It's a good thing that Mary Carillo is a "the glass is half full" kind of person when it comes to looking at the state of tennis, for she'll need that kind of optimism to get through this weekend's U.S. Open finals.
Carillo, the lead tennis analyst for CBS and one of the best commentators in sports television, will be one of the main voices on this weekend's marathon coverage, and that's a good thing.
The bad thing is that with some of the bigger names in the game, namely Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Pete Sampras, Boris Becker and Andre Agassi, either ousted from the tournament or never arrived on the scene, the pickings may be slim for the casual viewer in terms of names into which they can sink their teeth.
But if you're willing to look hard enough, Carillo says there may be a few choice morsels to grab.
For one thing, even with the absence of Graf, who skipped Flushing Meadow with an injury, and Seles, who was upset earlier in the week, Carillo says women's tennis has never been better. That's because with solid veterans like Lindsay Davenport and brash newcomers like No. 1-ranked Martina Hingis and the unseeded Venus Williams, who is shaking up the Open as much with her in-your-face attitude as with her play.
"You have this terrific mix of the veterans who are trying to win a few more and then you have these phenoms who are saying, 'See ya, and don't let the door hit you on the butt on the way out,' " Carillo said. "The quality of women's tennis is very high, as good as it has ever been."
In fact, Carillo, an Emmy nominee last year, says the game is in a lot better shape than a lot of its critics, including John McEnroe, who will be in the CBS booth this weekend, say.
"I don't like the 'drive-by' criticism that we get in tennis. Our sports suffers from a lot of friendly fire from people in the sport who should know better and ought to be contributing solutions as well as criticism," she said. "The sport is terrific and it's always going to be a niche sport. It's not baseball or football, but the quality of tennis is terrific. We're living in a very special time in tennis history."
CBS (Channel 13) will have at least 20 hours of coverage this weekend, beginning at 11 a.m. today with the men's doubles final and the women's semifinals. At 11 a.m. tomorrow, the network airs the women's doubles and men's semifinal matches, with coverage of the men's and women's singles finals at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Logical beginning of football
Sure, some schools have been playing football for a couple of weeks now, but for most sane people, this weekend is the logical beginning of the college season, and the menu is full.
Channel 2 will have three games tomorrow, starting at noon with a Big East dust-up between Boston College and Temple. Then, at 3: 30 p.m., ABC will send along the renewal in one of the East's biggest rivalries with Pittsburgh meeting No. 2 Penn State. Finally, in prime time at 8, Southern California plays host to Florida State, where playing with conviction seems to have taken on a whole new meaning.
Georgia Tech goes a-calling to South Bend to play patsy as Notre Dame takes the wraps off its stadium expansion and renovation project on NBC (Channel 11) at 2: 30 tomorrow. Finally, a new Maryland season gets under way, as the Terps play host to Ohio University. While coach Ron Vanderlinden makes his debut on the field, new radio analyst Ken Broo takes over for Gerry Sandusky in the booth on WBAL (1090 AM) at 6 p.m.
Around the dial
If his hour of cavorting on Fox's Sunday NFL pre-game isn't enough to satisfy your Terry Bradshaw fix (and shouldn't it be?), be forewarned that everybody's favorite hick will have his own one-hour daily talk show, "The Home Team," starting Monday. Washington's Channel 5 will air the show at 1 p.m., while Channel 54 here will roll tape at 4 a.m.
As for Bradshaw's pre-game show (Channel 45, noon), it will feature a chat that reporter Pam Oliver had with Washington quarterback Gus Frerotte about his efforts to revive his hometown of Ford City, Pa., which has been devastated by the 1993 closing of a Pittsburgh Plate and Glass factory. Local viewers won't see the Redskins-Pittsburgh game from Fox, but instead will get Green Bay-Philadelphia with 79 percent of the country at 4 p.m.
Speaking of pre-game shows, ESPN's "NFL Countdown" this week has a Greg Garber feature on Cincinnati defensive lineman Scott Brumfield as he returns to Memorial Stadium, the scene of a career-threatening neck injury last November.
Pub Date: 9/05/97