Archive for August, 2007

US Open .. the girls


Do girls dress up at Flushing Meadow?  My random takes, missed few Park Avenue princess, :).  Serena was like sleep walk, as if she didn’t want to be there.  But managed to win in 2 sets.  Justin Gimelstob won his doubles in 2 sets too.  The crowds loved him.  The fun part of the doubles is players are sort of entertainers, less serious than singles players.  The network should broadcast doubles more!

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I once heard that golf stands for gentleman only lady forbid.  It’s been a long time since I step onto a golf course.  As King’s camp winding down, they played their finale at the Clearview public course.  The weather was beautiful with refreshing gentle breeze, the surrounding is serene (even adjacent to the highway), the grass and trees are as essential to the game as tonic to the eyes.  No wonder Golfer spends every awakening moment on a course, the tranquility sure beats his screaming n yelling wife (can you image if I was fluent in Chinglish, how much louder would I have been?) .. .. Now, am I risking of losing King .. .. away from nagging mom??  Sweet.

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US Open 2007

I saw Yan Zi  in Toronto when she wore the identical same multi-color shoes, rather odd strokes, but out played Ana Ivanovic sharply.  Sizable buddies turned up there, few of them I haven’t seen in years!  Lord.  Group of them went to lunch with her last years, and said she only speaks Sichuan dialect and English.  Mao had made Mandarin the nation language once he took up residence in Zhongnanhai.  I haven’t met anyone who’s educated and under the age of 60 doesn’t speak Mandarin.  They said her coach is from Sichuan too.  Even athlete needs a balance life.  I’m provincial, but I do consider my yardstick of standard Mandarin and passable calligraphy still holds truth of one’s education background.

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What’s equality?

Last week’s Time has Nadal answering 10 Questions from the fans, one asked his opinion on female players earning the same salary as men.  He replied, “I don’t have much opinion about that.  I totally agree that women and men are the same in all areas of life, but my opinion is that, well, if we are the same, then women should have to play best-of-five sets [instead of 3] if they want to earn the same amount of money.”  Well said.  I often wonder those women’s right advocates are doing a service or disservice to us.  Yes, men and women are the same, but No when the girls getting paid the same but doing less.  Best-of-three sets some times lasts only an hour, that’s how long girls final often is.  How could you ask for the same pay with much less effort?  Are we just a bunch of whining babies seeking an easy ride under the guise of equality?  And expecting to be taken seriously.  Silly and sissy.

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Pete Sampras

On the eve of US Open, Pete gave an rare interview with FT, in which he mentioned that his era was different from current Federer’s where there is much less real competition.  I agree.  It gets so boring that we see FedEx plays on Sundays and wins all the time.  Thanks god he doesn’t grunt, and moves fluidly with impeccable form, especially single hand backhand.  The only player who has an edge over him is Rafael Nadal, but it’s only limited on clay, so FedEx ends up with other 3 slams.  In no time, he’ll surpass Pete’s 14 slams record.  Sampras still has bit fire in his belly, for he said IF he gets in shape, he’ll still be a force to reckon with on grass.  WTG, Pete!  Yuan Meng’s practice partner Ras said he saw Pete from time to time in LA, “he plays 3x a week, keep in shape … plays with everyone ..” page



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Blink … and my new style of serve

I played with new serve over the weekend – without any practice – did well.  Only couple of more doubles than usual, which surprised me.  (I had many doubles on Sunday afternoon when I played at a party, after 3 serious hours of playing in the morning – I was so poppped.)  So years ago’s advice actually blossomed, although I never thought of making use of it.

Couple of weeks ago, there’s book review on Gerd Gigerenzer’s Gut Feelings by Catherine Arnst (Business Week 8/20).  It sounds very familiar with a book I read few years ago – Blink.  No coincident, by 3rd paragraph, the reviewers mentioned that Blink‘s author Gladwell drew heavily on Gigerenzer’s research.  Every time when I committed a double fault in tennis, I thought of Blink: we all develope an innate and unconscious rules that govern our negotiation in life – most of those doubles are made when I thought of making it, not I wanted to make it.  Like telling myself, oh no, don’t double fault.  And I was not flexible (or quick) enough to avoid making it.  Is this the thin line distinguish a good player from a great player?  This theory not just applies to tennis.

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Nothing is right

Last Thursday I took my first lesson with Barry.  He’s trying to correct my strokes, not just one, but basically all of them, from forehand to serve.  Shhishe, I’ve been taking lessons on and off over the years, group or private.  None of the coaches tried this hard.  They all say how good I played 🙂 guess not.  I didn’t like it – IF indeed I’m good, than how come I don’t improve much, stagnate at 3.0? Well, I never gone out of my way looking for one that can pick my game either.  Hopefully Barry is the man.  He first worked on my forehand.  My problem is I don’t shift my weight, and hit short, hooves around the serve line, which isn’t good, baseline is the target.  Simon had said it hundred times.  So was Lou, so’s Barry.  After a while, tired of telling me to hit it deep, he said my lacking of power is due to my skinny arms.  Hey, I eat lot of spinach, will it mean that I’ll get my popey’s arm, soon? 🙂

Right before ending of the session, he showed me how to serve .. the right way.  I remembered one of the coaches years ago, who said, “your serve is great, but you should consider adding more varieties, like twist the grip when you’re up 40 love..”  I was lazy, and my serve has always been very dependable with very few double faults.  If I could force errors and gain points here and there, there is very little incentive for me to add anything to my repertoire. 

I told Pumpkin how did I learn to serve when she asked: that for the first few times, I felt totally lost of control and the ballet movement. Ya, the ballerina, the metaphor coined by Gerald at Queens College.  Barry showed me how to do it, which I thought that’s the way I’m doing it. 
“Oh no, you don’t” he replied. 
Geee, now I see the purpose of mandatory continuing education in many industries, to refresh and to improve.  Many things I thought I’m doing it the right way, but after years of doing it, I somehow found a way to do it incorrectly, cutting corners, out of laziness.  Same with swimming.  Once a girl asked me to teach her, did I realize how badly had I been swimming.

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Yuan Meng


We had dinner last night with Yuan Meng, Dream Girl and her entourage, Ras and Yu at Dong Yi Feng Seafood (135-29 37th Ave, Flushing, NY 11354).  More than 20 people showed up.  Tony collected more than $5k.  Second time meeting them, Yu was very warm, so was DG.  After Dick gave a short welcome speech, Yu spoke, mentioned that there are many sponsors chasing them, but they refused.  This donation was different, very heart felt .. Over the course of 10 (?) years, Yu said she never hide anything from DG, except tonight’s dinner. 
“I didn’t tell her a thing.” 
So its a bit surprise to DG.  After fumbling with words, DG got emotional, cried.  They lived in a family style hostel in Flushing, Yu blamed the landlord’s fight late in the night, “I heard knife ..”  So they didn’t sleep well at all, DG lost in the first qualifying round.  If she’s still at it, next year they certainly can stay with any of us.  We had few moments to chat, I found her to be genuine, content, talkative (mostly about herself), acting younger; wasn’t like the scary kitten Yu first encountered, distrusting everyone.  Jonathan said to DG, as long you tried your best, we’re here to support you.  Is this experience talking?  Yu was circling the room, asked me for videos of the night to bring home for the media.

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Anna, Michelle, now Dream Girl

Anna K has long retired comfortably from tennis without winning a single title.  Her career was so short, I didn’t even have a chance to practice her last name, Kournikova.  When I goggle her on the net, all I have to do was type in Anna K.  I got my girl.  There is also a Michelle, with so much fanfare and firework, turned out the prodigy can’t even make it in the lady’s tour, LPGA.  They all had huge endorsement contracts, with real money, not just some free clothing and equipments.  I’m not privy to their contracts, but wondered do the advertisers put in some clause for protection, like you’ll get this level of $$$ only after you won X among of tourneys or reach certain ranking?  It’s safe to say that their good looks have gotten them lucrative deals, made the advertisers being more than generous.  (On this topic, I also often wondered, the look is part of you, then why when people taking that into consideration .. deemed shallow?)

Anyway, Tony called last night, asking donation on behave of Yuan Meng, saying she need financial help, that they are sleeping on the floor at the hotel, etc.  (Doesn’t US hotels all equipped with either king size or 2 twins???  Does it cost less if you forgo bed?)  According to Tony, the top 50 ranked players could make a comfortable living (it’s crucial that you’re able to remain at that level week in and week out), within 100 is no.  Yuan’s highest rank was 92, and brief.  He also mentioned that there are few tourneys held in Asia, mostly in US and Europe, hence it’s very expensive (travel expenses, jet-lag – earlier arrivals..) for the Chinese to break into the top rank.  For their European peers, all they have to do was get into a car and drive there. Also marketing in China is not as mature as in the USA.  Could all those obstacles be over come should the athlete has the talent, mental toughness plus gorgeous look, plus a savvy manager? 
Lisa Raymond has turned pro in 1993, over the years, she has made $7m in prize money.  I like her, but not many people know who she is, even she briefly held the #1 ranking back in 2000.  Doubtfully she signed any lucrative endorsement deals that offered to Anna and Michelle.  In any event, I’ll sponsor Yuan, questions aside.

.. .. Oh, their cute names.  Yuan Meng, Yan Zi .. etc. Tony laughed.
“Most of them changed their names once you gain a little fame, you pick a new name. A common practice in China.”  Just learned one more thing.  He went on to say – actually I wondered myself – “most those athletes are from poor and under-educated families .. the rich kids don’t want, don’t have to sweat.”

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The holy land of ice hockey

hockey_hall_of_fame.jpgI couldn’t grasp the reality that the ice hockey isn’t as popular as say the drug ridden, slow motioned baseball, or half naked basketball in the USA.  The ice hockey has grace, finesse, speed, drama, fight, blood, goons and heroes, and is elegant and clean (years ago, a promising rookie caught using drugs: he’s banned for life — kiddo, you’re in the wrong sport, switch to baseball, you not only get 2 more chances, also get longer shelf life!!)  All the ingredients that makes a sport exciting .. .. but unfortunately the Yankees just don’t take it the way they take to baseball or basketball, and it certainly dictates the fate of that sport.  Ice hockey players seemed never show up on the top ten (best-paid athletes) list.

It’s summer, and news is all about ice hockey in Toronto. Do the Canadians have other thing on their mind? The Maple Leafs has new home .. .. Anyway, Toronto is the seat of hockey, so first thing first.  We visited the it as soon as we arrived.  The building that bears the Hockey Hall of Fame on the corner of Front and Yonge Street is very elegant, but the museum is housed in the basement at the adjacent mall.  Hockey news dominated their newspapers and airwaves, even in the sweltering summer: Mark Bell has pleaded no contest to felony drunken driving and hit-and-run, will face jail time after the season; Sam Pollock has passed away on 8/16 .. ..

The media room in the museum was showing a documentary on Mario Lemieux as we walked by.  I always prefer him over the more famous Gretzky, whom I thought on the girlie side.  Super Mario also battled cancer and came back to play again.  The last time I saw him playing was at the MSG Madison Square Garden against the Rangers in May 1993 – I remembered it by heart: pregnant with King in the 8th month.  Mario scored 5 goals and the Penguins eventually won 8:1 or something like that.  I was wildly happy and cheering for him loudly.  That had irritated the Rangers fans that packed the house.  Few of them fixed me with the menace-est looks.  I supposed if my belly weren’t visibly enlarged they’d throw me onto the ice in no time.

I left the meseum early to entertain the kids – they refused to go to the Hall.  Golfer stayed longer.  Our local rings at home are always packed to almost 24/7: mens league starts at 11pm and boys’ starts at 5 or 5:30am; girlie figure skaters always get up before school.  Is the lack of rings or hockey is indeed popular at grass root?  Parents would kill for it.  You hear term ‘soccer moms’ when soccer isn’t popular at all.  (David Beckham made to the top ten in 2004 as the Mr. No. 8th, beating out A-Rod the 9th and Kobe Bryant the 10th.)  Another myth.

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