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Top Notch Tennis

by Tom King

Like other niche sports that I occasional dabble in (auto racing,soccer, boxing) tennis usually is more on my radar screen during the major events. I like the different skill sets that are needed to excel on the different surfaces. The US Open is a spectacle that embraces New York this time of year and as I happened to be channel surfing yesterday I stumbled upon one of those matches that seems to take on a life of it's own 20th seeded Mikhail Youzhny...a Russian who could probably walk down the streets of NYC with nary a second look, was playing unseeded Lleyton Hewitt...the Aussie and former Open champ who had eliminated Juan Del Potro earlier. Hewitt won his title back in 2001...in other words after Sampras and before Federer. He keeps grinding away trying to recapture the success of his youth. And he had the Russian down...two points away from victory a couple of times. But couldnt put him away. As I watched the match on my high-def screen I became mesmerized by the long rallies...many times over 30 returns before a stunning forehand just inside the line would put the point away. The wind was blowing hard and the crowd was electric...John McEnroe was on color commentary(he's really good) and suddenly tennis became interesting to me. It went five sets before Youzhny was able to battle back and put away the feisty Hewitt who left the court filled with scrapes and cuts from diving on the hard surface. And what is the young Russian's reward. He only has to beat #1 seed Novak Djokovic next and then probable matchups with Andy Murray and Rafi Nadal. As McEnroe put it "good luck with that". But for this moment Mikhail Youzhny bathed in the cheers and his name(which I didnt know until yesterday) will be with me forever.

Tennis just became the latest sport for me that is so much better to view in HD. For those who still havent taken the plunge and bought a high-def tv...there really is so much of a difference that you really are cheating yourself. I first saw a high def tv back at the 2002 Major League All Star game in  Milwaukee as one of the Japanese companies had a demo in the press box. You could see even then that this was the future of watching tv..especially for sports. Whether its baseball or football, golf or tennis, auto racing or hoops or hockey...the high def experience is almost better than being there. (actually in many cases its better!)

Congrats to the Pittsburgh Pirates who will post a winning record this season for the first time since 1992. It was the longest stretch of under .500 seasons in the four major North American sports history. Twelve of those wins have come against the Brewers this season including last night. The two teams play again tonight.

The Eagles are back on the road starting tonight in Seattle. This "History of the Eagles" tour celebrates the documentary of the band with a set list that includes songs from their entire career, solo hits and videos back drops and original Eagle Bernie Leadon as a special guest. Leadon left the band about midway through their original run and was replaced by Joe Walsh. The band will stop in Minneapolis at the Target Center on Sept 18th and at the United Center in Chicago on Sept 20th. 

Songs of the Day   (from my I-pod)

Mary Jane's Last Dance-Tom Petty & Heartbreakers (1994) one of the last songs recorded with drummer Stan Lynch who left the band shortly thereafter...written by Petty, Mike Campbell and producer Rick Rubin

Mary Shut The Garden Door-Donald Fagen(2006) from his Grammy winning solo Lp "Morph The Cat". Never has the end of the world sounded more seductive