Episode 173: Kicking Back With Questions #1  


With the off-season upon us, Ben and Courtney curl up into their mailbag of questions and use it to keep warm through the winter, while at the same time answering its contents to share the warmth of tennis to all who listen. Gosh I hope no one read that paragraph, it was not our best.

Questions come from all sides on general tennis topics such as: Legacy padding! Bro Culture! Sustaining fledgling pro careers! Singles and doubles specializations! And conflicts of interest!

If you are someone who still has some show-based Kickstarter reward you’re waiting on, we’d love for you to message us with your ideas so we can deliver them to you post haste! 

And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR173!), and subscribing/rev [...]

Episode 172: Stuffed With Gratitude  

The tennis season, save for that pesky Davis Cup final, is finally over, and so Ben and Courtney digest it (before the heavier duty digestion of Thanksgiving) by discussing who the men’s player of the year should be. Andy Murray is the year-end #1 after winning London, but there’s a sturdy case to be made for Novak Djokovic, too.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, Ben and Courtney then serve themselves heaping helpings of thankfulness for things we treasure in tennis and beyond. It’s a gravy boat of gratitude.

To close, Courtney likes a movie and Ben’s rant…disappeared?

And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comm [...]

Episode 171: Regime Change  

The world has undergone some changes since Ben and Courtney last spoke. Firstly, as this is a tennis show, we guess, we discuss new ATP #1 Andy Murray, what his ascendancy to the top of the rankings means for his career and legacy, and also how alarmed/confused we should be about Novak Djokovic’s slide and his enlistment of an unorthodox spiritual advisor.

Also, we briefly wrap up Courtney’s trip to Singapore, and the unlikely winner there, Dominika Cibulkova. 

Then, in an expanded rant/feelings segment, we talk about the new man soon to be atop the United States government, and our emotions about that. We have several. 

And as always, thanks for liking us 

Episode 170: The Boys Are Back in Town  

After a WTA-centric episode last time, Ben catches up on the ATP side of the equation this week with special guest Ricky Dimon, fresh off his running the Marine Corps Marathon this past weekend in Washington. After a brief contemplation of the round-robin format after another champion in Singapore went 1-2 in group play, we dive into how this unusual (and underwhelming?) season of men’s tennis is wrapping up, especially in regard to the unexpected disappearance of Novak Djokovic. 

Will Murray pass Djokovic for #1 before year’s end? And would 
Episode 169: Steve Simon (and the Streams)  

With the WTA season wrapping up in Singapore this week, there’s no better time to check in with women’s tennis boss Steve Simon, who is finishing up his first full year as the tour’s chief executive. It’s been a turbulent year in tennis, at times, but Simon also made waves of his own this fall by expressing interest in revamping the tennis scoring system to shorten singles matches, including eliminating third sets in lieu of super tiebreaks. Speaking to Ben by phone from Singapore on semifinal Saturday, Simon discusses that as well as other various tour quandaries, including what, if anything, the WTA has planned to cover for its exodus from the ATP Media controled streaming platform, TennisTV, starting in 2017.

Speaking of streaming, we then shift to [...]

Episode 168: Sinking, Tanking, and Politicking  
Ben and Courtney are reunited at last, and have lots to catch up on. First, how is WTAsia doing? What to be made of Kerber’s underwhelming fall swing, and Serena’s (again) nonexistant one? 

Also, we discuss Djokovic’s increasingly worrying malaise, Kyrgios’ finally cracked down upon tanking, and whether or not players should discuss politics. 

Lastly, the highs and lows of air travel.

And as always, thanks for liking us 

Episode 167: The Sharapova Resolution  

NCR is back after an unforeseen delay (our apologies), and we start by catching up with the conclusion of the Maria Sharapova meldonium case, as Ben welcomes back guest Richard Ings, who had previously discussed Sharapova’s positive test with us back on Episode 145A when she announced it back in March. What have we learned over the course of this case? How much should this affect Sharapova’s reputation, and should she be labeled a “cheater”? What can ITF do to prevent its athletes having similar pitfalls in the future? All that, plus transparency, TUEs, and more.

Episode 166: Keeping the Faith in Tennis  

With the Istanbul final between Tunisian Malek Jaziri and Israeli Dudi Sela on Sunday, the cross-section of religion and tennis again came into focus this week. To look at it from several angles this week, we welcome three guests: Israeli Jew Shahar Peer, American Catholic Tim Smyczek, and Pakistani Muslim Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, about how their respective faiths [...]

Episode 165f: U.S. Open - Kerber, Wawrinka Win; We Punch Out  
Recording late the night after the U.S. Open concluded, Ben and Courtney are low on energy (and occasionally coherence) but high on thoughts about the tennis that transpired, and the two parallel champions who emerged in Angelique Kerber and Stan Wawrinka. Can their every(wo)manness inspire the rest of the tour? And will Kerber be able to hang onto the #1 spot for the rest of the year, or can Serena Williams be counted on to make her reign a short one?

Also, we discuss why we are (both, now) so over best-of-five and why tennis would be smart to phase it out. Also, the highs and lows of the Slam season in retrospect, plus Yakko, Wakko, and Dot.

Episode 165e: U.S. Open - Finals Reckoning  
The finals of the U.S. Open are upon us, and so Ben and Courtney discuss what we can look for and how we got here. On the men’s side (for which we are joined by the emerald of our eyeLeigh Walsh), we start with a contemplation of Gael Monfils, and the tactics (tanking?) that drew so much ire in his semifinal performance against Djokovic. Speaking of Djokovic, everybody seems to think he’s going to lose to Stan Wawrinka. Why?

Episode 165d: U.S. Open - The Women in the Room  
The U.S. Open is proud to have been a leader in gender equality in terms of prize money (and it’s the only Slam with the same number of male and female competitors), but how does that translate to the press room? Carl Bialik of FiveThirtyEight joins Ben and Courtney to discuss his analysis of the data regarding this, and our pal Carole Bouchard, quoted in the article, also weighs in.

Episode 165c: U.S. Open - Halfway Home  
With pudding and beer in hand, Ben and Courtney wrap up their main thoughts from a first week of the U.S. Open that mostly went without major disruption. Raonic, Kyrgios, Cilic and Muguruza being out is surprising, as is Caroline Wozniacki and Anastasija Sevastova being in. But mostly, it’s business as expected, which should set up for a grand second week. We hope. 

Also, there’s a roof and it makes things louder.

And as always, thanks for liking us 

Episode 165b: U.S. Open Foot Soldiers  

The first few rounds of the U.S. Open are in the books, and most of the stars have advanced. But they’ve advanced past the tennis cavalry of the sport–lovingly known by our guest Andrew as the Foot Soldiers of Tennis.
Paolo Lorenzi has become the prototype for such effort without reward–until now. As he’s made it into the t [...]

Episode 164: US Open Preview State of Mind  

The year’s final grand slam event is upon us, and Ben and Courtney are ready with their draws to break down the who and how of this US Open. 
There are surprising champions in Cincinnati to review (Marin Cilic and Karolina Pliskova) to mull over, shaky #1s to evaluate (Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams), and increasingly steady anchors at the bottom of each draw (Andy Murray and Angelique Ker [...]

Episode 163: Golden Girl Monica Puig and More Rio Results  

Olympic tennis produced one of its most stunning results with Monica Puig winning gold, and so Ben  nd Courtney are here to break that down, as well as all the other medals and losers in Rio. What does Monica’s win show us about Olympic tennis, and what does it mean for her going forward? How delightful were the silver efforts of Juan Martin del Potro and Venus Williams? And why weren’t many of the other results surprising? Also, is it fair to call Jack Sock a ̶ [...]

Episode 162a: Olympian Upset: Delpo Defeats Djokovic  
After one round of action in Rio there are already some big tennis upsets in the books, so Ben and Courtney raced to their microphones to discuss. Firstly, Juan Martin del Potro stunned Novak Djokovic in straight sets, upending the tournament. This was shocking, even if it was a match to watch, and we explain why. Does Djokovic’s reaction show the gravity of the Olympics? And how about those doubles upsets?

Also, our thoughts about other doings at the Olympics early on, from soccer heckling to gymnastics injuries, as well as our fat kid snacking proclivities.

And [...]

Episode 162: Federer Out, Olderers In  

Roger Federer is out for the rest of the 2016 season, so Ben, Courtney, and Kickstarting guest producer/host Ashish Malhotra talk about what it means for his future, his present, and the rest of the year’s tennis.
Then, with the Olympics fast approaching, are players ready or anxiously awaiting? The answers vary and surprise.

Episode 161: Vika, Zika, Paprika  

The week after Wimbledon featured an unexpected bump of news–namely, pregnancy concerns both future and present. Firstly, Victoria Azarenka announced that she is expecting a baby and will miss the rest of the season. What kind of impact will this have on the rest of the WTA season, all of which will take place on the hardcourts which Vika has dominated? Next, Zika fears have been cited as the r [...]

Episode 160d: Wimbledon Volley 4: Serena and Murray Slay  
It was a Wimbledon with two worthy champions, Serena Williams and Andy Murray, and two worthy finalists in Angelique Kerber and Milos Raonic who delivered finals of varying levels of entertainingness. First on the women: how much was this win about Serena finally overcoming the Vinci shock, as Patrick Mouratoglou said? And how did Kerber change her legacy?

On the men, why did the final seem so flat and dull? Is this the start of bigger things from Murray, that might even include reaching No. 1 at some point? Also, how much will Federer rue the missed opportunity? 

Also, PB&J and ice. Both nice.

Episode 160c: Wimbledon Volley 3: Super Semifinals Set!  
After the Wimbledon quarterfinals have wrapped up for both the men and women at Wimbledon, Ben is joined by two lovely guests, tennis historian Steve Flink of TennisChannel.com and Australian Tennis Magazine’s Matt Trollope, to discuss the past and future. 

How much will Roger Federer’s epic win over Marin Cilic take out of him heading into the semifinals against Milos Raonic? And will Andy Murray be able to make good on his favorite as status? 

On the women’s side, hear from Venus’ coach David Witt, as well as our takes on her ru [...]
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