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Meltdown of the Week


Finding Roger Federer Meltdown footage on YouTube is like finding a seat on the Number 4 Lexington Avenue subway at 9:30 in the morning. [Non-New Yorkers, take note: it's rare.] The Greatest of All Time usually deals with blown shots by dragging his middle finger across his forehead and tucking his hair behind his ear. Not this time. This was a semi-final match with Novak Djokovic at the 2009 Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Florida. Djokovic just broke Fed in the third and deciding set and was up 15-0 when the Greatest of All Time took his eyes off a routine approach shot that could have evened the score. Federer went through lots of racquets when he was playing the junior circuit; wonder if he felt a little wave of nostalgia upon banging this one hard into the court.

On the Sideline

Entries in Tennis Courts (4)


Tennis Fee Hike Did Little to Raise Money, But Much to Deter Tennis

Haters, I was pissed -- and so were many of you -- when New York City's Parks Department raised tennis fees two years ago.  The cost of a seasonal permit doubled, from $100 to $200.  The price of a single-play permit went from $7 to $15. So did the fee to reserve a court in Central Park and Prospect Park.  

The courts at Central Park. Fewer people are making reservations or buying tennis permits because of 2011 fee hike. Photo: Amy Eddings

So, permit me a little schaudenfreude here upon learning that the fee increase did not raise as much money as the Parks Department thought.  That's because it drove people away from the courts.

According to an analysis by the New York City Independent Budget Office, the Parks Department thought it would milk an additional $1.2 million from the hoity-toity, deep-pocketed types who play tennis.  Ha!  We are the 99%, not the 1%.  And we proved it by refusing to pony up more for the opportunity to play on our taxpayer-funded public courts.  

Seasonal tennis permits fell by 43 percent, from 12,774 in 2010 to a paltry 7,265 in 2012. Single-play permits dropped by nearly 46 percent.  And reservations?  They plummeted by 64%.  Rather than make reservations, players chose to take their chances with showing up as walk-ons, or just waiting for a court to open up.

The flight from tennis permits is not due to a lack of Tennis Love in NYC.  It's due to Tennis Hate from Parks. According to IBO, nearly 20,000 permits were sold in 2001.  That was then.  Two fee hikes and ten years later, just 6,818 permits were sold, "nearly two-thirds less than in 2001." 

That fewer people chose to buy permits isn't surprising.  Then-Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe told me he was expecting this to happen.

But what IBO found was the drop-off was steeper than the Parks Department had calculated. Instead of garnering an additional $2.8 million in the first two years of the higher fees, Parks has only raised $520,000 over the $1.8 million it was getting from tennis players in 2010.  

The head of New Yorkers for Parks, Holly Leicht, got it right when she told The New York Times, "For a relatively small amount of savings for the city, this is a really dramatic impact for thousands of people."




Evidence of Tennis Hate #35

 Why is no one playing? It's MALIBU. People don't work for a living.An empty tennis court is a thing of beauty for New York City players, who have to resort to curious rituals and chicanery to secure even an hour's worth g of beautyof playing time on the city's cheap but unplentiful public courts.  But in Malibu, California, home of the #10-ranked Pepperdine University men's tennis team, an empty tennis court is cause for tears.  Especially one as beautiful as this one, set inside a jungle of bouganvillia and strelizia.  


The Week in Tennis Hate

Roger Federer is feeling sorry for fans who will attend Sunday's ABN AMBRO championship final. That's because they'll be watching Juan Martin del Pot in and Juiien Benneteau instead of him.

Might as well sell your Rotterdam final tickets, because Fed won't be playing. Courtesy AP/Peter Dejong

Federer, who was seeking a record third consecutive championship at Rotterdam, was upset by the 31-year-old Benneteau in the quarterfinals, 6-3, 7-5, on Friday.  The deed was done in just 80 minutes.  It was only the second time in Benneteau's 13-year career that he had beaten Fed, who looked more like a G-O-A-T than the Greatest Of All Time.  

I feel bad for the fans who don't get to see me now.

Fed's timing was off, in both his ground strokes and his serve.  He couldn't take advantage of the 39th-ranked Benneteau's second serves, hitting them wide or dumping them into the net.  He was spraying balls.  His serve was stinky.  His fourth double fault gave Benneteau match point.

It sounds like Benneteau did not try to the world number 2 Fed as much as he was trying not to beat himself.

"I had to do a lot of good things,” Benneteau said. “I prepared myself to play my game, not to try to play better than I can, but to be aggressive when I could. I needed to show physically and mentally I was here and that I wanted it.”

Federer's response was characteristically audacious:  

"I feel bad for the fans who don’t get to see me now. Hopefully this wasn’t my last time here."

Esther Vergeer quit while she was ahead.  Waaaaay ahead.  The 31-year-old wheelchair tennis great retired earlier this week after a 10-year, 470-match winning streak.  In 95 of those matches, the Dutchwoman double-bageled her hapless, helpless opponents.  She dropped only 18 sets.  She won the singles gold medal at four straight Paralympic Games, including Beijing in 2008.  She won the championship despite facing a match point against countrywoman Korie Homan, the only time that happened during her winning streak.

Gold digger: Esther Vergeer took a fourth consecutive gold medal in wheelchair tennis singles at the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

"Too good!" as ATP Masters broadcaster Robbie Koenig is fond of uttering when a winning shot leaves him grasping for something to say.

She's so good, in fact, she exists in a world without Tennis Hate.  "I'm hugely proud of my performances, my titles (148 in singles, 136 in doubles), and can look back on my career with a great feeling," she said at the ABN AMRO tournament in Rotterdam, where she made her announcement and released a book about her life and career.

I know what it's like to lose a Monopoly game.

If I were a reporter covering this, I'd ask Vergeer if she feels any Hate at all.  Does she get disgusted with herself on the court?  "I should have hit that winner even closer to the line, dammit!"  Is there any part of her game she's seeking to improve?  Does she beat herself up for allowing her opponent to even win a point?

How does it feel to win when you never lose?

NEVER lose?  I'm being too generous.  "I know what it's like to lose a Monopoly game," said Vermeer.  "And I don't like losing.

And finally, we close out our summary of Tennis Hate highlights with an uncharateristically cranky Rafael Nadal.

Hard on hard courts: King of Clay wants more tournaments on clay. Courtesy Clive Rose/Getty.The Spaniard is back on the tour after missing the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the 2013 season, and most of last season with a left knee injury.  He plays David Nalbandian Sunday in the Sao Paulo final in Brazil, after rallying to beat another Argentinian, Martin Alund, 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-1.  It's his second final in as many tournaments.  Last week, at Vina del Mar in Chile, the first clay court tournament of the men's season, the King of Clay was stunned by world number 73 Horacio Zeballos in another three-setter.  It was Zaballos' first ATP World Tour trophy.

I can't imagine football players playing on cement. 

On Tuesday, two days after his defeat, Nadal griped about having to play too many hard court tournaments, saying it will lead to long-term injuries for players that will last long after they retire.

"The ATP worries too little about the players," he said.  "It should care more for them."

Rafa, THIS is a hard court. The tour's hard court surfaces? Like a pillow-topped mattress.He thinks more tournaments should be played on softer surfaces. Like....oh, let me guess....clay.  The seven-time French Open champ said hard courts are "too tough" on players' bodies.

"The ATP has to start thinking about ways to lengthen the players' [Editor's note: his] careers.  I can't imagine football players playing on cement, I can't imagine any other sport involving aggressive movements such as tennis being played on such aggressive surfaces such as ours.  We are the only sport in the world making this mistake and it won't change."

He's forgetting basketball, squash, racquetball and the not-the-beach-kind volleyball.

The 26-year-old said it's too late for him to "reprogram his style" to lengthen his career.  "I only have one," he said. And it's one that grinds out long points from the baseline. With no major changes in the tour on the horizon, Nadal doesn't think he'll be a recreational athlete after he and his sore knees limp off the court and into history.

"After ending the career, it would be nice to be able to play football with friends, or tennis.  But with this surface, I don't think it's going to be possible."




Tennis As It Should Be: Outdoors

Updated on Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 5:32PM by Registered CommenterAmy Eddings

The bubble has been removed at the Prospect Park Tennis Center. The courts sport a new layer of Hard-Tru. The sun is blinding. I'm working up a sweat just looking at these courts under a noon sun.

Ah, tennis in the Great Outdoors!

Wow, the courts are EMPTY. Everyone must be at the Great GoogaMooga food and music festival across the street in Prospect Park.

That's where I'm headed.

Yep, in this instance, I'm choosing fois gras donuts from Do or Dine over tennis.

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