May 2, 2009

Reaching a Milestone

I have a confession to make.

I have this really bad habit of starting something with a bang and then letting my interest fizzle out and eventually dropping the project entirely. I've started multiple novels but haven't finished one; I took up surfing after a trip to Mexico in 2005 but my board's been sitting idle in my front hallway for over a year.

But here I am, just about eight months into my latest endeavor, and I've reached my landmark 100th posting!

Yay, me!

Don't worry, I'm not going to celebrate by running through my top 100 moments in tennis or anything crazy like that -- obviously I don't have that kind of patience. Instead I choose to look at a couple players who are poised to make their own jump over the #100 line -- though for them, the lower the number the better.

Within a stone's throw of the top hundred is Kazakhstan's Andrey Golubev, who reached his first tour final in St. Petersburg last year before losing to Andy Murray. That performance brought him to a career-high ranking of eighty-ninth in the world, but some early round losses in 2009 have pushed him down again. Andrey lost trying to qualify for Rome this week, but a turnaround in the coming weeks could get him back on track.

Currently ranked #112 Victor Crivoi was slightly more successful in Italy. After reaching the quarterfinals in a challenger event here last week, he made it through the qualifying rounds of the Masters tourney and then unceremoniously outsed James Blake in his first main round match. Though he was subsequently dismissed by Robin Soderling he did put up a fight and took the second set in a tiebreak. If he keeps it up, his first week in the top hundred isn't that far away.

On the women's side the low single digits are dominated by a group of American girls who are trying to prove there are more players in the country than the Williams sisters. Julie Ditty, Alexa Glatch and Melanie Oudin are all coming off a busy Fed Cup weekend where Glatch helped secure the team's first final appearance since 2003. She and Melanie are actually both in the double digits when it comes to race points thanks to recent strong showings, but still have a ways to go in the broader rankings. As clay court season is traditionally difficult for the Americans, it may take some doing, but there's no reason these youngsters couldn't rack up some points over the summer.

Of course as some rise, others must fall and there are inevitably some names that are dangerously close to falling out of the top one hundred.

Despite the fact that former #1 Juan Carlos Ferrero broke his five-year title drought last month in Casablanca, he fell back thirty ranking points to #100 with early exits in Barcelona and Rome. Even more shocking, the eight-plus month absense of Maria Sharapova from the Tour has brought her down to #64. According to the WTA she's not planning to return for at least two weeks, which will shave almost two hundred points from her twelve-month score -- and could drop her to her lowest ranking in six years.

So good luck to all these players as they fight to retain their place or break into a whole level of talent. There are thousands of players just dying to take their spot among the tennis elite.

And just like me, a hundred articles in, once you make it this far the pressure to keep it up is that much more!

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