Jonathan Kelley: Your fearless moderator
Pop Culture Jonathan
Vaguely Dirty Jonathan
MJ: Wow, guys, this is really exciting! Our first-ever round table for On the Rise (a tennis blog)! I've been wanting to get you all together for some time, but the occasion never seemed right. However, we are on the precipice of the first major in the first full year of this blog, and what better way to debut this feature than a GRAND SLAM PREVIEW!?
PCJ: This is like a combination of The View and ESPN's First Take! You're Cari Champion, of course. I'm Rosie!
EJ: Wow, could you PICK two crappier shows?
MJ: C'mon, let's focus. As we're talking, the Australian Open qualies are going on. Fourteen American men are in the qualies draw, and 4 women. Who, if anyone, do you think will make it out?
FBJ: Honestly, I look at the draw and don't see any of them losing. This has already been a GREAT year for TEAM USA and it's only going to get better!
EJ: Okay so first, Rhyne Williams, Tennys Sandgren, and Robby Ginepri already went out in the first round of qualies --
FBJ: WHAT ABOUT LUCKY LOSERS!?
EJ: That's not how this works. And second, four guys play each other first round so even if...
VDJ: Yeah, I'll BET they "play" each other!
MJ: I'll just say that through one round, Jared Donaldson impressed, as did Austin Krajicek coming from a set down against a tough customer in Devvarman. I'm going to say we get three qualifiers on the men's side, which would make a total of eight in the main draw. Not stellar, but it might be much worse.
PCJ: Hey, Eight is Enough, am I right, Dick van Patten?
EJ: Way to age yourself, dude.
MJ: What about the women's qualies draw. 4 US women - but 16 in the main draw, close to an exact inverse of the men. What stands out to you?
EJ: The utter futility of it all, considering none of them has a chance to win the tournament.
PCJ: Have you ever sung "Anna Tatishvili" to the tune of "Rock Me Amadeus"?? So much fun you guys!
EJ: Go away.
FBJ: We are truly entering a golden age of USA women in qualies! Even though only 4 US women entered, I honestly think 5 will qualify!!
VDJ: Yeah, four women entered! Heh heh heh.
MJ: Okay. Well then. The main draws aren't out yet, but maybe talk a bit about how you see the next couple of weeks playing out, given recent form, history at majors, and your gut feelings.
FBJ: I just think this is our year. I'm calling it right now: two all-American finals, plus an additional semifinalist of each gender - someone completely unexpected (I'm looking at YOU Madison Brengle and Denis Kudla!)
VDJ: I'll *bet* you're looking at them!
EJ: Majors are just fundraisers for the big national associations. The rich get richer, and the rest of us are left holding the bill.
FBJ: PuhLease! Majors are where legends are made! Remember 2013 Australia, and Sloane Stephens' run to immortality? Or who could forget Robby Ginepri's history-making semifinal berth at the U.S. Open!?
VDJ: Now *those* two would make a hot couple. ;-)
PCJ: Majors are like Laff-A-Lympics - our one chance to see everyone do battle, even the supervillains! Is it just me or does Marinko Matosevic remind you of Mumbly from the Really Rottens?
EJ: Jesus, dude, have you watched *any* TV since 1979?
MJ: GUYS! Can we please focus? I already feel weird about the lack of diversity on this panel, I don't want to lose our entire blog audience with your tangential ramblings.
EJ: If a blog has no readers, does it make a sound? No, it doesn't.
VDJ: Hey WE can all still enjoy ourselves, if you know what I mean... ;-)
EJ: OH GAWD.
MJ: Hey Vaguely Dirty Jonathan - you're out. Sorry. You are disgusting.
PCJ: Good riddance! He was more useless than Nikki and Paulo on Lost!
EJ: Getting closer, at least...
FBJ: Guys, did you see that Steve Johnson and Donald Young are both in the Auckland quarters?? Is there a way we can declare this a national holiday?
MJ: FOCUS!!! So, last question: Who will be the Australian Open winners?
EJ: Whoever it is, they likely already have more money than they know what to do with, meanwhile the men and women in the trenches are subsisting on slave wages.
PCJ: I think Ana Ivanovic is going to pull a Hilary Swank and win her second surprise major, and that Roger Federer is going to pull a Meryl Streep in Iron Lady and show why he's the best ever, even in his old age!
FBJ: Book it: Jack Sock and Venus Williams will be your 2015 Australian Open champions!!
MJ: Dude! Sock's not even playing this year!
VDJ: Did someone say something about playing with a sock??
MJ: Okay, this is definitely the LAST On the Rise (a tennis blog) round table.
Thanks for reading, everyone! Please feel free to give your predictions in the comments section. And thanks to all our round table participants! Enjoy what promises to be a stellar Aussie Open!
PCJ: Oh-Em-GEEZ you guys have seen this new video? It's so appropos!
MJ: I said we're done here!!
EJ: You got that right. Sigh. This blog is so over. Everyone knows Just Drop the Ball is the blog to go to for USA tennis analysis.