Mar/20

14

My Apologies

I would like to apologize to the readers and posters on Tennis-Prose.com. We started this web site with the intention of making it a facsimile of the Tennis Week write-in board that was a wonderful vehicle for discussing every facet of tennis. Scoop and I and Richard Pagliaro and Dan Weil were all contributors to Tennis Week and the online site.

Tennis-Prose.com continued that excitement and fervor for the game as we watched the pros and commented on their victories and losses; and as we played the game ourselves and also rejoiced and celebrated or lamented our wins and losses. We have managed to keep it going for many years and have had many great compelling discussions, but from my end that is all over now.

Playing tennis as I did in high school and college, and then for a short stint on the French and Portugal Satellite circuit and then teaching tennis at clubs and writing about the sport has filled a lot of my life. I loved seeing my own progress in the game; I loved seeing my students progress in the game; and I loved watching the pro game from Stan Smith and Arthur Ashe to Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova to John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg to Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati to Vince Spadea and Gaels Monfils to Serena and Coco. And then of course there were Andrew Ilie, Justine Henin, Zina Garrison, Rayni Fox, my first love in tennis, Kim Clijsters, Dustin Brown, Gianluca Pozzi, Sam Groth, Karsten Braasch, Fabrice Santoro, Henri Leconte, Dr. Dirt Wilkinson and the super fan, Lou Noritz, and great tennis scribes like Jon Wertheim, Frank Deford and Bud Collins and so many others that thrilled and captivated me.

So it is with sadness to write that I am signing off from Tennis-Prose.com and will not contribute to the web site anymore. I will miss so many of you and your insights and great knowledge and passion for the game. I didn’t always agree or see things in the same light, but I always liked reading what you had to say and knowing I could just turn on my computer and get my daily dose of tennis punditry. I will miss Scoop’s insights on the game and his great passion for it too as we each pushed one another to try to come up with a better story to entertain and engage our audience.

I am leaving because I do not like the political veer Tennis-Prose has taken and the deep-state conspiracies that populate discussions once only reserved for tennis. Reading these ugly diatribes just raises my blood pressure and I too was too often guilty of biting onto the bait and adding my own two cents when I just wanted to keep the site devoted to tennis.

I will continue to follow tennis; play it and watch my son hopefully make a name for himself in the game. But I will not write about it on this site even as I talk with Tom Gullikson about writing a book with him about losing his twin brother and tennis partner, Tim, after the twins emerged from La Crosse, Wisconsin to become without any formal training in the game, one of the top doubles teams in the world and the pre-cursors to the Bryan Brothers. Gullikson, who beat Borg, Jimmy Connors and Ilie Nastase in singles also became a renowned coach, mentoring Todd Martin, Capriati and Andy Roddick. Gully, as he’s fondly known, also was the American Davis Cup captain for six years. He’s a great guy; a tennis sage who has stories about everyone from Connors to Riley Opelka, who he coached as a junior. I look forward to bringing Gully’s story and insights on the game to the written page.

So maybe I’ll see some of you on a book-signing line someday and if you do see me, remember to say, “Spadea Ain’t Afraid Of Ya.” So long and stay safe. This virus ain’t no joke.

34 comments

  • Andrew Miller · March 14, 2020 at 11:41 pm

    Dan, thank you and thank you Scoop as well for putting your heart into this site. For what it’s worth I enjoyed the deep tennis work you both have put forth over the years. I also appreciate the substance of the site and the cutting room floor aspect, when many overlooked stories would be an opportunity to discuss the sport in more depth. TP made some great calls including the rise of Djokovic. Marcelo Rios and Vince Spadea were excellent subjects and I am sorry you weren’t able to cheer on a few more WTA players! (I appreciate some time ago that you gave a seal of approval for Maria Kirilenko, though perhaps not for her tennis! Hey, she reads Doestoyevsky. What more does anyone want?). But I get why you see the WTA otherwise and I think that has to be valued as well. In any event sometimes it’s hard to take a tour seriously that promotes itself otherwise. Hopefully the WTA gets its act together too – perhaps you will even find a new WTA player you’d like to write about.

    Anyways, the site had some great moments even this year with the Australian Open and I think in general the site hit tennis fever in the best way during the big events, though some challengers and junior events also brought forth some fine work from TP.

    Thanks as well for suffering my errors. I tended to throw a lot of players “under the bus”, and they never deserved that – they work too hard. That said, I’ll always find it a little hard to cheer on Coric. Hopefully that guy will make a believer of me some day.

    I am sorry the site took such a political turn in these bizarre times. I’ve seen obsession over domestic politics here in the states rip apart many a conversation – in the end I generally needed to change the subject. The US is shutting down in a major way, following the examples of other countries stumbling to do the right thing in the wake of a pandemic that’s going to hurt a lot of people. For tennis, players are looking at a hiatus – for who knows how long.

    I am happy to hear you are working on a new book – I had thought the book on the big three had been in the works given you had called that one too. Gullickson is a great subject. He and his brother have had a big impact on the sport.

    I’ll leave with this. Steve Tignor and Joel Drucker had a pretty spirited discussion on when tennis was disrupted before by world events. It reminded me of the discussions that you and Scoop had a while back. Wish you all well. Hope the book project is fun. And good luck out there – to you and your family, and to everyone else.

    Article: When the Real World Has Pushed Tennis Aside
    https://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2020/03/rally-when-real-world-has-pushed-tennis-sidelines/87992/

    PS I am looking for other tennis sites, but will probably stick to the podcasts. If I am lucky I will also find a book or two from Scoop. I have read Break Point so we’re good!

  • Andrew Miller · March 14, 2020 at 11:53 pm

    PS2: Again for what it’s worth, my two cents, I don’t agree combining pro sports and politics unless it’s the politics of pro sports or politics is directly impacting pro sports (see: the Dubai tournament’s funny business with the visas of Israeli players including Shahar Peer, which Roddick pointed out as defending champion and made the bold move of foregoing his title defense).

    Otherwise people seek sports as a refuge from whatever else is out there. On other spaces social media etc I air a political view or two or a thousand, but I try to keep my politics out of sports and my sports out of politics. It’s a side show to the drama of the sport.

    People are welcome to think otherwise. But if sports is indeed a refuge, then that refuge is being torn apart. A shame.

    I wish you all the best. Thanks again.

  • catherine · March 15, 2020 at 2:02 am

    Thanks Dan. I know we haven’t always agreed but in the end it didn’t matter and I always felt T-P was a place I could read good stuff and it re-awakened my interest in the game after a long hiatus. I read ‘Break Point’ long before I started contributing here and I enjoyed it so all the best with your next one.

  • Winston Smith · March 15, 2020 at 6:19 am

    Dan, and Scoop
    Thanks!
    I enjoyed your writing immensely, particularly your pieces about your son”s progress though the junior ranks. Great stuff!
    In recent years I have seen tennis become infested with political types, mostly from one side, while I enjoy playing the game, I have found the USTA to be a genuine cesspool, a most dysfunctional organization that barely functions (aside from providing jobs for the otherwise unemployable.)
    As a result of this infestation, in part, people are leaving tennis in droves and the sport is dying before your eyes. (Pickle ball? Give me a break)
    As for me, I’m playing a lot more golf these days, more my type of people, a much friendlier environment. Still enjoy playing a bit of tennis, but much less tolerant of the people who play.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 15, 2020 at 8:22 am

    Tennis is far more than a refuge Andrew its a religion that brings people from all different places and kinds and ages together. Tennis unites the world more than anything else imo. But our religion of tennis is not immune to viruses like politics. But it will survive this latest virus be certain of that.

  • Hartt · March 15, 2020 at 8:52 am

    Andrew, I don’t know if you can join Match Call Migrants without an invitation, but if you are looking for another tennis site where you can chat, it is a good option. Our idea is it is for “civilized” discussion, and while we have strayed from that on occasion, generally the discussion is respectful, outside of some teasing.

    We do talk about non-tennis topics sometimes, but it tends to be about books, food, figure skating, ballet – rarely politics.

    I am sure you would be a welcome addition to the site, and I will check on how to join.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 15, 2020 at 8:59 am

    Tennis is a medication to my friend Don Leclair. https://www.tennis-prose.com/bios/tennis-saved-don-leclairs-life/ He just posted on social media that he has suffered from mental health issues in the past and tennis has been his remedy. So tennis my friend Andrew is far far more than a refuge from the craziness of the world.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 15, 2020 at 9:08 am

    Nice quality essay Dan, we certainly have hit many high notes over the years because of this site, too many to reference now. The readers have made this site special, the endless discussions and interactions, meeting posters in person for the first time at tournaments, meeting jg, bjk at legg mason, tennis brought us all together. Even appreciate having friendship ending fights with Harold (ended by his end) and then we met up again at US Open years later and let bygones be bygones and were friendly again. What I don’t understand is why the one side can’t accept the other side. I can accept your side of things and would never think of ending the friendships from this site, but the other side will not tolerate conservative leanings or those of the other conservatives who frequent this site. They want to ban free speech. Occasionally politics does enter into the discussions in tennis, Maragaret Court, equal prize money, BJK, Donald Young fake race accusations, Trump’s love of tennis, etc. It happens, it will always happen. When it happens I think we should all deal with it and move on when the storm or virus passes. And remember, tennis is a religion to us all. It brings all kinds of people from all walks of life TOGETHER. And it will keep us together. There is nothing in the world that can bring people together like tennis can. An old guy told me a story a few years ago that I never forget, “We all played tennis twice a week. Then one day someone suggested we all go out to lunch together. We all met at the restaurant and within minutes someone mentioned politics and religion and it started a fight. And it proved something to us all, tennis brings people together, religion and politics divide.” We have to emphasize the tennis part over religion and politics.

  • George · March 15, 2020 at 9:23 am

    “Dan has not paid the hosting fee for over a half year after many requests so it my site now until he pays up if he pays up.”

    Lol! Classic Obama liberal… talks a good game with all the hope and change stuff, but in the end doesn’t deliver. Don’t hold your breath for the payment Scoop. This exit will be his reason not to honor a debt.

    And they call Trump a fraudster… Lol!

  • Hartt · March 15, 2020 at 9:40 am

    Andrew, if you would like to join Match Call Migrants, here is what to do. The woman who posted this asked if Fara, the Romanian who loves the WTA players, and who runs the site, has anything to add. But this looks correct.

    “Does he have a disqus account already? If not he needs to create one and then simply send him the link to matchcallmigrants.blogspot.com. Fara.?”

  • Hartt · March 15, 2020 at 9:42 am

    Dan, I will miss your posts about tennis, and following Callum’s career. Do you have anywhere else you post, such as Twitter?

  • catherine · March 15, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Hartt – I look at Match Call quite often – I followed some of you when you were on tennis.com – and I did think about joining but I didn’t know one had to be ‘invited’. Sounds a bit exclusive. So I’ll probably just read the site from time to time and maybe get on with my own writing.

    That ‘dropshot’ from Bianca BTW, I wouldn’t call a dropshot – just a Bianca special. Hope we can see a few more in the near future.

    Loved the pic of Coco πŸ™‚

  • Hartt · March 15, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    Catherine, I don’t know about the invited part, that was just speculation by me. Maybe it was just that people needed to know how to find us, which you’ve been able to do. I am sure we all would be very happy to have you join, with your knowledge of tennis, and your background in tennis journalism.

    I mentioned it to Andrew in particular because he talked about finding another site.

  • catherine · March 15, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    Thanks Hartt – I admit I don’t know about signing up with Disqus (?), not sure how it works, I did try a few years ago and it rejected me πŸ™‚

    So I’ll carry on reading the site for now, even though there’s no tennis going on.

    One thing I liked about T-P is that it was so easy to use and didn’t ask for information about me. I’ll miss it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 15, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    One thing I want to make clear to everyone who reads and comments at this site is that you are welcome here. Whatever your beliefs or opinions or lifestyle choices are, you are welcome here always. You will not be kicked out or discriminated against. I am sure I will hit balls and watch tennis matches again with Dan and Harold and maybe more of you. Because you love tennis and the power of the sport then you are part of the community or even family if you will. As much as they try to divide us and use fear as a weapon, they will never destroy the sport of tennis. Or http://www.tennis-prose.com.

  • Andrew Miller · March 15, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    Thank you Scoop, Hartt, Catherine. I love tennis – I really enjoy playing but have not been able to do so for reasons within/beyond my control. One of the reasons sometimes when I don’t see a Larry Bird/or Magic Johnson-type (or John Starks-like if you will!) effort from players and become a little miffed – if you aren’t pushing it out there, why? If it’s because of some condition fine, or maybe you have an off day, ok, but if it’s because you’re tanking, a la super talented Tomic, it’s hard for me to find enough sympathy.

    I understand what Scoop is saying about tennis as a religion and also as a personal obsession. But as I also expressed there’s a weak line between domestic politics and pro tennis, unless it’s a post tennis profession such as Marat Safin who is now a politician in Russia. Djokovic too may harbor some political ambitions given some of the roles he has taken in the ATP governing. Of course 2002 Federer Wimbledon vanquisher Mario Ancic, now an attorney. Those guys to me, according to my own thoughts of the rules of the road for tennis commentary, are fair game – they were/are significant for the sport, hall of famers for two of them with one a best of all time candidate, and if they do something in politics, there you go.

    I don’t think I have ever revealed my politics and I won’t, not here or on any website. I have thoughts on this, and Tennis Prose was never a place to post them. I have put a little more out, but you know what I am merely a citizen and that’s it, one voice in the void. I have lamented – LAMENTED – the devastating turn of this website and its disintegration. It’s especially hurtful to see it go down because of the passion of the commenters on the sport itself, which has so many endless narratives that there was never a reason to talk about anything else. My mind was changed many times when Catherine or Hartt or Dan – Dan usually got me, or Harold, or Scoop pointed out hey, you know what, so and so played that match on a caste (etc). Or, hey Andrew, the scoreline says otherwise. Or hey, you know, there’s only so much you can deduce from a fantastic practice match.

    Or Dan Kosakowski (who?) isn’t coming back anytime soon. Or Jarmere Jenkins has a problem with his consistency, even as a practice partner for Serena Williams πŸ˜‰ He does. It’s real. He needs some time with a backboard and a little more topspin and to stay with his shots a little longer, or just hang out with Sofia Kenin, who keeps her head down!!! πŸ™‚

    Of late I have truly appreciated Hartt’s deep dive on Canadian training, Catherine’s knowledge of WTA and LTA woes, Harold’s comments on the challengers and who looks pretty good at the moment (Harold has a good eye!), and loved Dan’s work on junior tennis.

    Dan still has something for junior tennis, maybe worth exploring in some short stories. I am sure he will find a home for his observations. I loved reading about tennis in the deep south. I know tennis in New England and have never, ever been impressed outside of Tim Mayotte, and like Jon King I know (at least the past) of tennis in South Florida and the cast of characters down there – some well meaning, some dead set on lining their pockets while ruining tennis games. We lived it, so we know it (and this is from me, who never understood how to win a match, but was pretty great in practice!).

    I hope at some point in the future there’s some kind of grand reconciliation, or truce of some sorts. For now I believe what’ll happen is some folks like Dan will put out some great work, and I am sure Scoop will find a new subject such as Kwon or one of the up and coming players that has absorbed some of the tennis wizardry of the past and are ready to write some chapters as the big three era comes to a close – maybe post-pandemic. Who knows.

    Thanks for the memories.

    And definitely read Dan’s piece over and over. I am piggypacking off a great final salvo. Scoop, please take care of yourself. It’s better for you to be safe than sorry. Personally I am seeing a lot of changes and challenges evolving around me, and honestly it’s distressing.

    But it is what it is. Tennis will make it. It survived world wars and it will survive a pandemic. Some players will get sick. And many will be better for it. For now though first things first: take care of yourselves.

    As to other places, I used to post on Tennis.com and was a big fan of Pete Bodo’s tennis.com blog. I appreciate the invitation to Match Call Migrants. I’m a little distressed over the collapse of Tennis-Prose, and I am very, very sorry it is coming undone. Fair or not this is a burial of sorts. I don’t think I will get over it soon. I know that is odd to say, but change is hard.

    I guess it was all meant to be. The site as Dan said was founded from a group of friends that came together to explore tennis in a fun and challenging way. The site served its purpose, and congratulations to Scoop and to Dan and the original founders for pulling that off. And now that it’s over, I think I’ll follow some twitter threads and podcasts. I don’t think I can do the exclusive thing for tennis. Might join the TennisPodcast Whatsapp group. I don’t know. Probably not, seems too addictive!!! They are about as opinionated as folks here, but their match calls are about a few orders of magnitude worse. They miss so much…but they are amusing πŸ™‚

  • Andrew Miller · March 15, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    Thank you also for bringing your best observations to the sport. I appreciated reading Hartt, Harold, Catherine, Doogie (Doogie!). Scoop’s Will to Lose piece was the best piece in a long time. I will miss it.

    Again, Dan’s piece. This is just piggy backing off that. And Scoop, I always respect your love and admiration for the game and reverence for the players. I feel too strongly that politics ruined Tennis-Prose. I am sorry that there wasn’t any restraint around that. There’s enough injustice within tennis to explore without promoting political agendas (and not necessarily anyone’s here).

    There were so many other topics to explore. There could be a deep dive on Tiafoe, why he’s rare but should not be – yet is, but shouldn’t be. There are the coaching agendas that stunt player careers (rather than the other way around) or the problems of coaching in the U.S., where coaches have no security and therefore have to found businesses (such as Ginepri High Performance Coaching etc) that split their attention and affect pro players (not that Ginepri’s business does that, only that it could do that if a player were to receive less advice because of the business need).

    I don’t know if anyone’s seen it but there are many conflicts of interest in U.S. tennis now, similar to the conflicts of interest between the WTA and its relationship with China.

    This is all to say:
    There were many, many, many, many other areas of pro tennis to explore, but a choice was made to promote political views and agendas over some things that needed a lot more attention. That includes tennis decision to focus on paying customers over promoting the sport and growing the game (whether in China or the states or anywhere, and in contrast to places like France, Canada, etc). These kinds of things come home to roost. The question isn’t why Tiafoe is messing up (though that’s a question), but why aren’t there thirty other Tiafoes coming up? Or why isn’t Escobedo doing better, but why wasn’t there any help to Escobedo when he was approached by a zillion agents as he broke the top 100, all of which, with his injury, set him back into the 200 rankings because of the distractions?

    Those are big questions worth exploring. The rest is just distraction.

    I hope one day every piece begins to look like The Will to Lose. I think TP will have a future there. Hopefully the politics stuff dies around that end, but then again who knows. This is going to be a mess.

    Again, stay safe. Thanks again.

  • Andrew Miller · March 15, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    Dan: two books please. Gully and a novel on junior tennis. Maybe the up and coming junior tennis player falls for a Kirilenko type that then disses him for a wealthy guy, who the junior kid then beats a the US Open Junior tournament as a qualifier. Just my two cents.

  • Hartt · March 15, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    Catherine, sorry to hear about your problems with Disqus.

    Andrew, you were very eloquent, and I have nothing to add. Maybe I will see you on Jose Morgado’s twitter. πŸ™‚

    I will miss our Tennis-Prose discussions. All the best, everyone.

  • Andrew Miller · March 15, 2020 at 12:51 pm

    Sorry to see the spite from some folks who want to throw stones. Remember those stones come back, just not from anyone here. But toss one at the WTA to fix their stats site…when major tennis writers start making fun of it (a la writers searching for Leylah Fernandez info!) you know ya gotta problem.

    Take care of yourselves <- Take care of yourselves Stay safe.

  • Andrew Miller · March 15, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    Catherine, you are! Thanks for suffering my comments. Long winded and grammatically woeful is my way forward.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 15, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    I am hearing the passionate considerate warm hearted pleadings for us to clean up and make http://www.tennis-prose.com great again. Your wishes are our commands.

  • Andrew Miller · March 15, 2020 at 9:00 pm

    Hartt I appreciate your eloquence. Thank you for the well informed take from the North, and for your openness to exploring US tennis as well. I would never in a million years have taken the time to look into players I appreciate such as Raonic who has made a career of turning the odds in his favor when he is healthy.

    You write insightful commentary and I am glad you don’t hide your appreciation for specific players. You remind me it’s good to be a fan and you applaud a job well done even if your player has a suboptimal outcome aka a loss!

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 15, 2020 at 9:40 pm

    Friend. Did you win?

    Player. No I had a suboptimal outcome.

    Funniest tennis terminology since chalk flew up.

  • catherine · March 16, 2020 at 2:33 am

    I just have to drop back in to say that the WTA site gives no hint that all isn’t perfect in the world of tennis, tournaments are running as usual and players are posing around (as usual). Alternative reality ? Wish I was there.

  • catherine · March 16, 2020 at 4:33 am

    Andrew – I am what ? Just asking.

  • catherine · March 16, 2020 at 4:48 am

    Petko has started a book club for those in quarantine and socially distanced. What a good idea. They are reading DFW – in German or English I’m not sure.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 16, 2020 at 6:49 am

    The wta web site is by far the worst in pro sports. They should crash the whole thing and start from scratch.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 16, 2020 at 8:16 am

    Tennis Channel is only showing last year’s iw matches replay. Why not show various best matches from last ten years? Bag vs Fed, Ljubicic vs Nadal, and other forgotten classics? Bad programming by tc.

  • Doug Day · March 16, 2020 at 10:27 am

    Rumors of Tennis Prose demise are greatly exaggerated. The brittle world views of its posters, not so much. Free tennis think, forever.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 16, 2020 at 10:45 am

    Doug good points. Tennis-prose.com is free, we offer a lot of value and entertainment here all for a very low low price πŸ™‚

  • Andrew Miller · March 16, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    Stay safe.

  • Doug Day · March 17, 2020 at 9:41 pm

    Staying safe means watching your peer’s blood pressure rise as the WTA hosts more events(9) in China than stateside(8). That business decision, sold as empowerment, has no clothes. The government partner behind the richest women’s purses in history has a tale to tell ironic beyond belief. Its One Child policy resulted in – over the last 40 years – the deaths of 100 million girls. This according to Nobel economist Aymarta Sen. Look it up.
    The airing of this forgotten holocaust here on T.P. eases my blood pressure. So for some tennis may not be intrested in politics. But politics has always been intrested in tennis.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 18, 2020 at 9:51 am

    Doug Wonder if there will ever be another pro tournament in China. Shanghai is on thin ice. Indian Wells will probably announce new date this week. Miami Open too let’s hope.

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