Tennis Prose



Miami Open Stories

Prakash Armritraj is here working as the Tennis Channel’s roving reporter. He’s a former ATP top 100 pro who once reached the finals of Newport, and his dad Vijay was a legendary former top 10 star from India who even had a small role in the James Bond movie Octopussy with Roger Moore. Prakash told me how he got the job. The director tested a thousand actors for the small role but couldn’t find the right guy. The director saw Vijay playing at Wimbledon and contacted him to audition. Vijay did the audition during Wimbledon and got the job and later played the same day against Roscoe Tanner.

Su-Wei Hsieh talked to the media – five reporters – for 35 minutes after her singles and later doubles match yesterday. There is not a more cooperative player for the media Then she did another eight minutes with the WTA insider David Cain. She said her next event is Stuttgart.

Jannik Schneider, a contributor to Tennis Magazin of Germany intended to do a feature article about Frances Tiafoe for his publication but the American cancelled all one on one requests after his matches against Kecmanovic and Ferrer.

Jannik shared a nice story from the Goran Ivanisevic interview in his magazine and Goran says he watches his Wimbledon final vs Rafter once a month and sometimes it’s so tense that he doesn’t remember who wins.

Did you know Miami Open was the first tournament to have equal prize money? The WTA players gave the International Player Championships an ultimatum for equal prize money or no participation and and director Butch Buchholz made the compromise in 1985.

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  • Dan Markowitz · March 27, 2019 at 11:47 pm


    You seem to mention the pressers where there’s only a handful of reporters present, but the two pressers I went to, Krygios and Federer, there had to be 20 or 30 reporters present and in fact, it was hard to get a question in because the moderator was passing around the microphone. So I felt the media presence was pretty vibrant.

    And certain press conferences you do get good responses from a player about what he’s thinking about during the match. Like when I asked Fed today after his match with Medvedev whether he was using the slice and the fake drop shot forehand slice to chop down the big man’s legs. As you noted, Fed not only gave me a long answer, but he even came back to the question and elucidated some more on his answer.

    Interesting that Peter Bodo who’s written a book on the tour back in the 80’s I think, “Hard Courts,” and a book with Sampras and another one with Patrick McEnroe said when I asked him, that the book he really wanted to write about tennis was all the women, mostly young at the time, who had their careers ruined or curtailed by relationships they had with their older coaches.

  • catherine · March 28, 2019 at 2:17 am

    Bodo’s book wasn’t ‘Hard Courts’, that was Feinstein. Can’t remember what Bodo’s book was called now, although I read it and reviewed it.

    I’m not sure there are actually that many women who fall into the category Peter wants to write about. Maybe a handful over the years. Lots of gossip of course. Relationship with their fathers – yes.

  • catherine · March 28, 2019 at 2:44 am

    ‘Inside Tennis’ was Bodo’s book about the ’70s. And actually I didn’t review it, someone else did.

    Re press conference questions – ‘what’ or ‘why’ questions are ones a player can answer; ‘how’ questions, the ones Kyrgios keeps being asked, are not.

  • catherine · March 28, 2019 at 3:59 am

    As many people have noted the stadium court is often almost empty. Federer etc can fill the stands but for some of the other matches it must feel like playing on the moon. Seems too big.

  • Dan Markowitz · March 28, 2019 at 7:59 am

    I don’t have transcripts yet of question I asked Fed after his Medvedev match, but he gave a long and analyzed answer. Here’s a simple question from Fed’s previous match and look how long and detailed Fed’s response is. And the question is pretty simple. So you can with a lot of players receive insightful answers to presser questions. These players are PHD’s in their sport and strategy and they spend their lives analyzing their games and their emotions so often, sometimes unexpectedly, they will give quite long and interesting answers. As a reporter, you’ve just got to attend these pressers and get your question in.

    Q. How did you feel about your serve today?
    ROGER FEDERER: I thought I served very well, because Filip can return very well, especially on second serve. I know I could feel the pressure maybe, to some extent, if I don’t make the first serves. But I still kept going after them, and I was able to hit my spots and keep the pressure on and shorten points as the match went on.

    I thought, you know, it was a high, intense match in the first sort of, you know, ten games. Then I was able to pull away. I had a good 20-minute stretch where I was really able to stretch the lead, and that was key today.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 28, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Dan, you got a great reply by Fed which I will dig up and post late. Bodo did not write Hard Courts, John Feninstein did. No way will any female players reveal their romantic entanglements with male or female coaches. No chance.

  • catherine · March 28, 2019 at 12:08 pm

    Scoop – as I noted above Hard Courts was written by John Feinstein , not his remote cousin John Feninstein 🙂

  • Dan Markowitz · March 28, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    We came up with a couple of young female players—Vaidisov and Moriaru—who’s careers were sidetracked by romantic entanglements with either an older player or coach. There are others and if Bodocwas considering a book, I’m sure he knew of others as well.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 28, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Catherine, are you sure it wasn’t penned by John Frankenstein? 🙂

  • Leif Wellington Haase · March 29, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    Bodo’s book was Courts of Babylon, which showed how professionalism, athleticism, and globalization (along with governance, to use a boring word) were reshaping the modern tour. As you would expect from a terrific tennis writer it is well-informed, perhaps too well-informed, about tennis and perceptive about the sociology of sports. It is less memorable as a study of personality which is probably why it didn’t become the crossover hit that Bodo was clearly intending.

    Though salacious, sensationalist, and no doubt exaggerated (as well as far less knowledgeable about the sport itself) the closest anyone has come to writing a compelling book about tennis’ seamy underside is the novelist Michael Mewshaw’s Short Circuit (1983?) and his subsequent and less successful Ladies of the Court (early 90s). Lots of cautionary tales there and, if memory serves, excellent vignettes about very good players now relegated to the mists of time (Chip Hooper, where are you now?) I don’t know Mewshaw but I know that his work wasn’t, in general, widely appreciated in the tennis community, which may be an understatement.

  • catherine · March 31, 2019 at 5:48 am

    Leif – I’ve only just seen your post.

    Peter Bodo’s first tennis book was Inside Tennis which was about the circuit in the 70s. It wasn’t published outside the US and I got a copy through a friend of his. I liked it better than Courts of Babylon and it was well illustrated with some good photos by June Harrison.

    Mewshaw’s Ladies of the Court was also good and a pretty realistic view of the game – the best on the women’s circuit since Grace Lichtenstein’s A Long Way Baby, which also resulted in her becoming persona non grata with the women’s tour. Grace didn’t intend that but she underestimated the sensitivity of the powers around the game and the players.

    No books like these could be written today of course.

    (PS – Rita Mae Brown wrote a roman a clef about her time with Martina – fun to read and identify the not-too-cunningly disguised characters)

    Of course Julie Heldman’s recent autobiography ‘Driven’gives a good insider’s view of the more-or-less true story of the birth of the womens pro circuit and a few honest but unflattering portraits of the big players in that game.



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