Archive for July, 2008

The Asian parents ..

Michelle Wie has just skipped a Ladies major in order to play with the boys. She has never won a title with the girls. Many people, pros or fans feel the PGA – men’s tour should have a rule to require girls have to win five Ladies’ title before she could qualify for the boy’s tour. I think that’s a good start. Before her first major win, Danica Patrick faced pressure too, but was not the same kind. There isn’t a ladies racing league.  (My advice to Milka Duno .. win a race before throw in your towel !!)

People are blaming the bad advice Wie’s getting from her parents. David Remnick profiled Lang Lang for the New Yorker 8/4 issue, under the title The Olympian. In which he recounted when Lang was studying at the Curtis, his father was very controlling .. once Lang’s teacher Gary Graffman said to him that
“You are worse than a Jewish mother.” 🙂 .. 
Lang came out on top.  Not sure Wie would have the same fate (or luck).

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Who? Ashley Harkleroad?

Heard this was coming for a while, now she’s here. I’ve never heard of Ashley Harkleroad until she posted for the Playboy. Few had predicted in the past that she would be the America’s answer to Anna K. Guess not.  Posting won’t do any thing to her tennis career, but might open doors to other venues after she retires.  Whatever the reason she cited, I just can’t image
any top 10 girls
in tennis doing it. Maria and Ana are pretty, ..

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What do golf, Formula One and US presidential race in common? Come on, you can guess that easily. Black man. Strictly speaking, mix-raced person with dark skin more then the other half. The phenomenon in the Formula One in Europe now is the 22 years old Lewis Hamilton, an English whose grandfather Davidson was from Grenada in the West Indies, mother Carmen a white.

Formula One is the top level in auto racing. Danica Patrick is the IndyCar racer, the American open wheel racing, as vs the NASCAR, the stock cars. F-1 used to be the sports for the titled Europeans. Steffi Graf dated driver Michael Bartels for seven years. He was a F-3 driver, never qualified for F-1. In the US, there are two types of auto racing (in general), Grand prix, open wheel and the stock car. I think the sport is changing too. In the past, the drivers had the air of a gentleman and cultured. Not sure that still applies today, especially when he is only 22. This isn’t to say that the younger ones won’t develop to be sophisticated adults.

Long ago, when Golfer spotted the news that Formula One was going to build a track in Zhuhai in the SEZ, he said he’ll visit China when it opens. Years late, the track relocated to Shanghai.  It opened for business for a few years, but Golfer had since lost his appetite for China.

However, he did drag me to a NASCAR race in PA.  The Andretti family is from Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Father Mario has all three: F-1, Indy and NASCAR.  It was a gorgeous day.  But each exits were so far apart in the Poconos, we failed to gauge the distance (map quest hasn’t become popular) correctly and missed the parade and the starting of the race. Once we sat down, I noticed we were the only Asians in a Pacific Ocean of large sized rednecks.  They all well prepared for the race: huge coolers and chips.  The sound of chip chewing was drown by the nosier, no the ear splitting cars.  After the race, the party moved from the bleachers to the parking lot.  Needless to say, we stranded there for another 2 more hours.  Can’t say I didn’t enjoy it, but I would rather be at some other place .. no telling Golfer, I’m a supportive, mute and obedient wife.

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The golden boy

Sports Illustrated has Michael Phelps on the cover, projecting 8 gold medals in Beijing.  Yeeeeessss, you go boy wonder.  He isn’t excel just in one event, but all four strokes – butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle.  That, Is, Remarkable.  At 6’4″ (6’7″ wing), he should be at the other end of the pool in no time, especially swims in the short course, 25 yards. I’ll be screaming for Dara too, and the Williamses ..

I hope US and China don’t compete head to head often.  Will they clean out the gold medals?  If not all, at least 90%.  Leave whatever they don’t care to the rest of the world to fight over with.  Don’t hate me, I’m pathetic, okay?!?!

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Dear Michael Chang

You ruined my tennis career. Thanks for nothing.

By Huan Hsu

In June 1989, a 17-year-old Californian named Michael Chang defeated Stefan Edberg in the French Open final to become the youngest men’s Grand Slam champion in history. I was 11 that spring, and I woke up early every morning to catch the live broadcasts before heading off to my tennis lessons—one of countless Chinese-Americans who exchanged his graphing calculator for a racket after watching Chang slay one Goliath after another.

Well, that’s how the story’s supposed to go. The truth is, I was rooting for Edberg. But the myth of Chang as every Asian’s tennis hero is a persistent one that will grow stronger after his induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame this month. The platitudes began this January, when the inductees were announced, and are nicely paraphrased by the Seattle Weekly, which characterized Chang as a “breakthrough figure for Asian Americans” and someone who disproved the stereotype of “dweeby Asian kids on the chess team or math club and their SAT scores. Chang was tough, and a great example to all the kids who have since followed him onto the court.”

The person most responsible for my interest in tennis was not Chang but my fifth-grade classmate Brynne Stevens. My family didn’t belong to the Fort Douglas Country Club or own horses, but I figured that playing her sport might make her notice me. (It didn’t.) After Brynne, it was Edberg. And after Edberg, Pete Sampras. It was never Chang, who actually did more to reinforce stereotypes about Chinese people than to dispel them.

Even if you allow that Chang influenced Chinese-Americans to participate in sports beyond the Academic Decathlon, he still shackled us with another stereotype. Thanks to him, we were all seen as determined counterpunchers, tireless tongue-lolling retrievers who compensated for our lack of physical gifts by outlasting our opponents because we couldn’t outplay them.

Before Chang, we were free to dream about becoming Boris Becker, that Teutonic badass who strutted around the baseline, blasting aces, or Edberg, the square-jawed Swede with a stylish attacking game and a hot blond girlfriend. Now we were stuck with the introverted, 5-foot-9 (on his best day) Chang, a devout Christian with a cream-puff serve who scrapped his way to the French Open title with borderline bush-league tricks (moonballing, crowding the service line on returns, the instantly legendary underhand serve). Worst of all, his dragon-lady mother once stuck her hand down his shorts after a practice to check if they were wet. At the Junior Davis Cup! In front of his friends! After Becker retired, he impregnated a woman in a restaurant’s cleaning closet; when Chang hung up his sticks, he studied theology at Biola University.

Chang didn’t defy Chinese stereotypes; he simply ushered them into the arena. He was hardworking, intelligent, humble, forever prepubescent. His parents, Joe and Betty, were research chemists. His older brother, Carl, went to Berkeley. When the boys were young, Joe, in what seems to me to be classic Chinese cheapskate fashion, scrimped by taking notes during Carl’s lessons so that he could replicate them for Michael afterward.

Michael was a junior national champion at 15. He won his first tour event at 16, his first Slam at 17. He was, in short, a prodigy, cocooned by his family, which became known on tour as the Chang Gang. Mother Betty, radiating overprotectiveness, chaperoned him. Joe handled the finances, Carl coached him. They kept to themselves, which struck others as insular and struck me as very, very Chinese.

As a junior player, I insisted on being as un-Chang-like as possible, hitting one-handed backhands and rushing the net. It worked: Unlike Michael Chang, I lost a lot. My coaches pleaded with me to put two hands on my backhand, stay on the baseline, and stop trying to hit fancy shots. But as long as kids at local tournaments would tell me that I looked like Chang (it had been Bruce Lee, before) or assume I knew him personally (I did not), I refused. The expectations weren’t just from white people. When my parents’ friends learned that I liked tennis, they invariably said something like, “Wah, maybe you can be the next Chang Depei!” They always used his Chinese name: “cultivated virtue,” roughly. Diminutive as Chang’s shadow was, it was hard to escape.

At 14, I was given a Chang poster and put it up in my room, thinking I’d give him a chance. But whenever I looked at it, I saw everything I thought Chinese people should transcend. Chang had none of Sampras’ virtuosity or Andre Agassi’s flair or Jim Courier’s dude-ness. He was polite but not personable, wholesome but not quite all-American. Though he was considered a good sport, he never won a sportsmanship award as a junior or professional.

It wasn’t his fault that he became the measuring stick for Chinese-American tennis players. He’s by all accounts a nice guy who gives generously to his causes—primarily Christian outreach and developing Chinese tennis. But since he was the only one out there, people couldn’t help making comparisons. For all his supposed impact on Chinese-American tennis, however, Chang remains more an anomaly than a harbinger. There hasn’t been a single Chinese-American man in the top 50 since his meteoric rise. One promising player, Tommy Ho, a year younger, three inches taller, and even more precocious (he supplanted Chang as the youngest man to play a U.S. Open match), never cracked the top 80 and retired at 24 due to back problems.

When Chang stalled in the rankings, unable to get over the final hump, he attempted to transform himself from a grinder to a power player. To great fanfare, he had his racket company, Prince, design a stick that was one inch longer than the industry standard. It improved his serving angle but also reminded everyone that Chinese guys had to compensate for genetic shortcomings besides our height. Where did Prince add that inch of length? To the shaft, naturally.

The racket propelled him to three more Slam finals (he lost all of them), and a career-high No. 2 ranking, but it was also part of his undoing. His body, already pushed to its limits, wasn’t meant to bulk up. The former champ began to break down, and he never fully recovered from knee and wrist injuries suffered in 1998. Unlike Agassi, who in midcareer descended into the lower tiers and rose again as an elite player, there was no resurrection for Chang. During his 10-tournament farewell tour in 2003, he won two ATP matches.

I saw Chang play in person once, at the 2002 Legg Mason tournament in Washington, D.C. Deep into the twilight of his career, his legs still bulged but had no spring, and he lost in the second round to an anonymous Frenchman. Meanwhile, a Thai named Paradorn Srichaphan powered into the final. At 6-foot-2 and with the broad-shouldered musculature of a kickboxer, he was the anti-Chang I once dreamed of becoming, boasting howitzers off both wings, including a mighty one-handed backhand. He would reach No. 9 in the world before missing 2007 with a wrist injury, but it wasn’t a total loss. That year he married Natalie Glebova, a former Miss Universe. Until Srichaphan, I’d almost stopped believing that an Asian could be that kind of player. So imagine my surprise when I learned that his childhood inspiration was Michael Chang.

Srichaphan came along too late to make a difference in my junior career, if you could call a whole bunch of first- and second-round exits a career. By that point, I’d long stopped believing that a convoluted and highly improbable series of events would land me in the main draw of a Grand Slam. But I had found a new favorite player—an Asian one, at that. And for that, I’m finally grateful to Michael Chang.

2009.05.19, espn, Chang refused to lose 20 years ago

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Wie the Anna K in golf

Isn’t it amusing to see “Golf shocker: Rising start Michelle Wie disqualified”?  Rising star? Oui .. Wie the Anna Kournikova .. I thought her career is pretty much over, thanks to her parents. Ok, it’s over the top statement,.. ..but not too far from the fact, right? Look at Lorena Ochoa, how should the press dab her?

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Black people are not allowed into bars in Beijing

Wow .. wondering if Al Sharpton knew any of this, that the South China Morning Post reported Friday that the crackdown on bars included police forcing bar managers in the popular Sanlitun district to sign agreements pledging not to allow black people into bars during the Olympic Games, as well as other “undesirable” elements.

I think what’s happened here is CNN = I have no clue.

Of course the local authorities and bar managers denied the report. But I’m amused that this thought was even entertained.

Can someone light me up: what’s the Olympic footballgames?  CNN reported that’ll be played in Worker’s Stadium. I knew soccer and the New York Giants.  Olympic football?  You got me there.

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An ace

Yuppppy, I served an ace. I haven’t served in a long time, thought I don’t know how by now. Had few double faults but managed to win the Canadian doubles. Feeling great. My right arm is ok. Tuesday night at badminton, Jordan (the older) Fan was there too. He left at end of last year to get married. During his absence, my right arm’s in pain, so I started to play with my left. When my left wrist got hurt (how???), I began to play with my right arm again. He joked, “oh .. sorry .. now you’ll need to play with your foot ..” We played well and won all our sets, except the last one, a 7-point game. By then I was just too tired to even move.  He’s been going to Sam’s game on Mondays/Fridays and trying to get me going too.  It’s too far and parking is hard.  This morning I had good tennis game too. More double faults than I’d like, but I held all my serves.

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She marries everyone ..

Chris Evert married golfer Greg Norman after their engagement last December. I’m happy to see two oldies (50+ is old?) found love again, but neutral on her, except I don’t enjoy watching her as a player and thought she was out of line by criticizing the Williams sisters for having other interests in life.  Your interests Chrisie, aside from tennis?  Marrying?

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Times on tennis

The Federer vs. Nadal last Sunday at Wimbledon was an epic match. Times sports section usually does a good job. But what is this editorial trying to do here? Can’t you leave the fun to the sports writers who knows their stuff, or at least not losing us? Giving tennis a new topography? .. what are you talking about??

The rain delays did us wonder.  Thought the match would be over when we got back from the Berkshires.  But it didn’t!  We watched the fifth set screaming our lungs out, Pumpkin and I.  We were both for Roger.  Actually I didn’t mind that Nadal won.  Thank lord was not the pig Sergio García who hasn’t won a major yet. Nadal brings to mind ‘brute’.  Marat Safin jokingly said Nadal’s running like a rabbit, :), .. but he’s very likable kid, minors the G-string.  Is he losing his hair already? 

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