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Episode 186: Jamie Hampton

May 4th, 2017

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We are delighted to be able to fulfill a wish of many of our listeners for years now by bringing on Jamie Hampton (a.k.a. Julie Hamilton) as a guest, who has been out of sight as she rehabs various injuries but not out of our minds of many listeners.

Ben and Jamie discuss her mindset as she copes with setbacks, the perspective she's gained on tour issues from being away, the current landscape of the tour, dealing with attention from traditional and social media, her more supportive stance on Maria Sharapova, her admiration of Serena and Venus Williams and the other players who inspire her.

And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR186!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.

Episode 185: What to Expect When Serena’s Expecting

April 21st, 2017

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With best wishes, Ben and Courtney convene after Serena Williams' announcement that she is expecting her first child this fall, and may already be as far as 20 weeks into her pregnancy.

Does this change how we look back on her title at the Australian Open in January, when she already would have been roughly two months pregnant? And what does this mean for the tour going forward? And what is the state of the women's field now? We don't quite agree on this one, as you'll quickly learn.

And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR185!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.

Episode 184: Resembling an Ensemble

April 10th, 2017

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With a quarter of 2017 now complete, Ben and Courtney try to make sense of it all. But does it make sense, really?

Daria Kasatkina won Charleston in an all-teen final, which should be a big result. But what are results anyhow, when every player seems to have a roughly equal share of success and failure these days? Which characters and plotlines are really relevant? Does TV have the answers?

The men's side is a completely different coin, because one beloved old dude (Roger Federer) has stepped up to fill the void. But just what is that void without Federer being there as a shiny glaze on top of an otherwise questionable confection?

Lastly, we make predictions for the French Open, an amusingly hopeless endeavor. 

And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR184!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.

Episode 183: Shade in the Desert

March 24th, 2017

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Wrapping up the happenings in Indian Wells, Ben and Courtney cover the popular champs and the odd ways their matches were pitted against each other. First, is the surprising win of Elena Vesnina reflective of a current landscape of opportunity in women's tennis? And where might this title lead her? And for Roger Federer, how much is about him surging and how much is about the others atop men's tennis receding?

What to make of the impatient foot-tapping during men's tennis-centered folk during the three-set women's final? And how does how the "Group of Death" played out reflect on all of Djokovic, Kyrgios, and Nadal? And what does it say about U.S. tennis coverage that it took us this long to mention Jack Sock?

And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR183!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.

Episode 182a: Maria Sharapova: The Ice Woman Cometh

March 20th, 2017

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With Maria Sharapova's ban set to end in just over a month, we've assembled an all-star lineup to discuss her impending return and the many questions it raises in this our fourth episode (here are 1, 2, and 3) about Sharapova's saga.

First, Ben speaks with Markus Günthardt, the tournament director of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart where Sharapova will be making her comeback on Wednesday, April 26. We discuss why this tournament has grown so popular with top players (the car-as-trophy model seems to work), how important Sharapova is to it, the decision to give her a wild card, and how the contentious Wednesday start was made possible.

Next, Ben reunites 75% of our March 2016 roundtable on Sharapova by bringing back in Sports Illustrated/Tennis Channel's Jon Wertheim and fabulous French freelancer Carole Bouchard to discuss all sorts of issues and questions raised by the Sharapova brouhaha, what has changed as the story has evolved over the last year, and what should be considered in the decisions about wild cards and whatever else in her comeback.

Then, to bring the decidedly different British perspective on this case and anti-doping rigidity in general, Ben chats with BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller about why reactions in attitudes in his country have been so different, and the ethical and logistical questions facing Wimbledon as it weighs whether or not to warmly welcome Sharapova with a main draw wild card.

We definitely want you to sound off on these issues, so more than ever, join in the conversation on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), follow and tweet us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR182a!). And as always, please subscribe/review on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.