Saturday, September 10, 2016

Kerber the Late Bloomer

Some people are just not done. Heck, they might've only just begun.

Earlier this year I made a post about Angelique Kerber and how her winning Australian Open surprised me, especially considering my personal story of her.

As things unfold, she solidified her earlier result with impressive records, thus making my post even heavier with irony.

She's turned what used to be zero slams, zero weeks at No. 1, zero medals, zero YEC titles into two slams, a silver medal, and becoming world No. 1, while the YEC is set to run later in October.

In case anybody missed it, this is the highlight of Angie's career this year: 
-winning Australian Open, 
-reaching the final of Wimbledon, 
-reaching the final of Olympics, 
-becoming world #1, and,
-winning US Open. 

Scary good.

Just... I'm still amazed at how she turned her situation "overnight". Angie Kerber is "overnight success" personified. I know it's actually not. I'm sure behind the scene she's working hard practicing, training, and doing a lot of things right--all of that under the radar. But what we see on screen is this woman, suddenly, boom, came out of nowhere. Breaking through at 28. Winning things left and right. 

I think this is the first time in many years, since 2011 to be exact, someone has a better season than Serena Williams. Even if Serena ends up winning the YEC, we could still make a pretty strong case on whose season this is.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Thighs Full of Promise

Back in 2013, when I had just started to play tennis, I saw a picture of a young girl on my Twitter timeline--a tennis player. That picture left a mark on me because of how glorious her thighs were. There are hundreds of pairs of thighs in the WTA--all of them being an athlete's thighs--but this one caught my attention. I don't know how to describe it, her thighs were simply on point. When you see something on point, you just know it. 

Because of her thighs--and her fitness in general--I wrote myself a mental note: This is where you want to be, fitness wise. And so, I crowned this girl my fitness role model. That's how inspiring her thighs were.

However, I found it a little bit weird that I had this girl as my inspiration, considering her achievement back then. Fit as she may be, she had not won anything significant in the professional circuit. She had 0 slams, 0 medals, and 0 weeks at number one. Heck, not even her first WTA title she had won.

3 years later though, she stunned the world by winning the Olympic Gold medal in Rio. Her name is Monica Puig and she has just won the prestigious Singles tennis, an achievement shared by legends such as Venus, Graf, and Serena. 

Was I missing something there? Could it be that her glorious thighs were actually a sign of greatness that I dismissed? Her thighs being a reflection of her fitness, and her fitness an asset that promises greatness?


To quote George Anders in The Rare Find, "If bells went off every time someone amazing walked into sight, it wouldn't be hard at all to recognize the first stirrings of greatness. The great art lies in being open-minded enough to see faint possibilities at first, and then being methodical enough to keep coming back for more impressions, until the full picture is clear."

Never again shall I disregard any signs of greatness, no matter how small, trivial, or unnoticeable it is. 'Cause it might just be gold.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Risiko Tanggung Sendiri

Tadi siang pas gw lagi wudhu di masjidnya Mall Kota Kasablanka, gw nemu jam tangan orang yang ketinggalan. Gw nemu jam itu pas gw berdiri di atas pembatasnya air keran, seperti yang sering gw lakukan untuk memudahkan bersihin kaki. Gerakan yang tidak anggun, gw akui, dan cewe-cewe di sebelah gw ngga melakukan itu, but exactly because of that gw nemu harta karun yang mereka ngga liat.

Hal ini bikin gw berpikir, ketika lo melihat dengan cara yang berbeda, lo akan menemukan hal yang ngga dilihat oleh kebanyakan orang. (This means opportunity!)

Anyway, soal nasib jam tangan itu sendiri gw ngga tau gimana sekarang, udah gw kasiin ke penjaga masjid dan gw bilang "Ni tadi ada yang jamnya ketinggalan."

Lantas gw kepikiran, hey, hal ini bisa kita jadiin social experiment!

Gimana kalo kita bikin skenario di mana ceritanya lo bilang ke penjaga kalo ada jam tangan atau hape atau barang berharga yang ketinggalan? Kemudian lo kasih barang tersebut ke penjaga. Padahal sih barang yang lo kasihin adalah barang lo sendiri yang lo korbankan untuk eksperimen ini.

Langkah selanjutnya dalam eksperimen ini mengharuskan lo untuk balik ke tempat yang sama kayak satu atau dua hari kemudian. Dan casually, lo musti nanya ke penjaganya, "Mba, kemaren udah ada yang ngeklaim jam yang saya temuin?" Atau gimana bahasanya sesuai kepribadian lo.

Maka yang terjadi kemudian adalah kemungkinan-kemungkinan di bawah ini:


Skenario 1

Sang pengaku: "Mba, jam tangan saya ketinggalan kemaren. Ada yang ngeliat jam tangan saya ngga ya?"

Penjaga: "Yang ini bukan, Mba?"

Sang pengaku: "Nah iya yang itu, Mba." *Gondol*

Skenario 2

*Ditilep sama penjaganya. Masukin kantong.*

Skenario 3

*Krik, krik, krik...* Ngga ada yang ngaku kehilangan karena ngga ada yang bener-bener kehilangan.

(Akhir flashback)

Kemudian jika penjaganya membawa "kabar baik" dan bilang bahwa jam itu udah balik ke "pemiliknya", itu artinya kabar buruk dalam segala pengertian buat lo. Yang pertama, barang lo ngga balik, anggap aja cost untuk mewujudkan eksperimen ini. Dan yang kedua, damn! Ada yang ngaku-ngaku.

Tapi, kalo si penjaganya bilang, "Wah, belom ada yang nyariin nih, Mba. Masih saya simpen di situ," itu artinya congratulations Jakarta, kamu masih dihuni orang-orang jujur.

Lantas bagaimana exit strategy nya ketika lo mau membungkus eksperimen ini dan membawa pulang barang yang udah lo pertaruhkan?

Lo bisa minta temen lo untuk berperan jadi si "pemilik barang" dan samperin penjaganya beberapa hari kemudian. Suruh temen lo ngaku-ngaku kehilangan barang yang lo titipin. Jangan lupa kasih tau merk, tipe, dan ciri-ciri barangnya, in case si penjaga teliti sebelum memberi. Kasih tau juga yang mana penjaga yang lo titipin barang tersebut. Jika ini berhasil, eksperimen lo dapet, barang lo juga dapet.

Tapi ironisnya dengan melakukan permainan ini lo sendiri udah ngga jujur. Hahaha...

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Trains I Missed and the Trains I Boarded Anyway

The Trains I Missed

The Fall

At the previous company I worked for, we shared our office with another company. This other company had a film project they were working on, and one day I saw their sponsorship proposal lying around. I read it and noticed one of the producers of the film, a woman, actually had worked in one of the coolest films of all time, which also happens to be one of my favorites: The Fall. Tarsem Singh's The Fall.

What her position in the film was, I don't know. And that's what I wanted to know, and that's what I would've asked her if only I had the courage to talk to her. I thought, "Yeah, I'll ask her about it someday. She often comes to the office right?" One day, though, a perfect opportunity presented itself. She was sitting alone at the table, didn't look busy, looked approachable, and holy shit if I had just the courage to approach her I could've asked her about her experience in The Fall. What it was like working with Tarsem, or if she was on the set at all, and so on.

But no... I let it pass. I walked away. I thought, "Well... Maybe someday." Pretty soon the project moved on to the next stage and the film crew were no longer working in our office. And more importantly, I no longer work in that office.


Dressed for Success

A few years ago, Roxette was going to play in my city. I really wanted to see it. And I knew Roxette was my dad's favorite band, or at least that he liked it. At this point in time, I had graduated from college but still had no job, so I had no money. Then I considered, "Should I ask my dad to take me to the concert...? Nah... Best that I don't even try." 

I was so afraid of the outcome if I ever tried to make the request. I had imagined this would be his response: "Having fun is all you think about. How about you think about your future? (Another long speech ensues...)"

But guess what, a few days after the concert, I mentioned about Roxette playing in the city, and my dad said, "I know. If you had asked me, I would have taken you there." Facepalming profoundly now.

The Trains I Boarded Anyway

Challenge Unaccepted

One day, I read this interesting article by a British environmentalist-slash-writer. He's quite popular for a journalist, I think. For the sake of my comfort, let's not mention his name and call him GM instead. GM wrote about how corporations had ruined young people by luring them, recruiting them and eventually sucking the soul out of them. So GM here encouraged us young ones to keep believing in our dreams no matter how difficult, and never let go. Never trade it for soul-sucking corporate jobs.

Because the piece was so interesting, I sent and email to GM, asking if I should pursue my dream despite the overwhelming odds against me, or if I should stick to a safe job I was holding. The way I worded it, basically I was challenging him and testing him about his view on the matter.

"But I got a question for you. I wanna see if you really believe in what you said in the article, that we--students, graduates, society--should rebel against those so-called soul-suckers and follow our dreams however hard it might seem."

Then I ended the email with....

"...I sincerely hope you respond to my question. Otherwise, I would be very disappointed because you sound so promising with your campaign in the article."

GM never replied my email. Who knows if he even read it.


Extreme Naïveté

One of the very first things I did after graduating from college, in terms of making an attempt at being employed, was to email this skydiving operator in Thailand and asked them for a job.

I had no experience of doing any kind of air sports and I could not speak Thai. All I had was the nerve to offer myself to them using my freshly stamped diploma and passion for the sport--which I must repeat I have never done.

Looking back I think that was pretty nuts. I didn't know what I was doing. It's one of those spontaneous shits you did without overthinking, or in this case, without thinking. The people at the establishment were kind enough to respond to my email though. Even though they did not hire me to work in Thailand, they offered me a gig as one of their agents. I would get 10% fee for any sales I make.

So there I was, their only representative agent in Indonesia. I promoted their service in the largest Indonesian forum. Never had one customer. I stopped doing it when I finally realized I had no idea about the sport nor the travel industry.

The Trains Waiting for Me

I got a lot of this kind of story. The stuffs I did do. The stuffs I was too chicken to do. And most importantly, the stuffs in the backlog, waiting to turn into yet another missed opportunity or an open road that might be life-changing. Most of the time, I just need some time to muster up the courage. And also, the right setting. 

But I understand sometimes life does not wait.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

What Playing a First-Person Shooter Game Taught Me

Have you ever played Call of Duty?

In COD (Call of Duty), every time you're hit, you bleed. The more bullets you take, the worse your injury will be. One shot, just a little cut. Few shots, bigger cut. More shots, blood all over you. Take one more hit and you'll die.

That's what's gonna happen when you keep marching forward when you're bleeding.

What you should do instead, is retreat while you wait for your severe wound to heal. Hide behind the boxes for like 10 seconds, and you're fresh to resume shooting the enemies.

Same principle is applicable in real life.

You're on a mission. You're fighting your fight. You put yourself in the arena. But the arena is harsh and merciless. You are hit and you're bleeding.

Disappointment, one shot.

Rejection, two shots.

Failure, the whole magazine.

Still, you keep going forward because you believe in your mission.

But isn't that stupid? Using COD analogy, that's like stubbornly going forward when you're severely wounded, ignoring your need to retreat and heal. You're likely to die in the cold, isolated village somewhere in Russia.

In actual life scenario, the COD death is equivalent to burning out and eventually quitting the mission you once believed in.

If that's the case, it's not just you who will be sorry, but the world too. The world needs its fighters, people who can make it a better place. And the world would benefit more if you would allow yourself to stop for a while so you can resume your mission later rather than burning out and shutting down the mission altogether.

Check your status, are you bathing in your own blood or are you fresh for a fight?

If you're bleeding, retreat, heal and resume. 

Know when to stop so you never have to stop.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Ingredients of a Perfect Romance Marathon

Some Irish whiskey...

Once (2007) 7.9 from 88,353 votes

A musical that sends chill down your spine. Afterwards, you will pick up a guitar, trying to imitate how HE performed it.

Some Indian spice...

Barfi! (2012) 8.2 from 51,480 votes

It is comedy all right. But don't be fooled, it is also capable of saying something so deep without the need of a single word.

Some French wine...

Love Me If You Dare (Jeux d'enfants) (2003) 7.7 from 54,312 votes

Crazy and fun film that helps you realize just how flat your life has been.

Heartbreaker (L'arnacoeur) (2010) 6.8 from 20,572 votes

A decent comedy carried out by respectable French actors that gets you constantly laughing.

Rust and Bone (De rouille et d'os) (2012) 7.5 from 46,723 votes

Why do certain actors got awards and nominations so often? Things start to make sense as you see Cotillard's performance here.

Some English tea...

If Only (2004) 7.2 from 26,241 votes

This film will flood you with emotions. The numb ones will feel something again.

Some spirits of youth...

Love & Basketball (2000) 7.2 from 13,893 votes

Basketball fans can be proud of having this nice blend of sport and romance as their film.

Flipped (2010) 7.7 from 58,051 votes

The atmosphere is perfect. The soundtracks are perfect. The decision to use dual-perspective when there's a lot of misunderstandings is perfect.

And finally, the secret sauce...

5 to 7 (2014) 7.1 from 7,398 votes

Some films fuck with your head, this one fucks with your heart, but in a good way.

This recipe is a hand-picked selection of the best romance films between 2000-2015 period that aren't extremely popular.

To qualify for it being not that popular, it has to have less than 100,000 votes on IMDb.

To ensure the quality of the film, it has to have at least 6.5 score on IMDb. (Audience rating is my benchmark as I assume neither of us is a film critic with ultra-high standard.)


*Images are taken from IMP Awards except for If Only (taken from IMDb)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

11 Best Quotes from Agassi's Autobio, Or: Why Everybody Should Read It Even When They Don't Know Jack about Tennis

1. Life will throw everything but the kitchen sink in your path, and then it will throw the kitchen sink. It’s your job to avoid the obstacles. If you let them stop you or distract you, you’re not doing your job, and failing to do your job will cause regrets that paralyze you more than a bad back.

2. For me, that’s the definition of being rich: it doesn’t cross your mind to mention it to your best friend. And money is such a given you don’t care how you come by it.

3. But what if I’m playing my best, and I care, and I want it, and I’m still not the best in the world?

4. He talks about the difficulty of all human journeys—and yet, he says, there is clarity and nobility in just being a journeyer.

5. And then one day you’re going to win a close one and the skies are going to part and you’re going to break through. You just need that one breakthrough, that one opening, and after that nothing will stop you from being the best in the world.

6. If you’re going down, OK, go down, but go down with guns blazing. Always, always, always, go down with both guns blaaazing. 

7. He says it sounds like a typical broken heart. Tiny rips that refuse to heal. The result of overuse. 

8. As the dawn slowly breaks we find that we’re on the banks of a vast fog-covered marsh, surrounded by dozens of different kinds of animals. We see hundreds of impala. We see at least seventy-five zebras. We see scores of giraffes as tall as two-story buildings, dancing around us and gliding among the trees, nibbling from the highest branches, a sound like celery being crunched. We feel the landscape speaking to us: All these animals, beginning their day in a dangerous world, exude tremendous calm and acceptance—why can’t you? 

9. Jaden, if you ever feel overwhelmed with something like I was tonight, just keep your head down and keep working and keep trying. Face it at its worst and realize it’s not so bad. That will be your chance for peace. 

10. I raise my arms and my racket falls on the clay. I’m sobbing. I’m rubbing my head. I’m terrified by how good this feels. Winning isn’t supposed to feel this good. Winning is never supposed to matter this much. But it does, it does, I can’t help it.

11. Somewhere up there is a star with your name on it. I might not be able to help you find it, but I’ve got pretty strong shoulders, and you can stand on my shoulders while you’re looking for that star. You hear? For as long as you want. Stand on my shoulders and reach, man. Reach.

This is by far the best tennis biography ever that puts every other tennis bio to shame.

Really, guys, if you like what you're reading, get the book, because what I'm showing here is just the tip of the iceberg. Although, a huge tip that's big enough to take down Titanic.

Note: If you're Agassi or Agassi's publisher or anyone with any sort of ownership of the book and don't like what I'm doing here, please tell me and I'll take this post down. I just think these are some great gems meant to be seen by as many people as possible.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mungkin Doping Harus Dipisahkan: Legal dan Ilegal

Pada Minggu, 6 Maret, Maria Sharapova dan timnya mengumumkan bahwa ia akan mengadakan konferensi pers di hari Senin waktu Los Angeles. Hal tersebut dianggap cukup mendadak dan akan membawa berita besar. Komunitas tenis yang pertama mendengar soal ini berspekulasi bahwa Sharapova akan pensiun. Meski baru berusia 28 tahun, ia berulang kali mengalami cedera dan usia tenisnya terhitung tidak muda lagi.

Namun spekulasi itu terbungkam ketika terungkap bahwa Sharapova menggelar konferensi pers untuk menjelaskan dirinya gagal dalam tes anti-doping. Substansi berupa Meldonium terdeteksi di tubuhnya.

Sharapova menjelaskan bahwa Meldonium yang ada di tubuhnya masuk melalui obat yang ia konsumsi secara reguler sejak 10 tahun yang lalu, yaitu Mildronate. Hal itu ia konsumsi karena menurut penjelasannya, dokter keluarga merekomendasikan obat tersebut untuk mengatasi berbagai kondisi medis seperti detak jantung yang tidak beraturan, kekurangan magnesium, gejala diabetes dan faktor keturunan diabetes.

Dalam 10 tahun terakhir, semua berjalan baik-baik saja untuk Sharapova mengingat Meldonium bukanlah barang terlarang menurut otoritas anti-doping, WADA. Namun masalah mulai muncul ketika pada 1 Januari 2016 Meldonium dianggap sebagai substansi yang terlarang setelah WADA berkesimpulan banyak atlet memanfaatkannya untuk meningkatan performa.

Malang untuk Sharapova, ia dan timnya tidak sadar akan perubahan ini. Menurut pengakuannya, email yang dikirimkan oleh WADA tidak dibaca dengan seksama dan link yang menunjukkan daftar substansi terlarang terbaru tidak diklik. Maka di tahun 2016 Sharapova masih mengkonsumsi obat tersebut, dan pada tes anti-doping di Australia Terbuka Januari lalu, zat tersebut masih terdapat di tubuhnya.

Di mata masyarakat umum yang melihat sambil lalu, sepertinya kasus ini cukup sederhana: mega bintang Maria Sharapova melakukan doping. Bagi mereka yang menyimak kasus ini lebih seksama, sebagian mungkin akan menerima penjelasan Sharapova dan berkesimpulan bahwa ia membuat kekhilafan. Namun beberapa kalangan yang lebih kritis beranggapan bahwa Sharapova tidak sepolos itu. Keberatan terbesar yang mereka ungkapkan adalah Mildronate sebenarnya hadir untuk mengobati penyakit jantung. Informasi ini pun menimbulkan kejanggalan.

Jika Sharapova harus mengkonsumsi obat semacam Mildronate selama 10 tahun, dapat disimpulkan ia memiliki penyakit jantung yang cukup serius. Dan jika hal tersebut benar, seharusnya dari awal ia tidak menjadi atlet profesional yang bermain di kompetisi tenis tertinggi, mengingat resiko yang ada di depannya terlalu besar.

Lantas kesimpulan yang diambil oleh kalangan kritis ini adalah Sharapova mengkonsumsi Meldonium untuk mendapatkan keunggulan kompetitif (yang mana perlu ditekankan bahwa sebelum 1 Januari 2016 merupakan hal yang sah-sah saja), namun Sharapova membungkusnya dengan dalih untuk kepentingan kesehatan. Hal ini pun mengecewakan beberapa pihak.

Tetapi sebenarnya apa yang dapat Sharapova lakukan? Haruskah ia naik ke podium dan mengakui bahwa selama ini ia mengkonsumsi Meldonium untuk mendapatkan keunggulan kompetitif? "I took it because it improved my performance and it was legal... So, why not?"

Dapat dimengerti jika kemudian ia memutuskan untuk mengambil rute kesehatan. Maria Sharapova sebagai mega bintang bukan hanya harus memproteksi citra dirinya secara pribadi, namun juga citra sponsor yang melekat padanya. Bisa dibayangkan canggungnya Nike, Tag Heuer atau Porsche jika mendengar atlet yang mereka sponsori dengan bangga mengakui doping yang dilakukannya.

Berkaca pada situasi dilematis ini, mungkin seharusnya doping dibagi menjadi dua kategori: legal dan ilegal. Pihak otoritas anti-doping bertanggung jawab untuk merilis seluruh daftar substansi yang mereka anggap terlarang untuk atlet profesional. Jika sang atlet melanggar hal tersebut, ia dianggap melakukan doping ilegal. Namun di luar daftar tersebut, segala daya upaya untuk meningkatkan keunggulan masing-masing atlet bisa dianggap sebagai doping yang legal. Sebagai contoh, konsumsi Meldonium yang dilakukan Sharapova dan atlet lainnya sebelum 1 Januari 2016 bisa dianggap sebagai doping legal.

Jika doping legal dilumrahkan, hal ini akan mempermudah jalan semua pihak. Bagi atlet, mereka tidak harus bersembunyi dibalik berbagai macam alasan dan malu untuk mengakui doping legal yang mereka lakukan. Anggaplah hal tersebut sebagai strategi atau taktik untuk mencapai keunggulan. Bagi atlet lainnya, mereka punya hak untuk melakukan hal yang sama jika mereka menginginkannya. Dan bagi masyarakat penggemar olahraga, hal tersebut akan terlihat sebagai permainan yang seimbang. Dan pada akhirnya, jika masyarakat bisa menerima doping legal, apa alasan sponsor untuk tidak menerimanya juga?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Graduate Forecast: Sunny with a Chance of Disappointment

Nobody goes through years of college torture—exams, assignments, all-nighters—just so they could burn what they have arduously earned. 
But tough shits we encounter in life just might change our minds.

Back in 2013, when I was in Bali with my brother, we happened to meet an "interesting" taxi driver who worked for some obscure taxi company. He was a driver whom I'd gladly call a thug, what with his fake tattoo sleeves, sketchy business practice, and verbal intimidation at us.

This driver liked to talk, and thanks to his extroverted personality, it was revealed in the midst of his babbling that this alarming, repulsive driver actually held a bachelor's degree.

What a pleasant surprise.

As a fellow degree-holder, I feel in essence we’re not that different after all. The striking difference between us—apart from his occupation as a driver of some dubious taxi company—is that while I and million other graduates still have our certificates somewhere safe, he has literally burned his to ashes.

It all started with a shitty experience of job searching that our driver had to go through. Every time he was interviewed for a job, and close to getting it, the interviewer asked him for money as a condition if he wanted in.

Enraged by the situation, he decided to set his certificate on fire, turning it to dust once and for all.

Perhaps he concluded that it was utterly useless if in the end money was what mattered.

As his story continued on, he began disclosing his unorthodox parenting to us. Still carrying that bitterness from his job searching days, he taught his daughter (or son, I can't remember) to take part in corruptions—once she got accepted in her job.

"Getting caught and imprisonment should be the least of your concerns. The first thing you have to do is practice corruption. Take as much money as you can, because you need to take back the money that you gave them in order to get in," rephrased the man.

It is remarkable how damaging disappointment can be.

While his personal story is a peculiar and extreme case with a bit of questionable decisions thrown into the mix, it is undeniable that the reality of post-college life, especially in terms of employment opportunity, is harsh for some.

The truth is going to college might disappoint us. First, we're not guaranteed any decent jobs just because we're college graduates. And second, our degree actually doesn't mean much. When we compete for a job against our fellow degree-holders, that's exactly what each of us has: a degree. Basic. It is often experience, personality or attitude that becomes the determining factor whether someone gets the job or not. So ultimately that’s what matters.

Considering this, why do we gamble all our money and time on college... when those three important elements can be cultivated outside the walls of college?

Entrepreneurship, apprenticeship, and pursuing passion-based endeavors are among the example of activities that present an opportunity to develop those three elements. We could look at these options as an alternative to college when considering what to do next after high school.

However, if college is still the preferred path, we need to realize that our degree won’t mean much, that we will need more, and that the world does not owe us a living. If this condition is accepted and we still feel like choosing college, then go for it. Otherwise, there are alternatives that are just as promising.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Kerber Foreshadowing

Women's tennis has a new Slam champ. As you've probably heard, Angelique Kerber from Germany downed Serena Williams in three nerve-racking sets to win the 2016 Australian Open. It's a good thing I'm neither a fan of Williams nor Kerber. Otherwise, that sixth game in the final set and those crazy angles they played would've made me gasp for air from the intensity of it all.

As someone who's been waiting for the emergence of Serena's competitor in an era where she's pretty much unchallenged, I of course rooted for "Angie" to win.

And win she finally did, as Williams volleyed just a little past the baseline on her last chance to keep the match alive.

Game. Set. Match. Kerber.

But who's this Angelique Kerber exactly?

Before winning this Slam, she was a consistent Top 10, Top 20 player in the WTA. There was no record of her winning Slams. No Number 1 spot ever reached. No Year-End Championship titles. No Olympic medals. She was a player good enough to hang around in the Top 10 spot and its proximity. Bonus, she sometimes go to the second week of Slams.

Until yesterday, that is, where she made a brilliant run at the Australian Open and get her first Slam under her belt.

Is everyone surprised that Kerber won one of the prestigious Opens? Kerber and her previous track records? I know I am. Particularly because I actually have a personal story regarding Kerber...

It's only recently that I started following tennis in mid 2013. As a newcomer to the sport, of course I knew very little of the players and their achievements. I've known Venus as one of the greats, Sharapova and her on-court/off-court achievements, Azarenka as World No. 1... I've heard their names before, from the news I read or heard in passing as a regular member of society. Heck, I've even heard about someone named Clijsters when I casually read the paper in the toilet. That's the level of knowledge I had as a non-tennis fan.

Surprisingly, though, one of the names that I have also heard, read, or seen somewhere prior to becoming a tennis fan, was of this Kerber person: Angelique Kerber.

So when I became a tennis fan in 2013 and started to educate and familiarize myself with the greats that the sport has, I found out so-and-so had 4 Slams (which I mistakenly thought wasn't much of an accomplishment), and that girl had zero Slams, but was famous because she had been No. 1, and that other one had a massive collection of 22 Slams, et cetera, et cetera.

And since Kerber's name sounded familiar to my newbie tennis ears, I wondered if she was also famous or some kind of hotshot.

So I ran a Wikipedia check on her to see if she was a big deal. And the result was... disappointing. No Slams, no Number 1, no Year-End Championships, no Olympics. Career high was so-so.

"So why does her name sound familiar to me? Where did I hear it from?

That thought was dismissed.

Fast forward to 2016, Angelique Kerber, whose name was even heard by a non-tennis fan that was myself the way the greats of any sports usually dropped by in our ears uninvited, eventually won something huge. A Slam. A respectable feat. An accomplishment not every top players ever tasted.

Now that Angie has actually done it, the whole thing with me recognizing her name when she had yet to accomplish something does feel funny, like a foreshadowing of her future achievement.

I guess it wasn't for no reason that I heard her name randomly. It was meant to be. Or was it?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

How Tennis Helped Me Pick Up What I've Thrown Away

In the spirit of celebrating Australian Open that's currently going on, I'm gonna tell you how the sport, tennis, has changed my view on women and sport, the female gender and athleticism, entirely.

Many, many years ago, when my inner world hadn't been invaded by all things tennis, the words "female" and "athlete" didn't belong together. At least, not in my then primitive brain, they didn't. When those two words were joined together and tied in matrimony, they begot this picture in my mind... A picture of a masculine girl.

Big biceps. Six-pack abs. Massive legs. Boyish costume... And nothing else.

That's how I imagined the word "athlete" for the entire female gender, probably due to my unfamiliarity with the many kinds of sport out there practiced by women.

With this image carried in my mind, I refused to be associated with the word "athlete" and shied away from it, even though the irony was I was playing sport all the time.

This was because, growing up, people around me seemed to make a huge deal about gender roles--femininity and masculinity. About how a girl should be, about how a girl should look. And this kind of thing, this teaching, they stick with me. And since athlete appeared in a certain masculine image in my mind, I swiftly rejected it.

I was probably like that girl from Clueless.

"Athlete? AS IF!"

Consequently, despite my love for sport in general, I never took it seriously. I never aspired to be an athlete, or compete at an elite level. In a way, sport was dismissed.

But then... tennis came into my life, and it opened my eyes to see that there's more than one shape or form for female athletes. (Duh!) Female tennis players fall under the feminine side of the athletics spectrum.


And if their looks aren't feminine enough, the movement in tennis demands the players to move and twist and jump as if they are performing ballet or something. (That is, if they do it right.)


Suddenly, my perception of female athlete has changed. The images are now of feminine and masculine females, depending on the sport.

This shift of perception brought by tennis warmed me up to the word "athlete". In fact, that's an understatement 'cause the truth is now I want to be associated with the word "athlete" after realizing how awesome it actually is. (Hello! Prize money, athletic prowess and glory!)

So here I am, like some kind of comeuppance, crawling back to the world I once rejected, hoping that it will welcome me when I finally arrive at the door.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The shade... It's delicious.

"You guys MTV generation have an attention span of a rabbit."

Hahah! This one always makes me chuckle.

It's something my professor in Finance class said to us.

She was explaining something but we were chattering and she lost our attention, hence the remark.

My prof wasn't the type who threw shade like that so I was delightfully taken aback. And the best of all, I don't think many people in my class caught that, but I did. So thank me, dear class mates, for I just shined some lights on the shade you've been living under.

Anyway, my take from taking her class, among other things, is when your students start to annoy you, just throw some shade at them. Throw it. If your students are old enough to understand, they would appreciate it.

By the way, do you know the attention span of a rabbit? According to Yahoo Answers, only a few seconds long. The longest attention span they have is when they're mating. And that only lasts for 10-40 seconds. 

Even mating rabbits can't save us when our profs cast shade our way.