Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Serena Meltdown

Dear Serena Williams –

Congratulations on regaining the Sony WTA number 1 ranking! With your strong performance at the WTA Championships in Doha this weekend, along with your Australian Open and Wimbledon singles titles, your 2009 results have been quite impressive. Your ability to focus on your game has been even more extraordinary given that your professional tennis future lies in waiting from your highly publicized actions during this year’s U.S. Open. As a former United States Tennis Association official and teaching tennis professional, I observed your tirade at the Open with disappointment for our sport. At first, you appeared to successfully shake off the foot fault call as you walked up to serve the next point (match point), only to then lose total control of your emotions and release the full bane of your anger on the lonely official that was just trying to do her job. Imagine how intimidated Louise Engzell felt while you were violently shaking your racquet head at her, and at the very same time, the veins in your neck were threatening to burst wide open. After you directed an onslaught of vulgarity and threats at Ms. Engzell, she was probably wishing she could just climb off the court to find the first subway home. Imagine her initial thoughts the following day, when she read that you just wanted to give her a big hug! It would not come as a surprise if she immediately called a locksmith to have her deadbolt locks replaced.

You must have some anxiety not knowing the outcome of the sanctions to be imposed, if any, from the Grand Slam Committee for your U.S. Open actions. Although the sanctions may involve suspension from future Grand Slam events, this scenario appears unlikely given the big business interests of the WTA.
Maybe you can demonstrate to the Grand Slam Committee that you have learned the importance of forgiveness? You and your sister, Venus, have held an apparent grudge against the Indian Wells Tennis Tournament since 2001 when the public accused Venus of pulling out of the tournament to avoid a match-up against you and then you were booed during the finals against Kim Clijsters. If it is your hope that the Grand Slam Committee will be in a forgiving mood when they determine your future tournament fate; have you and Venus considered losing the chip on your shoulder and forgiving the good people of Indian Wells?



Monday, October 26, 2009

Welcome to Fritz's Word!

It was a beautiful, unusually sunny, spring afternoon in Seattle. My brother-in-law and I, taking advantage of the perfect conditions, climbed on our road bikes and took off cycling from downtown Seattle for an easy 25-mile loop around Mercer Island. Dancing on the pedals of our feather-light, carbon-fiber bicycles, we easily ascended the first hill leading out of downtown. Upon reaching the top of the first hill, though, life changed forever.

At the top of the hill, an overpowering internal force seemed to be pulling me, and my bike towards the curb on the right. I was struggling to stop my bike, and maintain consciousness, all at the same time. This internal force that I experienced reminds me of the G-forces that contorted my body during “The Rattler” rollercoaster ride at 6 Flags Fiesta Texas in 1992. My neck and back were sore for a week after that ride.

I lost both battles in what seemed to be an unfair fight. All I was aware of as I was in a free fall off my bike, was my right hip first hitting the ground, then my right shoulder, and then finally, the right side of my head impacting the ground. Thank God I always wear a helmet. With my brother-in-law riding in the lead, and the wind at our backs, there was little chance he would realize what was occurring behind him until he looked back after descending down the other side of the hill and realized he was riding solo.

What just happened? That question was racing through my mind as I regained consciousness and some of my bearings. I took a quick inventory of my body parts to make sure they were all in place and upon being satisfied, did the same for my bicycle. Fortunately, my bike also survived the crash with minimal damage. Not long afterwards, my brother-in-law appeared and based upon the look on his face, was as confused as I was with what just transpired. I was still on the ground, but sitting up, although there was a very nauseous feeling in my stomach. I suggested that we ride back to their apartment as I attempted to stand up. My whole body felt out of sort – dizzy and still nauseous at the same time. Time to offer up Plan B. How about calling my sister to come pick us up? By the time my sister arrived, it was apparent that medical attention was needed. It was time to call 911. When the ambulance showed up all I could think of as they were strapping me to the plank was, “am I going to make it or is this it”? While the paramedics were rotating my plank in perfect sync with my claims of nausea, a much bigger question hit me like a ton of bricks, the question that we all wonder about. “Do I have any regrets about my life and what unfinished ‘business’ remains”? 

Fortunately, we were close to Swedish Hospital; a facility that would provide 4 days of great health care in their Neuro ICU wing for the strokes that I just experienced. After recovering over the next few months, on July 10th I would return for a repair of the root cause of the strokes – a congenital defective aortic heart valve. I have learned a lot from this experience. First, I was sure lucky to have my brother-in-law riding with me at the time of the crash. Second, there are not enough words to express the Blessings of having a great support network including my wonderful family. And finally, rather than over 200 miles separating me from one of the best neurological and cardiology facilities in the Northwest, only a few miles separated me on April 3rd.

Since I am still around, there must be unfinished “business”. Welcome to Fritz’s Word!