Racquets of Redemption: Just in Time for the U.S. Open - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Racquets of Redemption: Just in Time for the U.S. Open
Caroline Garcia wins Sunday’s Cincinnati Final (WTA Match Highlights/YouTube)

“Caro” beats Petra! Borna outplays Mr. Gorgeous! The underdogs’ revenge!

But wait — this is tennis, where, like in New York, nothing is impossible. The underdog, in America, is never to be underestimated. And why should it change? Because look here: if you make it easier for the underdog to get the upper hand — as in golf, with its handicaps, and in the welfare racket, whose latest twist reportedly is for New York City to house and clothe and feed illegals on the tax dollars of hardworking New Yorkers — you can only render prudent governance and clear public policy impossible.

This destructive application of a toxic notion of “fairness” is going to wreck the Great Republic if we do not put an end to it. But in many realms, fortunately, the contagion of egalitarianism-beats-merit has been successfully resisted.

Big time tennis has not been immune to the un-American demonstrations that found their way into some other sports. But notwithstanding some gestures toward fashionable wrong-headed notions, players and establishment have held the line. You may be sure the U.S. Open, in a couple weeks, will follow its traditions of saluting New York’s Finest, of giving seats and thanks to servicemen. A Marine honor guard will display the flag and an Air Force wing will fly over Arthur Ashe Stadium.

If you win, you win. If you are almost good enough but do not qualify after being given a difficult but fair test (win three matches against other would-be’s in the week preceding), you still know you did well and you are thanked and you are thankful, and there will be another chance. You cannot play in the women’s draw unless you are a woman, and you say nice things about your rivals, your fans, your hosts.

You may or may not know — the teaching of history, these days, is not all it should be — that there was a time you could not play at some of these tournaments if you were not of the right classracereligion. But that was then and now there are other restrictions, such as whether you have been vaxed, and do not wear your national colors if they are those of a country we, officially, abhor.

Observe that this does not clarify just how, or by whom, said outlaw nations, or more exactly their ruling gangs, are selected, and you might ask yourself why (just sayin’) Russia and not Saudi Arabia? Or Red China? But, what, foreign affairs, in tennis no less than in the corridors of our own State Department, always has been something of a crapshoot, no?

Tennis is no crapshoot. You get your good days and your off days but the percentages do not lie. Caroline Garcia for the past ten years been a top-ten player who never quite made it to the peak of the summit. She won the French Open in doubles, partnering with Kristina Mladenovic, in 2016, and several years ago she won a couple big ones in China, but her play fell off in the years following, with the consequent drastic drop in rankings.

Her resurgence began this year with a second French Open doubles trophy, again with Kristina Mladenovic, against the American team of Jennifer Pegula and Cori Gauff. She won at Bad Homburg and then defeated the No. 1 ranked Iga Świątek on her home ground, on the way to winning the Polish Open. Despite these triumphs, her ranking was such that she had to go through the qualifiers to get into the draw at the classy old (pre-20th century) tournament in Cincinnati (actually in a suburb).

This is a Masters 1000, just below the majors, and the last big warm up before the U.S. Open. At the top of her form, she got past three top-tenners, including Miss Pegula, and found herself across the net from two-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova, who got there by stopping American hope Madison Keys in the semis. Yet what was expected to be a fierce battle of fast tall young ladies turned into something of a rout, as Miss Garcia found her rhythm quickly and Miss Kvitova never quite found hers.

What is affecting here is the quality of redemption, something we also saw in Nick Kyrgios’ success in Washington a few weeks ago. Head, heart, sinew, and muscle must be in harmony, and you have no one to talk to but yourself, ignoring the whispers from the skids and disappointments you have endured. The crowd hisses or sighs when you do not get it all together, cheers or gasps when you do. It is only a game, but it is one of the last symbols of the individual effort that must be made every day, in a multitude of ways, by everyone.

An old place, a heartland place, the tennis tournament and the city, Cincinnati is an apt venue for the preview to the final great blast of the tennis season in New York. And sure enough, another redemption occurred in the men’s draw, when Borna Coric made a magnificent run in the men’s draw and kept his nerve against the nervy, flashy Stefanos Tsitsipas to win the final. A brilliant prospect early on, he was out of action for much of last year with injuries. Fit again, he played his game from the baseline, refusing to be drawn into the dangerous passing angles Tsitsipas favors, and, like “Caro” in the women’s final, demonstrated the value of hard-hitting patient tennis against an opponent overeager for daring winners.

It was fine show for men’s Balkan tennis, and the consolation prize for our side was an Anglosphere win in the men’s doubles, Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury making a clear statement that they expect to go deep, perchance win it all, at Flushing Meadows.

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