Friday, December 25, 2009

The "Kids"

My son (second from right) and some of his cousins. They're all getting SO big. Makes Aunt Darcy all misty.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 6, 2009

A joyful event.

My sister Moira and I celebrated our best friend Amy's birthday last night with her. We all love oysters, so we trekked out to Ann Arbor to this place:

Soon had glass of this:

Followed by a plate (okay, two plates!) of these. They were luscious. The menu had at least 10 varieties. So fresh and mouth-wateringly good!:

Happy birthday, Amy! Love you lots.

We had a wonderful time, giggling like we always do at our past hijinks. I never giggle more than with these two.

We also had a wonderful selection of Zingerman's cheeses with their own bagel crisps, served with some grapes marinated in balsamic vinegar and...something else sweet. Yum. And some cream of wild mushroom soup that was to die for.

I have some additional pics up on Twitpic of all of us. Also a pic of the poster announcement of Elizabeth Kostova attending one of their "Vampire Balls". Cool. I loved her book "The Historian". Creepy and wonderfully entertaining. And deliciously long. I got lost in it, and was very sad that it all ended with the last page!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How breakfast is done...

At my brother's house. My sister and I stopped by on our way up north for the weekend recently and were treated to this spread. Now that is how breakfast is done. Delicious! My brother is a wonderful cook. He's a wonderful brother, too.

Here is my plate (yes, I had two pieces - I'm not crazy!). Had a slice of pumpkin chocolate chip bread, too:

Monday, September 21, 2009

I love NY!

I promised chickenlittle I would write about my U.S. Open tennis trip to New York. Very late, but here it is!

I love NY! I get excited about this trip months in advance. I may live close to a big city (Detroit), but the truth is that I'm a very small town girl. I grew up on a pretty small island in the Detroit River. I now live in a decent-sized city, but it's more like a sprawling small town. No real "downtown" to it, so NYC is just, well, hugely exciting for me. I feel so alive there. And that's me, New Yorkers, that you see looking like a star-struck tourist on the streets most of the time. Looking up at the beautiful buildings and people watching. Overwhelmed at the choices of cuisine. Smiling big. Barely able to make a selection in the small cafes. I don't care! You can laugh at me or smugly let me know that you're on to me (Mr. Cashier at the cafe), but I assure you that I'm drinking all of that in with appreciation, too!

I'm primarily there for the tennis, but I can't escape the city, and don't want to. This year, my tennis pal Jane and I stayed near the Waldorf at a hotel called "Affina 50". What a beautiful place! Every employee was cheerful and helpful..the room was huge and luxurious (at a disgustingly cheap rate thanks to a friend of Jane's), and the place was immaculate. I had a choice of one of 7 pillows to sleep on! I felt like singing the "Green Acres" tune. Heh. I also enjoyed the eight block walk to the hotel from the subway every single day and night. Oh, and I enjoyed the subway too, how's them apples?

One night when Jane and I decided to head back to the hotel early, we were faced with a little dilemma: no ESPN tennis coverage for the matches that evening. Now, we knew that the Tennis Channel was airing the matches, but we had little hope that we'd find a bar that carried the Tennis Channel. Well, we were wrong. We popped into the Hyatt and the hostess there told us that yes, they did have the Tennis Channel and would have tennis on this evening. We happily continued to the hotel, aiming to freshen up and dress a little nicer for the Hyatt bar. But lo and behold, right on the corner of the block of our hotel was a lovely hotel bar with...the Tennis Channel on! We still got gussied up, but it was a convenient stop with delicious food and a nice crowd. Have I mentioned how much I love New York?

I guess I should get to the meat of my trip - the U.S. Open. If you are a fan of live tennis at all, this is the place to visit. The grounds of the United States Tennis Association's Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (whew!) are clean and beautiful. The crowd is enthusiastic and happy. The food is very decent, too! I had mostly sushi and Indian food, but they have crepes and pasta, salads, Ben and Jerry's ice cream, just to name a few things. Not your run of the mill hot dog stands. And...for refreshments, along with the usual soft drinks and bottled water, you can find Grey Goose (ohhh..oh, yum) stands, a wine bar, and a beer (Heineken) joint.

While attending the matches, my small group of friends from all over the country (and one who came from Israel this year!) would text each other all day and meet up at different matches. I'd watch one match with my lovely friend Jackie from Chicago, the next with my good pal from New Jersey, Sam...and occasionally, a whole mob of us would take in a match together. These are some of the most precious tennis memories I have. Being with friends and enjoying our favorite sport together. Believe me, I feel blessed, no matter what happens on the court. This is what it's about for me.

I've met most of my tennis friends through a blog I discovered - Peter Bodo's TennisWorld. Pete is a senior editor at Tennis Magazine and just a great, friendly, wonderful guy. A bunch of commenters from his blog got together on the Saturday night I was in NY for dinner and cocktails. More than a few who showed had never even met the rest of us. What a perfect, joyful evening we had! We closed the place...mostly because there just wasn't enough time in one evening to say all the things we wanted to say or to get to know the people we'd just met. But the time we spent was clearly enjoyed by all.

This piece is getting long, and I haven't even discussed the actual tennis yet! I should at least mention that I did get to see Juan Martin Del Potro play live, and I knew he was going to be tough to take out. I'm sorry that my fave lost in the final, but not too has a new star and a worthy winner.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Flight sensitivity.

Trooper wrote about his recent, very touching flight home here and reminded me that I wanted to write about my recent flight as well. Mine was touching in a different way.

I sat down at the gate to wait to board my flight to NY last Friday and began my usual people watching. Yeah, I'm the gal you can usually catch staring. I'm not trying to be rude - I just find people fascinating to look at and wonder about!

A man sits down across from me and I immediately notice him because he's talking kind of loudly into his mobile phone's earpiece. I notice that he is middle aged, a bit on the chubby side, not unpleasant looking, but dressed kind of sloppily in wrinkled old jeans and a button-down shirt. (He's also Jewish, I see, because he is wearing a yarmulke.) I want to see this guy get a makeover! Ah, first impressions...

Later, and well into the flight, I hear the flight attendant bell and notice two rows in front of me that a guy is in obvious distress. His wife is panic-stricken. I worry that he's having a heart attack, and it's just awful to watch for a few seconds. Until...two doctors appear at this guy's side and begin treating him, along with two nurses who have jumped up to help. The guy is in great hands, I can tell, and I also notice my sloppy guy at the gate is one of the doctors! Immediately transformed in my eyes to this super-studly hero! Makeover no longer necessary, trust me, as I stare at his now very handsome, warm face. I don't think this is a superficial thing. I think it's human nature, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Everyday heroes really are beautiful and an awesome sight to behold.

I watch, gratefully, as these medical personnel treat this man and calm him and his wife until we can land at LaGuardia to the waiting paramedics. And then I watch the heroes of this flight blend back into the crowd...and I smile with satisfaction and admiration.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Plenty of beer.

Good times here. My grandparents were partiers! That's them in the back on the left. My dad is on the end on the right with his...uh, girlfriend. Not my mom! Hmmph.

This is where they were for the evening.

My Mom

This first pic looks like it was probably taken around the same time that my Dad went to war. They grew up together in Detroit, went to Denby High School together, dated and then broke up. My Dad lost her to another guy for a while...she married and had my oldest siblings - but her husband died very young. My Dad swooped in. I'm not kidding. LOL.

The second pic of my Mom is one of the few glamour shots of her. She was not a glamour girl. Beautiful, but much more into sports than makeup!

My Dad. My WWII hero.

This isn't the best pic of my Dad, but I like it because it looks like it was taken outside his parents' home in Detroit. The second two are scans of a postcard my Dad sent home in 1944. I know he shipped off from San Diego, so I wonder if this is his first postcard from the war to home.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

He did it!!!! Congratulations, Roger!

Wow. Just an amazing match. My head is still spinning over it. 5 sets. 16 games to 14 in the last set. Epic. Rollercoaster match, with momentum switching back and forth until the fifth set, when game after game, both men stared down a "sudden death" by valiantly holding their serves until the 30th game. Yes - the 30th game in one set! Roger broke Andy to win the Championships. I screamed. Both men deserved such high praise for this effort that I was sad to see someone lose. Warriors. Both of them.

I truly hope Andy gets the next one. He so deserves one after this effort.

Oh, boy. The record for most grand slam singles titles ever (15) was claimed by Roger today edging Pete Sampras, who flew there just this morning to be there for the momentous occasion (how classy was that?), and...Roger is now the world's number one ranked player once again! He had relinquished the number one ranking to Rafael Nadal last year shortly after losing his prized Wimbledon champion status to the same. How sweet it is for this fan that he was able to reclaim it.

Sports dreams don't get much bigger than this for me.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Oh, Andys!!!!

American Andy Roddick took on Great Britain's (Scottish) Andy Murray today in the semi finals of Wimbledon. Roddick was the big underdog here, and Murray was not only the favorite, but saddled with the enormous hopes hung on his young shoulders by his nation, desperate for a British champion since Fred Perry won in 1936, beating - I just realized - the lovely Baron Gottfried von Cramm (!), whose handsome face is my Twitter background.

I like both of these players very much, so I had a tough time figuring out who to root for. My emotions swung wildly during the match.

So my take on this match is that Murray went into it tight under the weight of expectations. Roddick won in four, needing tiebreaks for two of the three sets won. I don't think Murray played like he could, but Roddick played such superb, mature, focused tennis that I hate to take anything away from this win. It's huge. Roddick now into his third Wimbledon final, but not since 2005. I don't think many serious tennis analysts thought he'd get there again.

I'm so proud of Andy Roddick! Well done to him. Unfortunately, I can't root against Roger, who also won his semi final match today making it to his 7th straight Wimbledon final.

Go Roger!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Elena Lost!!!

8 games to 6 in the third set. I'm so...disappointed! So close. I think I'd rather she got blown off the court.


I predict a Williams sisters final, which I'll skip. I used to watch these, but they have become boring, and I couldn't care less who wins. I know that's not really supporting the game, but enough is enough. It is times like these that I understand the apathy toward Federer.

So...Dinara Safina vs. Venus Williams now for the final spot in the finals. Just pencil Venus in, there.

Do I seem crabby? Yeah, I am. LOL.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Elena D is still in the tourney!

You guys are missing out. Elena Dementieva of Russia will be playing a semi-final match vs. Serena Williams on Thursday at Wimbledon. She's a terrific player and has been one of my favorites for quite a while, mostly because she seems very sweet and genuine. Wish her luck!

In other news...Roger faces Ivo "Dr. Ivo" Karlovic of Croatia tomorrow in the quarterfinals. This guy is nearly seven feet tall and serves out of...well, a tree. I'm worried.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tommy, Tommy Haaaaas!

Went for the glamour shot. Heh. How could I not?

This is Tommy Haas of Germany. He's a veteran tennis player at 31 years old. I've always loved watching him play, but have only sporadically rooted for him. I don't know, something about his attitude (and pretty boy looks, maybe?) turned me off. But now, at the end of his career, I find myself rooting for him mostly for sentimental reasons. It does help that he has a beautiful one-handed backhand, which for me has always been a big attraction as far as tennis goes.

Tommy was hailed early on as the next Boris Becker in Germany, along with Nicolas Kiefer. Neither lived up to the hype, and honestly, after reading some of the German pressers I have felt for both of them. The German press has been brutal on both them as far as expectations and disappointment goes. Tommy did reach a ranking of number two in the world, but has never won a Slam title. In addition to this media pressure, Tommy's parents were involved in a horrific motorcycle crash at the height of his career. They were apparently very lucky to be alive, in fact his dad was in a coma, and the recovery for both was a long process. This had to have a devastating effect on his concentration. (As a side note, by the way, his parents are friends of Arnold Schwarzeneggar's, and Tommy received a call from him following the accident.)

Haas has also suffered a shoulder injury which led to surgery on his rotator cuff. This kind of surgery is usually career ending in tennis, but Tommy worked extremely hard to come back to the tour and is still in the top 30. A couple of years ago, he was warming up for a match at Wimbledon and stepped on a tennis ball that had rolled in front of him as he was practicing serves. He sprained his ankle and had to pull out of the tournament. Ouch. Some very tough luck for the German over the years.

In the last major, the French, Tommy was up 2 sets to love against Roger Federer and was close to breaking Roger's serve in the third. Roger somehow pulled that match out, partly due to some drop in Tommy's level of play, and it had to be a heartbreaking defeat for the German. Not many 5 set matches are lost after winning the first two, and the term "choker" is often applied after such losses. Rather unfairly, I think.

Tommy unfortunately had to re-live this same scenario at Wimbledon yesterday. He led Croatia's Marin Cilic two sets to love and then lost the next two. They were 6-6 in the fifth when the match was suspended due to darkness. Most hard core tennis fans were glued to this match today as they resumed play, trust me. My heart was beating fast as I watched Tommy serving for the match at 9-8 and then face a break point! He saved that and went on to win, 10-8.

What am I doing rooting for this guy, by the way? He's in Roger's half of the draw! He also won a pretty prestigious grass court title coming into this year's Wimbledon. I guess, like Scarlett, I'll choose to think about that tomorrow.

(By the way, the "Tommy, Tommy Haaaaas!" comes from some silly cartoon my kid used to watch where the fighting characters would yell something like "Kamekameha!" I never figured out what they were saying, but I would yell my little reply and drive my kid nuts. Hee.)

Friday, June 26, 2009

So I was browsing around and.....ooooh!

Big babe tennis.

Daniela Hantuchova from Slovakia. I have been a fan of hers for a while, starting when she was around 19 and won Indian Wells in 2002, beating Martina Hingis in the final. Big serve, lethal backhand. Not exactly fleet of foot though, probably due to her nearly six foot lanky frame. Daniela has struggled pretty much ever since that first big title. She got too thin after reaching the spotlight and being hailed as a glamour girl (I resisted the glamour shot, but google...there are plenty!), and then actually got a little chubby trying to recover from that. She appears to be very fit right now, but with Daniela, a lot of the time the struggle comes from between the ears.

Daniela is an excellent doubles player with a couple of Slam titles to her credit there. Despite her height, she has remarkably "soft hands", meaning her net game - where volleying comes into play - is very good. Doubles play will develop that, as it is a fast game with lots of volleys, but generally you have a real talent or you don't.

Anyway, she'll face Serena Williams in the next round of Wimbledon, where I'll definitely be rooting for her. She's very capable of producing the upset in that match.

ADDED: Oooh...forgot to mention the drama involved the last time these two played each other at Wimbles. Dani was playing a spectacular match and then Serena sustained a cramp in her leg and was looking finished, but hobbled through - sometimes just laying on the court clutching her leg - until a rain delay suspended the match. Some thought that was a bit of gamesmanship, and it (natch) got into Dani's head and she fell apart, losing the match after they resumed play. Come on, Dani! Revenge time.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


See? ;-)

Say hello to Gisela Dulko. She beat Maria Sharapova in the second round of Wimbledon today. Although Maria has been struggling since returning from shoulder surgery, she is still tough as nails to put out of a tournament. The relatively petite Argentinian stood up to the big babe tennis today admirably, and I'd still call it a great win and an upset.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Championships at Wimbledon begin tomorrow!

I've been in "waiting impatiently" mode. Last year, Federer went into this tournament a 5 time in a row champion (tying Bjorn Borg for the record). He then faced Rafael Nadal for the third time in a row in the finals. I've said before that the matches between these two have always caused great anxiety in me, and this last Wimbledon final proved to cause more than that for me. In a long 5 set match which ended in near darkness, Nadal finally succeeded in wresting the prized crown from Roger's grasp, and it was incredible and heartbreaking to watch all at once. I haven't been able to watch this match again.

Since 2005, Roger had gone into The Championships at Wimbledon carrying disappointment from Roland Garros (the French Open), and each time as a result of being defeated by Rafael Nadal. As a fan of Roger's, I'd been watching Nadal chase Roger for years, succeeding in preventing him from claiming the one title he was missing to round out his career. You see, there are four major tournaments in the tennis season - called Grand Slam tournaments or Slams for short, and Roger had won all but the French Open. Many tennis analysts and fans considered the lack of a French Open title to be a major hole in trying to proclaim Roger the greatest tennis player ever. And there was Nadal, in the Wimbledon 2008 final, taking what I saw as Roger's last refuge. So you can see how, after losing his prized title at Wimbledon last year and then finally capturing the Roland Garros title this year, the drama was building for a possible rematch at Wimbledon - with me hoping for him to get some revenge, right?

It ain't gonna happen. Roger can still reclaim the title, but Rafael Nadal, defending Wimbledon champion, will not play due to...well, I'll let you be the judge. Is it an "injury" when you have pain but doctors say you can play without further risk? Is it too much mentally to play through the pain, so in effect, more like he's mentally unfit? I'm wondering how I'd feel if this were Roger and he pulled out of a tournament of this magnitude like this? Thankfully, I haven't have to wonder so far. He hasn't missed a Slam for injury or otherwise in his entire career and has played several at below his best, including one where he had undiagnosed mononucleosis.

I'm still very excited about this tournament. A win here for Roger would be huge and no less a feat than if he were to face Nadal here, in my opinion - and he'd not only reclaim his title, but the number one ranking! I'll be on the edge of my seat.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Alrighty! What now?

So...last I left things, I was a wee bit upset at a major sporting disappointment. But remember how I hinted at having some other sports to fall back on? my Tigers, right? Well, they're getting ready to lose three in a row now as I'm watching the Cards have a field day in only the sixth inning, ahead 11-1. Not lookin' too promising there, guys! (And I am not mentioning the name of the team that scored the previous two wins, either. That city is now on my list, if you know what I mean. Heh.)

And then there is Roger. So you can kind of forgive me for posting the hot pic, right? A girl needs some inspiration right about now.

Speaking of Roger Federer...Wimbledon is right around the corner. I'd really like Roger to take back his crown there. He lost it in a tough, heartbreaking, instant classic five set match against Rafael Nadal (remember him?) last year. Dare I ask for another sports dream to come true this year? Yeah. I dare. To dream, anyway.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Penguins win the Cup

Congrats to them. And didn't I say they were scary? Yeah, well I knew they would be tough. It's hard enough to get back to back championship wins, but when you face the team you denied the Cup to the year before? You'd better bring something special.

I'm not sure if the Wings couldn't bring it, or the Pens just didn't allow them to - though I think I'm leaning toward the latter. In the last two games the Wings seemed pretty off, but honestly, the Penguins seemed to be everywhere. I think that's just a good indication of great hockey being played.

I couldn't watch the end. I'm like that. I get too emotional seeing the looks on the players' faces, to be honest. I love those guys! I don't watch Roger lose much, either. When I sense it coming, I turn it off. But it's never about being disappointed in my team or player - or disgusted with the winner. Heck, even when my team or player wins a big game or match I find it tough to look at the loser.

So again, congratulations to the Penguins and their fans. And congrats to my Red Wings for a great season. I'm so proud of them.

Hockey chick out.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What is your favorite sports memory?

For me, it was attending a Detroit Tigers playoff game with my mom and 2 of my sisters in 1984. You see, my mom was the sports nut in the family. She was not only a big sports fan, but basically an athlete herself. Whatever sport my mom "dabbled" in, she tended to do very well at, though golf was really her main sporting hobby. And boy, was she good. So good that my sisters and I never beat her, even into her 70s. Not that we were very good, but sheesh.

But back to the Tiger baseball brother's friend owned season tickets right behind the Tigers dugout. He generously gave them to us. I can't remember which game it was, but I do remember that they won it and how excited my mom was to see her Tigers up close. I remember her waving to Aurelio Lopez. "Hi, Aurelio!", my mom said, as he approached the dugout. He smiled and she giggled like a schoolgirl. What a magical day that was! Sitting with my mom, under the lights, five feet away from some of our biggest sporting heroes.

I really think that had to be one of my mom's biggest sports dreams come true. Well, that, and the Tigers winning the World Series that year. I'm so glad I got to share that dream with her.

Wings lost last night - I can't complain.

What's up with that?

Well, they did win it last year, and the Penguins got all the way to the finals again this year to stage a rematch...that's a hungry team. Not to mention scary good when they're "on", and I think they were last night. I think the Wings are lucky the score was so close.

So I was crabby afterward. But not for long. Ok, a little longer than I would have liked, but it didn't take me long to remember my blessings, and I mean beyond sports there (so many!), but even in my sports world, how could I complain?

My Wings are a great hockey team. They're still in contention for the Cup. My Tigers are very watchable - and for baseball, that's all it takes for me. And then there's theory, I should not dare ask for another sports dream for a while.

In theory.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Mighty Federer

I couldn't talk about it pre-match. I could barely hope for it. After four years of losing to Rafael Nadal (first in a semi-final, and then 3 consecutive finals)I had come to believe the dream may never come.

It has come. For Roger and for his fans. Roger beat The Great Soderling, conquerer of the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal in straight sets at the French Open (Roland Garros) today.

With this win, Roger has tied Pete Sampras with 14 Grand Slam title wins for most ever. Some (John McEnroe) are already calling him the greatest of all time because Pete never won the French Open. I'm just glad he's up there now. Never to be questioned as far as his greatness again, I would hope.

Congratulations and thank you, Roger. For becoming my favorite tennis player ever when you were 19 as I watched you end Sampras' run at Wimbledon; for allowing me to witness some of the greatest tennis ever played; and for persevering, through all of your recent adversities and the race against time to deliver this dream for all of your fans.

(Photo courtesy of my friend Sam - that's his glass of Amaretto - thanks, Sam! Cheers!)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Kuzzy wins!!!

Congratulations to Svetlana Kuznetsova for her French Open title win over Dinara Safina today!

I was so torn between these, Safina, trying to prove her world number one status by finally winning a major (Slam) title, and the other trying to prove that she's not a "one-slam wonder", having claimed the U.S. Open several years ago as her only Slam title.

Kuzzy had the poise today, and as a result, the better game. Classy ladies, both. Well done, ladies!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I don't dare post about it now. It's too big of a deal to me...

And I'm not superstitious really, but when it comes to sports I don't take any chances! My son once talked me into making the same dinner every game night during a Wings series. Not fun (but...they won?) LOL. But this isn't about the Red Wings. Though they lost last night...grrr. (And someone is happy in the comments of the post below this! Hee.)

Mum's the word from me on the subject I won't broach here. Yet. But it would be a big time sports dream come true for me.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chicken Little wants a post about my Wings!

I love that I turned chicken little on to the Red Wings! I feel so proud! Hee.

Unfortunately, I can't be as detailed about the Stanley Cup finals as I can with tennis. At least so far. I watched the two Stanley Cup finals games on Saturday and Sunday, but not with full focus. The Wings make me nervous at times and I have to look away when there is a prolonged stretch where the Penguins are pressing and keeping the puck on our end. I did see a couple of spectacular saves by Osgood.

There was a bit of a dust-up at the end of game two, and I got nervous when some Pens went after Zetterberg and some fights broke out. I'm a hockey chick, but I've never liked the fighting! Tensions were high, and apparently there is some discussion going on as to whether a Penguin or two will serve a game suspension but I didn't get all the details. I do know that the Wings coach Mike Babcock is on record as saying he didn't feel anything that went on warranted any suspensions.

Pavel Datsyuk is still out with an injury, which I really believe is a broken foot and he won't be back (he took a puck to the foot - ouch!), but the Wings are being coy about that injury. Day to day. It just shows how deep this team is though, when you consider how key of a player they're missing.

Anyway, the Wings are up 2-0 in this series, both games played at home so far, so now they head to Penguins territory. We'll see how they do in their house. I think these last two games were a lot closer than the scorelines show (both games 3-1). The two teams are very evenly matched and I'm afraid of the Penguins, to be honest. The Penguins' play literally put me on the living room floor last year in agony over some very close games. If the Wings can take one of these next two...well, I'll be an insufferable fan. Are you with me, chicken little?


Monday, June 1, 2009

Soderling beats The Clay King!

"I kept telling myself, this is just another match. Regardless if it is the fourth round against Rafael Nadal"

- Robin Soderling

Did anyone happen to hear my squeal of delight when I learned that Spain's Rafael Nadal - the number one men's tennis player in the world - had been knocked out of the French Open yesterday?

Sweden's Robin Soderling achieved what Roger Federer has failed four years in a row to do, beating Nadal 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 and it was beyond impressive. More about the match in a bit. I'd like to set this encounter up a little, as these two players have a bit of colorful history.

Nadal met Robin Soderling en route to the 2007 final of Wimbledon. The scoreline was 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 4-6 and it was the beginning of the fifth set - a very tight match which Soderling looked very capable of winning.

Let me begin by explaining that Rafael Nadal is famous for his "ticks" on court. Various things he does as he sets up to serve with the whole routine pushing the time limits for serving - one notorious tick being that he digs at his briefs from behind. Yes. And on every serve. It's pretty unsightly to watch, but apparently it is something that he can't stop - kind of like an OCD habit? So not only does he have this really gross habit, but add to that the fact that he takes way too much time for all of these ticks, and you often get frustrated players (and viewers) watching this. He disrupts the flow of the match. Granted, what he does is mostly within the rules. But if it isn't a deliberate tactic, it sure feels like it sometimes.

Anyway, during this match, Nadal had, in his usual manner, made Soderling wait to receive serve and had also held up Soderling's serve for his little routines. A player can delay the server by raising his hand to indicate he isn't ready to receive serve, which Nadal often does and then takes his time settling. Again, within the rules, but not often done - at least so regularly. Some consider this a bit of gamesmanship. Well, Soderling at one point looked ready to receive the serve, but apparently needed to run back to his chair for something...put his hand up, but Nadal didn't see it and nearly served before he realized Soderling wasn't ready. Nadal gave a disgusted head shake. Yeah, can you believe it? Neither could Soderling. Watch what he does in response in this clip from the match.

So, if you watched the clip you'll see that Soderling mocked the digging at the briefs. I watched this live and I have to tell you, I laughed. Of course. And then I also knew for certain that Soderling had just lost the match. Nadal glared at him and found a new inspiration, and it was over pretty quickly after that. This little exchange has not been forgotten by avid tennis fans, and NBC showed it yesterday during the match to show this history between the players.

I did watch the match on NBC when it was broadcast in taped delay, and Soderling was sublime. He has a lot of firepower - strong, powerful shots that he kept deep in the court, which is a must against Nadal. That and his great movement continually seemed to have Nadal on his back foot. Amazing. Nadal generally is like a human backboard. He gets everything back and wears his opponents down. But Soderling jumped on seemingly every short ball and did something special with it. His serve was very effective as well. And here's the thing...just like when playing Federer in the years past, players have a tendency to lose belief when playing Nadal. And who can blame them? If you've ever seen Rafael Nadal play on clay, you would understand how a sense of futility can creep into his opponent's consciousness. That's a killer right there, and there was no sign of this from Soderling. He just kept his cool and didn't seem to show the nerves that this occasion could bring out. That all by itself is just incredible.

Look what all of that earned for Soderling: his place in the record books for ending Nadal's four year undefeated reign at Roland Garros, and great chance to take this prized title for himself. Ending Nadal's streak is a very big deal in tennis even if he doesn't win another match at this Open. I hope he does. He certainly deserves some more success after this historic defeat. I want Roger to win this, but I'd be more than happy to celebrate a title for the man who beat The Clay King in his house.

ADDED: I'm being a bit obnoxious about Nadal in this blog, if you can't tell. And part of that is just sports, you know? Rooting against the guy who you consider to be your fave's nemesis. It really is a compliment to Rafael Nadal underneath it all, and as I have many friends who are great fans of his, I really have no desire to rub salt in this wound. I really hope they don't read this. If you are a big sports fan you really do understand how this stuff hurts, and I certainly have no wish to add to any of my friends' pain.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Michael H. asked about the Bad Girlz of tennis over on Twitter...

So it is my pleasure to provide this video of Switzerland's Patty Schnyder vs. Spain's Conchita Martinez (now retired) from a while ago that took place in beautiful Charleston, SC. To set it up, this was a hotly contested match, and as superstitious players often do, Martinez was asking the ballkids for the same ball back after she would win a point on her serve. For those who are not avid tennis viewers, there are several balls available to the server during play, and the server will often opt to inspect all the available balls in order to select the ball that appears to be the freshest. A new can of balls is opened and exchanged for worn tennis balls at certain intervals of the match. Martinez wanted to continue to play with the winning ball, apparently. Anyway, Schnyder decides to mess with that, and after losing a point asks the ballkid for the ball and tucks it in her spanks (those cute little tennis panties the ladies wear under their skirts). LOL. Watch the rest to see how all of that turned out for her.

Oh...and refusing to shake your opponent's hand after the match? Almost never done in tennis. It is considered extremely bad form. I think I've seen it twice, live anyway, in all my years of watching tennis.

Meet Patty Schnyder. Bad girl. At least on this day. ;-)

Physical maintenance.

On a personal note...back in January, after reading some random unsolicited testimonials for the Body for Life program over at Althouse, I got some very good advice from an acquaintance (whom I've lost touch with) and started my own modified B4L plan. I found the book very helpful as far as the overall program, and also for teaching how to eat in order not only feed your body right for this program, but in general. Surprisingly, I found the suggestions for diet easier than the workout...well, surprising to me, anyway. I've always been somewhat active, so maybe that's the key to that surprise.

Months later, I'm feeling fantastic overall. I still feel that I have a ways to go toward where I want to be as far as overall tone and size, but I have to say that I'm amazed at how much my body has changed by doing this modified program. I've obviously been this size before, but I looked completely different at it than I do now. And, as it is quite a few years down the road since then, I find that kind of shocking! In a good way, of course.

I have no complaints at this point, just maybe a little frustration lately as I feel like I have hit a plateau and am having a hard time figuring out how to get past it. I really don't want to feel deprived as far as eating goes (though I know, I the pasta!), and working out harder is not that attractive to me, either. Something's gotta give, though.

Anyway, I highly recommend the Body for Life program. But minimally, joining a gym if you don't have the necessary equipment at home, getting some help with how to develop a training program for yourself if you can, and learning how to feed the muscles you're working on. So far, this is the best thing I've done as far as taking care of myself physically.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Holy crap! That was close!

I missed the first two sets of Federer's match vs. Jose (Chucho) Acasuso (that's his glorious self above, pictured in better times) at the French Open today due to an over-confident sleep. I had no business being over-confident, it turns out. Roger nearly lost the first set, but scraped through in the first set tiebreak (saving about 4 set points, I guess), then proceeded to lose the second set and go down 1 game to 5 in the third. I'm pretty sure the blood drained from my face when I turned the TV on!

What happened? I don't really know...from the time I turned the match on until Roger finally wrapped it up in the 4th, I thought he was playing pretty well. I do think Chucho choked trying to serve out the third (twice), but I also think some of that was due to a lot of pressure from Roger. I think the sleeping giant had at least partially awoke in time. Roger won 7-6, 5-7, 7-6, 6-2 in four sets.

I must say that I feel pretty sorry for Chuch - that's gotta hurt. But somebody has got to lose in order for my Roger to win, I always say!

Whew. Don't do that in the next round please, Roger. And enjoy the beach, Chuch!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Meet Andy Murray.

Have I talked about my Federer love? Why, yes I have, I believe. *little smile here* And I've talked about my - er, dislike wouldn't be the right word - for Rafael Nadal, but let's move on!

I'd like to introduce you to Andy Murray! He's a Scottish lad who plays for Great Britain and who still occasionally bristles when referred to as "British". I think that's kind of adorable, having a bit of Scot in me, m'self.

Andy scored a win at Roland Garros today in the second round against Italian Potito Starace, whom I like to call "Potato Starch" (I have a habit of that - nicknaming players, that I've picked up from the various tennis sites I frequent). Anyway, it was a pretty impressive win, as the spud is a pretty good player who had leveled the match by taking the second set today, but Andy came through in 4 sets to move through to the third round.

Why am I a fan of Andy's game? It is kind of interesting, at least to me, since I'm such a big fan of Roger Federer and his "beautiful" game. I doubt if there is much, at least that strikes me anyway, in Andy's game that resembles the beauty of Roger's play on court. But still...this guy impressed me from the first time I saw him play live. He may not have Roger's cat-like movement, but there is still a grace to it, in my opinion. He's deceptively fast and fluid. His balance during his shots is really impressive to me - sometimes I'll replay a point just to watch him strike a ball because he doesn't look like he's going to get to it, but he does! And with perfect balance. That's why I call his movement deceptive.

Andy's got a really impressive serve as well when he gets in a groove. I love his service motion, actually - maybe more than Roger's. And his backhand, although a two-hander, which for me is not as aesthetically pleasing to watch, is a thing of beauty in it's own right. Solid and powerful. Again, almost deceptively so.

Unfortunately, Andy has a lot of haters. He can be very cranky on court and if you search the 'net for images of him, it's pretty obvious that he is a colorful guy during match play. Hee. I don't mind it so much if it's directed sort of inward, and I think that's mostly the case with him, but this kind of attitude on court has earned him a lot of haters. And really, if you take the time to listen to his pressers, he's actually quite charming and self-effacing. Humble and gracious toward his opponents with his comments post-match, too. Ok...and I'm a bit of a sucker for that Scottish accent...

So meet Andy...he's probably the crankiest of my faves at the moment. I'm lookin' forward to him being good and cranky (in a winning way, of course) against Nadal in the semi-finals of this tournament. Go, Andy!

Monday, May 25, 2009


I'm bad enough when I have hockey playoffs and baseball to keep me busy, but now, starting yesterday, I have Roland Garros (French Open) tennis to watch. And I know I've said that I hate clay tennis and that Nadal has killed tennis for me, but I'm really just whining when I say that. I still watch. And today, unfortunately, I'm watching Nadal play in a bright pink shirt and a bright yellow headband. Will no player step up and save me from this? I'm begging here. Anyone? Anyone? Federer?

Annnnd...I'm clearly whining again. I'll stop. *sigh*

So, leaving aside the futility of watching Roland Garros for two weeks when the outcome is predetermined on the men's side (Oh. Sorry...was that another whine?)...grrr...I'll switch gears and talk about my Red Wings. Ahhh....feeling better already! They looked positively studly yesterday in their 6-1 defeat of the Blackhawks in game 4 of this playoff series. I hardly ever mind a beatdown. Unless someone cries and then not counting the NY Yankees or the Anaheim Ducks. Heh. So, one more to go, as the Wings lead the series 3-1. Are you with me, Wings fans? Go Wings!

And lastly, let's talk baseball...I missed watching the Tigers play yesterday, but I read that they lost and shrugged it off, of course. They'd been on a nice winning streak since getting swept by the Twins. Looking good. I can hang with this.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Roger Wins!

Would it look bad if I said something nice about Nadal now? Yeah. That's what I thought too. Hee.

Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal on...clay(!) yesterday. I'm still a little shocked by it. It's not that I haven't known for years that he had the game to beat the King of Clay, it's just that I, like most of Roger's fans, had come to believe he had lost the mental game against Nadal so thoroughly that it would take a monumental effort and everything in his arsenal to be working almost perfectly for it to happen.

That's what happened yesterday in the Madrid final. Roger's forehand and backhand were rock solid - the forehand looking the best I've seen all year as far as pace and accuracy went, and the backhand - his weakness against the lefty Nadal - did not crumble. In fact, I think I noticed some new (much needed) tactics there. He also very effectively employed the tactic of pulling Nadal out wide on his forehand side (where he has greater reach), and then driving the next ball down his backhand side. Not easy, but Roger made it look so yesterday. It's pretty clear that Roger has been thinking about this opportunity. And he capitalized on it. With calm and focus. Yeah, that demeanor has been sorely missed.

And his serve! He had it again. Not just the first, but the second serve - even scoring an ace on the second serve on one point. A lot of analysts and commentators have lazily tried to say that Roger had to up his game - that his rivals had caught up to his talent. I do think that his rivals have gotten a whole lot better (they're much younger than him in tennis years, after all), but I never believed that what we were watching this last year or so was Roger in full flight. The serve was key, and it wasn't there like it had been. Not so yesterday, and boy, was it beautiful. Up the "T", out wide, and just generally with more pace and bite. Lethal.

So what does this win mean? With his serve back, and his weapons firing, not to mention this mental boost to his confidence, Roger is looking ready to go toe to toe again with Nadal. Great news! I'm not sure what it means for Roland Garros, and the winning of the only Slam title Roger is missing, but I'm now feeling so much better about his chances.

Way to go, Roger!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Word About Rafael Nadal....

I had a whole post in mind, but I can't do it.

He won today. That's about all I can muster about him. And tomorrow he'll face Roger Federer in the final of the Madrid Masters tourney. I hate these Nadal/Fed finals. I'll need a Xanax. And a cocktail.

Go, Roger!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Whew. Wings Win, 4-3 over Ducks.

Hey, they didn't exactly "stuff" the Ducks, but good enough.

I was at Dunleavy's Irish Pub tonight with my sister Moira, both of us wearing our Red Wings jerseys and cheering our Red Wings. The loudest two people in the place when the Wings scored. Hee. Hockey chicks.

Anyway, on to the Blackhawks. Go Wings! (I hope my heart can take it.)

Ok, so I have to keep up with El Pollo Real...

So here is my first blog post. It's really just a "hello".

Whew. This is harder than I thought. I'm already mentally exhausted.
Blogging is hard work.

(Oh, and don't forget to link me. Thanks!)

ADDED: Oh, and GO WINGS! Stuff those forkin' DUCKS tonight! (Or I'll cry?)