NorCal Buzz – Year in Review


SAY IT AIN’T SO!: The Sacramento Capitals traded Anna Kournikova to the St. Louis Aces for a first-round draft pick.

THE WORD FROM VINCE: At a $50,000 Challenger in Sacramento, wannabe rapper Vince Spadea summed up his 15-year career succinctly: “It’s part genius and part calamity.”

NOTHING TO FEAR: Japanese teen sensation Kei Nishikori said of his first two years in the U.S: “I didn’t know any words. I was scared of the Americans.”

VICTIM OF THE ECONOMY: The San Francisco City Open killed its prize money.

THAT EXPLAINS IT ALL: Bruce Jenkins asserted that tennis “didn’t die. It just ran out of sex, drugs and rebellion.”

HAIR TODAY, GONE…: Reflecting on his former pupil Andy Murray, Brad Gilbert observed, “He’s grown up and I’ve lost my hair.”

BANK ON THIS: Next year, the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford will be forced to significantly up its prize money under new WTA guidelines. Stanford (the smallest venue of any of the WTA’s 20 premier-level events) will see its contract with event host IMG expire in ‘09, which might be it for the university as the tournament site, unless it allows IMG to build up the permanent seating and add luxury suites. But as one university official said, “Maybe they should try selling out the 4,000 seats before they talk about adding more.”

TELLING IT LIKE IT IS: Pam Shriver said of Bank of the West champ Aleksandra Wozniak, “She’s wearing an orange bottom, a tan top and black underneath. I think she needs to do laundry.” Of runner-up Marion Bartoli, Shriver said the Frenchwoman was “one of the most unfit players on tour. You can only hide a lack of fitness so much.”

BOTH ENDS OF THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM: Patrick Briaud grew up in conservative College Station, Texas, but went to Cal. Asked about the culture shock in going to the liberal hub, Briaud explained, “In Texas, you’d get on a plane and see ‘Go, Bush’ on roofs. Then you’d get off the plane and see bumper stickers saying ‘Bush [stinks].’”

RINGMASTER: Former SAP Open director Barry MacKay recalled his first year at the tournament’s former venue, the Cow Palace (which he fondly referred to as The Cow Palace Tennis Club). The event came on the heels of a traveling circus. He hadn’t yet had a chance to settle into his new office when he looked out the window and saw 18 elephants. Said MacKay, “I didn’t know what I was getting into.”

BRAD BEHIND BARS!: Brad Gilbert visited tennis-playing lifers at San Quentin State Prison. Said inmate Raphael Calix, “It was hard to believe that Brad Gilbert could ever be seen playing tennis with convicts.”

NEWS FLASH: Three-time SAP Open titlist Andy Roddick confessed, “I’ve been a brat for a long time.”

THAT WAS ZEN, THIS IS MAO: The S.F. Chronicle’s Scott Ostler included the following in his Beijing Olympics coverage: “Chairman Mao’s picture is on every denomination of bill. It’s confusing. You say to a store clerk, ‘I need some change. Would you please break this Mao bill into two Mao bills and five Mao bills?’ Memo to the Chinese treasury department: Why not throw a bone to Genghis Khan, Yao Ming or Yo-Yo Ma?”

MELBOURNE, PARIS, LONDON, NEW YORK…SAN JOSE?: SAP Open tournament director Bill Rapp said that James Blake refers to the SAP Open as “the fifth Slam.”

VERTICAL THINKING: Asked about 6-foot-9 John Isner’s game, Tommy Haas shot back, “It’s not his fault that he’s so tall.”

DOES THAT MEAN WE WON’T SEE YOU AT THE AFTER-PARTY?: After a young female fan at the HP Pavilion held up a sign that queried “PROM?” Andy Roddick said, “I think my prom days are over.”

GIVING NEW MEANING TO THE TERM ‘JERSEY BOY’: Radek Stepanek endeared himself to San Jose Sharks fans by sporting a No. 19 Joe Thornton jersey prior to the SAP Open final.

TAX (HELTER) SHELTER: When urged to move to California, Roddick shot back, “We’ve got to work on those state income taxes first. Texas and Florida are nicer on April 15th.”

THE OLD COLLEGE TRY: The SAP Open doubles final turned out to be an all-Stanford affair between the No. 1 Bryan Bros. and the unseeded duo of Scott Lipsky/David Martin. Bob and Mike helped lead Dick Gould’s Cardinal to back-to-back NCAA team titles in ‘97-’98 before turning pro, while Lipsky/Martin were members of Stanford’s NCAA title-wining team of ‘00. Despite being the overwhelming favorites in San Jose, the Bryans fell to Lipsky/Martin in straight sets 7-6(4), 7-5.

BEST NEW CLUB: Diamond Hills Sports Club and Spa in Oakley, Calif.


Liz Blum, Lynne Rolley, Harry Likas and Mark Fairchilds are the newest NorCal Hall of Famers…NorCal-based Inside Tennis expands to Atlanta and New York…Dick Gould is inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame…Barry MacKay receives the Esurance Tennis Classic Commemorative Award at Harbor Point…The Carmel Valley Junior Tennis Camp turns 10…CSU-Stanislaus re-launches its tennis program…Sacramento City College’s Dave Griffin is honored with a USTA/ITA Community Service Award…Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Redding), Michael Yani (Yuba City), Victor Estrella (Loomis), Ricardo Hocevar (Sacramento), Carsten Ball (Shingle Springs), Kevin Kim (Aptos) and Donald Young (Sacramento) claim NorCal Future/Challenger titles…The Los Gatos Tennis Academy is among the Top 50 Tennis Welcome Centers…USF’s Jennifer-Lee Heinser is named WCC Player of the Year…The CSU-Sonoma men are honored with an ITA National Team Sportsmanship Award…Chabot Canyon RC head pro Wendell Pierce is inducted into the California State University East Bay Athletic Hall of Fame…Stanford’s Lele Forood is selected as ITA Northwest Region Coach of the Year, while Cardinal Hilary Barte is named ITA National Rookie of the Year…NorCal is edged by their SoCal counterparts 11-9 in Maze Cup play…The Alpine Hills Tennis and Swim Club and the Peninsula TC both turn 75…Gail Brodsky wins the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships at the Berkeley TC…Jennifer Pitzen retires after 20 years with the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships.


Elaine Hennessy is USPTA Norcal’s new executive director…Scott Potthast returns to the Tiburon Peninsula Club as director of tennis…Pam Stroud is named GM at Alpine Hills Tennis and Swimming Club…Steve Jackson takes over as tennis director at the Cal Club…Helle Viragh returns as tennis director at Scott Valley…Former ATPer Anthony Dupuis joins the staff at the Sylvano Tennis Academy…Former Fresno Stater Peter Luczak is named to the ATP Player Council…Stockton’s Pam Sloan joins the USTA Board of Directors.


Three-time titlist Andy Roddick, James Blake, Juan Martin del Potro, Fernando Gonzalez, Tommy Haas and the Bryan Bros. will lead the field at the Feb. 9-15 SAP Open at San Jose’s HP Pavilion. For ticket info, visit or call (408) ACE-2121…The PTR will host its International Tennis Symposium and $25,000 Championships, Feb. 14-20, on Hilton Head Island, S.C. The event, which is expected to attract nearly 1,000 teaching pros and coaches from more than 50 countries, will be headlined by Nick Saviano, Pat Etcheberry, Don Henson, Chuck Kriese, Jim Loehr and Anne Smith. For info, visit


Bob Cookson, Virginia May Edwards, Jack Shaw.