Tag Archives: Madison Keys

Some thoughts on a fabulous first week at the U.S. Open. And a football team plays with 10 men to honor a fallen teammate, and scores a TD

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I have been extraordinarily blessed this year in many ways, with the latest wonderful gift my having acquired a full press credential to the 2015 U.S. Open, thanks to the rising fortunes of my American junior star Reilly Opelka, who I’ve been covering for a long time.

As such, I have been here at Flushing Meadows almost non-stop since Tuesday morning, and am enjoying every damn second of it. I’ve been doing some freelancing for new places (hello, Buffalo News and Wilmington News-Journal readers!), hob-nobbing with some of my tennis writing/broadcasting heroes (spent five minutes with the amazing Mary Carillo Sunday; she’s fantastic) and seeing some fabulous tennis.

I’ll try to keep this relatively coherent but my brain’s been overloaded with lots of great stuff and I’ve been in the sun a lot this week.

Herewith, some thoughts from a fantastic opening seven days of the U.S. Open…

— Best thing I’ve seen, Part 1: Donald Young, a former phenom who was once hyped as the future of American tennis, but then never quite lived up to it. I saw him on Court 17 Tuesday come back from two sets down to beat the No. 11 seed, Gilles Simon.
Then, improbably, he fell behind two sets again on Friday, to Viktor Troicki on the Grandstand court, the best place to watch a match here. With the crowd going nuts on every point, Young fought back to win the final three sets, punctuating the win on match point here.

I was at the top of the stands for the final set, and it was an insane atmosphere; crowd was screaming on every point, and even the yahoos chanting “U-S-A!” U-S-A-!” didn’t bother me that much. (OK I lied, it did bother me. Does every international sporting event have to turn into a xenophobic “we’re No. 1” contest?)

Nothing better than the Grandstand court during a great match.

— Best thing I saw, Part II: The last U.S. Open match of Lleyton Hewitt was also fabulous on Thursday; he played fellow Aussie Bernard Tomic, and believe me when I tell you a stadium full of Australian fans cheering and chanting is about as much fun as it gets. Hewitt got down two sets, won the next two, went up 5-3 in the fifth, and then somehow lost the last four games. Again, the crowd made it special.

— You really don’t appreciate how hard, and how accurate, pro tennis players hit the ball until you sit down close. Madison Keys on Friday night hit the cleanest, most powerful shots I saw all week. She obliterated her opponent, and I thought for sure she had a good chance to beat Serena Williams yesterday.

And she didn’t come close. That’s how good Serena Williams is.

— Two Serena thoughts: 1, She first won the Open in 1999, and now she’s going to win it in 2015. Sixteen years apart, that’s never been done before. 2, she plays Venus on Tuesday night, and how dramatic and incredible would be if her big sister stopped her Grand Slam?

— Did a mid-tournament podcast with my Twitter e-migos Jonathan and James over at The Body Serve; give it a listen here if you want to hear three tennis nuts have a good time.

— So here’s something I wished I’d seen: A flying drone crashed in Louis Armstrong Stadium Thursday. During a match. Didn’t hurt anybody, thankfully. But that had to have been weird to see.

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— They honored the legendary tennis writer/broadcaster Bud Collins Sunday morning in a dedication ceremony, officially naming the media center after him. It was a sweet, beautiful tribute, with Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and other luminaries there. Two great pieces on Bud that I read Sunday: this one by Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated, and Mike Lupica, Bud’s best friend in the media, penned an ode to Bud as well.

— Nothing like seeing the “professionalism” of European media members openly cheering loudly at matches for their countrymen. That would be, um, frowned upon here in the U.S.

— Finally, this bothered me to no end: I saw a bunch of people throughout the week dragging strollers with babies in them around the grounds. Really? This seemed like a good idea, bringing your baby or toddler to the Open for 7-8 hours in 90-degree heat, schlepping them up and down stadium stairs? Sometimes I just don’t get people.

**Finally today, Arkansas Tech is a Division II college football team, and earlier this year a teammate, Zemaric Holt, unexpectedly died at age 21.

He was a defensive player, so to honor him, Arkansas Tech decided to start the first game of the season, on the first play, with only 10 men on defense.

And then this happened…

Very cool…

“Parenthood” roars to the finish line with tears and joy. Tie Domi’s kid with an incredible hockey goal. And the U.S. women come alive at the Aussie Open

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As we await Snowpocalypse 2015 here in NYC, I must of course give a major tip of the cap to Mike Krzyzewski for his 1,000th win Sunday over St. John’s. Obviously I’m biased as a huge Duke fan, but 1,000 wins is an incredible number. He’s the greatest coach in the history of the sport, and it’s an amazing accomplishment. Now, if he can just teach this current group a little defense, national title No. 5 could be coming to Durham in April…

“Parenthood” is down to its final episode this Thursday night, and man, is this show going out with a bang.

I have loved it from the beginning, occasionally hated it and gotten mad at it for some unrealistic decisions involving characters and money, but mostly been way too fascinated with it to stop watching.

And as it comes down to the finish, man, the tissues have been out at my house. This wonderful ensemble keeps giving us beautiful “farewell”-type emotions, manipulating us into feeling joy and sadness all at the same time.

OK, SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN LAST WEEK’S EPISODE YET, SKIP DOWN TO THE VIDEO BELOW.

Last week’s was one of the show’s best episodes ever: Amber giving birth (and of course, naming her baby after her apparently soon-to-die Grandpa Zeke, which even though you knew she would do that, it was still emotional), the great scene with Amber and Sarah singing Joni Mitchell, the Joel/Julia relationship patch-up getting rocky, and of course the totally awesome Braverman family screaming match in the hospital waiting room, when Kristina, who I never agree with, rightly calling out Jasmine for guilting Adam into staying with the recording studio. (My wife thought that was “Parenthood’s” best scene ever).

With one week to go, I’m sad to see such a show with heart go off the air. I don’t know how Zeke’s going to die, but I’m sure he will (a heart attack walking Sarah down the aisle?)

Frustrating at times but always with its heart in the right place, “Parenthood” will be sorely missed in the Lewis house. And lots of others, too, I’m sure.

**Next up, this is one of the coolest goals I’ve ever seen. Max Domi is a major prospect in the Arizona Coyotes’ organization, and he now plays for the junior London Knights of the Ontario (Can.) Hockey League.

He’s also the son of legendary NHL goon Tie Domi, and suffice to say Tie never scored any goals like this.

Just awesome…

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**Finally today, we’re in Week Two of the Australian Open tennis tournament now, always one of my favorites even though I can no longer stay up late to watch the 3:30 a.m. night matches from Melbourne (Ah, my 20s, when I could do such a thing.)

And it’s been a fabulous tournament so far, even though my boy Federer was shockingly knocked out early. The best part has been the performance of the American women, the youngsters coming up behind Venus and Serena who’ve been talked about for years.

We had seven American ladies reach the final 32, and four in the final 16. Coco Vandeweghe and Varvara Lepchenko, and even Taylor Townsend, who lost in Round 1 and is probably a future Grand Slam champion, looked good.

But the biggest stories have been 24-year-old Delaware native (yeah Delaware!) Madison Brengle, who won 7 pro tour level matches in her career before 2015, and yet played Sunday night in the 4th round against Madison Keys (above), a legit Top 10 talent who’s only 19 and is making her Grand Slam breakthrough. (Fun fact: Last year at the French Open, Keys had the fastest average groundstroke speed of anyone in the event, man OR woman. Crazy.)

The American men … eh, we’re still waiting for the next generation to become major forces on the tour (Francis Tiafoe, Stefan Kozlov, our lonely eyes turn to you).

But it’s great to see the U.S. women finally making some noise. If we’re lucky, Venus will win Sunday night and play Keys in the quarterfinals, guaranteeing a U.S. woman into the semis.

 

A glorious 10-hour day at the U.S. Open. And Bill Nye, Science Guy defends science on Fox

Very few places in the world make me as happy as when I’m at the U.S. Open.
The Grand Canyon. Anywhere surrounded by family and friends. And maybe a few other places.
But it’s a short list. So as I write this, just getting home after 10 wonderful hours at the Open on Wednesday, I’m still kind of floating on a high. I’m a little redder than I was this morning (hey, I used sunscreen, but still, some rays penetrate), and pooped from walking around the grounds, but indelibly happy.
Not going to bore you with too many tennis details since I know not all of you are tennis fans (which puzzles me; it’s the greatest sport there is! But that’s a conversion conversation for another day.)
Instead, some scattered shots from my brain from a day of people (and tennis) watching in Flushing Meadows.
— This kills me. So many people I sat near today had absolutely no interest in the match they were theoretically watching; instead they were playing on their cell phones. Texting, emailing, surfing the Internet, all of it.
People, you are AT a live sporting event! Presumably you paid money to be there. There are 19 courts of live, professional tennis being played in the vicinity! You are mere feet away from some of the best athletes in the world!
And you’d rather text or play Angry Birds or whatever?
I mean seriously, some of these people never once looked at the match. I know because I watched some of them for five minutes at a time, astonished.
— Maybe I’m getting older and wiser or something, but the food prices at the Open, which used to offend me greatly, don’t seem so horribly high anymore.
— Totally underrated feature of the Open: Every time you move from one court to the next, you make a new friend. Meet a couple from Greece Wednesday, two ladies who live like 2 minutes from where I used to in Saratoga Springs, a retired guy from Michigan at his first Open, and two teenagers who kept looking around for a security guard that might throw them out of their primo seats.
— Still cracks me up how many fans wear “tennis gear” to the Open. Boys and girls, you’re not playing, you’re just watching.
— Jack Sock. Remember that name (that’s him, above). I know, his name sounds like a comic book character. But he’s an 18-year-old American playing the Open for only the second time, and he’s got all the goods to be a star. I watched 2 sets of him Wednesday and was highly, highly impressed. Also 2 young U.S. women impressed: Christina McHale and Madison Keys. Not anointing them the “saviors of American tennis” yet, but they were awfully good.

**For another perspective on the Open, here’s Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal, with a beautiful piece on taking his father, a 38-year tennis coach at a high school in Mass., to the U.S. Open for the first time.

**This clip really depressed me for a few reasons. Bill Nye, the TV celebrity/genius known as Bill Nye Science Guy, went on a Fox News subsidiary (Fox Business Channel) and had to argue with a nincompoop anchor about science, climate change, and if it really exists. Then at the end, Charles Payne (the host) claimed Nye “confused their viewers.”
What a farce. Every single anchor I’ve seen on Fox is a smug, self-righteous fool, and for Nye to go on this show and dignify it with his presence, only to be denigrated, just saddened me.

Judge for yourself.