Sunday, December 13, 2020

The Carl Talks (Remote) Winterfest Weekend Recap (2020)

As the latest very unnatural term comes to its predetermined end, we here at Backspin Academy grant the release of our students, benefactors and emotional supporters from their umbilical attachment to our suddenly-virtual campus as 2020 comes to it's can't-get-here-fast-enough conclusion.

But we do not do so without leaving them with a final wink to savor, and tide them over until their eventual (fingers crossed) return to campus life next year.

Thus it was with that in mind that BSA's annual "Winterfest" on our perpetually-green grounds (it's part of the deal we made with the environment department of the Tennis Gods' operation) recently took place.... remotely, of course

Our Beloved Backspin Academy

Traditionally, on one long weekend each December, the past, present and future of BSA -- along with some special invited guests and anyone who wishes to join us -- congregate across the campus grounds for a well-earned respite and time to pause, reflect and recuperate from all the work undertaken over the course of the prior eleven months.

But, as has been the case with just about everything -- everywhere -- our 2020 celebration was quite different.

Henin Hall

Naturally, the decision was made in the fall that Winterfest -- in its usual form -- could not be safely held on the BSA campus. The announcement that the normal three-day weekend celebration was being cut to two was accompanied by the promise that plans were already well underway to shift many of our yearly rituals and perks to online venues, including the always well-received series of Carl Talks speeches and presentations.

Of course, *some* of our on-campus standards remained, with COVID-19 social distancing protocols allowing a small group of dedicated alumni and supporters to get the "on-site experience" when our sacred "Church of Simona" banners were removed from their climate-controlled storage vault and hoisted above the western campus' Henin Hall and the east campus entrance at precisely 7 a.m. on Saturday (delayed from the usual noon-on-Friday ceremony from past years).

Church of Simona crest flag, flying high above campus

At that point, our celebration was officially "underway," with multiple small groups being ushered through the gates in order to see (and take those all-important selfies with) the annual Cover Wall art installation highlighting the representations of past and present students and faculty members.

Navratilova Hall of Records (w/ Cover Wall)

This year's work of art was moved to the (newly-painted) wall outside the centrally-located Navratilova Hall of Records, a quite suitable site that many believe should be the home of all future Winterfest Weekend installments.

While the Carl Talks series dominated the weekend, BSA used the remote setting to promote all the work our busy bees did over the long shutdown period earlier this year, during which every Winterfest Cover Wall installation (from the past, along with this year's version) was fully digitized and is now included in our media library of offerings for all to view and re-live online. The same cataloging process was undertaken to preserve each and every previous BSA film school offering and guest Carl Talk, bringing them within easy access to a curious set of active ears, as well as those in future generations.

All -- including all the yearly holiday re-tellings of our favorite fable, "The Search for Caro's Roo" (some site visitors were stunned to find an entirely new audio version featuring both the voice of the Original Dane combined with that of the New Dane nestled amongst the selections!) -- are available on the official BSA website, as well as upon in-person visits (when they are deemed possible again) to the media center at the now one-year-old Serena Place addition to Navratilova Hall.

Serena Place

Naturally, there were loads of *other* sanctioned pre-Weekend online events, too.

In the week preceding the Winterfest, the much beloved Petko hosted a series of virtual Book Chats (first guest: author Alize Cornet!) with upwards of over 200 lovers of the sorts of tales that routinely come from the lips and fingertips of BSA students and alumni. Meanwhile, the energetic Alexandra Dulgheru headed up a fascinating interactive lecture regarding the artistic process, a truly informative follow-up to the "pandemic art" event she'd undertaken during lockdown.

Various online raffles were held during the week in order to both reward the vociferous support of the BSA sponsors and fans of our numerous idolization-worthy students, as well as shine a spotlight on those students' accomplishments.

Some of the items offered up and awarded to those whose "lucky number" was chosen were the books written by aforementioned campus faves Andrea Petkovic ("Between Glory and Honor") and Alize Cornet ("Without Compromise"), an official (and made-on-campus) BSA mask, the insta-bestseller Johanna Konta Cookbook, signed jars of nutritional Bartymite vitamins, a variety box of every Sugarpova product known to Maria, the latest line of EleVen activewear, as well as the just-off-the-presses 2021 Garbine Muguruza monthly calendar (a photographic masterpiece to Mugu to!) and the ultra-inspirational Victoria Azarenka Vika-Thought-a-Day tear-off pad for the coming year.

The Grand Prize was a true work of art: a framed portrait entitled "Dasha & Tofu" that will surely grow in collector's value as the years go by.

As Saturday night of Winterfest is usually Gift Night, all the winners were announced at precisely 8 p.m. this year via a rollicking online appearance by "Sabalenka Claus," who dropped all sorts of hints about hoping to have "gifted herself" in a grand way by this time *next* year.

Meanwhile, all sorts of BSA Bookstore deals were at the ready for Winterfest Weekend holiday shoppers, including a new line of La Divine products, the hit French boardgame Mlonopoly (where you, too, can "Go Directly to Quarantine," go bankrupt and lose your fortune on gameday, purchase real estate such as Rod Laver Arena or the various edifaces on the plot of land known as Stade Roland Garros, or be sentenced by a Tennis God judge to "A Card Game with Benoit") and the newest collection of holiday songs from our very own Maria S.!

[P.S. - her past musical offerings were even available in a box set dubbed "The Maria Collection," which quickly sold out, but which we promise will be back in stock before the end of the year]

Of course, not *everything* went according to plan.

Example: there was an attempt at an official online BSA Fan Favorite poll meant to justly award the most congenial of our students.

Unfortunately, the person in charge *somehow* left the winner of the "unofficial" on-campus vote the last three years off the nomination list, then created a "pseudo" list in a manner that seemed designed to *ensure* a result that saw their close friend win the "poll" quite easily. While the final result was one that we would have embraced under other circumstances, many raised an eyebrow at the details. While this did not produce anything resembling a "scandal," the BSA Board of Trustees and Truth-in-Information advisory board decided to remove the poll creator from their position and reassign them elsewhere on campus.

On a related note, we expect the BSA cafeteria rest rooms to be *extra* spotless once our students return on a full-time basis.

Of course, as always, the centerpiece of the Winterfest Weekend was the "Carl Talks" lecture series. While the seats at the HANAJANA Center were unfortunately empty this year, the traditional BSA esprit de corps that has existed within those walls in the past remained as the Talks became an all-remote experience.


Over the last few years, the annual series has played host to a virtual "who's who" of BSA alumni and achievers. This year, the "virtual" part became quite literal, but the lack of a live audience didn't dampen the lively aspect of the Talks. In fact, in numerous ways, it enhanced them as many speakers included a large-scale "performance art" component to their presentations (thanks, Dasha!), as well as providing a sudden moment of awe that occurred when quite a few Talkers were revealed to be speaking live from some of the most beautiful spots around the globe (leave it to Mugu!).

Multiple speakers spoke with large bodies of water providing spectacular background visuals, and at least one speech-by-candlelight was broadcast from a dusty attic in Russia that served as a metaphorical device in a riff about "emerging from the darkness into the starlight." Even with a list of scheduled speakers at hand, no one quite knew what to expect as the weekend progressed.

But the *biggest* surprise -- and not just figuratively -- of them all was that this year's "master of ceremony" was THE BIG MAN HIMSELF. Yes, Carl was back!

The cheer was thunderous when Carl suddenly appeared on the BSA webcam feed at the start of the worldwide video conference (we decided that the immediate feedback from a virtual "wall of applause" would at least provide a little of the "old feeling" of past Talks)... and then nearly everyone's jaw proceded to drop over the next fifteen (or twenty, or thirty... we sort of lost track of time) minutes as we were treated to a version of Carl that, quite frankly, we'd never seen before.

After his celebratory "cave dance" from what appeared to be the roof of Henin Hall, Carl reported that the series of legal difficulties that have followed him around the world are now behind him. And he did so while putting together grammatically correct sentences on at least two out of every six sentences out of his mouth! This far-more-erudite Carl is apparently a nice side effect of the lockdown, as when he was confined to the family cave for weeks and months on end he was finally the "captive audience" that wife Carla has been hoping for all these years. After hours of home learning lessons given by Carla, Carl's language abilities have improved dramatically, as have seemingly some of the anger management issues that have been a sore point since, well, the *entire* time that we at the Academy have known him.

Carl told us that his fortunes turned when the World Elking League, of which his son Carlo was the Rookie of the Year and MVP as he led the Saskatoon Berrypickers to the championship last season, was forced to suspend its 2020 season due to the pandemic. Then the league folded altogether. With the WEL's vendetta against him (*his* words... as Carl still has something of persecution complex) a thing of the past, the public calls for his arrest died down. Of course, there were still pending charges against him in various places around the globe, but a secret late-March "all-encompassing" pardon (covering both past and potential future crimes committed) issued by President Trump solved those issues in the U.S. and Carl was allowed to come home without fear of imprisonment (not that any prison could hold him for long, of course).

Carl informed us that Trump had slated him for a spot in the lineup of Celebrity Apprentice season 7 (hence his previously thought-odd hatred of winner Leeza Gibbons) many years ago, but NBC executives got cold feet and denied his inclusion after he'd steadfastly (also, Carl's own word, shockingly) refused to wear pants during filming... and then, umm, personally removed the pants of said executives during an in-person meeting to discuss the issue. Apparently, the move endeared him to Trump, who promised to do him a favor one day. It finally arrived.

Carl said that he considered refusing the pardon due to Carla's opposition to any continued association with Trump, but she ultimately agreed to it since she saw the opportunity to have him all to herself during lockdown and dreamed of what she could accomplish. It was at this point that Carla, as well as the rest of the family, made a quick cameo alongside Carl. Apparently, the *entire* clan spent the lockdown months together, allowing them to reconnect on a deep level.

Carl gave us an update on each family member. Carla is considering offering home educations to some of Carl's *more* wayward family members (yeah, we didn't think that was even possible, either), and dreams of what new career doors that additional success there might open for her in the cave family community. Meanwhile, Carlo is training every day for the rumored *new* North American Elking League; while his sister Carlita has become quite the social media influencer. The young twins have become successful children's clothes models, as well, and there are even some early whispers of a reality show pilot (under the title "Hear Comes Honey Doo-doo") being filmed for TLC.

Carl wrapped up his Talks introduction by noting that, lest anyone think his personal ties to Trump persist, that he *did* vote for the "Comma Lady" (his words) at the direction of Carla, and that he'd never associate with someone who loses *so* much, anyway. He wouldn't want such losing and whining ways to rub off on *him*, of course.

Then things took an odd turn, as Carl noted that the "old" him would simply squish everyone in sight to prove his own winning ways, and started musing about "2024" and how, if he ran for high office, he'd want a Vice President "who could attract flies" because then they'd be "good bait" for an elking run.


It was then that Carla arrived to lead him away, and the lecture series finally got underway.

As in the past, the festivities were opened with a convocation address delivered by campus poet laureate Diane Dees, in the form of a live reading of the Pushcart Prize nominated poem "The New Physics" from her Origami Poems Project microchap, Pandemic Times, as well as "Unanswered Questions" from her Coronary Truth chapbook.

[Thanks, Diane!]

"The Simo Way: The Art of Bringing it Every Day, and Year, and Decade" - Simona Halep

"Living in a Long Shadow: The First Year (sort of) on Tour for a New Dane in Town" - Clara Tauson

"I Still β™₯️ New York, but Now I Have Trigger Issues: A Quarantine Tale Nightmare" - Kristina Mladenovic [NOT from a claustrophobic suite]

TALKS QUOTE: "You can be the most beautiful peach in the world, and somebody will still be allergic to peaches." - Victoria Azarenka

"And Now I'm Back to Let You Know I Can Really Shake 'em Down" - Victoria Azarenka

"The New Theory of Russian (Future) Stargazing" - Kamilla Rakhimova

The morning session concluded with a virtual town hall (leading into the noon break, in order to allow participants to "cool off") headed up by an unknown (i.e. they insisted on hiding their identity) representative of the WTA marketing department, and was entitled, "How to Be Laughably Incompetent When it Comes to Marketing the World's Most Famous Female Athletes While Looking Like You're Not Even Trying, Pt.XII (at least)."

Needless to say, it was a lively debate.

"Don't Mind Me. I Just Occasionally Work Here (but I *kill it* when I do)" - Tsvetana Pironkova

"Respect Me (or my dad will sit down right next to you and refuse to leave)" - Sofia Kenin

"Sometimes You Just Gotta Get Out and Get Some Fresh Air" - Danielle Collins [from somewhere she wasn't supposed to be]

"I Got Next (Year) least that's the plan" - Aryna Sabalenka

"Yes We Can!" - Ons Jabeur, Mayar Sherif & Renata Zarazua

"They Thought We Were Crazy. 'Who Gets Pandemic Insurance?,' they said." - a very self-satisfied unnamed (and masked) AELTC representative

"Rock. Paper. Scissors. Comeback?" - Aga Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki

"Never Give Up" - Martina Trevisan (w/ a brief introduction from Varvara Gracheva)

"Are You There Margaret? It's (Still) Me, Serena." - Serena Williams (w/ a rapidly ticking timeclock appearing in the corner of the screen)

Academy Hall

"2019 was Sh*t, so I Wanted to Love 2020.'re up" - Dasha Kasatkina

"Oh Me!!" - Nadia Podoroska

"Dealing with New Expectations that Now Scrape the Sky (2021 version)" - Iga Swiatek

TALKS QUOTE: "It's amazing what a proper mindset can do." - Iga Swiatek

"Smile and the World (and Conchita) Smiles with You" - Garbine Muguruza

"Swerving Around Life's Potholes" - Diede de Groot

"See You in Tokyo" - Yui Kamiji

"I STILL Want This So Bad!" - Bianca Andreescu

"The History of Me US" - Naomi Osaka

"The Power of Positive Bun Thinking" - Maria Sakkari

"This Year was Free... everyone pays next time" - Elena Rybakina

The morning session ended with a virtual one-woman dramatic performance from an individual who identified herself only as "Suzanne Lenglen's ghost," who acted out the entire arc of the French great's life and times, often stopping to directly address the camera by noting, quite boastfully, that she was "breaking new ground before the existence of dirt." And, yes, there *were* quite a few moments of melodramatic fainting.

"The Future is Still Now!" - Sloane Stephens [CANCELLED DUE TO SPEAKER'S FREEZING AUDIO/VIDEO]

"The COVID Follies: A First-Person Narrative" - Jelena Jankovic [from Mars?]

"So-Called Sabbaticals for Dummies: A Back-from-Shutdown Primer" - Ash Barty

"I Didn't Leave Wheelchair Tennis, Wheelchair Tennis Left me" - Marjolein Buis

"Paying the Big Bucks for Success (or else)" - Dayana Yastremska Karolina Pliskova

"Hits & Misses: Trying to Go Viral During a Pandemic" - Dasha Gavrilova

Fiona Ferro insisted on the taking on a Day 2 slot in this year's Carl Talks, and she said she wanted to provide a universal take on "Tennis in the Time of Coronavirus." But when it was her turn to speak the only thing that appeared from her feed was a single photo. All attempts to reach her proved fruitless, so everyone now believes she was simply trying to take creative license with the concept and, of course, make a dramatic point.

"Oh, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8...B-R-A-D-Y...B-R-A-D-Y... Fight Fight Fight!" - (Jennifer) "Bruin Brady"

"How to Steal Money the Old Fashioned Way: A Guide to Winning a Bid to 'Create' a 'New' WTA Marketing Campaign" - Rador Australia Design Agency representative [TALK was unfinished, due to incessant and uncontrollable laughter from speaker]

"Do You Recognize Me? Don't Worry, You Will." - Leylah Fernandez

"I'm Here. Let's Go." - Carla Suarez-Navarro

CSN's speech was followed by a long, warm (virtual) standing ovation, followed by everyone simultaneously lighting a candle and shouting "Vamos!"

The weekend concluded with our traditional festive "parade of stars," with the online version consisting of all our top students offering up parting thoughts to their well-wishers and, hopefully, inspiring a few members of future generations to one day step into their shoes.

We'd say our past and present students and faculty do all this "for the game"... but everyone agrees that such a thing is quite obvious, and to highlight such a mundane notion as if it's some sort of momentous revelation would be both unnecessarily redundant and cloying. And, quite honestly, we'd like to think we're better than that.

Oddly, Carl didn't return to bring the Winterfest Weekend to a close (we'll try not to read anything into that), as it was Carla who appeared in his place. She offered up Carl's apologies, as well as a musical selection that she said she feels is somehow a perfect way to put 2020 to bed: one of the great "odd couple" holiday duets ever.

"If Bowie and Bing could find a way to harmonize together, then what excuse do *we* have?," she said.


Blogger colt13 said...

Always love the covers montage. Took me way longer than it should to recognize Melichar(Stuart). Also nice to see Raina on a cover.

Dulgheru is rather talented.

Maria's #5? Ouch!

Poland stuffing the ballot boxes like the 1957 Cincinnati Reds.

Love the new logo.

The difference between the WTA and other sports? Synergy. Take the NBA, which had ESPN/ABC announce their Christmas Day schedule, TNT their opening day schedule, then dropped their own release for the first half of the season. They made sure that people would notice on one platform or another.

Then take the rebrand that the WTA did, without any events to announce, or any way to build buzz through other partners. Just poorly timed, plus not the biggest concern the tour has.

Speaking of concerns, in 1994 Miami was played in the first 2 weeks of March. Indian Wells started the next year. My initial thought was that they may be flipped this year, but there are some other ideas they could use:

Moving Miami up, then expanding Charleston to a 96 player draw. They are renovating anyway, so why not go big.

Flipping Indian Wells and Cincinnati. This is least likely, but would not be surprised to see both in the second half of the season.

Playing Doha/Dubai in March? Hmmm. I thought that the Dubai 100K would be a test, and if it went well, you might get an event in January, since ATP has a 250 there. Unofficially, Abu Dhabi will have a WTA 500, so I would expect more Middle East events.

Australian Open is also unofficial as of this writing.

Stat of the Week- 225- Lowest ranked direct entrant in a WTA main draw.

That was actually before the pandemic, as Yuan Yue got in with that ranking. She only won 1 game vs Peng Shuai, but we don't know if it would have been a springboard for a better season as it was the last event of the year for the Chinese player.

Not counting the slams, we had 21 events. If you were Top 30, you could get in anywhere you wanted, as long as you entered on time. The highest cutoff was 31, then 33 twice. All 3 were before the break, and it was Strycova each time.

After the break, the only cutoff higher than 50 was Ostrava. Including Hua Hin, there were 3 events with a lower cutoff than last week's ITF Dubai, which was at 123, with 14 Top 100 women in the draw.

Quiz Time!

Peng Shuai plays Chinese players more than others. Of the Top 10 current Chinese players, whom does she have the most wins against? Multiple answers accepted.

A.Zhang Shuai
B.Zheng Saisai
C.Zhu Lin
D.Wang Xinyu

Interlude- LeBron James made out of clay.


I assume that because of youth, (D)Wang Xinyu was eliminated. Of the 10 women, Wang is the only one Peng has not played in singles. One reason why is the 15 year age difference, as Wang is just now breaking through. Peng does have a winning record against Wang Xiyu(1-0), Wang Yafan(2-0), and Wang Qiang(2-1).

(A)Zhang is wrong, because of the ones Peng has played, Shuai is the only one she has never beaten, going 0-3.

(B)Zheng is correct, as Peng has won 4 of 6 matches, though Zheng has won the last two. All 6 have been in Asia.

(C)Zhu is also correct, as Peng has a better winning percentage, taking 4 of 5. Her loss was due to retirement.

The 5 matches vs Zhu have also all been in Asia, which brings up an odd stat. Peng has played her last 33 matches vs Chinese women in Asia. The last time she played one outside of Asia? Zheng Jie- 2014 US Open. That was in the 1st round en route to her slam semi.

Sun Dec 13, 11:53:00 PM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

Well, Maria's number 5 made me laugh out loud more than I might have wanted to! Love the whole album (and wish it were real).

I also love Mlonopoly, and Kiki's lecture :)

And I'm honored to again be the BSA Poet Laureate (tempted to put that in some of my submission bios). The way things are going--who knows?--Carl may even start reading poetry (Petko writes it, btw, but doesn't like to talk about it.)

Mon Dec 14, 11:51:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...


Yeah, I couldn't figure out why that cover didn't actually have Melichar's name on it. :/

I liked the Sakkari cover best, I think.

I very much like that Dulgheru drawing, too.

Maria the Artist acknowledges her history, but eyerolls the notion that *some* will only ever remember *that* about her career. (That was hidden in the liner notes... I mean, if they still had those.). ;)

And that the tour just had the *other* marketing campaign *last* year (and apparently they'd wanted to roll out the new one even earlier, but, well... 2020) says a lot about how much of a disaster it was. This one's no better, but at least there's the new logo (and the coaches page is a nice add to the site).

Quiz: said Zhang Shuai just because of the longer career overlap (had two shots at it and still missed it!). :(

They should get that guy to do the busts for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Some of those are unrecognizable.


I can almost hear her singing the title w/ that tone in her voice. ;)

("You can say there's no such thing as a Serena... but as for me and Maria we believe.")

Like the Supreme Court, it's a lifetime appointment. ;)

Mon Dec 14, 05:36:00 PM EST  
Blogger Diane said...


I like the Sakkari cover, too--and the first Osaka cover. They're all good. Maria Sakkari has such a charismatic presence on court; off-court, she's open and easy-going.

Mon Dec 14, 07:13:00 PM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

The WTA schedule has dropped. For the first 8 weeks. 5 events, but the way it breaks, no player could enter more than 4. What will be interesting is the fact that AO qualifiers will be rested.

Others have leaked proposed schedules for 2021, and none had Cologne, which already announced May dates as they have Nuremberg's license.

Larry Ellison moving Oracle to Texas leaves question marks for Indian Wells. Already postponed, you can now see IW being sold. Also, with Ellison moving to Hawaii, seeing a smaller event turn up there in 2022 would not be a shock.

One odd thing about the streamlined classifications? The points don't match.


WTA 1000- 1000 pts PM
WTA 1000- 900 pts P5
WTA 500- 470 pts P
WTA 250- 280 pts I

Stat of the Week- 110- Career high ranking for Laxmi Poruri.

With Indian Wells in limbo, why not take a look back at one of the under the radar players from the first IW.

Then a Tier 3, Poruri made it through qualifying, then lost her R32 match(first one) in the main draw to Tauziat.

So her story is isn't told by IW alone. In fact, she has one of the more unique careers in history. You see, her career high was set in 1996, in what could be considered her second career. Confused?

Let's back up a bit. Indian born Poruri burst on the American scene in 1986 by winning the Jr. Orange Bowl. Due to that, the USTA took notice, which got her a USO WC at 15 in 1988. She won a round, then came back the next year, made it through qualifying, and won a round again.

So what happened? Life. Her parents wanted her to go to college, and she did pretty well on that fact, ending up at Stanford. Still having college eligibility, she went 24-3 for Stanford's 1991 title team.

During her time in college, she only played 9 pro events, 8 of them in the summer. After she graduated in 1994, she went on the tour full time, buy with her ranking having dropped from 223 before college to 732 after, getting to 110 would take some work.

The results of that work meant getting both her biggest win in meaning to her- #52 Sugiyama, plus by rank- #43 Ines Gorrochatequi.

Her best tournaments were QF at 1996 Oklahoma City- Tier 3 and 1995 Nagoya- Tier 5.

By the end of 1996, she was mostly done with the sport, only playing qualifying in 1997-2000. Fittingly, her last event was the Bank of the West, then played on Stanford's campus.

Quiz Time!

Jenny Byrne was runner up at Indian Wells in 1989, one of two WTA singles finals she reached. Where was the other?

A. Indian Wells
B. Wimbledon
C. Birmingham
D. Brisbane

Interlude- Doggo getting cardio?


Byrne has one of the more unique statlines in history. Like a pitcher that goes 8-10 every year, Byrne had a losing record in each of her 13 WTA seasons.

(A)Indian Wells is wrong, but what might surprise you is that she only played the event twice. A finalist in 1989, she probably would have gotten a WC in 1990, but due to unknown reasons, only played 6 matches total in 1990-91. Her only other appearance was a 1st rd loss in 1993.

With her resume light on finals, (D)Brisbane was a choice. Starting 1989 off with a bang, she reached the SF, losing to Brenda Schultz McCarthy.

There is one that seems like an obvious no, and that is (B)Wimbledon. True, but because of the wording. As 1989 was her best year, going 14-16, she also had success in mixed doubles, reaching the final at Wimbledon. Like her other finals, she lost.

That leaves (C)Birmingham. Reaching the final, and losing to Schultz McCarthy again, was good enough for her to win 1992 Comeback Player of the Year, in a year in which she went 11-17.

I kid, but I respect the fact that she lasted for over a decade and cracked the Top 50 in both singles and doubles.

Mon Dec 21, 08:50:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I think Laxmi Poruri ranks as a true "deep dive" into the history books. ;)

(Of course, not as deep a "dive" as the Jets getting a late December win and likely handing the #1 pick in the draft -- and Trevor Lawrence for maybe a decade if they're lucky -- to the Jags.)

That video might give Dasha & Tofu ideas.:)

Quiz: went with Brisbane. :(

Tue Dec 22, 01:05:00 AM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

The funny thing is I put Brisbane because it is her best result other than a final, not because she is an Aussie.

Want Lawrence if we luck out and stay at 1, but don't want Fields. Normally the second guy like Leaf, Mirer, Mariota, etc, gets overrated, and would rather get the Godfather offer(swap picks, pick up a boatload of others) if I get stuck at 2. Can take Book or hold out for Slovis or Howell in 2022.

Talent level is low enough, though the effort has been good, that we need to turn 7 picks into 14. Plus we have the Rams 1st pick from the Jalen Ramsey trade.

Tue Dec 22, 10:14:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Agree with Fields. Of course, this is coming from the perspective of seeing the hopefully-a-few-weeks-from-ending experiment with the *last* Ohio State QB play out over the last two seasons here. And I would have said that even before *today's* latest mess with him.

0-2 will get it via schedule strength tie-breaks according to the NFL, so... just lose. ;)

I like the BYU QB (Zach Wilson), but he'll likely be gone before Washington picks (whether they're in the playoffs or not).

Tue Dec 22, 08:04:00 PM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

With Abu Dhabi and AO Q next week, the prediction blowout is here. Well, maybe a prediction whimper, as this is the most unique season to predict in years.

Before that, other things to get to:

With Aussie women having to travel to qualify this year, it was curious to who would get the golden ticket, otherwise known as a wild card. Gavrilova, whose SR would still have her 4 out of Q, got the first one. 6 of 7 went to women in order of rank that would have been in Q with regular rank. The one skipped was Hon, who has since withdrawn.

Others skipped were Hives and Birrel, who are in Q with SR. Perez is now in Q after starting this as first player out.

Kasintseva has Q WC. Not surprised, as FFT isn't involved.

Konjuh still 14 out of Q with SR.

The Vickery/Mertens match that changed the rules gets an interesting twist this year. Abu Dhabi and AO Q are the same week, so just like Hobart, a player has to pick one or the other. Right now, there are 15 players in qualifying for both. Highest is Juvan at 104.

This is why Flipkens/Mladenovic are playing together in Abu Dhabi, as Babos is in AO Q.

Note-WTA did what ATP is doing, and best of rankings are extended to March.

6 LL are being taken to Melbourne, and it could be argued that they need 12. With almost a month between the end of qualifying and the start of the Open, there could be a number of players out.

Why? Because they aren't Federer. Obviously he can afford not to play. But what about the others? Townsend and Suarez Navarro are the only ones officially out. The surprise is that means Bertens is still in, having said that the 3 week delay means she may make the date.

The other problem is regarding the SR ladies. Normally 1 or 2 will withdraw late, once they realize that they are not in the condition they want to be in. The 4 in question are Shvedova, Zvonareva, Boulter, Barthel. Shvedova is the question mark that may be answered early, as she is also in Abu Dhabi main draw.

One thing that I sometimes forget, is that you can use your SR for MDO, then regular ranking for Q. In regular rankings, Pironkova and Buzarnescu are next to each other at 136 and 137. However, since both are trying to get in MD with SR, Buzarnescu is 3 out at 103, while Pironkova is 20 out at 123.

Now the minor blowout. With the winners going down from 38 to 18, I expected the numbers to go down by half. Because there wasn't a year end tournament, plus multiple big manes missing slams, the numbers went down by 2/3.

We had diversity though. In 1980, we only had 13 winners in 53 events, as Austin, Evert-Lloyd and Navratilova won a total of 30.

Hacksaws- Most wins outside Top 20

5- Brady
4- Alexandrova
1- Ferro
1- Watson

Normally I do 6, but there were only 6 title winners that reside outside the Top 20 this year. No surprise that Brady and Alexandrova had multiple wins, as they are the 2 on this list to be in the Race Top 20.

Whipping Posts- Most losses

5- Alexandrova
5- Brady
3- Watson

Again, not a bad thing as you are lasting long enough in a tournament to get opportunity.

Chum- Zero wins or low percentage

0-0 Tig
0-2 Linette
1-2 Ferro

Tig did manage to play Ferro and Linette, but lost to both. Still a step up as she has yet to crack the Top 50.

What may surprise you, well, it did me, is that there is a Top 20 player that also went 0-0. Other than Andreescu.

Mon Dec 28, 10:43:00 AM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

Dance Break-

Winners vs Top 20, stats, then notes.

5-2 Halep
5-2 Azarenka
5-8 Rybakina
4-1 Svitolina
4-2 Osaka
4-5 Muguruza
4-10 Mertens
3-1 Bertens
3-4 Sabalenka
3-4 Kvitova
2-1 Swiatek
2-2 Barty
2-4 Kenin
1-1 Konta
1-2 Pliskova
1-4 Vondrousova*
0-0 Andreescu
0-0 Bencic
0-1 Williams
0-1 Martic
0-1 Keys

Vondrousova is 21st, but used her as Bibi has no stats.

Halep- French Open favorite, also projects as #1.
Azarenka- Hate to say it, but a regression is in order. The player with results most weighted to post pandemic, how will she react to a full season of travel?
Rybakina- Gets a break with early season points staying on. Slam success is the next hurdle.
Svitolina- Money in a final, her job is to stop having bad losses outside of them. Still expected to win 2 titles.
Osaka- Expected to win a slam for the 4th year in a row. However, her poor BJK Cup play means that Olympic gold at home is unlikely.
Muguruza- Would have won a slam in a regular 2020. More important than a slam, is being consistent in WTA 1000 events.
Mertens- Conflicting numbers. Normally doesn't beat those ranked above her, but if there is a year to steal a 1000 or slam, this might be it.
Bertens- Achilles is the one drawback for someone who projects as a two time winner in 2021.
Sabalenka- Won last two events, could make it 3 in Abu Dhabi. Slam success is the last thing standing in the way.
Kvitova- The lefty killer. One of the few players one this list to have won in the 00's, winning a title this year would mean one in 3 decades.
Swiatek- Has she even scratched the surface? No slam, but 2 regular tour wins would be a nice progression.
Barty- Has to defend Miami and French Open points reasonably early. Is 2019 an outlier?
Kenin- Possible number 1? Numbers are in her favor, plus never worry about lack of intensity.
Konta- Numbers expect regression to 20-40, as Watson was her only win.
Pliskova- Numbers have regressed the last couple of years. Bajin is the last gasp for a slam dream that seems unobtainable.
Vondrousova- Having trouble winning big matches, probably due to lack of durability. Coming up on 4 years since her last title.
Andreescu- Until she steps on the court, it is just white noise.
Bencic- Ghastly numbers. Of those in the actual Top 20, she is the lowest in the Race at 55. Which is reflective of her season, in which she did not have a Top 30 win.
Williams- Always at the bottom of these lists, as the focus is 24. Which may be the over under on the amount of matches she plays in 2021.
Martic- Numbers suggest a decline. Also seems unlikely to stay healthy enough to crack Top 10.
Keys- Olympic darkhorse. Came close in 2016, and peaks for 2 tournaments a year. Only played 13 matches in 2020.

Mon Dec 28, 11:44:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Wondering: so does Andreescu keep her '19 I.W. points for *another* year w/ its postponement, or at least until (or if) the event is maybe played later in '21? I guess so, right?

When you mentioned the other 0-0 player, because of the recent soon-to-post Blowout research, the first name I thought of was Serena. Almost. ;)

Bencic is a little like Keys. At times, I sometimes completely forget about them. So the 0-0 is sort of perfect.

Jeter was so great in "The Fisher King." As were Robin Williams (his most underrated role, I've always thought) and Amanda Plummer.

Hmm, I'll have to keep track of the mini-Blowout picks during the season (esp. the Keys one, which is just as likely as her losing early or, you know, missing the Olympics entirely due to injury, I guess). ;)

P.S. - you're reading my mind w/ Pliskova. I even did an over/under pick for how long Bajin sticks.

P.S.S. - the standard "Mexican woman in a slam" prediction returns, by the way, albeit with a few tweaks. :)

Tue Dec 29, 12:29:00 PM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

Unless they tweak the rules, Andreescu will lose those points in March, just like players lost Kuala Lumpur points when they dropped off the schedule. They can gain the points back at whatever TBD event plays that week.

The rules normally go 52 weeks, or next time event is played, so Swiatek will still lose French Open points in June.

Tue Dec 29, 02:06:00 PM EST  

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