Archives

Mardy Fish Celebrity Golf Tournament Could Be Coming To Vero Beach, Florida

While former top 10 star Mardy Fish fell short in his effort to become only the third man to play in both the golf and tennis US Open when he finished six shots out of advancing out of local US Open qualifying on May 10, golf still remains one of his major pursuits in his post-ATP World Tour career.

And now, he may have a hometown celebrity golf tournament to play in.

The Vero Beach, Florida newspaper “32963” reports that the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, the charitable non-profit of Fish and his family, is exploring the possibility of expanding its annual neighborhood golf fundraiser into a one-day celebrity golf tournament.

“It’s very early in the process and we’re still trying to put the pieces together but we’re looking to do this sooner rather than later,” Foundation consultant Randy Walker said to “32963” reporter Ray McNulty. “We’re always seeking ways to promote the Foundation. With Mardy playing a lot of the celebrity golf event – he won the Diamond Resorts Invitational in Orlando last year – we thought it would be great if we could do something in that realm on a smaller scale of course.”

Walker told McNulty that he had been in conversations with Maria Meadors of former boxer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini’s Foundation which has sponsored a successful celebrity golf event in Youngstown, Ohio, as well as former top 10 tennis star Cliff Richey, who has held another celebrity golf event in San Angelo, Texas.

“To be honest I really didn’t give it much of a chance but Maria was very knowledgeable and very impressive,” Tom Fish said to McNulty of holding a celebrity golf event in Vero Beach. “She explained how they got started and what they did. The more we talked about it, the more it seemed possible to make such an event a reality.”

The Foundation expanded its celebrity offerings for its golf fundraising this past February with former Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Rick Rhoden and tennis star and 1986 French Open runner-up Mikael Pernfors joining Fish at his social scramble outing held at Vero’s prestigious Windsor club.

For 2018, the Foundation will look to possibly add as many as 18 celebrity pros to participate in a pro-am and stroke-play event that would include parties with the celebrities and participants as well as fan admission to watch the golf on the course.  The host club must agree to allow paying spectators and a more convenient date.

“If you do it if you do it this time of year in Florida guys will show up,” Rhoden said to “32963” of a potential Vero Beach celebrity event. “There are a lot of us who like to play golf and there aren’t enough of those events.”

Meadors has told Walker and Fish that players that could be involved in a celebrity event include former Super Bowl champions Jim McMahon and Mark Rypien, former World Series champion Bret Saberhagen and former NBA All-Star Larry Johnson.

“I think it would be awesome if we could make it happen,” said Mardy Fish to McNulty.

Calvin Hemery of France Wins 2017 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Futures Event In Vero Beach, Florida

Calvin Hemery, the energetic, outgoing shotmaker from France, reigned supreme at the 2017 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships ending the 10-day run of qualifier Sam Riffice in Sunday’s singles final by a 6-3, 6-1 scoreline in front of over 400 fans at Grand Harbor Golf & Beach Club.

Hemery came into the singles tournament as the No. 1 seed and accomplished the only goal he had in mind; winning the title. The Frenchman had lost in the final of the previous week’s tournament on the USTA Pro Circuit in Orange Park, just outside of Jacksonville, last week, and had no intentions of doing that two weeks in a row.

“It was a perfect week for me,” said Hemery, ranked No. 298 in the ATP World Tour rankings.

Riffice, an 18-year-old from Roseville, Calif., entered the match having won nine straight matches over the last 10 days – four in the qualifying tournament and five in the main draw. Sunday marked his first appearance in professional singles final and he appeared poised early on to notch his first title when he took an early 3-1 lead in the first set, breaking Hemery’s serve in the first game of the match.

“He got off to a very hot start. I didn’t play well and he pushed me,” the 22-year-old Hemery said.

The wear and tear of the previous 10 days finally began to show as Hemery then proceeded to win 11 of the next 12 games to claim the title and the 18 ATP World Tour ranking points that will push up to be in reach of potentially being included in the French Open qualifying tournament in late May.

Hemery, a resident of the east Paris suburb of Les Lilas, France, said he believed fitness was a factor in the match.

“I was a little bit more fresh, so I moved a little better,” he said.

Riffice had an opening to potentially get back into the match when Hemery served for the first set at 5-3 holding double-break point at 15-40. However, Hemery stepped up his game and won the next four points to close out the set, hammering an ace down the T as an exclamination point.

“I knew I had to come out big and I executed well,” Riffice said of his fast start. “I just couldn’t keep it up. I felt like I played my game the whole time, but I was a little tired and he definitely picked up his game. I was happy with the way I played. He just outplayed me today.”

Despite the loss, the week marked a break-through for Riffice, who earned 10 ATP World Tour ranking points to move into the top 1,000 in the professional rankings. As the No. 30-ranked junior player in the world, he will compete in junior Grand Slam tournaments at the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. He will also continue to work with Vero Beach resident Ivan Lendl, the tennis legend who works with Riffice as part of the USTA’s Player Development program. In the grand picture of his career, the loss was only a minor roadblock in what is looking to be a promising career for the American.

“I know that when I play my game, I have a chance against the top players,” Riffice said. “I take a lot of positives from this.”

For Hemery, it was his second professional singles title, also winning at this “Futures” level of professional events at an event in Italy in 2015. Immediately after the singles final, Hemery and Julien Cagnina of Belgium played in the doubles final, but were defeated by the Brazilian tandem of Alex Blumenberg and Thales Turini 6-4, 2-6, (10-7).

Blumenberg and Turini raced out to a fast start in the first set, gaining a 5-0 lead. Cagnina and Hemery fought back winning the next four games before the Brazilians finally closed out the first set, despite saving break points in the set’s final game.

The second set was won with relative ease by Cagnina and Hemery, before the Brazilians were able to regroup in the third-set match-tiebreak and close out the victory.

For Blumenberg, it was his first professional title of any kind, coming in a tournament in which he didn’t even intend to play doubles.

“He surprised me during the week and convinced me to play,” Blumenberg said about Turini. “Now, I am a champion for the first time after a lot of injuries and tough moments. So I am very happy.”

The Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships has been played in Vero Beach since 1995 and is regarded as one of the best entry-level professional tennis tournaments in the world. Proceeds from the event benefit the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation (www.MardyFishFoundation.com), the non-profit tennis foundation benefiting children, named for Vero Beach native son Mardy Fish, the former top 10 tennis star and a U.S. Davis Cup standout.

Advance tickets for the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships are available at www.VeroBeachTennisTickets.com. Season tickets for all 10 days of the competition are available for $100. Daily buy-one-get-one free tickets for the qualifying rounds April 21-24 are for sale for $10, with daily tickets for the main draw sessions April 25-30 for sale for $20. A special “Happy Hour” ticket is available for $10 after 5 pm for night sessions on Tuesday, April 25 – Friday, April 28 that includes a featured 7 pm night match. Admission for children 18 and under is free. Tickets are also sold at the front gate. Approximately 3,000 fans annually attend the event, which is seen as one of the best-attended events in the world on the “Futures” level of professional tennis tournaments. The 2016 event featured 13 players who played Davis Cup for their country and was won by Jonas Luetjen of Germany, who defeated Latvian Davis Cupper Martins Podzus in the final.

Some of the past competitors at the USTA Vero Beach Futures have gone on to succeed at the highest levels of professional tennis, winning major singles and doubles titles, Olympic medals and Davis Cup championships and earning No. 1 world rankings. Andy Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion who attained the world No. 1 ranking and helped the United States win the Davis Cup in 2007, competed in Vero Beach in 1999. Thomas Johansson of Sweden, who reached the second round of the Vero Beach Futures in 1995, won the Australian Open seven years later in 2002. Nicolas Massu, the 1998 singles runner-up in Vero Beach, won the singles and doubles gold medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, beating Fish in the gold medal singles match. Kyle Edmund, the 2013 champion in Vero Beach, helped Great Britain to the Davis Cup title in 2015. Other notable former competitors in Vero Beach include former world No. 2 Magnus Norman, former world No. 4 Tim Henman, 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic among others. Former Vero Beach competitors have combined to win 19 titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles at Grand Slam tournaments. Six former Vero Beach players have gone on to play Davis Cup for the United States – Roddick, Fish, Taylor Dent, Jared Palmer, Donald Young and Ryan Harrison.

Corporate sponsors and donors for the 2017 tournament include PNC Bank, Boston Barricade, George E. Warren Corporation, Indian River Medical Center, Jake Owen Foundation, Syde Hurdus Foundation, Indian River Oxygen, Citrus Grillhouse, Coastal Van Lines, Rossway Swan, Publix, Ryan A. Jones and Associates, Tom Collins Insurance Agency, Vocap Partners, Riverside Café, Center Court Outfitters, David Walsh and Associates Real Estate, Peter Bernholz Family, John’s Island Real Estate, Gene Simonsen, Michael & Kathleen Pierce, Steve and Karen Rubin, Rob and Mickey Stein, William Barhorst, Dan Holman, John Klein, Mello Financial Services, Ocean Drive Elite Physiques, Rosato Plastic Surgery, Captain Hiram’s Resort, Absolute Protection Team, Minuteman Press, Technifibre, TeamChristopher.com, Fit for Life Strength, Diamond Resorts International, Wilson, Don Herrema and Lori Ford.

Founded in 2007, the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation (www.MardyFishFoundation.com and @MardyFishFound on Twitter) currently supports over 2,100 children in 15 elementary schools and six middle schools in Indian River County, Florida by providing after-school exercise, nutritional and enrichment programs in a safe environment to prepare them for healthy, productive and successful lives. The Foundation introduced the “Six Healthy Habits” in 2012 which are Get Sleep; Drink Water; Exercise Daily, Eat Healthy; Brush and Floss; Make Friends

 

Davis Cup Champion Cliff Richey Releases New Book On Depression “Your Playbook For Beating Depression”

NEW YORK – New Chapter Press announced the release of the book “Your Playbook For Beating Depression: Essential Strategies for Managing and Living with Depression” written by former American tennis great Cliff Richey and licensed clinical social worker Mary Garrison.

The book is designed as a tool to immediately educate and guide people who have or suspect they may be suffering from depression and have thoughts of hopelessness and suicide. Richey, also a mental health advocate who has lived his entire life with depression, and Garrison help readers understand, manage, and live with depression, offering a tool on the path to recovery. Combining Garrison’s clinical expertise and Richey’s personal experience, “Your Playbook for Beating Depression” will make readers better understand their condition as they learn about depression as a medical issue and provide insights into proven and effective treatments.

“I want to help those fighting clinical depression to know there is hope,” said Richey. “People have to know that they can come out of the darkness and achieve victory and lead a fulfilling and happy life. That is what this book is all about.”

Said Garrison, “I am hopeful that this book will be invaluable to those experiencing symptoms of depression. Getting past the stigma of mental illness and seeking treatment is so, so important. There is life beyond depression and recovery CAN happen.”

Richey was the top American tennis player in the United States in 1970, and won 45 pro singles titles in his career. He was a two-time member of the championship-winning U.S. Davis Cup team and was a semifinalist at both the U.S. and French Opens. Richey, from San Angelo, Texas, is also the author of the book “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” and is a mental health advocate and speaker who uses his influence to raise mental health awareness around the world.

Garrison is currently in her 12th year of teaching full time at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., and has had extensive experience in the social work field, with over fifteen years of practice in mental health services, policy, and advocacy. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and an immediate past board member for the Illinois Chapter. She is a past recipient of the NASW Illinois Social Worker of the Year Award, the Cesar Chavez Social Justice Award, and the first ever recipient of the Macon County Continuum of Care Advocate of the Year Award.

“Your Playbook For Beating Depression” is available for sale and download where ever books are sold, including here on Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1937559688/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_dUq4ybV1ZQXJB

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “Macci Magic: Extracting Greatness From Yourself And Others” by Rick Macci with Jim Martz, “How To Permanently Erase Negative Self Talk So You Can Be Extraordinary” by Emily Filloramo, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All-Time” by Steve Flink, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins,  “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “The Days of Roger Federer” by Randy Walker, “Andy Murray, Wimbledon Champion: The Full Extraordinary Story” by Mark Hodgkinson, “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “On This Day In Tennis History” by Randy Walker (www.TennisHistoryApp.com), “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “Court Confidential: Inside The World Of Tennis” by Neil Harman, “A Backhanded Gift” by Marshall Jon Fisher, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), “Internet Dating 101: It’s Complicated, But It Doesn’t Have To Be” by Laura Schreffler, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “Bone Appetit: Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Suzan Anson, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin among others.

Denis Istomin Shocks Australian Open With Novak Djokovic Upset Win

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Denis Istomin pulled off what will most likely be the biggest upset of 2017 as he dispatched the six-time champion Novak Djokovic in the second round of the Australian Open 7-6(8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.

“It’s unreal. It was impossible to think that I can hold it five sets with Novak, physically and mentally. So I did well today,” Istomin said.

Istomin is currently ranked No. 117 in the world after reaching a career high ranking of No. 33 back in 2012. He only managed to get into the main draw at the Australian Open because he won a wild card playoff for players from Asia in December.

In the semifinal of that wild card playoff, Istomin actually faced multiple set points. But now, here he is in the third round of the Australian Open with an upset of Djokovic in his pocket.

In the first game, Djokovic had to play a 24-point game, fighting off six break points along the way. There was an exchange of breaks midway through the set, but the two eventually settled for a tiebreak. It was Djokovic who raced out to a 4-1 lead, but Istomin proved he was up for the fight, as he battled back to win it 10-8 and take the first set.

In set two, Istomin had to fight off one break point in his 2-2 service game, but nothing too exciting happened until the last three games of the set. With Djokovic serving at 4-5, Istomin got out to a 15-40 lead, meaning he had two set points. The No. 2 player in the world showed why he had 12 major titles under his belt, though, as he rattled off four points in a row to hold before breaking Istomin in the next game, eventually taking the second set 7-5.

The third got off to a hectic start, as there were three consecutive breaks early on, allowing Djokovic to get out to a break lead. In the end, Djokovic would break Istomin in three of his service games in a row, taking the set 6-2 and looking like he had finally killed off the fight from Istomin.

The top-ranked player from Uzbekistan didn’t go away easily, as he came right back in the fourth set and got out to an early break lead. Djokovic didn’t let him hold on to that lead for too long, though, and broke to get back on serve midway through the set. Once again, the two men needed a tiebreak to decide things, and once again it was Istomin coming out on top. This one was a little easier for the wild card as he raced out to a 5-1 lead and claimed the set on his third set point.

In the decider, Istomin had a little trouble in his first two service games while Djokovic was cruising. Seemingly out of nowhere, Istomin broke the Serb for a 3-2 lead with a screaming backhand down the line, and that was all he would need. In his last three service games, the wild card dropped just three points, sending Djokovic out of the tournament, and himself into the third round.

“Whenever he needed to, he came up with a big serve, a big play. All I can say is hats off,” said Djokovic, who actually won seven more points than Istomin did in the match. “He’s a well-deserved winner.”

Istomin is into the Australian Open third round for just the third time in his career, and he will get to take on Pablo Carreno Busta. Istomin will be looking to match his best result at a major against Carreno Busta, as Istomin reached the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2012 and the US Open in 2013.

In Return To Tournament Play, Roger Federer Wins Australian Open Opener

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Roger Federer returned to professional tennis on Monday in Melbourne as he defeated qualifier Jurgen Melzer in four sets, 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

The 17-time major champion played the last match on Rod Laver Arena on day one and gave the fans a little scare in the first two sets, but was able to settle down and find his rhythm in the end to get the win.

“I’m happy I was made to work today. It was great to be out there. I really enjoyed myself, even though it wasn’t so simple, Federer said.

Federer, who last played at Wimbledon in July of 2016, was forced to miss the second half of the season due to a back injury. The Suisse wanted to take the rest of the year to rehab and regroup in an attempt to make a run at another major in 2017, and possibly even getting back into the Top 3 or 4 spots of the ATP rankings.

“It was a long road but I’ve made it. I’m in the draw and it’s a beautiful thing. Any match is a good match. Even if I’d lost today, because I’m back on the court,” Federer said.

Melzer is no easy opponent, despite his current ranking of No. 300. The Austrian reached the semifinals of the French Open in 2010 and reached a career high ranking of No. 8 in April of 2011. After a bout with injuries over the last couple years, though, he had seen his ranking drop to outside the Top 500 just last summer.

“To play Jurgen was cool. We know each other since we were 16. We go way back,” Federer said. The two are now both 35-years old.

In Melbourne, Melzer had looked solid as he won three qualifying matches comfortably to earn his spot in the main draw, but was unlucky in getting matched up with Federer, the player who many will say is the greatest of all time.

It was a good battle for two sets as Melzer was actually the first player to make a move, breaking Federer for a 4-2 lead in the first set. The Suisse would break right back for 4-3, though, before going on to break again four games later to go up 6-5 and serve out the set at love.

Despite the disappointment of dropping the first set after being up a break, Melzer refused to go away in the second set. He was even broken in the first game of the second set, but he battled back to break Federer in his last two service games of the set to steal it and level up the match at one set each.

“I thought my serve was on and off in the beginning, which surprised me a little bit, because in practice it’s been going pretty well,” Federer said.

After dropping the second set in shocking fashion, Federer, who hit 19 aces in the match, went back to work and gave Melzer little hope of taking another set. He would break Melzer four times in the last two sets without being broken to ease his way to the four set win and into the second round.

Federer will now take on another qualifier in the second round, and this time it will be young American Noah Rubin. He’s made the second round of the Australian Open for the second year in a row. In 2016, he received a wild card and defeated Benoit Paire in straight sets. This year, he made it through qualifying and then knocked out fellow American qualifier Bjorn Fratangelo to reach the second round.

Federer, who hit 46 winners in the match and converted on seven of his nine break points against Melzer, admitted he knows little of his next opponent, but did state that the match will be on his racquet. He’ll take on Rubin on Wednesday in Melbourne.

Blake Beats McEnroe To Win 2016 PowerShares Season Finale In Brooklyn

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — James Blake defeated John McEnroe 6-4 to win the PowerShares QQQ Cup at the Barclays Center, the 12th and final event on the 2016 PowerShares Series, the North American tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30.

The tournament title was Blake’s third on the PowerShares Series for the 2016 season, also winning the opening event in Chicago in April and in Portland, Oregon in November. The PowerShares QQQ Cup was the first tennis event ever at the Barclays Center, the home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and NHL’s New York Islanders. The event was also the first pro tennis event in Brooklyn since Bill Tilden won the 1935 U.S. Open Pro Championships at the Terrace Club in the Flatbush area of the borough.

The final had a hard New York feel as McEnroe has lived in New York City his entire life and Blake being a local favorite having been born in nearby Yonkers and grew up in the tri-state area in nearby Fairfield, Connecticut.

“I don’t think I have ever played more of a New Yorker in New York than myself since I was born here,” said Blake of playing against McEnroe, who had the majority of the crowd behind him, including his students from the nearby John McEnroe Tennis Academy on Randall’s Island and his wife Patty and brother Mark among other family members. “It makes sense to cheer for John McEnroe. He has done so much for this city and so much for this sport. If I’m not playing against him, I’m in the stands cheering for him too.”

The turning point in the match came at the third deuce point at 4-4 when the 37-year-old Blake ripped a backhand up the line passing shot off a McEnroe half volley to set up break point. He then hit another down-the-line backhand return-of-serve that forced a McEnroe half-volley error to break serve. Blake then benefited from two missed backhands from the 57-year-old McEnroe while connecting on two forehand winners to close out the win.

“I was just praying that he would miss a few first serves at the end,” said Blake, who was born four months after McEnroe won his first major singles title at the 1979 U.S. Open. “I was trying to get chances early on, but he erased them all with good serves. I pray that I can serve that well at 57 years old, or moving or anything he is doing this well at 57. I am just happy to get through it. I got a little lucky at the end and took advantage of my one chance on his serve.”

To reach the final, Blake defeated former U.S. Davis Cup teammate Andy Roddick 6-4 in the first semifinal, while McEnroe defeated Jim Courier 6-3.

Blake earned 400 PowerShares ranking points with the win to finish the season in third place with 1100 ranking points. Both Roddick and Mark Philippoussis finished the 2016 PowerShares Series season with 1600 ranking point totals, using their best four tournament results. However, Philippoussis is declared the season champion winning the tiebreaker with the better head-to-head record between the two, beating Roddick five times during the season, with Roddick only able to beat Philippoussis in the final of Thousand Oaks, California in October.

Each PowerShares Series event features two one-set semifinal matches and a one-set championship match and, for the second straight year, players make their own line calls with assistance of electronic line-calling.

The full 2016 PowerShares Series list of events and final-round results are as follows;

 

Chicago – James Blake def. John McEnroe 6-4

Charleston, SC – Andy Roddick def. Andre Agassi 6-1

St. Louis – Andy Roddick def. John McEnroe 6-3

Memphis – Mark Philippoussis def. Jim Courier 6-3

Tulsa – Mark Philippoussis def. Jim Courier 6-3

Newport, RI – Mark Philippoussis def. Marat Safin 6-4

Winston-Salem – Mark Philippoussis def. Andy Roddick 6-3

New Haven, CT – Mark Philippoussis def. James Blake 6-2

Portland, OR – James Blake def. Andy Roddick 7-5

Los Angeles – Andy Roddick def. Mark Philippoussis 6-2

Orlando – Andy Roddick def. Jim Courier 6-4

Brooklyn – James Blake def. John McEnroe 6-4

 

The following are pre-event quotes from all four competitors.

 

Jim Courier

Thoughts on professional tennis coming back to Brooklyn for the first time since 1935:

“I think it’s great to have tennis back here. I’ve never had a chance to play a tournament in Brooklyn. I’ve obviously played quite a bit in Queens – all of us have. We get a chance also to be the first in the building, which is really cool. We had that same opportunity two nights ago in Orlando at the Amway Center and I think it’s special to be part of something when you’re introducing it to a venue like this.”

 

John McEnroe

Thoughts on how the players still try to stay competitive in the PowerShares Series:

“Change the format – you know, make it one set so at least I have a prayer. It pushes me. I like to compete, but we obviously want to entertain – you know these guys (Roddick, Blake) are the next guys trying to take over this tour and keep it going, and I think there’s a place in tennis for a champions seniors’ tour – it could work out real well hopefully for the sport. That’s really what it boils down to.”

 

Andy Roddick

Thoughts on what’s been surprising about the PowerShares Series experience:

“For me it’s a lot of fun. John (McEnroe) and Jim (Courier) have put blood, sweat and tears into this tour for a long time, so for James and I to come along and be able to jump in these past couple of seasons has been great. I think it’s great for fans. James (Blake) and I can play as peers, Jim and John as peers, but there’s also that cross-generational match-ups, which are awesome. For me, it’s fun playing against friends of mine, heroes of mine; for me it’s a mix between reality and the surreal every night we play. It’s a lot of fun to be part of.”

 

James Blake

Thoughts on what’s been surprising about the PowerShares Series experience:

“Andy and I have played so many times and we continue that competitive spirit. We obviously don’t train exactly the same as we used to on tour, but we still get competitive when we get out there and it’s a lot of fun to still have that competitive outlet. I just love the opportunity – like he (Andy Roddick) said, John (McEnroe) and Jim (Courier) have put in so much work to make this tour possible. We’re really just piggy backing off of them and getting to enjoy it, and to still enjoy the sport. I’m pleasantly surprised how much I enjoy it and it makes it a lot of fun to go out and compete every day.”

 

John McEnroe

Thoughts on competing with younger players in the PowerShares Series:

“I love to work out – I feel better doing that, for starters, so just the fact that I can get out there and try to conjure up that I can actually do something is nice but I think that’s one of the great things about tennis – it’s a sport you can really play a lot later than the other sports. So that’s hopefully something people will see and appreciate – I certainly do.”

 

In 2015, Andy Roddick won the PowerShares Series points title in his second year of competing on the series with 1,600 points. Roddick won a record eight events Los Angeles, Lincoln, Chicago, Austin, Little Rock, Dallas, Richmond and Minneapolis. Blake finished second in the points rankings with 1,200 points, winning events in Boston and Cincinnati. Mark Philippoussis finished in third with 1,100 points, winning titles in Salt Lake City and Vancouver. The year before in 2014, McEnroe won the points title for the first time in the nine-year history of Champions Series tennis by winning events in Kansas City, Indianapolis, Nashville and Charlotte.

 

ABOUT INSIDEOUT SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT

InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a Los Angeles based 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 Champions Series, a collection of tournaments featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, The World Series of Beach Volleyball and numerous corporate outings. Since inception, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment has raised over $4 million for charity. In 2014, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment merged with Horizon Media, the largest privately held media services agency in the world.  For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.powersharesseries.com or follow on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

 

ABOUT HORIZON MEDIA

Horizon Media, Inc. is the largest and fastest growing privately held media services agency in the world. The company was founded in 1989, is headquartered in New York and has offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Chicago. Horizon Media was chosen as 2011 Independent Media Agency of the Year by Mediapost, 2010 U.S. Media Agency of the Year by Adweek, Brandweek, and Mediaweek as well as by Ad Age and as one of the world’s ten most innovative marketing and advertising companies by Fast Company in 2011. In 2012, Bill Koenigsberg, President, CEO and Founder, was honored by Advertising Age as Industry Executive of the Year. Most recently, in 2014, Bill Koenigsberg was named 4As Chair of the Board and is the first person from a media agency to hold this prestigious position in the 100 year history of the 4As, the marketing industry’s leading trade association. The company’s mission is “To create the most meaningful brand connections within the lives of people everywhere.” By delivering on this mission through a holistic approach to brand marketing, Horizon Media has become one of the largest and fastest-growing media agencies in the industry, with estimated billings of over $5.3 billion and over 1,200 employees. The company is also a founding member of Columbus Media International, a multi-national partnership of independent media agencies. For more information, please visit horizonmedia.com.

 

ABOUT INVESCO POWERSHARES

Invesco PowerShares Capital Management LLC is leading the Intelligent ETF Revolution® through its lineup of more than 140 domestic and international exchange-traded funds, which seek to outperform traditional benchmark indexes while providing advisors and investors access to an innovative array of focused investment opportunities. With franchise assets of nearly $100 billion as of October 2, 2015, PowerShares ETFs trade on both US stock exchanges. For more information, please visit us at invescopowershares.com or follow us on Twitter @PowerShares.

 

ABOUT POWERSHARES QQQ

PowerShares QQQ™, an exchange-traded fund (ETF) based on the NASDAQ-100 Index®, is one of the largest and most traded ETFs in the world. Under most circumstances, QQQ will consist of all of the stocks in the index which includes 100 of the largest domestic and international nonfinancial companies listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market based on market capitalization.

Five Questions In Men’s Tennis For 2017

by Michael Lemont

Five questions in tennis for 2017.

1- Murray/Djokovic : Who’s gonna take over the leadership? 

Ranked No. 1 for almost three years, Novak Djokovic has lost his throne a couple of weeks before the end of the season. After a perfect first half of the year with a sixth win at the Australian Open, another double Indian Wells/Miami, the Serb finally won the French Open, the last major missing to his trophies, achieving a Grand Slam astride two seasons. He probably needed to release some pressure afterwards and during the second half of the season, he just won one title (Toronto) while Andy Murray became almost invincible with eight titles including Wimbledon, the Olympics and the year-end ATP World Tour Finals, 78 wins in total and 24 in a row to finish the season. And no doubt that his success over Djokovic in the Masters Cup final at home in London was the best conclusion for him, knowing that he lost 13 of their last 15 meetings before that ultimate one. So what’s gonna be Novak’s reaction in 2017? Will he be able to come back to the top? Can Murray stay number one for a little while?
2- Federer/Nadal : Can the Big Four be reunited?

The Big Four fell apart this year. After two semis at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, Roger Federer withdrew for the rest of the season due to his back injury. He also had to retire from the French Open earlier one, first time since 1999 that he missed a major. And for the first time since 2002, he finished a season out of the Top 10 (16th).  Rafael Nadal was not luckier in 2016. He was victim of a wrist injury in spring and he had to retire from Roland Garros, for the first time, after the second round. He came back for the Olympics (gold in double, semi in single) but it was too premature and after a disappointing US Open, he withdrew for the rest of the season. Ranked No. 9, it is his worst ranking since 2005. It’s also the first time that none of them is in the Top 4 since 2003. However, they both claimed that they will come back stronger for the opening season. They will turn 36 and 31 years old in 2017. Will they reach the top 4 again? Will they be able to be consistent enough all over the season?

 

3- Del Potro : Can he come back to the top again ?

After 4 wrist surgery and few years off-court since his first and last success in a major (US Open 2009), Juan Martin del Potro is trying another come back. Ranked No. 1,042 in February, he finished the season No. 38. With some astonishing wins this year over some top players (Wawrinka in Wimbledon, Djokovic and Nadal at the Olympics, Murray in the Davis Cup), he proved himself that without any injuries he will be able to reach the Top 10 again and much more. Beside the Big Four, he is the only player with Stanislas Wawrinka and Marin Cilic to have won a Grand Slam in the last 12 years. Silver medalist in Rio, he just led the Argentina team to his first Davis Cup trophy, becoming a hero in his country. No doubt that he will be one the players to follow during the upcoming season.
4- The “teen generation” … What’s next?

Because the tennis becomes more and more powerful and physical, it is hard today for the players to break through at an early age. The last teenagers to be part of the Top 10 were  Rafael Nadal in 2005 and Lleyton Hewitt in 2000. Players play longer and reach their best level later than before. The top 100 and top 10 had never been so old in the last few years. But after the 85-86 generation, the 95-96 one is now ready to reverse the trend. For the first time since 2008, the Top 10 is getting younger again (mostly because Roger Federer left it in 2016). The leader of that new generation is Nick Kyrgios, 21 years old and already ranked No. 13 at the ATP. He is one of the only six players that has beaten at least six Top 10 players during the season. He might need to become more mature and professional in order to claim big victories in a very close future. Alexander Zverev (19yo, 24th, one title in St-Petersburg), Borna Coric (20yo, 48th, 2 finals in Chennai and Marrakech) and Taylor Fritz (19yo, 77th, one final in Memphis) are at least as promising. Around the Top 100, Yoshihito Nishioka,  Hyeon Chung, Jared Donaldson, Frances Tiafoe and Andrey Rublev are other names to focus on and to follow for the next seasons.
5 – What about the others?

With three wins in three different majors in the last three years, Stanislas Wawrinka will be one of the most serious contenders to the Big Four once again. However, his lack of consistency will not make him a pretender to the No. 1 status. Alongside  him, the old generation will still be there with Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer, Marin Cilic and the Frenchmen. Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet will try to become the first french players to win a Major since Yannick Noah in 1983. In the meantime the middle generation never seemed to be that strong. Milos Raonic (3rd), Key Nishikori (5th), Dominic Thiem (8th) and David Goffin (11th) looked mature enough to compete with the Big Four. Grigor Dimitrov, Bernard Tomic and Lucas Pouille can also have ambitious goals for 2017.
Hopefully all those players are gonna make this upcoming season a great one, full of records, emotions and suspense.

djokovic2016usopen

 

Andy Murray Could Overtake Djokovic To Become No. 1

Who would have thought that Andy Murray would get this close to becoming the Number one Tennis Player in the world? The online tennis odds of Murray reaching the summit were never high.

His rivals were simply too good; however, it looks like Murray has overcome all obstacles to finally come within striking distance of the top spot. A long time ago, seven years ago to be exact, Andy Murray reached the No.2 spot in the rankings.

And that lit a fire in him, a desire to climb over opponents like Roger Federer to finally make it to the top. And the fact that he has come so close is nothing to scoff at; because Murray can literally touch his objective considering just how close he is to the top.

And with rivals like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, it says a lot about Murray that he has climbed so far up the rankings. The only thing standing in his way is the Paris Masters. If Murray can win there and Djokovic fails to reach the final, then Murray will become the top-ranked Tennis player in the World for the first time in his career.

Of course, with the sort of pressure such a prospect can attract, Murray cannot afford to dwell on it, and he said as much in a recent interview. He cannot think about it too much, not when he has matches to prepare for in the immediate future.

Murray is right in thinking that he has no control over whether or not he becomes the Top-Ranked player. As things stand, Murray could win all his matches and still fail to become No.1.

Novak still holds all the cards; he can still waylay Murray’s journey to the top. Luckily for Murray, he hasn’t made becoming No.1 an obsession, which can happen sometimes. He has simply focused on doing his best in each and every game. He has no intention of acting any different from what he has done for the last couple of weeks.

That isn’t to say that Murray is completely brushing aside the idea of actually becoming No.1. Even if Andy were to strive to become the Top-Ranked player in the world, he doesn’t think he can achieve that goal before early 2017 at best. The prospect of reaching that goal this week seems unlikely for Murray.

This season has been good to Murray, allowing him to exceed many of his own records by winning seven titles; however, Novak has also performed astoundingly in 2016. If Murray does become Number one, he would be the oldest person to do so (at age 29) since John Newcombe who took the spot in 1974 when he was 30.

Murray is confident in his abilities and definitely, believes that he deserves the top spot. The last few months have seen Murray perform at his absolute best.

Last year’s Paris Masters didn’t end well for Murray who lost to Novak in the final; now, Murray will face Fernando Verdasco in the second round. Even with his victories at the Olympics and in Vienna, there is no way of telling whether or not Murray will end 2016 as the top-ranked player in tennis.

Two Uzbek Tennis Umpires Banned Due To Illegal Betting Practices

 

Tennis betting is gaining popularity, making it one of the top sports on which people choose to bet. Betting on tennis, either for a winner, or predicting the score, is incredibly fun and something that many tennis fans enjoy to do. It allows fans to bet on their favorite athletes and test their predictions in an entertaining and thrilling environment. But what happens when people play dirty?

Two tennis umpires from Uzbekistan have recently been banned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for betting-related offenses. The umpires used their position of power to profit through betting, thus leaving all other tennis fans and punters at a very real disadvantage. Sherzod Hasanov and Arkhip Molotyagin, the two umpires from Uzbekistan in question have received a life ban for their unethical and illegal actions.

Hasanov and Molotyagin were officials at an ITF Futures event that was hosted in Tiberias in Israel. The two umpires used their mobile phones to illegally communicate information regarding the scores of matches to a third party. This third party placed bets on these games, based on the inside information. In addition, the pair of umpires was found to have manipulated the scores of matches in a fraudulent manner; choosing to enter false deuce games in their PDA devices while they were officiating other tennis events. The ITF has stated that its Futures tour has now been recognized as a big problem with regards to corruption, as it is their lowest competition level.

It is very disappointing to see tennis officials abuse their power in such a manner, in order to make some extra money. But thankfully the ITF has been vigilant and astute at weeding out officials who act in unethical ways so that the rest of us can continue to place bets without being unfairly disadvantaged by cheaters. Now that these two umpires have been banned for life, you can rest easy! Sky bet mobile is an incredible online betting service that caters to all of your tennis and general sports betting needs. With only a five Pound minimum deposit, Sky bet gives you a total of twenty Pounds in free bets. If you become a member of their Sky Jet Club, you benefit even further due to the weekly five Pound free bet that club members are gifted.

But the best thing about Sky bet mobile is that it is a mobile service that can be used whenever you want. This marks a departure from previous means of betting, where you either had to visit a bookmaker personally, or access one through a computer. Now, with a mobile app that allows you to place bets easily and efficiently, your life is made significantly better. The Skybet mobile app is compatible not only with your mobile phone, but with your tablet too! It is a streamlined app where you can access and manage your Skybet Sportsbook for betting, as well as your Skycasino or Skybingo mobile accounts.

 

Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka Advance Into U.S. Open Men’s Final

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka set up an epic matchup in the final of the US Open that will take place on Sunday as they both won their semifinals on Friday in four sets.

Djokovic and Wawrinka have had many great battles throughout the course of their career, including the 2015 French Open final which Wawrinka won in four sets.

Djokovic, who will play in his seventh US Open final after winning the first semifinal of the day, took out Gael Monfils in what was one of the stranger matches of 2016.

“It was a tough one to be part of…I’m just very glad to overcome that,” said Djokovic. “I think he actually played the best tennis of his life on hard courts this season…so it was a good win for me today.”

Monfils, who had come into the semifinal stage without dropping a set, looked to be completely out of sorts in the opening set against the No. 1 player in the world.

After quickly finding himself down 5-0 after 16 minutes, Monfils appeared to try to change up his strategy to a method that looked like complete indifference. The Frenchman began to give minimal effort in the majority of points at the end of the first set, but the crazy part is that it actually worked. Monfils was able to roll off three games in a row before Djokovic finally closed out the set.

“I tried to get in his head…I’m just embracing the fact the guy is too good for me, and I try to switch strategy…Is not academic, but I try to win. I think I’m gutsy to try that, you know, against the world No. 1,” said Monfils, who hit 11 aces, but also 11 double faults.

The No. 10 seed looked to keep that same strategy going in the second set, but it stopped working. Djokovic figured out how to work around the listless Monfils and breezed to a two-sets lead, but not before boos aimed at the Frenchman rang out around Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The jeers started as Monfils, who faced 20 break points in the match, prepared to serve down set point. He proceeded to ask the crowd to get louder, sarcastically, before hitting double fault to give Djokovic the second set. That was followed by louder jeers, and Monfils looked like he may have received the wake-up call he needed.

After dropping serve to open up the third set, Monfils would roar back and look like he was the one who had been in charge of the entire match, breaking Djokovic twice before fighting back from a 0-40 hole while serving for the set to hold.

“I should not have allowed him to come back into the match after two sets to love up and 2-0 in the third, that was the momentum shift,” said Djokovic. “He started believing in himself and the crowd…was behind him. They wanted to see the long match.”

Monfils appeared to have returned to the form that got him to the semifinals, but more importantly he was able to get the crowd back on his side. The fourth set, though, would once again be controlled by Djokovic.

After an early exchange of breaks, the Serb would break Monfils twice more to close out the win and earn his spot in the final.

“It was a strange match, as it always is when you play Gael, who is very unpredictable player,” said Djokovic. “I was completely caught off guard when he just stood there and chipped the ball back and didn’t do much.”

While Djokovic was able to start scouting his next opponent and prepare for the final, Monfils had to answer to criticism from the press, namely John McEnroe, who was not shy in calling out the Frenchman for his performance in the first two sets.

“I’m very sad to learn that such a legend criticize me, because…I want to be the best. It’s tough. I try my best,” said Monfils, who hit 52 unforced errors. “I’m sorry if you think I’m unprofessional, but I’m working. I’m learning. I think I’m failing, for sure, a lot, but I try to stand up…because when he calls me unprofessional, he calls…all my team, actually, unprofessional.”

In what was a much tighter and more entertaining second semifinal, Wawrinka was able to defeat Kei Nishikori in four sets after being down a set and a break.

“I knew it would be really tough…I’m really happy. It was an amazing atmosphere again. To tell myself that I’m going to be in the final, it’s something crazy,” said Wawrinka.

The Suisse will now play in his third major final and he is looking to keep his record in major finals perfect. He has won the only two that he has played in as he defeated Rafael Nadal in the 2014 Australian Open final, as well as the aforementioned triumph over Djokovic at the 2015 French Open.

“I’m really excited. I’m really happy. I want to enjoy that moment. I’ve watched the final so many times here,” said Wawrinka, who will finally get to play in the US Open final for the first time.

After a straightforward first set in which Nishikori controlled and took advantage of the only break point of the set, Wawrinka was able to battle back from a break down in the second.

The Suisse lost his serve in the opening game of the set before breaking back a couple games later. The pressure continued though as Wawrinka saved six more break points in the set before breaking Nishikori in the 12th game of the set to level the match.

Set No. 3 saw Wawrinka continue to play well as he was able to break Nishikori twice. Just like the second set, the Suisse was able to break in the final game to close it out, this time giving himself a two-sets-to-one lead.

In the fourth set, almost everything went the way of the Suisse as he was able to break three times and ease his way into the US Open final.
There will be no secrets between Djokovic and Wawrinka on Sunday as they have played each other 12 times since 2012, as well as six times in majors. While Djokovic leads the career head-to-head record 21-4, no one will be able to predict what will happen in the final.