I think by now everyone and their mother (and father) has done a WTA Year in Review. The Spin team has taken a bit of a hiatus and chose not to do a wrap up of either the US Open, or the Year End Championships. However, the Spin team thought it would be fun to have its own Awards to the players who inspired the writers on this blog and who inspire tennis fans to really get up at half past zero just to catch their matches.
So without further ado, here goes:
Player of the Year
Without a doubt this award goes to Serena Williams. Separate and apart from taking some embarrassing losses, Ms. Williams showed what toughness is all about by storming back during the latter half of the season to bag Grand Slam No. 18, and win her third consecutive Year End Championship title.
This was a hard one by any stretch of the imagination. From Madison Keys with her triumphant performance at Eastbourne to Eugenie Bouchard for making it to the top echelons of women’s tennis, to Ekaterina Makarova showing us that even though she flies a lot under the radar she is a force to be reckoned with in women’s tennis. There is also Casey Dellacqua. A player who had virtually disappeared from women’s tennis. As a matter of fact, she had disappeared from women’s tennis as she studied for, and qualified to be a beauty technician. Even though Casey did not win any titles this year or make any finals, I believe this award should go to her for sheer determination and effort. This is even more remarkable seeing as Casey welcomed a son into this world with her partner.
Almost Award (dedicated to Lucie Safarova) (singles)
Has there ever been a player who confounds tennis fans as much as Lucie Safarova. Such a dangerous opponent when she is playing well, Lucie’s career for 2014 can be summed up in that one word “Almost”. There were many “Almost’s” this year on the WTA (Shuai Peng and Dominika Cibulkova I am looking at you both) but the award goes to none other than Angelique Kerber. 0-4 in WTA finals will get you that ignominious award. The Spin team hopes Kerber will retire this accolade in the new season.
Almost Award (doubles)
Up match points, served for the set, almost there, this doubles team of Hseih and Peng. Peng and Hseih could not lose and for whatever reason they just did not seem to get it together this year. Theirs would have been an exceptional story line if they were able to get their act together. However the “Almost” award in doubles will go to the matching pair of Martina Hingis and Daniela Hantuchova. What started out to much fanfare ended in dull whimpers and glaring looks between 2 players who have partnered with other people for success. This was not a marriage made in heaven.
Even though many could claim this prize, I think for all intents and purposes there is really only one person who could claim this title. While Jana Cepelova did exceptionally well in taking down Serena Williams, she virtually disappeared from the radar after the tournament in Charleston. Her impressive defeat in Fed Cup after serving for sets, coupled with her inability to even register interest amongst tennis fans showed how much of a fluke her win over Serena Williams was. However, the Newcomer award goes to Belinda Bencic. Despite being double bagelled by Caroline Wozniacki (ouch) in Istanbul, Bencic showed why she has captivated the minds of tennis fans all over. We wait to see how she develops as her career moves forward.
The excellent team of Cara Black and Sania Mirza in their one and done season did what many doubles teams have never been able to do. From saving numerous match points at the season ending championships to bagging a few titles, this team showed what true teamwork is all about. Such a pity that they will not be playing together again next season.
OMG Moment (singles) – she lost?
Serving for the set. Serving for the match. Had match points. Lost. This could be the epitaph on many a career, but no one does this as much as Camila Giorgi. For someone who stands at 5 feet nothing, Giorgi plays above her height. She hits the ball with everything in her and while she had some truly remarkable highlights this year, her inability to keep the ball in play during the tough times hands her this award.
OMG Moment (doubles) – they lost?
Peschke and Srebotnik. Had multiple match points at the Year End Championships and lost to the team of Black and Mirza.
Is she still playing (singles) – you swear this person had retired
A question many asked about Dominika Cibulkova. What happened Domi?
Are they still playing (doubles) (dedicated to Liezel Huber and Martina Hingis)
Liezel Huber seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth. Since her partnership with Cara Black ended in lots of recriminations, Huber has been having a hard time finding someone who befits her talent. Methinks she will have to clone herself.
Crowd Pleaser (singles) – people come to watch this player
This award is not going to go to who you think. This is not for Rena’s Army, or Shara Family or even Genie’s Army. This award goes to the Halepeno Hoppers, i.e. fans of Simona Halep. Never has a player captivated the minds and hearts of tennis fans the world over as Simona Halep has. From the resounding rounds of applause wherever she plays to the fans who voted for her as Player of the Year, a title some say she won, and that the only reason Serena Williams won was because the journalists who cover tennis voted for her. From the resounding shouts of SIMONA that resounded around Roland Garros to the screams of delight when she played her home tournament in Romania, Simona Halep has proven that brunettes do have fun.
Crowd Pleaser (doubles) – they really love this doubles team
Without a doubt the Williams Sisters
This award would not be complete if we did not hand out awards to the people who bring us the blow by blow account of what is happening on court, and in some cases, not even happening. To our commentators, we salute you. Without further ado:
Are you kidding me (male) - for the commentator who spends half his time discussing things other than what is happening on court.
This is a toss up between John McEnroe and Kevin Skinner (TennisTV). However, while Kevin will run his mouth a mile a minute and has some of the more colourful ways of describing what is going on during a match, no one beats John McEnroe in the are you kidding me department. From opining about who will never be successful at the Grand Slams again, to telling us what his career was like, while a women's match is being aired, John McEnroe has no peer in this department.
Are you kidding me (female)
Pam Shriver. Just because she is so messy with her on court interviews and interviews from the stands. Honourable Mention to Navratilova just because of the haterade.
The Jon Snow Award “You know nothing”
Again, John McEnroe
I would put Chris Evert here but she has evolved as a commentator, so I am going with Tracy Austin. As clueless as they come.
Stupidest question asked at a presser?
Does matches like this where you lose make you want to retire? (to Venus Williams after losing to eventual Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, 7-5 in the third set)
Best response to the stupidest question asked at a presser?
Venus' response: "I’m not getting outta here,”. “They don’t encourage you to stay around in tennis. But I want to win grand slams. "No one is going to give you one. You have to snatch it, growl. I did the best I could out there. It was a shame that there had to be a loser. And even more of a shame it had to be me. Totally figure out how that feels like.”
Worst narrative in women’s tennis?
The Caroline Wozniacki break up story. This beat out the Kim Clijsters had a baby story which was retired when Clijsters retired, as well as the Sharapova shoulder.
Worst commentary overheard during a women’s match
The commentators really show their true colours during Wimbledon. Nowhere else do you get gems like these:-
"It helps that they are both beautiful as it helps with marketing them ..." (during match between Sloane Stephens and Maria Kirilenko)
Virginia Wade during the Venus Williams/Maria Teresa-Flor match “the Williams Sisters used to win matches based on hitting with so much power. Now all the women hit with power and are able to outhit the Williams Sisters. Now, the Williams Sisters are winning by using brute force”.
Worst article appearing in the press about female tennis players:
Just read the Daily Mail. They just can’t get enough of women’s tennis.
Most over-exposed couple
Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki
Have your own special award, sound off on Twitter or in the comments.