The future of American tennis threw his racquet into a tree at the French Open qualifying tournament this summer. He took a divot out of the grass court at Wimbledon qualifying. In Cincinnati, he angrily hit a ball over the stands, out of the stadium and into the food court.
“I mean, I wasn’t like out of control when I hit it,’’ he told me at the time. “I wasn’t in a frenzy.’’
No frenzy in Savannah, either, where he called his opponent, Wayne Odesnik, a weasel (truth is no defense)? Or in Winston-Salem, where he threw his racquet into a parking lot? Or on Monday, when he threw the racquet at least half a dozen times and kicked a ball into the stands while losing to 27th seed Marin Cilic in the first round of the U.S. Open? It was 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (8-6). On Tennis Channel, Mary Carillo called Harrison Mr. Crankypants.
“I didn’t break any racquets,’’ he said. “I didn’t say swear words on court. I didn’t really go nuts.’’
Are we nuts to be counting on this guy as a great American hope? Continue reading
Sometimes, it’s just the moment. Or maybe it was just time for it to happen. There can be a point when it all just comes together, and who really knows why. Well, I think I know why it’s happening to Donald Young right now, and what set it off.
Tennis waited so long for Young that it finally gave up. Now, as a failed prodigy, he’s in his first tour-level semifinal, at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington. He beat No. 26 Marcos Baghdatis Friday and should beat Radek Stepanek today to reach the final.
“I feel everybody clicks at their own time,’’ Young said. “The light comes on in everybody’s due time.’’
Serena Williams is stealing the tournament. Her touching tears of joy after her first round followed by her complaints about being shoved to an outer court after her second round and then her complete domination in the third round, with this proclamation:
“Don’t bet against me.’’
The idea that this is an amazing comeback, after a year away with foot injury and then illness, is hard to argue with. But I always thought she was going to win the tournament anyway. She’s great. The rest of the tour is not. Two statements are being made here.
The question is this: Which is the more amazing comeback? Williams’ or Kim Clijsters?
Clijsters retired for a while, then had a baby, then came back. After two warmup tournaments, she won the U.S. Open. Williams had two surgeries, she said, for cut ligaments in her foot. Then, forced to sit around while she healed, blood clots formed and worked their way up into her lungs. She played one warmup tournament. Continue reading
“Good win today vs. Kendrick. Always tough playing a friend. Won’t have that problem tomorrow…’’
That’s what Amer Delic wrote on Twitter last week from the Savannah Challenger. His next opponent, the one he wouldn’t feel bad about beating? Wayne Odesnik.
Yes, the same Odesnik who lost to Sam Querrey last year, with Querrey saying later there was no way he was going to lose to “that guy.’’
And it’s the same Odesnik who beat Delic in Savannah, then played Ryan Harrison and got into an argument with him. “First of all, no one trusts you,’’ Harrison said during the match, according to the Savannah Morning-News. Sports Illustrated said people sitting near the court heard Harrison call Odesnik “a weasel’’ and “an embarrassment to American tennis.’’
Also, Odesnik won the tournament.
Look, Wayne Odesnik is a snitch. We already know that. He was busted for bringing HGH into Australia. Then, just under a year away from the tour, his suspension was suspended because he was being helpful in efforts to combat drugs in the sport.
Nobody likes a snitch, and it was clear from the start that he was never going to be popular, or trusted, in the locker room again. But here’s the thing: Odesnik is working his way back up the rankings. Soon enough, he’ll be back on the big tour.
And the players are going to have to deal with it.
“This is the first Challenger event I’ve won,’’ Odesnik told reporters after beating Young 6-4, 6-4. “It feels good to be playing at a high level again.’’
Odesnik climbed 127 spots in the rankings to No. 250.
So far, the other players are coming off like petty children. Of course, Odesnik is the tattletale. I don’t blame players for not liking him. Continue reading
Greg Couch is an award-winning sports columnist based in Chicago. He covers college football for BleacherReport.com, NFL for RollingStone.com and freelances at several other places, including The New York Times. Lots of tennis, mostly here. He has traveled the world covering tennis and is a member of the International Tennis Writers Association. A former sports columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times, his tennis writing has been in the book "The Best American Sportswriting."