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.