Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2016 WTA Yearbook


The time has come.


And away we go...




Our Beloved Backspin Academy

After a virtually uncontested race for the office of Backspin Academy Student Council President a year ago, all heck hell broke out in the 2016 campaign.

While the year's landscape was highlighted by moments of brilliant elegance that lifted our spirits, such bright lights were necessary in what was sometimes a very ugly campaign vexed by a string of incidents that left us shaking our heads. While the Academy's field of candidates sometimes received unprecedented coverage from a vast array of media sources, much of the attention was linked to ideas, opinions and situations that we wish we were not forced to contend with.

Misogyny and smarmy sexism reared their ugly heads at the highest levels, spurred on by sleazy comments from those in authority, and kept afloat by additional unfortunate comments from some of our students' male contemporaries that only served to pit people against one another. Meanwhile, one of the Academy's most beloved Russian students was caught in the web of what became an ugly legal situation which led to unsightly (behind the) back-biting within our student ranks, not to mention the questionable issues regarding the origins of the whole "unlawful" story, as well as the the vindictive qualities of many of those behind what was a highly unscientific process. Chants of "Lock her up!" occasionally could be heard on the usually quiet streets and pathways covering the campus.

It was all quite unsettling.

Elsewhere, harsh feelings bubbled up within the campus' French and Italian communities, while several upstanding members of the student body finally had had enough with social media bullying and began the first stages of organizing and finding a way to combat such offenses... just in time for the "post-truth" movement to became yet another force to be dealt with, along with a general acceptance of ignorance and unprofessionalism within the ranks of some of the most highly-placed media personnel (most notably the deplorable "Bristol-backed" crew), who seemed to revel in a lack of preparation and were often directed by grudges, bias and, well, to put it bluntly, a distinct ability to "talk out of their a**."

And then, just when we'd thought we'd weathered the storm, last year's Student Council co-Vice Presidents suddenly resigned from their power-sharing position. We just didn't know what was real anymore.


Needless to say, the entire campus has existed in a period of apprehension for quite a while now, even as we knew the talk from some of making changes that would make the Academy "great again" obscured the fact that most of us thought that things were already pretty great as it was, all things considered.

By the end of the term, all the discord had even contaminated the Student Council election, as it seemed as if everyone was stirred up and angry. And when questions (backed up by provable facts said some, though others disputed the assessment) arose about the validity of the actual sacred vote-collecting process, well, an incredibly tense atmosphere was created. Student protesters filled the campus, with signs declaring "Not My President" being prevalent (even before any election results were announced), facing off against those that read "Stronger Together."

It was all quite a mess.

Ultimately, with no one willing to believe the still-sealed voting results, we were in a quadrary about what to do, with no idea who would lead the Student Council heading into the new year.

While it seemed as easy choice to elevate Angelique Kerber into the big seat at the council meetings after her banner calendar year, even that possibility failed to settle the acrimony that threatened to devolve into lawlessness all over campus. Some suggested that senior student Jiske Griffioen should be appointed President by acclamation in order to solidify an inclusive atmosphere of cooperation, while others favored a re-vote. Venus Williams' name was placed into unofficial nomination, while Svetlana Kuznetsova, always a voice of reason, offered to accept the role if no solution was found before the start of 2017.

And then someone reminded us all of reigning President Serena Williams' words regarding the year's earlier controversy...


And then she released a public letter that made her thoughts even more clear...



And, with that, the student body finally realized what it had. It was clear what the solution to our problem should be.

As the whispers turned into shouts, it was finally asked, with the entire student body having spilled into the streets, for a show of hands in agreement regarding the idea that promised to bring us all together. Thus, with the power and will of the people in hand, representatives of the collective student body approached President Williams with the would-be solution.


Soon after, addressing the crowd from the balcony of Henin Hall, Serena gracefully granted the student body's request and used her executive power to extend her presidential term for an additional twelve months, as she will now enter the new year in the same position she's held since 2013. On her own, she also announced that she would be handing over day-to-day operations of the Council presidency to Ms. Kerber, the term's "unofficial" Vice President, who was thus designated the "Special Executor."

And with that, our Council crisis was determined to be over. All was as right as could be expected under the circumstances.

For now.


*HONOR ROLL OF BELOVED CLASS PRESIDENTS*
2001 Jennifer Capriati
2002 Serena Williams
2003 Justine Henin-Hardenne
2004 Lindsay Davenport
2005 Kim Clijsters
2006 Amelie Mauresmo
2007 Justine Henin
2008 Serena Williams
2009 Flavia Pennetta, Francesca Schiavone, Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci
2010 Caroline Wozniacki
2011 Petra Kvitova
2012 Victoria Azarenka
2013 Serena Williams
2014 Serena Williams
2015 Serena Williams
2016 Serena Williams


As it is, we move forward with the roll call (according to the previously-sealed voting results)...

=STUDENT COUNCIL=
CLASS PRESIDENT: Serena Williams
(DAY-TO-DAY ACTING) CLASS PRESIDENT & "Special Executor": Angelique Kerber (she's also striving to learn how to walk on water in '17)
SITTING (and comfortably resting, in mismatched outfits) Co-VICE PRESIDENTS: Caroline Garcia & Kristina Mladenovic
VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Victoria Azarenka (withdrew from race after announcing sabbatical for "family reasons")

VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Simona Halep (withdrew from race while deciding which Si-mo-na is the real Si-mo-na)
PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE: Aga Radwanska (there to step into the seat of power should an unexpectedly grand calamity prevent the further leadership of higher-ranking officials)
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES WHO WITHDREW FROM RACE WHILE TOPPING THE POLLS: Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza
VALEDICTORIAN: Dominika Cibulkova (declared winner after acing last-minute pop quiz)
(OCCASIONAL) ACTING VALEDICTORIAN (when she's in the mood... shrug): Garbine Muguruza

VALEDICTORIAN (Wheelchair Division): Jiske Griffioen (shining as brightly as she can before Diede de Groot comes of age and crashes the grading curve)

VALEDICTORIAN (Superhero Division): Monica Puig
Co-VALEDICTORIANS (Maidens Division): Karolina Pliskova, Barbora Strycova, Lucie Hradecka & Petr Pala (Honorary Inclusion: Petra Kvitova)

Co-VALEDICTORIANS (best GPA during final exam week): Ekaterina Makarova & Elena Vesnina

(Fearless) FUTURE VALEDICTORIAN?: Madison Keys

PEOPLE'S SALUTATORIAN: Svetlana Kuznetsova (by voice-vote acclamation)
PEOPLE'S Co-SALUTATORIANS Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova

A photo posted by MATTeK-SaNDS (@matteksands) on


FUTURE SALUTATORIAN: Sloane Stephens (hoping that learning how to live a "trophy life" will translate into even bigger trophies)
(Longtime) CLASS TREASURER: Maria Sharapova (once she officially agrees to appoint a "details person" to handle the Student Council's daily business in order to avoid oversights that lead to pesky "bumps in the road")

CLASS TREASURER-IN-TRAINING: Daria Kasatkina (she goes "way back" with the current Treasurer)
FUTURE CLASS-PRESIDENTS-IN-TRAINING (with some help from high-powered friends): Elina Svitolina (w/ Justine Henin) and Diede de Groot (w/ Esther Vergeer)
WELCOMED BACK TO THE STUDENT COUNCIL AFTER FINDING HERSELF AGAIN (and cancelling her "retirement party"): Zhang Shuai
HOPEFUL CLASS-PRESIDENT-IN TRAINING (currently in charge of noodles): Naomi Osaka

SCHOOL SPIRIT COORDINATOR: Johanna Konta
SCHOOL ESPRIT COORDINATOR: Amelie Mauresmo

STAR SPANGLED BANNER SPIRIT COORDINATOR (and inspirational advisor): Venus Williams

"I don't think anyone feels older. You have this infinity inside of you that feels like you could go on forever." - Venus Williams

SERVICE HONOR & SPIRIT COORDINATOR: Cadet Candidate Katerina Stewart
STUDENT/GOVERNMENT OUTREACH LIAISONS: Sloane Stephens and Angelique Kerber (for a few more weeks)

STUDENT/ROYALTY OUTREACH LIAISON: Garbine Muguruza
FORMER STUDENT/ACADEMY OUTREACH PARTNER (or... not?): USTA President Katrina Adams (no matter how many photos she tries to place herself in or microphones she manages to stand behind)

A photo posted by Katrina Adams (@katadams68) on


A photo posted by Katrina Adams (@katadams68) on



STILL Personae Non Gratae AT STUDENT COUNCIL NEGOCIATION MEETINGS WITH USTA OFFICIALS: Genie Bouchard (but studying in hopes of finding a quick(er) resolution)
PERMANENTLY Personae Non Gratae ON BACKSPIN CAMPUS (with photo taped inside the front gate): Raymond Moore




Backspin Academy's humble and hardworking staff occasionally experiences some upheaval, but the student body (which sometimes includes a few of our instructors, who pull double duty in order to show how much they care) is generally pleased with those entrusted with molding their impressionable minds like the blocks of clay that they are.

Of course, trends DO tend to develop on campus, no matter how individualistic our (former and present) student body may be.

2016 finally ended the string of three straight years in which members of the Academy's upperclasses decided to pull up stakes and move off campus after experiencing some of the best moments of their BSA careers, but we soon found that OTHER similar patterns had developed. Many former students (Clijsters, Li) welcomed new additions to their families, while others (Henin, Mauresmo) announced that they would follow suit in the new year. Such a contagious condition it was that even a current student (Ms. Azarenka) became a mother for the very first time at the conclusion of the term.

Ah, but that wasn't all.

Marriage was a common theme, as well. The likes of former student Pennetta (who also announced a child was on the way), as well as current campus-dwellers Cibulkova, Ivanovic, Pironkova and others made their way down the aisle over the course of the year.

A mini-trend even came about in the athletic arena, as not long after student Wozniacki became our first marathoner, the likes of former student council member Bartoli, as well as Ms. Peer (who's still around campus, though we don't see her as often as we used to), both crossed the finish line to set new personal standards.


Of course, the annual "guidance counselor shuffle" again took place once the most recent grading period had ended, this time in the wake of such campus career-changing success from current Valedictorian Kerber over the past year after she'd made her own changes behind the scenes not so long ago. Many students coming off their best-ever academic performances still saw fit to make a change in search of the elusive "right mix" that would lift them to an even higher level of achievement.

Yes, our Angie has now become the standard by which others will be judged, and by which they will judge themselves.



=FACULTY, STAFF, DEPARTMENT HEADS & APPOINTEES=
ORIGINAL DEAN EMERITUS (celebrating her 43nd year of living the dream): Billie Jean King
TRAVELING DEAN EMERITUS: Martina Navratilova (still arriving in the nick of time after all these years)

NEW RESIDENT DEAN EMERITUS: Justine Henin ("La Petit Taureau" 4-ever)
VISITING DEANS OF THE ACADEMY'S PARISIAN CAMPUS: Amelie Mauresmo and Mary Pierce
ACTING DEAN OF STUDENT AFFAIRS: Steve Simon (though some are now questioning a few of his stated policies for the future)
LONGTIME Mis-GUIDANCE COUNSELOR WHO HAS FINALLY STEPPED DOWN FROM POSITION: Mary Joe Fernandez (let the re-imagining of the story of her eight-year tenure officially begin in the post-truth, fake news era)
NEW GUIDANCE COUNSELOR FINALLY BEING GIVEN A LONG-OVERDUE CHANCE TO SUCCEED IN "THE BIGS": Kathy Rinaldi (announced happily -- and optimistically -- after intense lobbying from certain Academy factions over the last few years)
FAR-FROM-PERFECT GUIDANCE COUNSELOR (but we still lover her anyway): Anastasia Myskina (with a class filled with promising young pupils, and a few choice upperclasswomen, many of us believe she'll regain her good standing in short order)

UNEXPECTED GUIDANCE COUNSELOR SLIGHTLY EMERGING FROM HER FAVORED IN-THE-SHADOWS POSITIONING: Stefanie Graf

GUIDANCE COUNSELOR/"ATTITUDE WRANGLER" WHO HAS TO WORK EXTRA HARD TO EARN HIS KEEP: Sam Sumyk

UNOFFICIAL GUIDANCE COUNSELOR TO SCORES HUNDREDS THOUSANDS MILLIONS BILLIONS: Li Na
GUIDANCE COUNSELORS SWAPPING OFFICES IN 2017: David Kotyza & Jiri Vanek (sort of like when the "Friends" gang swapped apartments... it didn't make much sense, but it was, you know, something different that broke the monotony)
SIMONA-WHISPERING GUIDANCE COUNSELOR/SHERPA FOR TRAVELS ON DANGEROUS CLIFFSIDE TERRAIN: Darren Cahill (whose work is hereby commended by the Yearbook staff after many in the office weren't on board for the hire last year... though 2017 will tell the tale of whether he TRULY has staying power)
FRENCH FED CUP "ROCK STAR"/GUIDANCE COUNSELOR in '16: Amelie Mauresmo
NEW FRENCH FED CUP (ACTUAL) ROCK STAR/GUIDANCE COUNSELOR in '17: Yannick Noah

UNDERRATED GUIDANCE COUNSELOR ENTRUSTED WITH THE FUTURE OF SLOANE: Kamau Murray
VALUED GUIDANCE COUNSELOR/HITTING PARTNER ALSO ENTRUSTED WITH THE FUTURE OF SLOANE: Sascha Bajin (at least in the short term)
GUIDANCE COUNSELOR ENTRUSTED WITH THE KEY(S) TO FUTURE SUCCESS: Lindsay Davenport Jesse Levine Thomas Hogstedt TBD
GUIDANCE COUNSELOR OUT OF THE FRYING PAN AND INTO THE FIRE, by way of Osaka: David Taylor (from advising a three-time Osaka winner to advising a pupil actually named Osaka)
"HOT POTATO" GUIDANCE COUNSELOR: Thomas Hogstedt
LATEST NORTH AMERICAN GUIDANCE COUNSELOR WITH NEXT "NEXT ONE" ROOTS: Craig Layton
FORMER GUIDANCE COUNSELOR BEING SHOWN THE DOOR RIGHT BEFORE THE GOING GETS REALLY GOOD: Iain Hughes

NEW GUIDANCE COUNSELOR WALKING THROUGH THE DOOR RIGHT BEFORE THE GOING POSSIBLY GETS REALLY, REALLY GOOD: Gabriel Urpi
NEW (but well-traveled) GUIDANCE COUNSELOR WALKING THROUGH THE DOOR RIGHT AFTER THINGS (maybe) GOT AS GOOD AS THEY MAY EVER GET: Wim Fissette
(Caro and the End of the Search for) THE NEXT GREAT GUIDANCE COUNS-...: David Kotyza (oh, nevermind)
FAIRNESS-CHALLENGED NON-GUIDANCE COUNSELOR NONETHELESS IN CHARGE OF ADMINISTERING "JUSTICE" TO THOSE HE PUBLICLY EXPRESSES SNARKY BIAS AGAINST, WITH THE AID OF SHODDY PSEUDO-SCIENTIFIC METHODS AND UNPROVABLE ASSUMPTIONS OF GUILT: "Sir" Craig Reedie (currently the head of WADA, but also secretly seeking a rules waiver in order accept a position with "President"-elect Trump, or a seat on the NFL's "competition committee")
FORMER & CURRENT GUIDANCE COUNSELOR (still holding on as lightning prepares to strike for a second time, following a star-crossed 2016): Melanie Molitor
GUIDANCE COUNSELOR JOKING WITH HER SUCCESSOR ABOUT THE CHANCES OF HER, TOO, GIVING BIRTH TO TWO #1-RANKED CHILDREN: Judy Murray, with Anne Keothavong (meanwhile, Oracene Williams smiles contently from a distance, while simultaneously rolling her eyes, and Dinara & Marat share "a look")
GUIDANCE COUNSELOR GIVEN UNPRECEDENTED TENURE DUE TO EXPECTED REPLACEMENT BEING "NOT READY" TO ASSUME HER POSITION: Katrina Adams (Ms.Adams, you have a call waiting from someone named Barack who wants to learn more about your current set-up... he says he's asking "for a friend")
GUIDANCE COUNSELOR THAT EVERYONE ON CAMPUS TURNS TO FOR THE UNVARNISHED TRUTH (whether we like what we hear or not): Marija Cicak

"When I'm good and ready I'll be gone. But now is not the time." - Venus Williams

NOT GOING ANYWHERE: Venus Williams

BACK FROM VOLUNTARY SABBATICAL: Ash "Tennis Just Makes Sense to Me" Barty
BACK FROM INVOLUNTARY SABBATICAL (in 2017): Maria Sharapova

HOPEFULLY BACK 100% FROM A NECESSARY SABBATICAL: Casey Dellacqua
MINI PASTRY: Kiki 2.0

MINI VIKA: Brisbane Steph
MINI "VIKTOR": Victoria Azarenka (and new, just-arrived son!)

MINI VINCI: Roberta Vinci

UN-STILL WATERS RUN DEEP (behind the baseline): Lindsay Lee-Waters & daughter Sevyn; Kim Clijsters & daughter Jada (Bieber not included)

UKRAINIAN WAFFLE JOINING THE TEAM: Marina Zanevska

Officiellement Belge ???? #??

A photo posted by Marina Zanevska (@marinazanevska) on


GLUTEN TOLERANT AUSSIE RISING UP THE HONOR ROLL (and good from behind): Dasha Gavrilova
FORMER-SLOVAK-TURNED-AUSSIE WITH ENOUGH NAMES TO FILL AN ENTIRE FED CUP TEAM: Jarmila Gajdosova Groth Gajdosova Wolfe
WEDDING CRASHERS: Dominika Cibulkova, Ana Ivanovic, Flavia Pennetta & Tsvetana Pironkova
CURRENT AND FORMER STUDENTS REMINISCING ABOUT 2004: Maria Sharapova, Anastasia Myskina and Svetlana Kuznetsova


REVOLUTION FORERUNNER QUIETLY KEEPING IT REAL: Anna Kournikova

#tbt #justakid #tennis #?????? #???????

A photo posted by Anna Kournikova ?? (@annakournikova) on



REVOLUTIONARY SURPRISINGLY BACK ON THE COURT IN 2016: Elena Bovina
REVOLUTIONARY WE WISH WE'D SEE BACK ON THE COURT IN 2017: Nadia Petrova (Oh, Nadia!)
THANKFULLY ON THE HONOR ROLL (finally): Peng Shuai
HOPEFULLY BACK IN SOME FORM, SOMEWHERE, SOMETIME: Jamie Hampton
HISTORY: Mary Joe Fernandez
WISHFULLY HISTORY: ESPN's Basket of Deplorables
SELF-APPOINTED YEARBOOK (BODYPAINT MODELING) PHOTO EDITOR: Caroline Wozniacki (again)

#tbt ?????? @si_swimsuit

A photo posted by Caroline Wozniacki (@carowozniacki) on


FUTURE ELECTION SUPERVISOR: Nicole Gibbs (after being removed from her position as boating safety advisor)

FORMER ACADEMY HISTORIAN MOURNED BY ALL: Bud Collins (always and forever... and everyone wears their craziest pants on Hall of Fame induction day)
ARTFUL SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT DIRECTOR: Maria Sharapova

Getting lost in the small streets of #Melbourne. #Travel #instadaily

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on


Photo Booths, they never go out of style. This was one I can share from that fun night at Boca Grande ??

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on


OFFICIAL ACADEMY SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNEL:
SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNEL DIRECTOR: Francesca Schiavone (getting ready for upcoming Steve Simon-inspired changes in format)
(UNDESERVEDLY SELF-APPOINTED) ETIQUETTE SCHOOL DIRECTOR: Dominika Cibulkova (because, apparently, you're guilty of everything if you're not buddy-buddy with your competitors in the lockerroom)

"I will only say that I don't feel sorry at all for Sharapova and I don't miss her on the tour. She's a totally unlikeable person. Arrogant, conceited and cold. When I sit beside her in the locker room, she won't even say hello." - Dominika Cibulkova

(APPARENT) ETIQUETTE SCHOOL LAWSUIT DIRECTOR (and poorest loser): Tatjana Maria
ETIQUETTE SCHOOL SHOWDOWN (Hamilton/Burr duel style): Jelena Ostapeno vs. Naomi Broady, Yulia Putintseva vs. Usue Arconada... and Jelena Ostapenko vs. Yulia Putintseva
(DELIGHTFULLY BLUNT) ETIQUETTE SCHOOL DIRECTOR: Barbora Strycova
(DELIGHTFULLY BLUNT) COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR: Sania Mirza (into her second decade in the position)
LUNCH LADY: Aga Radwanska
DISTRACTED SOUS CHEF: Timea Bacsinszky
FOOD TASTER: Lara Arruabarrena
NOBLE (Box) SISTERS: Aga & Ula Radwanska
SCHOOL OF FEDERIFIC RELATIONS: Aga Radwanska (laugh and the Fed laughs with you)
SCHOOL OF RADWANSKIAN MASSACRES ON THE BRITISH STAGE - THREE YEAR ANNIVERSARY: Day 3, Wimbledon
FAITH IN THE CAUSE...:
SUSTAINING A LEVEL OF PREPAREDNESS...:
CONTINUING EVIDENCE THAT THE WORLD (or at least Asia) IS SAFE FROM THE RAD?: Shenzhen and Beijing

OR IS IT...?:
SCHOOL OF CONTINUING TO LIVE LIFE "EXTRA": Vicky Duval

On a scale from 1 to Vicky Duval, how extra are YOU?

A photo posted by Vicky Duval (@vicky_duval95) on


SCHOOL OF LIVING --and thriving -- THROUGH CHOCOLATE CONSUMPTION: Belinda Bencic (wishing for a stocking full of Sugarpova chocolate for Christmas... or, you know, the Swiss kind will work, too)

SCHOOL OF BUSINESS & SWEETS: Maria Sharapova

A photo posted by @sugarpova on


SCHOOL OF BUSINESS & DESIGN: Venus Williams

SCHOOL OF RESPECT AND DECENCY: Svetlana Kuznetsova (and consistency, sometimes on the court, but always off it)


"I believe that people don't have a right to judge her without knowing her. I will tell you even more that I don't think I know her that well. She's really famous and has lots of fame around her, and I think it's the right thing how she takes it. She separates it away and only has close people. Otherwise it's very difficult to be in her situation and to play such a great level of tennis and have so much commercial and to be so popular. It's really hard to combine these two things. The real Maria, only the real people around her know that. Other people, if she doesn't let them go in her life, doesn't mean that they can tell her that she's bad. I don't believe that." - Svetlana Kuznetsova, on Maria Sharapova, in 2015
"First of all, I want to say that Maria is a great athlete, and even this 'strange mistake' will not be able to outshine all of what she has achieved in tennis. And most importantly, none of us, especially me, have no rights to comment this story - not to criticize or evaluate Maria." - Svetlana Kuznetsova, on Maria Sharapova, in 2016

SCHOOL OF IMPERSONATION AND CRIMINAL ACTIVITY: Dasha Gavrilova (as Yulia Putintseva), and Yulia Putintseva (as a vegetable thief)



SCHOOL OF INADVERTENT IMPERSONATION: Garbine Muguruza and Kristina Mladenovic ("as Suzanne Lenglen")


MOST SUITABLE GOOGLE TRIBUTE TO "LA DIVINE" LENGLEN:

MOST SUITABLE GRAND SLAM-LONG TRIBUTE TO "LA DIVINE": Day-by-Day: Finally, Lenglen...
BEST WEEK ON CAMPUS:
SCHOOL OF MARILYN CHANELING: Kristina Mladenovic

Channeling Marilyn #shooting??

A photo posted by Kristina Mladenovic (@kristinamladenovic93) on


OFF MEDICAL LEAVE IN 2017 (and playing to bigger crowds again): Ajla Tomljanovic

A photo posted by Ajla Tomljanovic (@ajlatom) on


DISADVANTAGED SCHOOL OF UNDETERMINED METEOROLOGY: Simona Halep and Aga Radwanska (on soggy days in Paris when whining is outlawed)
ADVANCED SCHOOL OF IMMUNITY TO METEOROLOGY: Samantha Stosur and Tsvetana Pironkova (on soggy days in Paris when no excuses need to be made)
CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND WORDS AT ACADEMY'S ANNUAL SPELLING BEE:
V-I-K-H-L-A-N-T-Y-S-E-V-A
A-R-R-U-A-B-A-R-R-E-N-A
W-O-N-G-T-E-A-N-C-H-A-I
C-H-A-K-V-E-T-A-D-Z-E ("classic" word round)
SCHOOL OF USING THE FORCE FOR GOOD AGAIN: Jana Fett
SCHOOL OF 1990's NOSTALGIA (Venus Edition): Venus Williams

SCHOOL OF 1990's NOSTALGIA (Watson Edition): Heather Watson
IN (in 2016): Steffi Graf & "The Chase for #22"
OUT (in 2017): Steffi Graf & "The Chase for #22"
IN (in 2017-18): Margaret Court & "The Chase for #24" (if the Aussie can withstand the harsh spotlight)
CAMPUS R.O.T.C. RECRUITER: Katerina Stewart
UPTOWN FUNK(Y) SKIING INSTRUCTOR: Gabriela Pantuckova

(LATEST) MARATHONERS: Shahar Peer and Marion Bartoli


STREET ART TOUR GUIDE: Rebeka Masarova
TOUR GUIDE, D.C. CAMPUS: Yanina Wickmayer

TOUR GUIDE, PARIS CAMPUS: Kiki Bertens

A photo posted by Kiki Bertens (@kikibertens) on


TOUR GUIDE, PARIS CAMPUS (BFF STREET VERSION): Kristina Mladenovic and Belinda Bencic

TOUR GUIDE, LIVERPOOL CAMPUS: Jiske Griffioen (tours available eight days a week)

TOUR GUIDE, LAS VEGAS CAMPUS: Mandy Minella (though what she says has to stay there)

TOUR GUIDE, PUERTO RICAN CAMPUS: Monica Puig (with Maria Sharapova along for the sights)


FAR TOO EAGER TOUR GUIDE OF THE CLIFFS OF SIMONA: Simona Halep (after repeated stints in detention, trying to curb her unhealthy attraction to dangerous terrain)

ALWAYS THE ORIGINAL FACE OF BACKSPIN ACADEMY: Justine Henin HOF
(STILL) THE CURRENT FACE OF BACKSPIN ACADEMY: Victoria Azarenka
(FINDING HER WELL-EARNED PLACE AS) THE HEART OF BACKSPIN ACADEMY: Simona Halep (the struggle makes the eventual triumph all the more satisfying)
(YEARNED FOR BY ALL TO BE) THE HOPE OF BACKSPIN ACADEMY: Daria Kasatkina

OFFICIAL MASCOT OF BACKSPIN ACADEMY: Dasha Gavrilova

FOREVER GOOD LUCK CHARM BRACELET OF BACKSPIN ACADEMY: Aleksandra Krunic


"I was born to be a warrior." - Maria Sharapova


*ACTING DEPARTMENT HEADS & SELECTED CLASS INSTRUCTORS*
UNORTHODOX RUSSIAN: Svetlana Kuznetsova

A video posted by US Open (@usopen) on


CONVERSATIONAL SERBIAN JANKOVICIAN: Jelena Jankovic

GERMAN-101: Andrea Petkovic and Angelique Kerber (class held outdoors, M/W/F 12:00-12:50)
CONVERSATIONAL MANDARIN: Peng Shuai (after finally receiving a "good to go" note from the doctors)
CZECH-031: Kristyna Pliskova (WARNING: acing the exam doesn't necessarily assure a passing grade)
CONVERSATIONAL ITALIAN: Roberta Vinci (Good news! She's committing to another year -- at least -- of instruction in 2017!)
CLASSIC (QUARTET) ITALIAN: Flavia Pennetta & Roberta Vinci, Flavia Pennetta & Francesca Schiavone, Roberta Vinci & Sara Errani



(STILL OH SO) FRENCH-101: Alize Cornet
GERMAN-005: Andrea Petkovic
RUSSIAN TRAVEL & CULTURE: Svetlana Kuznetsova

TURNING BACK THE CLOCK: Martina Hingis and Roger Federer

GOOD CZECH, BAD CZECH...in perpetuity, apparently: Petra Kvitova (Good Petra, Bad Petra, Hopeful Petra... Gingerbread Petra?)



CONVERSATIONAL RUSSIAN (NON-NATIVE-BORN) KAZAKH: Yulia Putintseva
MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN THROUGH PEACE, LOVE & UNDER-... haha, just kidding: unnamed Hall of Famer
FUN WITH BRAZILIAN FLAGS: Timea Bacsinszky

FUN WITH DANISH FLAGS: Caroline Wozniacki


WHEN IN ROME (or Tashkent)...: Kristyna Pliskova

WHEN ON HOLIDAY...: Karolina Pliskova and Timea Bacsinszky

WHEN IN COMPETITION (at Roland Garros)...: Cagla Buyukakcay and Timea Bacsinszky

MAYBE THE ACTUAL FUTURE OF NORTH AMERICA-101: Sloane Stephens Genie Bouchard Madison Keys

A photo posted by Madison Keys (@madisonkeys) on


(JUST IN CASE) THE FUTURE OF NORTH AMERICA-102: CiCi Bellis (below), along with Louisa Chirico, Kayla Day, Sonya Kenin, Amanda Anisimova, Taylor Townsend, Claire Liu, Usue Arconada, Sachia Vickery, Francesca Di Lorenzo, Taylor Johnson, et al.

A photo posted by CiCi Bellis (@cicibellis) on


THE (LATEST FUTURE AND FORMER) FUTURE OF NORTH AMERICA CANADA-101??: Bianca Andreescu and Genie Bouchard

THE FUTURE OF CHINA?: Li Na's and Zheng Jie's offspring

THE FUTURE OF AUSTRALIA: Destanee Aiava? (NOTE TO ENROLLEES: class instructor still undetermined)
THE FUTURE OF RUSSIA-101: Daria Kasatkina
THE FUTURE OF RUSSIA-102: Sofya Zhuk, Anna Blinkova, Anastasia Potapova (below), Anna Kalinskaya, Olesya Pervushina, Elena Rybakina, Amina Anshba, Veronika Kudermetova and Varvara Gracheva
THE FUTURE OF UKRAINE-101: Elina Svitolina
THE FUTURE OF UKRAINE-102: Dayana Yastremska, Anastasia Zarytska, Katarina Zavatska and Marta Kostyuk
SWISS HISTORY OF WOMEN: Martina Hingis, Viktorija Golubic and Timea Bacsinszky
MODERN DAY POLAND: Aga Radwanska
POLAND, LAND OF TOMORROW: Iga Swiatek and Maja Chwalinska
WOMEN'S HEIGHTS IN INDIA: Sania Mirza
FUTURE WOMEN'S RIGHTS IN INDIA: Karman Thandi, Pranjala Yadlapalli and Zeel Desai ("The Daughters of Sania")
TURKISH HISTORY-101: Cagla Buyukakcay

TURKISH HISTORY-102: Ipek Soylu

A video posted by Ipek Soylu (@ipek_soylu) on


LATVIAN HISTORY (Past, Present and Future): Anastasija Sevastova and Jelena Ostapenko
THAI ARCHEOLOGY: Tamarine Tanasugarn (class removed from schedule until further notice)
MODERN ANCIENT JAPAN: Kimiko Date
FUTURE MODERN JAPAN: Naomi Osaka, Nao Hibino and Misaki Doi
CHINESE OIL PAINTING: Petra Kvitova
YOGA: Svetlana Kuznetsova
AEROBICS: Caroline Garcia
JAZZERCISE: Caroline Wozniacki
WEIGHTLIFTING: Dasha Gavrilova

DRIVER'S EDUCATION (on the Autobahn): Angelique Kerber

DRIVER'S EDUCATION (with front-seat, backseat driver included): Anastasia Myskina (with Svetlana Kuznetsova)

???? ??? ? ???? ?? ???? , ?? ???? ???? ?????? what a driver

A photo posted by ???????? ?????????/Kuznetsova (@svetlanak27) on


"E-MAIL FOR DUMMIES": Maria Sharapova
CAMELING-101: Svetlana Kuznetsova

CRICKET-101: Ash Barty (class cancelled - professor returned to previous job)
PRINCIPLES OF ICE HOCKEY: Timea Bacsinszky
HOCKEY NIGHT AFTERNOON IN CANADA: Alize Cornet

PRINCIPLES OF (AMERICAN) FOOTBALL: Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova and Caroline Wozniacki


INTRO TO (FIRST) PITCHING: Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Monica Puig
BASKETBALL PHYSICS ON A NON-SLIPPERY SURFACE: Genie Bouchard
BASKETBALL PHYSICS IN HEELS: Maria Sharapova

DANCE: Serena & Venus Williams




NUDE MODELING CLASS: Paula Ormaechea

CHOIR: Jordanne Whiley

Opening xfactor night with my song ??

A video posted by Jordanne Whiley (@jordanne_joyce) on


SHARPSHOOTING (more or less): Sloane Stephens
HAIRSTYLING (on the fly): Svetlana Kuznetsova

BALLET: Serena Williams

BAND: Genie Bouchard

MASTERING THE "WHERE'S MARTINA?" GAME": Martina Hingis



INTRODUCTION TO BAKING: Kimiko Date
THE ART OF TEAMWORK (and being BFF's): Jordanne Whiley and Yui Kamiji
THE ART OF TEAMWORK (and being doubles partners): Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia

THE ART OF BEING KIKI'S BFF's: Belinda Bencic and Karolina Pliskova (w/ Kiki)
SHORTFILMMAKING: Dasha Gavrilova & Daria Kasatkina

Chilling???? ?? ??????? #maldives #DashaS

A photo posted by Daria Kasatkina (@kasatkina) on


Would you trust us to save your lives? ??

A photo posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on





Final episode ?? She is over me... #shecanttakeagoodphoto #beachbabe ??????? ?????? ? ???????? ?? @kasatkina

A video posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on




"Retiring is the easy way out. I don't have time for easy."
- Venus Williams

Our students always tell us that they truly enjoy our award-winning "Carl Talks" lecture series, affectionately named after the most unique personality on campus (well, technically, he lives with his growing family in a cave just OFF the Academy grounds).

Here's a preliminary look at our upcoming jam-packed schedule:


*GUEST LECTURERS*
"I'm Not a Robot, I'm a Bird That Can't Be Caged": Serena Williams (FYI: she gets a standing ovation every night)

Some birds can't be caged ??

A photo posted by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on


"Getting There was Fun, but Convincing Yourself is STILL the Hardest Part": Garbine Muguruza (if she can get out of her own way and stop re-living that failed audition for a role on "The Walking Dead")

"This year I learned that I'm stronger than I thought." - Garbine Muguruza, in 2015
"It's been a hard year for me for sure." - Garbine Muguruza, in 2016

"Still Dealing with Expectations That Scrape the Sky, but Wondering if It was All a Crazy Dream": Genie Bouchard
"Dealing with Personal Aspirations That Once Scraped the Sky, and Getting Back on Your Feet and Starting All Over Again with a Clean Slate": Anna Karolina Schmiedlova
"When Not Setting that Second Foot on the Plane Back to Germany Can Change Everything": Angelique Kerber
"How Not Taking Full Advantage of a Single Moment Can Change Everything": Misaki Doi
"Siberian Vengeance: Kiki M., Domi and Sam... we need to talk. But don't worry, we will. ('Talk,' that is.)": Maria Sharapova (with an evil trinkle in her eye)
"No One Knows Like the Nose Knows, No?: The Do's and Don'ts of Elective Surgery": Simona Halep
"You, Too, Can Be Ceremonially Congratulated for Doing a Piss-poor Job: A Survivor's Remarkable Story": Mary Joe Fernandez
"Preventative Medicine, Smart Body Management Motherhood, Recuperation & Recovery, & You": Victoria Azarenka (we're crossing our fingers for a follow-up talk in '17, or '18 if she ultimately prefers)

"I love pressure. That's what makes me a great player."
- Victoria Azarenka

"My Successful Summertime March on Washington in Search of the Best Chicken & (Belgian) Waffle Dinner": Yanina Wickmayer
"What Do You Do Next When, in What Might Your Best-Ever Chance for Greatness, Your Body Lets You Down Again?": Anastasija Sevastova (with an introduction from Peng Shuai)
"When You Have the Best Year of Your Life, but your longer-lasting legacy may ultimately be as the metaphorical face of a tennis league whose entire existence can be summed up in one match point moment": Kiki Bertens

When you forget about the @iptlworld rules???? #blunder #onmatchpoint #iptl

A video posted by Kiki Bertens (@kikibertens) on


"Get To Know Me! (if you know what's good for you)": Naomi Osaka
"Was it Something We Did?": Jiri Vanek, Iaian Hughes, Thomas Hogstedt & Esteban Carril
"An Expert's Czechlist For Choking: Serve Your Way To Defeat the Pliskova Way": Kristyna Pliskova (with a concluding tutorial in "Pjbt!" conducted by Karolina Pliskova)
"A Williams' Work is (Still) Never Done: Helping to Find a Rinaldi Hidden in Plain Sight": Venus Williams, future USTA president?

"When you love the game it's easy to give everything, every time."
- Venus Williams

"All Right... Neeeeext!!!": Madison Keys (trying SO hard not to be the coach-discarding Bannerette version of AnaIvo)
"It Wasn't as Great a Year as Last Year, but I COULD Be Managing a Hotel Instead: Still Loving My Job": Timea Bacsinszky
"You, Too, Can Find Out if There's Something that Smells Weird on the Bottom of Your Shoe Without Having to Actually Take Off Your Shoe": Naomi Broady (with an assist from Dasha Gavrilova)

Our yearly Eastbourne height difference photo ?? @daria_gav

A photo posted by Naomi Broady (@naomibroady) on


"Sure, It's Cute Now... but you don't want to know what would've happened to my (as it turned out) prophetically-named dog Rio if I'd lost in the 1st Round of the Olympics": Monica Puig
"You Have Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself (wink)": Daria Kasatkina
"One is the Loneliest Number, Especially When I'm Around (Part 1)": Elina Svitolina
"When Your Boss is Easily Distracted, Likes Attention and is Addicted to Camera Time: Putting the U.S. in U.S.T.A. (from a Canadian perspective)": Stacey Allaster
"One is the Loneliest Number, Especially When I'm Around (Part 2)": Elina Svitolina
"The Dark Art of Being a Poor Loser": Tatjana Maria
"Posed in Bodypaint, Hired a 'Coach,' 'Fired' a 'Coach,' Got Hurt, Had My Future Questioned (thanks, dad), Tumbled Down the Rankings, Inadvertently Outed a Friend's Engagement, Got Healthy, Had a Nice Time in New York, Won a Couple of Titles in Asia, Climbed Back up the Rankings, Said I Never Worried One Bit: So How was YOUR Year?": Caroline Wozniacki

"Right now in my head it's frustration and disappointment." - Caroline Wozniacki, in 2015
"I knew eventually I would be back." - Caroline Wozniacki, in 2016

"How To Be a Breath of Fresh Air and More Than a Little Childish at the Same Time, But Have it Not Really Matter in the Grand Scheme of Things When It Comes to Your Likability": Kristina Mladenovic
"Giving the Public What They Want -- More Me": "SimonaShortz," in their very first public speaking engagement! (tickets were sold out for this lecture in record time!)
"Second-Best is Never Enough, and We Can't Live with It": Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza (with a follow-up "chat" from Martina entitled, "How to Tell Your NEW Partner That You May Have Made a Mistake, and She Has One Month to Prove You Wrong")
"When You Know the Best is Yet to Come with Your New Co-Worker": CoCo Vandeweghe (lecture cancelled on account of scheduled speaker storming out of auditorium after saying something disparagingly snarky)
"Don't Ever Dare Me": Serena Williams

When your friends dare you to do a cartwheel in a hotel- you GET IT DONE!

A video posted by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on


"Everything You Wanted to Know About Me But Were (Literally) Afraid to Ask": SvetaBerry (via Snapchat)

"If Looks Could Kill... who says they can't?": Jelena Ostapenko
"Back to the Beginning": Kimiko Date Date-Krumm Date
"When Your Unique Name Still Isn't Unique Enough": Timea Babos
"Nothing Lasts Forever (Again)": Andrea Hlavackova & Lucie Hradecka
"Nothing Lasts Forever (well, let's not get ahead of ourselves)": Katrina Adams
"Nothing Lasts Forever (coming in spring 2017!)": Maria Sharapova
"When Your Endings Become Your Beginnings": Flavia Pennetta




"Wrong Place, Wrong Time. These Legs Were Made for Crampin'.": Anna-Lena Friedsam
"Wrong Place, Wrong Time. These Balls Weren't Made for Steppin' (On).": Ana Konjuh
"Pain is My Second Name.": Aga Radwanska (or at least the speech is coming out of her mouth... we THINK they're her own words)
"How to Fall Down Seven Times, and Stand Up Eight": Paula Ormaechea

"Appreciating What You Have After You Were Ready to Give It All Up": Zhang Shuai
"Making the USTA Great Again": Kathy Rinaldi
"I Got Next": Diede de Groot
"Better Late Than Never": Peng Shuai
"I'm Still with Her": Nicole Gibbs
"The Fine Line Between Opinion and Stupidity": Pam Shriver (booed off the stage and picketed by students with signs demanding Pam speak only of her love for "the great sport of tennis and why kids everywhere should play!")
"The State of Women's Tennis - A Seven-Part Seminar": hosted by Serena Williams
Part 1 = "How Some Parts of the Sporting World View Women's Tennis in Comparison to Men's Tennis"
Part 2 = "How Women's Tennis is, at times, in Certain Matches and Events, on a Good Day"
Part 3 = "How Women's Tennis is, at times, in Certain Matches and Events, on a Great Day"
Part 4 = "How Women's Tennis is, at times, in Certain Matches and Events, on a Crazy Day or Two"

Part 5 = "How Women's Tennis is, at times, in Certain Matches and Events, on One of THOSE Days"
Part 6 = "How Women's Tennis Should Always View Itself, No Matter the Circumstances, and Let the Rest Sort Itself Out in the Aftermath"
Part 7 = "Put it All Together, and it's Why Women's Tennis is the Heart of Soul of..."



"I think the WTA tour is getting a little bit crazy." - Garbine Muguruza


"Now I believe I can do anything." - Zhang Shuai

Our student body is a talented crop, and always on the look-out for rewarding extracurricular activities to make good use of their valuable time.

=CLUB HEADS=
DRAMA CLUB: Alize Cornet (she Comes By It Naturally, putting even the "normal" French player to shame)

(Needlessly) DRAMA(tic) CLUB: Garbine Muguruza
(Still Exasperating, but grudgingly accepted) DRAMA(tic) CLUB: Petra Kvitova

(Good Maiden) DRAMA CLUB: Czech Fed Cup Team
(Petko) DRAMA CLUB: Andrea Petkovic
RUSSIAN CHESS CLUB: Maria Sharapova (yes, one of the Academy's original clubs reconvened and once again held meetings... but only because its sole member unexpectedly had some extra time on her hands)

CZECH CHESS CLUB: Petra Kvitova

PLUSHIES, CHARACTERS & MASCOTS CLUB: (1)Roger Federer/Victoria Azarenka/Radek Stepanek/Garbine Mugurza, (2)Svetlana Kuznetsova, (3)Yanina Wickmayer/Yulia Putintseva, (4)Arina Rodionova, (5)Caroline Wozniacki, (6)Heather Watson, (7)Carla Suarez-Navarro, (8)Elena Vesnina, (9)Christina McHale, (10)Svetlana Kuznetsova, (11)Victoria Azarenka, (12)Johanna Konta, (13)Dasha Gavrilova, (14)Cagla Buyukakcay, (15)Petra Kvitova, (16)Irina Falconi, (17)Naomi Broady, (18)Conchita Martinez, (19)Christina McHale, (20)Misaki Doi, (21)Andrea Hlavackova, (22)Dasha Gavrilova, (23)Garbine Muguruza, (24)Arina Rodionova, (25)Svetlana Kuznetsova, (26)Caroline Wozniacki/Milos Raonic/Roger Federer/Lleyton Hewitt/Novak Djokovic/Victoria Azarenka
LITERARY HOMAGE CLUB: Maria Sharapova as "Pippi Longstocking"

My favorite childhood character #halloween

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on


FAIR UKRAINIAN MAIDEN CLUB: Elina Svitolina
ALIZE CORNET'S FRIENDS CLUB: Alize Cornet, Donkey Kong & ??? (Tatjana Maria banned from attending ANY meetings!)


DABBING CLUB: Victoria Azarenka, the Pastries and Mr.Turtle

LEGENDS CLUB: Martina Navratilova, et al.
"THE LEGEND" CLUB: Gail Falkenberg
ORNITHOLOGY CLUB: Chan Yung-Jan

PACHYDERM CLUB: Arina Rodionova

PIGLET CLUB: Monica Seles

MICKEY MOUSE CLUB: Laura Robson

KOALA CLUB: Elina Svitolina and Alla Kudryavtseva
KANGA(Vesna)ROO CLUB: Elena Vesnina
ARINA-"ROO" CLUB: Arina Rodionova
BABY-ROO CLUB: Carina Witthoeft
PALEONTOLOGY CLUB: Elena Vesnina
BIG CAT CLUB: Sorana Cirstea

EQUESTRIAN CLUB: Martina Hingis & Serena Williams

REINDEER CLUB: Madison Keys

A photo posted by Madison Keys (@madisonkeys) on


STATUE CLUB: Svetlana Kuznetsova & friend
V-J DAY REENACTMENT CLUB: Andrea Hlavackova

San Diego ?? #americandreamvacation

A photo posted by Andrea Hlavackova (@andreahlavackova) on


LEGO LIKENESS CLUB: Aga Radwanska

WAX LIKENESS CLUB: Anabel Medina-Garrigues
CREEPY LIKENESS CLUB (CLASSIC): Suzanne Lenglen
CREEPY LIKENESS CLUB (MODERN): Maria Sharapova
BAT-ETTE CLUB: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
CITIZEN ANNA CLUB: Victoria Azarenka and Roger Federer

SECRET WEAPON CLUB: Barbora Strycova and Viktorija Golubic
COCA-COLA CLUB: S.Claus and Dominika Cibulkova
DASHAS CLUB: Dasha Gavrilova and Daria/Dasha Kasatkina (both the toughest and easiest campus club when it comes to becoming a full-fledged member)
FAMOUS FRIENDS CLUB: Maria Sharapova (w/ Chelsea Handler)


FAMOUS DUTCHWOMEN CLUB: Jiske Griffioen and Esther Vergeer (wheels required)

CELEBRITY RESEMBLANCE CLUB: Kiki Bertens (w/ Benedict Cumberbatch) and Karolina Pliskova (w/ Natasha Henstridge of "Species")

ROBERT PALMER CLUB: Angelique Kerber (with the Pliskobots)
FALCONRY CLUB: Simona Halep and Elina Svitolina
SWAN CLUB: Katie Swan (on a swan, naturally)

Swanning around ??

A photo posted by Katie Swan (@katieswan99) on


BILLIARDS CLUB: Anabel Medina-Garrigues

MAGIC NINJA CLUB: Aga Radwanska

COVER LOVERS CLUB: (top row, from left) Sania Mirza, Dominika Cibulkova, Sania Mirza, Petra Kvitova, Amelie Mauresmo, Dasha Gavrilova, Sania Mirza, Marion Bartoli; (bottom row) Caroline Wozniacki, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Sania Mirza, Serena Williams, Aga Radwanska, Yanina Wickmayer, Angelique Kerber, Chan sisters
PASTRY CLUB: Kristina Mladenovic, Caroline Garcia, Pauline Parmentier and Oceane Dodin (also: Alize Cornet, not pictured)
NICKELODEON SLIME CLUB: Dasha Gavrilova

The things I do for my favourite channel @nickelodeon_au #AusOpenFestival

A video posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on


MOTHER & DAUGHTER CLUB: Dasha Gavrilova & mother Natalia
FATHER & DAUGHTER CLUB: Ekaterina Alexandrova & father Evgeny
SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING SANIA CLUB: Martina Hingis, Monica Niculescu & Barbora Strycova
SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING TENNIS TWIN TOUR CHAMPIONS CLUB: Karolina & Kristyna Pliskova

BROTHER/SISTER CLUB: Dinara Safina & Marat Safin, and the Belgian Barbie siblings



TWEENER CLUB: Kristina Mladenovic

STRIKE A POSE CLUB: Kristina Mladenovic, Dasha Gavrilova and Jelena Jankovic (Ms.Wozniacki is actively trying to join, though)


KIM KARDASHIAN SELFIE CLUB: Genie Bouchard

CLASS GOSSIPERS CLUB: Barbora Strycova and Karolina Pliskova ("Have you heard around...?")

TATTOO CLUB: Karolina Pliskova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Timea Bacsinszky and Jiske Griffioen




MODEL U.N. CLUB: 61 members strong, representing 20 nations (we love our diversity!)


SWARMETTE SUPERSTARDOM CLUB: Simona Halep and Nadia Comaneci
RANDON MINION CLUB: Maria Sharapova

Someone forgot to zip up their pants on their bathroom break...

A video posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on


FAMILY ONESIES CLUB: the Wozniacki clan
SHORTERALLS CLUB: Alize Lim (one member strong)

WHITE DENIM CLUB: Francois Abanda

FAUX UNICORN CLUB: Dominika Cibulkova
ACADEMY UNICOR-... err, ANGEL... err, MERMAID(?) CLUB: Dasha Gavrilova


BABY BONNET CLUB: baby Madison Keys

BABY BOWL-CUT CLUB: little Genie Bouchard

THE ABOUT-FLIPPIN'-TIME CLUB: Arthur Ashe Stadium roof
THE FAIRLY UGLY CARPET CLUB: Maria Sharapova

WILLIAMS CLUB: little Serena Williams (in the beginning...)

BEYONCE CLUB: Serena Williams
SERENA CLUB: Beyonce


"I don't think anyone feels older. You have this infinity inside of you that feels like you could go on forever." - Venus Williams



Unfortunately, the Academy made the difficult internal decision to cancel the annual prom this year due to the atmosphere that was created following the controversial election. While the raucous student council election offered us an opportunity to work together to reach a commendable end result, the voting revolving around the prom honorees was tougher for some members of the student body to digest. When news was leaked that members of the Academy's Russian student community has swept the top honors, many of our Hordette Alumni rejoiced and made the rounds, offering congratulations to their young countrywomen.



But when the full results were slow in coming, eyebrows were raised. For those who had felt the initial rush of excitement from being named a winner, it was a time of confusion and indecision.


Finally, with all the votes recorded, things only got worse. While the Hordette winners of the Prom Queen (Daria Kasatkina) and her Ladies-in-Waiting (Anastasia Potapova, Anna Blinkova, Elena Rybakina and others) titles were legitimate contenders, with young Dasha considered likely to take the honors when the ballots went out, the depth and scope of the "questionable" vote totals of others led many to wish to contest the results, as not only was every winner in every category a Russian, but so was every runner-up and third place finisher, with only a few spare votes for others being counted, and even those were recorded for former Hordettes Dasha Gavrilova and Yulia Putintseva.


Some students, many armed with #NotMyProm placards, took to protesting the results, loudly calling for an immediate re-vote. But when no concrete evidence of fraud was discovered, it was decided that the results would have to stand. But the decision did little to quell the ill feelings. Ultimately, the prom was cancelled after an incident in which a few students broke into the gymnasium late in the night and spray-painted various anti-"cheating" phrases all over the floors and walls. Oddly, some phrases also expressed derogatory feelings toward those protesting the results of the election. It was as if the only real intent was to formulate chaos and toxicity on campus, though we've yet to be able to find the perpetrators and subject them to questioning.

The next day, the student council and various advisors met and agreed, in order to send a message, that the dance must be cancelled. But since it wasn't believed that any sort of plot had been hatched by actual students, and so many had purchased expensive formal attire for the occasion, it was announced that an impromptu "red carpet walk-by" would be held on what had originally been the night the prom was to take place, in the hopes that it was be some measure of the "reward" for the hard-working members of our campus community that the evening has always been through the years.

Queen-elect Kasatkina was happy for the decision, as it provided her a deserved moment in the spotlight, and offered her an "excuse" to get "gussied up." And we all love to see her smile, as it only deepens her reputation as a feared "hard-nosed competitor" which she's earned in her relatively short time on campus.



Even Jelena Ostapenko got into the festivities, reportedly posing for nearly twenty minutes for portraits in front of the photographic background set up in the corner for those who wanted something "more formal" by which to remember the night.


Off course, caught off guard by the announcement of the "walk-by" (she apparently misfiled the email, making her yet another member of the Acadmy's campus community to experience "odd happenings" with communication to and free campus authorities) was scheduled chaperon Jelena Jankovic. She grabbed the only outfit she could find and managed to make it to the carpet on time. Although, considering the unfortunate choice from her closet, some whispered that maybe she should have decided to wait until next year.


Ditto for the Pastry duo of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic, who showed up with mismatched outfits to take their place in what was to be a parade of individuals with matching garments. Oops.


But the star of the night was Heather Watson, who had been a strong backer for the "walk-by," largely (according to behind-the-scenes whispers) because she knew she looked good in her new outfit, and was DETERMINED that it would not go to waste.


In fact, she enjoyed herself so much that she changed outfits and returned for a SECOND run on the "walk-by" carpet, garnering just as loud compliments for her second outfit as she had for her first.


It's been said that Heather came back later in the night for a third go-around, and maybe even a fourth. Though those are strictly rumors. Everyone else had gone home hours earlier, after all. But, it must be said, there ARE reports on record from campus security officers of a sole female student walking up and back, and then back and up, the carpet all night long into the wee hours until sunrise finally arrived.

Just sayin'.


For what it's worth...

*OUR LIST OF ELGANT FORMER PROM QUEENS*
2004 Maria Sharapova
2005 Nicole Vaidisova
2006 Nicole Vaidisova
2007 Agnes Szavay
2008 Caroline Wozniacki
2009 Melanie Oudin
2010 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
2011 Caroline Wozniacki
2012 "WoziRoy"
2013 Genie Bouchard
2014 Belinda Bencic
2015 Belinda Bencic
2016 Daria Kasatkina?



*BACKSPIN ACADEMY CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS*
The Academy maintained its tradition of embracing the performing arts over the past year, believing that the blood, sweat and creative tears of our vast array of in-house performers is worth highlighting, as they entertain the student body and faculty to no end throughout the term.

From digital short films to full-scale movies debuted in the high-tech Sugarpova Cineplex, and from plays and concerts presented in the glorious Li Na Theatre, our season ticket purchases have increased for yet another year. The additional funds allowed us to further enhance the television production studio that delivered our well-received first series effort one year ago, the dramatic comedy entitled "Better Call Bencic." Unfortunately, "BCB" was plagued by an interrupted production schedule over the past twelve months, but its role as our "signature" small-screen show was taken up by another sprawling, action-packed story that left no one disappointed (as long as they could keep up with the complicated plot).


And in one of our biggest smash hits, a longtime member of the campus inner circle was cast against type... and garnered fabulous reviews for her range.


Meanwhile, more than a year after the installation of an on-campus recording studio, our (so far) most-prolific artist dropped not one, but two, musical delights on us this year, as she had a little bit more free time on her hands in 2016. While she managed to add a few classes to her usually jam-packed schedule...



...she simply couldn't bear the monotony of doing "nothing" with her days, hence the unexpected surprise we all received when everyone visiting the on-campus Starbucks was gifted with free music with the purchase of an item from the "secret menu," leading to all sorts of chatter around the grounds about which drink would assure the claiming of each album. One of the much-desired selections was "an acoustic masterpiece" (said Diane Dees of Women Who Serve) that recalled the memories of the artist's childhood...


...while the other was a basket of Sharapovian holiday music inspired by what the singer described as personal "moments of reflection."




Of course, our heart and soul is and will always be our original plays and musicals, which annually instill feelings of joy and pride to the campus across the seasons. The very first star to be born on the Academy's stage was Ms. Wozniacki, with her "Many Faces of Caroline" having performed more shows than any other production in our history. Through it all, we've always found time to direct our hearts and minds in her direction, even when we've sometimes questioned her creative decisions. After having expressed her intention to continue with her "MFoC" starring role, a series of physical ailments and long recuperative periods during which she wasn't quite up to being her usual self forced the beloved act to forced to shutter its doors earlier this season. But as the year progressed, Ms. Wozniacki began to feel better and more "up to snuff." In the closing weeks of this year's stage season, she put together an impromptu one-woman show in which she discussed the ups and downs of her life, revealed the secrets behind her positive outlook, and even occasionally pulled the curtain back on her dreams for the future. At the end of the limited run production, she was given a standing ovation, as much for her perseverance and longevity as for any particular well thought out routine she'd performed on the stage this year. So, yes, once again we found ourselves finding the time to embrace the Dane, who we now realize we've seen grow from a girl into a woman. Where does the time go?


That said, we still long for at least one more round of "The Many Faces of...," just for old time's sake.

On another front, 2016 was ultimately another year in which the aforementioned production's sister show, "The Many Faces of Vika," was absent from the Academy's big stage. Oh, there were some very well received one-night only shows that Ms. Azarenka performed early in the season, to the sort of glowing reviews she hadn't been on the receiving end of in years. For a brief moment, it appeared that the official announcement of a full-fledged show was imminent. But a backstage mishap put those plans on hold, then a few months later we were all surprised to hear that Ms. Azarenka was taking off the rest of the school year because she was preparing to become a mother for the very first time. Of course, we were all gloriously happy for her, though we did realize that it also meant it would be even longer before we'd be able to once again watch her perform to the best of her abilities on the centerstage. But she's promised to return whenever she's able, and when she does it will surely be a wonderful moment for all involved.

Of course, our season schedule included a consistent stream of "short-run" or preview shows on the Academy stage, with some more successful than others. We had performances that revolved around the making of history, both ongoing and of the moment.



And while triumphant occurrences were highlighted, so were the trials and tribulations that often eventually accompany life's best moments.


Meanwhile, the Backspin Academy School of Film ventured into all sorts of new grounds this year. While drama was, of course, front and center (often from the usual people and places)...


...so was comedy. From tongue-in-cheek(y) entertainment (starring our resident Aussie/comedienne/action star) to our very first animated feature (about a Romanian fish with an unhealthy addiction to swimming to close too the dangerous water's surface), our artists were constantly striving to entertain, and succeeding more often than not.



Our industrious, passport-hoarding Brit turned a spare comment into a leading role in her own action-packed star vehicle...


Of course, while most of our productions are considered "hits," sometimes mistakes ARE made. Such as the decision to re-release last year's documentary centering on young Genie Bouchard and her battle against dastardly, over officious powers-that-be. With the story once again garnering headlines, we thought that the year-old film would find a receptive audience. But we were wrong. Truth is, that anger that had hailed the documentary's arrival in 2015 found only lingering frustration this fall, as everyone could find no reason for the disgusting story behind the film to STILL be going on. As seen below, there was even mild vandalism -- during the election protests -- of the promotion of the film's showing at the Sugarpova Cineplex, though we all believe that it wasn't a comment on the documentary itself, but was instead the result of atmosphere that made the re-release necessary.


During the summer, we instituted a weekly "Saturday Night Horror-fest" celebration that was such great fun we've already started thinking about how we'll fill the time with still more edge-of-our-seats frights come next year. Not surprisingly, the biggest B-movie hit of the summer starred our favorite Polish student, Aga Radwanska, channeling her longtime (former?) alter ego/malevolent entity. Hmmm, or was she? It was paired with its "sister" film, a virtual sequel to the original story that featured Ana Konjuh. But it was the cameo by Ms.Radwanska that elicited shrieks from the audience. We're still not sure if it was because they were delighted to see her, or scared. But, either way, it was all great fun!


While our stages generally focus on student-produced (or starring) works, the Academy's artistic community is always ready to embrace productions from "the outside," especially when they promote our Student Class President...


But we're not afraid to admit that we love the "blockbusters," too. Not only does the occasional Hollywood movie that graces our screens bring in nice sums of money (which we put to very good use... as the public transparency of our annual finances proves), but WE all want to see them, as well. And why not do so with all our friends along for the ride?


As the year ends, we're all looking forward to the unexpected delights to come in 2017! Tax-exempt donations are always welcome, of course.


And, thus, we arrive at the end of yet another year, as soon our thoughts will drift to the ideas and notions that will shape the NEXT twelve months.

A year ago, even Angelique Kerber didn't know what she had in store for us, or herself, in the season that was to come. Now she knows what she's capable of, and so do we.

Over the span of the same twelve months, Garbine Mugurza went from star pupil to potential valedictorian, then reverted back to being a "well-regarded" student who we never knew what to expect from on a daily basis, if not over even smaller periods of time.

Serena Williams proved to be both oh-so-human AND oh-so-Serena in 2016, as we always knew she was and can be at any moment. It's what's given her longtime greatness such depth and intrigue. Meanwhile, others had years to remember (#PicaPower, anyone?), as well as forget (oh, Schmiedy). It's just the way things go. The Tennis Gods -- the little too-smart-for-their-own-good-sometimes devils that they are -- wouldn't have it any other way.

We love 'em. We hate 'em. But we can't live without 'em.

Who will have raised her sights and achieved her goals by this time in 2017? Might it finally be Simona Halep? Or maybe Elina Svitolina? How about a healthy Belinda Bencic, or even Madison Keys? But, then again, it could be someone we didn't even see coming around the corner.

(TG's prerogative, remember.)

Of course, it could be that the familiar will reign supreme once more...


Because, you know, on occasion, the world must be placed back on its natural axis.



And after 2016, such a thing would be quite comforting, wouldn't it?


Yeah, yeah. We know, Serena. You can't take care of everything.


Res Ipsa Loquitur.

All for now.

5 Comments:

Blogger Diane said...

Wonderful, as always, Todd. I look forward to it all December :)

And my annual "almost spilled my drink" moments:

"Lock her up!" (I, too, have noticed the creepy, witch hunt resemblance)

"Finding Simona"

And, most of all, the Sharapova Christmas album!!--hilarious

Tue Dec 20, 10:03:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Thanks, Diane. ;)

If only there were "consensus-building leaders" in the real world...

(Meanwhile, now I have an image of an animated fish swimming around with Simona's face.) :P

Tue Dec 20, 11:11:00 PM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

Re-read and remembered two other things I especially love--the Todd Haynes Petra poster, and the Robert Palmer photo!

Sun Dec 25, 10:36:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Oh, and I don't know if you remember, but the inclusion of the "Serving Your Way to Defeat the Pliskova Way" was something you'd suggested earlier in the year, as well. (Not sure when it was, but -- shocker -- I'm thinking it was after Kristyna fired a slew of aces vs. someone, but still lost.) ;)

Sun Dec 25, 11:46:00 PM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

Oh yeah, it did sound familiar! Happy to contribute :)

Mon Dec 26, 11:32:00 AM EST  

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