Thursday, July 19, 2007

Rodionova and The Milton Bradley School of Fan Relations

Controversy! Intrigue! Hecklers! Balls hitting off walls! A night in the life of the Reds' bullpen you say?

Nope. This is the Western & Southern Women's Open, where it seems the three women who actually attended the match between Anastasia Rodionova and Angelique Kerber played their own version of serve and volley - between Rodionova's ears.

For only the second time in the the 34-year history of the Women's Tennis Association, a player was not-so-kindly asked to pack their gear and head for the showers mid-match (more on the first time later). [SOURCE] Chair umpire Yvette Kahn, in consultation with tournament referee William Coffey, told Rodionova to take a hike after she rocketed a ball off the wall underneath three fans in the stands (Rodionova appears to be pointing to the spot on the wall in the picture).

At the time the two were tied at two sets apiece and Rodionova had just lost the first game of the third set. Apparently these three women were Kerber fans and had been heckling Rodionova somewhat mercilessly. They were warned by Kahn late in the second set when they cheered midpoint (gasp!), which is against tennis etiquette. Kahn issued a public-address warning to the crowd not to cheer during play.

First of all, who the hell is a Kerber fan? For that matter, who the hell is Kerber? Or Rodionova? These two are ranked 73rd and 78th in the world. I'd assume these three knucklehead fans are either related to Kerber or were half drunk on mimosas at the time. Either way, you gotta love it.

"If you're afraid of the ball, then don't sit in the front row," said Rodionova. I agree. If you're going to dish out some grade-D comments to players in an near-empty stadium, don't be suprised when they fire the felt sphere in your direction. It will be interesting to see the reception Rodionova gets when she plays in the doubles competition, in which it seems she will still be allowed to compete. I might have to make the trip up north for that.

The first time a player was, as they say, "defaulted?" Romania's Irina Spirlea when she made use of some colorful language while addressing an official in the Palmero tournament in 1996. However, this isn't the crowning jewel in Spirlea's tiara.

During a changeover in the semifinals of the 1997 U.S. Open,
Spirlea intentionally collided with [Venus] Williams, not only bumping into her, but kneeing her in the leg near the net post while changing ends. Spirlea went on to lose the match 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-7(7). Williams' father blamed Spirlea's racism as the cause of the collision. Spirlea cited Williams' arrogance, saying in a press conference following the match, "I'm not going to move. She never tries to turn" and "She thinks she's the fucking Venus Williams."[SOURCE]
Give me more of that type of etiquette and I'll book my seat in the front row right now! I'll be sure to bring my glove and remember not to hail the beer vendor mid-point. Maybe.

In case you are curious, Milton Bradley's moment in the shade.

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