Sports Beat “Not much US at the US Open”

A lot was made of Andy Roddick’s retirement last year since he remains the last American man to win a tennis Grand Slam event when he won the 2003 US Open. What got surprisingly little play when he lost to Argentina’s Juan Del Potro in 2012 was that he was the last American men’s player left in the US Open at that point.

Things have not markedly improved for those who want to chant “USA!” at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (BJKNTC) this week and next. Yes, Serena Williams remains the top-ranked women’s player but things go downhill precipitously on both sides of the gender tennis ledger for the red, white and blue.

20 year-old Sloane Stephens has been billed as the heir apparent to Serena Williams for the last three years. Other American women who have been generating some buzz are Madison Keys, Lauren Davis and Jamie Hampton. While it’s unlikely that any of the aforementioned will be raising a trophy this year, it’s important for American pride, and to American TV ratings, that at least some of them play into next week.

2010’s Cinderella story, Melanie Oudin, got bounced in the first round of the US Open qualifiers last week at the BJKNTC which incidentally was free to the public. I guess that it’s safe to dub her “Flash in the Pan” Oudin. On a brighter note, another once-touted American female player , Coco Vandeweghe (the niece of former Knicks player and Nets head coach Kiki Vandeweghe), did survive the qualifiers to make it into the first round of the US Open.

John Isner, the thirteenth seed, came into the Open as the highest ranked American men’s player. Isner has arguably the most powerful serve today and he possesses incredible stamina because his matches always seem to require time-consuming tiebreakers that are physically draining.

Unfortunately like a hard-luck pitcher who always loses close games, Isner always seems to come up a dollar short to higher ranked opponents as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Mardy Fish was the one American who could give the European big boys fits but he will be missing the 2013 Open because of persistent health issues.

There has been a lot of talk about alleged rising stars Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock. While it would be nice to believe that they will one day be the next Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, the odds are that they will follow in the footsteps of journeymen Robbie Ginepri and Taylor Dent.

The US Open will be a homecoming for ESPN’s Mike Tirico who will be anchoring a lot of the coverage. Mike is a graduate of Bayside High School.


Tirico’s fellow Bayside High alumnus, hockey broadcaster and maven Ashley Scharge, traveled up to Toronto last week to be a guest analyst on Sirius XM’s “Hockey Today.”

CBS Sports NFL play-by-play broadcaster, Brooklyn Nets TV voice, and Forest Hills High School alum Ian Eagle was inducted into the hall of fame of his alma mater’s radio station, Syracuse’s WAER.

Chaim Witz and Stanley Eisen, who grew up in Jackson Heights and Flushing respectively and are better known as KISS co-founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, recently purchased an Arena Football League team that will begin play next spring in Los Angeles. The team will be called the LA KISS naturally. Incidentally, New York does not have a team in the league although that should change shortly in light of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and the fact that Madison Square Garden’s renovations should be completed by this fall.

The general consensus seems to be that Mets manager Terry Collins, whose contract expires at the end of this season, will get at least another year barring a total September collapse of the Amazin’s. The Mets getting swept in the last two weeks by both the Dodgers and the Tigers, admittedly two of baseball’s best teams, shows that the Mets are still a long way from matching up with elite clubs and give Collins’s critics fodder to argue for his dismissal.

The San Diego Padres are basically the Mets of the west but you have to give their management credit for trying interesting promotions. When I visited Petco Park two weeks ago to see the Mets take on the Padres there was a wine festival taking place behind centerfield. While it’s not Napa or Sonoma, San Diego County has a lot of vintners and a number of them set up tasting booths at Petco Park. Considering the number of terrific Long Island wineries there are, the Mets should try to emulate the Padres’ promotion.

December can be a bit chilly in New York and it’s a great time to hop on a JetBlue flight from JFK to San Diego. The Giants will be playing the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on December 8. Since the Chargers frequently have trouble selling out their games it may be easier for Big Blue fans to catch their team here than at MetLife Stadium. Top-tier hotels as Hyatt Regency La Jolla, the historic Grande Colonial (which is celebrating its centennial), and the beautiful West Inn & Suites in Carlsbad all offer weekend packages.

The NFL Network will be celebrating its tenth anniversary this November. If that seems perplexing it’s because it did not get picked up by either Time Warner Cable or Cablevision until last fall. It is somewhat ironic that many Queens football fans can currently watch games on the NFL Network but not on CBS.

The NFL Network’s lead analyst, Mike Mayock, does not think it’s a good idea that the Super Bowl will be held at MetLife Stadium on February 2. Mayock, who grew up in West Philadelphia, has nothing against the New York metropolitan area but he feels that cold weather will favor a team with a stronger running game than one that relies on passing. Warm weather is a neutralizer in his opinion.

While CBS is being blacked out by Time Warner, the CBS Sports Network (Channel 467) can still be watched. Former Jets linebacker Bart Scott will be one of the personalities on its four-hour Sunday morning NFL show that is cheekily being called “The Other Pre-game Show.”

Samsung is offering an 85-inch ultra high definition “smart television” for a mere $40,000. For those who are willing to settle for Samsung’s  OLED, a 55″ inch curved smart TV the price is only a mere $9,000.

From the inception of television there have always been celebrity exercise trainers starting with still the most famous of them all, the late Jack LaLanne. Until now there has only been one yoga instructor that most have ever heard of, 1960s TV yoga pioneer, Richard Hittleman. Sadie Nardini, a wisecracking Chelsea Handler type who is a far cry from the earnest new age spiritual types that most of us think of when we picture yoga instructors, is quickly generating buzz in both the entertainment and corporate worlds. Hanes has signed her to be a spokesperson for its various hosiery lines.

If you feel the need for speed and are willing to take a four-hour road trip over Labor Day weekend, the Grand Prix of Baltimore should satisfy.

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