for her comeback from elbow surgery and gearing up for World Team Tennis. On a Wimbledon-themed Tennis United, Lindsay Davenport, Garbine Muruuza, Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova were the show’s featured guests.

Dozens of members of the GLTA, an amateur tennis circuit with tournaments around the world, join on zoom every week for #WTAQuarantrivia. The group has gathered calls with past and present WTA stars including Sachia Vickery, Madison Keys, Danielle Collins and most recently, Lindsay Davenport.


Tweet of the Week

Seriously, Naomi….never change


Five at the IX: Best Advice

I’ve been fortunate enough to have interviewed some great people in the game and I always make sure to ask “what was the best advice you’ve received and who gave it?” and also ask for them to give their 18-year-old self advice if they could go back in time. Some of the answers have been stellar

Leslie Allen: I would say the best piece of advice was something that Althea Gibson once said to me and she said I need to think about winning WTA tournament because I told her my goal was just to get in them, to be in the main draw. When she said “with your wingspan, you need to think about winning WTA tournaments” after the first hour that she saw me and several of the Africa-American players play, I just remembered thinking “this is the two-time Wimbledon US Open champion telling me she thinks I can win WTA Tour title. I need to change everything I need to step up my game.” It was such a far-fetched dream to want to be a pro, so I would never say that out loud. I would just say things like “I want to see how good I can get or I want to see if I can get good enough.”

Going back in time, I would say “don’t be afraid to use your voice.” It’s that simple.

Megan Rose: I've been on the receiving end of a lot of great advice and I try to read a lot, but one that really stands out to me is: "Success is leased and rent is due every day." It reminds me that you have to keep working hard, keep innovating, keep working on yourself, be growth mindset, and always keep laughing. I would tell a young Megan Rose not to worry so much about the timing in which things will happen. Take a deep breath every once in a while and enjoy where you are at that moment.

Gaby Dabrowski: Several years ago I worked with a life coach and she told me, "You are not your mind." I didn't quite realize it at the time, but that was the game changer for me. The concept is that your thoughts are not automatically facts, you can think something and if that thought is not serving you, it's best to let it go. It taught me an awareness that I'd never before experienced. You could call it mindfulness. And once you see that and feel it, you can't go back. Once you know, you know. It doesn't mean that straight away you are this super aware and perfect person, all it means is that you are better able to choose how you react, feel, and respond to something... and that the more you practice this, the better you get at it. For example, one day instead of having an automatic negative reaction to something, you can actually notice what is happening and choose to react differently. 

If I could go back in time I would tell myself to be my best friend and to be kind to myself. I was very very hard on myself, and still am, but now I am pretty good at separating tennis Gaby and human Gaby. And at the end of the day, human Gaby matters a lot more. 

Ashley Harkleroad: You know, I received a lot of advice over the years.  Stay in the moment is so cliché, but living in the present is a real gift you can give yourself, I would probably tell 18 year old Ashley that. I would also tell her “everything is going to workout and smile more!” Tennis-wise I would have told, 18-year-old Ashley to stop playing it so safe and go for it! My husband told me to try to save up a million dollars cash in the bank before I retire. That was great advice because it gave me a goal and a picture of what I need to do to have a life after tennis, and definitely having money was key especially since I wanted to invest in real estate when I was done playing tennis. 

Another piece of advice I got was after I posed for Playboy, I never knew how to answer some of the questions about why I did that shoot.  Andre Agassi told me to keep it simple and say "Yeah. That was me, it was fun, I had a blast and glad you like it" and be done.  Keeping it simple was super key when it came to Playboy questions! 

Alla Kudryavtseva: The greatest piece of advice I’ve ever gotten was from my father. He told me to never limit my self identity to only a tennis player. He always encouraged me to read, study and grow as a person.

If I could go back in time I would tell my 18 year old self to let go of losses faster and to treat everything about tennis as a business, except for the game itself. The game is beautiful; the ups, the downs, the “c’moooons” on top of your lungs, even the broken rackets and tears after losses. In the end of your career they don’t sting anymore. You are left with mostly good feelings and emotions. But everything else is hard; the travel, the coaches, the agents, the doubles partners, who dump you midway through the season. I always tried to be nice and fair, because that’s how I want to be treated. But for most of the people surrounding tennis, it’s business, so I wish I treated it the same way. I’d have a lot less trust issues and probably two times more money by now. 


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