The Transalpine Rivalry (YC, 2.06)

Friday, February 06, 2009 /by

Ditty Howdy! I had intended to write a post on coaching today, but I don't think I'll be able to give it the appropriate attention for a couple of reasons, including my ongoing discussions with the Typepad folks about the changes they've made to our Comments page/structure. Frankly, I'm amazed at how responsive and co-operative the site's tech department has been, I'm just hoping that they can also deliver the goods in terms of restoring some of the signature elements of TennisWorld. Who knows, maybe we'll end up with something even better than what we had.

So we'll leave the red-meat coaching post for early next week, and I've also been sitting on a Patrick McEnroe/US tennis piece that will run soon.

This morning, my wife emailed me a link to this New York Times story (unrelated to tennis) about the town of Delhi, which is about 15 miles from the farm and the place where we do stuff like food and hardware shopping. It's a hoot. After reading the piece, I was left wondering, Is there any way to write an article about a place and not have it seem like bizarre hype to people who actually know it? Not that the article is misleading or inaccurate; it isn't, especially. It's just that any piece of journalism represents a view through a narrow (and in the worst of cases, forced or pre-conceived) prism, which is never how the same subject or topic is viewed by anyone who's actually familiar with it, or immersed in it. That's a good thing for me to keep in mind, and for all of us to remember. We view the world, or that part of it that we aren't involved with daily, through a variety of keyholes.

Well, I suppose I ought to be all fired up about Fed Cup, but that's a big ask when you consider that the U.S. squad features a 30-year old Fed Cup debutante (Julie Ditty) whose singles ranking is south of 100. I'm not trying to be snide here, either. I wish her the best of luck and hope she seizes her moment to distinguish herself. It's not as if the Argentina squad, led by Gisela Dulko, is a Fed Cup juggernaut, either, and remember that the tie is on American soil. . . er. . . hard courts, in Surprise, Az.

So let's assume that the name of the town is an omen, and Julie's Ditty will be Don't Cry for Me, Argentina. . . If the US pulls it off, I predict it will be the Shot Heart Round. . . Surprise.

Some of the other Fed Cup ties will be nothing less than star-powered: How about ranking-vaultin', double-faultin' 'Lena Dementieva and Grand Slam shrinking violet Svetlana Kuznetsova leading Russia against China -  or the France vs. Italy match-up in Orleans, France? This one is being billed by the ITF as - get this - the Transalpine Rivalry. Whoa, Nelly!

Still, the "Transalpine Rivalry" (remember to use air-quotation marks when you're talking about this one down at your local boozer tonight) does promise some attractive tennis from the French and some fist-pumping and pugnacious play from the Italians. Alize Cornet is coming off a good Australian Open, but the Italians are a very scrappy Fed Cup crew. I wonder how France's Amelie Mauresmo, perhaps the most baffling player of our time, is going to respond - given how often she's gagged when playing at home, combined with the solid Fed Cup credentials of the Italians.

By the way, has anyone else noticed that when it comes time to Wilanders, the Italian chicas, Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Penetta, may have it all over their male counterparts? I mean, no offense, Simon Bolelli, but even the USA has a couple of guys in the Top 30. . .

The Czech Republic vs. Spain tie is also promising: Carla Suarez Navarro emerged as an intriguing, easy-to-love player in Melbourne, but the Czechs have good balance, with Iveta Benesova and Petra Kvitova. I'm struggling to find something more to say about this one. I give up.

But hey, Goooooh. . . Julie!!!!

- Pete

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