A blog

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ahsha Rolle deserves win over Alexandra Stevenson at Rogers Cup qualifying tournament in Montreal

A very big I'm sorry to Ahsha Rolle who today faced a Montreal crowd that loudly booed her victory as she left the court. Rolle hails from the vicinity of Miami, Florida, and has never had a match win in Montreal before this weekend. I'm ashamed of my fellow spectators for jeering her. If Rolle had her own website, I'd post my apologies there but she has no public fan forum, so I'm posting it here. I hope she has tennis fans of a higher quality in attendance for her first round match against Alisa Kleybanova on Tuesday.

But while I'm posting about the mistreatment of Rolle, who won her match by out-executing her opponent on important points, here's a look at who she played -- Southern California tennis player Alexandra Stevenson (above). It wasn't a great day for Stevenson since it ended with her bundled out of competition in singles, angry tennis mother on the sidelines yelling at the WTA tour officials. But there's more to the story than just that (though that would be enough).

Before that, there was a small rainstorm, shown here being mopped up by Rogers Cup volunteers and tennis officials. This was nothing compared to what was brewing.

To begin at the beginning, Stevenson was contesting a spot in the main draw of the Rogers Cup tennis tournament. She met Rolle for the final round of qualifying on Court 9 at Montreal's Jarry Park. After splitting sets with Rolle, Stevenson was serving at 5-6, trying to take the third and decisive set to a tiebreak. But if you take a look in the background of the photo above, you'll see that Stevenson was broken in that service game, allowing Rolle to take the third set 7-5, claim the match and secure a spot in the main draw.

This did not sit well with Samantha Stevenson, who is shown here in the straw hat. "Don't shake her hand, Alexandra!" said Samantha when Rolle kindly offered a hand to her daughter after the match. This is 100% verbatim and all the spectators heard it. It was the kind of trash talk that helped foment boos from the stands when Rolle walked off the court. It was astounding.

Then Samantha Stevenson paced the tarmac alongside the court. She berated the umpire. She wanted match point to be played over again. With no opponent for her daughter to contest the point against, she was fuming.

The contentious point was recounted over and over again, and at Alexandra's beckoning it was escalated and retold with more and more officials listening in. Basically all parties involved had agreed on a version that was accurate: On match point, Rolle hit a ball to the baseline that Stevenson hit back while screaming "Out!"... This much is what everyone -- Stevenson, three officials and the ump, all pictured above -- agreed on had happened.

But what Stevenson did not agree with is why screaming "Out!" is worse than screaming other things while the ball is in play. Or why a player screaming "Out" is any worse than grunting loudly, which was an example she used in her defense: I could've said "Out" or I could've grunted. The officials tried explaining it to her yet again: Yelling "Out" while the ball is in play is a considered a hindrance and players who do it can forfeit the point.

Problem is Stevenson thought she had some "added wiggle room" since the ump responded to her sudden outburst by immediately saying "Let" (he then corrected himself by saying "Game, set, match: Rolle"). Stevenson argued at length for a reversal back to the "Let" call, which would allow her to replay the match point. No can do. (Think about it... Everyone would shout "Out!" as they were about to lose and no match would ever be decided.)

Problem is Rolle was now long gone by this point, something Mama Stevenson was keenly aware of as she jumped up and scurried to the officials, pointing out the direction that the winner of the match was last seen heading. (Actually, I think this was an accusatory finger-point that is pictured, but with Samantha, it's always something, isn't it?)

So Team Stevenson finally appears to give up. Alexandra goes back to the bench and grabs her bags, calling the umpire "a fucking idiot" while Samantha appears to be reaching for her cellphone and the lawyer who she keeps on speed dial (that's just my best guess -- I didn't get that close).

Alexandra lets out the "fucking idiot" comment once more as she passes the umpire's chair. (When you're really pissed off, it's fun to use insulting epithets on someone who is not allowed to respond to them!)

Here Samantha is saying: Hey Alexandra, not so fast -- now off the court with the awaiting club cars, the furor erupts yet again. "Wait Fabrice," says Samantha, who obviously is on a first name basis with Fabrice Chouquet, the WTA Tour Supervisor, "I can't believe you're letting this happen!"

Even Alexandra has grown tired of it by this point and twice orders the club cars to go, each time only to have Mama immediately shut them down for further negotiations. Finally, the officials insist that they must leave and go to a private rather than public place if Samantha wants to discuss the matters further. The club cars sputter to life and Alexandra attempts to take a strip off her mother as they drive off.