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LaRosa's Sweet Spot: Dec 16 , 2009

12/16/2009 12:00:00 AM

LaRosa's Sweet Spot Main Page

Dec 16, 2009

The agony of trying to find the perfect gift - and to find it in the next week! It's enough to make anyone strap on an adult diaper and hide in the basement till 2010. Well fear not friends, I've done the hard work for you, by throwing together…er…carefully selecting a list of the finest gift ideas for your favorite players, yourself (hello, you know you want this shiz) or even your favorite tennis writer. Who, hello, wants this shiz.

So much so that I'm going to scream it at you.

James: high art, or just high?

ART! Want to class up the joint but you just can't find that piece from Z Gallerie that speaks to your soul? Head on over to visualhangups.com, a company started by a tennis photog and a graphic designer who knew there were enough freaks like us out there who would flip to have a giant Caroline Wozniacki or Juan Martin del Potro mounted on their wall. Don't like what they have stock? Send them a pic of what you do want and they'll craft it for you. Want Serena roaring at the '07 Australian, or winking in her birthday suit from the cover of ESPN Magazine? Want Rafa sprawled on his back after his first hard court Slam win, or hiking up his bathing suit on a boat with that 'what are you looking at?' stare? Either way it's art baby. Why not try Alisa Kleybanova wringing out her hair bun? Or Dmitry Tursunov in Nadia Petrova's top, with tennis balls for boobs? (google image it people, it happened.) If hanging pros on your wall seems gauche, you can always mount yourself. Yup, you can have a custom photo of YOU swinging away on court made into art, so you can fantasize you're just that good.

JUNK! eBay is a great place to find those treasures you'd never ever buy for yourself but you'd never ever refuse from someone else. Like a Pete Sampras bobble head! Try calling that dull, Andre. Or a whole slew of Martina Hingis signed outfits, which could either be all bogus or a real indication chick is seriously never playing again. Or a Sports Illustrated with Roger Federer on the cover. Frame it, not just because it marked him finally winning the French and his tying Pete's record, but because it also marked his only solo S.I. cover. Ever. And he's on the shortlist for the A.P.'s Athlete of the Decade. (What's Christmas without a little good-natured passive-aggressive needling? PS, Tiger's been on the cover 30 times, and you see where that got us. Needle needle.)

LESSONS! It couldn't be easier to call up your local club and get the name of a coach. An hour shouldn't set you back too much, but it'll be enough to give that special tennis player in your life something to work on in practice. (It also doubles as passive-aggressive needling if you give it to your doubles partner or Anna Chakvetadze!)

DVDs! Not of tennis movies. Please, that's not passive-aggressive, that's just aggressive. I'm talking about matches! I'm fairly certain this is downright illegal so I'm listing no ordering sites for this here, but if you were so inclined to fill someone's stocking with something timeless, I'm sure one quick Bing! search will get 'er done. The '98 US Open, '99 Wimbledon and '00 Australian Open women's finals are all popular picks. But don't assume what your recipient might love - the '05 Wimbledon ladies final may have been one of the top ten matches of the decade according to Yahoooooo!, but some would just prefer to recall it from memory, thank you very much.

FOLLOWERS! Want to feed the twitter beasts like Serena Williams who promised a party if she hit a million followers (btw, haven't received my invite yet, Ree)? Or do you want to help your more numerically-challenged faves like Andrea Petkovic or Anastasia Rodionova avoid the not-so-secret shame of having a (gasp!) low follower count? Companies like usocial.net will sell them to you. I don't know who these followers are, where they come from or if they actually exist, but you can buy 1,000 for $87 bucks.

Your tree won't be afraid of ya!

SPADEA! What embodies the holidays more than a Vince Spadea Christmas tree ornament? Personally I think he owes me one after I whooped him in our twitter rap battle (google it people, it happened), but I'll settle for a baseball hat or baby tee instead. Available at http://www.vincespadea.com or wherever fine tennis player tree trimmings are sold.

DONATIONS! Giving donations to charities is wonderful, but also vaguely impersonal, especially if you don't really nail the charity closest to the recipient's heart. Well, giving an Andy Roddick fan a few bucks to his foundation would be a killer way to do good and really suck up to the tennis geek inside them. And inside you. I bet Andy Roddick would love it too, so really you're giving to like three people right there. Direct links with handy donate buttons -
Andy Roddick's foundation:
http://www.argive.org
Maria Sharapova's foundation:
http://www.mariasharapova.com/foundation/defaultflash.sps
Serena Williams' charity:
http://www.buildafricanschools.org/
James Blake's charity:
https://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/72835.cfm?ContentFor=BlakeJ
Or just look up the player of the recipient's choice/secret fantasies.

A COMMERCIAL ON TENNIS CHANNEL! Okay you can't really order this online, but they do give them to writers like Steve Flink who, okay fine, may have been covering the sport for decades and has a name that fans may, you know, recognize. But I come with a tennis ball with a hand-drawn face on it! And with celebrity interviews with washed up soap stars and pull-quotes like "Rod Laver is a smidgen," it's clearly a no-brainer. Santa, take a note.

There, I've taken all the stress out of your last minute holiday shopping. Now, if you'll excuse me, as I haven't even started mine yet I'll be in the basement trying to figure out the adhesive tabs of this adult diaper.

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I don't have $87 bucks, so just follow me at twitter.com/JamesLaRosa. Don't make me get passive-aggressive on your &#@.