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Yahoo Sports AM: The dying art of the one-handed backhand

February 20th, 2024

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🚨 Headlines

🏀 Geno passes Coach K: UConn women’s head coach Geno Auriemma won his 1,203rd career game on Monday, passing Mike Krzyzewski for second-most in D-I history. Only Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer has more (1,209 and counting).

⛳️ Hideki steals the show: Hideki Matsuyama shot a nine-under 62 on Sunday to rally from a six-shot deficit and win the Genesis Invitational. It’s his ninth PGA Tour victory, making him the winningest Asian player in tour history. Weekend recap from Yahoo Sports’ Jay Busbee.

🏀 Nets fire Vaughn: The Nets fired head coach Jacque Vaughn on Monday, less than a year after giving him a multi-year extension. Assistant Kevin Ollie will take over as interim head coach.

⚾️ Nats off the market: The Nationals are no longer for sale, according to principal owner Mark Lerner, whose family has owned the team since 2006 and began exploring a sale in 2022.

🏒 Wild win a wild one: The Wild beat the Canucks, 10-7, on Monday — just the tenth 10-7 game in NHL history. Three different players had hat tricks, which has only happened four other times.

👏 Jersey retirements: Baylor retired Brittney Griner’s No. 42 jersey, and the Penguins retired Jaromir Jagr’s No. 68 jersey in emotional ceremonies on Sunday.

🏀 43 straight: South Carolina women’s hoops won its 43rd straight SEC regular-season game on Sunday, breaking the record set by Tennessee in the 1990s.

⚾️ That’s gonna leave a mark: Sacramento State’s Matt Masciangelo made nine trips to the plate over the weekend. He was hit by a pitch eight times.

🎾 A dying art: The one-handed backhand

(Julian Finney/Getty Images)

(Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Here are the top 10 players in this week’s ATP rankings:

  1. Novak Djokovic

  2. Carlos Alcaraz

  3. Jannik Sinner

  4. Daniil Medvedev

  5. Andrey Rublev

  6. Alexander Zverev

  7. Holger Rune

  8. Hubert Hurkacz

  9. Alex de Minaur

  10. Taylor Fritz

Why am I sharing this? Because it’s the first time in ATP rankings history (since 1973) that the top 10 is made up entirely of players who use two-handed backhands.

A brief history: The one-handed backhand is “the shot that made Roger Federer famous, the signature stroke of Rod Laver, a favorite of John McEnroe, Pete Sampras and Martina Navratilova,” writes NYT’s Matthew Futterman.

  • From 1970-90, single-handers won more than 60% of Grand Slams. In the early 2000s, they made up roughly half the men’s top 100.

  • But over the last 10-15 years, the “stroke of champions” has started to disappear from the game and is rarely taught at the youth level.

Where it stands: There are just 11 one-handers in the current ATP Top 100, with No. 11 Stefanos Tsitsipas the best of the bunch. On the women’s side, the top-ranked one-hander is No. 54 Tatjana Maria.

What changed? Speed and power. In today’s game, balls are being hit so hard, and with so much topspin, that the more stable and compact two-handed backhand is all but required.

  • Even Navratilova encourages young players to keep both hands on their racket nowadays, aside from the occasional one-handed slice and volley.

  • “It’s almost impossible to make it with a one-handed backhand now,” USTA player development coach David Nankin told NYT.

The last of a dying breed: Some believe the one-hander will make a resurgence. Until then, Tsitsipas and a handful of others — including major winners Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem — will continue carrying the torch, which gets dimmer by the hour.

🏈 College football’s great divide

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The widening gap in college football, combined with new NIL and transfer rules, has left some Group of Five schools feeling like a farm system for the big leagues.

From Yahoo Sports’ Ross Dellenger:

Already historically disadvantaged from brand and budget perspectives, programs in the Group of Five are now struggling to compete with their bigger brothers in compensating players.

Power Five programs, equipped with on average five times more NIL cash, are outbidding Group of Five schools to take their best players, pillaging rosters of returning all-conference athletes and transforming FBS football’s lower subdivision into a veritable minor league.

“We are a farm system,” said Liberty coach Jamey Chadwell. “No matter who you are, you are going to have to try hard to hold on to your top players. That gets taxing. We are taking the approach that if a freshman plays and he does well, we are only going to have him for one more year.”

“Anybody who is 6-foot-5 is gone, even if it’s to join [Power Five] scout teams. If you’re a 6-foot-1 corner, you’re gone. You lose your best players,” said Terry Bowden, a longtime college coach who spent the last three seasons at Louisiana-Monroe.

Read the full story.

📆 The future of Presidents’ Day Weekend

The Presidents Race at Nationals Park in 2018. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)The Presidents Race at Nationals Park in 2018. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

The Presidents Race at Nationals Park in 2018. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Millions of Americans were off from work (or home from school) on Monday for Presidents’ Day. Three years from now, they’ll be even more thankful for the opportunity to sleep in.

Get excited: In 2027, the Super Bowl will be on Valentine’s Day (February 14) and Presidents’ Day will be the next day (February 15), a dream come true for many.

  • Since adding a 17th game in 2021, the Super Bowl has been played on the second Sunday in February, and Presidents’ Day is always the third Monday in February.

  • In 2027, those two days just happen to be back-to-back (with the added bonus of Super Bowl Sunday being Valentine’s Day, which should be interesting!).

Could this become a permanent marriage? The 2027 Super Bowl falls on Presidents’ Day Weekend only by chance, but it could ultimately become its permanent home if the NFL adds an 18th regular-season game.

🏁 Byron wins rain-delayed Daytona 500

(Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)(Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

(Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

William Byron won Monday’s rain-delayed* Daytona 500 in thrilling but ultimately anticlimactic fashion, completing his final lap under caution after a 22-car wreck knocked out most of the field, Jeff writes.

  • Byron’s timing was just right, beginning his final lap moments before the caution car came out, which allowed him to cruise to victory without the need for a restart.

  • Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman finished second, and Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing came in third.

Meet the champ: The 26-year-old Byron had a breakout season last year, leading NASCAR with six wins and finishing third in the playoffs. But his real start came as a kid, when he excelled at a different kind of competition: iRacing.

  • Byron racked up more than 100 wins in the online simulator before beginning his real-life racing career at age 15.

  • “I’m always the computer kid that everyone looks at, which I embrace,” he told Fox Sports last fall. Now he’s a Daytona 500 champion, too.

*A rare delay: After the first 53 Daytona 500s ran as scheduled, three of the last 13 have been postponed by weather (2012, 2020, 2024).

🌎 The world in photos

(Al Bello/Getty Images)(Al Bello/Getty Images)

(Al Bello/Getty Images)

East Rutherford, N.J. — 150,018 fans descended on MetLife Stadium this weekend for the NHL Stadium Series, the league’s 40th and 41st outdoor games. The Devils beat the Flyers, 6-3, on Saturday, and the Rangers beat the Islanders, 6-5 (OT), on Sunday.

(Sam Wasson/Getty Images)(Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

(Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

Albuquerque, New Mexico — Noah Lyles beat world record holder Christian Coleman by 0.01 seconds on Saturday to win the Men’s 60m Dash Final at the USATF Indoor Championships.

(Francois Nel/Getty Images)(Francois Nel/Getty Images)

(Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Dubai, U.A.E. — The 2024 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup is officially underway. Teams of five play three 12-minute periods with unlimited subs.

(Victor Carretero/Real Madrid via Getty Images)(Victor Carretero/Real Madrid via Getty Images)

(Victor Carretero/Real Madrid via Getty Images)

Málaga, Spain — Real Madrid beat Barcelona, 96-85, on Sunday to win the Copa Del Rey de Baloncesto (Basketball King’s Cup). By the way, did anyone else know former No. 2 draft pick Jabari Parker plays for Barcelona now? Had no idea until now.

📆 Feb. 20, 1998: Lipinski makes history

(Simon Bruty/Anychance/Getty Images)(Simon Bruty/Anychance/Getty Images)

(Simon Bruty/Anychance/Getty Images)

26 years ago today, Tara Lipinski won figure skating gold at the Nagano Olympics at just 15 years, 255 days old, breaking a 70-year-old record to become the youngest individual winner of any event in Winter Olympics history, Jeff writes.

One-two punch: Lipinski’s victory came over fellow American Michelle Kwan, making them the first skaters from the same country to finish 1-2 at the Olympics since 1956.

More on this day:

  • 🏀 2011: Kobe Bryant won his record-tying fourth All-Star Game MVP*, scoring 37 points at his home arena (Staples Center) in the West’s 148-143 win. Three weeks after his death in 2020, the award was renamed after him.

  • 🏁 2011: Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 in his second-ever start and just a day after his 20th birthday, becoming the youngest winner in the race’s history.

*Most ASG MVPs: Bryant (4), Bob Pettit (4), Michael Jordan (3), LeBron James (3), Oscar Robertson (3), Shaquille O’Neal (3).

📺 Watchlist: USWNT is back in action

Emily Sonnett (R), Rose Lavelle and USWNT teammates train ahead of the Gold Cup. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)Emily Sonnett (R), Rose Lavelle and USWNT teammates train ahead of the Gold Cup. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

Emily Sonnett (R), Rose Lavelle and USWNT teammates train ahead of the Gold Cup. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

The inaugural CONCACAF W Gold Cup kicks off tonight, with the USWNT facing the Dominican Republic in Carson, California, (10:15pm ET, Paramount+) in the team’s first match of the year, Jeff writes.

The field: USA, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Argentina (Group A); Brazil, Panama, Colombia, Puerto Rico (Group B); Canada, Costa Rica, Paraguay, El Salvador (Group C).

More to watch:

  • ⚽️ Champions League: Inter Milan vs. Atlético Madrid (3pm, CBS); PSV Eindhoven vs. Dortmund (3pm, Paramount+) … Round of 16, first leg.

  • 🏀 NCAAM: No. 1 UConn* at No. 15 Creighton (8:30pm, FS1); No. 11 Baylor at No. 25 BYU (9pm, ESPN); San Francisco at No. 18 Saint Mary’s (11pm, ESPN2)

  • 🏒 NHL: Stars at Rangers (7pm, ESPN+); Canucks at Avalanche (9pm, ESPN+)Four of the six best teams in the league.

  • ⚽️ Premier League: Man City vs. Brentford (2:30pm, USA)

*The Huskies are rolling: UConn (24-2) has won a record-tying 14 straight Big East games and just became the first unanimous No. 1 team in the AP poll this season.

🏀 NBA trivia

(Stacy Revere/Getty Images)(Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

(Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Mac McClung won his second straight Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday, becoming the fifth back-to-back champion in history.

  • Question: How many of the other four can you name?

  • Hint: 1987-88, 2002-03, 2009-10, 2015-16.

Answer at the bottom.

🍿 Baker’s Dozen: Top 13 plays of the weekend

(Yahoo Sports)(Yahoo Sports)

(Yahoo Sports)

  1. ⚽️ Phenomenal goal

  2. 🏒 Filthy finish

  3. ⚽️ Sensational strike

  4. 🏀 Insane ending

  5. 🏀 Utah buzzer-beater!

  6. ⚾️ Arkansas robbery

  7. ⛳️ Zalatoris ace

  8. ⚽️ What a catch

  9. 🏒 Swayman save

  10. 🏀 Utah buzzer-beater!

  11. 🔟 Perfect 10

  12. 🏀 Alley-OOP

  13. 🏀 Trae gets tricky

Watch all 13.

Trivia answer: Michael Jordan (1987-88), Jason Richardson (2002-03), Nate Robinson (2009-10), Zach LaVine (2015-16)

We hope you enjoyed this edition of Yahoo Sports AM, our daily newsletter that keeps you up to date on all things sports. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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