12 October, 2015

Eastern Men’s Team Brings Home Fifth National Open Team Championship

(Editor's Note: This post was written by Kelsey Clark and originally posted on the Eastern USTA site on 9/5/2015)
The New York Athletic Club (NYAC) men’s tennis team recently won its fifth championship during the National Open Team Championships at the Darling Tennis Center in Las Vegas. The tournament benefited the American Cancer Society.
“The quality of players Jeff brings elevates the competition,” Susan Johnson Maurer, the National Open Team Championships tournament director said. “He puts a lot of work into this tournament and is very supportive of charity events.”
The team, which plays out of the New York Athletic Club in Pelham, N.Y., as well as Manhattan, is captained by Jeffrey Appel and features: Jason Jung, Adam El Mihdawy, Dan Cochrane, Cameron Silverman, Jhonson Garcia and James Cluskey.
“Jeff loves tennis, and the fact that his team challenges for a National Championship every year is indicative of that,” Cedric Jones, director of athletics at New York Athletic Club said. “He is a great ambassador for tennis, not only in New York, but also for the club.” 
The NYAC team has won the National Open Team Championship five times in the last six years.
“It feels great to be a part of this accomplishment,” Appel said. “It’s important to prove that strong tennis does exist in New York, and I enjoy keeping those thoughts alive.”

11 March, 2015

Winter Is Going

 Last night 14,894 Feder-I mean-tennis fans piled into Madison Square Garden for the 8th annual BNP Paribas Showdown. The exhibition event, the centerpiece of World Tennis Day, starred Hall of Famers Gabriela Sabatini and Monica Seles, alongside 17-time major champion Roger Federer and Grigor Dimitrov.

Given the bracing cold of this New York winter, the sight of tennis, with its perpetually tanned competitors, doing (something approximating) battle in midtown Manhattan was as sure a sign of the spring thaw underway as the sudden vanishing of our street corner slush ponds.

So how did this Showdown fare as an exhibition event?  Let’s go to the checklist.

·      Witty banter between opponents? Check.

·      Circus shots, including a tweener or two?  Check.

·      Cute kid “randomly” plucked from the audience? Check.

·      That kid being a ringer who knows how to wield a racquet well enough to take softballs from the pros? Check.

·      Some spellbinding tennis that almost makes you forget that these aren’t fully competitive matches. Check.

All in all, the event succeeded.

28 September, 2014

Tennis Over All

Jason Pinsky, Brendan Evans, Ludovic Walter, Alex Bogomolov, Amer Delic, Brett Joelsen and Jeffrey Appel at STK in Las Vegas (Appel's firm effectuated STK's public listing (symbol: STKS))
I spoke with Jeffrey Appel via phone on the eve the USTA National Open Level Championships. Appel, an executive at Broadband Capital, captains the team sponsored by the New York Athletic Club (NYAC) which is representing the USTA’s Eastern Section.  The tournament was set for the Darling Tennis Center in Las Vegas this weekend.

When a group of Wall Street hedge fund/private equity types and their buddies plan a long weekend trip to Las Vegas, it’s not usually a newsworthy endeavor.  At least, that’s what the participants (and their employers) usually hope. Thus, the reminder that books can’t always be judged by their covers. When Appel and his friends descended upon Vegas this weekend, it wasn’t debauchery on their minds, but dominance. The team arrived on Thursday seeking a positively Federer-esque fifth consecutive championship.

07 September, 2014

The Unlikely Lass

Vegas wouldn't take this bet, Judge Judy would've interrupted and asked the plaintiffs to cut the baloney, Disney wouldn't option this screenplay.

It's too much to believe that tennis was blessed with Serena Williams.

Chris Evert, the sun-kissed, ponytailed, ice maiden, golden girl daughter of a longtime tennis coach, we'd buy that one.

Martina Navratilova, the workhorse who defected from behind the iron curtain and was as responsible as anyone for upping the game's physical ante, we can buy that one too.

For as incredible as both those champions were, there stories somehow seem to fit within the acceptable (read: believable) narrative for tennis stars.

Serena Williams though, the woman who just matched the two aforementioned American legends with her 18th major singles title today...well, I guess her truth is stranger than any fiction we'd deem credible.

Imagine pitching this script...

38 Special

Sporting dominance, though acknowledged as it happens, is usually only truly appreciated through the lens of history. Once fans are freed from the throes of week-in, week-out competition; once the hysterical tweets have long faded from the timeline; once the cries of “Not him again!” have long since drifted on the wind.

For the last decade, since February 2005 to be exact, every single final played at a major tennis tournament featured either Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal. Let me put this in perspective, for 38 consecutive majors 128 men were in the draw, the best tennis players on the planet right now. Every single time, either Federer, Djokovic or Nadal's name was on the scoreboard during the final. There are third graders who have never in their lives witnessed a major where one of these men didn't at least play in the final. Moreover, of the 38 consecutive times the sport's ruling triumvirate took a place in the final, 34 times flashbulbs popped as one of the those three men kissed (or bit) the champion's trophy. Often there wasn't even an alternative, on a solid number of those occasions, 16 to be exact, two of them faced each other for the most coveted prizes on offer.

That unprecedented run ends Monday.

20 June, 2014

Dr. 30 Love (Or How I learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Wimbledon Queue)

First and foremost, I am a tennis fan and nothing if not an extremely lucky one, having been fortunate enough to complete the Career Spectator Slam. Yes, I've swigged a brew in the raucous (by tennis standards) stands in Melbourne, I've quietly munched a baguette alongside the almost Martian red clay of Paris and for years I took week-long staycations, trekking out the 7 Line to the US Open, my hometown major, but it was only a year ago that I could finally cross Wimbledon off my tennis bucket list. What follows is a little bit on why it took so long, how I finally got it done and why you should embrace the queue.
A little clarity, the Big W, if we're parsing technicalities, was actually the very first major I visited. As a college student, I was in London in March and dragged a few buddies to SW19 on an appropriately rainy day to take a tour of the Wimbledon Museum and eat strawberries and cream. It was the only time I'd see Centre Court pre-Roof and the day as a whole remains a cherished memory. That said, attending the actual Wimbledon tournament thoroughly intimidated me, despite being a tennis fanatic and seasoned traveler, before I finally took the plunge last summer.

29 May, 2014

Thoughts On Tennis (Channel)

My nascent return to the blogsphere commences with my wading into the conversation that's been running over the last couple of days on Twitter about Tennis Channel.  During my self-imposed hiatus, I started and ultimately aborted a post about the network that the recent conversations implored me to dust off and update.

Let's start here: for all its faults, the mere existence of a network devoted to tennis is a major win for American fans. As any fan who can tell his 250s from his 500s knows, the tennis season is a 24/7/365 global carnival stretching from Auckland to Stockholm and seemingly every point on the globe in between.  The old-school "take what we deign to show you" network TV model simply doesn't fit in a sport where six tournaments, across multiple continents and time zones can be going on in any given week.  I mean, hypothetically, how can network affiliates schedule cash-cow infomercials if Aga Radwanska goes into a third set in the Seoul final at 3AM Eastern?  Theoretically, how many CBS affiliates will pre-empt the US Open men's final again if a matchup between, say, the two best players in the world would otherwise encroach on their lucrative prime access bloc and The Insider's wall-to-wall coverage on the next disposable reality TV stars' divorce?  Tennis Channel doesn't have these issues and for that alone, the channel's a positive presence.

That said, the network has its challenges; the largest of which is that it's hard to get.  While I have no direct knowledge of Tennis Channel's strategies, until recently they seem to have been working on a three angles to graduate to the upper tier of sports networks.

28 May, 2014

Where I've Been

That deep blue on beneath the horizon is the Sea of Cortez

First off, it's immensely flattering that I've had a few people ask me where I've (or more to the point, Blackabel Tennis) been has over the past year or so.  To quote Serena Williams, it all comes down to this thing called "life."