Year End Awards……according to Jason

Also known as The T-Dubbys.


Without further ado:

Most Valuable Player (MVP)
-       Roger Federer. Surpassed Sampras’ all time Grand Slam record and won that elusive French Open title. With his win at Roland Garros this year, he is, and it hurts me to type this, the greatest player of all time.

-       Andre Agassi. Got the whole nation to talk about tennis. Hey, like they say, any publicity is good publicity. With his book, Open,  he single-handedly placed tennis at the front of sporting news. Until some guy named Tiger ran into a fire hydrant.

-      Rafael Nadal. Came out of the gates of 2009 hot! Won the Australian Open in an epic match against Federer. Won again at the “5th Slam”, BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Then, his knees decided enough was enough. Ended the year strong on his favorite surface, clay, helping Spain win the Davis Cup.

-       Serena Williams. Say what you will about her and her attitude, but she dominated 2009. Including her doubles record, Serena won 5 Grand Slams this year. 5! Plus, she put foot faulting on the map! Don’t tell me you weren’t constantly calling foot faults on your friends when you went out and played.
Winner: Roger Federer

Surprise Player of the Year (SPY)
-       Melanie Oudin. At the 2009 US Open, what did Elena Dementieva (4), Maria Sharapova (29), and Nadia Petrova (13) all have in common? They all lost to the 17-year-old American.  This might’ve been the first time you heard of her, but earlier, she upset Sybille Bammer (29) and Jelena Jankovic (6) at Wimbledon. USA! USA! USA!

-       Kim Clijsters. If I could borrow a line from Johnny Mac, “You cannot be serious!” How does one take two years off from tennis to have a baby, then, come back and in only her 3rd tournament, win the US Open?! She beat Venus Williams before beating Serena in the now, infamous Footgate incident.

-       Juan Martin Del Potro. As a major underdog, beat world #2 Rafael Nadal in the semis then beat defending champion Roger Federer in the finals at the US Open. He was down 2 sets and a break too. ‘Nuff said.
Winner: Juan Martin Del Potro

Best Supporting Player in a Loss (BSPL)
-       Fernando Verdasco @ Australian Open vs. Rafael Nadal. This was the longest match in Australian Open history. Unbelievable points, ridiculously long exchanges, a heavyweight slugfest, but in the end, Nadal was the victor. And it only took him 5 hours and 14 minutes. I wonder if he went for a run afterward to get some real exercise. Yes people, that was sarcasm.

-       Andy Roddick @ Wimbledon vs. Roger Federer. I’m not saying this was better than last year’s final, but this was one hell of an encore. Facing the pressure to hold or lose in the 5th set, Roddick held serve 11 times before getting broken for the match.
Winner: Andy Roddick

Best Point
Nominees: I’ll let the videos do the talking
-       Clijsters vs. Wozniacki. US Open Finals.
-       Federer vs. Djokovic. US Open Semi-Finals.
-       Nadal vs. Verdasco. Australian Open Semi-Finals.
-       Nadal vs. Federer. Australian Open Finals.
-       Monfils vs. Ferrero. Rogers Cup.
Winner: Nadal vs. Federer. Australian Open Finals

Biggest Upset
-       Soderling over Nadal @ The French Open. The King of Clay was going for his 5th straight French Open title. Just weeks before, he won two other clay tournaments. 32 straight matches won at Roland Garros. He never even lost a match in his career at Roland Garros. Ok, you get the picture. All that came to in end in the 4th round when Soderling beat him in 4 sets.

-       Del Potro over Federer @ The US Open. Rafa was only going for 5 straight titles at Roland Garros. Federer was going for 6 in a row. Down 2 sets and a break, Del Potro rallied all the way back with his 100+ MPH forehands and handed Federer his first loss since 2003. Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!
Winner: Soderling over Nadal

Ms. Congeniality
-       Serena Williams. Come on! I had to give her a shout out. Pun intended.
Winner: Serena Williams

That’s it. 2009 is in the books. Do you have any nominees for these categories? Did I miss any obvious ones? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Here’s to a great 2010 season,

Jason, TW

La Habra Fall Tournament

A word that could ruin your day is traffic.

T-R-A-F-F-I-C…. (To Recollect A Furious Feeling of road rage. In essence, Check-In time FAIL)

T – To
R – Recollect
A – A
F – Furious
F – Feeling of road rage.
I – In essence,
C – Check-in time FAIL

This past Thanksgiving weekend I traveled to La Habra, California, to play Mixed Open Doubles in the La Habra Fall Tournament with my friend Noah Newman. I was especially excited to play with Noah who’s known in the Southern California tennis community as one of the Open elite. With him as my partner, we were seeded No. 1. To my surprise, the man I lost to in the mixed doubles of the Tracy Austin Tournament with Andy Gerst was seeded No. 2 with a different partner. I wanted another chance against him and celebrate Newman’s and Ribultan’s first tournament win together.

I drove down the day of the match, a trip that should take me no more than three and a half hours. To my stupidity, I forgot to calculate the possibility of that lovely word traffic. That’s right. You probably guessed what happened right from the intro.

Check-in time was 3 o’clock, and I didn’t make it. There was an accident on the freeway and I was late. 24 minutes to be exact. I was so embarrassed as I believe punctuality is a show of someone’s character. Nonetheless, Noah met me at the front desk and we ran straight onto our designated court. Oops! My sandals were still on! The official told the players to start warming up while I scrambled to put my shoes on. I felt even more embarrassed as the official looked like she’d rather walk me off a plank than let me play on her court. I apologized many times for my tardiness, and the match began.

We started the match 0-3, which we were thankful for because the official wanted the score to be 0-5, but our opponents allowed the score to stay at 0-3. Our main focus was to charge back, and that’s what we did. We came back on fire taking the first set 7-5. I have to admit that I was extremely confident we were going to sail through the second set, but the winds took a turn and we ended up losing the second set 6-2. Our opponents had stepped it up and showed they wouldn’t go down without a battle.

The third set was our time to reign. Noah started us off by holding serve, but they came back strong, also holding for 1-1. I held serve, we broke our female opponent’s serve, Noah held his, and boom, we were up 4-1. We were ready for the winds to take us home, and then a storm came. The other team got it together to take the lead. 4-5. Really? We just lost four straight games. We needed to concentrate again and that’s what we did, taking the lead again. Now the score was Newman and Ribultan, 6-5, 40-love, on the female’s serve. We were going to eat lobster for dinner!

Our taste of victory was premature. We became trigger-happy trying to blast away returns. Missed returns brought the score back to deuce. From there we ended up losing the game. Into a tiebreaker we went.

At the end our sails were down and the wind was blowing the other way.

Final score: 7-5, 2-6, 6-7 (6-8). We, the No. 1 seeds, were knocked out.

Mental toughness is a crucial part of tennis. We thought we had it, but our opponents battled back until the last point and took the win. I learned again to never underestimate an opponent, and inevitably, it’s not over until it’s over.

Please share your incredible comebacks or unbelievable defeats.

Peace Sign,