Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Another Cup? The Swiss Miss has pre-announced a 2006 comeback.
Women's tennis has yet another comeback tale after the announcement by Martina Hingis that she plans to return to the tour next year.

She was only 22 when foot injuries and slumping results caused her to retire early in 2003. It was a surprising, depressing end to a career that peaked very early, with Hingis becoming both the youngest No. 1 player in history and winning all five of her Grand Slam singles titles before her 19th birthday.

Now, at age 25, the Swiss woman has decided that she is fit and well-adjusted enough to plunge back into the brightly lit fishbowl of the women's circuit and try to swim with the generally younger, generally more powerful set.

If she can play, it will be a great comeback to see. This is the young lady, after all, who could beat Venus when even Serena couldn't beat Venus. And she gave up 7 inches and 40 pounds to the elder Williams. She was on a grand slam pace to be one of the truly elite, with 5 singles slam titles by the age of 19 and 8 doubles slam titles (including a grand slam in 1998) by the age of 22. In other words, there's no disputing the talent.

That said, it is likely that playing often against the hard-hitting big girls kept her injuries from healing completely. (It's also pretty clear that it took a psychological toll.) Now she's 25, an age at which a tennis player generally begins to ponder life off the court. Granted, J-Cap managed a brief comeback, winning two slams at 29 and the Aussie at 30. Of course, by the time she came back, she appeared to have been living in the weight room for a few years and was prepared to spar with the big girls.

In the end, I just don't see much here. The smaller ladies can play with the bigger, as Hingis did before and a younger, healthier Henin did for a while. But they're well advised to do it when they're young and still healing well. I wish Martina luck, but I'm betting her return will be brief.

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