Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday after losing a court battle due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19 and lying about medical information in travel declaration form.
By Eden Llodrá
The Australian Open began Monday, January 17th of 2022, yet days prior the world’s No. 1- ranked men’s tennis player was in the midst of a visa court battle. Djokovic entered the country with a COVID-19 vaccine medical exemption, and at first, the Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly ruled that he could stay in the country as long as he quarantined for four days in the Melbourne hotel.
According to CBS, Djokovic remained under the Australian Border Force (ABF) while he waited on a final decision for his visa. Djokovic had been under the impression that because he contracted COVID-19 in December, he was still eligible for an exemption.
On Sunday, November 17th, 24 hours before Djokovic was lined up to play the world No. 78, Miomir Kecmanovic, his visa was canceled and he faced deportation. Alex Hawke, the immigration minister was the one to rule Djokovic out of the country on the grounds that it could lead to an anti-vaccine sentiment and “civil unrest,” while also setting a bad example for Australians.
Whether or not Djokovic’s deportation could lead to a three-year ban from the country is still up in the air, as it would mean him missing the next two Australian Opens.
In an interview with CNN, Djokovic said, “I am extremely disappointed with the Court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the Minister's decision to cancel my visa, which means I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open,” adding “I respect the Court's ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country.”
On January 17th, the day Djokovic would have been playing his first match in the Australian Open, he arrived back in Belgrade, Serbia. His deportation shows the importance that countries are not only placing on the vaccine and COVID-19 safety protocols but the idea that no matter who you are, the rules stand.
With the next grand slam tournament being in May, the question lies, is Djokovic going to be allowed to compete in the French Open?
After finishing their non-conference schedule in dominating fashion, the Gaels look to improve upon their conference record as they embark upon a long slate of WCC competition.
By Ryan Ford
Saint Mary’s men's basketball team currently sits at an impressive 13-4, but due to the collective hot-start of the WCC, they have only the fourth-best overall record in the conference.
Gonzaga’s early dominance is no surprise, following a championship run last season and the addition of star freshman Chet Holmgren. Saint Mary’s bitter rival is ranked number one in the country. But surprising starts from the Dons and the Cougars have some analysts thinking of the WCC as one of the better conferences in the NCAA this year.
ESPN’s College Basketball analyst Joe Lunardi currently believes that there are four tournament-worthy teams in the West Coast Conference, according to his most recent NCAA Bracketology update. The Gaels find themselves in the “On The Bubble” section of the site, meaning that they will need to continue to rack up wins if they expect to be dancing in March.
Saint Mary’s first conference matchup of the season took place on January 8th against Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. It’s always tough to start your conference slate on the road, and after a back-and-forth first half, the Gaels went home with a loss following a 52-43 final score. The Cougars did a great job of limiting bigman Matthias Tass’ touches in the paint, and their swarming defense forced the Gaels to shoot 29.3% from the field.
Randy Bennett’s squad righted the ship in their next game, however, in a 77-62 drubbing of Pepperdine on January 13th. Guard Logan Johnson paced both teams in points with 20, while Tass notched his second double-double in as many games with 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. Perhaps most impressive is that this performance came on the road, their second consecutive road-conference game.
The Gaels went home to face Santa Clara on January 20th, winning 73-65, before a quick turnaround sent them to Loyola Marymount on the 22nd, a game that was televised on ESPNU.
Hopefully, Saint Mary’s offense will be able to stay hot and improve upon their 1-1 conference record, which has them tied with Santa Clara for 5th best in the conference. The Gaels are 13-0 when they score more than 60 points, compared to 0-4 when they are held below that threshold.
How Spirit Squad, Sports Band, and Gael Force liven up home games, and what events are to be expected in the near future.
By Eden Llodrá
At Saint Mary’s, the new year is starting off with a women’s basketball home game on Tuesday, January 11th, and a men’s game on the 15th. As some games were recently canceled due to Covid-19, it is Gael Force’s focus now more than ever to prepare more fun upcoming events that follow the health and safety guidelines. Amanda Hofman, president of Gael Force, said one of their priorities right now is “getting people back into games since conference is coming up.”
The Gaels Sports Band and Spirit Team both add a lot of enthusiasm and support not only to the players but the student section as well. Some of the most recognizable songs that the band plays are “The Bells of Saint Mary’s” and “Fight song.” Director of the band, Dr. Montesinos and President Sara Mameesh schedule the rehearsals and put together the band’s repertoire for games. The band and Spirit Team will be supporting both the women’s and men's basketball teams throughout the duration of the West Coast Conference.
Some big events, such as the big game against Gonzaga on February 12th and the Australian Heritage nights, are things that students have to look forward to. Hoffman said, “Gael Force has been working with the athletic department to plan theme nights.” This way they are able to highlight key moments and get information directly from the coaching staff.
Make sure you show up to a basketball game this semester and show the Sports Band, Spirit Squad, and Gael Force your support! Go Gaels!
After consecutive season-ending injuries forced Warriors’ guard Klay Thompson to miss over two years of basketball, the 3x champion and fan favorite is set to make his much-anticipated return to the hardwood.
By Ryan Ford
The Golden State Warriors are one of the best teams in basketball, sporting a 29-9 record as we near the halfway mark of the 2021-22 campaign. Unfortunately for the rest of the NBA, they aren’t even at full strength yet.
On Sunday, January 9th, Klay Thompson is set to return to the court during Golden State’s matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers. It will have been 941 days since Klay last appeared in an NBA game, with that last game taking place during the 2019 NBA Finals.
The 5-time All-Star confirmed the return when he posted on Instagram, “IM SO EXCITED TO SEE YALL DUBNATION ! LETS GET IT.” The announcement comes after over 2 years of rehabbing significant injuries.
In game 6 of the 2019 NBA finals, Klay landed awkwardly after getting fouled attempting a fastbreak dunk. He grabbed his left knee instantly, rolling around on the ground grimacing in pain. Thompson would miss all the next season recovering from a torn ACL, but there was optimism that he would be back at 100% a little over a year later.
Unfortunately, to call what happened next a “setback” would be an understatement. Klay suffered another injury during a workout only weeks before the start of the 2020-21 season.
The diagnosis? A torn Achilles tendon, this time in his right leg. Another season was over before it began.
It is hard enough to come back from one major injury in professional sports, but suffering a second significant injury in 17 months is a career-ender for most. Luckily for basketball fans, Klay’s long-awaited return is finally here.
In what will undoubtedly be an emotional day for Thompson he will likely be playing on a minutes restriction. In his last full season back in 2018-19, Klay averaged 21.5 points per game while shooting 40.2% from beyond-the-arc and was named to the All-Defensive team.
All eyes will be on Klay’s return, and it is unclear if he will be able to pick up where he left off as one of the best two-way players in the NBA. But if Klay can get back to even 80% of what he was pre-injury, the Golden State Warriors led by MVP candidate Stephen Curry will become the prohibitive favorites in the West.
Who will win each NFL award following the inaugural 17-game regular season?
By Ryan Ford
The regular season has come to a close, and you know what that means… Playoffs! At least for 14 teams. Sorry, Indianapolis Colts fans.
In the meantime, here is a look at each regular-season award and who I believe is most deserving of taking them home.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ja’Marr Chase, WR
Cincinnati Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase likely clinched the award when he burned the Chiefs for 266 yards (a rookie record) on 11 catches with 3 TD’s in week 17.
Chase finishes the season with 1,455 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, both the most among his fellow rookies. The former breaks Chad Johnson’s franchise record for most receiving yards in a single season.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Micah Parsons, LB
This one is a gimme. Parsons was drafted 11th overall by the Dallas Cowboys as a linebacker, but through this season the impressive rookie did a little bit of everything.
He finishes the season with 84 tackles, 13 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and a PFF grade of 88.5, the highest among linebackers.
Rookie of the Year: Mac Jones, QB
While not flashy, Mac Jones did for the New England Patriots this year was no small feat.
The 15th overall pick in this past draft, Jones was the only rookie quarterback to lead his team to the playoffs and led all rookies in passing touchdowns (22) while nearly breaking the rookie record for completion percentage (67.6%).
Offensive Player of the Year: Cooper Kupp, WR
Cooper Kupp had a historic season and nearly made history in the Los Angeles Rams’ last game of the season. Unfortunately, the pro-bowl wide receiver fell 18 yards short of breaking the all-time receiving yards record.
Still, Kupp led the NFL in yards (1,947), receptions (145), and touchdowns (16), becoming only the fourth wide receiver to lead the league in all three since 1970.
Defensive Player of the Year: T.J. Watt, EDGE
5 weeks ago, you could’ve made a case for several different players to win this award. But in the last game of the season, T.J. Watt tied hall of famer Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record, notching 22.5 on the season. That should make this an easy call.
Perhaps even more impressive, Watt accomplished the feat by playing one fewer game than Strahan did in 2001 and helped lead the Pittsburgh Steelers back to the playoffs.
Most Valuable Player: Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers won the NFL MVP last season and followed that up with another insanely efficient year statistically. He threw 37 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions while leading the Green Bay Packers to the number one seed for the second year in a row.
Whether or not you agree with his stance on the vaccine, there is no doubt that Rodgers was the best quarterback in football this season. If he takes home the award, Rodgers will become only the second player in NFL history to win MVP four separate times.
Other award predictions: Coach of the Year (Matt LaFleur), Comeback Player of the Year (Dak Prescott).
Melanie Moyer '22,