Tennis

Summer, Serena, and the Calendar Slam

For those of us that are football fans, the months that lead up to the NFL and college football returning can be mind numbingly painful.  I am one of the biggest baseball fans, but sometimes its hard to get jazzed about a sport that has 162 games.

What I have discovered again, and something that my dad and I have been able to talk about at great length, is tennis.  I grew up playing tennis. My parents invested a lot of money into getting me the tennis racquet, the lessons, the little outfits, the whole nine yards in hopes that maybe I could become great.  Sadly, it was not one of the sports I excelled at.  I was never very good at placing the ball where my opponent wasn’t, I was always really excited when I got the ball over the net, and in. In contrast to how Serena plays, which is just with such a ferocity that if I had been able to put that much passion into my game, I might have lasted longer. But back to my re-discovery of professional tennis. 

I watched Wimbledon this summer.  And was blown away at the just physical prowess those athletes had.  Watching Serena Williams, you could feel the power come out of the television and smack you in the face every time she served.  Watching her play and win Wimbledon reminded me why I fell in love with sports. The passion that Serena plays with draws you in.  Knowing that she learned to play tennis on public tennis courts and has evolved into, in my opinion, one of the most dominant and exciting female tennis players that the world has ever seen, is exciting and awe inspiring.

Now, for those who don’t know, Serena winning Wimbledon means she is about to embark on a journey that only 5, yes I said FIVE, singles tennis players have completed. And I don’t mean five men and five women.  I mean five TOTAL.  With the Wimbledon win, Serena will be looking at the Calendar Slam, which she will complete if she wins the U.S. Open in August. Winning this means she will win her fourth consecutive title in a calendar year and thus complete the coveted Calendar Grand Slam. Now, you might all be wondering who those tennis players are. The elite five that make up this club are Don Budge in 1938.  He was the first to ever complete the Grand Slam, which wasn’t thought to be possible at the time. Next is Maureen Connolly, who won in 1953. Then there’s Rod Laver in 1960, Margaret Court in 1970, who also holds the record for most wins overall, and Steffi Graf in 1988.

So in 27 years, NO ONE has won this elusive prize.  Serena’s Wimbledon win also gives her 21 majors, one win away from tying Graf for second-all time Grand Slam wins.  Her sister Venus? She only has 7. Serena has 21. And she’s 33.  Did I also mention at age 33, Serena is the oldest player to win Wimbledon?

Serena’s looking to cement her name in tennis and sports history in a few short weeks, on the biggest tennis stage the world has seen in a while. Can she do it? Will she do it?

I wouldn’t bet on it. We will all have to just wait and see.

Mizzou Tennis Trumps Brown in Consolation Round

The match was not the one that the Tigers had hoped to be in, but they still came up with a decisive 4-0 win.  Missouri defeated No. 63 Brown in the consolation match of the ITA Kick-off Weekend in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Double play was a hard fought battle.  Missouri struck first with the No. 2 team of senior Maria Christensen and junior Rachel Stuhlmann cruising to victory, winning the match 8-4.

But the Bears would not just roll over, with their No. 3 team of sophomores Sarah Kandath and Nikita Uberoi defeating Missouri’s Alex Clark and Madison Rhymer with an identical score of 8-4.

The doubles point came down to the No. 1 match, where junior Cierra Gayton-Leach, the No. 71 ranked player in the nation, and sophomore Elisha Gabb led the Tigers to a hard fought victory, but ultimately won with a tiebreaker, 8-7 (5).  The team of Gayton-Leach and Gabb is the No. 26 ranked team in the nation.

The Tiger lead 1-0 heading into singles play, and quickly jumped to 2-0 after Christensen came up with a decisive 6-2.6-4 win at the No. 4 spot.

The lead improved to 3-0 after Gayton-Leach came back after losing the first set against Brown senior Misia Krasowski to win the No. 1 singles match, 3-6,6-2,6-2.

The match that sealed Brown’s fate was Clark winning the No. 6 singles, 6-4, 7-5.

This win propels Missouri to 2-1 in dual matches this season, while Brown drops to 0-3.

The Tigers travel to Akron next to take on the Zips on Feb. 1.