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Sports Then and Now



Evonne Goolagong Cawley: Tennis Mom 0

Posted on July 11, 2021 by Dean Hybl
Evonne Goolagong Cawley

Fifty years before Ashleigh Barty claimed her first Wimbledon Championship, another Australian woman claimed the Wimbledon Women’s Singles title on her way to a Hall of Fame career.

The path to tennis greatness was a unique one for Evonne Goolagong Cawley. The daughter of an itinerant sheep shearer, Goolagong Cawley was the third of eight children in an Australian Aboriginal family. Though Aboriginal people faced significant discrimination during that era, Goolagong Cawley was able to play tennis from a young age due to the generosity and support of numerous people within Australia.

She emerged on the international tennis stage as a 19-year-old in 1971 as she reached the finals of the Australian Open and then won the French Open and Wimbledon titles. She remains the only person to win the French Open women’s title in her first time playing in the tournament.

In 1972, she reached the finals of the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, but did not claim any of the titles. She also played the U.S. Open for the first time in 1972 and reached the third round.

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Great Sports Moments From the 4th of July 0

Posted on July 04, 2021 by Dean Hybl

It probably comes as no surprise that the 4th of July has seen a few more “special” sports moments than most other days on the calendar. As a national holiday occurring during the height of the season for baseball, there have been a significant number of special baseball moments on this date.

Lou Gehrig became the first MLB player to have his number retired during Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day on July 4, 1939.

Even though July 4th is a day that our friends in England are maybe not as enthusiastic in celebrating, July 4th does have quite a history in that country as many Wimbledon titles have been claimed on that special date.

Over the years the date has also seen special moments in boxing history and women’s golf.

Below is a chronological look at a few of those special July 4th sports moments:

1910 – In what was dubbed the “Fight of the Century”, World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Jack Johnson retains his title with a 15th round TKO against James J. Jeffries.

1911 – Ty Cobb’s pursuit of Willie Keeler’s record hitting streak of 45 consecutive games ends at 40 games when Cobb is held hitless in four attempts by Ed Walsh of the Chicago White Sox. Cobb’s streak remains the sixth longest streak in MLB history.

1914 – Dorothea Chambers claims her seventh, and final, Wimbledon Women’s Singles title, beating Ethel Larcombe 7-5, 6-4.

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Novak Djokovic is Back! 0

Posted on July 15, 2018 by Dean Hybl

It was a long road back for Novak Djokovic to claim the 2018 Wimbledon title.

It was a long road back for Novak Djokovic to claim the 2018 Wimbledon title.

In the sports world it is interesting how two years can feel like a lifetime. It was only two years ago that Novak Djokovic had entered Wimbledon as the first men’s player in nearly 50 years to hold all four tennis major titles at the same, yet, much has transpired in the tennis world from that moment until Djokovic finally hoisted another major trophy with a three set win over Kevin Anderson at the 2018 Wimbledon.

Initially, the stunning third round loss by Djokovic to Sam Querry at the 2016 Wimbledon looked like just a blimp on the radar. Djokovic solidified his place as the number one player in the world by reaching the finals at the U.S. Open, though he lost in four sets to Stan Wawrinka.

What no one could have predicted at the time was that not only would Djokovic not win another major for nearly two years, but after making the finals in 19 of the previous 25 majors would not get past the quarterfinals in six straight majors and would fall out of the top 20 in the world rankings.

After losing in the second round of the 2017 Australian Open and quarterfinals of both the French Open and Wimbledon, Djokovic missed the 2017 U.S. Open due to an elbow injury. He reached the fourth round of the 2018 Australian Open, but after the tournament underwent elbow surgery.

It was a good sign that he was able to return for the 2018 French Open, but a four set loss to unranked Marco Cecchinato gave new question as to whether Djokovic would ever return to his previous form.

When Djokovic held all four major titles entering the 2016 Wimbledon not only had he done something previously done only by Rod Laver in the open era, but he was beginning to make a case for himself as the greatest player of his era, perhaps even ahead of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

However, over the past two years not only did Djokovic struggle, but Nadal and Federer both had a resurgence.

After combining for only one major title between 2014 and 2016 (Nadal winning 2014 French Open), Nadal and Federer split the four majors in 2017 (Federer won Australian and Wimbledon and Nadal claimed French and U.S. Open). They then began 2018 with Federer repeating at the Australian Open for his 20th Grand Slam and Nadal winning the French Open for his 17th.

Though Djokovic’s win at the 2018 Wimbledon breaks that streak and gives him 13 major titles, the 31-year-old now has much more work to do if he hopes to significantly narrow the gap between his titles and those of his two rivals. Read the rest of this entry →

Novak Djokovic Carves His Own Spot in Tennis Lore 0

Posted on July 14, 2015 by Dean Hybl

Novak Djokovic lifted the championship trophy for the third time at the 2015 Wimbledon.

Novak Djokovic lifted the championship trophy for the third time at the 2015 Wimbledon.

With his ninth tennis grand slam championship, Novak Djokovic has now separated himself from some of the greatest tennis players of all-time and seems to be on a path for even greater heights before his journey is complete.

In an era where Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have clearly distinguished themselves as historic champions, Djokovic has been that irritating pebble in the shoe that has kept both of those stars from achieving even greater success.

His victory over Federer in the Wimbledon final marked the second straight year he has defeated the 17-time grand slam champion in the finals. He also has a 3-4 career record in finals against Nadal.

Clearly the number one player in the world, Djokovic will now set his sights on the U.S. Open, a tournament in which he has reached the finals five times. However, he has not won the title since 2011 and last year failed to reach the finals for the first time since 2009.

Having passed Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Fred Perry and Ivan Lendl, who each won eight grand slam titles during their careers, Djokovic now aims to become just the eighth player in history to reach double digits. He will match Bill Tilden with his next victory and then would aim for Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg, who each won 11 grand slam titles.

While Djokovic will focus on growing his grand slam trophy collection at Wimbledon and then next year in Australia, you know that in the back of his mind is the French Open where his surprising loss to Stan Wawrinka kept him from reaching the career grand slam. Read the rest of this entry →

Maureen Connolly: Little Mo 7

Posted on July 03, 2015 by Dean Hybl

Maureen Connolly

Maureen Connolly

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the most dominating women’s tennis player of her career before a tragic accident ended her career while she was still a teenager.

Maureen “Little Mo” Connelly won the final nine majors in which she competed, which is quite impressive given how challenging Serena Williams is currently finding it to win four straight majors for the second time in her career. Read the rest of this entry →

Halfway Through Wimbledon: Predicting the Future 3

Posted on July 03, 2015 by Marius Kiniulis

Defending champion Novak Djokovic is among the favorites to win the 2015 Wimbledon men's title.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic is among the favorites to win the 2015 Wimbledon men’s title.

With Rafa Nadal unexpectedly dropping out of the most prestigious grass tournament of the year and Kei Nishikori leaving the title race due to an injury the tennis fans are wondering: who’s next? We took a shot and tied to predict the way Wimbledon is going to play out.

World’s No 1 Novak Djokovic should feel pretty comfortable with his upcoming bracket – none of his potential opponents, at least until the quarter-final are living up to their expectations. Today he plays the 27th seed Bernard Tomic, who had a pretty bumpy ride to the third round. It took the Aussie five sets to beat the 98th ranked Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round and two tiebreaks against ATP’s 151st Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the second.

Meanwhile Djokovic himself feels really comfortable in the record-breaking Wimbledon heat outplaying both of his previous opponents in three-set matches. In fact, the highway to the semi-final looks pretty clear for the defending champion. Yes, there are eight players in the top half who yet have a set to lose, but of the whole list only Stan Wawrinka seems like a potential threat for Djokovic.

It comes as no surprise that the bookies see the Swiss as Novak’s most likely opponent in the semis. The US Open champ Marin Cilic took a huge blow for his reputation from the World’s No 90 Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania in the second round, while the 7th seeded Milos Raonic has yet to face what seems to be a pretty tough challenge in the third round against Nick Kyrgios. The UK-licensed bookie TonyBet gives Raonic just 1.45 odds at advancing to the next round.

Meanwhile, the bottom half looks a little bit more complicated. The 2013 champion and the local favorite Andy Murray is seen as the main candidate to face Djokovic in the final, however, he still has a long way to go. While his third round opponent Andreas Seppi might not seem as a big threat for the World’s No 3, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga just might be. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Drew Pearson: Mr. Clutch
      August 7, 2021 | 6:59 pm

      Drew Pearson

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former NFL wide receiver know as “Mr. Clutch” for his penchant for making big receptions at crucial moments of the game. After waiting for more than 30 years, he is finally earning his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.

      During his decade with the Dallas Cowboys, Drew Pearson had a habit of making the big catch at the right moment to help the Cowboys time and again snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

      The favorite target of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Pearson was widely recognized as one of the great receivers of his era. Though at the time of his retirement many expected Pearson to easily breeze into the Hall of Fame, his enshrinement was derailed by changes to the game which artificially inflated receiver stats and made the numbers he produced during a time when wide receivers weren’t catching 100 passes a season seem inferior.

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