Sunday, February 8, 2009

There may be hope for U.S. women's tennis yet!

Howzabout that Team USA!

In case you missed it, the U.S. team rallied from 2-1 down to eke out the win against Argentina 3-2 in their quarterfinal matchup. And if you missed this tie, you can't really be blamed because there were no big names to speak of. The highest-ranked player out there this weekend was Argentina's Gisela Dulko at 44. However, a true team effort from Jill Craybas, Melanie Oudin, Julie Ditty and Liezel Huber got them through.

Now I wrote something a few weeks ago lamenting the state of U.S. women's professional tennis, and it still deserves lamenting. But I'm not going to do that now as the women came up big sans any top 50 players on the squad. As a matter of fact, I have an idea. Mary Joe, I hope you're reading because here goes:

A few years ago, when Patrick McEnroe took over the Davis Cup captaincy, he decided not to go the route of begging Andre Agassi or Todd Martin to play every tie, but rather decided to go with a youth movement, which included Andy Roddick and James Blake. And believe it or not, the Bryan brothers practically had to beg to play, even though they were among the best doubles teams in the world. McEnroe didn't want to throw dubs specialists out there in case he needed an extra singles player. I remember him saying something to the effect of, "Well, it's not like the Bryans have won Slams." You can't tell me that didn't light a fire under old Mike and Bob for their careers going forward.

So in other words, MJ, why not go with a youth movement? Don't beg the Williams sisters or an on-again, off-again Lindsay Davenport to come out. Let the kids play! Give Oudin, CoCo Vandeweghe, Christina McHale and Asia Muhammad something to fight for. That can only help their careers and build a foundation for U.S. women's tennis. (Not to knock the veterans who came through this weekend.)

I think it worked out good for the Bryan brothers, Blake and Roddick.

(Photo: AP)


Bebe said...

I was so moved by the team effort today. Go Team USA!

Let's give kudos to Mary Joe. She was brilliant in picking this team. However, we need to remember that they were playing Argentina, and it was a lucky first round draw. Had they played a better team, I am not sure the results would be same.

The state of US women game is still gloomy. The USTA has to be ashamed of themselves.

Regardless, congratulations to all the players in the US team this weekend. Now I know the names like Melanie Oudin and Julie Ditty. I hope this experience had kicked start their careers, and may they get loads and loads of wild cards in the US tournaments this year!

Shelia said...

Hi Van!

O.K., minor rant:

I'm always happy for the USA to win whatever we're playing, but this did not impress me in the least! Our team is weak and the people they were playing were weak... it was sad. For as long as I watched, it looked as if they were playing in slow motion.

I have no clue what MJ's strategy is, but she can rest assured that further down the road as they move closer to ladies in the top of the game, this crew will be out quick, fast and in a hurry.

And I must agree with you on giving the young women a chance to fight for the USA. Establishment tennis works only for the establishnment.

freakyfrites said...

Hey Van,

Nice post - I enjoyed watching the tie, too, because it gave me the rare chance to see relative unknowns play on a big(ish) stage. Melanie Oudin and Julie Ditty really held their own, and I think M-J gave the team that extra edge of confidence and belief that they needed to pull out the win.

And wow, is there a difference between 130 and 40 in the world! I know Dulko is a good player, but I didn't realize how good she was until she cleaned everyone's clock in singles (in Craybas's defense, I believe she has beaten Dulko the last couple of times they played.) Not sure if it was just the contrast with the others, but I feel like Gisela will go far at the French.
In terms of M-J's strategy, I don't think she has much of a choice. The Williams sisters are going to play when they feel like playing, whether she begs or not. Davenport is not a real option at this point. So it's not so much a strategy as a reality for M-J. Brave woman. Oh, to have Russia's bench!