Thursday, July 14, 2005

Behind The Scoreboard
By Claude Vinson

Ladies’ turn

For all our male readers out there, this is just a warning that this column is mostly about the distaff side. There was no duress (except maybe a nagging feeling that MB is out there wondering when I am going to write something about women!), which prompted this report other than the very recent events.

First, the Williams sister made another big impression at Wimbledon, although it didn’t turn out exactly as little sister Serena said that she had planned it. Serena had hoped to vie with her big sis, Venus, as she had done on four other Wimbledon occasions.

Just a brief memory refresher for those of us who have these lapses, Venus won the first pair (2000 and 2001), then Serena got the next two (2002-2003). Neither sister won in 2004.

This season, Serena had played admirably up until she met fellow American Jill Craybas in the quarter finals. Craybas prevailed and had to face the other sister in the semis. Venus avenged baby sis and then went up against the world’s number one seed, Lindsey Davenport. The two played the second longest match in the history of the contest, a gruelling two hours and 45 minutes. The grunts of exertion could be heard in Scotland.

When the last blade of grass had been ruffled, Venus had returned to the winners’ podium. Ranked at 14 going into the tournament, she rose to 12 after the match.

Back on the home front, the WNBA held its sixth all-star game to a sell-out crowd in Mohegan Arena in Connecticut. The West has never lost an all-star game, and I just knew that the penchant for backing the underdog would make them a winner. Alas, alackaday. The East team put up a heck of a battle through the first half and was still swapping leads into the second, when the West just plain took the game away.

All of us (meaning WNBA watchers) were waiting to see the expected female dunk. The attempt contest didn’t take off until the final minutes and the dunk wasn’t actually made until the final seconds. The East’s Deanna Nolan tried it twice, making the height, but missing the bucket. But the crowd was still on its feet and expectant, when the West’s Lisa Leslie, center for the L.A. Sparks, used all of her 6’5” stature to make the one hand slam, hitting the final points of the game and making the total 122-99, the highest for any WNBA all-star contest.

Before the WNBA ladies were tearing it up, a slight ingenue in the golfing world was vying with the giants of the PGA, trying to become the first female since Babe Zaharis to make the cut and join the tour. Before the tournament was started, some of the seasoned players on the tour expressed dismay that this young player was even trying. Others feared her powerful drives.

This 15-year-old Chinese-Hawaiian is an overnight sensation. It was heartbreaking to see her miss the cut by two strokes. At her age Michelle Wie is a tiger in training.

And, actually, there is only one thing to say – why not Wie?

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