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The Week at Wilson with Blair Rickers: March 29th

Hello All,

Hope you are all enjoying winter’s last hurrah.  I know we are all looking forward to spring.  The family and I had a great time down in Florida.  It was back to work this week with a quick trip up to Ottawa.  An exciting Final Four is coming up this weekend.  The Rock Band Sweet 16 is below.

Racquet of the Week

This week we are focusing on the Stratus 3 which is the perfect frame for the power hungry player who also demands comfort and control.  The 115” head provides a huge sweetspot and at 260 grams (9.2 oz) it’s maneuverable and packs a wallop.  Best of all, the Triad technology ensures soft feel off the string bed with limited vibration (a layer of IsoZorb between the hoop and shaft cut out unwanted shock).  If you loved the K3, you’ll adore the Stratus 3.  You get all the dampening and power of the K3, but with even more FEEL (thank you BLX).

Tina B Gets Another Victory

Congratulations to Tina Blaskovic for ANOTHER National Championship.  Tina will be adding an addition to her house to hold all her hardware.

Around the Bay OK

I ran the 30K Around the Bay Race again this weekend.  Much the same as last year, only at a slightly slow pace.  Great weather and I had a few friends running with me so it was as much fun as you can have while causing your body substantial pain.  If my training picks up in April I could be looking at another crack at the Mississauga Marathon.

Beware of the Bear

No one, and I mean no one, stirs it up like Pierre Lamarche.  How can you not love this guy?  Even if you don’t agree with his opinions, you have to respect how well he expresses himself.  Pierre is a brilliant writer, especially considering he attended Mississippi State University.  To get on the Dean’s List at MSU you just need to be named “Dean”.   Most US institutions of higher learning require outstanding SAT scores.  MSU requires entrants to be able to spell SAT.  All schools in the SEC put academic integrity as a top priority, unless, of course, it interferes with producing a first class football program.   Obviously I’m joking.  Great job Pierre, we look forward to more provocative comments in onCourt Magazine.

Church of Our Lady TC Closes

For those of you have driven through downtown Guelph you have no doubt seen the beautiful Church of Our Lady that dominates the city skyline.  If you drive around the church you’ll find a few quaint tennis courts that have been operating for over 80 years.  The church previously had courts in another location that dated back over 100 years.  Back in the early 20th century many of the churches in town had courts and would have friendly inter-faith matches with other parishes.  As the years past, the demand for parking meant the end of the courts, and all but the Church of Our Lady’s were gone by the early 50’s.  Unfortunately, the retaining wall that supports the courts, as well as the fencing and light standards, need to be replaced.  The cost of refurbishing the courts is so prohibitive that the club will have to close.  Fortunately, members will be able to take their game to a number of summer clubs in the city, but it’s still the end of an era for a club with a rich history.

Sabre Great Passes

While on vacation it was sad to read about the death of Rick Martin, former Buffalo Sabre.  I’ve never been a huge hockey fan, but growing up in St. Catharines we were inundated with all things Buffalo.  One of the few hockey games I recall watching as a kid goes back to the mid 70’s when the Sabres were playing their final game of the season.  Entering the contest, Rick Martin had 49 goals and teammate Danny Gare had 47.  The Sabres won in a romp and Gare scored a hat trick to hit the 50 goal plateau.  Martin went scoreless and missed out on the milestone.  The thing I’ll never forget about the game is how Gilbert Perreault (who formed the French Connection line with Rene Robert and Martin) did everything humanly possible to set up his teammate.  Perreault controlled the puck with the hands of a magician and continually put Martin in a position to score, but it was just not meant to be.  On the bright side, Martin had scored 50 goals the two previous seasons and was a beloved member of the Buffalo sports community.  Several thousand fans and former teammates came out to the HSBC Centre for a service this past week to pay their respects.

Since we are on a role with depressing subjects, let’s keep talking about Buffalo.  For those of you old enough, think back to Buffalo in the mid 70’s.  The city was booming, tons of manufacturing jobs and the sports teams were lead by studs.  Gil Perreault was arguably the best player in the NHL for a year or so (post Bobby Orr, pre Gretzky), OJ Simpson (pre-Bronco chase) was a superstar in the NFL and the almost forgotten Buffalo Braves (best team song ever, I’ll sing it for you next time we meet) of the NBA had a MVP in Bob MacAdoo.  How times change.  Now the only game Buffalo wins is between Detroit and Cleveland for which city is the most depressing.

Sweet 16 of Rock Bands

FINALLY, the Sweet 16 of Rock Bands has arrived, just like the NCAA March Madness, we are sure to see some upsets.  Let’s get to the action:

West Region

#1 Metallica vs #5 the Jimi Hendrix Experience

Scouting Report

Have you ever been experienced?  Well Jimi has, unfortunately, due to his short life, he lacks the experience and body of work that Metallica brings to the court.

Result

Jimi comes out strong, but by the end of the 4th quarter the Sandman enters and Jimi’s all alone at the Watchtower and goes down hard.

#2 Guns and Roses vs #3 Pearl Jam

Scouting Report

Pearl Jam hopes that their “even flow” offense can penetrate the GnR zone that is strengthened by the presence of Slash (6’7” in top hat).

Result

Eddie Vedder’s Seattle grunge crew start strong, but despite numerous personnel changes GnR pulls away

South Region

#1 Rolling Stones vs #5 AC/DC

Scouting Report

Sometimes you forget how great the Stones are until you’ll be driving around listening to the might Q and you hear Jumpin Jack Flash, or one of their other classics.  However, much like Brett Favre, the Stones just don’t know when to hang it up.  I think the “Best Before Date” on Keith Richards was 1992.  The case for AC/DC is strengthened by the fact they were GREAT with two different lead singers.  If you think that is easy check out the dictionary under Halen, Van.

Result

The two trade scores until the last seconds.  Down two, Angus Young’s lay-up is blocked by Ron Wood (hello, Angus, you are 5’1”).  The ball scoots out to Brian Johnson who drains a three pointer for the victory.

#3 Lynyrd Skynyrd vs #10 Def Leppard

Scouting Report

Every year one team reaches the sweet 16 that’s a complete surprise.  Could be that they were underestimated by opponents, could be a great draw, but these teams often hit reality in the third round.

Result

Leppard’s Cinderella run comes to screetching halt.  Skynyrd pounds them from the start.  It’s never close and Freebird is still flying as the game ends.

North Region

#1 Led Zeppelin vs #4 The Guess Who

Scouting Report

I believe the Guess Who were the #1 album sellers in 1972.  Zep’s “Stairway to Heaven” is the most played song in FM history.  It could get interesting.

Result

Cummings and Bachman start out like Shaq and Kobe.  Burton bombing away from outside while Randy dominates the boards.  Cumming’s complaints that he does all the work undermine the team’s efforts.  Zep uses a steady onslaught to bring it on home.

#3 Rush vs #2 Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Scouting Report

The Canadian rockers and the New Jersey legend have provided some of the greatest lyrics in music history.  Both have a fervent fan base whose devotion to their bands have never waned, though their mullets are starting to thin.

Result

Clarence Clemons gets the E Streeters off to a good start, but lack of conditioning makes him a non-factor by the second half.  Little Steven storms off the court after the ref tells him to take off the bandana.  In my mind, Born to Run and Farewell to Kings cancel out.  Geddy’s synthesizer experimentation was not nearly as depressing as Springsteen’s Nebraska and River.  The Boss Rocks, but Rush Rocks harder and wins on a buzzer beater by Neil Peart over the Mighty Max.

East Region

#1 Beatles vs #5 Cream

Scouting Report

The Fab Four seem poised to come out of this region despite the challenge from Clapton and friends.

Result

The Beatles are a team on a mission who know what they are, and play to their strengths (ie.  Don’t pass to Ringo too much).  Cream can’t decide what type of style they want to play.  Clapton, Baker and Bruce shift between rock and blues.  Clapton demands a trade halfway through the game and the Beatles dominate.

#3 Queen vs #7 Clash

Scouting Report

Joe Strummer and the Clash were one of the most influential band of the 80’s.  Queen never performed their most iconic song in concert.  Could we see another upset?

Result

Freddie Mercury cannot be stopped and with 10 minutes to go the fans are already singing “we are the champions.”  Queen rolls.

The Elite Eight

West Region

#1 Metallica vs #2 Guns and Roses

Scouting Report

My favorite concert experience from the early 90’s:  Faith No More, Metallica, GnR at the CNE.  My ears rang for a week.

Metallica has a larger, and perhaps, more impressive body of work.  But when they were on, was anyone better than Axl and the boys.

Result

In a battle of heavyweights, the smallest factor can be the difference.  James Hatfield and band mates are all heavy rockers who can communicate thoughtfully on a variety of subjects.  Although struggling with the trappings of fame and fortune, they seem to be well adjusted human beings.  Axl Rose is just freaking nuts.  Sometimes crazy works.  GnR wins a thriller.

South Region

#5 AC/DC vs #3 Lynyrd Skynyrd

Scouting Report

Who can forget Burt Reynolds outracing police and then dumping his girlfriend’s car in the lake while listening to Skynyrd’s “38 Special.”?  Skynyrd not only has one of the best live albums (One More From the Road) but also a stellar greatest hits collection (Gold and Platinum).   As mentioned earlier, replacing Bonn Scott with Brian Johnson was the smoothest transition since Dick York replaced Dick Sargeant on Bewitched (or was that reverse, really, I have no clue).

Result

Much like the breeze, Skynyrd was blowin down the road and they marched through their draw, but they then ran into the Thunder from Down Under.  Still Rocking after all these years, AC/DC heads to the Final Four

North Region

#1 Led Zeppelin vs #3 Rush

Scouting Report

If Rush has a chance, it has to be their lyrics.  Quick comparison:

Rush:  You can be the captain, I will draw chart, sailing into destiny, closer to the heart.

Zep:  You need coolin’, baby I’m not foolin, gonna send ya back to schoolin.

Also, is it just me or are the words to “Stairway”  fairly lame?  What songbird by the brook are they talking about?

Personal experience with each band:  In grade five I listened to Farewell to Kings 207 straight nights.  As a 10 year old I could nail Geddy’s high notes.  Once, after getting dumped by a girlfriend, I listened to “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” 97 straight times.

Result

Again, an epic battle that comes down to match-ups:  Peart and Bonham cancel each other out.  Geddy edges JPJ on base, Jimmy gets the best of Alex on guitar.  That leaves lead vocals, where Geddy’s distinctive voice cannot compete with the all time greatness of Robert Plant.  Zeppelin WINS, Zeppelin WINS, Zeppelin WINS (Chuck Swirsky tribute).

East Region

#1 Beatles vs #3 Queen

Scouting Report

Queen is in tough against the lads from Liverpool.

Result

No upset here.  Lennon and McCartney lead a barrage of hits from start to finish.

WOW, that was a lot of typing.  FINAL FOUR next week.

THANKS

A New Reality By Nicolas Pereira

This past week in the World Team Tennis ‘Bubble” I have seen the efforts to keep everyone safe while carrying on a team competition with around 60/70 players and coaches onsite. Counting organizers, officials, media, and support personnel are around 150 people trying hard to make this happen. I am very impressed by how the strict protocol has been handled and how everyone is invested in making this event a success, but The Open is a completely different scale of details.

ONcourt Interviews NGTL Co-Founder Yves Boulais

It does not matter that you get your rating playing locally or that you had spent an insidious amount of money playing the ITF junior tour tournaments. Your rating is your level of play (you get no bonus for playing more or playing far away). This allows us to break free of the ITF competitive structure potentially saving us time, money, and headache. We see this as a great opportunity to improve the logistic of our sport.

Brandon Burke (son of ACE President Doug Burke) Elected to WTA Board

As revealed in a recent news release issued by the WTA Tour – Brandon Burke has been elected to the WTA Board of Directors (to start officially in September). Oncourt got together with Brandon to delve a bit more into his background and to gain some insight into this wonderful appointment he has attained at such a young age.