By the Letter

Friday, April 20, 2007 /by

[Ed. Note: Ed McGrogan is a TW Tribe member by day and a tennis blogger by night at his website, Gasquet & Racquet.]

Do you still collect baseball cards?

Me neither.  Instead, I collect hockey cards. And I was blown away by a recent "chase card" set put out by  Upper Deck, a trading-card producer.  This set, which they named By the Letter, is a card in which nearly the entire surface is used for displaying a letter that was cut from a the nameplate of a jersey actually worn in a game.

Pretty cool, huh?  Well, cool if you still collect sports cards.  And if you're about to say that the word “cool” should never be in the same sentence as “sports cards". . .well, let's leave that for another discussion.

Anyway, I got to thinking that the idea, By the Letter, could be employed in tennis. I broached the idea with Chief Pete, and we jointly figured out that we could come up with a week-in-tennis By the Letters feature at TennisWorld. The beauty of this approach is that it casts a wide net (your first consideration is not the news of the week, it's finding something to fit any of the danged letters, which leads you to some interesting places). For example:

S. . .ix foot, ten inch Ivo Karlovic won his first career ATP title in Houston.

Well, I tinkered with the idea of using a player’s name, or the name of a tournament venue, and then list letter-based facts, based on the word I chose.  On the plus side, it made the letters used much more relevant to tennis news (I could use ALMAGRO, since he just won in Valencia, but that would imply that all the bits of news would be linked to him; which they could be, I suppose. But that would be very narrow).

So I kept thinking. . . and thinking. What if I used the same word, week-to-week, so long as it was a sufficiently long and vowel-rich word to allow me to delve into the breadth of the week's tennis news? It turns out that the word was right under my nose all along, so herewith,TennisWorld's first By the Letters entry. And in keeping with the spirit of this drill, Pete suggested that, in addition to commenting on how you feel about this idea, you base your comments on the items mentioned - and/or step up and post your own version of By the Letters in the Comments:

T. . .omas Berdych’s win against Tommy Robredo at Monte Carlo puts him on a collision course with Rafael Nadal, which would be a rematch of a heated encounter between the two at AMS Madrid last year. 

E. . .storil, Portugal will host a tournament in a little more than a week’s time, and for an International Series event, it will feature an impressive draw that includes Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Nikolay Davydenko, and Fernando Gonzalez.

N. . .adal loses on clay!  (In doubles with Bartolome Salva-Vidal in Monte Carlo.)

N. . .icolas Almagro, who defended his Valencia title last week, was forced to retire at 0-5 due to illness in his match against Berdych in Monte Carlo.

I. . .njuries also forced Gael Monfils to retire at Monte Carlo in his first round match against Radek Stepanek.  Monfils’ record now falls to 3-7 for the year.

S. . .erena Williams will play in Fed Cup action this week, after original reports had her skipping the event due to a groin injury.  The Americans will face Belgium, who will not have either Justine Henin or Kim Clijsters in their roster.

W. . .imbledon runner-up Mark Philippoussis will attempt yet another comeback on May 17th. This time, he'll be competing against Pete Sampras (and a host of other Senior players)  in the Champions Cup, held in Athens, Greece.

O. . .lympic screw up in Italy: China’s Li Na and Zheng Jie will not play in the Fed Cup this weekend against Italy, because the Chinese Tennis Association misread the qualifying rules for the Olympics. Thinking that players actually had to play Fed Cup twice (instead of simply being available to play) in order to qualify for the Olympics, China sent a team other than Le and Zheng, just to make sure that they had enough players qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

R. . .oger Federer is going to play Rafael Nadal in a “The Battle of Surfaces,”  on a court that is grass on one side, clay on the other.

L. . .Z Granderson, a writer for ESPN.com's Page 2, penned a story about an American tennis player who’s long fallen off of the radar – Jan-Michael Gambill.

D. . .irecTV will now carry The Tennis Channel, and will also give a “Sneak Peek” of the French Open to subscribers before the official launch, later in the summer.

--Ed McGrogan

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