Sunday, April 17, 2011

Oudin, McHale, Huber and King = Not a Team

I watched every moment of the doubles match between Liezel Huber and Vania King representing the US, vs. Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld playing for Germany. The result was already a foregone conclusion. In the absence of the Williams sisters and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, the US was unable to avoid being kicked out of World Group. We are no longer in the top tier of the Federation Cup.

So I watched this last match keenly – not because it would change any aspect of the outcome, but because I hoped that the US would at least redeem some last minute glory by winning a point. For a minute there was hope as the team of King and Huber gamely won the first set. But I’ve mentioned before that Julia Georges is a plucky player. And she brought all of her positive energy to her partnership with the talented Groenefeld. They won the last two sets, closing out the match by breaking Vania King.

No doubt this disaster of a failure will drum up a slew of criticism about the length and rigor of the pro tennis schedule. Mind you, the length of the season is the same for both winners and losers. In my opinion, this loss has nothing to do with the demandingness of the tennis schedule. It has something to do with the fact that in the absence of the Williams sisters and Mattek-Sands, the US Fed Cup team could not deliver. And it has everything to do with the fact that the US players never really looked like a team.

I think that it was very clever of Venus Williams to make herself a part of the group going to Stuttgart, although she was unable to play due to injury. Had she not gone, no doubt she would once again be criticized for not adequately supporting Fed Cup. But Venus was often caught on camera looking at her cell-phone. She never really seemed to be a part of the team. Perhaps the only thing her physical presence might accomplish then is some silencing of the critics.

In the meantime, Serena has continued parading herself in bikinis up and down Miami beaches, looking very much to me as if she has had breast reduction surgery. Compare photos of her from a year or so ago with her current Miami appearances (see photo below), and her breasts look remarkably smaller (to my eyes). Now I’m finally getting why there have been whispers. And I probably have egg all over my face for defending her. lol

The unavailability of the Williams sisters resulted in a team that was destroyed by their opponents, 5-0. And I’m not intending to dismiss the effort of both Oudin and McHale. In fact, I felt that Oudin would have a chance of beating Georges because of her recent win against her in Miami. But both McHale and Oudin found themselves simply outplayed. At the very least, the experience should be a good one for McHale, giving her an idea of what is expected at the pro level and hopefully inspiring her to do what she needs to do to play at this level.

However, I believe that the biggest difference between the Germans and the Americans was neither talent nor ability. Both teams were young and the Americans had the edge in doubles experience. Andrea Petkovic, Julia Goerges, Sabine Lisicki, and Anna-Lena Groenefeld each have only one WTA singles title to their name. Julia Goerges leads that group with three WTA doubles titles.

But Vania King has 12 doubles titles in addition to her one WTA singles trophy. And Liezel Huber boasts a mind-boggling total of 44 doubles titles, is a finalist on every Slam surface with two mixed doubles Slam wins, and is a former #1 doubles player (currently ranked # 3). With this team, Mary Jo Fernandez had every reason to feel optimistic. But Mary Jo does not seem to radiate optimism. Her body language always seems to broadcast worry and concern. That frown on her face is at risk of becoming a permanent wrinkle.

Compare this with the German team coach, Barbara Rittner, (herself a former Fed Cup player who with Steffi Graf helped Germany win the title in 1987 and 1992), whose body language remained positive, proud, and encouraging. About her team, Rittner would later say, “We have a lot of quality in the team and they all encourage each other”. In other words, the German women seemed to genuinely like each other. They seemed truly bonded together as a team. The Americans, not so much.


10 comments:

TennisAce said...

Maybe she had her breasts done when she removed the hematoma. *joking* (not really).

Serena always had very beautiful skin and I for one was a bit taken aback at the discolouration on her stomach. You could tell something has gone wrong with her. The boobs look smaller, but that could very well be because of the bra that she is wearing. If she had had her breasts, done I would have thought she would have lifted them a bit, but they are still having that natural sag look. You know the ones that most of us women who do not do cosmetic surgery have *smiles*

tennischick said...

Thanks for your comment. So you agree that her boobs look smaller. In comparison the rest of her seems as hefty as ever which is why I wondered if she had breast reduction surgery. I am not saying that she had a breast lift (which would result in less sag).

As for the stomach, it now has that marbleized look of recent liposuction that hasn't quite settled. However that makes no sense because Serena has always had a flat stomach so lipo just doesn't make sense. I just hope she is truly healthy. Meantime, there is clearly nothing wrong with her self-esteem!

(Must suck to be a celebrity and be scrutinized so closely. At least she's rich enuf to tell us all to eff off if she wants to. lol)

TennisAce said...

Yeah, they do look smaller, but I am thinking it has more to do with the bikini top than any surgical procedure. I agree with you too that with the stomach that she had, I doubt she would have undergone lipo either. I am also seeing the discoloration on her thighs as well, maybe she is injecting in her thighs as well as her stomach area.

As for the meat of the post, Huber I think is a very divisive feature on the Fed Cup bench. I get the feeling that she feels that this is her team and she runs rough shod over Mary-Jo, who looks like she is bewildered half the time in any event, even when she is doing commentary.

For them to not even get a point with so many top quality doubles players is just bizarre. No wonder poor Venus had her head in her hands. Knowing her, she is going to try and get the US out of the relegation zone, because there is no doubt that the US should be much better than that.

joe pah said...

Agree with the post that Huber is a divisive influence, and was suprised Mary Jo put her on the team. Huber has that superior attitude you often see creep into South African athletes, esp with minorities. Vania King was clearly not enjoying her partner, and Vania is nothing but a positive, all in kind of girl.

Still, when your singles players are ranked 90 and 93, there aren't a lot of expectations. Not a lot Mary Jo could do when the talent is just not there.

tennischick said...

Did not know this about Citizen Huber. But all this tells me is that Mary Jo is a weak leader. She is so wrong for this position. And it's pathetic the way she looks as if her heart is on a string whenever Oudin is playing.

happygeek said...

A pity the picture doesn't show the whole of the person wearing the blue shorts... ;-))

tennischick said...

LOL. He looks hot to you huh?

TennisAce said...

joe pah, you are so right about the whole South African thing. I hate to put a whole nation into a basket, but the 3 South Africans that I have had to associate with so far have made me realise that while apartheid is done and dusted, the feelings of white South Africans remains the same.

Citizen Huber is just *smh* no words to describe her really. Just no words. The worst part was when she acted as if she was more American than Venus or Serena and how much of an honour it was to represent the USA. One wonders where was her level of patriotism when she was still scurrying around the world not representing South Africa. At least her partner Cara Black always represented her country.

happygeek said...

Let's just say the photo starts off very good... :-))

tennischick said...

To each her own of course. Here's the rest of him. He's all yours:

http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/LFzhVSktD9Z/Serena+Williams+at+the+Beach/lHDOl3pCULi/Serena+Williams