Gone awry

Sports VIEW



What’s become of women’s tennis? For that matter, what’s become of the American game?

We had 27 men entered into the U.S. Open that as I write this, is paring down the field to the quarterfinals. How many of those 27 men are left standing? One. That’s right, folks. One—Sam Querry. And he narrowly escaped in a five-set grueling match against Stan Wawrinka that went 7-6, 6-7, 7- 5, 4-6, 6-4 in favor of Wawrinka, just barely.

Okay, so now we have no men left in the Grand Slam event. Andy Roddick went down in flames in the second round last week, amidst a tirade about a foot fault call that mentally took him out of the game. America’s also-rans include James Blake, Mardy Fish, John Isner, and a slew of others way down in the rankings. They too have been ousted by the likes of Raphael Nadal, Roger Federer, Robin Soderling and Novak Djokovic.

On the women’s side, Venus Williams is the lone American woman left in the draw. Notably missing is younger sister Serena, still nursing a cut foot that required stitches a few weeks back. The women’s game in particular has turned into such a Snooze Fest, with everyone afraid to approach the net but a few. Their game has turned into a yawner of blistering ground shots with players trapped a good eight feet behind the baseline. Only a few, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, Kim Clijsters, defending champ Caroline Wozniacki, and the Williams’ seem to know what a short game is. They’ve got game. The rest? Not so much. That’s why they are gone from the tournament. They don’t have a complete game that includes lobs, volleys and a short game. Big serves, big groundstrokes and a dull waiting game to see who makes the first mistake in boring rallies. That’s what the women’s game has turned into. Boring!

The catwalk hiss

The other thing that has bored me to death about the women’s game? The constant distraction of what Venus and Serena Williams will show up in. The sisters are too focused on their design companies and making a fashion statement rather than a tennis statement.

This time around, its been way-tooshort and too-tight sparkly, dresses that look more like night club attire than a standard tennis dress that are just plain distracting as they have ridden up way past the point of decency. There’s a time and place for fashion, and this isn’t it.

Play hard or go home

Now, the men still know what an overall game consists of, including drop shots, slices, top spin and well-placed corner and line shots. Take the pace off the ball and you leave your opponent flat footed and racing from six feet behind the baseline. What’s cost the men the title is that all of that big ammunition comes from the opponents, not our U.S. contenders. We’ve suffered on our side of the net with too many points lost to foot

faults, unforced errors, and mental breakdowns. And,

the inability to contend with a better arsenal of shots from our Spanish, Swiss and Russian counterparts—again, Nadal, Federer and Soderling. Tear a page out of their play book compared to ours and the differences separate the men from the boys.

So why do I watch it? Because I like the game, played high school tennis way back, and still enjoy watching a good game, although, that’s harder and harder to find. Mind you, I never uttered any of those silly shrill grunts that many of the women do these days either. Talk about distracting! That’s where the mute button comes in handy. The USTA is getting closer to fining players for obnoxious and excessive grunting. Good! You never heard Chris Evert or Billy Jean King squealing on court!

Sparty on

I would be remiss if I did not mention the MSU football team and its 38-14 win last Saturday against Western Michigan. We had some big first-game mistakes and no one will feel the pain of those more than Keshawn Martin (critical fumble) and O-line member Jerel Worthy, who the entire world saw coach Mark Dantanio scream, “get him out” after he false started for the umteenth time.

There was a lot of good, though, and Kirk Cousins, Keith Nichol and Greg Jones were the stars on the day And, what about true freshmen, LeVeon Bell, who made history as the first running back to tally more than 100 ground yards in a debut? This is going to be a good season for the Spartans, with an improved secondary, some new blood, and corps of returning talent.

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