Wimbledon. Place your bets, Part Deux!

If I know my audience (and I think I do), you’ve all been on pins and needles waiting for my blog on the women’s picks for Wimbledon (starts Monday, June 22). Well, the wait is over. Here are my predictions: (Again, please don’t take these odds to Vegas.) If you missed Part I, click here.

WOMEN’S PICKS

Chris
Fav: Serena Williams. They say the only thing that can cut a diamond is another diamond. So it goes with Serena, the only person that can beat a Williams is another Williams. Odds: 6-1
DH: Agnieszka Radwanska. Lost to eventual champion Kuznetsova in the 4th at Roland Garros. This could be her coming out party. Odds: 84-1

Spencer
Fav: Svetlana Kuznetsova. Entering the Championships, she’s hotter than a stolen tamale. Made the win at the French finals look easy. Odds: 6-1
DH: Caroline Wozniacki. Dad’s a pro soccer player; mom’s a pro volleyball player. Mix those together, you get a pro tennis player?! Odds: 43-1

Tiffani
Fav: Victoria Azarenka. Admires Roger Federer, who’s not a bad person to admire when playing at Wimbledon. Odds: 15-1
DH: Maria Sharapova. This is the GDHOAT (Greatest Dark Horse of All Time). Odds on being the loudest shrieker: 2-1. Odds: 13-1

Jason
Fav: Venus Williams. 5 time champion. Her game was built for the green stuff. My “diamond” is going to cut Chris’ “diamond” in 3 sets in the final. Odds: 4-1
DH: Maria Kirilenko. Did you know she was in Sports Illustrated this year?! Oh, and she plays tennis too. Odds: 52-1

Kana
Fav: Dinara Safina. Questions, questions. The world #1 has a big game for the grass, but can she string together 7 matches to win her first Grand Slam? Can she shake off the let down at the French Open a few weeks ago? Can she finally go past the 3rd round? Is her brother really Marat Safin? Odds: 11-1
DH: Ana Ivanovic. Speaking of #1, the former world #1 has been disappointing so far in 2009. If her game and knee holds up, she can go far. I wouldn’t sleep on this sleeper. Odds: 27-1

So there you go, the picks have been made, my opinions, voiced. All that’s left to do now is watch and see who’s going to owe whom a beer.

Check back during the tournament for my thoughts on certain matches and anything else to do with The Championships.

Jason, TW

** Editors Note: Due to late breaking news that the #1 seed, and my pick to win, Rafael Nadal is not going to play due to tendonitis, I was forced to make a scramble pick.
New Fav: Andy Roddick. I’m digging the improvement he’s made to his game and it’s perfect for Wimbledon. His serve scares everyone not named Federer and he is moving a lot better. Chant it with me now, USA! USA! USA! Odds: 10-1.

Taken by surprise

A tennis player’s racquet is a very personal thing. Our racquet connects us to the ball. Its combination of frame, string and grip provides us with the feel and control for our shot-making mastery. A tennis player without a racquet is like a knight without a sword, a magician without wand, Takeru “Tsunami” Kobayashi without a Nathan’s hot dog. A racquetless tennis player, then, offers an incomplete picture.

The completion of that picture is often the result of many agonizing hours of hitting different sticks. Hours on the demo court whittle away the choices until we narrow it down to a select few. If we are lucky, I mean really, really lucky, the kind of luck usually reserved for Leprechauns and Super Lotto winners, then switching racquets happens by complete surprise.

Just recently I was taken by surprise. There I was, totally content with my current racquet, the Becker Pro. We had been a loyal team for just a year — an extremely brief relationship for me as I usually stick with a racquet for a long time.

Some racquet samples arrived at Tennis Warehouse, and I was especially excited to hit one of them. The specifications looked very enticing. It was similar to my racquet set-up, except with a tighter stringbed. Things were looking good, but then I took it out for a hit and didn’t like it that much. I mean, it was a decent stick, but it just wasn’t anything I’d ever consider switching to. I had taken another racquet along for a quick hit that day. It was a midsize. I thought my midsize days were over. I was wrong.

I’ve never been more wrong about a racquet before, and never been happier to find out I was wrong.

Completely overlooking the Volkl Power Bridge 10 Mid as something too demanding for me to switch to, I’d saved only 10 minutes at the end of my hit to try it out.

Those ten minutes were tennis ecstasy. Ten minutes turned into 20 as I prolonged my hit by baiting my hitting partner into more groundstroke games and tie-breakers.

With the Power Bridge 10 Mid I was hitting targets with pinpoint accuracy, I was finding more spin than I usually create, and my opponent started commenting on the added weight behind my shots.

I’ve fallen in love with racquets before, but I’ve never fallen this hard. After testing hundred and hundreds of racquets at Tennis Warehouse, I’ve finally found my Holy Grail, the Power Bridge 10 Mid.

Take a chance; think outside the box, try some racquets you’ve never before considered, and if you’re lucky, you might get surprised. And man, does it feel good.

Happy hitting,
Chris.

Jock-ey-ing for position

Without actually revealing my age, I was in my first year of college the last time I sported a jockstrap. I played on the basketball team, and the school provided equipment such as shoes, uniforms, socks, and yes, jockstraps. So what the heck, I’ll take advantage of the free gear. First game, I got dressed and immediately realized this jock was not going to work for me. Not sure how my 5’10″, 165 lb. frame was mistaken for Shaquille O’neal’s, but since our game was on the road, I had to make do. Let me just say that the straps in the back were so loose, I got a first hand look, or feel rather, of what it was like to wear a thong. Too much info? Probably. That would be the last time I would be a supporter of wearing a jockstrap, or should I say a jockstrap would be ‘supporting’ me.

Back then, compression shorts were called ‘tights’ or ‘spandex shorts’ and were seen mostly in the aerobics room at your local gym. They went hand in hand with the classic Reebok aerobic shoes and headbands that were ‘in’ back then. Flashdance comes to mind, “I’m a maniac, maniac. . .” You’re catching my drift, I’m sure. My girlfriend at the time worked at a store that sold dance/workout wear. Parking my pride at the curb, I went in and found a pair of ‘tights’ and have never looked back. Not only do you get the same certain ‘support’ you would get from a jockstrap, but the added tautness around the glutes, hammies and quads helps as well — a much more comfortable and supporting option as far as I’m concerned.

I’m certainly not in the minority when it comes to that decision as you will notice in today’s sports, most players are also wearing compression shorts. Both men and women have taken advantage of this comfort and support. Is the jockstrap dead? Not yet, but those who wear them would be termed as ‘old school’, or ‘traditional’. Let’s just say that compression shorts are the overwhelming choice in athletics today.

To this day, I still play basketball, as well as tennis. I also frequent the gym. For all of these activities, it is second nature to throw on compression shorts under my shorts. I guess I could say I feel naked without them. Literally.

Supportingly yours,

Spencer