Tennis Prose



Kirilenko and Dokic Also Contemplating Comebacks

Andy Murray, Kim Clijsters, Tatiana Golovin all declared their high profile comebacks in 2019. Two more former top players may add themselves to the comeback hysteria in 2020.

Maria Kirilenko posted an Instagram video of her hitting balls in Russia. She looks super fit and sharp and at age 32 (33 in January) she may be seriously considering a return to WTA competition. I posted a comment to the video, “Kirilenko Komeback!!” The next day Maria, “liked” my comment.

Kirilenko reached a top ranking of no. 10 in 2013 and won six WTA singles titles, compiling a 364-257 won-loss record. Her last match was in 2014 in Beijing.

Kirilenko played in two Grand Slam doubles finals, reaching a doubles ranking of 5, with 12 doubles titles.

Another player also seems to have the itch to comeback…Jelena Dokic today posted a video of herself hitting from the baseline, looking seriously fit and sharp enough, like Kirilenko, to be playing this week in China or Linz.

Dokic even asked her followers if we think she looks good enough to try a comeback? Of course, everyone approved of that idea.

Now 36, Dokic has not played since 2013. She reached no. 4 in the world in 2002. She faded from the sport in the mid 2000s before mounting a comeback in 2008 and 2009 where she stunned the tennis world by making the quarterfinals at Australian Open, losing to Dinara Safina. Her first round win in three sets vs Tamira Paszek was her first Grand Slam match win since 2003.

Her last pro match was in 2013 in the AO Wildcard qualfiying tournament.

In 2017 she published her best-selling autobiography “Unbreakable.”

Dokic won six career WTA singles titles and reached the 2000 Wimbledon semifinals, her best major result. She also reached the finals of the 2001 Roland Garros doubles tournament.

So when is Vince Spadea going to finally try his “comeback?”



  • catherine · October 10, 2019 at 8:39 am

    Scoop – no it wasn’t Top Spin, although that one sounds worth reading. It was by a woman journalist, can’t remember her name or the name of the book I’m afraid. The kind of pressure etc she wrote about was mild compared to these days but it was a pretty depressing read. The girl was National 18 champion I think. Never made it as a pro – very junior type game. Lisa someone ?

  • catherine · October 10, 2019 at 8:41 am

    Hartt – I only meant the kind of things you discussed – managing the hype etc. Seems TC do that quite well.

  • Andrew Miller · October 10, 2019 at 8:45 am

    Scoop, I know young people with this condition. It is as bad as advertised, I am not kidding it is awful. I don’t wish it on anyone. The disease eats the bone and eats joints, and a player will feel exhausted even waking up.

    It will deform their hands and joints. Wrist surgeries become inevitable.

    I am sorry for Collins. Let’s not prey on a player that was just dealt a poor prognosis – she’ll be ok for her life, and for tennis this will be an enormous setback. I hope it’s a misdiagnosis.

    Always feel bad when some players get this misfortune. Such as Vickie Duval with cancer, there was a tennis playing twin Daniela Klemenschits from Austria sometime back who died of cancer and her twin kept going. Corina Morariu. Venus Williams had sjogrens which is bad. Cancer is worse. These conditions are bad.

  • jg · October 10, 2019 at 8:51 am

    Geez, Sock loses his first match at the Fairfield challenger. He got a bye in the first round.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Andrew, Collins is one of my favorites, hope she can keep playing her best tennis and continue her fine career contending for titles, just like one of her idols Wozniacki who has shown she is playing very good tennis still despite her affliction and suffering and being a victim. Caro just semifinaled in Beijing where she lost to Osaka 64 62.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 8:59 am

    jg, even worse for Sock is the opponent Jack Draper is like a 16 or 17 year old kid from England. The only match Sock has won all year was at Laver Cup vs Fognini. And who knows the authenticity of that.

  • Andrew Miller · October 10, 2019 at 9:01 am

    I like Collins also. Don’t mind her attitude either, it’s like Bouchard 2014, I’m not here to play around and yeah I live for this!

    Gauff says similar things. I was frightened by that Monique Viele video though because Monique Viele said the same thing too!!!

  • Andrew Miller · October 10, 2019 at 9:03 am

    Shanghai Masters is exciting. I still can’t get over how big that stadium is. It’s like something from a futuristic movie.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 9:09 am

    The strange thing is they instill it in the kid’s head that they will be rich and famous superstars, so the kid believes it and becomes convinced it will happen, then when it does not, and they suffer bad losses and junior slumps, the wheels fall off. The emphasis should be on just try your best and enjoy it, go for pro but realize it’s a long shot, so many great players out there, just try your best every day on court and enjoy the sport, the actual playing, don’t get carried away on the goals that are too far away. Sometimes the parents see the dollar signs first and they go crazy first. The kid becomes the slave for the dream.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 9:14 am

    Yes, really looking forward to Medvedev vs Fognini and Djokovic vs Tsitsipas. Fog and Medvedev have split matches (1-1) but given their tendencies for controversy on court, this one could blow up into something. Fed vs Tsip is also 1-1 and all indicators are that Djokovic is not especially fond of the ambitious Greek. When I asked Djokovic in Miami which of the young players can he see potentially being the one to overtake his reign, he cited the Canadians, Hurkacz, Zverev, but he did not mention Felix.

  • Jon King · October 10, 2019 at 9:40 am

    So true Scoop. In South Florida so many of the girls are told at age 7-8-9 that they will be pros. You go to an entry level tournament and the dad’s especially will tell you their girl is on the ‘pro route’. We started with lots of these girls at age 7-8.

    Most have dropped out by age 14. A few switched to low pressure high school tennis. 1-2 are still on the pro route. The dad’s no longer post each match result on facebook. The girl’s tennis websites are no longer updated.

    I have a feeling if the pro talk was not involved most of these girls would still be playing at least recreationally. But once they started losing at age 11-12-13, the thought of going from the next Sharapova to just another playing for fun and fitness was not an option apparently.

  • Jon King · October 10, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Scoop, I just read your post about the junior girl and the coaching, etc. The older girls actually teach the younger girls how to do it at some academies. There is a script they follow.

    1. The first ball the opponent calls out, act like the sky has fallen, she is cheating, ask to see the mark, even if the ball was out by 3 feet. This lays the groundwork where hopefully the opponent is too nervous to call future balls out even if they are. This actually seems to work in some cases.

    2. Start with calling balls out that are on the line, increase the margin the ball was actually in to see what the opponent allows you to get away with. We have seen matches where girls will literally call balls out that are 3 feet in the court, and the opponent says nothing.

    3. Dad or coach with signals positions behind the windscreen prior to match starting. The Russian’s who play in the S. Florida USTAs don’t bother with signals, they just coach out loud in Russian.

    4. If lose a few games early, take a bathroom break. Dad or coach meets them for coaching along the way.

    5. If still losing, fake injury. Limp around, hold the shoulder, try to get the better player to let her guard down.

    Ask any academy coach down here and they will say the only way to win in S. Florida juniors is to either be much better than your opponent or cheat back the first time she cheats to send the message that you will not be a victim. Its sad to see kids come from other USTA sections and be shocked as to how blatant the cheating is down here.

  • Andrew Miller · October 10, 2019 at 10:20 am

    That’s tennis. Some of your competitors get worse because they don’t care anymore. It’s same on the women’s pro tour.

    If you can get the same money and attention being a player that goes through the motion, makes money from exhibitions, and get some Instagram endorsements, no need to put in too much effort on court. You realize you’re in your parents dream and you resent it. So the logical response is you stole my childhood and now I do what I want.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 10:42 am

    I believe you Jon, that is brutal, these academies and coaches teach sophisticated cheating. I even forgot one part of the cheatathon, the opponent argued the first call, the ball was way out and the opponent went crazy like it was in. It’s like a torture process, the actual tennis is secondary to all the BS. This is a very nice girl, parents are as nice as can be. She has potential and loves to play and train for hours, always smiling. Hope this dark aspect of junior tennis does not ruin it for her. So far no, she was out the next day training and smiling.

  • Jon King · October 10, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Oh, I forgot the classic junior cheating, score changing while serving.

    If an academy girl is serving at 15-15 or 30-30 and loses the next point, she will step to the line to serve and say 30-15 instead of 15-30, or 40-30 instead of 30-40. If the opponent corrects her, oh well, if not, free point.

    This is pretty much a given down here.

  • Jon King · October 10, 2019 at 10:54 am

    Scoop, you are describing one of my kids at ages 8-13. She is a super nice kid, and started playing tournaments just after her 8th birthday.

    From her first USTA match, the cheating was evident. Once the girls saw she would not speak up and was too shy to get a referee, it escalated. She would destroy a player in a practice match with the parents or coach keeping things fair, then lose to them that weekend in a USTA event. Parents we did not even know would get angry that she was being cheated so much.

    Its frustrating and most of the nicer girls we know down here have quit tennis. My daughter quit tennis for intervals of 10 months, 15 months, and 12 months through the years. She is going to try tournaments again next year, she is much stronger and confident now as she had a growth spurt and put on 15 pounds of muscle since her last tournament, and she has been role playing standing up to cheaters. All we can do is support.

  • Andrew Miller · October 10, 2019 at 11:07 am

    Jon King sorry to see the cheating. I saw a fair amount. One call I saw years ago was obnoxious, thankfully the player got an ump. A player hit a serve that was about two feet in and called out. It was that bad.

    Faced a guy once that did this, also hit shots on double bounces and called them for himself. Second time I played him I was pretty motivated, still lost but it was more fair.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 11:13 am

    Jon, again, she said the same thing happened in the match with the score changing, I forgot that part too. Too much cheating to remember it all. You indeed are an expert on this, hope you’re coping with it all.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 11:21 am

    Jon I wish you patience and luck to deal with Florida juniors scene. I was at Orange Bowl ad Eddie Herr and Winter Nats and ITF junior Coral Gables and there wasn’t any cheating or even sophisticated cheating, the worst I saw was an Argentine girl who was stalling between every point, she would use any reason to stall and delay, like deciding to pick up a ball in the corner way after she should have, I mean it was just a show of slow play stalling, the other girl was better and dealt with it and won, the other girl is top 5 in the nation level. But I can see how a lot of players just lose it with all the stall tactics between every single point. Other than that all the other boys girls were clean competitors. Good to see.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 11:24 am

    In the state 35s I hit a passing shot winner, inside the line by half a foot. I called the score 30-15, he said not it’s 15-30. I roared, WHAT? You called that out? It was half a foot IN! He insisted it was out. I think the score was 3-2 me at that point. I immediately got the tournament referee to come down and officiate it, he stole that point too. But I played with a rage after that, fist pumping and yelling come on on every point until I took over the match which I did 62 61. Found out later the guy was a lawyer in NYC. Dirty tennis even in adult state tournaments.

  • Jon King · October 10, 2019 at 12:08 pm

    Scoop, yes the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl are pretty clean. At that level the players know not to cheat because word gets out fast. The cheaters are ostracized and no girl wants that. Also, the girls know that if they cheat, they will be cheated back right away because everyone there knows the tricks, so it does not pay off.

    The cheating in South Florida is at the level 4-5-6-7 tournaments. This is where the players are trying to get points and rankings to play the higher level events.

    Karma does catch up. We have seen quite a few girls cheat their way up to the high level tournaments then get demolished in their first match simply because they developed their cheating skills at the lower tournaments instead of their tennis skills.

  • Andrew Miller · October 10, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    When I played we had only two types of tournaments. We didn’t have the levels stuff. Just open and sanctioned. It meant that at a regular tournament I’d play top ten from Texas in second round or number one from NJ in first round, because they were playing Florida in summers.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    Andrew, yes you have to deal with a lot of things in a tournament. I know some good players who are afraid to play a real tournament or even a league, they just play park doubles matches, it’s a lot of pressure to deal with, stress and sometimes nonsense. One on one is the ultimate competition. Playing in the park is one thing, playing in a real tournament is a totally different thing. The ego takes a beating sometimes. You play serious players who want to win, not just passing time in the park with wannabee players. You find out who the real players are who have the guts to play tournaments.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    Jon I wonder if cheating has always been this bad as it is now, wonder how it was in the 70s and 80s.

  • Andrew Miller · October 10, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    Cheating was bad but not widespread in the 90s. The arms race of today Jon King describes, I didn’t see it. It was more intimidation, where people showed up with twenty racquets or ten racquets each at $200 a pop plus the stencil. We showed up with one racquet and a spare, of a different kind, if lucky. Felt like it would be tough right off the bat and usually it was.

    Maybe these were the good old days. There was cheating. It was bad when it happened. It didn’t happen that often. Players often lost track of the score because of the heat, somedays it was blistering. Couldn’t blame people.

    Some score switching that was intentional. Didn’t happen that often. Some kids called the lines way too closely, but it wasn’t that many people.

    Only faced one big time cheater. Others faced more. Sorry to say I saw it more commonly for the girls. Some of it was egregious, like the serve that was in by a few feet and called out. I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was nearly in the middle of the service box! Right then and there the player called the ump, right then and there.

  • Andrew Miller · October 10, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    For the cheating I got sense the players were told this was how you play. Sometimes parents went hard at each other, which was unbelievable. For what it’s worth it was notoriously bad in certain cities (Boca was particularly terrible).

    Again I didn’t see much of it. But sometimes it happened and when that happened it was awful. I only played one guy that was this way. Second time I played him I went at him hard, which was a good way to play. He had the goods though, he didn’t have to cheat.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    Andrew, some players could write a book about tennis cheating. There are lots of tricks. Fognini knows a few.

  • Jon King · October 10, 2019 at 6:12 pm

    Yes, Boca is the hotspot, the kids from Macci and Evert academies are some of the worst. I would say the worst cheating is from West Palm Beach, down through Miami, then over to Naples. The cheating triangle. These are also the worst area for parent abuse, of each other, and of their own kids.

    If you drive an hour north and play in Melbourne, its another world. Almost no cheating and parents talking like friends. So as far as the intense cheating, its fairly isolated in this S. Florida area. Lots of academies, lots of kids under pressure, and lots of wealthy parents who are used to getting their way for themselves and their kids.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Interesting analysis and insights Jon, thank you. Sarasota Bradenton also more reasonable and fair?

  • Jon King · October 10, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    Sarasota-Bradenton is not bad at all. IMG and Saddlebrook attract more international kids while Maccis and Everts and other SE FL. academies have a higher percentage of local kids.

    The worst cheaters we run into are daughters of wealthy folks who populate Palm Beach County and Broward County. They have a sense of entitlement to win at whatever they do.

    Of course we do have some Russian kids come through and they can be epic cheats. We had an academy in Deerfield Beach, FL that flew in kids from Russia. My daughter beat one of them in a tournament and the coach invited us to come by and train there. Immediately they started playing practice matches and it was comical. Cheating on every court. I asked the head coach and he laughed and said, oh yes…that girl is cheater #1 and that girl is cheater #2, etc. We only stayed 2 hours and never went back.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 10, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    Jon, what do you know about bill adams?

  • Andrew Miller · October 10, 2019 at 11:16 pm

    Scoop, thanks for the Monique Viele tip. I googled around after the TP comments and noticed that the big coaches loved her game but Bolletieri in particular was upset by some things. The Vieles were convinced of their daughter’s clear talent but we’re also convinced that she was being held back by the “Capriati Rule” (and seemed further convinced that no one else could ever have the same kind of pressure or hang with a bad crowd etc).

    Bolletieri said something that I looked at and go, yeah you know Bolletieri is a bright man. Basically Viele wasn’t ready for prime time – she had the ability, owned a nice set of shots, but wasn’t ready for the rigor of the tour and wasn’t match tough either – she was thrown to the wolves and the wolves are her up. In short order she was injured. She got an exhibition against Seles I guess and Seles approach apparently from a comment board was to tear the kid apart and did, swept her without a game (five games only). It might have been because everyone said Viele was better than Seles etc, so Seles was like you’re joking, right?

    Anyways for what it’s worth and I’m sorry to express this, her parents were convinced of something that wasn’t true. Finishing third in Orange Bowl for your age doesn’t make you a WTA top ranked player. Ms. Viele was beaten repeatedly and then at the lowest rungs of the tour. What’s clear is just because you hit with college players and she did, doesn’t mean you can beat them, which there’s no indication she could.

    She hit up Bolletieri, Drew Evert (I like Drew Evert! I played at his academy for tournaments), and then Macci. And while all loved her talent, all were very wary of her parents. Macci in particular talked up the hype to the nth degree to challenge the WTA rule on 14 year olds and got the exception and Ms. Viele promptly lost.

    This wasn’t before major media such as the UK Independent lapped up the story. The reality was that Monique Viele needed time to develop and wasn’t ready to win much, and was totally untested. High potential isn’t the same as “ready to win tour level matches” or even acclimate to them.

    Or don’t listen to pushy parents, they aren’t an appropriate gauge of talent. Matches are. Winning at higher levels is. Not whether you or I say so and so is going to be great look at that practice session…just isn’t the same.

  • Jon King · October 11, 2019 at 1:02 am

    Scoop, Bill Adams runs a program at a tennis complex in Miramar. Nice place with both green clay and hard courts. Bill has been around forever, worked with the Williams sisters for a bit, also worked for at least a year with the Osaka sisters. Pretty much a solid, throw back type of coach.

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