Coco v Naomi Osaka at 7pm EDT

Is Coco Gauff at 15 fleet afoot? Her mom ran college track and Coco has competed in the 800.

Is that important? I saw Novak Djokovic practicing as an unknown at Indian Wells years ago. I had never seen a faster player on a tennis court. Some consider him now the fastest on court in the game. It helps explain why he hits the ball on the move so well. He gets in the position to hit it well more easily. So does Coco.

Is she powerful. She is amongst the hardest servers in the game.

Does she pick her shots well? Very well according to most expert observers.

Does she win close matches? Her first two matches in this US Open went the distance, three sets.

Is she focused? Take a good look at her eyes and expressions when she returns serve.

At only 15 can she beat any WTA. player on the planet? Yes.

Does she have an excellent shot against defending champion Naomi Osaka tonight at 7pm EDT? You can tune in,wherever you are, if you are awake, to find out. It should be a BATTLE.

Fiction, Some Thoughts on the Genre

Research suggests that reading fiction is emotionally healthy. It brings us into not just the action but the emotions behind the action and the inaction. Though I love non-fiction since the publication of these findings I have made a point of reading more fiction. I am convinced fiction is good for the psyche. In a world with too much hurt, to me, that is of paramount importance.

Postscript 9/11/21:

I also have a novelette in draft that is my first venture into writing fiction, a delightful journey.

Malcolm Gladwell, a Name to Remember

Talking to Strangers is about to go live on 9/10/19. I obviously have yet to read it. I am very hopeful it will contain the same objectivity and flair for words that characterizes the author’s work. Malcolm Gladwell, its author, is a gift to all the world’s non-fiction lovers.

His work has enthralled me for years. I am not his target audience at 74 and retired. Nonetheless his work and my cross-hairs coincide.

He basically answers the question for all of us, What REALLY gives in the material world? His work displays that reality, absent the misfires/imperfections that would characterize any non-fiction writer.

That his works would sell in the millions makes a great deal of sense. We are truly blessed to read his work. May this middle-aged Canadian have a long writing life well into his 100s. If you haven’t read his work consider starting with The Tipping Point and/or Blink.

Tennis Memories

A little high school ball for my son Chad included sets vs. Bradley Klahn. Chad never played Stevie Johnson but I saw Johnson play in high school as well as college. That happened when I visited Chad for his tennis at both levels of play.

Stevie became arguably the best college men’s player ever at USC winning his last 72 matches. Bradley like Stevie won the NCAA Men’s Singles title.

The last two matches I’ve watched in the US. Open included these now fully matured 29 year olds. It was a special privilege to follow their careers and to watch them both again at their best.

Andrew Luck Makes His Last QB Decision

Andrew Luck, the star quarterback for the Colts, retired. His talent and his courage were extraordinary. He obviously lived through injuries and rehab that would have broken most homo sapiens. He was recently awarded the Comeback Player of the Year.

The game of pro football involves huge defensive lineman with speed and strength that is almost unbelievable. In order to keep them off their quarterback offensive lineman must be equally as big and just as strong. The battle in those trenches is frequently the key to victory.

That said, nonetheless to get hit fiercely by one of those giants must be awfully painful. So are the hours in rehab following major injuries.

If that is not enough a recent study noted it may not just be the concussive forces that hurt the brain. It may simply be the non-concussive forces that can also do harm. Brain function is a terrible thing to lose.

The joy had been killed from the game Andrew Luck had loved all his life. He and his family were paying to high a price. His huge salary just was not worth the physical and emotional pain.

God bless his decision. I strongly suspect it was the right one.

Sumit Nagal Impressed in NYC

Ah, the huge, ancient country of India. We speak an Indo-European language. We calculate in “Arabic” numerals that actually originated in India.

Blazing through the qualifying rounds of the US Open was a player few of us recognized, not the Spaniard, Nadal, but the Indian, Sumit Nagal. At 5 ft. 10 inches he was not visually impressive.

Then he walked on center court with Federer last night. His speed was impressive. Sumit was crafty per Roger. His forehand was big.

Bottom line. He had been a journeyman traveling all over the world to get to net zero this year. He left the court fifty eight thousand dollars richer having taken Fed to four. That is what they call, “Grace Under Pressure.”

Goffin v Gasquet, a Semi in Cincy

Richard Gasquet, a man frustrated by the Big 3 for years may be nearing a Masters final in Cincinnati. He of the elegant backhand and the serve that MOVES. They say with the pitched baseball, that, the order of impact is location, movement and speed. The first two are strengths for Richard. It’s fun to watch his serve drift laterally. In addition he has a quick release on his serve that can keep his opponent out of rhythm.

Goffin is a model of court speed and consistency. His shots have lots of pop for a small tennis player. His relatively smaller stature on the plus side helps give him excellent balance. Goffin is precise and impressive.

Nonetheless on form I think Gasquet will continue to surprise us and take this one in a battle.

Hair and My Early Adulthood

I was eighteen about to graduate from high school with my barber, seated at his chair. In jest I declared, ” Cut it all off.” He didn’t confirm my request. He just started cutting and cutting and cutting.

A few days later as the picture of my entire class was taken at graduation I could quickly be found amongst the 600 or so fully coifed graduates.

It took the entire summer for me to meet my freshman college class as a non-skinhead. As you might gather shaved heads in 1963 were far from the norm.

Speaking of the norm. Straight hair had been in vogue for decades in the early 60s. There was actually a frat brother who made pretty good money straightening hair in our Jewish fraternity.

Then after I graduated and in the late 60s Ryan O’Neal in Love Story and Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid made wavy hair popular. It saved me the price of a comb for the last 50 years. Thanks Butch.

Sapiens, a Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, a Review

First there is great clarity in the author’s work. In essence it was very well written. As with most well written history it is a page turner.

I think Harari took too broad an approach in too short a period of time in his book. He particularly lacked an appreciation of what it took to argue the non-material/ spiritual perspective vs. the material/atheistic point of view, which, is his own. He just made blanket statements that were not reasonably sourced in combating the theistic view. I believe it is the greatest shortcoming in the book.

As I understand their work both Hugh Ross, a Cal Tech trained scientist, and NT Wright, a highly lauded Christian author see the spiritual Kingdom of God as present in another dimension. I am not sure the author has any idea of that feasible interface between ours and a spiritual dimension. No less a scientist than Francis Collins, MD, Director of the American National Institutes of Health has authored a work on his strong Christian beliefs. He also headed the Human Genome Project that Harari actually mentioned in his work.

To my knowledge Yuval Harari has neither scientific nor theological degrees. I believe that his lack of appreciation in those areas left his argumentation short of the mark. It actually gave me pause to ask myself in his” inorganic life” chapter IF he truly understood the cutting edge technology he described, particularly where it might be flawed, which he excluded.

Harari mentioned Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, but failed to mention his key love chapter where he says, “I shall know even as I am also known.” which, as I pointed out in “Look Backward Angel,” suggests a journey to gain self-knowledge as a part of the Christian/Messianic Jewish journey. Harari saw self knowledge, as I understood him, as a key to happiness, which makes his failure to recognize what I have quoted as, to me, an unfair diminution of the beauty and value of the Christian/Messianic Jewish life.

On the other hand it was enjoyable to appreciate the broad expanse of human history which I had never seen in one book. He raised some interesting elements of that history and raised some fascinating questions about it..

Just a Game

I was 13 years old attending summer camp. The tennis courts were clay. I had never stepped on a tennis court regardless of the surface.

The instructor told me to shake hands with the handle of the racket. I did so. It produced an Eastern forehand grip. Then later he asked me to place my right hand on the top of the handle of the racket and place the racket between my thumb and forefinger. It produced a continental backhand grip. So far so good.

That day I was only taught the forehand stroke. It felt fluid. It felt somewhat effortless. It was reminiscent of my baseball swing. It felt good. I hit a lot of forehands between 13 and 31 years of age.

I was 31 the day I met my wife. We both expressed how much we loved the game. We played tennis on our first date. We saw a tennis tournament on our second.

Years later the game cemented my relationship with my son. He may love the game more than either of us. Our daughter loves the game as well.

It may be just a game, but it’s more than that with the joy it brings our family. A lot can happen when a 13 year old steps on a tennis court.