John Chidley A blog about reading, writing, pop culture and sports.


More Milos!

Tennis has such a short off-season that I got to interview Canadian tennis phenom Milos Raonic again, less than two months after he was name the ATP Tour’s 2011 Newcomer of the Year.

We spoke during a conference call on Tuesday to discuss his championship at the Chennai Open and how he was preparing for the Australian Open, which begins this weekend.

Raonic was a good interview, as usual, fielding questions for about 20 minutes from me, the QMI Agency, the Globe and Mail, TVA, RDS and Tennis Quebec. (Yes, three Quebecois outlets… tennis is bigger in La Belle Provence).

Here’s my lede and a link to the article itself:


Canadian Milos Raonic is leaving nothing to chance at Australian Open

Canadian Milos Raonic has everything ready for the Australian Open.

The No. 23 seed at the first Grand Slam event of the tennis season has worked out all the details, from his training regime right down to where he's going to eat dinner.

Anything to replicate and surpass his success at last year's Aussie Open, when the Thornhill, Ont., native made it to the fourth round.

"I'm not really getting ahead of myself," Raonic said. "I know the things I need to do and I know that I'm just going to keep getting better and better with more matches, so I'm really just going after it as if it's sort of my first time here.

"Obviously, it's fun to play here and I have really good memories and I even have superstitions because of how I did last year." (Read the rest here


A rare double billing on bylines

There are days on the People’s Wire – that’s The Canadian Press to you – that are really quiet, where we focus on Canadianizing stories from the Associated Press and crafting small, quick stories of our own.

But then there are days like yesterday when we live on the phone, recording conference calls, working from news releases and hunting down stories.

Over the weekend Milos Raonic was named the ATP Tour’s Newcomer of the Year. I put together a story on it and contacted Tennis Canada to ask if they’d have any media availability with the Thornhill, Ont., native.

Raonic wasn’t immediately available, but the PR person assured me he’d have a conference call on yesterday.

Sure enough, when I came in to work my boss Neil Davidson had printed off Tennis Canada’s notice about Raonic’s availability. I hopped on the call, rolling tape for radio stations on our broadcast wire and to refer to for colour on this story.

It took a few drafts, but we got the Raonic story to a good place and it started spreading across the Internet.

It was soon overshadowed though. The American League’s Most Valuable Player was named yesterday afternoon, with starting pitcher Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers – already the AL’s Cy Young winner for the season – getting the nod from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Verlander beat out Boston Red Sox fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and Toronto Blue Jays right-fielder Jose Bautista.

Oddly, Bautista decided to hold a news conference from his home in the Dominican Republic.

It was a strange move because, usually, pro athletes quietly nod and say “so-and-so had a great season” when they miss out on major awards. They may be pissed, but they hide that disappointment from the media for fear of looking like a sore loser.

Not Bautista, however.

He angrily made a case for why he or Ellsbury should’ve won the MVP award instead of Verlander. Bautista’s two major points were that Verlander didn’t play every day – an implicit qualification for the award – and that he was passed over for the honour because he played for the Blue Jays, a team far out of playoff contention in the fall.

Again, I had to write a full-length feature story (almost 800 words exactly) in just over an hour’s time.

Cranking out two features in a day would be stressful at the best of times, but I was also writing regular broadcast sports bulletins and doing other stories as well. It was a hectic day on the desk.

Naturally, an all-star player like Bautista complaining about an MVP snub made big waves, with several outlets putting the story online. Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan even cited the story in one of his stories.

This morning, on a hunch, I bought the print edition of the Globe and Mail, assuming that my Bautista story would make the Toronto edition.

It didn’t – but my Raonic piece did. Here's a photo of the only story that has ever made it onto my fridge door at home.