Category Archives: Tennis

An Emotional Embrace

I was gutted for Andy Murray when he lost in the 2012 Wimbledon final. During the customary post-match speeches, one could feel the appreciation of the British crowd for Murray, who was always considered as too dour. Being an athlete myself, I found his emotional display heartwarming.

Perhaps no other moment could better signify the newly-minted Olympic Champion’s ascendance into British hearts than Henry Caplan’s memorable hug.

Read: “You’re my hero and you deserve a hug! Schoolboy’s embrace with Olympic champion Andy Murray captures buoyant mood of the nation”

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Supporting the Kick-It Foundation

I’ve been watching quite a lot of tennis the past few weeks. Since it’s Wimbledon season, the internet is abuzz with news from the Championships. While browsing through the news feed of my Facebook account, I came across photos of Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic Ана Ивановић, and Victoria Azarenka (Вікторыя Азаранка Виктория  Азаренко) pledging their support for the Kick-It Foundation.

 

Williams (L) and Ivanovic (R). (Photos from Eloyse Tyson)

The Kick-It Foundation was started by a “10-year old cancer patient with a big dream- to cure cancer by playing kickball.” The foundation “raises money for pediatric, adolescent and young adult cancer research.”

Screenshot from the Kick-It Foundation Website

I admire athletes like Williams, Ivanovic, and Azarenka, who take time out of their busy schedule and use their considerable clout to promote a just cause. It’s good to know that being a professional athlete is not all about the money nowadays.

Ever since my dad was diagnosed with the Big “C” a couple of years ago, my awareness of the disease jumped from mere theoretical to up close and personal. The disease has brought forth great sadness, but has also brought my family closer than ever.

Cancer among adults is bad enough. But when it afflicts children, it just becomes more heart-wrenching.

Watch the video below to learn more about Kick-It:

Additional Link:

http://www.facebook.com/kickkidscancer

Rafael Nadal vs. Cristiano Ronaldo

Check out this cool Nike ad featuring Rafael Nadal and Cristiano Ronaldo!

Martin Solveig & Dragonette – Hello

They should make more music videos like “Hello.” It’s funny as hell. The catchy song has been playing in my head for more than a week now.

Bromance: Roger and Rafa Giggling in front of the Camera!

Two tennis greats struggle to shoot a promo video for the Roger Federer Foundation. It’s hilarious, to say the least!

Darya Klishina Дарья Клишина: The Next Big Track & Field Star

I stumbled upon a new Darya Klishina Дарья Клишина clip from Youtube last night. In the video, Darya is seen modeling and training (doing hurdle drills, plyometrics and jumping workouts!). She’s as comfortable on the track as she is in front of the camera. It’s just a pity someone hasn’t uploaded English subs yet, since the interview is in Russian! Or maybe I should just learn Russian.

 

Photos from IAAF and Darya Klishina Facebook fan club

Read Track Beauty of the Week: Darya Klishina

Mind you, Darya isn’t just another pretty face. Although her looks rival that tennis goddesses like compatriots Anna Kournikova Анна Сергеевна Ку́рникова and Maria Sharapova Мари́я Ю́рьевна Шара́пова, Darya’s skills are akin to the latter. At the tender age of 19, Darya rewrote the Russian junior long jump record by leaping 7.03m – the second best all-time performance by a junior.

Read my other Darya Klishina posts here

Klishina has yet to translate her tremendous potential to the senior ranks, having been dropped from the Russian lineup to the 2010 Barcelona European Championships for a string of poor performances. Nevertheless, Darya has the makings of a galactic superstar.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Sports as a Career

I read an article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer yesterday about Jeson Patrombon’s decision to skip college for at least a year to focus on his tennis career.  In contrast, the Philippines’ other junior ace, Francis Casey Alcantara, chose to attend Fresno University on an athletic scholarship. Patrombon is one of the Philippines’ eminent junior tennis standouts. The Iligan-city native is currently 30th in the ITF junior rankings.

Read the PDI’s “Patrombon Chooses Tennis over Studies”

The stocky Patrombon had reached the second round of the French Open juniors competition. In the Inquirer article, he aims to be the first-ever Filipino to reach a Grand Slam singles event in the open era (Felicissimo “Mighty Mouse” Ampon once competed with distinction in Roland Garros).

Reading the article reminded me of the legendary John McEnroe’s approach on developing future tennis stars. The mercurial McEnroe, a revered figure in international tennis, advocates a holistic approach to tennis, where promising talents are allowed to live like any other kid his/her age. This is in stark contrast to McEnroe’s brother Patrick who espouse a sports-school based infrastructure.

Read ESPN’s article on McEnroe’s alternative tennis academy

Back in my days as a college-level athlete, I was always faced with the dilemma of prioritizing sport over academics (or vice-versa). Since I was a student-athlete, my role as a student came first. Besides, being a professional track & field athlete was nothing but a pipe dream. Reaching the Olympic final was just a far-flung dream! I knew for a fact that the sport, no matter how passionate I am for it, cannot encompass my future career.

But if I were given the skills to compete in the highly-competitive global athletics circuit, I would have answered a resounding “Yes!” to the offer.

On one hand, I see the wisdom of John McEnroe’s approach. A single-minded compulsion for one particular goal can be a double-edged sword. It threatens to consume one’s being, if the athlete is not careful. The pressure of elite-level sport can make the most resolute of athletes succumb (think Jennifer Capriati and Martina Hingis). If an athlete is bound to spend a good part of his/her best years spending time in various hotel rooms around the world, why not provide the athlete a simple, nondescript childhood?

On the other hand, the contrasting Nietzschean philosophy bodes well for one’s athletic development. Truly, living and breathing the sport 24/7 can do wonders for one’s game. And if one’s passion indeed lies in pursuing the sport, why not dedicate every single living moment of life for this passionate pursuit?

I wish the best for Patrombon. Amongst all other Filipinos his age, Patrombon has taken the road less traveled.

It’s high time someone from our country qualifies for a Grand Slam.

Go Caro!

It’s U.S. Open time. Too bad my cable provider doesn’t air the games. But still, I’m rooting for Caroline Wozniacki!

Go Caro!

Photo credits:

BBC

CNN

Federer: A Modern-day William Tell

Well, not exactly.

While Roger did not shoot an arrow over his son’s head like the mythical Swiss hero, the following trick shot is still amazing!

Got the video from Lance Armstrong’s twitter page. Thanks Lance!

Video credits:

GilletteVideosUK

Afterword

My most eloquent moments seem to come at the heels of heartbreak. I wrote the following piece days after my final UAAP. My confidence was shattered; I was aimless. A months-long period of emotional erosion – then healing – took place.

Now that I’m older (and wiser, hopefully), looking back at these turbulent yet formative chapters evokes fond feelings of nostalgia.

11 February 2008

Ah the race.

That race.

I tried to stay with the leaders during the first part of my relay leg, but decided against it after the 180m mark. I disengaged and coasted for about 50m, stayed in position for another 70m, but as I prepared for the final burst my legs simply could not go faster. We were in 5th place when I passed the baton to Mike Mendoza. Even though Mike and JP Azcueta overtook DLSU to get 4th place, we simply could not meet the targets that were set. I put the blame entirely on myself. If I only stayed with the race leaders all throughout. If only I had more speed endurance – more heart.

It was like February 2006 again, when the team failed to win 3rd place by a measly 4.5 points behind UE. Only this time, we lost a bigger prize, the 1st-runner up trophy by the infinitesimal amount of 3.5 points.

Again, there are a variety of “what-if” scenarios, with the aforementioned 4x400m race included. It’s a Pandora’s Box of situations that hardly does any good. But hey, we scored the highest ever aggregate score among all the Ateneo Men’s Track & Field teams that have competed through the years. So many people rose to the occasion and excelled.

I remember writing something several years back, about giving it your all and owing it to yourself in the end. The sun has set and I’m preparing to go down from the hill. In this momentary calm, I recollect my thoughts; put them in order amidst the chaos of these nightmares.

I feel really bad, but it could have been a lot worse. I didn’t meet my goals, but it sure as hell was a great season. I seem to forget that only a year ago, I was struggling to recover from a broken arm. I did break 15 seconds, even if it was only hand-timed, and had an almost forgettable string of low-15 second races. In the UAAP, I clocked a measly 15.52s in the heats and 15.75s in the final. I could have done much better, but the start, the sprint-in-between and the clearing simply didn’t have its usual spring. It could have been psychological; my collapse – my being outclassed – baffles me.

February 7 (and the 10th as well) simply wasn’t my day.

After the relay, which was the last event of the four-day meet, I took my time going back to the bleachers. Ashamed of my performance, I didn’t want to face my teammates. While I was sulking at one of the benches – “wallowing in self-pity” is a more creative and apt term – Orlando Soriano came to me to give his jersey. For a moment, I forgot the negative things and realized that sport did go beyond winning medals and scoring points. For all of track & field’s simplicity – those who throw and leap the farthest, those who run the fastest, wins – it really goes beyond beating the “7 nameless and faceless guys standing in my way.”**

One of the most relevant sports-related quotes out there are the ones by Martina Navratilova, the many-time Wimbledon champion; and Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics. Navratilova’s words are truthfully blunt: “Whoever said ‘It’s not whether you win or lose that counts’ probably lost.” For Baron de Coubertin, “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”* At first glance, the two seem to lie on opposite poles, with the former viewing winning and losing from a black & white lens, and the latter, being more universal and philosophical.

If you made me chose between the two quotes a year ago, I would have chosen Navratilova’s. Now that I’ve been bitten by defeat’s rabid fangs, her words seem like virulent, bestial jaws devouring my skin – reminding me of the simple truth, that oh so painful of facts, that I’ve lost.

Through the excruciating pangs of failure, I had an epiphany – that these two quotes are not paradoxical. Each one complements the other; the latter builds upon the former: Indeed, sport is about winning; there can only be one winner, one gold medalist – one champion. But sport goes beyond winning and losing. Sport is beyond making a string of excuses that debunks sport’s very essence. Sport is about making goals and meeting them. Sport is facing adversity head on. Sport is about commitment, a wholehearted devotion to something that you love doing.

Sport is about winning yet it goes beyond winning.

In the end, I threw away all those notions of shame and negativity. I mustered enough courage to speak in front of the team – that fine collection of young men who had stood together, fought together, suffered and laughed together – to thank them for a lifetime’s worth of memories.

* – The Olympic creed actually came from a sermon by an American Bishop, Ethelbert Talbot, according to this BBC feature.

** – Quoted from Michael Johnson

*** – For a year after UAAP 70, I was unable to look at these video clips. It was pure agony at that time.

If

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same.” – Rudyard Kipling

I first encountered Rudyard Kipling’s immortal poem back in college. My track coach had a knack of citing literary classics. Back then, I did not really pay attention to the poem. Even though I’m a man of literature myself, “being a man” – as Kipling’s last line vigorously exhorts – was but a distant thought, in light of my youthful pursuits.

Seeing the Rolex Ad featuring Roger Federer, the Wimbledon Centre Court Players’ Entrance and one of Kipling’s lines necessitated a second look at the inspirational poem.

Additional link:

Full text of Kipling’s “If”

Photo credits:

Rolex

Isner prevails over Mahut

I stayed up late last night just to finish John Isner and Nicholas Mahut’s ultra-marathon tennis match. Although Mahut seems to be the fresher one, with Isner appearing almost lethargic and obviously exhausted (if you’ve been playing for 11 hours, who won’t be?), the latter finally seized match point after three days of play. It took 11 hours and 5 minutes to determine the winner.

I feel bad for Mahut. Too bad there aren’t any dead heats in tennis.

The match is a certified classic. I’m glad that I’ve watched it live on the boob tube. Too bad we won’t be seeing any replays any time soon.

Some quotes from Isner, Mahut and the Chair Umpire after the epic match (from BBC & Wimbledon.org):

Isner on Mahut (BBC): “What more can you say? The guy’s an absolute warrior. It stinks someone had to lose. To share this with him was an absolute honour. Maybe we’ll meet again somewhere down the road and it won’t be 70-68.”

Mahut (Wimbledon.org): “At this moment, it’s really painful. But it was amazing to play these three days. We played the greatest tennis match ever at the greatest place to play tennis.”

Umpire Momaned Lahyani (BBC): “When you are so focused and every point feels like a match point you just don’t even think about eating or needing the bathroom. I travel Economy so seven hours sitting still on court is nothing.”

Additional Links

BBC Article

Wimbledon article

Blow-by-blow account of the 5th set

Photo Credits

Guardian.co.uk

Cbcsports.ca

Metro.co.uk

Wimbledon Epic: A 10-hour tennis match

This is crazy. This is EPIC!


After two days and 10-hours play, John Isner and Nicholas Mahut’s 1st round Wimbledon match was stopped as darkness set in. The game was suspended, with the fifth set tied 59-59. It is the longest tennis match to date, beating the Santoro – Clement French Open match (6 hours, 35 minutes) in 2004.

The following quotes from tennis’ top players were funny (from BBC):

Novak Djokovic: “I’m amazed they could both hold their serve that comfortably all day. It’s unbelievable. Maybe they should have agreed to play a tie-break at 50-all!”

Roger Federer: “It’s absolutely amazing. It’s a very special match. This is unheard of in our game. I don’t know if I was crying or laughing, it was too much. I can relate to it to some little degree – but this is beyond anything.”

Read Tom Fordyce’s BBC blog for a more in-depth, entertaining read.

Source:

BBC

Video Credits:

ESPN Sports Center

Photo Credits:

BBC

Page last updated at 23:25 GMT, Wednesday, 23 June 2010 00:25 UK

John Isner and Nicolas Mahut

Federer escapes Falla

The movie Wimbledon (2004) sparked a renewed interest in tennis and, yes, Wimbledon. Back then our cable provider did not show the prestigious grass court tournament (so I settled for the next best thing, the French Open). There’s something regal about the predominantly white outfits and the English ambiance that makes Wimbledon attractive to the spectator.

Last night, I watched the great Roger Federer pull off a Houdini, escaping with a close fought, 5-set victory against the 60th-ranked Alejandro Falla. It was a great duel. To my untrained eyes, the drop shots and the long rallies were a joy to watch.

As Wimbledon unfolds, I’m hoping for a rematch of the Federer – Andy Roddick final last year.  I’m rooting for no one in particular, but I think it’s about time Roddick hits top plum.

Also, I wish the best of luck to the Filipino entries (Treat Huey, Riza Zalameda, Jeson Patrombon and Francis Casey Alcantara).

Additional Links:

Wimbledon Day 1 Photos (BBC)

BBC Article on the Federer-Falla match

Photo Credits:

BBC

Roland Garros

It’s French Open time again. It sucks how I don’t have the time to follow the games as much as I want. As a child, I used to watch tennis matches all the time with my dad. For one summer before 3rd grade, my brother and I learned the basics of the game. I never had the passion for it. Perhaps I was just too lazy as a kid!

Nevertheless, the interest in tennis still remains. It’s a beautiful game (especially women’s tennis!) to watch. The French Open and Wimbledon are my two favorite Grand Slams. Through the years, I’ve rooted for Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Justine Henin and Ana Ivanovic. It’s a pity how Roger got kicked out by Soderling, but then again, that’s how sports go. To make matters even worse, my new tennis crush – Caroline Wozniacki – also suffered an early exit!

Wozniacki

Photo credits:

http://upload.wikimedia.org

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