Friday, October 16, 2009

2010 Revolving Doors

The 2009 season's finish line is in sight, and the 2010 campaign will be here before we know it. So while there are still a few weeks of action remaining on the schedule, it's never too early to cast an all-knowing eye toward the players who'll be deemed as either "out" or "in" based on their representation in next season's version of the annual Official Guide to Professional Tennis.

It's a wonderful honor for a player to be included, and one which marks for many a first "official" acknowledgement that they are "somebody" on the WTA tour. Thus, inclusion SHOULD mean that anyone who follows the sport is required to be aware of the presence of each of the over one hundred women who are included each year (usually the Top 100 singles players, Top 30-ranked doubles players, plus a few "discretionary selections" who are deemed worthy even if they don't qualify in either category, often due to injury... and in 2010, due to another "un"-retirement). Of course, it must be noted that Yanina Wickmayer was in the Guide at the start of the '09 season, yet that didn't prevent a certain "P.Shriver" from acting as if she didn't know her from a hole in the ground at the U.S. Open... but I guess that's another discussion altogether, isn't it?

So, anyway, based on the rankings as of this past Monday (October 12), here's a look at the '09 guests turned "un-invitees" and '10 newbies/returnees whose Guide fates look as if they will be passing each other in the dead of night once the wraps are put on the WTA season during the first week of November:

Elena Baltacha/GBR - and one Brit (along with Anne Keothavong) makes two
Alberta Brianti/ITA
Maria Elena Camerin/ITA
Kim Clijsters/BEL - a triumphant return (yep, that's a "clean slate" sort of comment, I'd say... but don't get used to it, Kim)
Melinda Czink/HUN - still a hungry Hungarian, she got her first singles title at age 26
Kimiko Date-Krumm/JPN - ah, it's like 1996 all over again
Jelena Dokic/AUS - ah, it's like 2002 all over again
Alexandra Dulgheru/ROU
Julia Goerges/GER
Justine Henin/BEL - I love the smell of La Petit Taureau in Melbourne... well, let's not jump the gun... I love the smell of La Petit Taureau on the red clay... then again, you-know-who won HER first slam back, so why couldn't Justine, too?
Polona Hercog/SLO
Lucie Hradecka/CZE
Angelique Kerber/GER
Vania King/USA - she qualifies in singles, and just misses out meeting the doubles pre-requisites, as well
Viktoriya Kutuzova/UKR
Tatjana Malek/GER
Petra Martic/CRO
Patricia Mayr/AUT
Ayumi Morita/JPN
Katie O'Brien/GBR - and another makes three (could Laura Robson or Heather Watson soon give the Guide enough British women to form an all-female pop group?)
Ioana-Raluca Olaru/ROU
Melanie Oudin/USA - finally, a Top 100-ranked American teenager
Arantxa Parar-Santonja/ESP
Andrea Petkovic/GER
Urszula Radwanska/POL - another sister joins the crowd
Anastasija Sevastova/LAT
Karolina Sprem/CRO
Stefanie Voegele/SUI
Anastasiya Yakimova/BLR

Chang Kai-Chen/TPE - at #107, 34 points from the Top 100, she might have a legit shot (well, if she'd only won in Osaka like I'd predicted...)
Stephanie Dubois/CAN
Alla Kudryavtseva/RUS
Varvara Lepchenko/USA
Shenay Perry/USA
Anastasia Rodionova/AUS

==NO NEED TO RSVP... or is there?==
Sofia Arvidsson/SWE
Severine Bremond-Beltrame/FRA
Petra Cetkovska/CZE
Lindsay Davenport/USA - I guess we'll see if the powers-that-be REALLY think she's not coming back
Nathalie Dechy/FRA - might Amelie Mauresmo soon be joining her fellow Pastry in retirement?
Casey Dellacqua/AUS - with an injury-related fall from grace, the WTA should remember that Casey was an Oz star at the Australian Open BEFORE Dokic's comeback this year (plus, we don't want her grandmother to cry, after all)
Rossana de los Rios/PAR
Marta Domachowska/POL
Lourdes Dominguez-Lino/ESP
Marina Erakovic/NZL - she should get an injury exemption, but probably won't
Tatiana Golovin/FRA - hope springs eternal that she'll keep her spot, and maybe be able to overcome what's obviously a career-threatening injury (either that, or she'll be in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue again, I guess)
Mathilde Johansson/FRA
Karin Knapp/ITA
Mariya Koryttseva/UKR
Michaella Krajicek/NED - she was included last season with rankings of #219(s) and #106(d), but she won't get another "pass" after failing to reach the ranking threshold this season
Yvonne Meusburger/AUT
Pauline Parmentier/FRA
Tamira Paszek/AUT
Tatiana Perebiynis/UKR
Mary Pierce/FRA - since she's still not officially retired, even though she hasn't played since 2006, could her "active" bio POSSIBLY hang on for yet ANOTHER year?
Camille Pin/FRA
Tsvetana Pironkova/BUL
Anastasia Rodionova/AUS - though, as noted above, she's close to retaining her Guide spot
Katarina Srebotnik/SLO - #20 in singles and #4 doubles in '08, she HAS to be a discretionary selection for the '10 Guide after missing most of '09 with injuries
Ai Sugiyama/JPN - unless she pulls a "Date-Krumm," of course
Tamarine Tanasugarn/THA
Nicole Vaidisova/CZE
Klara Zakopalova/CZE

...there were 111 bios included in the 2009 edition of the Guide (which featured Jelena Jankovic, Cara Black & Liezel Huber on the WTA's "flip version" of the dual tours cover). As of now, there are approximately 29 potential additions and 27 subtractions, give or take the ultimate decisions that'll be made concerning the likes of Davenport, Pierce, Golovin, Dellacqua, and Erakovic.

But, still, even with the Top 100/Top 30/"discretionary" paramaters, there are still a few players who've done enough to be included in the "in" crowd, but their current rankings likely won't allow it:

==2009 ACHIEVERS, no matter what==
Chang Kai-Chen/TPE (defeated #1 Safina)
Chuang Chia-Jung/TPE (two doubles titles)
Carly Gullickson/USA (U.S. Open Mixed Doubles champion)
Raquel Kops-Jones/USA (two doubles titles)
Tathiana Poutchek/BLR (two doubles titles)
Abigail Spears/USA (two doubles titles)
Tamarine Tanasugarn/THA (won 's-Hertogenbosch, become one of only two title defenders in '09)
Klara Zakopalova/CZE (defeated #1 S.Williams)
Zhang Shuai/CHN (defeated #1 Safina)

But, hey, nobody's perfect. All for now.

...Revolving Doors - 2010 WTA Guide Preview
...The Decade's Best: Top 25 Players & Final Awards
...2009 Regional Honors (coming soon)
...100 Intriguing Answers '09 (coming soon)
...Backspin Awards (coming soon)
...Ms. Backspin (coming soon)
...WTA Yearbook (coming soon)
...2010 All-Intriguing Lineup & early "Market Tips" (coming soon)
...BACKSPIN "WHAT IF?" SPECIAL (featuring "Anna Kournikova") (this offseason)
...ITF Backspin (every Monday throughout November & December)


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Wed Jul 06, 10:45:00 PM EDT  
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