Archive for January, 2013

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Madison Keys turned to tennis at 4 when inspired by Venus Williams’ dress

MELBOURNE, Australia – As a 4-year-old she watched Venus Williams (turned pro: 1994 at age of 13) playing on TV and fell in love with her dress.

So began the tennis career of Madison Keys (Born: Feb 17, 1995 ).

“I really wanted a tennis dress,” said Keys, now 17. “My parents told me that if I played, they would buy me one. I was like, ‘Hey, I’ll try it.'”

Keys now has a closet full of tennis dresses and enough talent to have reached the third round at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Read more on Foxnews

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No drama but my own

We swept both matches last night:  the LI 8.0 (4th) and the Queens 7.0‘s first match. No drama, everyone’s happy. Congratulations kids!
I could put a happy ending period here. Pix on FB.
But ..
King was scheduled to fly out of JFK at 10:50pm and he told me that he’s down with a mild cold, headache and sleepy at about 5pm.

Quickly, I divided the night:
6:30 to the club, setting things up – we were hosting
7:10-8:10 home, to check on him, despite him saying, it’s necessary ..
8:20-9:00 at the club, taking care of the league match and the full house 9pm-11pm that followed
9:10 to JFK

When I returned to the club, finally had a moment to check my emails, I found one player informed me at 6:48 that he needed to cancel.  I wasn’t too worried, because there’s 17th player who signed up at last second. So I called Mr. 17th, who readily agreed to come.

The result from our Queens match came in: a sweep.

The result from our home match concluded too: a sweep.

The 9-11pm players have arrived, ready to play. The club house was humming and everyone was mingling well. Jim surprised me with two gift certificates (one for Jenn), he organized with our usual suspects. THANK YOU all so much kids! … When couple of players asked me about lineup, I checked my email to show them … then it struck me, Mr. Cancel did not sign up. (I forgot to check line up before calling Mr. 17th. What else is new?)

So I took out my kneeing pad, and began begging my 8.0 players: who wanted to play?

No one wanted.

Mr. 17th looked not too happy and I totally understood.

Golfer called, asking if I was on my way home. We needed to leave for JFK.

So I pleaded with Mr. 17th: just wait for me for an hour, I’ll be right back ..

He laughed: JFK? An hour? Are you kidding me?

Just when I was at my wits end 热锅上的蚂蚁, three guys rushed in. Two were on the line up and George. I was overjoyed and hugged him. Go away you crazy woman ..


We got to the airport quickly despite of thick fog. His flight would delay till midnight. I got back to the club in a little over an hour time. The matches were very competitive.

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Two gift certificates

My tennis kids surprised me and Jenn with two gift certificates on Jan 13, a chaotic evening. I didn’t know what to say, except feeling lucky to be able to hobnob with a group of great people, on and off the court. Thank you!

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Pay to play

DSCN3475One of my dear teammates has the misfortune to have to collect match fees from other mates on the team for me. Six matches in a row.

The pay records on Metro

This Manhattan mixed 7.0 team is my largest, and also the team that I had the most online payments:
17 out of 60 (my math is terrible – I paid 66 instead of 60; one mate paid after I satisfied the season = 67 match fees in the account)

When I captained my first team in 2009, I did send out the note telling the mates where to pay and when was the deadline. Only one veteran paid 6, out of 66. I should not complain because the percentage is improving over the years.

Each league runs differently. The Metro winter teams need to be paid in full by a deadline (usually a month after it starts); the summer teams pay to the club directly where it plays, like the Long Island winter. (I never played on the LI summer team.)

Queens 7.0 mixed 2010

My very first season on the job: Queens 7.0 mixed 2010

There must be a reason that the Metro winter needs us to pay it in full while the season is just under way. Because it will take them four months to issue a refund (canceled court, over payment ..) without an explanation. As if fiduciary doesn’t exist.

Manhattan 7.0 mixed 2013

My current team: Manhattan 7.0 mixed 2013

It’s during my third captains’ meeting, when I learned that most captains/teams made the players to pay online, before the deadline. One of the captains said to me,
“Irene, don’t be shy about asking them to pay, this is a business.”
I never thought this as a business. But after many seasons and teams, I began to feel the burden of ‘reminders’ and ‘instructions’ when no one listens -:). It may still seem fun to the mates but at times, it certainly feels like a work for me. What’s the button says?
Work is for people who don’t play tennis.

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Slowly, I’m starting tennis again. Wednesday we just hit for about an hour. Last night I played the full two hours: Pete/I vs Dan/Jess 6:4 but we lost to Jenn/Michael 7-3 in tie break in spite of having a match point when Pete was serving at 5 to 4. I hit an easy put away shot long. Today I/Wah won over Michale/I 1 (almost got a bagel!). Kai/I was down 5-2 but .. eventually lost in tie break. We won the 10-point super tie break handily tho.

The weather wasn’t too nice (clooudy) but all the courts were taken, some were still wet! There was a group Cantonese speakers. The three adults playing next to us were very cordial, retrieving our balls without any complain. However, when one of kid came over to talk to them, he just walked onto our court without any regard that he’s interrupting us.
Come on, a little common courtesy?
I called out to them, the adults disbursed but the kid walked extra slow, almost stalking on the court. What on earth did he have to do that?

I got two more signatures for Denise



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The machines

I have no intention to use the machines when I signed up. But seeing them day in and day out, they sort of grew on me. Two days ago, I just sat on this torso rotation (on the 2nd floor) and did it.

Not sure what’s right move and what’s not.

Torso Rotation

Torso Rotation

Today I grabbed a floating trainer/demonstrator to show me. He said it is NOT good for my back and he doesn’t like it – just twist you back. Then he proceeded to show me what he likes.

Do they really mean it when they say “I like this .. I prefer that ..”, or just being factious?

IMG_4699 Torso Rotation

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Li Na

I have no life so reading about trivia everything is a thing for me. The current issue of Tennis (Jan/Feb 2013) has WTA Preview 2013, in which the top 10 ladies is DSCN3477being review, in the following order:

  1. Serena WILLIAMS
  2. Victoria AZARENKA
  3. Maria SHARAPOVA
  4. Agnieszka RADWANSKA
  5. Angelique KERBER
  6. Sara ERRANI
  7. Li NA
  8. Petra KVITOVA
  9. Sam STOSUR
  10. Caroline WOZNIACKI

I am just wondering, why the writer/editor could NOT get Ms. Li’s name right? The New Yorker failed. Is it that difficult to get one’s name right? I always thought Chinese name is rather simple.

Or they don’t care?


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A Self-Defeating Adventure in Self-Rating

By Paul Wachter
The New York Times
December 22, 2012

My best tennis days are behind me, and they were never glorious. I was a middling player for a good Division III program in the mid-1990s, and my most memorable collegiate tennis moment happened off the court. (I once smoked marijuana with a professional player.) My last sanctioned match was several years ago, when I, like thousands of other dreamers, signed up for the nationwide tournament for a single spot in the United States Open qualifiers. I lost in the second round to a high school student.

Tennis wasn’t easy to play when I lived in Manhattan. The private courts were expensive and the seasonal public courts were often inconvenient, so I stuck with basketball and squash. But a few months ago, my wife and I moved to Visalia, Calif. When we joined a gym that had tennis courts, I found myself wanting to play again. I was embraced by the local players, who invited me to join their competitive United States Tennis Association league. All I had to do, they said, was access the U.S.T.A.’s Web site and rate myself a 4.5.

The U.S.T.A. ranks players on a 1-to-7 scale, which covers skill levels ranging from a child holding a first racket to Roger Federer. Most of the tennis-playing public is somewhere in the middle. The last (and only) time I had played in a league was about 10 years ago, when I was living in South Carolina. It was a 5.0 league, and the official ratings guide, the National Tennis Rating Program, stipulates that a 5.0 player can “regularly hit winners or force errors off of short balls and can put away volleys,” and “successfully execute lobs, drop shots, half volleys, overhead smashes, and has good depth and spin on most second serves.” Those were the days.

On the U.S.T.A. Web site, I entered my tennis bona fides honestly. I was planning to rate myself a 4.5, a player who can hit all the shots, just not as dependably as a 5.0. So I was surprised when I reached the final screen and was met with a message that the computer had rated me a 5.0. I could appeal the rating, but it would take several weeks for a decision — too late to join my league. What’s more, if I tried to change my answers, the U.S.T.A. would freeze me at a 5.0 and refuse to hear my appeal.

I wondered: What sort of self-rating system was this? And why didn’t it consider age and rust?

“Age is not a factor in N.T.R.P. ratings,” the U.S.T.A.’s David Schobel, who oversees league tennis, wrote in response to e-mailed questions. “You were awarded the 5.0 because that’s the last rating you played within U.S.T.A. League.”

But what if I had just had double-hip-replacement surgery or lost a couple of fingers in an accident? Although there is a medical appeals process for such situations, Schobel wrote, most players who try to rate themselves at a lower level are sandbagging, or trying to be matched with inferior opponents.

“We found that players sat out and then came in at a lower N.T.R.P. skill level when their level of play hadn’t really gone down,” he wrote.

Players have been fooling the system since the U.S.T.A. introduced the league format in 1980, Schobel added. For several years, the association employed verifiers, who would evaluate players in person. But it wasn’t hard to flub a few backhands and overheads on purpose, and the self-rating system returned in 2003.

I would rather play better players and lose; I would sign up for a 5.5 league if there were one nearby. But the much more common tendency, Schobel wrote, is for players to underrate themselves.

Tennis message boards throughout the land are overflowing with rants and conspiracy theories concerning sandbaggers. While perusing an Arkansas blog, I stumbled across nefarious tactics at the women’s 4.0 state championships in May. With the event tied, 2-2, Little Rock Athletic Club trotted out a ringer, Christie Griffee, who had played Division I tennis at Samford University, graduating in 2007. She won the deciding match, 6-0, 6-0. According to the self-rating system, Griffee should have been rated higher, and ultimately the U.S.T.A. weighed in. Griffee’s wins were voided, and she was bumped to a 5.5, but her team still advanced to the Southern championships.

Griffee’s case was egregious. But how about mine?

“Frankly, we assume most players will assume their current rating once the rust wears off,” Schobel wrote.

It’s a happy thought, but not an accurate one. After all, I’m positive that today I could beat 74-year-old Rod Laver, winner of 11 Grand Slam titles, for the sole reason that I’m half his age. Age, I’m afraid, isn’t just a number.

If the U.S.T.A. declines my appeal, I still have a way to become a 4.5. The U.S.T.A. monitors wins and losses and adjusts rankings accordingly, so if I play and lose enough 5.0 matches, I’ll probably be bumped down. But in Visalia, the highest level of U.S.T.A.-sanctioned play is 4.5. So I face the dispiriting option of having to travel out of my way in search of defeat, when I have discovered, informally, I’m perfectly capable of losing to 4.5 players closer to home.

Paul Wachter founded the news aggregator


When I self rated I got a rating of 2.0, there was not one question about how you play tennis.

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