Courier, Cash and Larsson Post Opening Wins In Newport

NEWPORT, R.I., August 13 – Jim Courier, Pat Cash and Magnus Larsson all posted victories Wednesday on the opening day of play of the $150,000 Hall of Fame Champions Cup, the fourth of eight events on the 2008 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30. Playing on the historic grass courts at the International Tennis Hall of Fame at the Newport Casino – the site of the first U.S. Championships (the modern day US Open) in 1881 – Courier, a resident of New York, N.Y., defeated Mikael Pernfors of Sweden 7-6 (1), 6-4 while Pat Cash, the 1987 Wimbledon champion from Australia, defeated Karel Novacek of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-1. In the opening match of the day, Larsson, from Sweden, upset Wayne Ferreira of South Africa 6-2, 6-2.

Cash, playing in his first Outback Champions Series event of the year, easily defeated Novacek, primarily a clay court specialist playing in his first career Outback Champions Series tournament. Novacek had trouble on the grass surface – one that he is admittedly unfamiliar with – as he struggled throughout the match against Cash’s strong serve and volley play.

“I think Karel had trouble returning serve,” said Cash. “It takes a while to get used to a grass court surface. Later in the week, he will play better. I think we all will play a bit better”

Said Novacek, “Patrick’s (grass court) experience really got me today. I don’t play much on grass. The last time was a decade ago.”

Courier is currently the top player on the Outback Champions Series – tied for the No. 1 ranking on the Stanford Champions Rankings with fellow American John McEnroe with 1700 ranking points entering the Newport event. Against Pernfors, Courier broke his Swedish opponent at 5-5 in the first set, but was unable to immediately close out the set, serving two double-faults to have his serve broken, sending the first set into a tie-breaker. Courier then dominated the tie-breaker – winning seven of eight points – and held onto the win the second set after overcoming an early service-break deficit. Courier’s win gave him 100 Stanford Champions Rankings points, giving a 100-point temporary lead over McEnroe, who makes his tournament debut Thursday against Mal Washington.

“I take the lead (in the series) for the day,” joked Courier after the match of his lead over McEnroe in the points standings. “It’s fun. We are all competitive people. I played well right out of the box today. We have five more tournaments to play, and I just want to keep the momentum going.”

Larsson and Ferreira both displayed classic, old school serve-and-volley grass court play in their opening round-robin match. Larsson broke Ferreira’s serve in the sixth game of the match and used his big serve to knock off easy volleys and dominate the No. 3-ranked Ferreira.

“It’s good to get the first break, to get some momentum going,” said Larsson. “I was lucky to get away and win.”

The Hall of Fame Champions Cup features an eight-man round-robin match format with the winner of each four-player division meeting in the title match while second place finishers in each division meet in the third-place match. The event features $150,000 in prize money with an undefeated winner taking home $54,000 as well as Stanford Champions ranking points that will determine the year-end champion and the winner of a $100,000 bonus. Play continues at the International Tennis Hall of Fame Thursday with the continuation of round-robin play. Tickets for the event can be purchased by calling 866-914-FAME or at www.tennisfame.com. Play begins at noon on all days of the tournament.

The 2008 Outback Champions Series kicked off March 12-16 in Naples, Fla., at The Oliver Group Champions Cup where Todd Martin defeated McEnroe in the final. Courier won the second event of the season at The Residences at The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman Legends Championships April 16-20, defeating Ferreira in the final, while McEnroe won his first career Outback Champions Series event in Boston April 30- May 4, defeating Aaron Krickstein in the final. The next five events on the 2008 Outback Champions Series calendar are stops in Newport, R.I., Charlotte, N.C., Dallas, Texas, Surprise, Arizona and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. More information can be obtained by visiting www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, established in 1954, is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, enshrining tennis heroes and heroines, and providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide. It was recognized as the sport’s official Hall of Fame in 1986 by the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis. The International Tennis Hall of Fame’s legendary grass courts remain the only competition grass courts available for professional events and exhibitions, while also available for public play. For more information about the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, events and programs, please call 401-849-3990 or log on to www.tennisfame.com.

InsideOut Sports & Entertainment is a New York City-based independent producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Outback Champions Series, a collection of tennis events featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including one-night “Legendary Night” exhibitions as well as charity events and tennis fantasy camps, including the annual Ultimate Fantasy Camp. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com

Wednesday’s Results – August 13
Magnus Larsson, Sweden, def. Wayne Ferreira, South Africa, 6-2, 6-2
Jim Courier, United States, def. Mikael Pernfors Sweden, 7-6 (1), 6-4
Pat Cash, Australia, def. Karel Novacek, Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-1

ROUND ROBIN GROUP A
Jim Courier 1-0
Magnus Larsson 1-0
Wayne Ferreira 0-1
Mikael Pernfors 0-1

ROUND ROBIN GROUP B
Pat Cash 1-0
Karel Novacek 0-1
John McEnroe 0-0
Mal Washington 0-0

Remaining Schedule
Thursday, August 14
Beginning at Noon
Wayne Ferreira vs. Mikael Pernfors
Followed by
Mal Washington vs. John McEnroe
Followed by
Jim Courier vs. Magnus Larsson

Friday, August 15
Beginning at Noon
Magnus Larsson vs.  Mikael Pernfors
Followed by
Karel Novacek vs. John McEnroe
Followed by
Pat Cash vs. Mal Washington

Saturday, August 16
Beginning at Noon
Karel Novacek vs. Mal Washington
Followed by
Pat Cash vs. John McEnroe
Followed by
Jim Courier vs. Wayne Ferreira

Sunday, August 17
Beginning at Noon
Third Place Match
Followed by
Championship Match