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You've Got My Vote<br />Every year, the WTA gives an award to a Doubles Team of the Year.

Once upon a time, that award was reasonable. How could you not recognize Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, or Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva, as a team?

But in recent years, that's made rather less sense. Teams don't last, and players don't always play with their partners. Doubles specialists such as Nicole Arendt or Caroline Vis, who don't play singles any more, might play doubles with close to a dozen partners in a year. We're not sure about the record for this year, but Liezel Horn Huber has played with ten different women so far. Helena Sukova, in 1993, won titles with six different partners, and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario matched the feat the next year.

With so many promiscuous players out there, it hardly makes much sense to give an award to the Doubles Team of the Year. What we're seeing is doubles players of the year.

The most extreme case was perhaps 1998. Martina Hingis and Jana Novotna won the Doubles Team award, and it might seem they deserved it since they won three Slams and five titles together. But that's until you realize that Hingis won the Grand Slam that year (becoming the only player in the Open Era to win the Grand Slam with two different partners), and picked up nine titles with four partners, one of whom didn't even have a doubles ranking when they started together.

In 1999, Hingis won the team award again, with Anna Kournikova; the two won the Australian Open, the Chase Championships, and three other titles, losing only one match (the Roland Garros final) in the whole year. But Hingis was still the top player; she also played part of the year with Novotna, and they too lost only one match, and it a final.

2000 was the strangest case of all; the Doubles Team award went to the Williams Sisters, even though they played only two WTA tournaments, won only one (the Olympics are not a WTA event), and ended the year without doubles rankings. The top team of the year was unquestionably Julie Halard-Decugis and Ai Sugiyama, who won six titles together, including the U. S. Open, and reached the final at Wimbledon. But the doubles player of the year was still Hingis, who won Roland Garros and another title with Pierce, the Chase Championships and three other titles with Kournikova, and the Canadian Open with Tauziat. But she couldn't get an award because she didn't play regularly with any particular partner. She didn't know, until the day before the Chase Championships started, if she would even qualify!

Hingis's streak definitively ended this year. On a per-tournament basis, her results were still perhaps the best on the Tour (one title and one final with Kournikova; a U. S. Open quarterfinal with Capriati, probably the worst doubles player in the singles Top Twenty; and wins over Williams/Williams, Davenport/Morariu, and Raymond/Stubbs with Monica Seles, who also isn't a doubles player). But six tournaments (only four of which she completed) with three partners do not a top doubles player make. Which leads us to...

This year's Doubles Team of the Year, Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs. So far this year, they've won six titles together, including both Wimbledon and the U. S. Open, in thirteen tries. Their record this year is 44-7, and would doubtless be higher but for the freak draw that saw them face (and lose to) Hingis and Seles in the first round of the Australian Open (even before that match, Stubbs said that something needed to be done to get Hingis seeded, which obviously is true; in doubles, Hingis approaches the status of Martina Navratilova or John McEnroe: Hingis and anyone is the best doubles team in the world.)

If we had a doubles player of the year award, as we should have over the past few years, it would go to Raymond, who has been posting good results with Lindsay Davenport also. But Raymond and Stubbs is a team clearly greater than the sum of its parts. For the first time in years, the (presumed) doubles team of the year is an actual team.

(source: bob larson newsletter)

Comments? Reactions? Should the Spice Girls win it despite Hingis' injury or should the Sisters get the honor? Or another team?<br />TC
 

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The Williams x2 and "Spice Girls" are a better team than Stubbs/Raymond, but Stubbs/Raymond should win it purely because they played a lot more. As for best on tournement basis, Martina and Anna had good results, Anna won a title with Hinigs and Schetts, made finals with Martina and Iroda, and made QF of Aussie with Babsi losing to Williams x2.
 

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Paola Suarez and Virginia Ruano Pascual <img src="graemlins/hearts.gif" border="0" alt="[Hearts]" />
 

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You know, this really bugs me, cause last year Julie&Ai were robbed of that recognition... I really hope it won't happen again this year.
 

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I agree TC with what you said about the doubles team of the year in 2000

But Julie was in my opinion the double player of they year as well...

She won 10 doubles titles, comfortably more than any other player, with four different partners (Ai, Kournikova, Morariu and Testud)
 
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stubbs and raymond deserve the recognition i think. very solid, and just not appreciated....poor girls....
 

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Lisa and Rennae won two SLAMS this year! NO ONE else approaches their record in 2001. If Martina Hingis had played doubles all year, she MIGHT have been considered the Doubles Player of the Year, but she did not, she won no Slams, and Lisa is certainly the Doubles PLayer of the Year, at long last.

Ai and Julie really did get ripped off last year. But I think these awards are chosen by the press, so the bigger names win out, best record or not. It's more like a Popularity Contest than a real achievement award, unfortunately.
 
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