Posted in Tennis

Nadal’s Juicy Serve

I’ve been watching the US Open this week and I’ve been amazed by several things:

1. Rafa Nadal’s new and improved serve.  The guy never served in the 130 mph’s before, and now he does.

2. The explanation for Rafa’s new serve: grip change.  Not the gym, not practice.  Nope.  He changed his grip ‘a couple of days’ before the tournament.

3. The appearance of Rafa in the broadcasting booth at the beginning of the quarterfinal match between Djokovic and Monfils.  I watch a lot of tennis, and never ever does a top player appear in the broadcast booth at the beginning of a match.  Topic of discussion?  Rafa’s new grip.  He just happened to have a racket with him to demonstrate it.

Item number 3 above had ‘control the message’ written all over it. Continue reading “Nadal’s Juicy Serve”

Posted in Life, Tennis, Writing

Hit Return

I have returned.  I am writing; I am hitting return.

A poem (inspired by the recent journey) has been chopped and put into the pot. It is simmering nicely. I’m not sure this blog is not the best venue for debuting a poem. But I may—when it is ready.

Thanks to Google Earth, I can show you where (in the wilds of Arizona) we went.


Yes, that compound looking thing at the end of the road.  The Scout’s aunt and uncle live there.  Through artfully designed windows set in thick adobe walls, we watched big-eared bunnies chase insects and quail shimmy in the dirt at dusk.  Alas, I did not see a javelina this time around.


You really don’t want to see one of these things unless you have a drink in your hand.

We also went here…


…though the photo above was taken before this was built:


Photo credit: The Hot Sheet

Watching sports must put me into some kind of alpha state, because on the way home we stopped here too…


Sometimes I envy those who got to see Jackie Robinson play baseball.  Others will one day envy me for living in the heyday of the Roger Federer era, or more precisely, the Federer/Nadal era.

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With all due respect to the venue with the view and these charming people…here is your daily dose of kitsch.   I wish I could explain why this makes me feel like I’m watching laboratory animals in an experiment.  Even more, I wish you were here so we could laugh together.

* + *  * + *

Heads up! I have a blogging-related question.  Say you read someone’s blog (their personal blog) and after a while you start to feel like you know them, or at least know something about them.  Then you meet that blogger in person.  Is there a difference between the blogging persona and the person you meet?  A little difference?  A big one?  If there’s big difference, why do you think that is?  What’s your experience?  Feel free to comment, or to blog on this topic yourself and link to your post in the comments here.

(NB: The question doesn’t apply to someone you already know in the 3-D world…just to someone that you met via reading their blog.)

Posted in Let's Get Visual, Tennis

Carrizo Plain

But first, let me serve you a Pimm’s Cup because The Fortnight starts today. Yes, Wimbledon.  The Big W, as Bud Collins calls it.  The championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. This is the second year that the AELTC will award equal prize money to women players. Good on ’em.

Was I crazy to get up at 4 am this morning to see the very first moment of ESPN2’s promised 100 hours of coverage? Yes indeedy. But when you’ve got Cliff Drysdale, Mary Carrillo (link to bio courtesy of Tennis Served Fresh), and consummate Raider fan Brad Gilbert on tap—well, sleep can wait.

The better to see you with, my dear. The TV that The Scout bought way back in 1991 died recently. Over the weekend, we considered getting a plasma tv. We settled on an LCD TV and brought it home. Those suckers give off a lot of heat—a decidedly undesirable quality, especially during this past weekend. The LCD went back to the store. We’re sticking with good old-fashioned CRT for now—found a nice one on Craigslist. We saved money. We recycled. Nice.

The Carrizo Plain National Monument, courtesy of The Scout.

Posted in Around Town, Let's Get Visual, Tennis

Sore Site for Eyes 2

Thanks to Metroblogging LA for the shout out on my post about tagging. I’m a big believer in posting photos to illustrate my blather. I almost posted the photo of the graffiti, but then when Verizon Wireless wouldn’t let me log in to retrieve the photo from my phone, I got to thinking. First, I had a weak mental moment in which I engaged in that “maybe this is a sign” thinking—like maybe I *shouldn’t* post the photo. That was a mistake. I think that kind of thinking is major BS.

But, and I mean big but – I had *such* a strong negative reaction to what was clearly a gang tagging. Pasadena has had 5 homicides since May. I had just spent a bucolic afternoon at UCLA watching tennis. Watching for free, since Kiefer pulled out of the previous night’s match and they offered us free tickets for Sunday to compensate. I’d had a free glass of wine courtesy of the Wolfgang Puck bartender who was packing up the bar after the final match. I’d even said a friendly hello to my favorite tennis commentator, Cliff Drysdale and collected an autograph from him and Patrick McEnroe. I’m that much of a tennis geek. I had a relaxing afternoon. I was prone.

That’s the context for making that turn from northbound Lincoln onto Montana and seeing the big doo-doo. It was slap-in-face, blow-to-gut. We are getting nowhere fast on the kids-killing-kids issue.

I feel like I need to post it so you can see just how gang-y it is. It isn’t like these examples posted by Zach Behrens at LAist. It’s a benign graffiti vs crime graffiti thing. (Anyone else remember the best benign graffiti ever: “Agnes Moorehead is God” (scroll down a bit) in Hollywood?)

* * * * *

Sigh. Had a call from Jacque Robinson to tell me that it has been painted over (!) so I’m gonna post it. As long as gangs don’t start coming here to see what tags they missed (ha ha), I feel okay about it. But let’s not get artsy-fartsy about how the letter ‘T’ appears to have hips or anything.

Tagged Wall 7-22-07

Update: Another shooting reported in the Pasadena Star-News

Police investigate Pasadena shooting

PASADENA – Pasadena Police Department detectives Tuesday were investigating a shooting in a parking lot July 18 that left two men wounded.

The shooting was reported at about 11 p.m. in the 100 block of West Washington Avenue. Police said an argument between two groups of people in a parking lot escalated into a fight.

When police arrived, all the people involved were gone. However, some witnesses drove the victims to a hospital. Investigators later arrested five people, but it was not clear whether any of the five were booked in connection with the shooting.

Posted in Around Town, Tennis

Tennis in Pasadena

The City of Pasadena is happy to spend the big bucks to buy out the wanna-be ‘adult entertainment club’, Peppermint Garden, instead of investing in bizillion other options for community improvement projects. Seems like $4.6 million would be a good start for an affordable housing project. Or how about setting aside more green space in Northwest Pasadena (like a pocket park or two)?

Even something apparently benign such as rescaling and resurfacing the old and cracking tennis courts just south of the Rose Bowl (and just north of the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center) is a tough sell. Hard core tennis aficionados in Pasadena work hard to find a decent court. The good people at i-Tennis, who have the contract to manage tennis programs for the city, are poised to help–even if they have to hook us up in South Pasadena.

They’ve taken over the old racquet center of South Pasadena (by the golf course), and it is now The Arroyo Racquet Club. There’s an Open House today, July 21, that will feature the world’s #1 racquetball player. Free hot dogs at 12:30 p.m. Woo-hoo!

Arroyo Flyer

UPDATE: Pasadena City Manager Cynthia Kurtz was spotted at the Open House this afternoon, watching the i-Tennis pros battle it out against each other. One can only hope that she was inspired to champion the cause of tennis in Pasadena. Why not a Rose Bowl Tennis Center? Or did we blow our wad closing down the pesky strip club? I guess City Council wanted to “Drop It Like It’s Hot.”

Posted in Tennis

Federer’s Happy Feet

They call it the Happy Slam–the Australian Open, that is. And Roger Federer won it with his happy feet…an incredible amount of ballet-like footwork that moves him around the court and sets up shots straight out of the tennis textbook.

He’s not perfect; no one is. But he’s nearly perfect. Near enough to get through the Aussie Open without dropping a single set.

I used to be the one rooting for the underdog. Not any more. It’s entertaining and inspiring to watch Roger bring tennis to a new level, and that’s what I want to see.

I’m not really a stuffed animal person either, but I did get a Feder-Bear.

On to the French Open…a title still eluding the wonderful Rog (who grew up on clay!).

Posted in Tennis, Uncategorized

Little Bits

Headline in today’s newspaper: Bush Denies Allegations.  Only it’s Reggie, not George. It’s ever so suspicious that Reggie is not cooperating with the NCAA.

Overheard at my local independent bookstore, Vroman’s:
“Well, you know, she IS a fetish model.” 

Those of you who frequent Starbucks have seen their “The Way I See It” series…nice little quotes from thinking people printed on their cups.  (Though do try to take your own mug if you can…it’s the greener option and they give you a discount–it’s only 10 cents–but hey, 10 cents is 10 cents.)

#71 “The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.” –Maureen Dowd

#66 “We are all in this together: women and men, girls and boys.  It takes all of us to change the world.” -Billie Jean King

Posted in Tennis, Uncategorized

Local News: Tennis in Pasadena

Here’s a letter I wrote to the Pasadena Star News. That’s the nice thing about having a blog…even if they don’t publish the letter, I can post it here! Voila!

Tennis in Pasadena: A Victim of Success?

The City of Pasadena’s Human Services and Recreation Department has issued a draft a plan for the city’s recreation services. Unfortunately, this plan doles out a meager portion of resources for the city’s tennis facilities. The current tennis contractor in the city, i-Tennis (also known as Rose Bowl Tennis) has done an excellent job of providing programs for children and adults over the last three years, creating an interest in tennis and a demand for courts. What’s happening now is that the demand for courts has outstripped the availability, and the draft plan does not address this situation.

Some of our local high schools have courts, but they are in disrepair and there are no existing MOUs between Pasadena Unified School District and the City. Neighboring cities like Arcadia and Burbank have more courts, better courts, multiple surfaces and well-maintained lights for night play. Down at Brookside Park, not only are the tennis courts in disrepair, but the sidewalk on the north side of the court enclosure (which is for public pedestrian use by anyone, not just tennis players) is so uneven that several people have fallen, resulting in cuts, bumps and bruises (but not a lawsuit–yet).

If Pasadena is the world-class city it claims to be, it is time to put some funds into a world-class sport, tennis. The United States Tennis Association just named the National Tennis Center after Billie Jean King, a SoCal native who grew up on public courts. If the next Billie Jean is in Pasadena, let’s give her some time on the court.