Episodes

Episode 185: What to Expect When Serena’s Expecting  

With best wishes, Ben and Courtney convene after Serena Williams’ announcement that she is expecting her first child this fall, and may already be as far as 20 weeks into her pregnancy.

Does this change how we look back on her title at the Australian Open in January, when she already would have been roughly two months pregnant? And what does this mean for the tour going forward? And what is the state of the women’s field now? We don’t quite agree on this one, as you’ll quickly learn.

And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this [...]

Episode 184: Resembling an Ensemble  

With a quarter of 2017 now complete, Ben and Courtney try to make sense of it all. But does it make sense, really?

Daria Kasatkina won Charleston in an all-teen final, which should be a big result. But what are results anyhow, when every player seems to have a roughly equal share of success and failure these days? Which characters and plotlines are really relevant? Does TV have the answers?

The men’s side is a completely different coin, because one beloved old dude (Roger Federer) has stepped up to fill the void. But just what is that void without Federer being there as a shiny glaze on top of an otherwise questionable confection?

Lastly, we make predictions for the French Open, an amusingly hopeless endeavor. 

And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us 

Episode 183: Shade in the Desert  

Wrapping up the happenings in Indian Wells, Ben and Courtney cover the popular champs and the odd ways their matches were pitted against each other. First, is the surprising win of Elena Vesnina reflective of a current landscape of opportunity in women’s tennis? And where might this title lead her? And for Roger Federer, how much is about him surging and how much is about the others atop men’s tennis receding?

What to make of the impatient foot-tapping during men’s tennis-centered folk during the three-set women’s final? And how does how the “Group of Death” played out reflect on all of Djokovic, Kyrgios, and Nadal? And what does it say about U.S. tennis coverage that it took us this long to mention Jack Sock?

And as always, thanks for likin [...]

Episode 183: Shade in the Desert  

Wrapping up the happenings in Indian Wells, Ben and Courtney cover the popular champs and the odd ways their matches were pitted against each other. First, is the surprising win of Elena Vesnina reflective of a current landscape of opportunity in women’s tennis? And where might this title lead her? And for Roger Federer, how much is about him surging and how much is about the others atop men’s tennis receding?

What to make of the impatient foot-tapping during men’s tennis-centered folk during the three-set women’s final? And how does how the “Group of Death” played out reflect on all of Djokovic, Kyrgios, and Nadal? And what does it say about U.S. tennis coverage that it took us this long to mention Jack Sock?

And as always, thanks for likin [...]

Episode 182a: Maria Sharapova: The Ice Woman Cometh  

With Maria Sharapova’s ban set to end in just over a month, we’ve assembled an all-star lineup to discuss her impending return and the many questions it raises in this our fourth episode (here are 1, 2, and 3) about Sharapova’s saga.

First, Ben speaks with Markus Günthardt, the tournament director of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart where Sharapova will be making her comeback on Wednesday, April 26. We discuss why this tournament has grown so popular with top players (the car-as-trophy model seems to work), how important Sharapova is to it, the decision to give her a wild card, and how the contentious Wednesday start was made possible.

[...]
Episode 182a: Maria Sharapova: The Ice Woman Cometh  

With Maria Sharapova’s ban set to end in just over a month, we’ve assembled an all-star lineup to discuss her impending return and the many questions it raises in this our fourth episode (here are 1, 2, and 3) about Sharapova’s saga.

First, Ben speaks with Markus Günthardt, the tournament director of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart where Sharapova will be making her comeback on Wednesday, April 26. We discuss why this tournament has grown so popular with top players (the car-as-trophy model seems to work), how important Sharapova is to it, the decision to give her a wild card, and how the contentious Wednesday start was made possible.

[...]
Episode 182: Dipping Into Indian Wells  

If you can’t see stars on a clear desert night, are they still there? Ben and Courtney contemplate these quandries and more as they reunite in Indian Wells, where lumpy draws made for exciting clusters of fun, the #1 dude lost to a guy outside the top 100, and Madison Keys returned for her first tournament in five months. 

We discuss patience with young prospects who might seem to fall short of the hype, the once-and-possibly-again concept of Slamless #1s, and moderate opinions about things being worthwhile. It’s all very measured, we hope. 

And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us 

Episode 182: Dipping Into Indian Wells  

If you can’t see stars on a clear desert night, are they still there? Ben and Courtney contemplate these quandries and more as they reunite in Indian Wells, where lumpy draws made for exciting clusters of fun, the #1 dude lost to a guy outside the top 100, and Madison Keys returned for her first tournament in five months. 

We discuss patience with young prospects who might seem to fall short of the hype, the once-and-possibly-again concept of Slamless #1s, and moderate opinions about things being worthwhile. It’s all very measured, we hope. 

And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us 

Episode 181: Gulf Claps with Reem Abulleil  

With the tours spending three weeks in the region, there’s no better time to check in with NCR’s Middle East correspondent, Reem Abulleil, for a quick catch-up on the doings over there. After a rough go of things last year, Caroline Wozniacki made good, despite some rain on her parades. And what to make of Elina Svitolina, who has stealthily piled up some very impressive scalps?

Also, Roger Federer’s stunning loss to Evgeny Donskoy and Andy Murray dropping trou. 

And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter [...]

Episode 181: Gulf Claps with Reem Abulleil  

With the tours spending three weeks in the region, there’s no better time to check in with NCR’s Middle East correspondent, Reem Abulleil, for a quick catch-up on the doings over there. After a rough go of things last year, Caroline Wozniacki made good, despite some rain on her parades. And what to make of Elina Svitolina, who has stealthily piled up some very impressive scalps?

Also, Roger Federer’s stunning loss to Evgeny Donskoy and Andy Murray dropping trou. 

And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter [...]

Episode 180: Getting Turned Around  

It’s been a slowish month of tennis, anthem nightmares notwithstanding, so Ben and Courtney turn to the ever-reliable mailbag to fill out most of this week’s show.

With the popularity of the Australian Open, should hard court tournament directors adjust their court speeds accordingly? What are fair expectations for Maria Sharapova’s return to tour in a couple months? And why don’t people talk more about women’s matches in the greatest matches of all time conversations? 

Also, because we love you, we do Take a Number. And because the world hates us in return, it’s crazy high. 

And as always, thanks for liking us on Fac [...]

Episode 180: Getting Turned Around  

It’s been a slowish month of tennis, anthem nightmares notwithstanding, so Ben and Courtney turn to the ever-reliable mailbag to fill out most of this week’s show.

With the popularity of the Australian Open, should hard court tournament directors adjust their court speeds accordingly? What are fair expectations for Maria Sharapova’s return to tour in a couple months? And why don’t people talk more about women’s matches in the greatest matches of all time conversations? 

Also, because we love you, we do Take a Number. And because the world hates us in return, it’s crazy high. 

And as always, thanks for liking us on Fac [...]

Episode 179: Making a Racquet  

There was an eye-catching ending to Davis Cup this weekend, so Ben and Courtney open by discussing Denis Shapovalov’s howitzer into the face of chair umpire Arnaud Gabas, and all the various conversations it starts. Should tennis players drastically rein in their tantrums? Should rules change? Or would an overreaction clamp down on a sport that needs big personalities?

Then, Ben chats with the founders of the gorgeous Racquet magazine, Caitlin Thompson and David Shaftel, about starting up their quarterly publication, and the ways they want to further intertwine tennis and beauty through their work. If you’re interested in the world of print and prestige quarterlies and whatnot, this is [...]

Episode 179: Making a Racquet  

There was an eye-catching ending to Davis Cup this weekend, so Ben and Courtney open by discussing Denis Shapovalov’s howitzer into the face of chair umpire Arnaud Gabas, and all the various conversations it starts. Should tennis players drastically rein in their tantrums? Should rules change? Or would an overreaction clamp down on a sport that needs big personalities?

Then, Ben chats with the founders of the gorgeous Racquet magazine, Caitlin Thompson and David Shaftel, about starting up their quarterly publication, and the ways they want to further intertwine tennis and beauty through their work. If you’re interested in the world of print and prestige quarterlies and whatnot, this is [...]

Episode 178: Waking From Australian Dreams  

Back home from their Australian adventures, and with time to process the “dream finals” of the Australian Open, Ben and Courtney rouse and reflect on what to make of the Serena-Venus and Federer-Nadal finals, and what they say about the current state of tennis, both for the players involved and the weekend’s presumed losers (i.e. Angelique Kerber, Murray-Djokovic matches, etc). 

Also, how does the relative spreading of wealth in the WTA compare to the oligarchy of men’s tennis? And are these results ideal for the respective tours?

Lastly, we talk about movies, and we have strong feelings about current and recent Oscar darlings. 

And as always, thanks for liking us 

Episode 178: Waking From Australian Dreams  

Back home from their Australian adventures, and with time to process the “dream finals” of the Australian Open, Ben and Courtney rouse and reflect on what to make of the Serena-Venus and Federer-Nadal finals, and what they say about the current state of tennis, both for the players involved and the weekend’s presumed losers (i.e. Angelique Kerber, Murray-Djokovic matches, etc). 

Also, how does the relative spreading of wealth in the WTA compare to the oligarchy of men’s tennis? And are these results ideal for the respective tours?

Lastly, we talk about movies, and we have strong feelings about current and recent Oscar darlings. 

And as always, thanks for liking us 

Episode 177f: Australian Open Day 10-12: Dream Finals  

Tennis got everything it ever wanted! …right?

Ben and Courtney break down the double-dip dream dates of the unexpected vintage Venus-Serena and Federer-Nadal finals that this Australian Open will conclude with. How did the matches go that got these four stars here, how will the finals themselves go, and how should we feel about them? Also, all the props in the world to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

Is some tampering of expectations in order for the finals? Probably. But still, let’s revel in this moment. We’re excited, you’re excited, and we’re excited that you’re excited. It’s all very exciting

And as always, thanks for liking us 

Episode 177f: Australian Open Day 10-12: Dream Finals  

Tennis got everything it ever wanted! …right?

Ben and Courtney break down the double-dip dream dates of the unexpected vintage Venus-Serena and Federer-Nadal finals that this Australian Open will conclude with. How did the matches go that got these four stars here, how will the finals themselves go, and how should we feel about them? Also, all the props in the world to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

Is some tampering of expectations in order for the finals? Probably. But still, let’s revel in this moment. We’re excited, you’re excited, and we’re excited that you’re excited. It’s all very exciting

And as always, thanks for liking us 

Episode 177e: Australian Open Day 8-9: Growing Old, Moving Up  

With the Aussie Open halfway between quarterfinals and semifinals, Ben is rejoined by Courtney to assess all the fun. Has this Slam been satisfying? Depends on if you’re into role reversal, really. The men have been wild and the women have been mild, but it should be setting up for great finishes on both tours, we hope!

Speaking of saving the best for last, this sport is aging like a fine wine and Ben and Courtney just want to drink it all up. And we also raise a glass to Mike Cation, normally the voice of the US challenger circuit, who made his Slam debut here in Melbourne. His enthusiasm for our world is contagious, and we hope you’re infected in all the best ways.

Also, CoCo, Venus, and more. Cancel the noise and tune [...]

Episode 177e: Australian Open Day 8-9: Growing Old, Moving Up  

With the Aussie Open halfway between quarterfinals and semifinals, Ben is rejoined by Courtney to assess all the fun. Has this Slam been satisfying? Depends on if you’re into role reversal, really. The men have been wild and the women have been mild, but it should be setting up for great finishes on both tours, we hope!

Speaking of saving the best for last, this sport is aging like a fine wine and Ben and Courtney just want to drink it all up. And we also raise a glass to Mike Cation, normally the voice of the US challenger circuit, who made his Slam debut here in Melbourne. His enthusiasm for our world is contagious, and we hope you’re infected in all the best ways.

Also, CoCo, Venus, and more. Cancel the noise and tune [...]

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