Oh, We’re Halfway There — Five 2022 retirees — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, June 14, 2022

Happy Tennis Tuesday, y’all! With the grass court swing in full — well, swing, I decided to do a bit of a recap of the first half of the 2022 WTA season. While this year may have felt a bit slow in our everyday life, the 2022 season has flown by.

We’ll start with January. We entered 2022 following the announcement that China and Hong Kong had been suspended from hosting their annual events after Peng Shuai accused a former high-ranking politician of sexual assault. It’s no secret that the WTA calendar relied heavily on the region, even though most players weren’t fond of the time difference, travel and sparse crowds. Throw in the COVID-19 pandemic and then a human rights issue in Peng? It spelled disaster for the area and their 11 WTA tournaments. Then, Novak Djokovic’s Visa issue caused Renata Voracova to be deported from Australia after the Czech had played in a tournament that week. This honestly feels like four years ago, not five months. January also brought the announcement of a Netflix series similar to F1’s Drive to Survive, which has increased viewership of the sport dramatically. Lastly, the Australian Open commenced with Ashleigh Barty defeating surprise finalist Danielle Collins to the delight of the Aussie fans.

If you can call it a “slow” month, but February saw the tour move to the Middle East, where Jelena Ostapenko captured Dubai and Iga Swiatek found the winner’s podium in Doha. This is where Swiatek would begin the current 35-match winning streak she’s dominated the WTA with. More political episodes continued to enter the WTAsphere with Russia invading Ukraine. While no Russian players would actively speak out, Elina Svitolina led the contingent of Ukrainian players asking the WTA to make a stand. Svitolina refused to step on court in Monterrey until the WTA removed the flags/country acronyms of Russian and Belarussian players. Perhaps the most poignant moment was Dayana Yastremska fleeing Ukraine with her sister Ivanna to Lyon and storming all the way to the final of the WTA 250 event.

March pretty much holds only two events, the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open. And unsurprisingly, it was Swiatek who lifted the winner’s trophy at both fortnights. However, the most surprising news came when World No. 1 Barty announced her retirement from tennis. Though she was riding her own winning streak and fulfilled another dream by capturing the Australian Open title, Barty felt she had achieved all she wanted in the sport. As a result, Swiatek rose to No. 1 in the singles rankings following Miami. The best news of the year, in my opinion, happened this month with women’s health manufacturer Hologic signing on to be the WTA’s title sponsor.

April saw the beginning of the clay court portion of the calendar, but also the qualifiers of the Billie Jean King Cup. I attended the USA vs. Ukraine tie in Asheville, which came down to the doubles match and was the closest tie of the entire weekend. The end of April saw the unfortunate announcement that Russian and Belarussian athletes will not be allowed to participate in the grass court tournaments in the United Kingdom, including Wimbledon. Remember, these players are essentially independent contractors, so these players are potentially missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars. The decision also goes against the code of conduct the WTA has with the tournaments and the tour vaguely threatened the Lawn Tennis Association and Wimbledon to include everyone.

Lastly, May saw a variety of action for the sport, but I also included tennis players-turned-pickleballers as the sport begins to take over the United States. I also discussed one of my favorite parts of the tennis calendar, May Madness, as 64 teams battled for the NCAA team title. The University of Texas team rallied to win their second consecutive title as a program, with their No. 1 player Peyton Stearns and NC State’s Jaeda Daniel/Nell Miller winning the individual singles and doubles titles, respectively. With Roland Garros beginning, the ATP and WTA announced that ranking points would not be offered at Wimbledon unless all athletes who qualify for the tournament are allowed to play. It was a move I suggested in April when the ban was first announced and although nothing has changed, I still hold out hope this can be reversed. Lastly, Roland Garros began with Swiatek firmly in the driver’s seat throughout the clay court campaign and leading the pack into the second week.

We know what’s happened in the beginning of June, but with a weird Wimbledon on the horizon and then a jam-packed North American hardcourt swing, who really knows what’s going to happen.

Until then, on to links!


This Week in Women’s Tennis

I was about to submit this to our fearless leader, Howard, but I scrolled through social media one last time and LOOK WHAT APPEARED AT THE TOP OF MY FEED! It appears Serena Williams will be getting a wildcard into Wimbledon. SW24 watch remains in effect:

Beatriz Haddad Maia continued her stellar form this year by capturing her first WTA singles title at the Rotheasy Open over Alison Riske. She also captured the doubles title with Zhang Shuai, winning over Caroline Dolehide and Monica Niculescu.

Ekaterina Alexandrova won her second tour singles title at the Libema Open with an upset over top-seed Aryna Sabalenka. The doubles title went to Five at The IX alum Ellen Perez and Tamara Zidansek, who defeated No. 1 seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Elise Mertens in a match tiebreaker.

Zheng Qinwen took Iga Swiatek to three sets at Roland Garros and used that momentum at the BBVA Open Internacional de Valencia. The rising star won an all-Chinese final over Wang Xiyu. Aliona Bolsova and Rebeka Masarova defeated Alexandra Panova and Arantxa Rus for the doubles crown.

Kurt Streeter of The New York Times points out that women’s tennis is the only female sport that seems to be thriving. He asks the obvious questions — why?

The wtatennis.com roundtable gathered together to discuss all things Roland Garros and give their individual reflections of the fortnight.

University of Texas standout Sabina Zeynalova can’t return home to Ukraine because of the ongoing war with Russia, so she’s stayed in America to tackle on the SoCal Pro Circuit, a series of $15k ITF World Tour events in the area.

With two more ITF World Tour tournaments this month in India, the country is hoping more professional talent from the country emerge from the pool of players participating.

Last week’s ITF World Tour results:

  • $60,000 Poertschach, Austria:
    • Laura Siegemund def. (3) Viktoria Kuzmova, 6-2, 6-2
    • (3) Jessie Aney/Anna Siskova def. Jenny Duerst/Weronika Falkowska, 6-3, 6-4
  • $60,000 Biarritz, France:
    • (Q) Mina Hodzic def. (WC) Lucie Nguyen Tan, 6-3, 6-3
    • (1) Anna Danilina/Valeriya Strakova def. (2) Maria Lourdes Carle/Maria Timofeeva, 2-6, 6-3, [14-12]
  • $60,000 Caserta, Italy:
    • (2) Kristina Mladenovic def. Camilla Rosatello, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(3)
    • (2) Despina Papamichail/Camilla Rosatello def. Francisca Jorge/Matilde Jorge, 4-6, 6-2, [10-6]
  • $25,000 Tbilisi, Georgia:
    • (1) Anastasia Zakharova def. (2) Darya Astakhova, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
    • (1) Angelina Gabueva/Anastasia Zakharova def. (4) Polina Kudermetova/Sofya Lansere, 6-4, 6-3
  • $25,000 Madrid, Spain:
    • (1) Jaimee Fourlis def. Guiomar Maristany Zuleta de Reales, 6-4, 6-2
    • (2) Yvonne Cavalle-Reimers/Guiomar Maristany Zuleta de Reales def. (1) Jacqueline Cabaj Awad/Valeria Savinykh, 6-4, 6-4
  • $25,000 Chiang Rai, Thailand:
    • (SE) Xinyu Gao def. (1) Nao Hibino, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3
    • (2) Rutuja Bhosale/Erika Sema def. Haruna Arakawa/Natsuho Arakawa, 6-1, 6-3
  • $25,000 Incheon, South Korea:
    • (3) Carol Zhao def. Mayuka Aikawa, 6-4, 6-1
    • (1) Ji-Hee Choi/Na-Lae Han def. (2) Ya-Hsuan Lee/Fang-Hsien Wu, 5-7, 6-4, [10-6]
  • $25,000 Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic:
    • (15) Jana Kolodynska def. (3) Victoria Duval, 6-0, retired
    • Tiphanie Fiquet/Mell Elizabeth Reasco Gonzalez def. Hina Inoue/Taylor Ng, 6-4, 6-4
  • $15,000 Monastir, Tunisia:
    • Francesca Curmi def. Xinxin Yao, 6-2, 6-4
    • Sijia Wei/Xinxin Yao def. Abigail Amos/Arabella Koller, 6-0, 6-1
  • $15,000 Norges-la-Ville, France:
    • (2) Alice Tubello def. Ines Nicault, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3
    • Anastasiia Gureva/Luciana Moyano def. Natalia Orlova/Lucie Wargnier, 6-0, 6-0
  • $15,000 San Diego, California:
    • Jiangxue Han def. (5) Ya Yi Yang, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
    • (3) Kimmi Hance/Makenna Jones def. Maria Kozyreva/Veronica Miroshnichenko, 6-3, 6-3
  • $15,000 Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina:
    • (2) Aneta Kucmova def. Katarina Kuzmova, 6-3, 6-2
    • (1) Katarina Kuzmova/Nina Radovanovic def. (2) Laura Boehner/Giorgia Pinto, 6-4, 6-2

Tara Moore was provisionally suspended after testing positive for Nandrolone metabolites and Boldenone and its metabolite at the WTA 250 in Bogota this past April. She and wife Emina Bektas won their first round at Roland Garros and had to withdraw following Moore’s suspension notice.

Following a disappointing first round exit at Roland Garros, Ons Jabeur aims to continue her rise up the WTA Tour with a strong showing on grass.

Iga Swiatek may have two Roland Garros crowns to her name, but the World No. 1 has experience on the lawn as a former Wimbledon junior champion. Still, with all eyes on her, how will the Pole perform on grass this year?

Last week’s Universal Tennis Pro Tennis Tour results:

  • $25,000 Charleston, South Carolina:
    • 1st place playoff: Mia Horvit def. Tenika McGiffin, 7-6(1), 6-1
    • 2nd place playoff: Melodie Collard def. Alice Otis, 6-4, 6-4
    • 3rd place playoff: Jo-Yee Chan def. Maddy Zampardo, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4
    • 4th place playoff: Caroline McGinley def. Margaret Navarro, 6-0, 6-3
    • 5th place playoff: Pearlie Zhang def. Peyton Capuano, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3
  • $25,000+H Manzanillo, Mexico:
    • 1st place playoff: Nazari Urbina def. Quetzali Vazquez Montesinos, 6-1, 6-2
    • 2nd place playoff: Victoria Rodriguez def. Almudena Sanz-Llaneza Fernandez, 6-2, 6-2
    • 3rd place playoff: Ana Karen Guadiana Campos def. Karen Verduzco Velazquez, 6-3, 6-4
    • 4th place playoff: Ana Paula Chávez Sánchez def. Calissa Dellabarca, 6-0, 1-0, retired
    • 5th place playoff: Amelie Montalvo def. Ana Maria Becerra, 5-0, retired

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced their national award winners for the 2021-22 academic year with NCAA champion Peyton Stearns named the Player of the Year.

Emma Raducanu opened her grass court campaign with another injury retirement, but Maria Sakkari says that we should give the reigning US Open some patience as she navigates her first full year on tour.

Did you know there’s a slice of Wimbledon in Iowa? Madison Keys, grew up in the state and will be headlining an event with a partnership between her foundation, Kindness Wins, and the All Iowa Lawn Tennis Club next month:

Madison Keys and Gaby Dabrowski were among the players to lend their support to the Special Olympics this week with events in Berlin and Orlando as part of WTA Charities’ partnership with the program.


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Tweet of the Week

TW: suicide

Unfortunately, another player has opened up about a suicide attempt, but fortunately, they’re sharing their story. Thank you, Jelena Dokic. I know I speak for everyone that we’re thankful you’re still here.


Five at The IX: 2022 Goodbyes Thus Far

Yesterday, 2016 Olympic champion Monica Puig announced her retirement following years of elbow and shoulder injuries. The Puerto Rican came back last month for the first time since September 2020 in Madrid. The following week, she retired after three games at the WTA 125 in Saint Malo and Puig revealed she re-tore her rotator cuff which would require another surgery.

Kirsten Flipkens announced last week that Wimbledon, where she reached the semifinals in 2013, will be her final singles tournament. Though not confirmed, the wording makes it seem she may stay on tour as a doubles player.

Laura Robson broke onto the scene in 2008 by capturing Junior Wimbledon and backed it up with a fast rise into the Top 50 and a mixed doubles silver medal at the 2012 Olympics. Unfortunately, numerous hip surgeries would be unsuccessful

Another young player who rose to the top as a junior, Cici Bellis, shared in January that her elbow would no longer allow her to compete at the professional level. She’s already transitioned into her next path, working for venture capital firm Lead Sports and was the student commencement speaker at Indiana University East.

Last, but the most obvious was then-World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, who was recently named an Officer of the Order of Australia. After an initial haitus in 2014, Barty came back in 2016 and by 2019 was a Grand Slam champion at Roland Garros and World No. 1. In 2021, she achieved her lifelong dream of winning Wimbledon and continued her dominance on the WTA by capturing this year’s Australian Open. The title-winning run would prove to be the final professional action of Barty’s career as the 2020 Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist in mixed doubles surprised the world by announcing her retirement in March.


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: Anne Tokarski, @annetokarski, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon