Monday, August 16, 2010


They're ending and beginning all over the place.


According to this New York Times article, for the first time since the ATP Tour introduced computer rankings 37 years ago, there are no American men ranked in the top 10. There have been times with 3 or 4 Yanks in the top 10, and times with only one, but in the 1900 weeks since the rankings began, there's always been at least one American until this week, when Andy Roddick slipped from #10 to #11.

The sport is more global than ever, with 9 countries currently represented in the men's top 10, but despite the lack of Americans at the highest tier, U.S. tennis is in decent shape. Wimbledon marathon match winner John Isner is ranked #19, Sam Querrey is #21 (and second to Rafael Nadal with four tournament wins this year), Mardy Fish is #34, and Bob and Mike Bryan recently won their 62nd title to become the winningest doubles team of all time. On the women's side, Venus and Serena Williams continue to contend for major titles, and youngsters like Melanie Oudin are on the rise.

As ever, it's all about the juniors, and developing young American players remains a primary focus of the United States Tennis Association. That is how the next era gets underway. We've been spoiled by a wave of great players over the past 20 years (Sampras, Agassi, Courier, Chang, Martin, WheatonWashington, Krickstein), but another American era will eventually come along.

It's far too early to deem the Roger Federer era over—he just played in the finals of the Rogers Cup in Toronto yesterday, where he lost 7-5, 7-5 to Andy Murray—but there are cracks in the veneer.  If you like Federer you might enjoy this recent New Yorker profile of the dashing Swiss.


The Ben Bass era at Texas A&M has resumed:
The other big pleasant surprise of the camp so far is defensive end Ben Bass, who completely left the game of football to concentrate on academics after a poor freshman year that left the Plano West product ineligible and kicked out of Texas A&M.  He went to school last year at Blinn on his own dime and made straight A's. His improbable comeback is almost complete as Bass has soared up the depth chart this week and is now running with the first unit, although Sherman is quick to say that the competition at the right defensive end spot is ongoing with Jonathan Mathis and others in the mix.  


One era ends and another begins because the great Shelly Gossman has just been hired to write for Saturday Night Live. The brilliant improviser and sketch comedian wraps up her hilarious run this week on the Second City mainstage as she prepares to decamp from Chicago to New York City.

Shelly and I started performing around the same time at Chicago's IO Theater, me indifferently, she exceptionally, and she's paid so many dues since then that she should be considered in good standing with the union for the next 1200 years. I still remember the night she stole the show as part of Second City's Las Vegas residency at the Flamingo Hilton. The least Vegas-y person I know, Shelly was spending her free time far from the Strip, teaching improvisation classes to local residents.

Shelly is a rare and prodigious talent, but more importantly a thoughtful and empathetic person, the kind we all rooted for and cared about even before her courageous and ultimately triumphant battle with cancer. I'm just one of many friends and well-wishers who are thrilled and excited at this wonderful news. Congratulations, Shelly. You deserve it.

Here's Shelly giving a recent interview about her own path to Second City and auditioning for "Saturday Night Live":


noggle said...

It's rare that I have anything to offer this blog in the realm of sports, but fwiw I just read that Roddick was just officially diagnosed with mono.

Ben said...

Federer also had a bout with mono a few years ago that contributed to a temporary decline.

The U.S. Open starts two weeks from today. With luck Roddick will soon be back to stereo.

Elaine said...

Gee, I am sorry to hear about Roddick's illness. Alas, mono takes weeks (sometimes months) to go away, even though it's a self-limiting disease. Roddick was really making progress (in better shape physically and in handling the mental game of tennis as well.)

As for Federer, isn't it a shame when 30 is 'old'? I myself am thinking, heck, 63 isn't Really, Reeeeeally Old.