The heart of the tournament sets up a day made for the remote control, but out on the grounds of the Lindner Family Tennis Center, you can only hope that your feet won’t fail you because who knows what you might miss as you’re dashing between courts to catch all that you can of the human highlights. And today would definitely offer its share of highs.
A sparse crowd arrives early on Center Court for the first match of Day Three (Aug. 16), which features one of the more intriguing players on the WTA roster thus far in 2011: Li Na, who reached the finals of the Australian Open and became the first native-born Asian player to capture a Grand Slam title when she won the French Open. Kicking things off here, the tournament was proud to recognize a group of young girls from the Mountain Flowers Chinese Youth Tennis Academy in attendance. Although light, the crowd warmly greeted Li during the player introductions; a sign that the dedicated fans of the game wanted an up close look at her.
Although I missed the morning and afternoon session of Day Three, Brian Taylor snagged a few key photo opportunities. From Center Court, there are shots of the match between Svetlana Kuznetsova versus American qualifier Jill Craybas. The results, with Kuznetsova cruising 6-3, 6-4 into the second round, speak to the stout power of the talented Russian, who happens to be one of the more formidable hitters on the women’s side. Off court, Taylor captured Rafael Nadal during his press conference, where he likely faced questions about the ongoing meteoric rise of Novak Djokovic who is in the midst of a phenomenal run, the likes of which the game hasn’t seen, possibly ever. Will it continue here, or will Rafa or reigning champion Roger Federer (the only player to have beaten Djokovic so far this year) or someone else slow him down before the U.S. Open?
The Western & Southern Open kicked off in grand fashion Aug 13, spotlighting the renovations to the Lindner Family Tennis Center that now allow it to accommodate both men’s and women’s action simultaneously. More importantly, the immediate impact hit when the news arrived (at day’s end) that Saturday drew an all-time record for attendance with 13,204 tennis fans taking in the new digs, a strong line-up of qualifying matches as well as opportunities to catch top names tuning up on the practice courts and the undeniable fun of Kids Day activities.
The graphic featured a photo of Reds centerfielder Drew Stubbs sitting on the ground, a grimace overtaking his face after apparently being thrown out while trying to steal second base; a table of stats that included the offensive numbers of strikeout-prone hitters Stubbs, former Red Adam Dunn, Mark Reynolds, Ryan Howard and Jack Cust; and a paragraph across the bottom of the graphic entitled “One of These Players Is Not Like the Others.”
It's been a long, strange journey for the 2011 Cincinnati Reds. The team's first 92 games have seen injuries, lengthy slumps, poor starting pitching and more close losses than a team with such a good bullpen should statistically endure. Still, with 70 regular-season games remaining, the Reds sit 2 games below .500 and just 4 out of the division lead, which puts the organization's executives in a tough spot.
Word on the Internet these days is that Mick Cronin has secured a verbal commitment from Columbus Northland High School power forward Devon Scott, who apparently tweeted the news after visiting the UC campus on Tuesday.
Jay Bruce hit .234 with two home runs in his first 77 at-bats through April 25. At the time I asked, “Will the Real Jay Bruce Please Stand Up?” Six weeks later the Reds’ right fielder is hitting .292 with an NL-leading 17 home runs and 46 RBI.
I guess he answered my question. Or has he?
After a hot start, the Reds have lost eight of 11 and each of the last three series. It's not a good time to be falling flat — the surging Milwaukee Brewers host the Reds tonight, opening what could be a key, pysche-altering three-game series.