Random Tuesday musings — More quotes from Rome — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, May 23, 2023

Howdy, y’all and Happy Tennis Tuesday! This past week felt a bit light, but then tiny jolts of news so instead of a dedicated topic, we’re just going to discuss them here. First, the WTA needs to go back to 10-day tournaments for Madrid and Rome. Not one single person I know that follows the game enjoys the tournaments stretched out the full two weeks. While the players are thankful to have an extra round to earn more money and points, what’s the point? They’re consistently behind schedule, before even accounting for weather issues. While it was worse in Madrid, Rome’s final was delayed until 11:30 at night.

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Elena Rybakina captured the Rome title when Anhelina Kalinina had to retire early in the second set and you can wonder if starting that late contributed to the Ukrainian’s injury. Not only did the final have to end prematurely, in a weird state of events, we had another trophy ceremony issue. 99.99999999% of the time, the presentation ends with the champion giving the final speech, but Rome organizers — who promise a roof — to avoid these mishaps had Rybakina go before Kalinina with the crowd booing the tournament:

While Rome had their on-court drama, former World No. 1 Simona Halep’s drama during her provisional doping suspension got even messier.

After calling out anti-doping authorities for delaying her tribunal, the Romanian was charged a second ITIA violation in regards to her biological passport. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure exactly what that means but from what I gather, it seems to look like her blood isn’t as consistent as it was in previous tests that are in the system’s database. Because of this new charge, the ITIA wants to combine both charges in one tribunal and have delayed Halep’s chance at defending and returning to the courts a third time. The three-time Grand Slam champion released another statement:

Who knows where that will head?

But in good news, the University of North Carolina finally won their first NCAA team championship with a revenge 4-1 win over NC State.

Carson Tanguilig clinched the match for the Tar Heels with a straight-set win. NC State’s Diana Shnaider, the World No. 107, won at No. 1 singles for the Wolfpack and withdrew from the NCAA Singles Championship to prepare for Roland Garros next week. However, she was still on-site while there were rumblings that she’s planning to turn pro in Paris. UNC finishes the season with only It’s the first outdoor national title for Coach Brian Kalbas, arguably one of the greatest in all of college tennis:

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This Week in Women’s Tennis

Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens won the Rome doubles title over Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula. Don’t miss their — or Elena Rybakina’s — episode of Champions Corner with WTA Insider.

Jasmine Paolini gave the home crowd a singles title at the WTA 125 in Florence, Italy, beating Taylor Townsend in the final. In doubles, Vivian Heisen and Ingrid Neel upset Asia Muhammad and Giuliana Olmos to win the doubles title.

At the WTA 125 in Paris, French player Diane Parry also delighted the locals but unfortunately, Caty McNally had to withdraw before the final due to injury. The doubles crown went to Anna Danilina and Vera Zvonareva, who saved three championship points against Nadiia Kichenok and Alycia Parks.

ESPN has announced Serena Williams: In the Arena, a documentary with the GOAT reflecting on her life and career will be coming soon:

After a career breakthrough fortnight in Rome, Anhelina Kalinina continues to play in spirit of her fellow citizens of Ukraine.

Something I didn’t know was that the WTA subsidizes £25m annually to keep prize money on par with the ATP. I’m more than hopeful the CVC Capital agreement will help that not be the case moving forward.

Qualifying began at Roland Garros and 2020 runner-up Sofia Kenin was among the first round upsets, falling to wildcard Margaux Rouvroy.

Martina Navratilova gave an update following her diagnoses of breast and throat cancer, saying she’s “doing ok.”

This week in Rabat, Sada Nahimana became the first player from Burundi to play in a WTA main draw, adding more representation at the top of the women’s game.

AI is the future and Roland Garros is including it to help players combat online harassment.

With some college tennis news, here is a nice feature on Old Dominion banding together after player Mya Byrd collapsed at practice. At Ball State — who had quite the season — coach Max Norris was terminated after an investigation into player health and safety violations.

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Tweet of the Week

This is a good use of emerging social media platforms:

Five at The IX: Rome Week 2

Q. What are you most proud of this year so far?

ELENA RYBAKINA: Well, I proud that I can maintain this level. It’s not easy, like, with all the scheduling, traveling. I think we’re doing good job with the team. I can see improvements on the court, physically also. I think we’re on a right way.

I think there is still a lot of room to improve. But, yeah, for now it’s going well, and hopefully I can continue like this till the end of the season.

Q. Given all the retirements, all the rain these past few weeks, would you say this is one of the strangest weeks of your career?

ELENA RYBAKINA: Yeah, for sure, it’s really strange two weeks for me. Like, I don’t remember when I got retirement on the other tournament. Here it was like three. It’s really strange. Also with the rain delays, I think my schedule is completely different than usually. I was going to sleep really late, waking up almost like in the afternoon. Yeah, it’s strange.

But I’m happy that this tough two weeks also finished in a good way for me.

Q. The two weeks that you did have here, the wins that you had, the way you were able to win, what is the thing you are most proud of?

ANHELINA KALININA: I’m most proud of my fighting spirit these two weeks. I was fighting despite of the score, any situation, any weather conditions, opponents. Everyone was very tough. A serious draw.

Yeah, I am very just proud that I was able to compete at this level with these quality matches, yeah, and was able to win them.

Q. In terms of the level you were able to play this tournament, obviously you’ll be top 20 on Monday, does it give you a different level of expectation or ambition going forward in the season?

ANHELINA KALININA: I mean, I don’t have expectations. I would say I have my goals concerning my tennis, not the ambitions about counting points, I don’t know, ranking because it’s absolutely for me the things that are starting to bother me when I think about this.

I’m trying to focus on my tennis, on my game, what I have to improve. I have a lot of things to improve (smiling). I have a lot of work to do.

Yeah, it’s ambitions but about my game, not about other things, not concerning about the game.

Q. I saw you with a book on the chair. Can you explain what are you reading?

VERONIKA KUDERMETOVA: This is the secret. This is my book (laughter).

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon