wild cards


Tennis fans of Queensland, Australia, were celebrating after three of their big name stars received wild cards this week for the 2010 Australian Open.

Davis Cup star Carsten Ball, two-time junior Grand Slam winner Bernard Tomic and national under 18 champion Jason Kubler were all handed passes to the event.

Ball missed the recent wild card playoff tournament with a back injury but has performed exceptionally well in 2009 and came close to making the main draw cut off point so the organisers made the decision to hand him a wildcard.

Tomic won this year’s US Open boy’s title to add to the 2008 Aussie boy’s title he’d already picked up. The Australians view Tomic as a huge prospect for the future and he has already shown promise by reaching the second round of the 2009 tournament.

Sixteen-year-old Kubler went on a 30-match winning streak this year which included victory at the prestigious Osaka Junior Open as well as leading Australia to Junior Davis Cup victory.

Former World No. 8 Alicia Molik and rising star Olivia Rogowska received wild cards in the women’s draw, Rogowska being the losing finalist in the recent wildcard playoffs.

The decision on the final wildcards to be handed out to the men’s and women’s draws will be made soon.

*Women’s doubles pairs were left feeling nervous as one of the most successful pairings of all time, America’s Lisa Raymond and Australia’s Rennae Stubbs, announced that they will once more compete together in 2010. Between 1996 and 2005 they won 32 titles together including three Grand Slams – Australia (2000), Wimbledon and the US Open (both 2001). They also won the 2001 Sony Ericsson Championships and both held the No. 1 ranking slot. Raymond has won a further two majors with another Aussie, Samantha Stosur, but the pair were always the most successful together. Raymond commented: “It’s funny how things come full circle.”

*Australian World No. 77 Peter Luczak has signed up to play in the 2010 Movistar Open, an ATP World Tour 250 tournament beginning January 31st in Santiago, Chile. The tournament takes place during the 200th anniversary of Chilean independence and vast celebrations are set to mark the event.

*Spanish clay court coach Felix Mantilla has been added to the Australian Davis Cup coaching team and captain John Fitzgerald was full of praise for the move, describing it as one of the most significant moves in decades. “Having Felix Mantilla now is a great asset to us,” he said. “I reckon it’s a very, very important appointment.”

*British tennis has awarded its December AEGON Awards with Naomi Broady picking up player of the month, Luke Bambridge (Junior Player) and Neil Frankel (coach) being the other benefactors.

*The Australian Open Changing Ends Film Festival has extended its entry deadline until January 18th. By submitting a film of no longer than 30 seconds you could win the top prize of $5,000 and have your film shown during end changes at the 2010 Open. Films must have a tennis theme. For more information visit www.changingends.com.au.

Random French Open Thoughts

The fun for viewers is seeing who makes the French Open as wild cards, who often become tomorrow’s top players.  Look at Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who a while ago nearly won the Australian Open as an unseeded player!  Look at him today advancing at Roland Garros with a great win over Juan Monaco.

I hate how experts judge the wild cards on TV, “He doesn’t stand a chance against (fill in the blank).”  How do you know if the person doesn’t, having never played someone?  Give people the benefit of the doubt.  Unless someone’s playing a No. 1 or No. 2 players, why not?  And a No. 1 could possibly lose to an unseeded player.

Last year, I met a young gentleman normally playing doubles with the unfortunate experience of playing his first time as a singles player at the U.S. Open – against Roger Federer.  Talk about bad luck of the draw.  He did his best putting up a fight when he could’ve given up at the beginning.

On a positive, I’ve noticed a return of good commercials a la The Super Bowl in the Novak Djokovic in the stands gimmicks.  He’s very funny and natural in them, making me wonder how we could miss out on him as a sponsor.  It’s a very nice change from the boring silent commercials
with court clips.

Enjoy the French Open, wild card fans!  If you hurry to the right side of the stands, you may find a nice puppy dog balloon, gifted from Novak for your girlfriend…