Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 7 at Wimbledon and upsets are rife! ESPN Commentators Score 63% in their Ladies Quarterfinal predictions

There were a number of upsets on day 7 of the women's draw at Wimbledon.

Caroline Wozniacki- number one in the world- fell to the steady forehand onslaught of Dominika Cibulkova 1-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5.

Next, the "odds makers favorite" Serena Williams (winner of last year's Wimbledon and holder of 3 more like titles) fell to the more steady and hard hitting Marion Bartoli in straight sets 6-3, 7-6 (6).

Venus Williams, five- time Wimbledon ladies champ (the last in 2008) fell to a relatively unkown player, Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2, 6-3

Earlier today the ESPN group of Wimbledon commentators led by Chrissie Evert and others made the following predictions which I tweeted:

ESPN predicts ladies quarters: Caroline Wozniacki v. Maria Sharapova, SabineLisicki v. Serena Williams, Tamira Paszek v. Victoria Azarenka, Venus Williams v. Petra Kvitova.

This was educated guessing by the ESPN crew with Chris Evert, a three time Wimbledon women's champ (who appeared in 10 women's finals at the All England Tennis Club), weighing in strongly along with Brad Gilbert and other commentators as well.

Choosing five out of eight correct players in the quarters means that the sports network served a remarkably good 63%.

The crew can be forgiven their guessing wrong on the Williams sisters who barely played any tourneys since last summer.

The shocker, of course is Wozniacki; the reigning queen of tennis has yet to win a single grand slam!

We all agree that Caroline is overdue.

And don't count out the Williams sisters--they will rise again to take grand slam titles as they begin to play more tournaments.

Good luck to all on day 8!

Strawberries and Cream: Wimbledon 2011- Memorable Tennis Moments- Playing with a Tennis great: Art Larsen

Art Larsen, US tennis great who was
US Open National Tennis Champ in 1950

He was called Art "Tappy" Larsen (born 1925 in Hayward, Ca.) because he was constantly tapping items around the tennis court.

He was the only US amateur tennis player to win tournaments on all four surfaces at the time: grass, clay, hardcourt and indoor.

He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1969.

In 1950, Art won the US Open Tennis tournament held at Forest Hills beating Herb Flam 6-3, 4-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.

Unfortunately his tennis career came to an abrupt halt in 1956 when Art (who often would play his matches after an all night partying) was involved in a serious motor scooter accident in Castro Valley, Ca. As a result, he lost sight in one eye and was partially paralyzed.

I met Art at the Golden Gate Park tennis facility in 1971 and we became fast friends. Art was a blond haired and blue-eyed wonder and always had a winsome smile.

Despite his limping, Art could cover a lot of ground tracking many balls down. We played doubles together and I quickly got used to his unorthodox southpaw winning style.

US Tennis great Garnder Malloy
Photo courtesy of

Gardner Malloy (born 1913, in Washington, DC), an east coast tennis great (#1 US singles ranking in 1942) who played the senior circuit world-wide into his 90's, recalls Art as the funniest player on the circuit: "With Art Larsen...he had so many superstitions. We harassed him all the time."
Photo (1) found on ebay.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Updates from Wimbledon: Isner-Mahut first round match is 9 hours shorter than last year's marathon Match

John Isner (left) being congratulated by Nicolas Mahut
after Isner's first round straight set victory
Photo courtesy of The Guardian

Exactly one year ago at Wimbledon, John Isner and Nicholas Mahut wound up their three day match with some astounding statistics:

183 games

112 Aces by John Isner ( a match record!), 215 combined

11 hours.

Final Score: 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68.

Mahut summed it up by declaring: "We just played the greatest match ever at the greatest place ever."

This year, the two again met in the first round. Here are some stats.

34 games

9 hours and 2 minutes shorter than last year's match (at 2 hours and 2 minutes)

16 aces total: 8 each by Isner and Mahut.

Isner was ranked 24th last year is now at number 47 in the world.

Final score 7-6, 6-2, 7-6.

Isner won again, but this time he displayed a more aggressive game which apparently caught Mahut off guard.

Photo (1) courtesy of the Guardian

For my last year's blogs on this epic match click here:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Strawberries and Cream from Wimbledon: Christina McHale of the US upsets 24th seed Ekaterina Makarova

Christina McHale (center) with her
sister Lauren and Asia Muhammed
(Courtesy of Wikipedia)

She is an unseeded player from New Jersey--originally from Teaneck and now from from Englewood Cliffs.

She knows some Mandarin as her family lived in Hong Kong as she grew up.

Finally, Christina ranked #71, is homeschooled through Kaplan Online High School since age 15 since she elected to move down to USTA Training Center headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida.

Yesterday, this amazing 19 year old knocked out a top ranking player in 3 sets 2-6, 6-1, 8-6 to advance to round 2 of the 125 year-old Wimbledon Championships.

What amazed me was her steadfast determination and consistency. Down 0-40 on her serve as she led 7-6 in the third set, she went on to win the next 5 points in a row to stun her opponent and thrill the crowds of fans at the All England Tennis Club.

In the post game interview on ESPN, she brushed aside comparisons to Melanie Oudin who a couple of years ago emerged as the best hope for American ladies tennis. Christina commented she does not think about this pressure. She is totally focussed on improving her game and ranking.

With this attitude, Christina, you come across as a winner both on and off the court

Good luck, Christina

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ping Pong Diplomacy of the early 70's Culminates in China's Capturing the Ladies French Open Tennis Championship

President Nixon Shaking Hands with
Mao Zedong in 1972

It has been estimated that over 111 million Chinese witnessed Li Na capture the French Open a few weeks ago on national TV. That's about one-tenth of China's population.

China- it has been reported- has maybe 4 clay courts, the surface on which the French Open is played.

How has a country so isolated geographically and politically from the rest of the world suddenly emerged as a world class tennis nation?

About 40 years ago, Chinese society was virtually closed to the world. Few westerners ventured across her borders as the Communist leader Chou en Lai ruled the country of 830 million citizens with an iron fisted hand. Americans were not allowed in the country since the Communist takeover in 1949!

All that changed dramatically in 1971, when the US national Ping Pong team, competing in Japan received an all-expense paid invitation to visit mainland China to compete against her team. Our team was royally received with the Chinese leader hosting our players with a banquet in the Great Hall of the People on April 14th.

The same day the US lifted economic sanctions against China.

This was a great public relations ploy for both countries as President Nixon reciprocated the honors by hosting the Chinese team on our shores later the same year.

Thus was ushered in the era of Ping Pong Diplomacy.

Soon there began secret negotiations between Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and his Chinese counterpart to pave the way for normalization of relations. Indeed, the US announced on July 15th that President Nixon would be visiting China in 1972!

In the meantime, China has pushed ahead to promote competition in the World Olympic Games. She ranks just one medal shy of the US in total medals at 100.

However, China has 51 gold medals to the US's 36!

Now with the Williams sisters sidelined with injuries, China appears to be gaining on us with her aggressive promotion of tennis stars like Li Na.
Photo (1) courtesy of Wikipedia

Li Na surprises the Tennis World with upset of Schiavone at the French Open

Li Na in 2010

Li Na quit tennis in 2004 in order to attend University in China-- out of frustration with her game.

She came back two years later with a fresh determination to become the world's top female player.

After reaching the finals of the Australian open in January of this year- and losing to Kim Clijsters in 3 sets- she showed her true metal by defeating last year's French Open winner Francesca Schiavone in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 (0).

In an earlier blog on the Australian open, I waxed near ecstatic in describing the gifted talents of Schiavone in first defeating Kutsnetsova and playing inspiring tennis against the world's number one, Wozniacki in the final set. (See Schiavone electrifies the tennis world).

What enabled Li Na to defeat her opponent was her true grit and her determination early on to hit deep to her opponent. This she did with such consistency and accuracy that Li shut down Schiavone's aggressive game at the service line.

Congratulations to you, Li.
Photo (1) courtesy of wikipedia

Friday, June 10, 2011

12 Tips for Becoming an Outstanding Mentor

So you think you want to be a mentor!

Here are a few pointers.

1. Keep in mind that we are all fallible humans that learn only from our mistakes. So becoming the mentor you want to be is in reality a process of trial and error.

2. Be patient! You might think you have the knowledge, but do you possess the skills to become a competent communicator? If in doubt, join Toastmasters and work your way by gradual steps to earn your Competent Communicator certificate. And remember it is, perhaps, more important to develop listening skills (as well), to learn to read and react appropriately to your audience, be it consisting of one person or many people.

3. Develop and continue to develop proficiencies in your specialty. This means continuing education in your field: staff development courses, seeking out and joining workshops,seminars in your field and reading the leading journals and cutting edge books in your area.

4. Become computer literate. Learn basic HTML code and start blogging about your interests.

5. Learn how the IT field intersects your field of interest. Attend in person and logon to IT shows/conventions/seminars.

6. Establish a linkedin profile and begin inviting known friends to join your network.

7. Start following websites, twitters and linkedin groups that interest you.

8.. Develop your own website and start laying the foundation for others to see your strengths, accomplishments--YOUR EXPERTISE. (It has taken me over 10 years, perhaps a lifetime of growth, to develop mine--that is before I even went online.)

9. Be humble: don't pad, make up, fantasize on your website the person who you are. Only list verifiable degrees, accomplishments, etc. If you do it right, you will be discovered-- in time!

10. Gain experience instructing (and tutoring, of course) courses in your area--be it on the pre-school, elementary, middle school, high school, Community College, 4-year College or University levels--in your church, synagogue or mosque--at the local playground, baseball diamond, tennis court, etc. ( There is a shortage of K-12 teachers and Adjunct College Professors, especially in the sciences and math. So many new and old charter schools are hungry for good teachers! So start phoning around.)

11. Be sure to update your resume frequently and post your accomplishments online via Twitter- Blog- Facebook- YouTube- Linkedin, etc.

12. Network, network, network constantly-- especially via phone and by showing up IN PERSON to local events.

Remember, act in a fashion, dress in the mode and develop the skills-- in accordance with the person you would like to become. THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS, PERIOD!


Monday, June 6, 2011

The New York Times edition on my Birthday

Last year on May 24th, my sister surprised me with a facsimile copy of the New York Times edition published about the time I was born at 3:30 AM.

It came bound in maroon leather binder with my name and birth date embossed in gold on the front cover.

There is so much history recorded in these 42 pages that after a few hours spent reading the issue, I feel that I have barely absorbed the news of the day or the two dozen articles on World War II.

Hitler was blitzkrieging his way across France, Holland and Belgium and actually had secured a beachhead at the English Channel. Indeed, the British under Prime Ministers Chamberlain (28 May 1937-10 May 1940) and Churchill (10 May 1940-27 July 1945, 16 October 1951-7 April 1955) spent May, 1940 agonizing over an imminent German invasion and were mobilizing for a full scale sea, air and land invasion by the Nazis. (only the air assaults materialized.)

Indeed less than 3 weeks after my birth--on June 13--German forces had occupied Paris and 9 days later Marshal Petain had signed an armistice with Hitler.
The Nazis march past the Arc de Triomphe on the
Champs Elysees on June 14, 1940. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The Front Page headline of the New York Times reads:


To be continued.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Over 200 Well to do Americans Sign Petition to Pay More Taxes

Obverse of rare 1934 $500 Federal Reserve Bill
featuring a portrait of President William Mckinley

They call themselves the Patriotic Millionaires. Over 200 of them have signed a petition sent to the President and leaders of Congress in they are requesting our government to raise their taxes to improve the declining fiscal health of our country.

In 1963, the marginal tax rate of millionaires stood at 91%. Today the rate has fallen to 35%.

At the end of this year, the income tax rate for those earning more than $250,000 will rise. The capital gains rate will return to pre-Bush II levels and the estate tax will phase in.

Thusfar the petition has received no response from Congress; this is no surprise as 44% of our lawmakers are millionaires.

To hear a National Public Radio story on this issue click here.

Just a few hours ago, the Huffington Post published an online story about what these patriotic millionaires are doing with the millions the Bush Tax cuts have stashed in their accounts--virtually nothing to stimulate the economy. Indeed, they are implying that the Reagen slogan of 'trickle down economics' is a myth.
Photo (1) courtesy of Wikipedia

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tennis Players both active and retired involved in hands-on Philanthropy

"Guga" Kuertin, seen here with Brazilian youngsters

Kudos to the Tennis Channel for interviewing prominent tennis stars who are contributing significant time and money to helping the poor, the disadvantaged and undereducated.

Prominent among these philanthropists are John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Guga Kuertin.

This morning, Gustavo "Guga" Kuertin was interviewed about his philanthropic work in his native Brazil. (Guga won the French Open 3 times; the first time was in 1997 when he was ranked 66th in the world!); he retired from professional tennis in 2008.

As he tells it, his foundation has helped over 50,000 people in Brazil over a 10 year period. Despite the explosive economic growth in his country, there are so many people that have not participated in the boom.

He was inspired to do this 'social work' by his mom who has been in the profession for over 35 years.

To learn more about his foundation, click here.
Image source (1)