Archive for June, 2016

Pat Summitt – One of the Greatest Coaches of All Time

We have lost one of the greatest coaches of all time.  Pat Summitt, former head coach of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers Women’s Basketball Team passed away at the age of 64 from Alzheimer’s disease.

I became a Pat Summitt fan in the 1980’s when I was “channel surfing” and landed on a Women’s Basketball game and started watching it.  I immediately noticed the animated and intense coach of one team – it was Pat Summitt.  I started watching, became hooked watching the “Lady Vols” and kept my eye out for when they would be on TV.

I became a Lady Vols fan pretty quickly and started watching them  whenever they were on TV.  I was a fan watching them win each of their eight NCAA Division 1 Women’s Basketball Championships.  I remember being able to go see the Lady Vols at the Smith Center at GWU and the Lady Vols fans in the stand outnumbering the GW fans at the Smith Center.  After the game I went to the area where people had gathered and the people that were sitting next to me where there.  We had struck up a conversation during the game and had a good time talking Lady Vols basketball with one another.   What I didn’t know was that they knew Pat Summit and when she came over to the group of people that had congregated she called them out by name and told them to wait a few minutes that she had to a short post game radio interview and that she would be back shortly.  My new acquaintances told me to wait with them and that Pat would “sign” for me.  I had a Lady Vols National Championship T-Shirt with me.  When she was done with interview she came over to us, my new “friends” introduced me to Pat and I asked if I could get her autograph and that I had been a fan for many, many years.  She looked at the T-shirt that I had handed her with a Sharpie marker, said to me “you really are a fan, aren’t you”.  I responded absolutely and Pat signed the shirt in the perfect place for me and it is sitting in a display frame at home.

I have a couple of other pieces of Pat Summitt memorabilia including a piece of the old Thompson-Bolling arena floor that is signed by Pat, a signed photo and a basketball signed by the entire championship team that had Candace Parker as a player.

All I can say about one of the greatest Basketball Coaches of all-time is “R.I.P Pat” – I always loved watching you coach with true passion for the game and a true passion for excellence.

Pat and her Eight National Title Trophies

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Martina and Leander Complete Career Grand Slam in Mixed Doubles

Before Martina Hingis started playing Mixed Doubles with Leander Paes at the Slams she had one title in Mixed Doubles at the 2006 Australian Open with Leander Paes’ former partner in Men’s Doubles, Mahesh Bhupathi.

Martina Hingis became a Washington Kastles start in 2013.  After seeing Martina and Leander play mixed doubles together for a few matches, a large number of Kastles fans (including myself) had been after Martina and Leander to play Mixed Doubles together at the Slams.  Martina kept saying she wasn’t good enough, that she didn’t want to embarrass herself or Leander, etc.  We continued to urge her to play Mixed with Leander at tournaments through the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Martina finally gave in and decided to give it a go with Leander at the 2015 Australian Open.  They roared through the first round winning 6-2, 7-6 in the first round, 6-3, 6-1 in the second round, 6-3, 6-1 in the quarter finals and 7-5, 6-4 in the semifinals.  They went into the final not having dropped a set and stormed to a 6-4, 6-3 victory and won the title without dropping a set. They then went to the 2015 French Open and lost in the second round – tricky clay!!!  Then at the 2015 Wimbledon tournament they had a bye in the first round, took the second round 6-4, 6-2, the third round 6-2, 6-2, the quarterfinals 6-2, 6-1, and the semifinals 6-3, 6-4 (over Mike Bryan and Bethanie Mattek-Sands who had just won the Mixed title at the French Open).  They went into the final without dropping a set (again) and put on a clinic in Mixed Doubles to win the final 6-1, 6-1 in just about an hour.

Of course, when Martina and Leander came to Washington for the 2015 Washington Kastles season, we all kept saying to Martina “we told you so”.  They then went on to help the Kastles win their 5th straight (6th overal) WTT Championship and then journeyed to the 2015 US Open to play Mixed again.

At the 2015 US Open they won their first round match 6-2, 6-2 and then had walkovers in both the second round and the quarterfinals.  They won their semifinal match 6-2, 7-5 and went into the final without having dropped a a set.  We then had the 2015 US Open Mixed Final with a guarantee that a Washington Kastle would win the Mixed title – Martina and Leander were playing the team of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sam Querry.  2015 was Sam’s first year as a Washington Kastle.  They traded sets in the final but Leander and Martina prevailed in the match tiebreak and won the title 6-4, 3-6, 10-7.  Martina and Leander now only needed the French Open Mixed title to complete the career grand slam in Mixed Doubles.

Surprisingly they went into the 2016 Australian Open as an unseeded team.  They won their first and second round matches but lost to the team of Mirza-Dodig (Martina’s Women’s Doubles partner).

So off to Roland Garros to try for the 2016 French Open title – Leander needed the French Open Mixed title to complete his career grand slam in Mixed – he had won the other three tournaments with both Martina and other partners.  But the French Open Mixed Doubles title had eluded Leander.  Yet again, Martina and Leander were unseeded at the French Open.  They won their first round match 6-4, 6-4 but in the second round they lost the first set and had to win the second set to force a match tiebreak.  They won the match tiebreak to win the second round match 2-6, 7-5, 10-6.  They won their quarterfinal match 6-4, 6-3.  In the semifinals they won the first, lost the second set and had another match tiebreak.  The won the match tiebreak and took the match 6-3, 3-6, 10-7.

They went into the final against Martina’s Womens Doubles partner Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig.  Mirza/Dodig took the first set, Hingis/Paes took the second set and that setup a match tiebreak for the title.  It was neck-and-neck but Martina and Leander prevailed and completed the Career Grand Slam in Mixed Doubles winning 4-6, 6-4, 10-8.

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