Tennis And The Olympics Make An Awkward Match

We’re on the ground in Rio covering the 2016 Summer Olympics. Check out all our coverage here.Olympic tennis should be as, well, grand as a Grand Slam. The world’s best players show up with a chance to win hardware for their countries — and without making a yearlong commitment. They get to hang with other great athletes in the Olympic Village. And they only get one chance every four years — not four chances every year. That makes it especially precious for players who are sidelined with injury just before the games, as Rafael Nadal was in 2012 and as Roger Federer is this year. The reality, though, is a bit more flawed. The necessities of the national nature of the Olympics imposes restrictions on what is otherwise mostly an individual sport. And that robs the Olympics tennis event of some of its top players and teams — and that’s not counting the stars who blamed Zika when they withdrew.No country gets more than four players in each of the men’s and women’s 64-player singles draws — half the size of major draws. That limit means half of France’s eight men in the Top 50 don’t get a shot at individual glory. Meanwhile, to improve regional representation, Ons Jabeur of Tunisia (ranked No. 188 at the time the entry list was finalized) and Stephanie Vogt of Liechtenstein (No. 274) got into the women’s draw. At majors, they’d usually have to try to earn their way in through qualifying.At least in singles, players are competing as they usually do. On the tours, some of the best doubles teams are paragons of multinational cooperation — a former pairing of an Indian man and a Pakistani teammate inspired tennis fans in both their countries. Part of what makes tennis great, if you’re into individual agency for athletes, is that even when players team up on tour, they do so by choice. They choose whom to partner and whom to dump — leading to a fun round of musical chairs and attendant gossip in each offseason. The Olympics, though, forces teammates to split up. Four of the top 10 women’s teams in the world, including the very best one, pair players from different countries. So do six of the top 10 men’s teams. There isn’t a ranking for mixed doubles, yet just three of the 16 majors since the last Olympics were won by a man and woman from the same country. Yet all those players who normally partner with someone from a different country had to find someone else to play with in Rio de Janeiro.The bigger problem with mixed at the Olympics is how easy it is to medal once you’ve qualified: Just 16 teams enter (after having qualified by making it into one of the other draws and then signing up for mixed in Rio), so it takes just two wins to reach the semifinals. Win one of the next two matches and you’re on the podium.Partly because of all the limitations, especially on top players who don’t qualify because their country’s talent pool is too deep, the tours stopped offering ranking points for wins in this year’s Olympic event. John Isner, the highest ranked American man, cited that as a major factor in his decision to skip Rio. Isner and other opt-outers have been feasting on depleted competition at the tour events. Isner got 150 ranking points for beating three players outside the top 50 in Atlanta last week — 150 more than he would’ve gotten if he’d won the gold medal in Rio. Ranking points, not gold, are the currency on tour, yielding direct entry to events and higher seeds that offer safer passage through the draw.The Olympic men’s singles draw may have lost other stars to early upsets because of their best-of-three-set format until the final. Novak Djokovic, who has won just about every important title except a gold medal, lost his first match in straight sets to Juan Martin del Potro. At a major he would have had a chance to try to come back — a thrilling prospect whether or not he would have pulled it off.I asked the International Tennis Federation, which helps organize the event, for a response to my criticisms. David Haggerty, president of the ITF, said in a statement sent through a spokesman: “The ITF is happy with the overall format of the Olympic Tennis Event, which presents a unique opportunity for players to represent their countries in individual competition. The current format ensures a strength of entry alongside a diversity of nations that reflects the universality of our sport.” He added that the draw size and number of sets are constrained by the desire to limit the event to a little over a week so players can get back on tour, and so that they can enter singles, doubles and mixed without undue burden.I’m not arguing, as many do, that tennis shouldn’t be in the Olympics.1Nor is it a plea on behalf of ESPN, the owner of this website and the broadcaster of the U.S. Open but not of the Olympics. All of the sport’s top players in recent years have competed passionately for their countries and have medaled in 2008 or 2012, or both: Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Djokovic, Federer, Nadal, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka. I watched many of them at the London games in 2012 and enjoyed the novelty of watching singles stars playing doubles, wearing country uniforms and bringing lots of new colors to the usually staid Wimbledon aesthetic. And no one who watched the Djokovic-del Potro epic, or saw both players’ tears afterwards, would prefer it had never happened. It’s just a reminder that when the Olympic format is forced on top of an established sport’s pre-existing structure, flaws and awkwardness are inevitable. Tennis is an individual sport and is at its best when players — and doubles pairs — are free to compete for themselves. read more

Ohio State mens basketball tops Minnesota 7863 to open conference play

OSU junior forward Marc Loving looks to shoot in a game against Air Force on Dec. 8 in Columbus, Ohio. OSU won, 74-50. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorThe Ohio State men’s basketball team started conference play on the right foot, as the Buckeyes secured a 78-63 win Wednesday over Minnesota in Columbus.OSU came out firing, as it opened with an 11-0 run, which stunned the Minnesota Golden Gophers to begin play.The Buckeyes’ energy and aggressive play couldn’t be matched over the first 10 minutes of the game, as OSU pushed the early lead to 15. Their momentum halted, however, slowly allowing Minnesota to climb back into the game as OSU’s lead was trimmed to just 37-34 at halftime.The second half was a back-and-forth battle until freshman point guard JaQuan Lyle took over the game. His game-high 13 assists guided the Buckeyes to the victory, continuing the team’s season-high five-game winning streak. The Buckeyes now stand at 9-5 on the season, including a 1-0 mark in Big Ten play.After the game, Lyle credited his teammates for knocking down shots when given the opportunity, and, as a whole, was happy with the way the team has grown over the course of the season.“I think we grew up as a basketball team and we grew together,” Lyle said. “I think that’s the main thing. We’re a basketball team now and there are no longer individuals.”OSU coach Thad Matta said he was pleased with the overall performance, especially when responding to adversity.“I think a month ago we struggled to play ourselves out of bad situations,” Matta said. “And tonight we did a much better job when things didn’t go particularly well for us. We still have a long way to go, I’m not going to lie about that. But guys are making progress, and to see (junior forward) Marc (Loving), who may have struggled a little bit the last two games, play the way he did tonight, that’s a very positive thing for our team.”As Matta noted, Loving returned to early-season form after a few off games. The Buckeyes leading scorer poured in 20 points, while snagging six rebounds.Loving said tonight’s aggressive gameplan was the key to OSU’s success.“Just having an aggressive mentality from top to bottom,” Loving said. “Being on your toes and being aggressive at all points of the game, swinging the ball and just moving the defense from side-to-side to get the best shot possible.”Sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop also continued his stellar play as of late for the Buckeyes, dropping 13 points on a night when OSU shot 51 percent from the field and had three players score in double figures.Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said he was proud of his team’s effort, but ultimately its lack of depth couldn’t keep it in the game.“I think when you’re down by 15 and then to come back it takes a bit out of you,” he said. “When we got in foul trouble that took a lot out of us. I was proud of our fight though. They threw a punch, then we threw a punch, but they threw the final punch to end it.”The Buckeye defense held Minnesota to 36 percent shooting on 21-of-58 from the floor, while OSU shot 51 percent. It was just the fourth time this season it shot north of 50 percent.“It’s a heck of a win for us to start the Big Ten season,” Matta said. “I was pretty pleased with the performance.”The Buckeyes are set to return to action on Sunday to take on Illinois at 3 p.m. in Columbus. read more

Buckeyes need to ride momentum to earn NCAA Tournament bid

After clinching last season’s Big Ten regular season title with four games to go, Jim Foster’s team is fighting for survival and a spot in the NCAA Tournament with four games left this time around. Being ranked as high as No. 6 on Nov. 22, Ohio State (15-9, 6-6 Big Ten) has been streaky and unpredictable during conference play. But a strong run during its last four conference games could spring the team back into the tournament picture. Foster said the urgency the team will need to have down the home stretch is critical because last season’s team wasn’t mentally prepared for the rigors of the postseason. “They hadn’t experienced it,” Foster said. “That’s how you develop some character; that’s how you develop some toughness; that’s how you become a better player and a better team.” Last season ended in the NCAA Tournament’s second round when Mississippi State upset the second-seeded Buckeyes. “We just didn’t have a sense of urgency. … We already won the conference and were looking at the Big Ten Tournament,” senior center Jantel Lavender said of the team’s mindset this time last year. “We didn’t play as hard as we should have, and now everyone’s playing on edge and we can’t lose games.” Lavender became OSU’s all-time leading scorer on Sunday after adding 29 points and bringing her total to 2,587 in its 83-76 win Sunday against Minnesota (11-14, 3-9). “It means a lot. I think it’s something I’ll never forget,” Lavender said. “I think it shows my dedication to my teammates and what I want to do for my team. … I just try to play hard for my team all the time.” After winning two straight conference games against Purdue (17-9, 7-6) and the Golden Gophers, the Buckeyes are hoping to keep the momentum rolling when they host Penn State (21-6, 10-3) on Thursday. In its previous encounter, Jan. 30 in State College, Pa., OSU fell, 80-71, to the Lady Lions when Penn State’s backcourt of Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas combined for 39 points. Foster said Wednesday that the team must do a better job of preventing Bentley from penetrating and kicking the ball out to Lucas, who made 6 of 8 3-point attempts in that contest. Although Foster had questioned his team’s defensive intensity, he said he thought it was increasing lately. Senior guard Brittany Johnson said in addition to improving defensively, the team is becoming more cohesive on the offensive end. “I think we’re starting to mesh really well; we’re moving the ball. Last Penn State game we weren’t really moving the ball,” Johnson said. “It’s starting to come back. We’re starting to mesh, and it’s coming down to the end of the season and we’re playing really well right now.” Thursday’s tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center. read more

Gallery Mens Basketball vs Maryland

The Ohio State Men’s Basketball team fell to Maryland at the Schottenstein Center on Jan. 18 in a 75-61 loss. Photos by Casey Cascaldo The Buckeyes exit onto the court prior to the start of the game against Maryland. Ohio State lost 75-61. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor

Comerford Breaks Another American Record Worrell Dahlia is Top Qualifier at SC

first_imgKelsi Worrell Dahlia was the top qualifier after the semi-finals in the 100 butterfly with a time of 55.09, which was four- tenth of a second off of the World Record. Dahlia’s first 50 split was 25.80 and she beat the field in her heat by a full second. It was a busy night for Comerford, who also moved into the finals as the fourth fastest qualifier in the 50 freestyle with a semfinal time of 23.83. Mallory Comerford split 1:53.00 in the 4 x 200 Free Relay as the Americans won silver with a time of 7:35.30. The US foursome shattered the American Record by more than three seconds with splits  Leah Smith (1:55.85) Comerford,  Melanie Margalis (1:53.59), and an blazing fast anchor from Erika Brown of 1:52.86 as the Americans dueled the Chinese right to the wall. China won gold with an Asian record  time of 7:34.08. University of Louisville swimmer Mallory Comerford won silver, shattered another American recordand qualified for another final on Day 5 of the Short Course World Championships in Hangzhou, China.center_img Story Links In other performances by Cardinals, UofL’s Marcelo Acosta went 14:45.78 in the prelims of the 1500M freestyle, swimming for his native El Salvador. Venezuelan Cardinal Carlos Claverie went 27.37 in the prelims of the 50M breaststroke. Print Friendly Versionlast_img read more

A festival for new age visual storytellers

first_imgThe first edition of the Delhi Comic Arts Festival (DeCAF) 2017 will be held at the India International Centre (IIC) from December 4 to 6. This festival has been created for comic creators, particularly the new generation of visual storytellers, professionals who are associated to the many branches directly connected to the world of comics and audiences who are looking for more diversity and range in the world of graphic storytelling.Established superheroes and cartoon figures are not the focus of this festival. They already have several platforms and resources to showcase themselves. At DeCAF you will get to hear and meet new graphic storytellers from India and abroad as they make presentations about their projects, their work and their experiences. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfDeCAF 2017 features a prominent international and Indian presence. These include the Artistic Director of the Fumetto Comics Festival, Jana Jakoubek from Switzerland along with Pierre Thome and Lika Nuessli who will be at DeCAF. Reinhard Kleist, an artist of great repute along with Arne Jysch from Germany will be attending. As will be the creator of the new Superhero (the Urban Legend) Josef Yohannes from Norway, Bia Bittencourt (curator) from Brazil, Bettina Egger from Austria, Miguel Gallardo from Spain and Amruta Patil from France. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveFrom India, names who have made a strong impact in the world of comics will also be present for the event. Artists like Vishwajyoti Ghosh, Kaveri Gopalakrishnan, Appupen, Priya Kuriyan, Bharath Murthy along with editors like Karthika V.K, Urvashi Butalia can all be seen and heard at the festival.As part of the festival, there will be an exhibition of 250 artworks spread around the campus of IIC featuring works by the participating artists as well as others. “In the past, when I started dabbling with comics as an Editor, there weren’t too many people working with the medium in India. Very few were supported by the big publishing houses and almost nobody then and even now, have been able to make sense of the commercial dynamics. People are still doing it out of their love for the medium and it is great to see that the number of people creating comics has grown significantly in the country. Many new independent publishing houses have shown praiseworthy initiative and presented comics in diverse narratives. We hope to soon create similar versions of this festival and travel to other cities of India. With this festival we hope to boost the culture of visual storytelling in the country and create a platform for graphic storytellers from all around India,” says Anindya Roy, Director of the Delhi Comic Arts Festival.DeCAF 2017 is organized in collaboration with India International Centre in association with, Max Mueller Bhavan/Goethe Institut, Pro Helvetia – Swiss Arts Council, Alliance Française de Delhi, Embassy of Norway, The Austrian Cultural Forum, Cervantes Institute, Embassy of Spain, Embassy of Brazil, Norla and Hochschule Luzern who have all extended their support to this festival.last_img read more