Wednesday, September 2, 2009

US Open Day 3: Is It Really Such a Sin to Lose?

Curtain Call
Player: Kai-Chen Chang
Nation: Chinese Taipei
Age: 18
Current Ranking: #212
Notable Conquests: Kaia Kanepi (Estonia), 25th seed
Tour Page:,,12781~13135,00.html
Today's Match: loss to Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia) in 3 sets, 6-2 in the third

Big tournament for this young woman. Kai-Chen Chang went through qualifying to reach her first ever Grand Slam tournament. Then, in the first round, her first ever Grand Slam match, she takes out a seed. Very impressive!

Did anyone else watch the Sam Querrey/Michael Yani match on the Mix Channel yesterday? It was a perfect demonstration of what drives me nuts about tennis commentary, especially in the early rounds. To be fair, Michael Yani hardly played the match of his life but can you blame him? Here's a veteran player in a rare Grand Slam opportunity facing a seeded opponent in a televised match. Not to mention the fact that he's playing the match at Louis Armstrong which used to be the main show court at the U.S. Open. It's stinkin' huge! And yet, if we are to believe the on-air commentary, we should be appalled by his presumption of even showing up for the match.

I hate to generalize here because not all of the folks on the tube do this but so many seem to regard the lower-ranked players with such disdain. But I actually had to turn the sound off it was so awful. It is why I have chosen to approach the story of the Slam from the angle I have. In either singles draw, one player will be crowned champion while 127 others will go home having lost their last match. It's not as if all of those 127 others will have had horrible tournaments. Quite the contrary, for some just playing in this one tournament will represent the high point of a career, a story they can tell for the rest of their lives. Who are we to be so dismissive?

I am grateful for the expanded coverage. The Mix Channel is nothing short of a life quality improvement in my mind. But boy, I'd love to be able to push a button that would mute the commentary while still allowing us to hear the sounds of the match. Surely, the technology must exist.

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