Best of Three: Serena dominant in Charleston; U.S. improving on clay
As Billie Jean King and the WTA's other pioneeresses gathered in town for a reunion, Serena gave them a vivid display of just how far the sport -- and by extension, women's sports -- has come. Let the record also reflect: Serena drew high marks for her comportment and sportsmanship. This image from last week says it all.
Leaving aside a discussion of behavior about image and sportsmanship, let's stick to the tennis. If she stays healthy and plays at anywhere near her Charleston level -- let's call it 100 percent -- at the last event of the claycourt swing, she will win the French One for the first time in a decade.
Reader Joe Johnson of Easton, Pa., summed it up nicely when he wrote: "I am back to loving Serena Williams again. At the Family Circle Cup, she was at her top in both her tennis game and her demeanor and vivaciousness. She has the best personality, and when her game is on and she has enough desire and confidence, she is as good as any player or champion in history."
1) The Americans have made strides on clay, and the surface is no longer Yankee quicksand. 2) John Isner may be 6-foot-9, but he is growing before our guys, realizing that he can beat anyone. His singular ability to dislodge opponents from their comfort zones is a huge asset. Isner didn't just beat a pair of quality top ten denizens; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon. He made it look routine. 3) Given that the Bryans seem like a virtual lock to win the doubles point -- note that Spain has just two doubles wins since the start of 2011 -- how big an underdog can the Americans be when they only need to split the singles matches? 4) The frequency of captain changes belies the fact that the right leader can make a difference. The Americans' results are a ringing endorsement for Jim Courier's management style.
The Americans' reward for winning again? Another overseas tie, surely on clay, against Spain, the dominant team of the last decade. Which is to say, the Americans might have 'em right where they want 'em.
We can debate the schedule and format and the dwindling relevance, but Davis Cup -- and its overlay of individual and team -- consistently serves up some the best and dramatic tennis.
? The struggling Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Safarova won the Family Circle Cup doubles.
? Mitchell Krueger, 18, and Allie Kiick, 16 won the USTA International Spring Championships at the Home Depot Center.
? Remember this kid from the Agassi Genworth Financial commercial? He's now 13 and winning rounds at USTA 16 events.