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.