Tough road for Williams sisters as BNP Paribas Open women’s draw announced

Serena Williams, seeded 10th, could open her BNP Paribas Open campaign against Victoria Azarenka in a rematch of the 2016 finals, and possibly face former No. 1 Garbine Muguruzu in the third round.

By Leighton Ginn

Serena Williams will have a tough road in the BNP Paribas Open with possible matchups against former No. 1 players in the world in her first two matches.

Her sister Venus won’t have much of a cake walk either.

The BNP Paribas Open announced its women’s draw on Monday, and the road to the title.

Serena, who won the BNP Paribas Open title in 1999 and 2001, is the 10th seed and will have bye in the first round. In the 96- player draw, the top 32 players have a first-round bye.

To open her tournament, Serena could face Victoria Azarena in a rematch of the 2016 final, which Azarenka won 6-4, 6-4. It’s also a match up of two of the more high-profile working mothers on the tour.

Azarenka will face Vera Lapko in the first-round.

If Serena gets past Azarenka, she could face former No. 1 Garbine Muguruza, who is seeded 20th.

Serena has a 3-2 record against Muguruza.

Muguruza won their last matchup, beating Serena 7-5, 6-4 in the 2016 French Open final to claim her first major title. Muguruza also claimed the 2017 Wimbledon title when she beat Venus Williams 7-5, 6-0.

Venus Williams is unseeded and will play a first-round match against the dangerous Andrea Petkovic. They have split their four career matches, with Petkovic beating Venus in the Stanford tournament in 2014,

If Venus survives her opening match, she will then have to face third-seed Petra Kvitova, who is coming off a finals appearance at the Australian Open.

A two-time Wimbledon champion, Kvitova has a 4-2 record over Venus.

Leighton Ginn, who has covered the BNP Paribas Open for two decades, will be working with iHub Radio during the tournament. iHub will be live from 1-3 p.m. weekdays. You can go to http://www.ihubradio.com to listen or find it on the Tune In app.

Top-10 Oscar-winning songs

By Leighton Ginn

One of the clear favorites to win a 2019 Oscar is the song “Shallow” from “A
Star is Born,” which will probably go down as one of the top movie songs of all time.

But what are the other greats? There’s been 84 songs to win an Oscar. This is one man’s opinion on the top-10 Oscar-winners of all time.


. SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW

I think this one is pretty automatic, as this is a song numerous generations have grown up with.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow won the 1930 Academy Awards, making it the sixth song ever to win the award. The American Film Institute has named is the No. 1 song in its “100 Greatest American Movie Music.”

MY HEART WILL GO ON


Celine Dion had so many songs nominated for best song, but this one is her defining number that earned her the 1997 Oscar. “Titanic” is one of the most successful films in history, and this song is one of the reasons why. AFI ranked this No. 10.

LOSE YOURSELF

Eminem’s theme song from his semi-autobiographical film “8 Mile,” is the classic song from a genre that’s so rarely recognized by the academy. It took home the 2002 Oscar, but AFI isn’t so kind to the song as it only ranked 93rd.

SHAFT

This is the funkiest winner of all time. And quite possibly the coolest song to win the Oscar.

It makes me happy that a best song winner has the lyrics “Who’s the black private dick who’s a sex machine to all the chicks.” We’re talking about “Shaft,” the 1971 award winner. AFI ranked this No. 38.

Can you dig it?

A new version of the “Shaft” series will be out later this year with Richard Roundtree and Samuel L. Jackson.

I’VE HAD THE TIME OF MY LIFE

Nobody puts this song in the corner.

“Dirty Dancing” was the little movie that could, and “I’ve Had the Time of My Life,” was the theme song that made the movie go. It’s a great collaboration between Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. Warnes had the golden touch as she also sang in the award-winning “Up Where We Belong,” from An Officer and a Gentleman,” and “It Goes Like It Goes,” from Norma Rae. AFI ranked this No. 86. 

FAME

And now we begin the Irene Cara portion of the list. She was golden in the 80s with “Fame,” a film in which she also starred in. And that year might have been one of the strongest group of songs, which included the Willie Nelson classic “On The Road Again,” from “Honeysuckle Rose” and Dolly Parton’s hit “9 to 5) from the film of the same name. AFI ranked this song No. 51.

FLASHDANCE … WHAT A FEELING


Three years later, Irene Cara did it again with the theme from “Flashdance,” as “What a Feeling,” became another classic. And this time, Cara had to beat out Barbra Streisand, who had two songs from “Yentl.” AFI ranked this song No. 55.

UP WHERE WE BELONG


One of the great duets of all time that matched Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes, the song from “An Officer and a Gentleman,” was an instant classic. It took home the 1982 Oscar, beating out “Eye of the Tiger” from “Rocky III” and “It Might Be You,” from “Tootsie.” AFI ranked it No. 75.

MOON RIVER

Andy Williams is famous for singing this song, but it’s Audrey Hepburn’s performance in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” that won it the Oscar in 1961. AFI ranks it No. 4.

THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT

Fred Astaire is one of the most influential dancers in the history of cinema, which sometimes overshadows his accomplishments as a singer. Although he claims he’s not a great singer, many of Astaire’s songs are stables in the Great American Songbook, including “The Way You Look Tonight” from the 1936 film “Swing Time.” Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Michael Buble have since covered the song. AFI ranked this No. 43.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Streets of Philadelphia (Philadelphia), Let It Go (Frozen), Thanks for the Memories (The Big Broadcast of 1938), Mona Lisa (Captain Carey, U.S.A.), Last Dance (Thank God It’s Friday), Let The River Run (Working Girl), When You Wish Upon A Star (Pinocchio), White Christmas (Holiday Inn).

The Rebirth of Ginn & Topics

I haven’t written on here for a while, but life changes and so will Ginn and Topics.

Before, this blog was to continue my writing. I was a sports writer since I graduated college, and I had covered tennis and boxing in my last newspaper job. This was a way to keep up.

It was also a way to indulge in another passion, music. I had gone to a lot of concerts and had a lot of photos to share as well.

I’m still going to do that.

But I’ve started to do marketing and content creation. So this will also be a space where I will show some of my videos and talk about the clients I work with.

The last project I worked on was the Palm Springs Health Run and Fitness Expo. I was brought on to help with social media and create video content. Above, you’ll see the wrap up video. Below is the first promotional video to launch our campaign.

The race featured a 10K and 5K runs, a 5K walk that was part of the United Way program, and a 1K fun run for kids. If you want to learn more about it for next year, go to http://www.palmspringshealthrun.com

The promoter of the event is Jeff Hocker of Hocker Productions. He told me the numbers were up around 30 percent or so. I’d also encourage you to listen to Jeff’s radio show on http://www.ihubradio.com/ every Sunday from noon to 2 p.m. It’s a health and wellness show, so you’ll get a lot of great information.

The promotional video to launch our campaign

Indio’s Ruben Rodriguez wins debut, Javier Padilla fights to a draw at Carson

 

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Ruben Rodriguez’s fight against Roland Padilla on Aug. 26 at the Stubhub Center in Carson, Calif. Photos: Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

 

By Leighton Ginn

Indio fighters had a mixed night at the Stub Hub Center on Saturday night as Ruben Rodriguez won his professional debut by second round knock out in a super lightweight bout.

“I’m glad that I had my debut win be a knockout. Considering that I was really nervous, I’m satisfied with my performance,” Rodriguez said of his victory over Roland Padilla (0-3) from Los Angeles. “I got to start my professional career on a Miguel Cotto undercard, and that is really crazy to me, and is a great way for me make my way up in boxing.”

Rodriguez was the first of a 10-fight card that was headlined by Cotto’s fight against Tokyo’s Yoshihiro Kamegai.

 

PadillaArias_Hoganphotos

Javier Padilla’s right against Ricardo Arias on Aug. 26 at the Stubhub Center in Carson, Calif. Photos: Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

 

Fellow Indio boxer Javier Padilla fought to a draw against Mexico City’s Ricardo Arias in a four-round super bantamweight fight.

Despite the minor setback, Padilla remained positive.

“I’m not very happy with the way the judges scored the fight, but I know that this is a learning experience,” Padilla said. “I should have used my reach a lot more, however, I just like to fight from the inside. He was tough, and kept smothering my punches. I’m ready to get back into the ring.”

 

— Quotes provided by Jenna Dresner of Mercury. Photos by Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

 

 

How Tom Brady’s Facebook post is spreading awareness for Krissy Kobata, who needs a bone marrow to live

UPDATE: Chloe Bennet of  “Agents of SHIELD” had also jumped on board by Tweeting out the original post and some useful information. Bennet Tweeted out the post about an hour after Brady’s post.

Chloe Bennett on Team Krissy

 

On Tuesday morning, the original post reached over 1 million people.

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By Leighton Ginn
Krissy Kobata is a Los Angeles woman in need of a bone marrow to save her life, but the search for a match is complicated by her mixed-race heritage.
But awareness for Kobata’s search got a huge boost from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
The Asian American Sports Journalist page posted about Kobata’s search. Kobata is a friend of agent Don Yee, who has donated money for a scholarship to the group’s Sports Task Force, which is part of the Asian American Journalist Association.
Soon after the AAJA convention in Philadelphia last month, Yee requested from the group of sports journalist to see if they could spread the word.
Sean Jensen, a former NFL writer and author of the Middle School Rules series of books, posted on the group’s Facebook page with a link to a story he wrote at http://sportstaskforce.com/japanese-american-krissy-kobata-desperately-needs-bone-marrow-donor/
Jensen also purchased a boost. As the main administrator of the page, I shared the post in several Asian-American pages.
Awareness was a key because it’s difficult to find bone marrow matches for Asians, and the fact that Kobata is half Japanese and half Caucasian.
As of early Monday morning, the post reached 51,805 people, with people sharing comments on how get tested through Be The Match’s website https://bethematch.org/.

I had shared this news with Ohm Youngmisuk, an ESPN.com NBA writer and frequent guest on “The Jump” and “SportsNation” about the post.
He shared the news with Yee.
Yee is a sports agent and his top client is Brady.
By 1 p.m.  Monday, Brady’s official Facebook page had shared the post. About 10 hours later, the post had gone from 51,805 to 832,437.

There’s been 4.6K likes or reactions, and 160 comments in 10 hours on Brady’s page.

To learn more about Krissy and her fight, you can go to her page at http://www.teamkrissy.com/

Random advice for Coachella 2017

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By Leighton Ginn

Twice last year, just waiting in line to get into Coachella, I saw two girls passing out. Going in. During the day.

Now that’s a bummer way to start your Coachella. So here’s a few advice for Coachella from one long-time attendee.

Stay hydrated

This is a desert. And while the punch line is, “It’s a dry heat,” it can sneak up on people. Case in point, the girls who passed out waiting to get in. Drink a lot of water, Gatorade, coconut water, whatever. Chug a lot before you get in.

Beer does not count. If you want to drink, I’d advise doing it later in the day.

Wear lots of sunblock

I think this goes without saying, but the sun really does burn out here.

Late night food options

If you aren’t camping, and you’re starving after the headliners, this valley doesn’t have a lot of late night options. But there are two areas that have places to go and eat.

On the corner of Simon and Highway 111, you’ll find an In N Out, which last year was open until 3 a.m., giving you plenty of time to get there, even with the nightmare of trying to get out of the parking lots.

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I haven’t gone there lately, but the 5 Guys Burgers on Washington and Highway 111 was open late too during one Coachella.

If you go further up on Washington, past the I-10 bridge, hit a right on Varner. Between the Arco and Chevron gas stations, there’s a Castaneda Mexican Food restaurant that has a great variety of Mexican foods. A lot of my friends love the carne asada fries.

20170407_144113

Also on Washington, on the corner of Country Club, there’s a Subway that’s open 24 hours. You won’t exactly be able to see it off the street.

Back on Varner, next to Castaneda’s, there’s also a Winchell’s to satisfy your sweet tooth.

20170407_144148

And around the valley, you’ll find your typical fast food places.

Bring a bandana

Coachella gets dusty. I mean really dusty. And the valley can get really windy, so if you have allergies, this can be a nightmare.

Even if you don’t have allergies, the dust can really be a pain. And it gets worst if you’re Weekend 2. So remember to bring a bandana to cover your face.

Bring your own TP

Ladies, the porta-potty’s are a nightmare. Now, Coachella has added an actual bathroom facility between the food area and the tents. But those get really crowded. And let’s just say sometimes resources can run out in inopportune times. Better safe than sorry.

And I know people want to eat healthy, but easy on the fiber, especially on Sunday. Those porta-potty’s get bad. Save the fiber for after Coachella.

From losing in first round of qualifying a year ago, Elena Vesnina wins first BNP Paribas Open singles title

3-19-17 Vesnina 2

 

A year ago at the BNP Paribas Open, Elena Vesnina lost in the first round of qualifying to wildcard Julia Boserup in straight sets.

This year, Vesnina defeated five seeded players, including three players who won a combined 11 Grand Slam singles titles.

One of those players was two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova as Vesnina rallied for a 6-7, 7-5, 6-4 victory Sunday in the finals of the BNP Paribas Open.

“Tennis is awesome, I can say,” Vesnina said. “I think that my example is the good kind of self-belief, good kind of vibe for all players. All other girls on the tour who think, ‘Oh, my God, this is the end of the world, end of my career,’ I lost first round of quallies, what can be worse than that?

“I think nobody could pick me at the beginning of the tournament that I could win this title. Me, also. I couldn’t pick myself.”

Vesnina was speaking with the BNP Paribas Open championship trophy during her press conference when she had a Oscars moment.  The men’s final between Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka was coming to an end and officials had to interrupt the press conference to take the trophy away.

Because it’s the only trophy, and they needed for the awards ceremony, it had to by whisked away.

But things got off to a bad start as she dropped the first set. Set point was determined on a net cord.

“It was such a heartbreaking moment for me,” Vesnina said. “I was, like, ‘Oh, my God, I was fighting so much. We played set for more than an hour, This is how it’s gonna end?'”

Kuznetsova capitalized on the momentum shift as Vesnina struggled with unforced errors. By the fifth game, Kuznetsova had a 4-1 lead and appeared headed to her first BNP Paribas Open title after two previous runner-up appearances.

“I just thought that I had to stop doing so many mistakes,” Vesnina said. “I have to stay a bit longer on the center cour. I was not thinking that I will win this match in that moment, to be honest. I was just thinking that I want to stay longer. I just want to fight. I don’t want to give it back so easy.”

After losing at the BNP Paribas Open, Vesnina began to turn things around in Miami, as she went through qualifying and reached the third round, beating Venus Williams along the way.

Vesnina built up enough momentum, and at the All England Club, she reached the semifinals of Wimbledon.

At this year’s tournament, Vesnina had several tough matches, including Shelby Rogers in the second round. Vesnina was winless against Rogers in two meetings.

“I think the turnaround of my tournament was when I beat Shelby Rogers,” Vesnina said.

The wins would only get bigger. Vesnina would Timea Babos in the third round, and then stun Angelique Kerber, who will be the No. 1-ranked player in the world on Monday. She followed that up by beating Venus Williams in the quarterfinals.

Prior to Sunday, Vesnina had a different kind of success at Indian Wells as she was a five-time doubles finalist, winning the title in 2008, ’11 and ’13.

But Sunday’s win was special in its own right.

“This means a lot. This is the biggest title for me in singles. Biggest title and the biggest final I ever played,” Vesnina said. “It’s going to take the big part in my heart.”

 

Jack Sock continues his good vibes at BNP Paribas Open, this time in singles

3-17-17 Jack Sock

By Leighton Ginn

INDIAN WELLS — With a kick serve that stayed out of Kei Nishikori’s sweet zone, Jack Sock advanced to his first ATP 1000 semifinal with his 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 victory Friday at the BNP Paribas Open.

“Kick serve especially on these courts is deadly for me,” Sock said. “So that was a big part of the game plan for me today going in. If Kei is hitting the ball in the strike zone, he is going to beat pretty much anyone in the world and can on any given day.

“For me, it was all about trying to get him out of that slot and let him not be taking balls at his hip and waist and dictating play. So the kick serve for me today was crucial, first and second serve, and that’s what I used it a lot.”

The Sock-Nishikori match started at 2 p.m., the hottest part of the day, and Sock said the conditions played into his strategy, based on what he saw from fellow American John Isner.

“I think every player knows, everyone that watches knows the day and night difference and how lively the ball is, how much it gets up on these courts,” Sock said. “There’s a tremendous difference. I saw when John was playing the other night, from day to night for him is an eight-inch difference on his serve.”

Sock will face four-time BNP Paribas Open champion Roger Federer in Saturday’s second semifinal. It is Sock’s best showing in singles, but he’s also had success in doubles at Indian Wells, having reached the finals the past two years.

He won the doubles title in 2015 with Vasek Pospisil. The duo combined to win the Wimbledon title as well.

Also in 2015, Sock reached the fourth round of singles at the BNP Paribas Open before getting knocked out by Federer in straight sets. In his previous three Indian Wells performances, Sock never won a singles match at the BNP Paribas Open.

But it was more than just the results that made 2015 a turning point for Sock.

Prior to Indian Wells, he had pelvic surgery that knocked him out of the start of the 2015 season, which turned out to be a blessing.

His brother Eric suffered pneumonia and Lemierre’s syndrome a bacterial infection in the throat. With complications, Eric had to move to ICU and was on a ventilator. He nearly died.

Eric survived, and Sock dedicated that 2015 run to him.

It also changed Sock in significant ways.

“There were definitely a lot of things going on outside of tennis,” Sock said. “I think it helped me grow outside of tennis, outside of the tennis court, which has helped me in these past few years.

“I think that’s why my results have trended in the right direction. I have realized, yeah, I love tennis, it’s my career, you know, it’s my job, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. But since his illness and everything, it’s kind of helped me take a step back and realize life is bigger than tennis, for sure. I think it’s helped me enjoy every moment out there, as well. It’s helped me relax on court a little bit.”

Venus Williams couldn’t turn it around, falls to Elena Vesnina in quarterfinals

3-16-17 Vesnina

By Leighton Ginn

Elena Vesnina has been following Venus Williams closely, so she knew there could be trouble in that third set of the BNP Paribas Open quarterfinal on Thursday, based on history.

“I saw previous matches that she was down with match point with a set point, and I was like, ‘Uh-Oh, it’s coming back again. I’m going to be another victim of Venus,'” Vesnina said laughing. “I don’t want. I want to win this. I want this match.”

Vesnina was able to hold off Williams, despite down love-40 on her serve in the final game, holding on for a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory to advance to the semifinals. She will face Kristina Mladenovic, the lowest seed in the semifinals. No. 3 Karolina Pliskova will face No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the other semifinal.

In her post-match press conference, Williams alluded to having an injury issue that had slowed her up.

“I would just like to be healthy just like the next human being,” Williams said. “You beat your body up in sport, and I want to play these big events. I don’t want to be at home watching. It’s frustrating either way, not to be 100 percent or to watch at home. Which one do you choose?

“I chose to be here. That was my choice. I gave it my best today, and I’m looking forward to playing her again, hopefully healthy and 100 percent, and will have an opportunity to really show what I can do in these kind of matches.”

Vesnina noticed that Williams didn’t seem like herself early in the match.

“In the first set, it was a little bit unexpected,” Vesnina said. “When I was up 3-Love in the first set, she was missing some easy shots. She looked tired and slow on the court. Then, all of a sudden, she started moving around, hitting great shots, winners from all over the place.”

In Friday’s semifinal, Vesnina knows she’s got a tough match against one of the hottest players on tour. And after her quarterfinal win, Vesnina had a doubles match to play.

“It’s going to be difficult match, but on the other hand, it’s very exciting to play the semifinal match here in Indian Wells,” Vesnina said.

 

 

 

 

Kristina Mladenovic defies past to reach BNP Paribas Open semifinals

3-16-17 Mladenovic

By Leighton Ginn

Judging my her previous four appearance at the BNP Paribas Open, it would be a stretch to predict that Kristina Mladenovic would make a deep run at Indian Wells.

And on Thursday, it seemed unlikely that she would get past Carolina Wozniacki, a former champion and No. 1 player that she had never beaten in three previous meetings.

But this isn’t just any tournament for Mladenovic.

She beat Wozniacki, the 2011 BNP Paribas Open champion,  3-6, 7-6, 6-2 to reach her first semifinal. Earlier in the tournament, she beat No. 4 Simona Halep, the 2015 BNP Paribas Open champion.

Coming into the tournament, Mladenovic had won a title in Russia and reached the finals in Acapulco right before coming out to Indian Wells.

“It feels great, obviously. It’s a lot of matches and it’s like the longest kind of string of winning matches I had so far in my career, and it feels great,” Mladenovic said. “Every day I go out there on the court, in the gym practicing, it’s for moment like that. So I’m not getting too excited. I’m just super satisfied that I am on that kind of stages right now and trying to use my chances.

” Yeah, I’m enjoying my time on the court, and very happy.”

Mladenovic will face Elena Vesnina, who beat Venus Williams 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 on Thursday.

Until the first set Thursday, Mladenovic hadn’t lost a set in the tournament. With the victory, Mladenovic will crack the top 20 for the first time in her career.

To get to the semifinal, Mladenovic took a big gamble in the second-set tiebreaker by coming in to serve-and-volley.

“Because every time I would serve good on the backhand, she would go very deep and return well,” Mladenovic said. “I was, like, ‘Okay, let’s just be creative here.’ And it paid off, and it gave me a chance to fight in the third set. I think the third set was the best game of today for me.”