Follow Me
Featured Meltdowns


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 USTA league playoffs (2)


USTA League Playoffs: Perspective From the Peanut Gallery

Saturday night's USTA Women's 3.0 Metrotennis League regional playoffs reminded me why I love going to the US Open.  Like the Open, the matches were played at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which is preparing for the upcoming Slam.  There were bags of mulch stacked near empty flower beds and hydraulic construction platforms parked next to new sponsor kiosks for Emirates Airlines.  The lights were on, heightening the drama of our humble little recreational matches.

The loneliness of singles tennis: teammate Dana, in her 2nd singles match. It lasted 3 hours.

Each blue court was a stage.  The August night was soft and blue, with the setting sun turning the sky pink behind the hulking, now-dark outline of Arthur Ashe Stadium.  

A beautiful midsummer night to play, and watch, tennis.  Unfortunately for the Ball Busters, the beauty was skin-deep.  We lost 4 of the 5 matches to Team Cam/Caponi, and our 2013 season is over.

Click to read more ...


USTA League Playoffs: A Good Loss

I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but I had a good loss this weekend.

Marcia won, I lost...why isn't she smiling? Tennis Hate must be infectious.Yes, Haters, I lost my singles match in the USTA 3.0 Women's League playoffs at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and I'm okay!

Stop calling the local emergency rooms.  I'm fine.  My racquets are still in playing condition. The USTA can confirm no balls were abused during my match.

I wanted to make the world fit into the circle of my racquet.  There was nothing else requiring my attention.

I played the second singles spot against Worthy Opponent Marcia.  She was the steadier player in our deciding 10-point tie-break and won the day, 6-2, 1-6, 10-7.  But there was that second set!  And I stayed even with her through the first 12 points of the tie-break, even trading a mini-break with her.

I was defeated by my serve (I frequently missed first serves and had at least two double faults), by pushy short balls that Marcia was able to pounce upon, and by her pace.  She can really clobber the ball.  She made money off a cross-court forehand wide to my forehand that I either hit long or pushed back to where she had quickly positioned herself, licking her lips, at the middle of the net.  Ka-ching!  Put-away volley.

She also rarely missed her first serve.  How'd she do that?

Okay, I'm smiling through the agony of defeat....but Marcia, where's the thrill of victory?Okay, so that was how I was beaten.  How I won was in keeping my wits and hope about me after that numbing first set.  And as much as I pushed, Haters, I also slugged.  I hit many strong drives.  I felt, for once, like I was actually playing tennis, not patty-cake.  And that is what keeps me heading back into the crucible of the tennis court.  Someday, I'm going to play tennis, not a close approximation.  

I reminded myself to stay focused and positive, and I told myself that those qualities simply required that I watch the ball, and see the hit.  I chanted Coach Al's mantra as I waited at the baseline for Marcia to serve.  "Your eyes make the shot."  I didn't have to be someone I wasn't or conjure up some feeling that wasn't there.  All I had to do was stay focused on that little fuzzy yellow orb speeding my way, and watch it all the way onto my strings.  

I wanted to make the world fit into the circle of my racquet.  There was nothing else requiring my attention.

What happened, as a result, was that I was waiting and ready for that ball, body coiled, racquet back.  All the movements Coach barks at me to make before the ball bounces, so that I'm not hitting the ball late and pushing it back.  What happend was that I hit the damn ball. Finally.  I was also, because of my focus, able to pull off some heart-stopping drop shot winners that would've made my husband proud.

That was what helped me during the match.  Invaluable, too, was time in the morning with my husband, playing at the totally empty asphalt courts at Jackie Robinson Park, about 6 easy blocks away from our new digs in Bedford-Stuyvesant.  I got a little Tennis Hate when he broke me to go up 4-3.

"You look like a watch on a branch in a Salvador Dali painting," he scolded me during a water break.  "It's not over!  Don't quit!"  

He shook his head and gave me one of his signature, incredulous, Don't Be An Idiot scowls.  "You can't be acting this way when you play this afternoon.  Make her beat you.  Don't beat yourself."

I rallied to bring the set to 6-6.  I looked at my watch.  I had an hour and a half to shower and eat before heading to the NTC.  Our match, and our marriage, saved by lunchtime.

Also keeping my Tennis Hate and pre-match panic at bay was additional warm-up time with my teammates an hour and a half before the match.  Coach Winston helped lightened the mood by bringing animal crackers, pretzels and beer.  This was, indeed, a time to celebrate, win or lose.  The Ball Busters made the playoffs! 

And I conquered Tennis Hate by warming up with friends and family, focusing on the ball during the match and learning more about how I perform best in big events.