Posterizing > Putting?

I love SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays.  Frequently, I am doing something else in the evening and when I realize that it is around the time for the Top 10 Plays, I frantically turn the channel to whatever ESPN station is playing SportsCenter just to watch it.

I also love Best of the Best plays, where there is a vote between the day’s number 1 play vs. the current play that is named the Best of the Best.  I especially enjoy the plays that stay on the Best of the Best for weeks because I really can keep watching them over and over and over again (literally).

Like the Jerome Simpson flip….

Or Mark Sanchez’s infamous butt fumble on the Worst of the Worst… (sorry Mark, I had to do it).

Okay, okay.  It is really easy to get carried away.

So, a couple of days ago Paula Creamer, a women’s professional golfer, made a 75-foot putt  to WIN a tournament.  Not only was it 75 feet, but it also involved quite the slope.  I am currently in a beginning golf class and know all too well how easy she made this look.  I know you want to watch it, so here it is…

For obvious reasons, this was the number one play of the day and it beat the previous Best of the Best to take the title.  Yet yesterday, after one day with the Best of the Best title, it was beat by a baseball perfect game, which was also impressive.

I love baseball highlights, but I was surprised that Creamer’s putt only received about 1/3 of the votes for the Best of the Best.  Really both plays were great, but I would have expected the voting to be a little closer.  While the perfect game deserved to be honored, Creamer had made a 75-foot putt to win a tournament, which is incredible.

This probably sounds like a rant. I suppose it is a little bit of one. It just made me realize how much people like basketball, football and baseball. Nothing is wrong with that, and I feel the same way.  It is clear though, that if this putt cannot last on the Best of the Best then no women’s golf highlight is going to be able to compete.

It’s pretty apparent that the professional sports that are most covered in the nation media, especially on a short highlight/talk show, are usually men’s basketball, football and baseball. This highlight’s one day reign as the Best of the Best helped me understand why in a new way. Clearly, it is what the majority of people want to watch.

I just think Creamer’s putt should have lasted for several days, or at least until Blake Griffin did something this again…

Hannah

My (Un)official Guide to the 2013 US Open – Part 2

This is the second post in a series I am writing about the 2013 US Open. The event begins Monday, August 26 and the draw for the tournament was released yesterday. You can view the first post by clicking here.

I was surprised by several of the matches that could occur before the semifinals at this year’s US Open. In this post, I discuss some of the top players’ draws for this tournament.

The “Big Four”

For the last few years, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray have been considered the “Big Four” in men’s tennis. Other than the 2009 US Open in which Juan Martín Del Potro was the champion, one of the “Big Four” have won every Grand Slam since the 2005 season.

The “Big Four” are going to be worth watching throughout this tournament because none of these champions have the easiest draw.

Here is a little speculation about how their draws may work out just to make it to the semifinals:

Djokovic [1] will probably have a bit of a test in the quarterfinals. In this round, Djokovic could potentially play former champion Del Potro [6] or Tommy Haas [12], who has been looking pretty good the last few months.

Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Murray‘s [3] quarter looks to possibly be a little better than Djokovic’s, but he will likely have to defeat either Thomas Berdych [5] or Stanislas Wawrinka [9] to make it to the semifinals. They have all had a good years, and I would expect that to be an exciting quarterfinal match. In the semifinals, he would face the winner of Djokovic’s quarter.

murray

Andy Murray

Nadal [2] and Federer [7] have ended up in the same quarter of the draw. This sets up a possible quarterfinal match between the two of them, but they will potentially face some tough opponents before they would even get to that point.  Nadal could play either Nikolay Davydenko or Fernando Verdasco [27], who made it to the quarterfinals of this year’s Wimbledon, in the third round.  In the fourth round he could be up against either big-serving John Isner [13] or Gael Monfils, who has had good results US Open. Federer may end up playing Sam Querrey [26] in the third round and then Tommy Robredo [19] in the fourth round.

Since Nadal and Federer might play each other, I have included a great video of them promoting a tournament:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJV-mF6chSg

Serena Williams

While the “Big Four” have been several consistent players at the top of men’s tennis lately, women’s tennis has had Serena Williams. Williams, the top seed in the women’s draw, is the defending champion at this year’s tournament. Serena Williams won her first Grand Slam (it was the US Open) in 1999, and she is still an extremely dominating force in women’s tennis.

I would expect Serena Williams to have a good tournament, but she may have the most interesting draw in this tournament.  In the first round she will face Francesca Schiavone. Schiavone won the French Open in 2010. She has also made it to the quarterfinals of the US Open a couple of times. This is a first round match that will likely have the intensity of a match that would take place much later in the tournament.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

In Serena Williams’ quarter of the draw is also Sloane Stephens [15] and her sister, Venus. Serena Williams could play Stephens in the 4th round. Stephens has had a great year and probably her biggest win was when she upset Serena Williams at the Australian Open. Since then, there has been some controversy about what they think about each other, too.

Sloane Stephens

Sloane Stephens

If they can both make it through four rounds, the Williams sisters would battle it out in the quarterfinals. It’s a little unlikely because Venus Williams would possibly have to have three huge wins against Kirsten Flipkens [12], Carla Suarez Navarro [18] and then Angelique Kerber [8] for this match up to happen, but she has an amazing serve and I would not completely count her out of it

Venus and Serena Williams

Venus and Serena Williams

What about Sugarpova Sharapova?

Sharapova has made some headlines lately. The third ranked women’s player has recently talked about legally changing her name to Sugarpova, the name of her brand of candy. Sharapova was also in the news about a week ago when she lost to Stephens and then fired her new coach, Jimmy Connors.

Sharapova will not be in any headlines at the US Open because she has withdrawn from this year’s tournament due to a shoulder injury.

Until next time,

Hannah

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Four_%28tennis%29

Photo Credit

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mariannebevis/9461839314/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mariannebevis/9463711814/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mirsasha/8041314606/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ishot71/7899819588/

My (Un)official Guide to the 2013 US Open – Part 1

The US Open tennis tournament starts on August 26th. It will be the perfect compliment (and distraction) for the beginning of fall semester. I briefly talked about the US Open in my last post, but I thought I’d write a few posts to recap this year’s professional tennis and go into more detail about what I will be keeping my eye on at this year’s tournament.

The Early Rounds

The tennis year started out with very few surprises in the early rounds of the Australian Open and French Open. Then, Wimbledon changed everything.

In the first couple rounds of the Men’s Draw and Women’s Draw, there were many tournament changing upsets.

In the first round of the Men’s Draw, Rafael Nadal [5], Stan Wawrinka [11] and Janko Tipsarevic [14] were among the five seeded players not to advance to the first round. The second round matches resulted in six more seeds exiting the tournament earlier than expected. Roger Federer [3], who has seven Wimbledon titles, went down in this round. Also, the tournament ended at this time for John Isner [18] and Marin Cilic [10] because of injury.

federerIt’s hard to imagine, but the early rounds for the women at this year’s Wimbledon was even more unpredictable than the men. Sara Errani [5], Maria Kirilenko [10] and Nadia Petrova [13] were a few of the eight seeded players who did not make it past the first round. The second round was also not friendly to some of the top ranked players with an additional nine seeds exiting the tournament. Some of those seeds included well known players such as Victoria Azaranka [2], Maria Sharapova [3], Caroline Wozniacki [9], Ana Ivanovic [12] and Jelena Jankovic [16].

I may have gotten a little carried away with the Wimbledon information, but my point is that while it is easy to pass over the early rounds, these first couple rounds can be extremely exciting. You never know when a qualifier or an up-and-coming player will play the match of his/her life against a top player. These rounds are full of tennis that is passionate, exciting and fun.

Love

“Love” is not what a tennis player wants to hear on the court, but this has been a year that some players have gotten attention for it off of the court.

One of the most notable relationships involves Victoria Azarenka. The cameras have been on Azarenka on the court and they have also been on a notable (and easy to spot) guest in her box. Redfoo, of the music group LMFAO, has made several appearances at Azaranka matches. His hair and outfits make him hard to miss. What you may not know is that Redfoo enjoys tennis and tried to qualify for the U.S. Open. He will not be on the court, but may provide some entertainment at Azarenka’s matches and has been known to have appearances at press conferences.I will have another post up about the US Open in the next couple of days.

Until then,

Hannah

photo credit:

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/swiv/206620273/”>Swiv</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Kicking Off a New Year (kind of)

August may not mark the beginning of a new calendar year, but for whatever reason August has always felt like the start of a new time for me. This summer, I had the opportunity to be part of the APPLES service-learning internship program and spend time as a communications intern at the Chapel Hill – Carrboro Public School Foundation. It has been a great summer.  My internship is coming to a close and a new semester will begin soon.

Lately, I have also been reminded of something else new August brings each year… sports.

Tennis

While tennis may not be what comes to many people’s minds when they think of sports in August, it’s what will probably always come first in my mind. In high school, the tennis team’s season started at the beginning of August. There was always something new and exciting about tennis at this time of year in high school, and even these past few years after high school there is still something about this month that makes me want to get on a tennis court.

Part of my interest in tennis may be because of the US Open, which starts at the end of August. Although it is the last Grand Slam of the year, I have always enjoyed watching the U.S. Open. It also does not hurt that the US Open is a little easier to watch because it is the only Grand Slam that takes place in my time zone.

This year’s tournament is going to be particularly exciting the men’s draw looks like it could be about as competitive as it has been in a long time.  Djokovic, Nadal and Murray have all won a Grand Slam this year, and it is hard to guess who will win the U.S. Open title with Federer, del Potro and Tsonga also very much in the mix. The women’s draw is similar with three different Grand Slam champions this year coming into the tournament, and there are quite a few up-and-coming players that may have a huge impact on how the tournament plays out.

Football

Football teams also kick off their seasons this time of year.  The NFL teams started their preseason games this weekend, and college and high school games will begin at the end of the month.

This year, it has felt to me like football has been in the news (not necessarily for the right reasons) since the Super Bowl concluded in February.  Trade rumors, trades, player safety concerns, (possible) NCAA violations and players’ actions off the field have kept football in the news.

Yesterday, I found it refreshing to watch the Carolina Panthers play their first preseason game. I even enjoyed the hype around Tim Tebow playing the second half for the Patriots.

There is a lot of excitement with a new season. I am looking forward to being able to watch a few football games (particularly Tar Heels and Panthers) on the weekends for the next couple months as my “new year” begins.

Until next time,

Hannah

The Legacy of Greatness

Last Wednesday was the 14th anniversary of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup finals between the US and China - the most inspirational sporting event I ever remember watching/experiencing.  I can so vividly recall watching this soccer game on television with my family.  All of us were on the edge of our seats throughout the game. It was the type of game that could have been in a movie. After neither team scored in the first 90 minutes of the game, overtime also went by scoreless. The US then won the shootout 5-4. The celebration after the game was so amazing that it is hard to describe. Brandi Chastain took off her shirt after she kicked the final penalty shot, and the rest of the team rushed the field. Everyone else was screaming and waving American flags. It was fitting for such a perfect moment.

The passion the US women’s team had for the sport and their teammates was so evident for years leading up to the tournament, while they played all of the games and throughout the celebration after they won the championship. This game broke the attendance record for a women’s sporting event, a record that the game still holds, which is a testament to all of the fans they had before the game. After this game though, the members of this team were known as childhood heroes. When I told my cousin I was writing about this game, she said “every girl wanted to be Mia Hamm.”  That was a perfect way of describing the effect of this game. I also thought that many girls had a new sense that dreams can come true with hard work.

Mia Hamm choosing people (that girl happens to be me) out of a crowd at a Charlotte Sting game.

Mia Hamm choosing people (that girl happens to be me) out of a crowd at a Charlotte Sting game.

Advertisements even displayed the impact the women’s soccer team had on sports and the perceptions of women athletes.

For their performance on and off the field, this soccer team will be thought of by many as being one of the greatest teams ever. I am sure that memories of this team and the final game of the 1999 World Cup will be remembered and talked about for many many years to come because of an amazing game and how their inspirational win changed women’s sports.

Until next time,

Hannah

 

Keeping My Eye on the Ball

During the Branding of Me class last semester and through some further reflection this summer, I have been thinking about my passions. What I have come to realize is that the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree, and my passions are very similar to the passions of my grandparents.

My grandmother loved journalism.  Family and journalism definitely seemed to be her passions, or at least this is how it always seemed to me.  You could tell how passionate she was about journalism by reading her articles and columns that were in the Salisbury Post almost every day, or by hearing her talk about an article she had written. She loved writing, being able to learn about people’s stories and then having the chance to share their stories.  As you can tell from an article like this one “Where did all those years go?”, she had so much passion for what she did for a living.  I am pretty sure that her passion was contagious and helped me to look at writing as an enjoyable experience, and almost never as a task.

My grandfather had many passions, but I remember most his passion for sports and the perspective it gave him on life.  He loved baseball.  He told stories of playing for a team while he was in the army.  He was also a lifelong NY Yankees fan, although he at times joked that he cheered for the Atlanta Braves since they were on television more often in North Carolina. He mostly taught himself how to play tennis (at least I think that’s how it started), and then he played the sport all of his life.  His passion for tennis resulted in most of my family both enjoying and playing the sport. I always felt like he loved playing, watching and talking sports. He was also extremely supportive of everyone’s sports experiences. I remember him watching some of my first tennis matches and talking to me after softball practice. I always felt like he was on my side and was one of my biggest supporters.

My grandfather had a few sayings that I’ll never forget.  One was “grab a pen.”  He just wanted to make sure that everyone was ready if you drove over a drawbridge (and then really any other bridge).  He also would say “bend your knees,” which is definitely the best advice I ever heard for playing tennis.  The other saying I remember was “keep your eye on the ball.”  I know that this may have been directed at tennis, or another sport, but he said it very often and I really think he just liked this advice for life.  It was kind of like the book Rules of the Red Rubber Ball. While my grandfather may not necessarily have been giving only life advice, I think that the ball he was talking about represented passion.  Whether is was a ball in a sport or a “ball” representing something else in life, I really do think he was saying to keep your eye on it and then follow it.

I am excited to have the new blog title “Keeping my Eye on the Ball,” and I am looking forward to continuing to write about my passions.

Until next time,

Hannah

P.S. next time will be soon because I can’t wait to write about some of the recent events in sports!

What this Season Could Have Been for the Chicago Bulls

With the Chicago Bulls vs Miami Heat second round NBA playoff series starting tonight, I cannot help but think about what this season could have been for the Bulls.

Thus far, the Miami Heat are looking like they’re in a good position to defend their championship title. LeBron James, who just earned his 4th MVP award, and the Heat will be rested and ready to face the Bulls after their first round sweep over the Milwaukee Bucks 

The Bulls, on the other hand, are coming off of their series against the Brooklyn Nets that went to 7 games.  As a result, they will be playing the Heat on one day of rest following their hard fought first round series.

If Derrick Rose had never torn his ACL about a year ago, I wonder what position the Bulls would be in right now?

Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Without Rose, the Bulls finished 5th in the Eastern Conference.  If Rose had never been injured, I believe that the Bulls would have been a very strong team this season.  They likely would have had more wins during the season which would have possibly given them a better seed and a different opponent for this round.

As long as everyone else on the Bulls had the same kind of season they had this year, I would even go as far as saying that I believe the Bulls could have been the strongest competition for the Heat (especially considering Russell Westbrook’s injury now). Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich, and Luol Deng have all had good seasons.

While I do think it would be nothing short of amazing if they win this series against the Heat, I am not completely counting the Bulls out.  They do have a steep up hill battle though.  They were the team that ended Miami’s streak earlier this season, but that was one game, not the four they need to win the series.

The Bulls do have some health problems besides Rose to worry about for the up coming games that will have a big impact on their ability to hang in their with the Heat. Luol Deng has been sick with something similar to the flu and had complications from a procedure at the hospital.  Kirk Hinrich is day-to-day because of a calf injury.  Also, Joakim Noah has had a consistent foot injury, plantar fasciitis, for much of the second half of the season.  Noah’s injury needs rest and he played a lot of minutes in the Bulls last two games, so that could be a concern moving forward.

Could Rose come back for this playoff series? Pretty much since the All-Start break, there has been questions about him returning. There was even talk yesterday about him playing the Miami Heat tonight. You never know, but I doubt he will play tonight or this series.  I think if he is going to play, it would have made a lot of sense for him to start by building up minutes or at least playing some in the Bulls first round series against the Nets.  Also, I cannot imagine that he would want his first game back to be against the Heat’s defense.  We will see though.  He has not said he will not play.  It would certainly be exciting to see how things go if he does play.

Although this could have been a completely different match up than it is, it’s not reality. I am still looking forward to watching this series.  Maybe there will be the chance next year to see how the Bulls with Rose match up with the Heat.

Until next time,

Hannah

Photo Credit

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Derrick_Rose_2.jpg