International Blog – Michael Dickens
Every year, the tennis season transforms into a long and seemingly never-ending, winding road that meanders across many continents and time zones. Thanks to increased TV coverage, an abundance of informative tennis websites such as this one, and lively social media exposure via Twitter and Facebook, fans know more than ever about their favorite sport – and they’re never too far removed from their favorites with whom everyone is acquainted on a first-name basis with, such as Roger and Rafa, Simona and Serena. Now, there’s a growing niche that’s adding to our growing tennis appetite: tennis podcasts.
Whether looking for mannerly, unbridled, personal or flowing, there’s a variety of tennis podcasts available, each waiting to be downloaded and listened to, that are worth both our time and attention.
Among many worth considering are: “The Tennis Podcast,” “No Challenges Remaining,” “Beyond the Baseline,” “Racquet Magazine,” and “Accent Tennis.”
Here are thumbnail descriptions of each:
• “The Tennis Podcast” – Presented in association with Telegraph Sport in London, this weekly podcast is both timely, informative and entertaining – not as easy to pull off as it might seem. Co-hosted by David Law of BBC5 Live and Catherine Whitaker of Eurosport, each week “The Tennis Podcast” brings listeners up-to-date on the latest ATP and WTA tournaments and tour news; includes guest interviews, and the hosts also throw out interesting and provocative questions to chat about, such as “The Laver Cup: For the tennis nerd? Or the casual sports fan? Why not both?”
• “No Challenges Remaining” – Ben Rothenberg, tennis correspondent for The New York Times, and Courtney Nguyen, senior writer and WTA Insider for the WTA Tour’s official website, host this infrequent podcast that’s full of pop culture references, personal rants and long and unbridled thoughts and opinions about tennis. Their paths usually cross during the Grand Slams and when the ATP and WTA tours arrive in the U.S. in early spring and, again in summer. Other times, they present via Skype. Occasionally, there are invited guests on-board, such as Egyptian tennis journalist Reem Abulleil, a frequent contributor to the Dubai-based Sport360.com. Nguyen also hosts the WTA’s official “WTA Insider” podcast, which is a good source of info on the WTA.
• “Beyond the Baseline” – Presented by Sports Illustrated executive editor, Tennis Channel commentator and host Jon Wertheim, “Beyond the Baseline” features commentary and exclusive one-on-one interviews with a variety of top tennis players and newsmakers. In recent episodes, Wertheim discussed the success of the Laver Cup with Tennis Channel analyst Paul Annacone, and spoke to WTA CEO Steve Simon about the future of the WTA in Asia. Earlier this summer, he caught up with #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece for a lively conversation that was both enjoyable and insightful.
• “The Racquet Magazine Podcast” – An outgrowth of this New York-based literary quarterly devoted to tennis, art, fashion, history and culture, “The Racquet Magazine Podcast” is hosted by former pro and current tennis analyst and coach Rennae Stubbs along with Racquet Magazine founder and publisher Caitlin Thompson. The current episode features American pro CoCo Vandeweghe talking behind-the-scenes at the Fed Cup, about her fiery on-court persona, and so much more. Recent guests have included tennis Hall of Famers Chris Evert and Billie Jean King, as well as an outside-the-box guest, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, formerly a collegiate tennis and squash player, who spoke about her journey with racquet sports and how athletes make great leaders.
• “Tennis With An Accent” – This weekly tennis podcast includes previews and postmortems of ATP and WTA tour events, debates about subjects such as “how the tennis coverage culture has changed at tournaments where journalists are getting more info from monitors in the media center,” and interviews with authors, such as Scoop Malinowski, a veteran tennis writer who has penned books about Marat Safin and Marcelo Rios.
My favorite podcast of the bunch is “The Tennis Podcast,” which I discovered earlier this year via Twitter. New episodes usually post weekly on Mondays, and during the Grand Slams, it’s a daily fixture that’s must listening and makes for a great dinner companion. I like “The Tennis Podcast” because it is both mannerly in tone and generally free of personal bias, save for an occasional “atta-boy Andy, UK-centric focus” when British players like Andy Murray, Kyle Edmund or Jo Konta are doing well. A recent episode of “The Tennis Podcast” included a thoughtful discussion on the phenomenon of “choking” in sport. “What causes it? And what’s the biggest choke in tennis history?”
From time to time, “The Tennis Podcast” co-hosts share their microphone with other tennis media such as broadcaster Mary Carillo of NBC and Tennis Channel, and writers Stuart Fraser of The Times of London and Christopher Clarey of The New York Times. Their discussions are both lively and enjoyable – a recent podcast was even recorded inside Waterloo Station, which included the familiar sounds of passing trains. Bottom line, what’s not to like about listening to two British accents wax poetic about tennis for an hour!