The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, March 31, 2020
Tokyo officially postponed and Wimbledon likely cancelled; is 2020 a wash? | Interview: Jordaan Sanford uses past tennis background to highlight the game's present
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Wimbledon cancelled? Should we just wash out 2020?
With COVID-19 still nowhere near its peak, the tennis calendar hasn’t left its standstill. The Olympic Games have announced the new dates for the “2020” Tokyo Games, nearly exactly a year after the original dates for this summer.
Last week, I mentioned the the All-England Club could move their dates to the open calendar spot previously held by Tokyo. However, it’s expected to be announced tomorrow that the 2020 edition of Wimbledon will be cancelled. The Tokyo dates don’t optimally align with the weather and the weeks in the calendar preceding make it difficult for the grass-court Grand Slam to postpone. Last week, the tournament announced that they had no direct decision, but one thing was certain: there will be no play without fans in attendance.
German Tennis Federation’s Vice President Dirk Hordorff said there are too many risk factors still ongoing to have Wimbledon proceed. “It is completely unrealistic to imagine that with the travel restrictions that we currently have an international tennis tournament where hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world would travel. That is unthinkable.”
Reports also circulated that Wimbledon is in an ideal position to cancel as they’ve invested in pandemic insurance. Said insurance will help cover the loss of revenue in ticket refunds and contribute funds to the All-England Club. However, for that to go into effect, a formal government order has to be implemented.
With Tokyo postponed into 2021 and Wimbledon likely cancelled, there’s a strong chance the North American hardcourt swing would be the first action we will see from the world’s top players. Steve Simon, Chairman and CEO of the WTA, spoke with Tennis Channel and said the tour is constantly looking at the data to see if play will even begin in June. If Wimbledon is going to be cancelled, I believe there shouldn’t be any WTA action until August. However, I think the WTA and ITF should take a month-by-month approach and wait to see the data of COVID-19 worldwide. There are too many players who depend on tournament earnings, or their endorsement contracts are dependent on their on-court results. However, Simon stressed that their top concern is player health and not being an instrument to igniting spread worldwide.
It’s also been reported that the WTA will look into scheduling tournaments that were cancelled in place of the currently scheduled off-season. With the off-season normally in November and December, what tournaments can take advantage with their location/court surface? Personally, I’d like to see Indian Wells and Miami attempt to hold their tournaments in November, with December being a block for the players to get their sufficient training in for the 2021 season.
It’s extremely hard to gauge what will take place, as this pandemic is evolving by the day. In times like this, it’s important to not be so critical of the WTA and their choices to postpone when there’s no one way to combat a global pandemic. I’m optimistic within a month or so, we’ll have a clearer picture of not only when tennis will resume in 2020, but if.
This Week in Women’s Tennis
WTA Council member and current “TikTok Queen” Kristie Ahn, sat down with Tennis.com’s podcast to discuss her career as an Asian-American, the tour at a standstill and of course, TikTok’s like these:
The WTA debuted its “In the Moment” series, interviewing members of the Original 9, the trailblazers who banded together to create the WTA. The first installment interviews Valerie Ziegenfuss, who shares the “sisterhood” that was shared when the Original 9 formed the WTA.
Speaking of the Original 9, the WTA’s latest “Legacy Spotlight” features 1977 Australian Open champion Kerry Melville Reid, who, with husband, former ATP player Raz Reid, have moved into the fly fishing business in Hilton Head Island.
Patrick McEnroe, current ESPN analyst and former USTA Player Development General Manager and Davis Cup captain, announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
Ana Ivanovic, Garbine Muguruza and Katie Swan are more WTA players using their voice and platform to help combat the COVID-19 crisis.
Your weekly must-watch video is Bethanie Mattek-Sands joining fellow 2016 Olympic Gold medalist Monica Puig in a joint Instagram Live. Seeing two Olympic champions show off their medals from your couch adds a nice touch to watching, in my opinion.
Sandra Zaniewska peaked at No. 142 in the WTA rankings and was a junior doubles finalist at the 2009 Australian Open. Now, the 28-year-old is a rising coach on the WTA tour, helping Petra Martic to a career-best year in 2019 and recently working with Alize Cornet. WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen profiles the Pole, who gives an in-depth perspective into her philosophies as a player-turned-coach.
Following her comeback last summer, former World No. 50 Anna Tatishvilli announced her retirement from tennis after struggling to get back to 100% health.
Sofia Shapatava, currently ranked No. 375 in the WTA rankings, created a change.org petition for the WTA and ITF to support lower-ranked players who live paycheck-to-paycheck on tour.
The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home to the US Open and a training center for the USTA, will be converted to a makeshift hospital to help relieve COVID-19 efforts. New York City is an epicenter for cases in the United States and the site in Flushing Meadows plans to hold 350 beds.
With the tour postponed until early June, WTA players are maximizing their time at home. TikToks, trick shots, workouts and piano sessions are only a few ways players are keeping busy:
WTA Legends Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, who teamed up on the doubles court for a decade and won 20 Grand Slams together, showed off some of their trophies in their downtime:
Many players are going to social media and interacting more with fans, especially on Instagram. Petra Kvitova had a full Q&A with fans, while Maria Sharapova had a Google Hangout with over 100 members of the #SharaFamily
Tweet of the Week
Johanna Konta is staying busy social distancing at home and is keeping her brain pretty active. Also a known baker, her episode of The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up To Cancer premiered last week and the WTA provided a recap in case you missed.
IV at the IX: Jordaan Sanford
Jordaan Sanford is currently an editor for Tennis.com and was a college standout at Maryland and Baylor. In college, she earned wins over current WTA players Giuliana Olmos and Chanelle Van Nguyen, and was a 5-star junior recruit with wins over Coco Vandeweghe, Sabrina Santamaria, Kaitlyn Christian and Danielle Lao. She sits down to talk about the decision to not turn pro, her role at Tennis.com and the impact Title IX had on her.
Joey: You had a solid college career, playing some of your best tennis after a transfer to Baylor. Your career ended with a tight three-set loss to current WTA Top 100 player Jennifer Brady. What made you decide to forgo the tour at your peak?
Jordaan: I remember exactly how I was feeling when I wrapped up my college career. It was definitely a feeling of uncertainty at first, many people were telling me that I should try the pro tour and I did debate it for a couple of months following my conclusion of college tennis. My senior year was the first year I played entirely without injuries, I was getting better and better with each match and although a little fatigued at the end, I was finally playing tennis freely and didn’t have to hold back for the first time. It was really refreshing and I wanted my career to end on a high note. People were in my ear my entire career and the decision to step away from the court and into something new didn’t involve me listening to anyone else this time, it was my own and I think the best decision I could have made in terms of my happiness.
Joey: You’re now an editor for Tennis.com. Talk about your duties and if you ever imagined yourself stepping into the business end of tennis. How has COVID-19 impacted your team and content?
Jordaan: After hanging up my racquets, I never really saw myself returning to tennis in any capacity. I worked for two previous companies prior to starting at The Tennis Channel and both were very different than my responsibilities now. I was a technical writer for an airline for over three years and a marketing/PR coordinator before that for a printing company. But, I’m so happy the two things I love most in life are now my career. I’m a storyteller, and I love to tell stories from unique perspectives in any form, Digital or linear video content or written content and I also love tennis. So on a daily basis, I get to work in field I love. I currently write feature stories for Tennis.com and Baseline, along with daily pieces, and occasionally script/fact notes for The Tennis Channel. I also am an editor for the Tennis Magazine.
COVID-19 thankfully hasn’t affected my work in a negative way, I’m still working and this may be shocking, but my workload is much heavier. My team and I are really being pushed creatively to come up with out of the box content for both digital and linear and since there is no tennis, we are finding ways to still bring excitement to tennis fans all around the world during these stressful and saddening times.
Joey: The title of our blog is an obvious reference to Title IX. As a female athlete, can you talk about the impact of that ruling and the females that led to it?
Jordaan: First and foremost, just as a person, I will never accept the exploitation of any living thing and that is at the core of my beliefs. So Title IX is another form of stopping this exploitation and inequality, but this time towards female athletes and because of the strong and tenacious women who led to this ruling there are more women competing and thriving in the sports they love. While we still have a long way to go, our headway could not have been possible if it weren’t for these brave women who made it possible and my career as a tennis player would have never been. It’s crazy to think when this ruling first took place there were only 27 women playing sports and to see how far we have come is amazing.
Joey: Tennis is a high-demanding and mentally taxing sport. How has it molded you into the person you are today, especially unto your work?
Jordaan: Tennis has taught me so many lessons that I believe have shaped me as a person. But a few things would be, to stay strong in the face of adversity, to remain calm but never timid, and to never ever give up on what you want. It’s not over until the last point is won and in every day life, I believe as long as you wake up in the morning, you’re still in the match.
Joey: What is one piece of advice you wish you knew to give to eighteen-year-old Jordaan?
Jordaan: To stop being afraid of success and to never hold back. You have to go for what you want, don’t expect it to come to you.