The US women are just one tie away from rejoining the tennis elites of the World Group in Fed cup play. Serena Williams put the US over the top by defeating Anastasiya Yakimova in 3 sets this afternoon. The Americans soft play and the refusal of the Williams sisters to participate in the past relegated them to the subdivision of sub-par tennis nations. They have now climbed from the trough.
The American Spirit has risen up for our USA women. Relegation hurts. It’s as if your children were placed in a slow-learners program and you’re headed down to the school pretty quickly to take some names and tear it up. We may not be #1, but you better not put us in some developmental sideshow, playing hitting partner to those who are not yet ready for prime-time. Well, the US women played prime-time tennis this weekend. And by the time they play World Group ties next year, we may have a few new faces and a veteran in Christina McHale to compete in the top tier for years to come.
Azarenka’s decision not to play due to a back injury took all the competitive juices out of this tie before the first rubber began. When it did begin, Christina McHale’s opening victory over Yakimova yesterday let Belarussians fans know that this was not going to be an exciting weekend for their side. Instead of watching the new world #1 come into the American’s home and throw her weight around, Serena Williams and Christina McHale shut the door on any narrative that would allow the tiny former Soviet bloc nation to experience some silver lining from their Massachusetts visit.
At this very moment, Christina McHale is on her way to a straight sets victory over Darya Kustova and her second straight point in a Fed Cup tie. Things are looking up in the world of American tennis!
You don’t get to say it was a good day for US women’s tennis as much as you used to. Today was like old times. With a twist and turn, Christina McHale went from preparing to face Vika Azarenka and instead met Stasia Yakimova in the opening match of the US-Belarus Fed Cup tie in Worcester, Massachusetts. McHale certainly did not look a gift horse in the mouth and accepted a straight sets win to tip the tie in the favor of the USA. McHale earned her first Fed Cup point in the process. Then, Serena Williams polished off Olga Govortsova in straights to give the US an insurmountable 2-0 lead.
Tomorrow, Azarenka is scheduled to play the final rubber of the weekend with Govortsova against Venus and Liezel Huber of the US. That could be a legendary match, but it’s unlikely that many fans will stick around to catch it just a couple of hours before the Superbowl kicks off.
With Serena taking on Yakimova at noon, the final result could be determined by 1 pm. If that’s the case, you’ve got to hope that folks stick around to see McHale facing Govortsova immediately following Serena’s probable clinching win for the Americans. McHale-Govortsova could definitely be the closest rubber of the weekend. But with the greatest sporting event in the world, Puppy Bowl VIII, starting at 3 pm, only the true tennis fans will honestly be able to say they watched McHale win her second Fed Cup tie.
You’ve got to hand it to the organizers for dealing with the obvious distractions of the New England Patriots Super Bowl appearance, the late scratch of the #1 world debutante on Saturday and Venus William’s earrings. The crowd was treated today to see a historic moment in young Christina McHale’s first victory of many more to come. Afterwards, Serena’s performance put a lot of Serena-doubters aback, too, and brought the US a big lead.
For the fortunate fans who return tomorrow, they might be able to see both Serena and Christina do it all over again, with a splash of Venus, Vika and doubles superstar Liezel Huber. It’s an incredible line-up and a nice finish for the tie.
Look, the US women are going to win an international tie. This is welcome news! Beam us up, ITF. The US women are ready to return to the Mothership of the World Group.
The USTA website tells us “there are plenty of great seats available” for this weekend’s Fed Cup tie in Worcester, Massachusetts between the United States and Belarus. There also happens to be plenty of great seats available to watch the Superbowl on a big screen TV this weekend, and the hometown New England Patriots are in it. The Patriots, who play 42 miles from the DCU Center in Foxboro, drew 25,000 fans at a send-off party for the team last week. The DCU Center has been retro-fitted for a capacity of 6,000 fans, which is far less than the venue can actually hold.
You can’t fault the USTA on this one. The dates were set by the ITF worldwide. And who among us even thought that the Pats had a chance to go to Superbowl XLVI? After all, they had to resort to cheating their way in over the Baltimore Ravens.
Organizers have already had to offer 60% off tickets on Groupon and belatedly/begrudgingly sell single day tickets to try to drum up interest. One lesson that should be learned from this is that you should always offer one day tickets from the start. It may be too little, too late.
Tennis fans can only hope that the newly crowned #1 Vika Azarenka will generate some marketing fire. But in sourcing the New England sports online media this week, it’s pretty obvious that the din of Superbowl Week is Indianapolis is drowning pre-tie marketing efforts. The only way this could have been worse is if the Red Sox were playing the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
On the other hand, the USTA and Tennis Channel have always been receptive to filling a lower bowl to avoid embarrassment during televised matches. The matches should be entertaining and a large crowd would make the event a memorable one.
So, if you’re holding an upper deck, nosebleed seat for the USA-BLR tie this weekend, you might be in luck. It’s very likely that you’re getting a seat upgrade.
Hopefully, fans will determine that they can catch a weekend of international tennis and still get home in time to catch the kickoff. If they already knew what Serena Williams does, that the Giants are going to beat the Pats again, they might just soak in the tennis a little longer.
Let’s hope alot of New Englanders pencil in tennis for a jam-packed Super Sports weekend.