Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Martina Hingis returns to the tour, so why don't I feel better?

For three years, I have waited for the great Martina Hingis to say "I'm back!" Now that she has said it, I feel some anxiety. Hingis has been off of the WTA tour since 2002, when foot injuries forced her to retire. Her detractors said the real reason for her retirement was that she was losing to power players and didn't want to be humiliated, but I never bought into that.

Martina Hingis is, simply put, a tennis genius. Nicknamed "Chucky" by sports commentator Mary Carillo because she would smile like the doll in Child's Play (or so Carillo thought) right before she destroyed an opponent, Hingis is considered by many to be the best point constructor of all time. Because she was so adept at strategy, however, she allowed her physicality to lapse. Admittedly lazy about training, she did not get her body in the shape it needed to be in for her to fulfill her potential. Hingis also had a serve that left something to be desired, and she will definitely need to improve it if she expects to get herself back to the top level of competition.

I let my enthusiasm for women's tennis lapse for a while several years ago, and it was the amazing Hingis who brought me back into the fold. I regret that I didn't keep up with her career from the very beginning, and feel that by not closely watching her evolution, I missed something really big. It is my biggest tennis fan regret.

It has been fun watching Hingis play in World Team Tennis matches, especially since she has teamed with her former doubles partner, Anna Kournikova. But returning to the WTA is a whole different matter. Hingis hasn't said how active she will be in 2006, so her thousands of fans must wait nervously to see what happens.

In the meantime, one of my other favorite players, Hingis's Swiss compatriot Patty Schnyder, has blossomed and achieved her highest ranking ever, so Switzerland should be a country to watch next year.

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