Sunday, June 6, 2010

Thank You For Not Screaming

When Francesca Schiavone won the championship match on the RED CLAY of the French Open yesterday, I felt an empowering adrenaline rush. It's refreshing to watch women negotiate the tennis court with strong one-handed backhands--charging the net, playing an aggressive serve-and-volley game. The aces, lobs, drop shots, touch volleys--awesome! Added bonus: We didn't have to turn the volume off to watch the women's finals.

Mercifully, Schiavone and opponent Samantha Stosur don't scrrrreeeee-e-e-e-e-e-e-ch (à la Maria Sharapova or Venus Williams) when they hit the ball. Thank you for not screaming.

My only regret: space-wise, it'll be tough to fit FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE into the puzzle grid, but I'll figure out a way. She's the first Italian women's champion in the Grand Slam era.

STOSUR is a solid grid word, quite unusual--and very handy in puzzle construction. I hope we'll see SAMANTHA STOSUR advance at Wimbledon in a few weeks, as she's part of a distinguished Australian tennis tradition. (Remember crossword oldies, ROD LAVER and PAT CASH?) My all-time favorite tennis star and childhood inspiration was the fantastic Australian, EVONNE GOOLAGONG (above). To my eyes, no player has ever matched Evonne's blend of athleticism, grace and exuberance. Her court presence was pure magic.

Crossword opportunities are better on the men's side of the French Open: As of today, RAFAEL NADAL (nicknamed RAFA, thank you very much) has racked up five French Open championships. And he's only 24 years old. May this charming man enjoy a long and injury-free career. Man, he's got class.

My only regret:  Rafa wore a regular tennis shirt today. Please, bring back the sleeveless look!  (Sigh . . .)  J'adore!

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