Getty Images

Radwanska and Bencic both surprised in the first round of Aegon Classic

Leave a comment

BIRMINGHAM, England — Agnieszka Radwanska, the top seed, and Belinda Bencic, the youngest player in the top world’s top ten, both fell at the first hurdle on a day of shocks and rainstorms at the Aegon Classic.

Radwanska, a former Wimbledon runner-up, had intended to use the grass court event as a springboard for another assault on the oldest Grand Slam title, but was halted 7-5,4-6, 6-3 by CoCo Vandewegh, a hard-hitting American ranked outside the top 30.

Vandewegh had never come close to winning a set against Radwanska’s consistently skilful ground strokes in four previous meetings, but used her strength and power to good effect.

Even after the Pole intelligently played her way back to parity, Vandewegh maintained a fierce flat attack and managed to break serve three times in the final set.

“Last week helped me get out of tricky situations because I had done it before,” said Vendewegh, referring to her capture of the den Bosch title on grass last week.

“I don’t think I played so bad today – she was just really good,” said Radwanska, disappointed to have had little practice on grass because of the bad weather. This was her first tournament on this surface this year.

Earlier Bencic, arguably the world’s most promising player, suffered another injury just ten days after a lengthy spell on the side-lines with a bad back.

The 19-year-old Swiss player’s movement had been painful and ponderous before she quit half way through the second set during her first round match against Irina-Camelai Begu.

Bencic’s retirement gave the world number 26 from Romania a victory by 6-4, 4-3 retired, though there was hardly a moment when Bencic had been mobile enough to win the match.

She took a tumble on the damp lush grass in the first game, and as early as the fifth game she was seeking help from the trainer. The injury was later described as a thigh strain. “I continued playing more than I should have,” Bencic admitted.

Historical marker for tennis great Tilden rejected again

Getty Images
Leave a comment

PHILADELPHIA (AP) A Pennsylvania panel once again rejected a historical marker for Philadelphia tennis great Bill Tilden.

Tilden became the first American to win Wimbledon in 1920 and also won seven U.S. championships. In 1950, The Associated Press voted him the greatest player of the first half of the century.

A year ago, a panel of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission that approves historical markers voted 4-1 against recommending approval of a marker at Philadelphia’s Germantown Cricket Club, citing Tilden’s convictions on charges involving teenage boys in the 1940s.

Karen Galle, coordinator of the historical marker program, confirmed Wednesday that the panel again voted 4-1 against approving the marker in February and that recommendation was among 54 approved by the commission at its March 22 meeting.

“While the significance of this athlete’s tennis career and talent are indisputable, his convictions for sexual misconduct with underage boys preclude recognition,” commission spokesman Howard Pollman said.

Lack of a marker doesn’t diminish Tilden’s accomplishments but approval “may be perceived to dishonor victims of sexual abuse,” Pollman said. Officials have cited the climate in the commonwealth following the sex abuse scandal involving another sports figure, Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky.

Tilden was arrested in Beverly Hills, California, in November 1946, after a 14-year-old boy was caught driving the star’s car erratically. Officers reported that when the teen exited the car, his pants zipper was down. Police charged Tilden with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and he served seven months in jail. He was arrested again in 1949 on allegations that he violated probation by being in the company of another teen boy, and that he groped a third teen. He served 10 months at a prison farm.

Tilden, born to a wealthy Philadelphia family, was featured regularly in magazines, newspapers and newsreels during his career. He was friends with Hollywood elite and played at the White House at the invitation of President Warren Harding. He’s credited with urging children of all economic backgrounds to learn tennis, once a sport only for the wealthy, and modern players still value his manuals on how to play.

After his convictions, Tilden’s Germantown membership was revoked, and his portrait was removed. In recent years, the club has begun to embrace Tilden’s memory, and a group of Philadelphians has been lobbying for a historical marker at the site.

Injured Murray to miss Davis Cup quarterfinals

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON — Andy Murray will miss Britain’s Davis Cup quarterfinal series against France next month because of an elbow injury.

Murray sustained the injury in practice and also recently withdrew from the Miami Open.

Britain captain Leon Davis says “not having Andy in the side is obviously a big loss to our team, but most importantly we all wish him well for a speedy recovery back to full health and fitness.”

Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund, Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot will line up for Britain on clay in Rouen from April 7-9.