As we begin the 2014 season, I will not regale you with a year-end recap of the idiosyncracies of East Coast tournaments as I did in 2012. Instead, I will point out the people and blogs who have moved me and who I want to thank over the last year as a mediocre tennis media man.
#1: Colette Lewis (ZooTennis.com): For pro tennis fanatics who want to know a little more about those obscure qualifiers in a 250 event, Colette’s work will inevitably be at the top of the search engine for that player. On junior and college players, she has literally already written the book on them. Amazing, invaluable content that cannot be topped or found elsewhere. Thank you!
#2 ChallengerTennis.com: This is a site I only started following in 2013. James keeps the focus on his blog “to both chronicle and celebrate the unsung heroes of the pro tennis world: the Challenger and Futures players who grind it out each day”. He does it well. It’s another place to get sometimes rare information and, like Zoo Tennis, also promotes and covers the unheralded and underheralded warriors of the game. Thanks, JJ!
#3: Underpaid Tennis Bloggers/Writers: Some of the biggest writers in the tennis blogosphere working for major outlets are paid a sad pittance of the value of their work. Some have pursued ‘dream’ gigs and have been forced to reside with their parents, sell their own residences, and in some cases, pay for their own travel to get a $2,500-$3,000 monthly stipend from penny-pinching, deep-pocket publishers. Big name journalists deserve a living wage, and their publications who underpay them should be ashamed of themselves. Thank you, unnamed tennis bloggers of prime-time pedigree, for creating some amazing content in 2013. Here’s hoping that you get a raise in 2014. Or at least a fat per diem while you’re on the road, so you can live like kings when you’re livin’ the dream.
#4: Steen “The Teen” Kirby: When Steen Kirby asked to submit articles to this blog two years ago, I had no idea what I was getting into. The guy is a virtual Rain Man of ATP Tennis. He can pretty much whip off the ATP top 200 in exact order on any given week. I’ve only seen this in one other human being and he writes for the New York Times. Several hundred posts later, my respect for Steen’s deep knowledge of the game has grown. Steen is perhaps even more passionate about another love of mine–politics–and he’s off to college in 2014. You know what that means. Radical Student Politics, the Occupations of the Lawn, the Sacking of the Student Union. OK, maybe not. We may lose Steen to the complexities of college life in 2014, but we may not. From what I’ve heard, we lose him to a bigger media outlet. Either way, he’s been a blessing to Tennis East Coast. And I think you’ll be hearing a lot more from him in the future.
#5: Tournament Media Directors: I cannot even bring up this category without one name immediately coming to mind: Anne McLaughlin. The Tennis Hall of fame and ATP Newport press chief is a body of frenetic energy. She delivered in 2013 just like she did in 2012. There is no better thing than a full-time, year-round employee of an event/venue like McLaughlin to have the answer for every single question a blogger may have, no matter how redonculous the blogger’s question may be.
New faces who impressed me in 2013 were Arielle Alpino at Family Circle Cup, Sheena Pegarido at CitiOpen and Pat Mitsch of the USTA.
And while I’m on the press management topic, let me throw in a full-fledged tournament director for his devotion to the cause of micro-blogging. It was the first day of the main draw at Charlottesville and I was the only media member on site. Without my even asking, Ron Manila personally designed and printed me up a sole media credential so the good officials down on court would know what the heck I was doing there.
On the player’s side, Greg Sharko (Newport et al.) is an ATP Twitter superstar and a media maven, now and forever.
Ditto that for the Citi Open DC Duo of Fabrizio Sestini (ATP) and Yanyan Xu (WTA).
And then there’s Vonnie Voss. Voss is the Grande Dame of WTA media operations and was the first gate-keeper I encountered on my first assignment 2 1/2 years ago at the inaugural CitiOpen in College Park, Maryland. I’ve gone out of my way to mind my P’s and Q’s around her since that first rendezvous, so I was pleased when she told me in New Haven that she liked the way I interviewed the players and that she thought they responded well to me because I was a ‘nice guy’. That statement meant a lot to me. I’m not a great interviewer, but I do practice every chance I get. Voss is a class act. Coming from her, it was my validation for all of 2013.
So blame Vonnie, if you must. This blog is energized and we’re going another year!
—Steve Fogleman, Tennis East Coast