I’m Right (nyah nyah nyah)

Did you guys use to watch Modern Family? (Liars. You did so.) There was an episode that I think was late in the series, so you may have missed it. In it, Claire and Phil are in the grocery store. An attractive woman approaches Phil, and he turns toward her, in the process knocking Claire over. I think she may have taken out a product display on her way down.

Phil goes home and tells their family about Claire’s humiliating clumsiness. She argues that he pushed her, which he denies. For some reason, the entire family believes Phil’s account, which pisses Claire off.

She proceeds to track down the video from the store’s surveillance camera, which is now archived off site, and have it reformatted to work on her home DVD player. She gathers the family together and shows them the incontrovertible evidence.


Instead of apologizing, they ask what the heck is wrong with her that she would go to that much trouble to prove she’s right.

I’m not sure where our sympathies are supposed to lie in this episode, but I’m totally Team Claire.

Today my tennis team was playing against another club at their courts. My match had just finished and I was entering the scores when a woman I don’t know asked if I’d seen the point that had just transpired on the court in front of us. I hadn’t. Apparently Player A had hit a ball with enough back spin on it that it bounced on Player B’s side of the net and then came back and bounced on Player A’s side without Player B ever touching the ball.

The woman asked if I knew what could be done in that case.

Well, I do know, as most of you probably do, that in the case of a ball spinning back over the net, Player B is allowed to cross the plane of the net and hit the ball.

But, I observed, in this case the ball had already bounced on Player A’s side. To keep the point alive, Player B would have had to hit the ball before it bounced.

Nope, doesn’t matter, said the woman. Player B can hit it before or after it bounces. I said I didn’t think that was true, and she turned to ask one of the coaches standing nearby. He agreed with her, although I will say he didn’t seem overly confident in his answer.

What with a global pandemic and all, we’re not supposed to stay and chat after matches. Otherwise, I would have taken out my phone and started googling right there. Instead, I narrowed my eyes and wagged my finger semi-obnoxiously in her direction and said I’d be looking into this. She laughed and said something along the lines of “you’ll see.”

Of course, once I got home, before I even showered, I pulled up the ITF Rules of Tennis on my computer. And here’s what the relevant passage says:

It is a good return if:
b. After the ball in play has hit the ground within the correct court and has spun or been blown back over the net, the player reaches over the net and plays the ball into the correct court, provided that the player does not break Rule 24;

Uh oh, I think. That doesn’t say anything about hitting it before it bounces. But what does Rule 24 say?

The point is lost if:

b. The player does not return the ball in play before it bounces twice consecutively;

AHA! It doesn’t say “before it bounces twice consecutively on the same side of the court.” It just says bounces twice consecutively, which means Player B CANNOT reach over the net and hit it after it bounces.

At least, that’s what I think. Granted I’m not a lawyer, but it seems pretty straightforward to me. Can I be wrong here? I think not, but I’ll let you weigh in.

Who’s right—me or the woman and coach from the other club?

And, if I’m right, which I am, is there something wrong with me if I camp in my car outside that club, rulebook in hand, and wait for that woman to show up? There’s nothing weird about that, is there?

Friday Fashion Face-off: Best-Dressed Woman, Australian Open 2021

It’s the second Friday of the Australian Open, time for the women to face off with their fashion.

Surprisingly, I had a tougher time finding three worthy nominees among the women than I did among the men. In fact, I’m not 100% sure all three of these nominees are worthy. No doubt you’ll let me know if one of these ladies shouldn’t be here.

Nominee #1: Ash Barty

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You can always count on Ash Barty for understated style. It’s kind of like her game—artful and impactful without unnecessary drama. Sounds like a good standard for most endeavors in life.

The Australian looks sporty-chic in this Fila combo. The lilac top pairs beautifully with the rich plum skirt. A classy look for a classy competitor.

Nominee #2: Sorana Cirstea

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Now, this is different, isn’t it?

I saw this New Balance swing dress (or is it a baby doll dress—I don’t know what the difference is) on Danielle Collins and was on the fence about it. I love the freedom and movement, and the color—tangerine? coral?—stands out against the blue hard courts. The white-edged navy straps kicks the whole thing up a notch.

But Collins’s build doesn’t lend itself well to this unstructured cut. On Cirstea’s slighter frame, this youthful dress gets the hanger it needs.

Nominee #3: Aryna Sabalenka

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Some of you fashionistas are probably wondering why Simona Halep isn’t the nominee for this Nike number. Same dress, different color scheme. Both athletes looked striking. In the end, I chose Sabalenka because the empire waist of this dress seems tailor-made for the Greek Goddess/Warrior Princess aura the Belarusian’s got going on.

(And don’t even start with the brown thing. It’s sand-colored.)




Friday Fashion Face-off: Best-Dressed Man, Australian Open 2021

Jeepers, is it already the first Friday of the Aussie Open? That came up on us fast. In fact, in Melbourne, they’re well into Saturday, so I guess technically I’m late.

I’m pleased to report we have a decent crop of candidates for best-dressed man. As you know, at some slams, it’s slim pickings. (If you’re looking for some covid-safe fun tonight, “At some slams, it’s slim pickings” makes an excellent tongue twister.)

Nominee #1: Michael Mmoh

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Let’s first get his last name out of the way. It’s just “Moe.” Not “muh-MOE.” No, I don’t know what the extra m is for.

The American cuts a fine figure in this sleeveless tank from Adidas. I’m really digging the shorts with the neon yellow accents and mesh pockets. So eye-catching he even upstaged my man Rafa in their second-round match. Unfortunately, his fashion sense didn’t win him any extra points. Nadal thrashed him in straights.

Nominee #2: Frances Tiafoe

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I know what you’re saying. “Deb, that’s a brown shirt. You hate brown tennis clothes, remember?”

To which I say, “Au contraire, this subtly checked Nike shirt is sand colored, warm and inviting as a tropical beach dotted with gently swaying palm trees and hotties sipping piña coladas out of coconuts, and Tiafoe looks outstanding in it.”

To which you will say, “Sand is just a pretentious word for tan, which is a subset of brown.”

To which I say, “Shut up. It’s my blog.”

Nominee #3: Matteo Berrettini

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The Italian Berrettini serves up plenty of style in this Lotto ensemble. I love the green stripes transitioning to gray, but what really makes the shirt pop are the black borders around the collar and sleeves. Without the borders, I don’t think this getup is making the cut. Amazing what a difference a small detail can make.

There you have it, the first face-off of 2021. Who will take home the coveted title of best-dressed man???




The Australian Open is officially underway, which means Fashion Face-offs are right around the corner. A concerned reader advised me to write a couple of “warm-up” posts before tackling the face-offs. I guess it’s been so long I might hurt myself. So here’s a nice, gentle stretch of a post to ease back into things…

Last night was kind of crazy, wasn’t it? The Super Bowl and the Australian Open starting at the same time. It was hard to know what to watch—there were a lot of GOAT storylines between those two events.

Serena won her first-round match in her quest to eclipse Margaret Court’s grand slam record and become the undisputed GOAT.

Djokovic played last night as well, looking to close the GOAT gap between him and 20-slammers Federer and Nadal.

And Tom Brady won yet another Super Bowl, although I’m not sure who he’s competing with at this point. I think he’s got that GOAT thing pretty well wrapped up.

There’s not much I can add to the GOAT debates. Instead, I’ll offer up a different mammalian superlative: the STOAT.

If you love crossword puzzles (looking at you, Karla) or are just a smarty-pants, you’ll recognize stoat as the weasel-like animal whose coat turns white in the winter. Here he is in his summer outfit:

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And here are his winter whites, when he’s also known as an ermine.

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Kind of cute, isn’t he?

Only we’re talking about a different STOAT, namely, the Stupidest Trophy Of All Time.

I have a spreadsheet where I save blog post ideas, and one of them is for a Fashion Face-off for tennis trophies. As with the majors, after deciding the best-looking trophy, we’d go on to vote on the worst. Trust me, there are some doozies out there.

But if I ever get around to writing that blog, we’ll have to settle on picking the runner-up. The worst of the worst was decided last week. Nothing can beat the shellacked marsupial board presented to Ash Barty at the Yarra Valley Classic.

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God bless Ash Barty. Is she a good sport or what?

A trophy this remarkable really ought to have a name. The Wimbledon’s ladies’ champion wins The Venus Rosewater Dish, so in keeping with the culinary theme, I’m going to suggest The Wombat Platter.

Can you come up with a better name? I doubt it, but a can of tennis balls to you if you do.

Did you watch the Super Bowl or the Australian Open? Who’s the GOATiest GOAT, Serena or Tom?

December Challenge: The Racquet Toss

You know what we haven’t done in a while? A monthly challenge. We are long overdue.

Only it’s been a rough year, and I don’t want to burden myself with lofty and time-consuming goals. I want something quick, easy and fun. Like throwing my racquet.

Supposedly, serving is like throwing. Which makes sense because I can’t throw a ball at all and my serve sucks, too. (I mean, I really can’t throw a ball. When I try to throw a ball for my dog, it goes either straight into the ground or off in a startling direction. My husband always watches in disbelief. “What the hell are you doing?” he’ll ask. He finds it hard to believe someone so dangerously uncoordinated actually plays tennis.)

(More parenthetical comments: Yes, I could ask him to teach me to throw, except then the challenge would be to our marriage. Let’s just say he’s not a patient teacher. He once tried to teach me to play drums. I was no more than two minutes into the lesson, just trying to get my various limbs to work independently of each other, when he started berating me for not keeping proper time. “That’s the number one job of the drummer!!” So, no, I will not be soliciting his help in throwing, drumming, or any other area.)

(Actually, I shouldn’t snark about him, since he’s going to be updating this blog for me over the next couple of weeks. Plus he’s making me hot dogs right now. Love you, honey! 🙄😁)

If I remember correctly, my very first challenge on this blog was serving 100 balls a day. I probably didn’t hit that number, but I came close. However, my serve didn’t improve, probably because I was focused on too many variables at the same time.

This time, I’m going to focus only on keeping a relaxed grip. When you’re choking the handle, you lose racquet head speed and you can’t snap your wrist. Despite knowing this, I maintain a death hold on my racquet, as if someone might try to take it away from me.

If the racquet were a ball, I’d be holding it so loosely that I’d let it go. So that’s what I’m going to do in this challenge: serve and let go, just to get a sense of what a really loose grip feels like. I’ll do ten racquet tosses in my backyard every precipitation-free day in December. (At least, I’ll start in the backyard. If my racquet crashes through the neighbor’s window, I’ll have to relocate to more open ground.)

So, an easy, goofy challenge to ring out this grim year. The hardest part will be figuring out what to tell my neighbors when they ask, “What the hell are you doing?” On the other hand, they already think I’m a little strange, so maybe they’ll just take it in stride.

Do I dare ask if anyone will join me in this challenge? I’d love to not be the only lunatic out there. Come on! To hell with your neighbors! Be a lunatic with me!


Movie Review: “First One In”

Did you all have a perfectly adequate Thanksgiving? One filled with a few laughs, a predictable over-the-top menu, and a vague sense of self-loathing afterwards?

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

It’s time for my promised review of the movie First One In, currently available on Amazon Prime. As I noted in the last post, First One In follows the adventures of Madi Cooke (Kat Foster) as she tries to restart her life after being ousted from a Survivor-style reality TV show. Turns out our Madi accidentally killed one of the last two remaining members of an endangered species, raising the wrath of the public at large. Madi returns to real life to find herself one of the most hated women in the country.

Fired from her real estate agency, Madi dyes her hair, assumes a fake last name, and applies for a position at another firm. The cut-throat head of this agency, Bobbi Mason (Georgia King), has lost her tennis partner just before the big tournament. If Madi, a former high school player, can help Bobbi’s team win, she’s hired.

It’s a silly premise, but it works better in the film than I can possibly make it sound in this recap. This is a film of broad comedy and stock characters. If you can get on board with that kind of movie, there’s some fun to be had here. Continue reading “Movie Review: “First One In””

Acronyms, Masks, and Half-Assed Musings

It’s a LittleYellowBall smorgasbord today. A tennis tapas, if you will. A buffet of thoughts, none of which merits its own blog post but which together just might add up to a crunchy and satisfying blog salad. Continue reading “Acronyms, Masks, and Half-Assed Musings”

Fear and Acronyms, Part 2

The first match is over, and that monkey is off my back. (Crap. How am I going to gracefully transition from the monkey metaphor to the ball-striking machine metaphor? I’ll just have to start a new paragraph and hope no one notices.) Continue reading “Fear and Acronyms, Part 2”

Fear (and the Acronym Challenge)

Tomorrow’s the day. My first tennis match in a year. Butterflies? Maybe one or two.

I shouldn’t have any butterflies at all. My league has decreed that this strange, once-(hopefully)-in-a-lifetime pandemic season won’t “count.” A year from now, when the 2021-2 season begins, it’ll be like 2020 never happened. Don’t you wish you could say that about all aspects of this year? Continue reading “Fear (and the Acronym Challenge)”

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