Thursday, November 29, 2012

2012 WTA Year-End Review

The time has come. (As always, thoughts and words brought to you free of charge.)

2012: The Life of Tri

"I am a year older and I behave more like a lady than a crazy kid." - Victoria Azarenka, on her rise from promising player to world #1 and grand slam champion

Our Beloved Backspin Academy

We never truly know what to expect before the start of a Backspin Academy Student Council election campaign. After an infusion of new, young talent into the field of candidates a year ago, combined with a few past reigning Presidents still looking to reclaim their former seat of power, the most recent term's race could have gone a wide range of ways. And when the first big debate took place in Melbourne in January, it began with six different candidates having a chance to be the official "frontrunner" two weeks later.

As it turned out, one candidate, a young woman from Belarus who first began to campaign hard at the end of '11, emerged from the pack in Australia and took the early lead in the race. In fact, at the early stops along the campaign trail, she seemed unbeatable. For a while, she was, too. But the student council campaign is a long, year-long slog, and no one player can be expected to maintain such fine form over the entire course. By the middle of the term, one of our ex-Presidents, a young lady from Russia who has seemingly been bouncing around campus since infancy, climbed into the lead after a particularly fine campaign swing in Paris.

But the race wasn't over by any means. While one trickster from Poland used all her own powers -- as well as those of a now-legendary "friend" -- to get within one debate in London of being able to say she was the "leader" in the Council race, she wasn't able to pull off her planned coup (though we certainly expect more "dirty tricks" from her and her minions in the future). But THIS term's battle was really only about three candidates, and none of them were 2011 Class President Petra, nor the student (based mostly on name recognition, as Caroline is very popular) who sat atop the pre-race polls.

While the Belarusian and the Russian led the race for months, it was an American student that had the most "big moments." Another former President, and one of the Academy's all-time achievers, began the year far behind in votes due to her relative absence from campaign activities. But once she hit her stride mid-way through the race, she fairly well destroyed everything in her path, winning on every major battleground along the way. But, in the end, while she managed to win the "popular vote" for President by the end of the campaign, she wasn't able to climb over either of her election opponents in the final tally. The "Electoral College" gave us our first-ever Belarusian President, and we love her to death and think she more than deserves the honor of sitting in the big chair at the end of the long table... though we know she might not be able to win a true head-to-head battle with the American if it were to come to that.

But no candidate demanded a recount. And no other student contested the election, either. Everyone on campus seemed positively fine with the current "power-sharing" set-up, figuring it might lead to compromises that will make the student government run more smoothly. Of course, the student body is sometimes naive when it comes to such matters... but we'll let them learn that lesson for themselves. As it is, each voting group has its own "icon" to follow around campus, sit near in the cafeteria and strive to be like on and off the court and in the classroom.

But that was LAST term. As we know, EVERY year is an election year. We suspect that things will be immediately contentious around here once the new campaign begins in January. By the end of the next term twelve months from now, everything might have been turned on its head all over again. After all, it's been known to happen.

CLASS PRESIDENT: Victoria Azarenka

LADY PRESIDENT OF THE COURT OF HISTORICAL OPINION (healthy and hearty, and the pundits were right to say that she'd return more focused than ever): Serena Williams
VICE PRESIDENT: Maria Sharapova (taking candy from babies, and giving them Sugarpova instead)

CO-PRESIDENTS PRO TEMPORE: Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci
VALEDICTORIAN: Esther Vergeer (still a straight-A+ with a double Golden glow)

Co-SALUTATORIANS: Agnieszka Radwanska & Angelique Kerber

CLASS TREASURER: Nadia Petrova (finding funds where that were thought to be lost forever)
SCHOOL SPIRIT COORDINATOR (student): "Midge" (once -- and maybe still -- aspiring to be "Barbie," though her packaging changed a bit in '12)

SCHOOL SPIRIT COORDINATOR (funky Vika fan): Redfoo

STUDENT/ALTER EGO LIAISONS: Ula & Aga (last seen on an all-expenses-paid "minions holiday" at the beach with The Radwanska)

Personae Non Gratae AT BACKSPIN ACADEMY (at least a certain Czech hopes so): THAT (silent scream) Petra Kvitova!... if the deposed '11 Class President REALLY wants to jump back into the race in '13

"I mean, I don't love tennis today, but I'm here, and I can't live without it... so I'm still here and I don't want to go anywhere any time soon." - Serena Williams

"I'm 24 years old, almost 25. I love this sport as much as I loved it, you know, when I was at that age (when she won Wimbledon at 17). I've also been through a lot of tough times. I've also said the success that I can achieve, the fact that I got myself back to being Top 5 in the world, playing tennis again, playing at a high level, competing at this level is pretty remarkable from where I was on a surgery table, not knowing if I'd ever be able to hit a serve again." - Maria Sharapova

Backspin Academy's humble and hardworking staff occasionally undergoes 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. Oh, sure, some say that a few members of our staff should allow their student assistants to work with another professor without having them linger in the background (Mr. P-Woz, are you blushing?), while some simply do NOT work well together -- such as a certain Dane and Spaniard most known for his collaboration with one of our wilder students from Serbia, and a Pole who this term bluntly declared of one short-term collaborator, "He did not pass". But for every bad situation, more than a few healthy relationships even things out. Mademoiselle Bartoli and her father, for instance, no matter how many cross moments and/or controversy they find themselves embroiled in, are always there for each other when it matters... even sometimes to their own detriment. The aforementioned Spaniard found a fine partner is one of our long-time favorite students named Nadia, and the former counselor of our beloved La Petit Taureau returned to campus to help out one of our senior Chinese students, as well. So far, it looks like things will work out just fine -- and we all couldn't be happier for them both!

On balance, we think the Academy's faculty and student body blend together wonderfully.

Of course, at the close of many academic sessions, we're forced to bid adieu to some of our longstanding campus personalities. Amongst the heartfelt goodbye moments this year were send-offs for dear Ms. Clijsters (there's talk of a statue... but we all feel that's been done before), Dulko and Peschke, all of which announced their retirement from day-to-day Academy activities. Meanwhile, we are happy to report that former co-Dean Stubbs, who finally officially and fully stepped away from her duties after last season, is performing with great skill and promise in her new chosen field. In fact, some of us not-so-secretly believe that our Aussie friend may one day be THE best in her profession. As always, we are SO proud.

Naturally, Professor Date-Krumm continues to amaze us with her longevity and creative energy. Somehow, everyone figures that she'll outlast us all. Well, excluding dean emeritus Navratilova, that is.

"Why Chinese still use chopsticks? Why Chinese have to put family name first, right? I think lot of American people couldn't understand, yeah? Two thing already. I couldn't find a third one." - Li Na, when asked to recount three things that Americans don't understand about the Chinese people

ACADEMY DEAN (and "good cop"): Lisa Raymond
FORMER Co-DEAN ON ADMINISTRATIVE SUSPENSION FOR CONDUCT DETRIMENTAL TO THE ACADEMY: "bad cop" Liezel Huber (after complaints raised by a certain Russian student named Elena, who still keeps turning over Miss Huber's desk whenever she walks by her office)
GUIDANCE COUNSELOR (rolling the dice and winning w/ Vika): Sam Sumyk
GUIDANCE COUNSELOR (who is still SURE it will all work out fine w/ Petra): David Kotyza
GUIDANCE COUNSELOR (who landed on his feet and found a loophole through which to return to campus): Ricardo "The Kat" Sanchez
GUIDANCE COUNSELOR (who got results, but who might have nothing to show for it): Thomas Johansson
GUIDANCE COUNSELOR (who is welcomed back with open arms... and not just by Na): Carlos Rodriguez
GUIDANCE COUNSELOR (who will never leave): Piotr "The Lurker" Wozniacki (or so says Mr. Sanchez, and Mr. Johansson and...)
FORMER TOP STUDENTS WHO ARE TRYING TO PASS ON THEIR KNOWLEDGE: new Fed Cup captains Amelie Mauresmo (FRA) and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (ESP)
ATHLETIC MINERS FOR STILL MORE GOLD: Patrick Mouratouglou & Mackie Shilstone (helping Serena make waves on and off court all over again)

SCHOOL MEDICAL STAFF: Venus Williams' doctors

Slava's "Aussie Frogs" Shot (guess which one's named "Vika")

XIMENA HERMOSO INTRODUCES...: Marcela Zacarius (joining Ximena as part of BSA's growing Mexican contingent)
ACADEMY HISTORIAN: Bud Collins (always and forever)
LUNCH LADY: Jelena Jankovic (with a constant craving for overflowing bowls of apple sauce)
(GARBLED) COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR: Stacey Allaster, head of the Office of B.S.
(GARBLED) COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR INTERNS: Caroline Wozniacki & Agnieszka Radwanska
"SUBSTITUTE" FED CUP STAR OF THE YEAR: Lucie Safarova, stronger in the broken places

"The athlete who needs a psychologist is not suitable for sport." - Agnieszka Radwanska

SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMACY: Vera Zvonareva, with maybe more diplomatic work in her near future after having such bad luck this term at the Academy

SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: The eleven students representing eleven different nations in the term-ending Best Grade Point Average list... the Academy is so proud of its diversity
SCHOOL OF MYSTICISM & MIRACLES: Ekaterina Makarova & Virginie Razzano
SCHOOL OF MYSTICISM & NEAR-MIRACLES: Yaroslava Shvedova & Zheng Jie
SCHOOL OF LIVING WITHOUT FEAR: dancing star Martina Navratilova

SCHOOL OF CREATIVE STORYTELLING: Caroline Wozniacki, still looking for her proverbial 'roo
(Unconvincing) DEBATE TEAM LEADER: Caroline Wozniacki (who unfortunately flunked her BSA history class exam)

"I would never say Martina was #1 when there was no one playing or that she was the best when no one was playing." - Caroline Wozniacki, continuing to impetuously overreact after calling Martina Navratilova "overly critical" and accusing the all-time great, who'd previously considered a coaching arrangement with the Dane, of trying to "stir everything up" by simply doing what so many others had before her, point out that the quantity-over-quality ranking point system had caused C-Woz to not be viewed as the "true" #1
"You shouldn't repair something that's not broken." - Wozniacki, as her ranking plummeted from #1 to, eventually, outside the Top 10 before a late-season rebound
"You always want to win -- yes, it's disappointing to lose, but it's not a disaster." - Wozniacki, still looking for her first 2012 title at the time, after losing in her home event in Copenhagen
"Boy, you're my match point." - Wozniacki, in her singing debut on her charity single "Oxygen"

ON MEDICAL LEAVE (but soon better able to stand up on her two feet... err, knees): Alexandra Dulgheru
BACK FROM MEDICAL LEAVE (and we're all happy about it): Alisa Kleybanova

"I'm just happy that I'm here (in Miami) and that I'm able to play again. And, I'm feeling healthy and having fun again. It's not the most important thing in my life anymore. So I'm just going to try and enjoy every day that I'm on the court." - Alisa Kleybanova, on her return to the tour after battling Hodgkins Lymphoma

UNORTHODOX RUSSIAN (and ironic tattoo canvas): Svetlana "Pain Doesn't Kill Me, I Kill the Pain" Kuznetsova

CHINESE (2013, here she comes) DEMOCRACY-101: Li Na
CHINESE DEMOCRACY-102: Zheng Jie, still underrated after all these years
CHINESE DEMOCRACY-103: Peng Shuai, still undecorated after all these years
ITALIAN-101: Sara Errani (a double threat)

ITALIAN-102: Roberta Vinci (a double threat, Pt.2)
FRENCH-101 & 102: Alize Cornet & Kristina Mladenovic (though the students are picketing about the banning of Mademoiselle Bartoli from the classroom, and looking for a revision of the "rules" by 2016)
GERMAN-101 (and back for even more): Angelique Kerber

SOCIAL MEDIA MAVENS: Sloane Stephens (Twitter) and Vika Azarenka (Instagram)
(Naturalized) AMERICAN HISTORY: Varvara Lepchenko

THE FUTURE OF CANADA: Eugenie Bouchard, Francoise Abanda & Carol Zhao
CZECH HISTORY REVISITED (again): Lucie Hradecka, Andrea Hlavackova, Lucie Safarova, Petr Pala, Petra Kvitova & the Czech Fed Cup Team

KIWI HISTORY (a one-woman story): Marina Erakovic (thanks for nothin', Sacha)

TRAVELING THE WORLD (hopefully, but not usually) WITHOUT COMPLICATION: Bojana Jovanovski
SINGING THE PERFECT SONG... or not: Caroline Wozniacki


"I will always play with my heart and with my passion.'" - Victoria Azarenka

Our students always tell us that they truly enjoy our award-winning lecture series. Here's a look at the preliminary upcoming schedule:

"Dealing with Expectations That Scrape the Sky, Part 2": Petra Kvitova (with Part 3 coming in 2013, hopefully with a different ending)
"Preventative Medicine, Smart Body Management & You": Sabine Lisicki Replacement Speaker: Kaia Kanepi
"Taking One (more) For the T-E-A-M (i.e. your loving wife)": Jiang Shan
"Better Late Than Never": Kirsten Flipkens (a.k.a. "doubles bait" for Kim in '13)
"Making Deals with The Radwan... err, The Devil": Stacey Allaster
"Living in the Shadow of Greatness (It made me say that!)": Urszula Radwanska
"Convincing Yourself is STILL the Hardest Part": Samantha Stosur
"How to Resurrect a Formerly Promising Career": Jelena Dokic Replacement Speaker: Nadia Petrova (with an opening statement from Melanie Oudin)
"The Golden Rule, The Schmolden Rule": Liezel Huber
"No, We're Not Related": Vicky Duval (but not "Steve Urkel")

"Just Be Yourself and the World Will Be Yours... eventually, when it wakes up and smells the coffee": Victoria Azarenka
"What Do You Do Next When, in Your Last Best Chance for Immortality, You Stumble and Fall?": Jelena Jankovic [speaker cancelled scheduled appearance]

"How to Lose 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 Times to one player in a season... but not 7": Agnieszka Radwanska (You can't lose #7 if you don't play it. So there!!)
"It's Not as Easy as You Think... just ask me": Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
"Why U H8 Me?": Hannah Storm
"How to Play and Finish 2nd (in NYC, Istanbul & London -- twice), and How to Not Play and Finish 1st (in Prague)": Andrea Hlavackova & Lucie Hradecka
"Lose a Fiancé, Gain a Slam Title": Maria Sharapova
"Embracing the Crazy": Nadia Petrova, in a sequel to the old "JJ Series" of lectures that used to be so popular on campus (and still has it's die-hard fans who gather in the pretzel stick forest to listen to old recordings of past speeches, it should be noted)
"Thinking Other People are Stupid: The Key to Personal Success": Stacey Allaster

"This morning there was, like, a camera crew outside my hotel, which was a little bit freaky. I got really excited because I thought they were waiting for someone who was actually famous." - Laura Robson

"I think it's just too loud. I don't think it's very necessary to scream that loud. So if they (the WTA) want to do something, why not?" - Agnieszka Radwanska, on her "loud" opponents potentially being punished during matches
"About Maria, I mean, what can I say? For sure that is pretty annoying and just too loud." - A-Rad, specifically on Sharapova
"Isn't she back in Poland already?" - Sharapova, when told of Radwanska's comments, after the Pole had lost and was out of the tournament
"Weak people." - Victoria Azarenka, on what she calls players that might blame losses on the noise their opponents make (Vika was 6-0 vs. A-Rad in '12, it should be noted)
"People complain about the noise I make, but I can get louder. Maybe I should get to 100. I haven't had any luck, so it may help me put more of myself into my matches." - a punky Vika, on "measuring" players with a noise meter
"(Azarenka is) 'injured' more than anyone. Sometimes she'll withdraw and then you'll see her practicing two days later." - Sharapova, after the Stuttgart "bump" with Vika, on Azarenka's "questionable" injuries and in-tournament withdrawals from events, preventing "zero-point" efforts from going on her record

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

DRAMA CLUB: Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska & Caroline Wozniacki (auditioning for roles in the "Mean Girls" movie sequel, as long as Lindsay Lohan isn't involved)
ART CLUB: Daniela Hantuchova (also pitches in as a nude figure model)
GLEE CLUB: Vania King (now enjoying the "Memory" of her solos as much as her duets)

PSYCHOLOGY CLUB: Jelena Jankovic & Sloane Stephens (no lead is safe when they're out front!)
SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING SWEATPANTS CLUB: Serena & Venus Williams (back to reclaim their original seats at the head of the table)
TIME TRAVEL CLUB: "Future Sloane" Stephens: Future Top 10er

"I've never felt this happy." - Maria Sharapova, after winning Roland Garros

[Yearbook note: with the Russian Chess Club in danger of being disbanded due to a lack of recent interest, the Americans agreed to step in to provide a little competition]

Co-CHAIRWOMEN: Maria Sharapova & Serena Williams (though Maria hasn't defeated Serena in a chess match in years)

Co-ASSISTANTS TO THE CHAIRWOMEN: Maria Kirilenko & Nadia Petrova, and Venus Williams
(Still) THE NEXT BIG THINGS?: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova & Christina McHale
STAR-CROSSED: Elena Vesnina (in singles finals) and the Sloane Stephens (when she has a lead against a top player)
RESURRECTED FROM LENIN & GRANT's TOMBS: Nadia Petrova & Melanie Oudin
EMERGING FROM THE MIST: Ekaterina Makarova & Mallory Burdette
FULL OF LIFE: Alisa Kleybanova & Alexa Glatch
UTILITY PLAYERS: Valeria Solovieva and Raquel Kops-Jones & Abigail Spears
READY TO FIGHT ANYONE AND EVERYONE NAMED LIEZEL: Elena Vesnina & Lisa Raymond (well, not yet... but what are the odds that'll end well?)
SECRET WEAPONS: Maria Kirilenko & Varvara Lepchenko
MISSED MOST: Ksenia Pervak & Yulia Putintseva and Bethanie Mattek-Sands (as a relevant singles player)
BEST PARTNERS: Alexandra Panova & Lisa Raymond
CAPTURING GREATNESS IN A BOTTLE: Svetlana Kuznetsova/Vera Zvonareva (in Melbourne) & Serena Williams/Venus Williams (on grass courts)
BEST JUNIORS: Irina Khromacheva & Taylor Townsend
JUNIOR VARSITY NextGEN HORDETTES/BANNERETTES OF THE FUTURE: Victoria Kan & Elizaveta Kulichkova and Madison Keys & Vicky Duval

"You look good, you feel good. You feel good, you play good. You play good, they pay good." - a Sloane Stephens Tweet
"I'm excited because now I'm going to have more Twitter followers." - Sloane Stephens, during her Round of 16 run at Roland Garros

"Sloane is one of the nicest, bubbly girls out on tour. She is so much fun and free-spirited, and I absolutely love how she is always smiling." - Victoria Azarenka, on Sloane Stephens
"Big things will happen!" - Sloane Stephens

PROM QUEEN & KING (although they graduated a while ago, and really shouldn't still be hanging around at the Academy's student functions): "Woz-ilroy"

QUEEN'S COURT: Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino, Timea Babos, Mona Barthel, Irina-Camelia Begu, Kiki Bertens, Bojana Jovanovski, Kristina Mladenovic, Melanie Oudin, Laura Robson, Arantxa Rus, Sloane Stephens, Elina Svitolina and Heather Watson

LADY-IN-WAITING & HER JUNIOR QUEENS COURT: Taylor Townsend (if the USTA lets her outside to play) & Annika Beck, Eugenie Bouchard and Samantha Crawford
JUNIOR LADIES-IN-WAITING: Francoise Abanda, Vicky Duval, Krista Hardebeck, Anett Kontaveit, Antonia Lottner, Yulia Putintseva and Anna Schmiedlova
PARTY-CRASHERS: Ashleigh Barty, Alexandra Cadantu, Chang Kai-Chen, Julia Cohen, Petra Martic, Urszula Radwanska, Coco Vandeweghe and Donna Vekic
DEBUTANTES: Belinda Bencic, Ilka Csoregi, Anna Danilina, Basek Eraydin, Irina Khromacheva, Allie Kiick, Ana Konjuh, Barbora Krejcikova, Monica Puig, Chalena Scholl, Sabrina Sharipova, Katerina Siniakova and Zheng Saisai
BACK FOR MORE DANCES: Tamira Paszek & Ana Savic

COLLEGE DANCE-OFF WINNER: Nicole Gibbs (of Stanford)
SUDDEN WALLFLOWER (but only briefly): Rebecca Marino
(Still the) SCHEDULED PROM ADVISOR: Nicole Vaidisova (in 2004, at 15, the youngest BSA dance contest winner ever), armed with her "If at First You Don't Succeed, Get Married" theory of life
CHAPERONS: Iveta Benesova & Jurgen Melzer, Karolina Sprem & Marcos Baghdatis (but not Lucie Safarova & Tomas Berdych)

"THIS is the dream." - Petra Kvitova, on why she didn't dream of future tennis accomplishments as a kid

"I must say that the role of tennis player I like more than the role of model." - Petra Kvitova, after her first big photoshoot

MOST WELL-LIKED: Petra Kvitova, "glam" or "non-glam"

FUNKIEST & MOST WELL-LIKED, at Backspin HQ: Vika "The New Face of Backspin" Azarenka (sorry, Petra)
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED (though she may never escape the shadow of A-Rad or The Rad), age 21+: Urszula Radwanska
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED, age 20-and-under: Laura Robson
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED, under age 18: Madison Keys
POWER DUO ONCE MORE?: Nuria Llagostera-Vives & Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez
POWER DUO-NO-MORE: Gisela Dulko & Flavia Pennetta
PERSONALITY PLUS: Sloane Stephens (but maybe TOO much?)
BEST VICTORY LEAP: Serena Williams


FAVORITE SELF-ANOINTED "ENGLISH NAME": Chan Yung-Jan... or, should I say "Latisha?"
MOST ENDEARING (in her best moments): Agnieszka Radwanska

LEAST ENDEARING (in her worst moments): Agnieszka Radwanska
BEST CONTINENT-HOPPER: Victoria Azarenka (a champion on four continents and in the Middle East)
QUIETEST TOP 20 HONOR ROLL STUDENT: Julia Goerges (who seemed to be a "better" student in 2011)
QUIETEST JAPANESE ACHIEVERS: Ayumi Morita, Misaki Doi and Kurumi Nara, as well as the Japanese Fed Cup Team (which, one year after postponing a FC tie because of an earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown, advanced to JPN's first World Group 1st Round since 2007)
(Maybe) BEST POST-MATCH DANCERS (Call Me?): Andrea Hlavackova & Lucie Safarova

FAVORITE NAME (but only if you say it three times fast): Reka-Luca Jani! Reka-Luca Jani! Reka-Luca Jani!

FAVORITE OLYMPIC FLAGBEARER (if you know what's good for you!): Agnieszka Radwanska

"CHARACTERS" THE ACADEMY LOVES THE MOST, for fear of being otherwise squished: "Carl" and "Carla"

LEAST UNEXPECTED COMEBACK: Serena "The Older I Get, the Better I Serve" Williams (which says more about what we at BSA think about her than any honor or award ever could... especially since she won this award LAST year, too)

"Well, I'm just happy. I'm so happy to be playing. I'm so happy to be on the court. I feel like this is where I belong. I mean, maybe I don't belong in a relationship. Maybe I don't belong somewhere else. But I know for a fact I do belong on this court." - Serena Williams, after winning on Wimbledon's Centre Court for her first slam crown in two years

FASHION DO: Victoria Azarenka's pants... and the confidence to be different

FASHION DON'T... unless you're Vika: Victoria Azarenka's tights

MEDAL CEREMONY DON'T: Olympic women's singles. As Serena said, the U.S. flag was so happy for her it just wanted to come down and give her a hug

LATE BLOOMERS: Kirsten Flipkens & Hsieh Su-Wei
MAYBE NOT SO LOST A CAUSE, AFTER ALL: Ana Ivanovic (well, wait... what time is it?)
BEST (Future?) TOURNAMENT TIE-IN: "The Wozniacki Open" at Yale? The Sugarpova Open

NEW/OLD KIDS: Mirjana Lucic (singles) and Anna-Lena Groenefeld (doubles)
STILL MISSED: La Petit Taureau 1.0

FINALLY MISSED (after quite a long ordeal when she wouldn't have been): Kim Clijsters 2.0

MOST ANTICIPATED ARRIVAL?: LPT 1½: the upcoming (even littler) Henin

"(I'm) too old. Too old to play the game I want to play physically. I've put my body through enough strain and everything. The whole lifestyle, that's what I'm dealing with now, the lifestyle I've had for the last 15, 20 years. It's been great. I wouldn't change a thing." - Kim Clijsters, on why she was choosing to retire

"It's a dream come true. I have been dreaming and working so hard to win the grand slam, and being #1 is a pretty good bonus. Just the perfect ending and the perfect position to be in." - Victoria Azarenka
"It's like watching her drive a Ferrari without using the top three gears." - coach Thomas Johansson on Caroline Wozniacki's game
"Today you just can't let yourself get pushed back. She (Caroline Wozniacki) has to try to move in, step forward, otherwise there is always going to be somebody coming on top of her at a grand slam. She's a great player. I wish I would see her come in a little bit more." - Martina Hingis

...our plucky performers were always tirelessly working to entertain the student body and faculty throughout the calendar year, but only one production has managed to stick around on our stage for multiple seasons. Until this year, that is. Attendance and interest in BSA's signature show -- "The Many Faces of Caroline" -- started to wane a season ago, if only a bit. A few tweaks to maintain the viability of the production were attempted, but they failed miserably and the show was forced to close midway through last term. A past student body President, our "Many Faces" Lead Actress scrambled late in the season to put together a new showcase. It received some favorable reviews, but it's still in the "preview" stages -- off, off-Backspin Way -- as of the completion of this Yearbook. Maybe by this time next year, a second, even-more-successful follow-up show will be going strong.

Ah, but the show must go on... and in stepped the "Faces" understudy as the lead in an entirely new extravaganza.

[a brand new exhibition from Miss Azarenka]









Scene from the HBO series "Bored to Death," where recently-stabbed cartoonist Ray (Zach Galifianakis) argues with his girlfriend Leah (Heather Burns).
Leah: "You have to stop obsessively drawing that stabbing over and over again."
Ray: "Why? It took Monica Seles years to get over her stabbing -- and she was the #1 tennis player in the world."
Leah: "You're not Monica Seles... and you have to let it go."

...we love our sports at Backspin Academy, and some say we love our awards even more. So, here are a few of the highlights and lowlights from the past season of competition:

Serenativity Reborn

The determination of Angelique Kerber
Tamira Paszek on grass... courts, I mean
Petrova wins Tokyo. Oh, Nadia!

Kazakhstan picking future Fed Cup teams from a pool that includes Yaroslava Shvedova, Galina Voskoboeva, Ksenia Pervak, Yulia Putintseva, Sesil Karatancheva, Anna Danilina & Zarina Diyas
Serena Williams' 20-1 record vs. Azarenka and Sharapova since 2005
The Shorts

Maria Sharapova vs. Sabine Lisicki at SW19... yet again
Sania Mirza not letting herself get kicked around or used... on or off-court
Victoria Azarenka & Petra Kvitova playing one doubles match together in Indian Wells
Sara Errani's eyes

Agnieszka Radwanska's brain
As it should have been in London

The blue clay court in Madrid... no matter how many player complaints it inspired
EleVen fashion
A better-late-than-never-again royal presence at Wimbledon, as Prince Charles, Prince William and Princess Catherine (w/ sister Pippa) -- along with tennis royalty Andre Agassi & Steffi Graf -- all visited the All-England Club
Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez: Bride

"Whack-a-Vika" in January evolves into "Thank-a-Vika" in November

Heather Watson being the first British woman to win a match on Centre Court Wimbledon in ten years, then becoming the first WTA singles champ in twenty-four years in Osaka

The WTA's "Original 9" reunite

26-0 & 14-0 (Vika's '12 match winning streaks) vs. 19-0, 17-0 & 12-0 (Serena's '12 match winning streaks)
Fans play "Tic-Tac-Vika" in Beijing
Kim Clijsters is named Backspin's All-Time MVP, then loses the final singles match of her career a few hours later
Jessica Korda, daughter of Petr, wins the LPGA Australian Open... and does a scissors-kick, just like dad

Wimbledon's starting time being moved back a week beginning in 2015
The art of appreciating it

At least three grand slams being won by a combination of players that included either a Russian, Belgian or Williams for the ninth time in the last eleven years
The art of Vera Dushevina


"(She's) bipolar. On court, she's a little killer. (She) becomes a machine-like personality." - commentator Rennae Stubbs, on the difference between the nice "off-court Aga," and the quite different "on-court Radwanska"

The trail of destruction left by The Radwanska in London... oh, the poor melons!

Stacey Allaster's grunt-o-meter
Samantha Stosur at the Australian Open. Said Sam after her 1st Round loss, "I'm probably close to crying."
Caroline Wozniacki losing in the 1st Round at both Wimbledon AND the U.S. Open
THAT Petra

Wozniacki's journey from "mystery coach" in '11 to "crazy coach" in '12, then forward with a "coaching mystery" for '13

Marion Bartoli and the French tennis federation being unable to reach a compromise
Azarenka & Sharapova's 1-20 record vs. Serena since 2005
The reaction to Serena Williams' celebratory "Crip walk" dance, which only served to provide further proof that Serena can't do anything -- no matter how joyful at the moment -- that isn't liable to be overanalyzed and "ruined" by some people... and you know who they are.

Jelena Dokic's 2012 season... after setting a pre-season goal of finishing in the Top 20 for the first time since 2003
Martina Navratilova finishing behind Steffi Graf as the all-time best women's player on Tennis Channel's "100 Greatest Players" list
Serena's feet
Virginia Wade's oddly-timed criticism of the resurgent and ultra-competitive WTA
Another season without an official Serena vs. Venus match, the third consecutive of its kind
The bowels of Radwanska Abbey... or so we suspect, but now may never know.

Banned from YouTube by "MTV Cribs: Poland." Hmmm... I think we know who -- or WHAT -- is really behind that! Hopefully, everyone remembers the prospective layout of the Abbey... since we may have to storm the place one day to save humanity from The Rad's dastardly Plan. I just hope the catacombs weren't as complicated as they seemed as if they might be last summer.


"I gave it some milk, and it just spit it all over me. I was like, is this the thank you I get for just being nice and petting the kangaroo? I got milk all over myself. I guess I deserved that for the story last year." - Caroline Wozniacki, experiencing a little 'roo "revenge" one year after her tall tale about being scratched by a baby 'roo at last year's Aussie Open

"Good luck with that." - Victoria Azarenka, on Allaster's plan to measure the decibal level of players' on-court sounds

Whew! If you made it this far, congratulations. Hopefully, there was something here for everyone. If not, well, it wasn't for a lack of trying. So, as Vika knows, it's time to go.

So, from Backspin HQ, located on the top floor of Henin Hall, to be continued...

Res Ipsa Loquitur. All for now.


Blogger Hoergren said...

Hi Todd

A nice resume of the fabulous 2012. I think the WTA tour is stronger than ever and with so many different nations. The WTA has just had their fans to vote for their favorite in 5 categories and they are maybe a bit surprising and meybe frightening to you:

Fan Favorite Awards from 65,535 votes and Agnieszka Radwanska seems to be very popular - see below for the results:

Agnieszka Radwanska
~ there were 13 players to choose from, a whopping 42.8% went to Agnieszka Radwanska

Serena Williams & Venus Williams

Caroline Wozniacki (click here)
~ There were five Twitter pages to choose from and it was Caroline Wozniacki who finished first with 42.0%. The 4th best paid sportler (men and women) in 2012 with almost $15 mil earnings.

Agnieszka Radwanska
~ a whopping 46.5% of the votes

Agnieszka Radwanska & The Bee
~ earning 48.7% of the vote

Hope you don't get any nightares from this ;-)

Fri Nov 30, 11:41:00 AM EST  
Blogger Hoergren said...

Sorry for the misprints - should have been nightmares.

Fri Nov 30, 11:42:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I'm not sure about the other categories, but I believe A-Rad won the "Fan Favorite Singles Player" last year, too.

The Radwanska works in mysterious ways. ;)

Fri Nov 30, 02:17:00 PM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

What a read! Great photos of Vika, by the way. (But how can you ever see enough photos of her?!)

It's all wonderful. I was glad I wasn't drinking coffee or anything when I saw Hannah Storm's "Why U H8 Me?" lecture--I would have spit it out. But that was just preparation for "Thinking Other People are Stupid: The Key to Personal Success"!

I wonder if Vika, Maria and A-Rad will continue sniping at each other in 2013. I must admit, it's pretty high-level sniping, at least from Vika and 'Pova. Radwanska definitely needs to sharpen her wit if she's going to keep this up.

I follow the ATP and completely enjoy the players and the matches, but you just don't get this level (well, other than with Novak and the now-retired Andy R.) of madness from the ATP tour. There is no ATP version of Li Na or JJ, and there never will be. Berdych delivers plenty of sniping, but his is more of the Liezel Huber variety and hardly worth quoting.

Fri Nov 30, 09:09:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Thanks, Diane. ;)

Ha! Of course, there really is no other version of Li Na or JJ in the WTA, either. I mean, other than Li Na or JJ. Pity us when we no longer have them around to provide such sometimes-loopy entertainment.

Oh, and watch what you say about Aga. (whisper) You-know-what might be listening. Shhhhhh.

Sat Dec 01, 01:32:00 AM EST  
Blogger jo shum said...

And todd, great wrap up!

What a year with so many storylines. From vika's breakout to Kerber's sustainability, to the discivery of the radwanska, to Maria's coming round the circle to Serena's reborn to li na's merge with Carlos to Caro's last shot to top 10. I especially like your part on yearbook production from the many faces of caro to vika.

On one hand am so looking forward to next jan already starting in Brisbane for the clashes. On the other hand am not entirely sure 2013 will be as eventful and with so many colorful characters as this year.

Are you still having 2013 predictions?

Sat Dec 01, 09:53:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Thanks, Jo. And I agree -- one can't help but wonder if next season will hold up to what turned out to be a very exciting '12 season. As long as everyone stays healthy, though, it should be great!

Sure, later this month the whole '13 preview series will start, and will include the Grand Slam Master List (2nd Edition), The Intriguing 100 and the Prediction Blowout... as well as the Backspin Before Christmas story. ;)

I'll have up a post next week where I (and anyone else) will be able to comment on anything that's happening this month, so I'll give "fair warning" there when something is going to be coming up. ;)

Sat Dec 01, 11:53:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Well, Barbara Haas (AUT), the #16 seed (#38 on the year-end "Up & Comers" list by the way -- though I was afraid I'd totally overlooked her, so I had to go check), is burning up the court in Bradenton at the junior Eddie Herr event! After already beating #1 seed Taylor Townsend, she took out Carol Zhao in the QF to reach the semis.

She's in the doubles final with Katerina Siniakova, too, and will face Taylor & Gabby Andrews for the title.

Sat Dec 01, 12:04:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Oh, and in last week's big late-season junior event, the Yucatan Cup, Marcela Zacarius (MEX) took out Francoise Abanda (CAN) 6-0/6-2 in the final, as well.

Sat Dec 01, 12:24:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Oh, Kimiko, Kimiko, Kimiko.

Yep, Date-Krumm won a title this weekend, taking the $75K Challenger in Dubai, defeating the likes of Sevastova, Y.Zhou, Ka.Pliskova and Kalashnikova, then taking out 17-year old Yulia Putintseva in the final. In fact, all the players the Japanese vet defeated were at least 20 years younger than her!

Sun Dec 02, 05:04:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Croatia's Ana Konjuh, 14, defeated Austria's Barbara Haas, 16, to win the Eddie Herr title!

Mon Dec 03, 11:01:00 AM EST  

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