Monday, August 3, 2020

TKJ's Top 10: MLB rankings: 8-3-20

Here's my latest Top 10 MLB teams:

1. New York Yankees - (7-1): There's no question they are the best team in baseball. The only thing that can stop them is COVID-19.

2. L.A. Dodgers - (7-3): The Dodgers are still the top team in the National League and I don't think they are playing their best yet.

3. Chicago Cubs +5 (7-2): The Cubs haven't played the toughest schedule (plenty of games against the Pirates), but that offense is for real. They will have to fix that closer situation at some point.

4. Atlanta Braves - (7-3): The Braves are still loaded. The offense is great, the pitching is solid. Don't count this team out as far as winning the NL.

5. Minnesota Twins - (7-2): The Twins took 3 of 4 from the Indians. They look like the biggest threat to the Yankees at this point in the AL.

6. Houston Astros - (5-4): The Astros are the defending AL champs for a reason. The offense is still great. However, the pitching is a mess. If they can find a way to fix that they are still a big contender in the AL.

7. Cleveland Indians +3 (5-4): The Indians starting pitching is for real, but they lost 3 out of 4 to the Twins. The offense needs to improve.

8. Colorado Rockies: NR (6-2) The Rockies look to be for real. They just took 2 of 3 from the Padres. That offense is definitely strong, the question mark will be the pitching.

9. San Diego Padres -6 (6-4): The Padres have lost 3 of their last 4, but I still have faith in this young squad.

10. Baltimore Orioles NR (5-3): I can't believe my eyes. I have the Orioles in my top 10? Clearly, it's still early. But the O's just swept the Rays, that has to mean something.



Yankees Nation: Yanks continue to roll

Will the Yankees ever lose again?

There are times I'm starting to wonder. The Yankees (7-1) look as strong as ever. They went undefeated last week and Aaron Judge is on fire!

The pitching has been solid. Paxton still needs to improve and losing Kahnle going down for the season isn't great. Still the Yankees should be fine.

The offense looks almost unstoppable. Chapman should be back very very soon. The future's so bright we gotta wear shades.

The Yankees are wining blowouts, they are winning close games. They have it all right now.

There's no reason to think the Yankees won't keep things going on this very busy week. We've got 4 with the Phillies and 4 with the Rays. Hopefully we'll get them all in and extend the win streak even further.

Let's keep this train going Yankees and keep steamrolling everyone in sight.

Until next time, Go Yankees! 

DV Nation: DV thrashes Rus in Palermo first round

DV started off her new season in fine fashion. 

She beat Rus 6-1, 6-2 to advance to the second round in Palermo. DV plays Cocciaretto in her next match.

"I'm definitely a little bit surprised, especially because it was really tricky conditions," DV said. "It was very windy. So the ball was spinning a lot, was a little bit all over the court. But I'm definitely happy that I didn't forget how to play tennis, how to play matches, how to win. It's a huge relief. So I'm really happy right now."

DV had four aces and 4 DF's. She served at 56 percent first serves. She won 77 percent of her first serves and 46 percent on second serves. She was 6-for-13 on break points. She won 8 games in a row at one point and 9 points in a row at one point. She saved 3 of-4 break points.  

"Physically I'm probably more ready than ever. I'm really impressed with my runnings today. I have to look at that one point with the drop shot that I got - that was crazy. I thought I was moving really well. We did a couple of really tough weeks in Monaco, so I was definitely expecting to be fit. Tennis-wise I've been also practicing great, but you literally haven't played a match in five months and it's the first time for me, because I've never had like a big injury. So I really didn't know what to expect and he was like don't expect to play perfect, to fight every point and just try to be competitive and do your thing."

DV actually trailed 1-0 in the first set, before winning the last six games. She raced out to a 2-0 lead in the opening set and cruised to the one-hour 17-minute victory. 

"I really enjoyed playing clay the last couple of years. Clay and I were not such good friends before that. The last couple of years it's been a lot better. I've been practicing on clay through this whole period, because in Croatia we have more clay courts than hard courts. So I grew up playing on clay as well. But I don't think that made a huge difference today because in my mind I wanted to play just this tournament to get a couple matches, but then we're back on hard, back on clay. The surface change is not really a huge problem for me the last couple of years, which is great."

Great job DV! Let's get this title!

Saturday, August 1, 2020

TKJ's picks: DV will take title in Palermo

It's back! Oh how I missed it!

Tennis is back with the first tournament of the year since the pandemic in Palermo. I am back writing blogs, including tennis. I will try to make picks each week and hopefully day starting this week.

Obviously, I'm going to pick DV to win in Palermo. She is the 6 seed and quite honestly can beat any of these girls. I like her to play D.Y. in the final, in what would be a great matchup.

I've got DV beating Kontaveit in the quarters then Martic in the semis. I'll take D.Y. over Vondrousova in the quarters. Then I've got D.Y. over Sakkari in the semis. 

In the final I'll take DV over D.Y. 6-4, 6-3. 

DV Nation: DV back in action in Palermo, ready to win

DV returns this week!

She is playing in the first official tennis tournament since the pandemic in Palermo. 

It's great to have my favorite women's player back on court and ready to win another title! DV is the No. 6 seed and will play Rus in the first round and either Hercog or Cocciaretto in the second round. DV is scheduled to play Kontaveit in the quarters. 

It is on clay, not DV's best surface but she'll get it done! Martic is the top seed and Vondrousova is the 2 seed but DV can beat any of them.

DV is no longer coached by Torben, but that's OK she'll be fine. Torben was great for her, but honestly I think it was time for her to move on from him. This will be a short season, but hopefully DV can make the most of it and do some big things.

I'm excited to see her play again. Let's go DV! 

Tampa Bay Nation: Rays off to wobbly start

Tampa Bay sports is about to get going in a big way.

Yes, the Bucs are getting started at training camp. The Lightning are about to get the postseason started and hopefully win another championship.

Then of course, there's the Rays. After last weekend I really thought the Rays were picking up where they had left off last season. They took 2 of 3 from the Jays and then they won the first two against the Braves.

However, they have since lost 3 in a row (and are 4-4), including a bad one to the O's. That can't happen if you want to win a championship. The magic from last year isn't there right now, but hopefully they can get it back. The bullpen needs to do better. 

Choi is only hitting .200, Diaz .095 and Kiermaier .160. All three have to improve and get the offense going like it's capable.

As for the Lightning it's all about redemption. The 'Ning were the faves last year and were swept in the first round. Now it's their time to show who the best team is.

Until next time, go Rays! Go Lightning!

Celtics Nation: Celtics need to bounce back from defeat

OK, Celtics fans, Friday was a tough loss (119-112 to Milwaukee). We played a good team but still that was a winnable game.

It obviously hurts that Kemba only played 19 minutes, and hopefully he will be at full strength come playoff time. 

Jayson has to play better - 5 points - isn't going to get it done. You're better than that Jay and I know he will be better on Sunday. Jaylen Brown was great and Marcus and Wanamaker off the bench were also big positives.

Sunday is a must-win type game to me. I don't think Boston is going to catch Toronto for second and really it doesn't matter since there is no home court now. I'm not afraid of anybody in the first round. 

However, the Celtics need to stay in front of a surging Miami team and keep from falling to the 4 spot. The most important thing is the Celtics need to get this win over Portland and get some momentum before the playoffs.

They should beat Portland, but it won't be easy. The Blazers are playing well. If the Celtics play their game they will be fine. Let's get this! 

Until next time, Go Celtics!  

Sunday, July 26, 2020

TKJ's Top 10: MLB rankings: 7-26-20

Here's my rankings through the first weekend of baseball season:

1. New York Yankees (2-1): The favorites in my unbiased (LOL) opinion.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers (2-1): This team is loaded. Not going to lie they scare me (just a little).

3. San Diego Padres (2-1): The Padres impressed me more than any other team I saw this weekend not named the Yankees or Dodgers. They are young and talented. The only liability will be the pitching.

4. Atlanta Braves (2-1): The Braves beatdown over the Mets on Sunday was impressive.

5. Minnesota Twins (2-1): The Twins have plenty of talent and pitching and they could be ready to make some big noise.

6. Houston Astros (2-1): They would have been higher, but without Verlander I'm not sure what to expect from them moving forward.

7. St. Louis Cardinals (2-1): Another team headed for big things, Not as talented as the teams that won it all, but in a year with a crazy postseason I wouldn't count them out.

8. Chicago Cubs (2-1): The Cubs still have enough firepower on offense and solid pitching to do big things this season.

9. Tampa Bay Rays (2-1): A darkhorse team this season, building off of last year's momentum. They do just enough to win games and that's what matters most.

10. Cleveland Indians (2-1): The offense needs improvement, but their trio of starters on the mound can go toe-to-toe with anybody.

Until next time, Go Yankees!

Yankees Nation: Yankees take 2 of 3 from Nationals

The Yankees picked up a huge win Sunday to take 2 of 3 from the Nationals.

Loaisiga and Hale went a combined four innings and only trailed 2-0 as they turned it over to the heart of the bullpen. I knew going into the game if Loaisiga could just keep it close, the bullpen would give the Yankees a chance and they did.

If the Yankees win it all this year it will be because of how great the bullpen is. The offense finally got Corbin out of the game and then won the game against the Nats' bullpen. Gleyber came up big for the Yankees and my fantasy baseball team and led the Yanks to the 3-2 win.

The Yankees are in first place! The key to every series is to win it. So that's one down! Now it's on to Philly. We need to win at least 3 of 4 (the last two are in N.Y.) against the Phillies and keep it rolling.

The offense is going to be fine. The bullpen is going to be fine. The key as usual for the Yankees is starting pitching has to be better. Paxton has to be better than he was on Saturday. It will help to get Tanaka back, but if the starting pitching can improve and be good this year the Yankees have a great chance to win it all.

Until next time, Go Yankees!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Yankees Nation: Yankees take opener over Nats, 4-1, in rain shortened game.

The Yankees win their opener 4-1 and looked great in a rain-shortened game, which was stopped in the sixth. 

One down, 59 more to go, right?

Gerrit Cole looked solid, Staunton hit a 2-run bomb, Judge was his usual great self. I know it's only one game, but the Yankees look like champs to me.

Let's keep it going, Saturday. 

Until next time, Go Yankees!  

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Yankees Nation: Fearless predictions: Yankees beat Dodgers in World Series

Baseball is back and that means it's time to make some fearless predictions. 

With the shortened season anything can happen, but I'm not going to stray too far from my original picks for the season.

The Yankees will dominate (shocking that I would say that, I know) this season. I don't care if it's 10 games or 1,000 games or 60 games - they are the best team in baseball. They have looked great in preseason.

I've got the Yankees in the AL East, the Twins in the AL Central and the Astros in the AL West. I'll take the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland A's for the wildcards.

The Yankees will beat the Rays and the  Astros will knock off the Twins, setting up the rematch from last year's ALCS. This time the Yankees will take it and go to the World Series.

In the NL, I'll take the Braves in the NL East, the Cardinals in the NL Central and the Dodgers in the NL West. The Nationals and the Brewers are the wildcards. 

Then the Dodgers, who have also looked great in preseason, will beat the Nationals, the Cardinals will top the Braves with the Dodgers getting back to the World Series after beating the Cards.

In the World Series the Yankees will win their 28th championship in 6 games over the Dodgers (Is it the 70's again?). Book it!

Until next time, Go Yankees! 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Yankees Nation: Baseball and the Yankees are back!

Baseball is back!

The last few days have been amazing, just watching the New York Yankees back on the field beating teams (well, one team - the Mets) to a pulp. I don't think I truly realized how much I missed the main sports until the last few days. It's like life is great again! No matter what else is going on I have sports to lean on and help me through this pandemic. 

It also helps that the Yankees have looked great in their first two exhibition games. They beat the Mets by a combined 15-3 score in two games. I think it's going to be a great season and nothing will make me feel better than seeing them win Championship No. 28.

In Sunday's win, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez each homered, with Judge taking two out of the park.

The lack of fans doesn't bother me at all, and I like the simulated crowd noise. It sounds real.

The Yankees' offense is off to a great start and the pitching should be fine. With Gerrit Cole, James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka leading the way it should be a great 60-game season for the Yanks.

They start the regular season off on Thursday at the Washington Nationals and have three games in four days with the Nats. Then they play at Philadelphia for two and then have two at home with the Phillies. Then Boston comes to town for three games and there's nothing like the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

It's a tough schedule to start with, but I know the Yankees will be fine. They have the talent to win it all!

I will try to give updates/thoughts at least once a week. Hopefully they will be full of lots of joy as the Yankees dominate like they should. 

Until next time, Go Yankees!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

DWB Nation: Kara Lawson perfect choice for DWB!

Last week was a big one for DWB! 

Kara Lawson was named the new head coach for Duke Women's Basketball and I don't think they could have made a better choice. 

Kara is smart, experienced, has a great personality, passionate - she is everything you can want from a head coach. I know my Boston Celtics were sorry to see her leave, but we're happy for her. I am very excited for what this means for my favorite program in the world. 

She has already reached out to former players and had a zoom chat with them. You can tell she has great ideas. She has an understanding of what it takes to win and she knows Duke belongs at the top of the women's game just like it was when she played at Tennessee. 

To me one of the most important things about Kara is - she's a winner. It's what she's done at everything in basketball and I know DWB is in good hands. I'm looking forward to the upcoming season and going through the process of watching the program grow into a powerhouse again. I became a DWB fan in 1999 after they beat Tennessee in the Elite Eight. Soon after that I became a season-ticket holder and stayed that way until a few years ago. I've already ordered season tickets again and can't wait to be back in Cameron Indoor Stadium again! 
I can remember big games there against Connecticut, Tennessee and North Carolina where there were sellouts and the place was rocking just like for the men's games. I have no doubt it will be that way again soon! There's no feeling quite like CIS when it's full and the place is rocking. It gets so hot you can barely breathe. It's the best atmosphere in all of sports. 

I'm sure Kara will bring in some big-time recruits and get us back to the top soon. After a long absence it's where we want to be and where we belong! 

On a programming note, I will have more blogs soon. With sports coming back in full-force I will have different blogs for different sports, but all of it can be found here on this site. For DWB Nation, I plan to have previews on the games, recaps, Players of the Week and much more as the season goes on. I can't wait for the great things that are coming to DWB! 

 Go Duke!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Even now, Sports teaches us lessons

It's been said many times that you don't know what you got until it's gone. I've realized that more than ever these last two weeks.

Self-isolation, social distancing -- no problem. I'm an introvert, a loner, I've been practicing for those things my whole life, but usually I'm watching sports while I'm doing it.

It's also been said many times that sports teaches us life lessons and that is still the case even as the COVID-19 pandemic has cut sports out of the world.

Ever since I can remember I've been a sports fan. Even when I was 4 or 5 I knew every member of the Washington Redskins and all their stats (at least that's what I've been told). Yes, I was a Redskins' fan when I was younger (I didn't know any better back then).

I like to think that sports is the love of my life. Sports has meant so much to my life, but even as recently as this past fall there were times when I stopped watching. I went the entire month of October without watching a single college or pro football game. There are times when I get burned out and need to take a break.

Of course, even then I still have high school football to cover and watch. There's never a time when sports hasn't been a part of my life in some way or another. I've wondered before what life would be like without sports and now, unfortunately, we are all finding out.

There's no question it's been tough as I'm sure it has been for many. With too much time on my hands I've found myself thinking about the past. I've watched videos of past games and matches on YouTube. This way I control what games from the past I can watch.

Watching the reruns many memories came back to me and the passion and excitement I had for the games. Somewhere along the way, I've lost some of that passion and I'm taking this time away from sports to recapture it.

I realize that I'm so blessed to be able to do what I do for a living and the way my life has been connected by sports.

Some of the videos that I have been watching have been of my beloved New York Yankees. The good times and the bad.

I can still remember watching live and seeing Mariano Rivera give up the walk-off hit by Luis Gonzalez to lose Game 7 of the 2001 World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks. I was at work and can remember throwing my hat clear across the floor in anger.

I can also remember watching the Yankees come back from 2-0 down to beat the Atlanta Braves in the 1996 World Series. The joy of doing that for the first time since the 70's was amazing.

Some of the videos I've been watching have been of (my favorite athlete of all-time) lJennifer Capriati tennis matches. Some might know that I was a Maria Sharapova fan, but before there was Maria there was Jennifer.

I can remember skipping class in college just so I could watch her matches (maybe that explains why I didn't do so well in college). I can remember that feeling, that knot in my stomach before a big match.

I can remember the shock and sadness I felt when the news broke that she had been arrested for drugs in 1994. I can also remember crying and the joy I felt as she won her first grand slam title eight years later. To me her story is still the greatest comeback story ever.

It was yet another example of how sports teaches us lessons, especially about overcoming adversity.

The point is I had so many emotions because I was so invested and so passionate about it.

Then there's Duke Basketball, more importantly Duke Women's Basketball. I have been a DWB fan since the late 90's when they beat Tennessee and went to the National Championship game.

Again, I have been so invested in the program and I've seen highs and lows, joy and sorrow. That's just what makes sports -- sports.

I was there in 2006 for the Final Four when DWB beat LSU in the semis. Many of the players were staying on the same floor in the same hotel as me (I promise I bribed no one). I can still remember hearing the excitement, the pure joy they had after winning in the semis. The yelling in the hallways.

Two days later, after a heartbreaking overtime loss to Maryland, the hallway was very different. I can remember players in the hallway crying and I thought to myself how different the emotions can be from one outcome to the next. As the saying goes, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

In the end it's sports being sports and that's why we love them so much. The players moved on and they learned from the loss, yet another life lesson from sports.

My job has given so much joy and I've learned so much more about sports. I consider myself to have the greatest job in the world, because my job is sports.

I've been so fortunate to have been at so many big events whether through the job or personally. I've been to Daytona International Speedway races twice. I've covered other NASCAR races, covered the NFL, MLB, several professional tennis tournaments, professional golf tournaments, Virginia basketball and football, Virginia Tech basketball and football.

I've been lucky enough to talk to many superstar athletes such as Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and many others.

Then there's high school sports. For the last 25 years I've been lucky enough to cover high school sports in the area. I've seen state championship teams, even some that had dynasties, teams that came up a little short in the most heartbreaking of ways, teams that did not have good records, teams that had average records.

But the reality is the wins and losses have never been important -- it's those lessons that are learned. It's the passion and excitement that we have for the games. It's giving everything you got and knowing that you tried your best -- win or lose. It's finding out that you could do more than you thought and overcoming any adversity that life throws at you.

My heart breaks for all the seniors who lost their spring season to the COVID-19 pandemic. I know it's tough, but I also know that they will find their way and overcome this adversity just like our country and the world will.

One of the highlights of these last few weeks has been taking part in my league's fantasy baseball draft. For the first time in 18 years, I'm in a fantasy league that started in The Northern Virginia Daily's offices. It started in 1989 in the NVD conference room and this will be the 31st year for it. I was in it for three years from 2000-2002.

The members are either former NVD sports staff or freelance writers or kids of former NVD writers and three doctors. The draft was safe and we took all the necessary precautions. It was nice to get away for a little bit and talk sports and not think about COVID-19. We said a prayer before the draft and to me the best part was getting together with friends and sharing in a common bond during a tough time. Sports brought us together just like to does so often even in the tough times.

I know there's a dark cloud hanging over the world right now. However, just remember that two or three months out of your life isn't really that long. We will make it through, just like sports has taught us in the past. We will overcome this adversity.

Sports will be back. When it comes back we should all remember this time and how it felt without sports. Don't take it for granted like I have in the past. If you get to play enjoy every second. If you like to watch enjoy the moments and remember that at any time it is possible to lose sports again. Remember to appreciate every moment that you have. Yet another lesson that sports has taught me.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Day 15: Time to go home, but it's been the trip of a lifetime!

So the 15 days of tennis are coming to an end.

Due to a heavy workload next week and my sinuses acting up I've decided to turn 18 days of tennis into 15, but that's OK! I've had an amazing time the last three weeks and wouldn't trade any of it for the world.

It's kind of fitting that I leave early since all of my favorite women are now out of the tourney and so is Roger Federer. Only Novak Djokovic is left and I can watch him win on my TV at home.

As a look back on it, it's been an amazing two weeks of tennis from D.C. to Cincy.

D.C. really improved this year and I'm sure I'll be back in future years.

It was my first time to Cincy as a fan and it was great getting to see all the greats one last time. Don't worry I'm sure I'll be back at some point.

All in all this trip was everything I hoped it would be. Lots of amazing tennis at two great tournaments. I got myself a tan and I am now ready to go back home and get into the upcoming high school season.

But I will never forget the trip of a lifetime and the many memories I made at two great tournaments! Thank you to D.C. and Cincy for putting on a great show!

Now it's time for football season, let's do this!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Day 14 of 18: DV wins, Maria loses and Nick is still a sideshow!

I'll try to make this short since it's late and there's lots of great tennis to come tomorrow.

First, it was another great day! Donna Vekic won on court 10, which is my favorite court. It's so close to the players and I got plenty of great videos and pictures!

Maria Sharapova lost and so that sucked, but at least I got to see her win one match!

There was some great doubles action that I checked out as well.

For the second straight night I left early and I'm glad I did. I was able to watch the Nick Kyrgios-Karen Khachanov match on Tennis TV! Nick was out of control and needs to be fined and suspended. But I have to admit it was entertaining!

Tomorrow is round of 16 day! Everyone plays and I'm excited for it!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Day 13 of 18: A win for DV and a stadium court full of thrillers!

Another great day of tennis!

The highlight for me was watching my second favorite women's player, Donna Vekic, win in the very small court 4.

It was a good match and with being so close to the court you were very close to the action and players.

Obviously, the stadium court was awesome for the day session. Stan Wawrinka won in 3 sets, Venus Williams won in 3 sets (both in tiebreakers). Then I got to see my favorite men's player, Novak Djokovic, win in straight sets. I also got to see a little of Roger Federer winning.

One of the best matches of the day was Madison Keys beating Garbine Muguruza on Grandstand court. Daria Kasatkina's win over Barbora Strycova on stadium 3 was also great!

Tomorrow will be another great day! Both Maria Sharapova and Donna will be playing at about the same time (my worst nightmare), but hopefully they can both come away with a win!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Day 11 and 12 of 18: Cincy Monday is the best day yet: A Maria win will always do that for me!

I did not get to write a blog Sunday because it was so late, so I'll do 2 in one.

First off, Sunday was great. It was a great day of qualifying/main draw matches.

However, Monday was the best day out of all 12 days so far. There were so many gteat matches, but most importantly I got to see Maria Sharapova win as a fan!

I've been here before as part of the media but this is my first time as a fan. So I could yell and scream for Maria all I wanted - and I did!

Hopefully, she will keep winning and I will keep screaming!

I was disappointed the fans in my section were not the greatest. Many of them weren't there to watch the match and were talking non-stop. One fan didn't even know what lines were in and out on the tennis court. Two other fans sitting in front of me were sleeping, which was amazing considering how much I was yelling (Maria's grunts should be loud enough to keep people awake).

I also got to see Donna Vekic win a doubles match with Kiki Bertens (hopefully tomorrow she will add a singles win). She played on Court 7, which honestly is the worst court there. The fence is so high that someone like me can't see unless I'm on the very top row (which isn't easy to get a seat on). There is very little room for fans. I stood for most of the match, which was my best chance to see.

Novak Djokovic also played doubles but his court was too full by the time I got to it, so I did not watch that. He plays singles tomorrow as does many of my other faves like DV and Angie Kerber. And some guy named Fed plays tomorrow as well. So I might check out some of that old man's match.

It's going to be a busy, great day! I can't wait!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Day 10 of 18: The Cincy tourney is off to an amazing start!

What a first day! Overall, day No. 10 of 18 days of pro tennis was fantastic!

It is so great to be back in Cincy for the Western and Southern Open. As soon as I arrived I remembered just how much I love this tournament.

There is so much going on! The food is great! I finally tried the Skyline 3-way Chili, which is cheese, chili and spaghetti combined. It was great! Then there is Graeters ice cream, the best ice cream I've ever had.

Of course, the tennis was great too! So many great players trying to qualify in. Wimbledon semifinalist Barbora Strycova beat Kaia Kanepi in 3 sets. My favorite match of the day was Lauren Davis beating Kristie Ahn in 3 sets. Monica Puig also won a thriller over Anastasia Potapova in 3 sets.

Ivo Karlovic beat Tennys Sandgren in 3 stes, which came down to a final tiebreak. Jack Sock lost a tough 3-set match to Mikhail Kukushkin.

So many great matches. Tomorrow will be even better with 2 main draw matches happening and 3 main draw men's doubles matches happening.

One of the best things about the Cincy tennis tournament is how many huge courts they have. The top three courts are all stadiums and the fourth one, court 10, is one of my faves because you are very close to the court.

It's just a beautiful tournament, a beautiful venue and I can't wait for the main draw action to start tomorrow.

There will be many long days and nights and lots of great tennis ahead and I can't wait! Let the fun begin!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Day 9 of 18: Kyrgios wins Citi Open title; Cincy is next!

What a great way to end the Citi Open!

As a Nick Kyrgios fan I was happy to see him win the men's singles title. It was a great match and it was so great to see him so emotional after winning it.

The men's doubles final was also really good with Raven Klassen and Michael Venus winning in the third-set supertiebreak.

The women's singles final was a dud but it was nice to see Jessica Pegula win her first title!

All in all just a great week, great crowds. I was sad to leave but also so excited for the Cincy tourney next week.

One tourney down, one to go. D.C. was just the appetizer - Cincy is the main course!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Day 8 of 18: Nick and Stefanos steal the show!


That was a pretty good day of semifinals and finals in D.C.

I have to admit I was only there for the women's semis (both of which were decent matches). I did get to watch Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas from my hotel in what was the match of the tourney! Of course it was great to see Coco Gauff and Caty McNally win the women's doubles title!

I am now ready for an exciting day of finals tomorrow. Day 9 should be the best day yet!

First up will be Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau against Raven Klassen and Michael Venus in the men's doubles final. I'm going with Rojer and Tecau in this one.

Then it will be the women's final between Camila Giorgi and Jessica Pegula. I'm taking Giorgi in that.

To cap the tourney off it will be the men's final between Nick and Daniil Medvedev. That should be a great battle, which hopefully Nick will win!

I probably won't post a blog on the finals until Monday or so. But it's been a great week and a great tourney. The best time I've had in D.C.!

Let's end this in grand style with three great matches!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Day 7 of 18: Doubles was the highlight of the day at the Citi Open

Day 7 of the Citi Open was another great one!

I was able to get to see parts of all 12 matches. The men's doubles matches were the best ones. Unfortunately, the Bryan brothers and the Murray brothers both lost.

My favorite female player that was left in the draw - Lauren Davis - also lost. However, I really like Caty McNally and I think she can totally win the singles and the doubles (with Coco Gauff) titles here!

The Anna Kalinskaya win over Kiki Mladenovic match was a good one, which included an underhand serve. The shoe fiasco in the Stefanos Tsitsipas win over Benoit Paire was entertaining, but all in all the men's matches were kind of duds.

Tomorrow should be a great day of semifinals and the women's doubles finals! I will probably just go to the women's semis and watch the men's semis from my hotel to help rest up with a busy week ahead of me! But it should be a great day either way.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Day 6 of 18: The best day of the Citi Open yet!

What a great day for tennis!

I think, overall, Day 6 of the Citi Open may have been my favorite. The matches weren't anything special, but it was a great day as far as everything going smoothly.

Any time you go to a tournament it takes a few days to get used to where everything is and get the timing of everything down. I feel like today was perfect in that regard for me today. It would be better if there wasn't road work on I-66 and I could actually get home at a decent time.

The matches were solid. Camila Giorgi's 3-set marathon win over Rebecca Peterson was the match of the day for me. I saw at least a little bit of 13 of 15 matches.

Marin Cilic-Felix Auger-Aliassime was a dud (it happens). I have to admit I enjoyed the Caty McNally win over Christina McHale a lot. I continue to be impressed with McNally.

Decisions will have to be made tomorrow as to what to watch. The schedule is divided by groups.

The stadium court features all of the men's singles quarterfinals. I have to admit they don't look that great to me. I think the semis will be great but I'm not sure about the quarters. Cilic and Daniil Medvedev looks like the best match, although Benoit Paire and Stefanos Tsitsipas could also be decent.

On the John Harris court will be all doubles. I'm very tempted to stay with that court all day. Two women's semis and two men's quarters. The two men's semis feature Andy Murray and the Bryan bothers.

On the grandstand court will be all the women's quarterfinals. Those matches aren't anything flashy either.

What will I do go with all doubles, all women's singles or all men's singles or a mix of all of them? Stay tuned to tomorrow's blog to find out.

Also, let's hope the rain they are calling for stays away (like it did Wednesday).

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Day 5 of 18: Up and down day, but the weather was fine

Another great day of tennis in the books!

It was an up and down day for me. First the fire alarm went off at 7 a.m. at my hotel for what turned out to be a false alarm.

I went to the Citi Open but my blisters were really bothering me. I watched the men's doubles match on court 5 between Jean-Jullien Rojer and Horia Tecau against Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares (won by Rojer and Tecau in a supertiebreak)and then decided to leave for the day. From 24 matches yesterday to one today, but at least I was there and saw a match!

I thought it would rain (which luckily it didn't) and figured I'd better rest my body. I'm already starting to feel recharged and ready to go.

I did get to see matches from my hotel and it was a great day of tennis. I loved the Lauren Davis win over Sofia Kenin. Lauren is definitely my favorite to root for the rest of the way!

I was also happy to see Anna Kalinskaya get a win over Monica Puig.

On the men's side, Nick Kyrgios was great in his win over Gilles Simon as was Felix Auger Aliassime in his victory over Reilly Opelka!

Of course, Andy and Jamie Murray's win over Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in doubles was one of the top matches of the day!

Tomorrow should be another great one! Caty McNally against Christina McHale should be a great way to start the day on stadium court. That will be followed by Marin Cilic against Auger Aliassime in what could be the match of the day.

Kyle Edmund against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga kicks off the action on John Harris Court ion what should be a great match.

I can't wait for another great day of tennis!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Day 4 of 18: Success in watching every match, including some great doubles

Day 4 at the Citi Open was awesome again!

I saw at least a little bit of every match - all 24 of them! My feet are now paying the price as I have two blisters. Oh well, the price you pay for watching great tennis!

For me the highlight of the day was watching some great doubles on Court 5. Court 5 was nothing but doubles matches and one of the best parts about it is - how close you are to the court and the players. I like to sit in the front row and you are actually on the court - 10-12 feet from the players while they're playing. It is awesome. The doubles itself was great too and it's great to see Mark Ein making it more of a priority in the tourney.

My fave match of the day overall was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's 3-set win over No. 2 seed Karen Khachanov.

There were definitely some upsets as both top-seeded Sloane Stephens (2-set loss to Rebecca Peterson) and second-seeded Madison Keys (2-set loss to Hailey Baptiste) were knocked out.

Keep an eye out for young American Catherine McNally. I was impressed with her game in a rout over Lin Zhu.

Of course, Cocomania came to an end in singles (she's still in doubles with McNally). Coco Gauff lost to Zarina Diyas. There will be much better days ahead for Coco.

I am loving the new Market Square(concessions area) more and more! Such a great addition to the tourney.

Tomorrow's schedule looks great (except for the rain in the forecast). Lots of doubles and men's matches scheduled. Only 4 women's singles matches.

The highlight of stadium court will be Andy Murray playing with his brother,Jamie, in doubles against Nicolas Mahut and Edoua Roger-Vasselin.

Five great matches on John Harris Court, all men's singles. Riley Opelka against Felix Auger-Aliassime should be great.

On grandstand court, Lauren Davis against Sofia Kenin should be a great women's match. Coco and McNally also play against Yu-Chieh Hsieh and Xiaodi You in women's doubles quarterfinals. The Bryan brothers also play in men's doubles against Treat Huey and Denis Kudla.

I can't wait for another great day!

Monday, July 29, 2019

Day 3: Some Russian drama and a whole lot of great matches

I'll try to keep this somewhat short because it's late and I'm tired.

Day 3 of the Citi Open was awesome!

My day did not start out well. First the Metro lot was full in Vienna so I decided to drive in and park at the tourney. Despite some heavy Beltway traffic I made it there 40 minutes before the gates opened, which meant standing around.

Once the tennis started there was drama everywhere. Lots of 3-setters to start the day. My favorite match of the day was Christina McHale's 3-set thriller over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (just call her Pavs).

At one point during the match Pavs double-faulted and I put my hands together twice and yelled at Pavs (who I was rooting for) to 'Come on' (which I say a lot while watching tennis). A Russian woman behind me said I was rude and disrespectful for clapping after a double-fault and that she was going to tell the umpire to have me thrown out! LOL! I tried to explain to the woman that I was cheering for Pavs but she said it didn't matter.

The Russian woman then began ripping on McHale over the next few games and saying she was ugly and she has told her son to never marry a woman that looks like that. Yes, I'm the one that's rude and disrespectful. LOL. Only tennis (and maybe soccer) can give you these kind of interactions and it's why I love the sport. There's so many people from so many countries that love it and the fans are so passionate!

Later on I was almost run over by Madison Keys because she was not looking at where she was going (she was looking at her cell phone)! LOL!

The tourney had its first rain delay (a short one) even though there was only a 10 percent chance of rain.

Cocomania was alive and well as Coco Gauff played doubles on the grandstand court (a packed crowd of course).

I saw parts of 17 of the 22 matches. I wanted to see all of them but that's way it goes sometimes.

The stadium court were a little lackluster, but the outside courts are always the place to be early in the tourney. The stadium matches will pick up as the week goes on.

I did try Market Square (the new concession area) and I now love it. The prices are still a little high, but the service is quick and there's plenty of room for people to sit, eat and even watch the tennis on TV. It's a very nice area and a great addition to the tournament.

The main ice cream stand dropped their prices from $10 to 5 (for a small) and it was pretty good!

Tomorrow I am trying out the taco place in Market Square. It is Taco Tuesday right?

Now here's a little look at some of the best matches tomorrow.

The stadium court matches will be OK. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga plays Karen Khachanov in the 7 p.m. match and that should be good. Nick Kyrgios then plays Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (former U.Va. NCAA champion). This match could be closer than you might think.

Coco will dominate John Harris Court. Her match with Zarina Diyas (who she just beat in doubles) is the third one up on that court and that place will be packed. That court is probably the place to be tomorrow as there are some other potentially really good matches there.

The grandstand court is all women's matches. Kiki Mladenovic against Shelby Rogers (second match of the day) should be a good one. The fourth match of the day features Madison Keys, the second seed.

Court 4 has some really good matches as well. Jack Sock plays Jordan Thompson in the second match there. Sock is coming back from injury and this is his second tourney back. Then in the fourth match Andrey Rublev plays Bernie Tomic, which means the match will probably be quick and maybe a little entertaining. Who knows what Bernie might do?

Court 5 is all doubles matches, including Genie Bouchard and Sofia Kenin playing together in the third match and Sock playing with Leander Paes in the fourth match against Alex De Minaur and John Peers.

All in all it was a great day and I can't wait to see what happens in Day 4. Let's keep this thing going!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Day 2 of 18 days of pro tennis: Coco is great again and a guide to the matches to watch Monday

Another day of tennis in the books!

Day 2 at the Citi Open was great! Cocomania continued and she won again. Coco played much better and there was another great crowd. It was almost a sellout -- for qualifying!

I did check out the new concessions area -- way too expensive. $14 for a burger - I don't think so. Everything in the place was at least $13 - like $13 for tacos. Not happening. I'll stick with my $7 hot dogs - way too much for hot dogs but at least it's $14.

Tomorrow the tournament really begins - with first round matches. There's 22 matches total with 18 singles and 4 doubles matches.

Play begins at 1, better than the usual 2, but I'd still like to see this tourney get with the program and make it 11 like every other tournament out there not named Wimbledon.

There's still 5 matches on some of the courts so play will go on late.

Here's my thoughts on what some of the best matches to go see will be.

There's only 4 matches on stadium court, starting at 2 p.m. The last two are definitely the best two. First at 7 p.m it will be Nick Krygios and Stefanos Tsitsipas against recent Wimbledon champs Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah. This match should at least be entertaining. Hopefully, Nick and Stefanos won't take swings at each other. But whenever Nick is playing you never know what might happen.

The final match of the day on stadium court is between two of my faves Genie Bouchard and Lauren Davis. This will be tough for me to watch since it will be hard to root for anybody. It should be a competitive match.

On the John Harris Court, where there are no women's matches (what's up with that?) the best match of the day is the fourth one. It's between Matthew Ebden and Tim Smyczek. Every year Smyczek has done well here (by his standards) and he is a crowd favorite. This could be the most entertaining match of the day.

On the grandstand court, where it's all women's matches, Jennifer Brady against Sofia Kenin, the fourth match up, should be the best one (are we seeing a trend here?). I think Kenin could win this tourney but Brady is always fiesty.

Coco Gauff is also playing doubles in the third match on that court with Catherine McNally against Hayley Carter and Maegan Manasse. This shouldn't be very competitive but if you want to see Coco again here is your chance.

Court 4 has five matches, the first one features up and coming Iga Swiatek. Another youngster who could do really well in the future. She plays Ons Jabeur. In the final match on that court, Donald Young is playing Hubert Hurkacz. DY seems to always play well here. This should be a good match.

Court 5 has 3 matches and 2 of them are doubles. The second match features two pretty good doubles teams. Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury play Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo. If you like doubles - this should be one to see.

Here's my picks for the singles matches:

Kudla d. Paul in 3

Tsonga d. Schnur in 2

Davis d. Bouchard in 3

Karlovic d. Fratangelo in 3

Copil d. Torpegaard in 2

Bublik d. Klahn in 3

Smyczek d. Ebden in 3

Jaziri d. Polmans in 2

Pavs d. McHale in 3

Tsurenko d. Wang in 2

Kenin d. Brady in 3

Siniakova d. Pegula in 2

Swiatek d. Jabeur in 2

Harris d. Berankis in 3

Mannarino d. Ivashka in 2

Kalinskaya d. Hibino in 2

Hurkacz d. Young in 3

Blinkova d. Gracheva in 2

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Day 1 of 18 on the tennis trip of a lifetime: Coco dominates the day!

Day 1 of 18 days of pro tennis is in the books!

It was a good day! The highlight tennis-wise was seeing Coco Gauff and maybe more importantly Coco-mania! On the court Coco looked OK. I think she could have played better and she will have a tougher opponent tournament so she needs to pick it up if she's going to win this tournament like I predicted.

It was the biggest crowd I've ever seen for qualifying. As I was getting ready to go into the new main-concession stand area (which I didn't know existed until after I ate) new Citi Open owner Mark Ein was walking outside with some people and said 'this is crazy.' It indeed was.

The main reason is was so crazy was Coco-mania. Everyone wanted to see the future superstar and now that I've seen her I can tell you she's got some real weapons and athleticism. She definitely has a chance to be special. The stadium court was about 70 percent full -for a qualifying match, which is more than it is for many matches during the week.

All in all, I like the upgrades Ein has made. There seems to be more places for people to go and chill and trust me with this heat that is much needed. Tomorrow I hope to check out the new main concessions area and we'll see how good and expensive the food is.

There is a Jubilee Ice Cream stand selling ice cream for $10! There is also another stand where you can get a Hagen-Dazs bar for $5. Which do you think I went too? I have to admit I am tempted to see what the $10 ice cream taste like, Gold I would hope!

I actually have a good seat right under the press box (naturally), but the problem with having a shaded seat is everyone wants to take it. I'm not worried about sitting in my assigned seat, especially this early in the tourney, but if I get too hot I know where I'm going!

There should be some OK qualifying matches tomorrow but once again Coco will dominate the day! Starting with tomorrow's blog I will take a closer look at some of the top matches coming the next day and make some picks. I can already see I'm going to have a tough time deciding which matches to go to this week. Of course that will get much tougher when I go to Cincy in a few weeks! Decisions, decisions - it's a tough life but someone has to do it!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Trip of a lifetime: D.C. to Cincinnati

For the next 3 weeks I will be taking the trip of a lifetime.

It's something I've always wanted to do. I will be going to pro tennis tournaments in D.C. and Cincinnati for the full weeks, including qualifying. I've went to these two tournaments before in the same year but not for all 9 days. I will be there from first ball to last ball and in the coming weeks I will write about my journey in this blog.

To me there is nothing better than sitting in the sun all day watching tennis matches, it is the most relaxing thing in the world and it's fun. It will also be mentally challenging as the heat can get to you after a while.

This year's tournaments should be great. D.C.'s Citi Open may be the best one yet. New American star Coco Gauff will be there tomorrow and Sunday, including playing an exhibition match on Sunday on the stadium court. She will likely not be playing in the tournament just practicing. Still Coco-mania will be running wild for a couple of days as everyone wants to see her practice. Andy Murray will be there playing doubles with his brother, Jamie, as Andy tries to come back from injury.

In singles, there will be plenty of good players in D.C. in both the men's and women's tourneys. Nick Krygios always keeps things interesting and will be playing doubles with the top seed in singles - Stefanos Tsitsipas. The top two women in the tourney are Americans Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys, which would be a great final if the seeds held to form.

Cincinnati's Western and Southern Open, which is from Aug. 10-18, is one of the biggest tournaments in the world. All the top players will be there. Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will be making their first appearances since their epic Wimbledon final. Could there be a repeat of that in the Cincy final? I sure hope so. This will be my last time getting to watch Fed play and maybe my last time seeing Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, who I've actually never seen play. It should be a great time.

I'm very excited for the trip and if you're interested you can follow along by looking at my blogs (I will have one each day)as well as checking out my pictures on Twitter and Instagram at TKJ737.

Today is already moving too slow. Tomorrow needs to hurry up and get here. Let's get this party started!

I'm back again!

I'm back!

Since I got back into blogging last year, I've tried many different things - from lots of blogs to no blogs. It was either too much or not enough. Finally I've made the decision to go with just one blog, which will have a little bit of everything in it. I will still have some tennis, but mostly focusing on my favorite teams - Yankees, Cowboys, Celtics, Duke and Ohio State! I also plan to pick NFL and college games on here each week.

For the next couple of weeks I will have mostly blogs about my two upcoming big tennis trips. So if you don't like tennis just ignore it. Football season will soon be here and that will be a big focus once it starts.

I do this mostly for myself because I just love to write and if someone else enjoys it that's great too!

Have a good day!