Friday, August 31, 2007
Let's just say we're lucky that Miss Tracy Austin only turns up at the majors. It's almost as if Austin's secret mission is to grind whatever meager TV ratings tennis still gets down into a fine dust. There is such a deeply rooted absence of excitement or even interest in her voice, you'd think she was describing insurance premium loopholes. Where's the joy, honey? It's a game...a glorious game! Get into it! Even worse, Austina frequently veers from disinterest into downright nastiness. To her credit, her technical grip on the sport is top notch, but that should be a given. Also, she doesn't play favorites. But as far as imparting drama and grandeur into the exquisite dialogue of a tennis match, she could be outdone by a rudimentary robot. Grade: C-
Ladies and gentleman, get ready for a fascinating showdown this weekend between two of the men's tour's most intriguing southpaws. In one corner: Donald Young, the flashy 18-year-old American who is finally revealing what he can do out there after three years of unsubstantiated hype and who scored a major bonus when Richie "tummy ache" Gasquet pulled out of their scheduled 2nd round match. In the other corner: Feliciano Lopez, widely thought to be the handsomest player in the locker room and close confidant of Rafael Nadal. Both are sure to bring their most stinging topspin shots and wildly curving serves. The good news for Young? Lopez pretty much doesn't have a backhand. The upside for Lopez? Young has only won two ATP matches in his career. Let the best lefty win!
He may be viewed as something of an underachiever on the tennis court (so much talent, so few memorable results), but James Blake may have turned a massive corner last night in the 2nd round of the Open. Not only did he fend off the ultimate slice 'n' dice whirling dervish, Fabrice Santoro, who can drive players to the brink of insanity with his wispy shots, but he did it by besting his opponent in a decisive fifth set for the first time in his career. Blake was previously 0-9 in five set matches. Never won one, and everyone in the locker room knew he couldn't go the distance. Having ditched that monkey from his back, Blake may have finally unlocked the last mental shackle preventing him from soaring to the finish line of a major. Stay tuned!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Of course everyone knew Roger Federer would dismiss Paul Capdeville like a tardy pupil in their second round match this evening. But what would Federer wear? FedEx is giving some of the most stylish female players a run for their money with his rapidly expanding arsenal of fashion statements, and tonight's "black tie" attire—complete with tuxedo striped shorts—is sure to send him over the top. Naturally, Roger's close friend, Anna Wintour, was perched in his player's box, emitting invisible waves of approval with each and every nod of her head. Apres, the pair (plus that Mirka person) probably zipped over to Oscar de la Renta's penthouse for a midnight snack.
As this 100% original, undoctored photo proves, it seems that there are actually a few living, breathing individuals interested in collecting Justine Henin's autograph. With amazing bravery, these eager—or maybe just confused and misguided—fans risked contracting one of the Belgian's famous facial sores, or worse, having their souls erased by her wicked scowl! Racqonteur suspects this warm and fuzzy moment may have been orchestrated by one of Justine's agents as part of her ongoing "kinder, friendlier" makeover.
While the U.S. Open is still lumbering through the slew of lopsided routs typically seen in the 1st and 2nd rounds (poor Roberta Vinci only scraped one game off the court against Maria Sharapova, for example), Wednesday offers two intriguing matchups that might offer some legitimate excitement. First up on Ashe, Ana Ivana-more-ovic takes on the hard hitting French youngster Aravane Rezai, who shook things up in the Open's early rounds last year. Ana will still win, but she'll have to work that forehand hard. Later, Canadian superhero Frank Dancevic takes on that 6' 4" firecracker Marat Safin. This one's a coin toss. Equally uncertain? Whether or not USA Network will actually air these pairings instead of the expected top-seed blowouts.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
After her understandably messy win over German soon-to-be-somebody Angelique Kerber, Serena Williams went through her usual post-match routine: praising her outfit (despite having had to tear the bow off at the end of the 2nd set), disparaging her performance, and denying her opponent even one tiny crumb of credit for making her work hard. We've heard it all before. The fresh news—and a ray of hope for anybody out there flailing around on a court—came at the end, when 'Rena revealed that she was once an incompetent player. "I was terrible. I couldn't hit hard. I hit lobs and slice. I'm amazed that I've come this far. I was terrible. Only thing I could do was run fast. I had like a terrible serve. Oh, my God. I had the worst forehand. When I look back at old films my dad had, I'm like, I would have quit on her. It pays not to give up because somewhere along the line I changed." It's so encouraging to hear that Serena didn't come out of the womb firing off those slice serves down the line or cracking cross-court backhand winners.
Hooray for the mysteriously named Asha Rolle. Racqonteur previously assumed this minor personage on the tour was some kind of taciturn, stocky and hot-headed Austrian mädchen prone to errant volleys and first-round losses. Turns out she's a slightly stocky serve and volleying African American 22-year-old from Miami. Mitteleuropean or not, it was delightful to learn that this minor-league trooper (having never won a match at a grand slam) pulled through against Tatiana Golovin in the first round of the Open on Monday night, logging 21 of 26 points at the net for a 6-2 in the third victory. Cheers! Let's hope Rolle celebrated with a delicious schnitzel, or rather, some kind of Miamian culinary specialty, whatever that is!
Delving ever further into the love-fest between Roger Federer and Vogue editrix Anna Wintour, Racqonteur was delighted to see that the mighty bobbed-one threw a proper New York socialite soiree for his Rogerness on the eve of the Open. Vogue the magazine and Federer the icon share a certain kind of inevitability; the assumed success and complete ownership of their respective fields that elite-types eat up like so many slices of foie gras terrine on toast points. Stepping out to air-kiss the dominator in their late-summer finest? No lesser silver spooners than Marina Rust, Lauren duPont, Amanda Cutter Brooks and Aerin Lauder. Roger really seems in his element among these swell swans. Can't wait to see who takes a town car out to sit in his box!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
It's like clockwork. The U.S. Open Series reaches it's grand finale, and meteorological heck breaks loose all over the Northeast. The Pilot Pen tournament in New Haven was washed out today by consistent rain, providing what Racqonteur knows is but a preview of the waterlogged hours to come during the U.S. Open fortnight. A quick glance at the 10 day forecast for Flushing Meadows has more than a few instances of "scattered thunderstorms" and "showers." Ugh. Memo to the USTA: Time to get really high-tech and build one of them newfangled things that keep the wet out. What's that called again? Oh, yeah, a roof!
From Japan today comes the intriguing and unsettling proposal for something called the X-Seed 4000, a wacky 13,000-ft-high mega-building that will house 1 million happy automatons. Inspired by Mount Fuji and meant to be constructed in Tokyo Harbor, this soul-crushing behemoth will, it seems, have one saving grace: Tucked in the middle of the complex's futurama garden is an old-fashioned tennis court. So when Kenji from block A42-9 on the seventh ring wants to practice his serve, he just has to grab his racquet and take the people mover down a few hundred floors!
Monday, August 20, 2007
Despite her worldwide fame, Maria Sharapova has managed to avoid too much attention from the renegade tabloid media (other than last summer's consistent drumbeat that she and Andy Roddick were somehow conducting a secret love affair). Most of the time, the media seems content to let Maria go about her business. Today, however, came certain unsavory reports picked up by US Weekly from a Russian "newspaper" called The Exile, which claimed that Maroon 5 cheeseball Adam Levine complained about Maria's prowess in bed. For the record, Motorola did hire the band to play at Maria's 18th birthday party in New York's meatpacking district two years ago. Fine. But did Maria get it on with this guy? Maybe. Ultimately, who cares? Levine's rep denied the reports.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
So sad to hear that Amelie Mauresmo has withdrawn from the U.S. Open, citing a groin injury, essentially signing off for the year. Rooting for this sometimes dazzling, sometimes disappointing French goddess has always been bittersweet. With one of the most naturally athletic but woefully brittle physiques on the tour, Amelie is always just one tweaked tendon away from the sidelines. Staring her thirties in the eyes, it's difficult to imagine Mauresmo ever reaching the highest echelons again.
Racqonteur sees so many silly instances of tennis players in advertising. Federer bantering with Tiger Woods in a Gillette ad? Snooze. Amelie wearing an Arabic robe declaring, "I love Dubai!" Ha ha. The new Louis Vuitton campaign with Andre Agassi and Stefi Graf is something altogether different. Glamorous and understated at the same time, who wouldn't want to live the way these two legends do? Fantastic luggage, not a care in the world, and 30 Grand Slam singles titles between them. Mon dieu!
Friday, August 17, 2007
So what if he's yet to win an ATP Tour-level match in 11 tries? The kid only just turned 18. A lot has been said about Donald Young and his perhaps ill-advised decision to turn pro at 14. This year Young, a crafty left-hander with prodigious touch and extraordinary speed around the court, has pulled back onto the Challenger circuit, where he's found a lot more success and hopefully gathered some confidence. Now that he's been bestowed with a golden ticket, er, wild card to play in the U.S. Open, it seems like the stars may have finally aligned for Young to be able to show the tennis world what he can do.
UPDATE: On Sunday, August 19, Young won his first ATP match in the first round of the Pilot Pen, beating Amer Delic in three tight sets.
UPDATE: On Sunday, August 19, Young won his first ATP match in the first round of the Pilot Pen, beating Amer Delic in three tight sets.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
While the legions of Sharapova haters (you know who you are!) may have twittered with glee at last weekend's news that the defending U.S. Open had to bag her semifinal in L.A. against Nadia Petrova due to a painful shin injury, it looks like the schadenfreude party is already over. In her ever-amusing "doodle" posting, the hard-hitting star reveals that her leg felt completely normal after two days of rest and that she's already back out on the practice courts. Racqonteur was happy to hear about her recovery, as well as the arrival of her pre-season orders from Peter Som and Thakoon, which are certain to cause a stir when Maria hits the scene in Manhattan next week.
Clicking around on those zany intertubes today, Racqonteur caught a glimpse of the teeniest little text ad blinking in the corner, encouraging eager investors to "sponsor next Russian tennis star!" Low and behold, the link led to a perplexing greeting card of sorts from one young Valeria Kashina, posing with a mess of gold medals around her neck and generic trophies in each hand. Her clunky site, which cheerily claims that Valeria will become the next breakthrough Russian player, offers little in the way of evidence to support its lofty claims. Seemingly made on a Commodore 64 in a hut in the Ural mountains, Valeria's site lacks even one nod to the larger tennis world, leaving this visitor to wonder if it might be some kind of East Bloc sports scam. It's hard to imagine who would be foolish enough to send "sponsorship" money to this individual of suspect reality, but then again, everybody loves a phenom!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Uh oh! Just days after dashing into the headlines with his 'n' hers titles in Montreal and L.A., Super-Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivana-more-ovic both crashed out in their first matches of this week's tuner tournaments in Cincinnati and Toronto. Too much making party Belgrade style? Well, give the kids a break. They earned a week off after dusting the fields last week. Now they can fill the tanks for when they really need to bring it: the U.S. Open.
The Mallorcan maestro, Rafael Nadal, has succumbed to the relentless physical pressures of playing at the very highest level of the game. For now. Even as his knee, which took a beating in his epic Wimbledon final against R-Fed, began to mend, he called it quits today with a wrist injury on the court at the Cincinnati Masters tournament, down a set and 1-4 to Juan Monaco. Racqonteur hopes Rafael will heal in time to seriously compete in Flushing Meadows, which starts main draw matches in just 12 days!
The ever-intriguing world of tennis may get short shrift from most sports pages and the media at large, but the game has one dedicated—and seriously chic—supporter in Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. In the September editions of her women's and men's magazines, tennis makes more than a few appearances. In "Talking Fashion," the chic people of the moment are Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and...Roger Federer. Then in "People are Talking About," the Serbian marvels Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic (looking their very best) each get a page. In Men's Vogue, Ana scores another page. This comes after last spring's Federer cover, as well as previous feature articles about him as well as James Blake. Racqonteur has spotted Wintour's silver Town Car idling outside Manhattan's Midtown Tennis Club on numerous occasions, and it's fabulous to see that she's channeling her personal passion into some much-needed publicity for the sport.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Racqonteur is always on the prowl for luscious slices of land covered in clay, grass or concrete and topped of with a three foot high net. Tennis maniacs of means will surely appreciate this substantial cottage on the north shore of New York's Long Island, particularly for the fact that it includes this woodsy private court nestled right up against the sound. Imagine a zen-like hour of hitting practice serves out of a hopper on a warm early fall afternoon with the sound of the water splashing in the background. You can do exactly that for a smidge under $15 million. Place your order here. Operators are standing by.
Any tennis lovers within a stone's throw of Newport, RI should pencil in the weekend of August 25th, when eight of the greats, including John McEnroe, Mats Wilander, Jim Courier, Pat Cash and Todd Martin will be running clinics for mere civilians. Details on the event, which is being held on the lush grass courts of the Tennis Hall of Fame, are available here.
Monday, August 13, 2007
No two people play tennis exactly the same way, it seems, and Racqonteur is fascinated by the thousands of minute variations in the way that the best players in the world hit the same silly little yellow ball. A wonderful site to visit for the indulgence of that fascination is Revolutionary Tennis, written by Los Angeles-based teaching pro Mark Papas, who seems to have a nearly unlimited stamina for dissecting the minutiae of a single tennis stroke. His latest stroke of genius came with the realization that Roger Federer takes a radically unorthodox approach to preparing for his shots. It seems the Swiss Meister keeps his eyes trained behind his racquet throughout each stroke, rather than following the ball with his eyes onto and then off of the racquet. This subtle difference may be the secret to Federer's extraordinary timing and ball striking abilities. For a much more in depth account of this observation, check out Papas dissertation on Federer's line of site here.
A lot like when Lleyton Hewitt and Kim Clijsters pulled the plug on their planned nuptials a few years ago, the possibility of another new tennis power couple hit the net this weekend when Radek "Lips" Stepanek tersely announced via his agent that he and Martina "Choppers" Hingis had called off their engagement. Who knows what transpired between these two Mitteleuropean baseliners? One major obstacle, naturally, had to be the strain of their conflicting travel schedules. Of course this development only cements the rock-solid status of Andre Agassi and Stefi Graf, seen lately lounging around in a Louis Vuitton ad, as the ultimate tennis union.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Incredible performances Sunday from Serbia's two young stars: Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic. First, Super-nova went toe-to-toe with Federer, picking on the Swiss king's backhand with laser-like precision. Watching the young star deny Federer the first set as he served for it 6-5, 40-love up was staggering. It's one thing to watch Nadal drag Roger around a messy clay court; but Djokovic out-paced Federer on speedy hardcourt. Next, it was Ana's turn. Facing hot-head Petrova, Ana kept cracking her explosive forehands, walking off with 31 winners to only 18 errors. Braissima! All this, from players representing a little landlocked central European country with fewer than 8 million residents.
Serbian starlet Ana Ivanovic is edging ever closer to bona fide tennis celebrity. There's an elusive sweet spot of exposure when a player raises her profile with carefully targeted media appearances just as her on-court results soar to greater heights. So here's Ana, knocking out her older and slightly weirder compatriot, Jelena Jankovic, 7-5 in the third set at the L.A. tournament yesterday, booking a promising date in the final with hot-head deluxe Nadia Petrova. And here's Ana, gazing seductively out from the pages of Interview magazine's August issue and the September Men's Vogue. Reaching a career-best 4th place in the rankings this week, heading into the U.S. Open, Ana is perfectly poised to become the games next 'it' girl.
As much as Racqonteur bemoans the New York Times' consistent lack of tennis coverage, favoring instead to dissect the trivial details of team sports, its most potent saving grace comes with the writing of Selena Roberts. This Grey Lady scribe brings the most intelligence, insight, context and perspective to the subject of tennis of any mainstream writer on the scene. And while she's been away from the courts for the last while—writing, presumably, about football nonsense or ice skating—she's back today with a fantastic discussion of Federer and his uniquely low-key but sophisticated approach to super-stardom. Cheers to Selena. Let's hope she stays on topic through the Open.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Yesterday's semifinal clash between Super-Novak and Roddickulous at the Rogers Cup in Montreal made for some highly entertaining tennis—and revealed a lot about Djokovic's true potential. Having never played each other, there was a lot of buildup about the fact that they've been "fighting it out" for the third spot in rankings this year. By the end of the first set, though, it was plain as day to see that Djokovic is simply gifted in a way that Roddick isn't. Once Novak got a handle on how to return Andy's super-freak serve and got the points started, the Serbian star had the American on a string, pulling him around the court like a marionette. There's no rivalry here. The semifinal tonight between Rafa and Super-Novak, however, is a totally different story.
For a lover of tennis, what could be more tantalizing than the prospect of having one's own private court? No reservations to make; no errant balls flying into the middle of a crucial point. Just walk right on and hit balls to your heart's content. This spacious-seeming backyard hardcourt is up for grabs in Beverly Hills for just shy of $13 million. So what if the bloated mansion attached to it looks like a demented antebellum wedding cake? Tear it down! Maybe the sub-prime mortgage boo-boo will bring the price on this one down to earth a little. Stay tuned!
Friday, August 10, 2007
When he strides out onto centre court tonight for his quarterfinal appointment with Rafa Nadal, Frank Dancevic will have the weighty hopes of Canada resting on his fluffy dome of curly brown hair. It's been something of a dry spell for the Canucks; the last time a countryman reached the quarters at the Rogers tournament was 1989 (back in the days when players still wore short shorts.) Whether (or more likely not) this rising Northern Star can withstand the barrage of guile and moxie that is Nadal, the maple leaf posse will surely be out in full flag-waving glory.
As much as the Racqonteur might disagree with her—on everything from the ranking system to the appeal of a shredded Gianfranco Ferre denim bolero jacket—it's hard not to find Jelena Jankovic's direct manner refreshing. This week she fired off some stinging Serbian blow darts at Maria Sharapova, who, at #2, is just one itty bitty step higher than Jelena in the rankings, but lives on another planet when it comes to little things like fame and fortune. So here's what she said about Maria: "She's still the No. 2 player in the world, and only winning one title is not something I think you should see from the No. 2 player in the world." Bitter much? Maybe it's because Maria's got a 3-1 record against her. It's appropriate that their brewing bile might reach a boil this weekend at a tournament in the backyard of Hollywood, global capital of jealousy, vanity and ambition.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Having stopped at nothing to acquire one of Nintendo's precious Wii contraptions (sorry to the little person trampled in Target aisle 12 a while back) solely for the purpose of playing its marvelous virtual tennis game, the Racqonteur was disappointed to discover that after a mere two weeks of play, the Wii Tennis opponents hit a ceiling, setting up an endless one-sided match against "top ranked" Kiko and Ilsa. As genius as Wii Tennis is, it only whetted the appetite for a more grown-up and fully realized tennis game for the system. Now word comes that the highly regarded Rockstar Table Tennis is in the Wii pipeline, slated for a fall release. Now, this is just ping pong, but looks worthy of a few hours shaking around that magical white plastic wand.
Yesterday in Montreal, his Rogerness entered his 26th year, celebrating the occasion with a tidy 7-6, 7-6 win against Ivo the Giant and a funny little Canadian cake! Now that he's standing at the probable midpoint of his career, it's tempting to contemplate some of Der Meister's incredible accomplishments, such as making the final of the last nine Grand Slams in a row (no Open-era player has ever strung more than four Slam finals together). Explore more of his records at your leisure here. Also fun to ponder: What kind of present does one get for the #1 player and likely Greatest of All Time? "Ah, Mirka, dearest, thank you for the entire contents of the Tokyo Prada flagship. And this family of Pandas will be right at home in Dubai..." Most of all, the Racqonteur would love to know what Roger got from his closest of close friends, the always dashing Reto Staubli.
Interesting word from Bulgaria about the gathering storm of Sesil Karatantcheva, who is edging closer to regaining legal status on the tour after waiting out a two-year drug suspension. Amazingly, the stunted phenom will still only be 18 when she returns from exile in January. Tennis heads will recall Sesil for her fearless groundstrokes and equally cavalier tongue (she's the one that wanted to "kick Maria's butt.") She still says she was always au natural, but really, when your dad is an Eastbloc weightlifter named Rado, it's hard to doubt there were a few 'roids sprinkled on your cornflakes. It will certainly be fascinating to see if the tough-talker has been able to hold onto any of her previous momentum once she dives back into the WTA pool.
Once again, James Blake is on the sidelines. Like Icarus, each time this gentleman of the courts flies a little too close to the sun, part of his apparatus comes undone and he tumbles back to earth. In this case, even as his marginally readable biography, Breaking Back, shows surprisingly solid results at the sales counter, Blake's hardcourt season fell into the shadows yesterday when he had to withdraw from the Rogers cup, citing abdominal problems. The Racqonteur hopes his tummy feels better before New Haven so that Blake can put on a show for his hometown crowd.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
What’s the deal with Rafael Nadal pairing up with Lleyton Hewitt in doubles at the Rogers Cup? On the one hand, the Racqonteur loves the idea of Nadal playing doubles with anyone—silencing haters who claim he’s a one-dimensional baseliner. But playing with Lleyton? The red-faced Aussie scream machine? Spider sense says there’s an underlying business reason for this dastardly duo. (Maybe their agents are in cahoots?) Also, where does this leave Rafa’s close friend, occasional roommate and frequent on-court partner Feliciano Lopez? Time (or perhaps one of the Racqonteur’s in-the-know readers) will tell, but until then, let’s hope Rafa doesn’t catch any of Hewitt’s a-hole cooties.
This week the WTA trotted out an intriguing new list, the Tour Power Index. Using all manner of computer machines, robot cameras and gizmos, tour sponsor Sony Ericsson was able to deduce which ten ladies—averaging their fastest serves, forehands and backhands—give the ball the biggest whooping. Elena Dementieva, the rippling Muscovite mistress of groundstrokes, naturally found a place in the power clique. Interestingly, Maria Sharapova was the only woman on the list who is also in the real top ten—you know, the list that, like, actually matters? So while this G-force gaggle is remarkable in a Guinness Book of World Records kind of way, it has nil to do with a player's real force on the court.
While she waits for her malfunctioning thumb to heal, Serena Williams seems to be channeling her excess energy into her hair. "So what if I can't hit a darned backand," Princess Williams II seems to be saying. "I'm going to go to town on my hair!" Witness her pulled-up pom pom at the ESPY Awards, a frizzy natural statement for a soccer party, a lacquered bang fantasia at a recent Beckham soiree and a quasi-art nouveau soft wavy bob for a recent Rodeo Drive photo op. Cheers to Serena for filling up her days with some exceptionally innovative hair work!
2007 was supposed to be the breakthrough year for Andy Murray, anointed savior of British tennis. Now it looks like it might be a wash. After nursing his wrist for three months, the feisty Scotsman crashed out in the second round of Montreal to an unheralded Italian. Brad Gilbert must be getting mighty impatient waiting for his young charge to reach some of his alleged potential even as fellow 20-year-olds like Nadal and Djokovic soar to new heights. More than any of his injuries, it seems that Murray's biggest obstacle might be his suspect mental toughness. He's got a few more weeks to get it together before the Open, where shouting and pouting certainly won't help his cause.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Batten down the hatches, North America. Serbia's 20-year-old tennis supernova has landed in Montreal and, according to his own site, is "oozing with confidence." Novak Djokovic's semi-final showings at the Euro-slams cemented his place just below Rog and Rafa in the rankings, but now that he's back on his beloved hardcourt surface, look for this lean machine to give those two titans some serious competition. Today he undid the resurgent, ever-dangerous and tantrum-prone Nicolas Kiefer 6-3, 6-3 at the Rogers cup. Expect the confidence to grow all the way to Flushing Meadows.
This unfortunate image comes from a silly fashion show held at the Rogers Cup in Montreal over the weekend. Even if James Blake is among the most handsome gents on the tour, the runway is no place for him. There's a reason he gets paid to run around tennis courts and models get paid to run around catwalks. Unless it's really your thing, there's simply no way to strut in front of the cameras while wearing a gaudy suit with any measure of dignity. And who's his friend? Presumably a local Canadian "model" who wasn't booked for her regular mall gig that evening.
The father of modern indoor tennis, Jerry Schneider, has passed away at 87. Tennis heads around the nation, and particularly those in the chillier corners of the country, should remember this pioneer for making it possible to rally even in a blizzard (as the Racqonteur was lucky enough to do many times at New York's Stadium Racquet Club, which recently closed). He opened the North Shore Racquet Club in Northbrook, IL with four indoor courts in 1961. This was well before the sport's boom of the '70s and early '80s, but soon his revolutionary club would see siblings erected around the nation. Now many indoor clubs are under siege from real estate sharks looking to turn courts into condos. Manhattan's dozen or so of indoor clubs has been whittled down by developers to a measly handful over the last ten years, but a few resilient venues, such as Midtown Tennis on Eighth Avenue, manage to keep the lights on and the balls flying. Schneider would be proud.