Tag Archives: Coco Gauff

The Washington Nationals players do right by their minor-leaguers. Two young American tennis players make a powerful stand. And The woman who sent a powerful (and smelly) message to her ex-boyfriend.

Part of me wants to write, again today, about the ongoing insanity and awfulness going on in this country.
Another part of me is too exhausted from thinking about it, too angry thinking about it, to write anything.

The second part of me won tonight. I urge you to watch what’s happening, and speak out where you can, and do what you can. Most importantly, VOTE.

Here is some (mostly) non-police violence and peaceful protest news. The above video gives me a little hope.

So I thought I’d start today with a story that has absolutely nothing to do with the civil unrest going on in America, or about Covid-19.

It’s about baseball, and players on one major-league team doing what’s right.

If you follow sports you may have heard that minor league baseball is undergoing some awful changes. The majors are looking to cut close to 40 teams, and minor league player salaries, already meager, are likely to get cut this year as well.

Now, the Washington Nationals announced last weekend they’d be cutting the pay of 200 of their minor leaguers

Washington National players are providing financial assistance to their minor league brethren, after the team management announced a 25% pay cut.

Over the weekend, the Washington Nationals made the organizational decision to cut the pay of about 200 minor leaguers for at least the month of June, from $400 a week to $300 a week. While other teams have committed to paying the full stipend at least through June (some for the entire season), at least one team (the Oakland Athletics) is stopping payments all together going forward. The Nationals seem to be the only major-league team paying a lower stipend amount according to the Athletic.

This didn’t sit well with the Nationals players, so late Sunday night, Washington Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle announced via Twitter that Nats players will be making up the lost funds, which amounts to about $20,000, for their minor league brethren.

And then of course, embarrassed by the public backlash they received, the Nationals organization announced that OK fine, we’ll give the minor leaguers their $400 a month.

Disgraceful that the Nats, a major league team coming off a World Series championship, would treat their low-paid employees this way.

Good for Sean Doolittle and the Nats players for stepping up and shaming their franchise.

**Next up today, you know if you’re a regular reader that I’m a huge tennis fan, and I’m going nuts without any ATP or WTA events to watch.

Still, even though there’s no tennis going on, I want to give a shout-out of praise to two outstanding young American players, taking a stand for what’s right. Watch this video Frances Tiafoe put together with some fellow tennis players, and one that Coco Gauff made, and realize the future is in good hands.

Way to go, Frances and Coco. Outstanding stuff.

**And finally today, this story is very insignificant in the grand scheme, but it made me smile and laugh.
A woman in China was mad at her ex-boyfriend, who broke up with her just a few days before Chinese Valentine’s Day (I had no idea V-Day was a thing in China, did you?)

So to get revenge on the pain he had caused her, she ordered an actual ton of onions sent to his house. A truckload of them showed up on his doorstep with a note that it was his “turn” to cry like she had been doing for days.

“I cried for three days, and now it’s your turn!,” she wrote in a note alongside the stinging gift.

The woman in Shandong, surnamed Zhao, told Shandong Net that she had been in a relationship with her ex-boyfriend for nearly a year before the man decided to “unilaterally” break up.

“It caused me a lot of pain, but he refused to cry!” Zhao said.

So she said she decided to send a gift that would “squeeze out his tears”.

“Money is nothing. But the feelings between two people are precious. I can’t be the only one crying,” she added.

Good on ya, Zhao. Men. Who needs them?
On the other hand, I bet the boyfriend had some delicious, teary meals for weeks!

Many thoughts from a fabulous first week at the U.S. Open. And Bernie Sanders vs. punching bag makes me laugh

Whew. I am happily exhausted today, after seven glorious days spent walking the grounds, and writing up a storm, at the U.S. Open.

So much has gone on, so much still to come, as I’ve been swept up in Coco-mania, severely disappointed a man I didn’t even know, and watched as much tennis as I could.

Many thoughts from my exhilarated brain, and man am I super-fortunate I get to come to this thing every year:

— So I have to start with Coco Gauff, the 15-year-old phenom/human excitement machine who won two? matches this week in thrilling fashion, and was the talk of the first week.

I’ve been covering her since two days before the tournament for the Palm Beach Post, and it’s been… quite something. Talking to her parents, her coaches, etc., they’re all kind of riding the wave of something they can’t believe is happening this quickly.

It’s really wonderful catching a “new thing” when it hits tennis: Everyone is so humble and gracious when they’ve never had this much attention before, and from all my interactions with Coco and her family, they seem like genuinely nice, grounded people.
You hope they always stay that way. What a tremendous kid Coco is, and a player with so much potential. Her length, her athleticism, how quickly she reads her opponents’ shots… she’s going to be some kind of superstar player.

But let’s all take a deep breath and remember: She’s only 15. She was born three years AFTER 9/11.

— And oh yeah, this happened after her match with Naomi Osaka. Such incredible sportsmanship, humanity, and class from Osaka. Just beautiful:

— So this was funny: I’m covering the Coco Gauff-Timea Babos second-round thriller Thursday night and, during a changeover, a guy walks past me from a few rows in front of me.

All of a sudden he stops dead in his tracks when he sees my credential.

“Ohmygod are you Michael Lewis the “Moneyball” guy?” he shrieked.

“No, sorry, just a fellow writer with the same name.”

His face dropped, he took a sip of his alcoholic beverage, and started walking away.
Sorry dude. I have to say, getting confused with the other ML happens all the time on social media, but rarely in real life.

— Besides Coco, there were a ton of other surprising success stories from American players this week, including two out-of-nowhere: Taylor Townsend, a former teen phenom who has struggled with inconsistency and injuries  the last several years, made the fourth round after having to qualify and win three matches just to get into the Open, and Kristie Ahn, a “journeyman” player who’d never won two matches at a Slam, getting to the fourth round, thrilling everyone except her own parents (read this as to why they’re mad).

— Random celebrity sightings this week, non-tennis edition: Walked right past NBA legend Kobe Bryant on Friday (he was there promoting a book or something), and Wednesday I was in the midst of Ben Stiller for about 10 seconds.
Nothing tops the two tennis legends I was lucky enough to briefly talk to, though: Rod Laver and Billie Jean King. She is, without a doubt, the greatest, and one of my all-time heroes.

— So this was one of my favorite moments of the first week: Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 5 seed, acted like an ass on Friday night, snatching a towel angrily from a ballboy and covertly giving the middle finger to the chair umpire, who only saw it on the JumboTron replay after the fact.

Anyway, the crowd booed Medvedev something fierce the rest of the match, and after he won, he said this.

What an awesome WWE villain he’d be!

— Finally on the tennis, noticed this week that are like, zero, American chair umpires. Every single one has some kind of foreign accent.
It’s not a problem, of course, tennis’ diversity is fantastic. Just odd that our country doesn’t seem to produce tennis chair umpires.

**And finally today, a moment of Zen, as they used to say on “The Daily Show.” Here’s presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, attempting to hit a boxing punching bag.

Uhhh, stick to politics Bern-man.

The U.S. Open is here! I’m in heaven as always. Some superstitious cows amuse me.. And a shocking retirement announcement from an NFL star

 

It feels like the night before Christmas, y’all.

I know, I know, I’m Jewish. But the U.S. Open tennis tournament starts in, oh, about 13 hours from the time I’m typing this, and as always, I am super-duper excited.

I am so damn lucky for many reasons in life, but one is that for the past eight years I’ve lived less than 45 minutes away from the greatest spectacle in tennis, and for the past six I’ve been lucky enough to have an up-close seat as a writer covering the tournament.

Every year I say this to myself when I look around the Bud Collins Media Center, and see some scribes or broadcasters muttering or complaining about something: Are you freaking kidding me? You people have the best job ever, getting to come to the U.S. Open, FOR FREE, and someone else is paying you to be there, and you get free food! And great seats to the matches!

The Open is amazing, and I’m expecting another great tournament. Since this is my blog I ought to first let you know a few of my U.S. Open preview stories have already been published; first, in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper in Rochester, N.Y., I profiled Jessica Pegula, a super-nice woman who I’ve known and covered for years, who has made a huge breakthrough in the rankings this season.
And then for my new “regular” tennis writing gig at Tennis.One, I did a quick-hitting Open preview for the men and the women, with first-round matches to watch, three players who may win the whole shebang, and other fun stuff.

OK, on to a few other scattered thoughts as this two-week extravaganza gets underway.

— Can’t remember the last time I had this little clue who’d win the Open on the women’s side. You can make a case to me for nine different players, at least, and I’d buy in. Naomi Osaka, the defending champ? Maybe, but her year hasn’t been great since Australia. Ash Barty, the French Open champ? Maybe, but she too isn’t playing great. Serena? Sure, why not, but there are so many psychological, emotional and physical factors she has to deal with this year here at Flushing Meadows.
I’ll pick Wimbledon champ Simona Halep, but really I have no clue (aren’t you glad some people are paying me to cover this?)

— As for the men, well, that’s much easier. Bet almost everything you own on Novak Djokovic, who is by far the best hardcourt player on the ATP Tour. Bet the rest on Rafael Nadal. And say a little prayer for Roger Federer, who will need everything to go right to win.

— Coco-mania is in full swing here. I’m speaking of course of 15-year-old Coco Gauff, playing her first Open and drawing huge crowds last week at practice wherever she went. I attended one of her sessions for a story I’m working on for the Palm Beach Post, and it was pretty raucous when she signed autographs. Gauff is a great, great kid off the court, definitely someone to root for. She starts on Tuesday.

The Open is here! Happy times are here again.

**And now, just because this made me laugh hard, a video of cows all thinking they have to jump over the white lines on the road, and doing it beautifully.

Hilarious. It’s like they’re superstitious baseball players or something.

**And finally today, it’s pretty rare when an NFL superstar retires in his prime, two weeks before the season starts, but that’s happened Saturday night.

Shockingly, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, age 29, announced his retirement. Luck has been battling injuries for several years, and hasn’t played at all this preseason due to a calf injury.

After a constant cycle of injury and rehab, the mental and physical toll finally got to be too much for Luck.

I say good for him. Let him get out while he can still enjoy his life. The NFL chews these men up and spits them out, leaving them broken.

And it was despicable that when news broke Saturday night at a Colts preseason game, and Luck trotted off the field at halftime, some Indy fans booed him.

How dare he try to protect his future health and life, right??? Awful.

My man Pearlman has a great column up on Luck, the booing, and how he made the right decision.

Thoughts from a destination wedding on top of Windham Mountain: lots of fun, and a scary chair-lift. A dog wants a baby out of the deep end of the pool. And Coco-mania hits Wimbledon, as a 15-year-old wows the world

Hi y’all! Just wanted to let you know about something special/different I’m going to be doing in this space next week: July 11th will be the 10-year anniversary of my blog’s existence, so to celebrate, for five days next week I’m going to be re-running some of my most popular posts I’ve ever written at Wide World of Stuff, and some that meant the most to me personally. If there was any post in particular that you enjoyed or would love to see again, drop me a line this week at sweeterlew@yahoo.com. Thanks!

Hope you all had a wonderful Independence Day weekend, me and the family just returned Saturday night from a unique wedding weekend in more ways than one. My wife’s best friend Jodi and her terrific fiancee Seth decided a few months ago to get married on top of Windham Mountain, near the Catskill region in upstate New York, on July 4th.

This clearly made me wonder lots of things, like “will there be fireworks at a July 4th wedding? (Answer: yes, there were, and they were fabulous). What happens if someone drops the wedding ring down the mountain, going to be kind of hard to retrieve, no?

And of course for someone like me who is deathly afraid of heights: Do I have to ride one of those terrifying chair lifts up to the top of the mountain? (Answer: Yes).

But it all worked out and was such a terrific three days for us and our two boys.

Some assorted thoughts from a destination wedding that was thoroughly enjoyable:

— So first of all, the chair lift up to the top of the mountain wasn’t so bad. I didn’t love the “open air” aspect of it, or the fact that my feet were kinda dangling a hundred feet of the ground. But the truly unsettling part was actually that, at least four or five times on the way up the mountain and back down, our lift car stopped. To let more people on at the top or bottom. So for like 30 seconds, were were just kinda hanging in mid-air.

I didn’t love that.

— Destination weddings of friends are strange in that, at most, you’ve met most of these people once or twice in your life, at the bride or groom’s house or at some party they threw. And then for three days or so, you seem them everywhere: At the hotel, at breakfast in the little town, at pre- and post-wedding stuff. And then Saturday comes and you all drive or fly back home, and it’s possible I’ll never see most of these people again.

Which is too bad, because I really liked a lot of them.

— Apropos of nothing, I just wanted to run this hilarious photo, of my 20-month-old son Theo and our good friend Dan, wearing the same color shirt and giving us a visual I’ll never forget. My caption? “Now Theo, I’m very disappointed in you. I thought we agreed not to wear the same color shirt today.”

— Finally, gotta toot my own horn for a minute: I saved the hora at the wedding Thursday night. The hora was going great, but nobody had gotten two chairs into the circle for the traditional “lift up the bride and groom and carry them around.” It happens at EVERY Jewish wedding and bar mitzvah, and it has to happen.

I asked my wife “shouldn’t we go get a chair?” and she was all like “No, someone else is on it.” And then minutes passed, and no one was on it, and so I ran inside with a friend, grabbed two chairs, and forced our way through dozens of people to the center of the hora circle. Whereupon bride and groom were lifted, and cheered, and I am a hero who should be saluted by all!

OK I just wanted to get that on the record.

**Next up, this short, sweet video just says summer to me. A dog sees a man holding a baby in a pool, and the pooch clearly wants the baby to be brought somewhere a little safer.

I Tweeted the person commenting on it too because that cracked me up big-time.

Man’s best friend, AND baby’s best friend!

**And finally today, I believe I told you all about a young female tennis phenom named Coco Gauff last year in this space, with the words “remember her name” being in there somewhere.

Well, I think by now most people who follow sports even a little bit have heard of this incredible 15-year-old girl who has taken Wimbledon by storm. In her first-ever Wimbledon, Gauff won three qualifying matches just to make the most famous tournament in the world, then went out and beat legend Venus Williams in the first round.

That was just the opening act, though: Gauff then won her second-round match, and Friday she pulled off a Harry Houdini act in the third round against Polona Hercog. Down a set and 5-2 in the second, and then facing a couple of match points, this kid who isn’t even old enough for a driver’s permit yet rallied to win, 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 and stunningly advance to the fourth round.

Gauff is the future of women’s tennis, and what a bright future it is. I’ve interviewed her a few times the last couple years at the U.S. Open when she played juniors, and I can tell you she is absolutely grounded, with little ego, and a maturity and intelligence far beyond her years. She has been, as they say, raised right.

She faces former world No. 1 Simona Halep today in the fourth round (on ESPN2 at around 10 a.m. this morning, Eastern time), and even if Gauff loses, this has been her tournament.

What a delight she is. I hope she always stays as excited about winning as in that photo above.