InsideOut Sports & Entertainment today announced the draws for its 2015 PowerShares Series champions tennis circuit. The PowerShares Series, the North American tennis circuit for champion tennis players, will visit 12 cities in 2015 starting March 24 in Salt Lake City, Utah and concluding Saturday, May 2 in Vancouver, Canada. Players competing on the 2015 PowerShares Series are John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Andy Roddick, Michael Chang, James Blake and Mark Philippoussis.
Each one-night event will feature two one-set semifinal matches, followed by a one–set championship match. Tickets and unique VIP fan experience packages are now on sale. Tickets start at $30 and all ticket and VIP information is available at www.PowerSharesSeries.com.
The full 2015 PowerShares Series schedule with event match-ups are as follows:
Tuesday, March 24: Salt Lake City, Utah (Huntsman Center) “Champions Shootout”
James Blake vs. Mark Philippoussis, Andre Agassi vs. Jim Courier
Wednesday, March 25: Los Angeles, Calif., (Galen Center at USC) “SoCal Honda Dealers Helpful Cup”
Pete Sampras vs. Jim Courier, Andy Roddick vs. James Blake
Wednesday, April 1: Lincoln, Neb., (Pinnacle Bank Arena at Univ. of Nebraska) “Champions Cup Presented by Woods Park Tennis”
Andy Roddick vs. Jim Courier, James Blake vs. John McEnroe
Thursday, April 2: Chicago, Ill. (Sears Centre) “PowerShares QQQ Challenge”
John McEnroe vs. Jim Courier, Andy Roddick vs. James Blake
Thursday, April 16: Austin, Texas (Cedar Park Center) “Champions Shootout”
John McEnroe vs. Jim Courier, Andy Roddick vs. James Blake
Friday, April 17: Little Rock, Ark. (Jack Stephens Center at the UALR) “Champions Cup”
Andy Roddick vs. Jim Courier, John McEnroe vs. Mark Philippoussis
Saturday, April 18: Dallas, Texas (Moody Coliseum at SMU) “Champions Showdown”
John McEnroe vs. Jim Courier, Andy Roddick vs. Mark Philippoussis
Wednesday, April 22: Boston, Mass. (Agganis Arena at Boston University) “Champions Cup”
John McEnroe vs. Jim Courier, Andy Roddick vs. James Blake
Thursday, April 23: Richmond, Va., (Siegel Center at VCU) “Champions Challenge”
Jim Courier vs. Andy Roddick, John McEnroe vs. James Blake
Wednesday, April 29: Minneapolis, Minn. (Target Center) “Champions Shootout”
John McEnroe vs. James Blake, Andy Roddick vs. Michael Chang
Thursday, April 30: Cincinnati, Ohio (Cintas Center at Xavier) “Champions Showdown”
Andy Roddick vs. James Blake, John McEnroe vs. Michael Chang
Saturday, May 2: Vancouver, Canada (Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre at UBC) “Champions Showdown”
Michael Chang vs. Mark Philippoussis, Pete Sampras vs. John McEnroe
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. McEnroe was followed in the points standings by Blake in second place and Roddick in third place.
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 have 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 named 2011 Independent Media Agency of the Year by Mediapost, 2010 U.S. Media Agency of the Year by Adweek, Brandweek, Mediaweek and 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 and he currently serves as Chairman of the 4A’s, the industry’s oldest and most prestigious trade association. The company’s mission is “To create the most meaningful brand connections within the lives of people everywhere.” Horizon Media has estimated billings of $4 .7 billion and approximately 1,000 employees. For more info, go towww.HorizonMedia.com
ABOUT INVESCO POWERSHARES
Invesco PowerShares Capital Management LLC is Leading the Intelligent ETF Revolution® through its family of more than 140 domestic and international exchange-traded funds, providing advisors and investors access to an innovative array of focused investment opportunities. With franchise assets over $66.7 billion as of June 29, 2012, PowerShares ETFs trade on both U.S. 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.
By Michael Lemort
After the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray moved back as the top four players on the ATP ranking for the first time since May of 2013.
“The Big Four” started to fall apart two years ago while Rafael Nadal struggled with some new injuries. Then Roger Federer and Andy Murray also quit the Top 5 due to back injuries.
Even though he suffered of a new injury, at his twist, Nadal maintained himself in the Top 4 last year but he was the first one to betray the Big Four in May of 2013 when he reached the 5th position after the French Open, due to a knee injury occurred the year before which made him lose lots of points.
Then Federer fell out of the ATP Top 4 rankings in the Summer of 2013 and finished the season at the 6th position (his worst position since 2003) due to a back injury. Everybody thought this time Roger’s career was close to his end and that he would never be able to get back to the top again. He proved everyone that he could still reach new milestones by winning the Davis Cup and coming back at the No. 2 position at the ATP ranking last year after a very consistant season.
In the meantime, Murray also suffered from a back injury that needed surgery and forced him to end his 2013 season after the US Open. Not completely at his best during the first part of 2014, he slipped out of the top 10 after losing his Wimbledon trophy. After a fourth (lost) final at the Australian Open last month, he is now back in the top four.
When Stanislas Wawrinka claimed the Australian Open last year, It was the first time in five years (Juan Martin del Potro, US Open 2009) than a non-member of the Big Four won a major. Then Marin Cilic beat Kei Nishikori to win the US Open few months later and another statistic fell : it was the first time in nine years than a major’s final was played without any member of that Big Four (Safin/Hewitt, Australian Open 2005). Everybody thought this time the reign of the Big Four was done for good.
But apparently Novak, Roger, Rafael and Andy are not done yet with their domination. After its fifth success in Melbourne, Novak Djokovic, who is the only one who stayed in the top 4 during all that time, is more than ever leader of the ATP ranking. He is actually an uninterrupted member of the top 3 since October of 2009 and a member of the Top 4 since June of 2007. With Federer not ready to retire, Murray back to his best and Nadal no more injured, let’s bet that the Big Four is not dead yet!
The forehand is perhaps the most the most destructive weapon in the sport of tennis. Who in the history of the game had – or has – the best forehand of all time? Steve Flink, tennis historian and journalist and author of the book THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME (available here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Greatest-Tennis-Matches-Time/dp/0942257936/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346763283&sr=8-1&keywords=Greatest+tennis+matches+of+all+time) ranks the top five forehands of all time as part of his book. The list is exclusively excerpted below.
Top Five Forehands of All Time – Men
- ROGER FEDERER Some hit the ball more mightily off the forehand side, and others were flashier, but Federer’s forehand is the best I have ever seen. His capacity to station himself inside the baseline and shorten the court for his opponent has surpassed all others. Once he is inside the court, he can go either way—inside-in or inside-out—and hit winners at will. In top form, he clips more lines with his majestic forehand than anyone and yet he makes very few mistakes for someone so adventuresome.
- RAFAEL NADAL The Spaniard’s forehand has always been his trademark shot. Nadal tortures his rivals with his rhythmic precision off the forehand. The hop he gets on the forehand with the heaviest and most penetrating topspin of all time is almost mind boggling. He can go full tilt for hours on end and hardly miss a forehand, but it is not as if he is pushing his shots back into play; he is pulverizing the ball and weakening his opponent’s will simultaneously. He sends his adversaries into submission with a barrage of heavy forehands, weakening their resolve in the process. His ball control off the forehand is amazing. I give Federer the edge over Nadal for the best forehand ever, but it is a very close call.
- IVAN LENDL The former Czech who became an American citizen transformed the world of tennis with his playing style, most importantly with his signature inside-out forehand. There were an abundance of serve-and-volley competitors along with more conventional baseline practitioners during his era, but Lendl changed it all, serving with impressive power to set up his magnificent semi-western, inside-out forehand—the shot that carried him to eight major titles. Lendl’s power and accuracy with that forehand had never been witnessed before.
- BILL TILDEN Over the course of the 1920’s, when Tilden ruled tennis and studied the technique of the sport with all-consuming interest, the American influenced the sport immensely. He had an estimable first serve and he improved his backhand markedly, but the forehand was Tilden’s finest shot. He drove through the ball classically and confidently and it was a stroke that would not break down under pressure. The Tilden forehand was a shot made for the ages.
- BJORN BORG, PETE SAMPRAS and JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO Although many observers took more notice of the Swede’s two-handed backhand because he joined Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert to popularize that shot in the 1970’s, his forehand was in many ways superior. Borg ushered in a brand of heavy topspin that was unprecedented and the forehand took him to the top of the sport. He passed particularly well off the backhand and disguised his two-hander adeptly, but the Borg forehand defined his greatness more than anything else. Sampras had the most explosive running forehand of all time and he could do quite a bit of damage from the middle of the court off that side as well. His magnificent forehand was relatively flat and it was awesome when he was on. Del Potro is changing the face of the modern game with his explosive flat forehand, the biggest in the sport today. It is a prodigious weapon, released with blinding speed. More than anything else, his sizzling forehand was the reason he halted Federer in a five-set final at the 2009 U.S. Open.
Top Five Forehands of All Time – Women
1 . STEFFI GRAF This was among the easiest selections to make among the best strokes ever produced. Considering how much pace she got on this explosive shot, it was made all the more remarkable by her grip—essentially a continental, on the border of an eastern. She would get into position early and with supreme racket head acceleration she would sweep through the ball and strike countless outright winners with her flat stroke. She had little margin for error, yet the forehand seldom let her down. In my view, it stands in a class by itself as the best ever.
- MAUREEN CONNOLLY A natural left-hander who played tennis right-handed, Connolly had a beautifully produced one-handed backhand that was a shot which came more easily to her. The fact remains that Connolly’s forehand paved the way for her to win the Grand Slam in 1953. She placed the same value on fast footwork as Graf. Her inexhaustible attention to detail and sound mechanics gave Connolly a magnificent forehand.
- HELEN WILLS MOODY Brought up on the hard courts of California, taught to play the game from the baseline with steadfast conviction, realizing the importance of controlling the climate of her matches, Wills Moody was not called “Little Miss Poker Face” without good reason. She was relentlessly disciplined in her court craft, making the backcourt her home, refusing to make mistakes yet hitting her ground strokes hard. Her flat forehand—hit unfailingly deep and close to the lines—was far and away the best of her era and one of the finest ever.
- MONICA SELES Authorities often debated whether Seles was better off the forehand or the backhand. Both were left-handed, two-fisted strokes. Each was taken early. She could explore the most acute crosscourt angles or direct her shots within inches of the baseline off either side. Unlike most of her peers, Seles’s forehand was not one dimensional.
- SERENA WILLIAMS On her finest afternoons, when her timing is on and her concentration is sharp, Williams can be uncontainable off the forehand. She covers the ball with just enough topspin and takes it early, often from an open stance. It is the shot she uses to open up the court, to either release winners or advance to the net. She can be breathtaking off that side at her best, but her ranking is not higher because her brilliance off that side can be sporadic.
Most tennis players know the fundamentals of how to hit forehands and backhands, but what about specialty shots such as the drop shot, lob or cross-court roller?
Kelly Gunterman tells you how in his book TENNIS MADE EASY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, available here: http://www.amazon.com/Tennis-Made-Easy-Essential-Strategies/dp/0942257715/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345144569&sr=8-1&keywords=Tennis+Made+Easy). These shots, especially the drop shot, are seen frequently in pro tennis as one will see in the latter stages of the US Open. The following is the excerpt from Gunterman’s book that teaches tennis players “HOW TO HIT SPECIALTY SHOTS IN TENNIS”
These shots all require a great deal of practice to develop touch or feel to hit successfully. They won’t be used often but are great shots to have in your repertoire because they are fun to hit and even more fun to watch your opponent chase down. The element of surprise is very important when using any of these shots. Knowing not only how to hit these specialty shots is important but knowing when to attempt them is equally important. Try not to overuse any of them. We don’t want our opponent to know when they are coming.
The Drop Shot
Just as it sounds, you are trying to drop the ball just over the net with as little pace as possible. The drop shot should be attempted when your opponent is behind the baseline and you are inside your baseline. If you attempt a drop shot from behind your baseline the ball has to travel much too far to get to the net, giving your opponent plenty of time to run it down. Disguise is another important aspect of any touch shot, especially the drop shot. The later your opponent recognizes you are hitting short, the less time there is for them to react to your shot.
When hitting a drop shot, the backswing should look very similar to any other groundstroke but just before you make contact, soften or loosen your grip and roll the racquet face under the ball with an abbreviated follow through. The best grip to use when hitting an effective drop shot is the continental grip, as it allows you to roll the wrist under the ball. This takes the speed off of your shot, essentially dropping the ball over the net.
Since you are hitting this ball from inside the baseline, follow your shot into the net. In the event that your opponent does get to your drop shot, you will be in the best position to cover all the possible angles of return. Never celebrate your great shot until you know the point is over. Many times I’ve seen players make a good drop shot and stop playing, thinking they have won the point. The opponent gets to the ball and wins the point just by getting the ball back in play.
If you are playing a true baseline player, the drop shot effectively brings your opponent out of their element. Hitting even a marginal drop shot forces your opponent to come to the net where they may not feel as comfortable.
When you have hit a good drop shot, move in toward the ball. If your opponent is on the dead run, the chance of them hitting a great shot is pretty slim. By moving in, you put added pressure on them as they run to get to your drop shot.
The lob can be hit in two different but equally effective ways, offensive to win the point or defensive to keep you in the point. Let’s look at both of them. But first, as with all touch or feel shots, the element of surprise is very important. Try to make the backswing in each of these shots look just like a groundstroke. Either offensive or defensive the lob can be quite effective and frustrating for your opponent.
The best grip for hitting this shot is the same grip you use when hitting a normal groundstroke. By keeping the grip you are comfortable with, you can hit the lob with the most confidence. Usually this shot is used when you are out of position and you need time to get back in the court and ready for the next shot. That being said, you may not always have the time you need to set up and make the shot exactly as you would like. Try to keep your weight back when your racquet is back, similar to any groundstroke. The backswing is also very similar, probably a little lower to allow you to get the right amount of lift on the shot.
At contact, the racquet face is slightly open and still somewhat in front of your body. A long high, full finish that is slightly higher than usual will give you the depth you need on the shot. Any slowing or stopping of the follow through results in a short lob and big problems for you when your opponent is hitting overheads back at you.
More often than not, the defensive lob is hit too short rather than too long. When you are practicing, make sure you are working on getting the feel for the depth and height of each lob. This takes some practice but it is a pretty easy touch shot to master. To help develop touch on your lobs, have the peak of the trajectory be over the net. If the trajectory peaks too early, the ball will land short in the court and, conversely, if the ball peaks late, it will probably land out of the court.
This shot can be used successfully when you are pulled way out of position or are running down a tough shot by your opponent. It is great to use when you need a little more time to make your shot and get back in the point.
Sometimes called the attacking lob, the offensive lob is hit to win the point not just to get back in the point. It is a little lower in trajectory and with much more topspin. The effectiveness of this shot relies on disguise. The set up and backswing look identical to the set up for any open stance topspin groundstroke. As we have discussed, when the racquet goes back, the weight goes back with a full rotation of the hips and shoulders. The racquet should be turned slightly more closed with the hitting face toward the ground. This set up allows you to hit with the most topspin. The contact point is very early with the racquet, moving up as you come through the ball. The follow through will be high, with a feeling of brushing up the back of the ball. Make sure you use a full rotation of the hips and shoulders to ensure a full swing through the ball. The trajectory of this shot isn’t quite as high as the defensive lob and the spin makes it jump away from your opponent when it bounces. Don’t over think this shot. Look at it as a very high topspin groundstroke. It is very effective from both the forehand and backhand side. When developing this shot, practice by varying the height of your normal groundstrokes, some lower, some higher, some really high and, voila – you are hitting a topspin lob. It’s not magic but you do need a reasonable amount of practice. Try to use this shot when your opponent is coming into the net and you have little time to get set to make the shot.
With either lob, if your opponent moves back in the court and lets the ball drop, move in. When they move back, you move in, making the transition from defense to offense.
Cross Court Roller
Another one of my favorite touch shots is the cross court roller. You hit this shot with either the forehand or backhand when your opponent is coming to the net. Simply set up to hit a traditional groundstroke with the backswing slightly more closed, hit the ball very early and roll the racquet face over the ball. Make it drop on the side “T” of the service box. All of these shots can be a lot of fun and add a considerable amount of variety to your game. Keep in mind you may never master all the shots but it’s great fun to try.
The following is an excerpt from the book THE WIMBLEDON FINAL THAT NEVER WAS… AND OTHER TENNIS TALES FROM A BYGONE ERA by 1931 Wimbledon Champion Sidney Wood, available here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0942257847?tag=tennisgrancom-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=0942257847&adid=0VKY0ZQHN94S10SJX7C5&&ref-refURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tennisbloggers.com%2F about Wood getting into the laundry business with Arnold Palmer.
In 1939, I thought I’d like to try something where the value of a name in sport could be exploited in a competitive business, where the name would have a greater value than “Mr. Smith.” I looked into different businesses that were essential to people’s lives and I picked the laundry business.
I started it with Frank Shields because I thought it would be nothing but a laughingstock, so I said, “Frank, let’s get laughed at together,” and it was an instant success. Frank was otherwise involved in the insurance business and was asked by his bosses to drop the laundry pursuits, so he dropped out and Don Budge came in. Don was a great friend of mine and somewhat a protegé in a sense. I believe Don would have confirmed that it was I who got him to change from a Western forehand to an Eastern forehand. I was the one who actually initiated with the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association that Don should travel with the U.S. Davis Cup team that first year when they weren’t going to take him. Don actually replaced me on the team, so maybe I shouldn’t have been so generous!
Anyway, we went into business with the idea that Don would open us in California, but Don got much more involved in professional tennis after winning the Grand Slam in 1938 and really didn’t have an opportunity to do this. However, it turned into a terrific success (one of our slogans was “Rub-adub-dub, Budge-Wood have a tub”) and subsequently I introduced the idea to golfing legend Arnold Palmer and his camp.
The first time I met up with Arnie was in the bar of a Philadelphia Marriot Inn near the Whitemarch Club where he was playing in a tournament. It was essentially a business meeting, but undoubtedly there would be sporting overtones. My wife Pat was there, as was Arnie’s Winnie and his chum, super-agent head of International Management Group, Mark McCormack.
When I dreamed up the idea of setting up a marquee name, national franchise laundry and dry cleaning chain, there was no question that Arnie’s name was far and away the one that would sell the best. So I called Mark, who was interested and asked me to meet with him. A couple of days later when I knocked on the hotel door, it flung open and this guy points his finger at me and hollers, “I saw you beat Frankie Parker in Chicago!” That was my introduction to Mark McCormack, and you can say I liked his style!
I asked Arnie if he ever hoisted one during a tournament, and he said, “One after a good round; and two if it was a lousy day.” That afternoon it was just the pro-am, and Arnie, a Pennsylvanian to the core, asked for a boilermaker and looked at me. I nodded, and after another round there was little talk of business and much comparing of golf and tennis play and players. We ended up founding the Arnold Palmer Cleaning Centers, which was an immediate success and was subsequently sold out among some of Arnold’s other enterprises.
Wrote McCormack in Sports Illustrated in 1967, “What Sidney Wood knew, and we all learned, was that if two dry cleaning shops are going to open in the same block and one is called Arnold Palmer and the other is Jack Smith’s, it is the Palmer shop that a new customer is more likely to try.”
THE WIMBLEDON FINAL THAT NEVER WAS ($15.95, New Chapter Press) details the life and times of Wood with a focus on one of the most unusual episodes ever in sport when he won the men’s singles title at Wimbledon by forfeit. Wood, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 97, tells the story of how he won the title over Frank Shields, his school buddy, doubles partner, roommate and Davis Cup teammate – and the grandfather of actress and model Brooke Shields – when Shields was ordered by the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) to withdraw from the final to rest his injured knee in preparation for a U.S. Davis Cup match following Wimbledon. He then discusses his “private understanding playoff” that saw his match with Shields at the Queen’s Club tournament final in London three years later be played for the Wimbledon trophy.
Wood, who could be called the greatest story teller tennis ever had, also relates fascinating anecdotes and stories that involve some of greatest titans of tennis and such legendary Hollywood personalities as Grace Kelly, Errol Flynn, Charlie Chaplin, Groucho Marx, Gary Cooper among others. Wood also critiques all the best players and all the best strokes for every top player through the years – from Bill Tilden, Rene Lacoste and Don Budge all the way to the modern era of the game.
Wood was born on November 1, 1911 in Black Rock, Conn., and was a long-time resident of New York, N.Y., Southampton, N.Y., and Palm Beach, Fla. When he won the Wimbledon title in 1931 at age 19, he was the youngest man to win the singles title at the All England Club – 17-year-old Boris Becker breaking his record in 1985. He still holds the record of being the youngest player to compete at Wimbledon at age 15 in 1927. He was a singles finalist at the 1935 U.S. Championships and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1964.
David Wood of Queens, N.Y., the youngest son of Wood, served as a contributor to the volume.
Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is also the publisher of “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer (www.RogerFedererBook.com), “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf (www.CliffRicheyBook.com), “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), “The Lennon Prophecy: A New Examination of the Death Clues of The Beatles” by Joe Niezgoda (www.TheLennonProphecy.com), “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According To Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin among others.
Rick Macci has been dubbed “the coach of prodigies” by Hall of Fame journalist and personality Bud Collins. His reputation as such started when he worked with a pre-teen Jennifer Capriati in the 1980s, but it was burnished when he worked with Venus and Serena Williams when the future legends were only 9 and 10 years old.
In his new book “Macci Magic: Extracting Greatness From Yourself And Others” ($19.95, New Chapter Press, available here on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1937559254/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_vfRvtb1P14M50T4C ), Macci describes his incredible first ever meeting with Richard Williams and his first on-court experience with Venus and Serena. The first part of the chapter “Venus and Serena Williams” from the book is excerpted here below:
I was at the Easter Bowl in 1991 in Florida one afternoon and watching kids from the academy compete and someone mentioned to me that there was a girl out in California who had a lot of potential and had just been in the New York Times. I knew every kid in the country and I had never heard of this girl named Venus Williams. And they said, “Yeah, she’s in the New York Times and there is a lot of potential.”
One thing led to another and an agent from Advantage International said, “Mr. Williams is going to give you a call because they are eventually looking to move from California to Florida to come to a tennis academy.” I said, “OK, give me a call.” A couple weekends passed and Richard Williams ended up giving me a call, probably one of the most bizarre and interesting conversations I ever had in my life. We started talking and he explained to me where they’re at, and so on and so forth, and he wanted to know if I wanted to come out to Compton and take a look at his girls. The only thing I knew about Compton was that it was kind of a rough neighborhood back in the day. He said, “The only thing I can guarantee you is I won’t let you get shot!!”
I thought I’ve got to meet this guy! I said, “Hey, it’s May, it’s kind of slow. I’ll come out for a weekend.”
I was very curious because if someone was that good, from what other people said, I know what good would be. I didn’t have anything to do that weekend, so I booked a ticket and flew out to Compton and got into LAX, got a cab to the hotel in Compton. That night Richard and Oracene and Venus and Serena came over and it was interesting because Venus sat on one knee of her dad and Serena sat on his other knee and we had this two-hour conversation. Richard was asking me all kinds of questions. He actually was very insightful because he knew a lot of things that I was surprised about. He knew who I taught and what I’ve done and which kids have won national tournaments, how many times I’ve been coach of the year. He did some homework, so he kind of had the pulse on my career.
The night ended and he said, “I’ll pick you up at 6:30 in the morning and we’ll go to Compton Hills Country Club and that’s where we’re going to practice.” He picked me up at 6:30 in the morning in an old Beetle bus, kind of wobbling side to side. I got in there in the passenger side and there was a spring sticking out of the seat and I was afraid I would harpoon myself and be permanently injured. So I watched how I sat, for sure. Venus and Serena were in the back of it and there must have been three months’ worth of McDonalds and Burger King wrappers in there, and many Coke cans and bottles, tennis balls all over. I asked, “Do you guys sleep in here?” He said, “Sometimes if I have to. Depends on the wife!”
We pulled up to the park and I thought we were going to a country club. He said, “No, this is the Compton Hills Country Club. I named it that.” I thought this guy was crazy. And I was right. Crazy like a fox! More on that later. It was a park that had two courts and it was about 7 o’clock on a Saturday morning and there were about 20 guys playing basketball and there were another 15 people at least passed out on the grass. There was broken glass and beer bottles everywhere. This was definitely different than the luxurious Grenelefe Golf & Tennis Resort, where I was director of tennis. So it was really a culture shock to see the situation.
When Richard and Venus and Serena got out of the car everybody acknowledged Richard. They called him King Richard. They acknowledged the girls. They stopped playing basketball and parted like the Red Sea and we walked through the basketball courts to get to the tennis courts. They were very respectful of the girls, probably because of the publicity. We go onto the tennis courts and they’re kind of like the courts I grew up on. They were broken, chipped up and broken glass was all over the court. The courts didn’t need resurfacing, they needed to be blown up.
I remember Richard had a shopping cart attached to the net post and it had about 20 feet of chain around it. He got the balls from the car and it took him about 20 minutes to get the chain off the basket that was attached around the post so nobody would steal it. He filled up the basket with balls, and they were all dead balls. But I brought a case of new balls because I thought maybe they might not have the best balls.
After we got organized and had all the balls in there, Venus and Serena kind of jogged around the court. One thing I noticed right off the bat: Venus ran kind of different. She was very long, very tall and had strides like a gazelle. I said, “Ah, that’s interesting.” I was thinking she should run track and not pursue tennis. This isn’t very common for tennis, someone who is spindly. She was like a praying mantis. There was a lot of length there in her stride. Serena was very stocky and compact as a 9-year-old.
I started feeding them balls. One blueprint in seeing a lot of kids is that I see greatness technically at a young age. I coached Jennifer Capriati for three years and biomechanically Jennifer was not only one of the best ever in those areas of the game, she was one of best ball strikers ever. So now I’m seeing these girls from Compton and they had beads in their hair and they were swinging at the balls and their arms and legs and hair were flying everywhere. There were elbows going right and legs going back, there was improvising all over. So cosmetically I’m looking at this and I’m thinking, “This is a train wreck! This is all hype and I cannot believe I’m in Compton, California, ruining my weekend.” I didn’t think they were really that good. I had seen all the kids and had just come from the Easter Bowl and I’d had many kids win every national at that time.
I thought Venus and Serena looked like decent athletes but technically they were all over the map just because they were improvising. You could tell they just didn’t have quality instruction. After about an hour we started doing competitive things where Venus would do something against Serena even though Venus was much better at the time. Richard said, “I prefer that they not play against each other.” So I said, “OK” and had one of them come and play with me. So we started competing and right then and there their stock rose immediately. My whole perception — and this is a good lesson for any parent or coach — you don’t judge a book by its cover. I looked cosmetically and I saw what I wanted to see. And I come from a vast background of information and I passed judgment that I thought they were limited. Now when they start competing I saw the preparation get a little quicker, I saw the footwork get a little faster, I saw consistency raise a little higher. I thought, “OK, they went from just maybe average kids their age to they could be some of the better prospects in the country.” At least now their stock was at a point where I thought they’re good, there’s some potential here. Athletically they were unique for sure.
But technically they were still a train wreck. Just a lot of things were really way off. They hadn’t had world-class instruction. But the way they competed, and they didn’t want to lose the point, to me their stock rose even more. To me that’s always the X factor, the way someone competes. Venus and Serena had a deep down burning desire to fight and compete at this age. It was unique. Unreal hunger.
Then Venus asked Richard if she could go to the bathroom. There was a lot of hugging and kissing going on. There were a great close knit, loving family. So Venus decided to go to the bathroom. She went out the gate and the first 10 feet she walked on her hands. And the next 10 feet she went into backward cartwheels.
Now I’m seeing this girl and I’m thinking, “How tall are these girls going to be?” He says, “They’re both going to be over 6 feet, strong and powerful.” And I said, “Let me tell you something. I think you have the next female Michael Jordan on your hands.” And he put his arm around me and he said, “No brother man, I’ve got the next two.” At 10 and 9 years old.
“MACCI MAGIC,” available where books are sold, including here on Amazon.com: http://m1e.net/c?150001094-X99l/7XH5chA2%4063364085-8b8oWs74ZG6qQ is the entertaining and inspirational manual and memoir that helps pave the way to great achievement not only in tennis, but in business and in life. Macci, known as the coach of tennis phenoms, including five world No. 1 players – Venus and Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati, Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova – shares his secrets to success both on and off the tennis court through anecdotes and more than 100 of his famous “Macci-ism” sayings that exemplify his teaching philosophy and illustrate the core role and power of positive thinking in the molding of a champion.
The book was written with Jim Martz, the former Miami Herald tennis writer, author and current Florida Tennis magazine publisher. Former world No. 1 and U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick contributed the foreword to the book while another teen phenom student of Macci’s, Tommy Ho, wrote a preface to the book.
Among those endorsing the book are ESPN basketball commentator and tennis fan Dick Vitale who says of Macci, “He will share his secrets for becoming a better all-around person and tennis player and gives you all the tools you will need to assist you in THE GAME OF LIFE!”
Said Mo Vaughn, three-time Major League Baseball All-Star, former American League MVP, “Rick Macci is the best coach I’ve seen. He can coach any sport on any level in any era. That’s due to his ability to communicate directly with his athletes on a level that they clearly understand the technique and what it takes both physically and mentally to be successful. Ultimately the best thing about Rick Macci is that no matter your age, ability or goals being with him on a consistent basis will teach you life lessons that you can take with you regardless of what you do. Rick Macci can make any person better just by his coaching style. My daughter Grace is lucky to have Rick Macci in her life.”
Said Vince Carter, NBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist of Macci, “As a professional athlete, I have been around many coaches. Rick’s dedication and commitment to turning kids into great tennis players is paramount. The confidence and technique he continues to instill in my daughter amazes me. Rick Macci’s ability to cultivate a player is a testimony of his dynamic coaching skills.”
Said popular tennis coach and personality Wayne Bryan, father of all-time great doubles team Bob & Mike Bryan, “Rick Macci has long been at the very top of the mountain as a tennis coach. Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Andy Roddick, Jenny Capriati are on his laundry list of Grand Slam champs and all-time greats that he has worked with, but he has coached so, so many other pros and Division I college players through the years. He is a coaches’ coach. He is passionate, motivational, dedicated to the game and players, super hard working from dawn to dusk and into the night when the court lights come on, very bright, knows the game inside and out, still learning, and still striving. He is engaging, fun and funny. His new book is loaded with great stuff and stories are such a great way to entertain and educate and inspire — and no one can tell a story or give a lesson better than Rick. You will enjoy this book and be a better person for having read it.”
Macci is a United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) Master Professional, and seven-time USPTA coach of the year. He founded he Rick Macci Tennis Academy and has been inducted into the Florida USPTA Hall of Fame. He lives in Boca Raton, Florida.
Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All-Time” by Steve Flink, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer (www.RogerFedererBook.com), “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “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, “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) among others.
|By Randy Walker@TennisPublisher
Throughout the 2014 PowerShares Series tennis circuit, John McEnroe commented, when asked by local media, on the state of tennis in the U.S., expressing his concerns on the state of the game.
“It’s too expensive and it’s not accessible enough,” said McEnroe of the sport of tennis in a familiar refrain at the PowerShares Series stop in Birmingham, Alabama, as seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp1M8KodEXk
But McEnroe is not just talking the talk of what should be done to improve American tennis. He is also walking the walk.
On Randall’s Island, just a short lob from Harlem and Manhattan’s Upper East Side, lies the John McEnroe Tennis Academy. The academy is also the home of the Johnny Mac Tennis Project (JMTP), a non-profit organization, which is making the sport of tennis accessible to children who normally would not think to play tennis or could not afford it.
“We want to provide as many opportunities as possible and make the game as accessible as possible – which continues to be a problem throughout America,” McEnroe said. “My goal is to raise as much money as possible from corporations or individuals so we can help give scholarships to as many kids as we can possibly get, and in the mean time we run a great Academy and provide an opportunity for kids who live in this area.”
Funds raised by the JMTP provide scholarships, coaching, transportation and other financial assistance to qualified young tennis players in the greater New York area, as well as introducing the sport to hundreds of new junior players each year in the neighborhoods surrounding Academy locations. JMTP and the Sportime Clubs have already provided over $1.5 million in scholarships and no cost programming to young players in NYC and its communities.
“The purpose is to raise funds to support bringing the game of tennis to kids in New York City,” said Mark McEnroe, President of the Johnny Mac Tennis Project and the middle McEnroe brother. “The Foundation wants to support the McEnroe Academy find and train the next John McEnroe and at the same time providing opportunities for inner city kids, particularly in the neighborhoods surrounding Randall’s Island, East Harlem and the South Bronx, in their introductory exposure to tennis.”
While the foundation’s goal is to introduce the sport to children who normally would not have the chance to play tennis, there also the thought that by widening the pool of potential young players that perhaps a handful of players may turn into a world-class player.
“One of reasons we believe that U.S. tennis has fallen behind is we are not necessary attracting the best athletes in this country to the sport,” said Mark McEnroe. “Contrast that with Europe and South America, where the best athletes play tennis and soccer. If we can bring a little buzz back to tennis and attract great athletes before they get sucked into playing basketball or football, we think we will be able to bring U.S. tennis back to the top.”
The Johnny Mac Tennis Project, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) public charity whose purpose is to expose young athletes in the greater New York metropolitan area to the life-changing sport of tennis without regard to their economic circumstance. To this end, JMTP raises public and private funds in order to provide tennis academy scholarships and financial assistance to New York City Metropolitan area children. JMTP promotes the lifelong sport of tennis to and for players of all levels, from introductory programs that reach out to schools and neighborhoods in surrounding communities, to world-class tournament training for aspiring professionals. For NYC juniors striving to achieve at the highest levels of the game, JMTP funds the costs associated with travel to regional, national and international tournaments and provides on-site coaching.
If you’ve listened to Roger Federer’s interviews in the past several months, whenever the topic of long-term goals or things he still hopes to accomplish comes up, he talks about regaining the #1 ranking in the world. We wrote recently about his quest for #1 in an article about his remaining career milestones, but the fact remains that a year ago, attaining the top ranking again seemed impossible for the Swiss. Federer was undoubtedly on the decline, Andy Murray finally had a couple Grand Slam championships under his belt, and Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic looked to be in a league of their own.
What a difference a year can make. Nadal has once again been hobbled by injury. While he still seems capable of dominating anyone else in the sport when healthy, it’s becoming a fair question to ask if he might break down before he can make a legitimate run at Federer’s Grand Slam record. Djokovic is probably the best player on tour on any given day, but he’s no longer the sure thing he was a couple years ago. And Murray looks so out of sorts that it seems increasingly wrong even putting him in the “top four” conversation. Amidst this turmoil, Roger Federer—despite not winning a Grand Slam—put together a spectacular 2014, and now faces a simple, if difficult task: win the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London. He’s got a great shot at getting back to #1, though he needs Djokovic to stumble as well.
Well, so far, so good.
The World Tour Finals are underway now, and in his first two matches Federer has looked to be in a different class than the rest of his group. For those unfamiliar with the format for this event, it features only the top-eight ranked players in the world, separated into two groups of four. Each player plays the other three players in his group, and the top two competitors for each group then advance to the semi-finals (with each group’s winner playing the other group’s runner-up). Federer, the #2 seed at the event (behind Djokovic), was placed in a group with Murray and rising stars Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori.
In his first match, Federer earned swift and decisive vengeance against Raonic, who actually defeated him at the Paris Masters recently. Federer won 6-1, 7-6 (7-0). Although the second set was certainly tougher, the relief and relaxation in Federer’s demeanor was apparent. BBC Sport quoted him after the match as saying “I was very happy with how I performed,” and those watching the match will certainly agree on his behalf. Facing a powerful young opponent hungry to prove himself at the year-end stage, Federer was utterly in command.
The second match came on Tuesday against a Kei Nishikori fresh off a fairly strong win against Murray, and most anticipated a tougher test for Federer. Betfair odds analyst and tipster Sean Calvert suggested Nishikori was a decent bet for the upset. Calvert wrote that it ought to be a “keenly contested affair,” citing Nishikori’s 2-2 career record against Federer, as well as his growing confidence. And frankly, after the young Japanese star’s recent run to the US Open final, it’s hard to doubt him on big stages. But Federer had other ideas. On Tuesday, he ended up dispatching Nishikori with undeniable ease, 6-3, 6-2, and the Swiss maestro now stands firmly atop his group standings. He still has to play Murray, but it’s looking like a near certainty that Federer will advance.
Federer’s form has been so strong through his first two matches in London that ESPN went as far as to say there’s no one around to stop him. In an article titled “Federer Reminds Us Why We Need Rafa,” Peter Bodo actually named Djokovic the favourite, but in the process basically established that Federer’s resurgence has left a considerable gap between the top two and the rest of the field. Indeed, we all long for a healthy Rafa’s return, as the sport is just more fun with more top competitors. But in the meantime, this is looking increasingly like an eventual showdown between Federer and Djokovic.
We’re not there yet. Djokovic got off to a strong start in his own group, which also includes Stanislas Wawrinka, Marin Cilic, and Tomas Berdych. However, Wawrinka has given him trouble on numerous occasions, and he could be a legitimate threat to top the group after his own strong start. Both will likely advance to the semi-finals, but at that point they may face Federer’s very best and most concentrated effort. The Swiss star has made it a personal goal, if not obsession, to regain #1, and he’s within a few wins of doing so and at the top of his game. It’s difficult to not view him as the favourite in London.
LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic — Tennis legends John McEnroe and Jim Courier kicked off the new tennis offerings at the Casa de Campo Resort by competing a special exhibition match November 7. The appearance by the two tennis Hall of Famers was part of the resort’s effort to raise the profile of its tennis offerings at its 16-court tennis center.
Expertly deemed “Wimbledon of the Caribbean” by Travel + Leisure and “Best Tennis Facility” by USPTR (United States Professional Tennis Registry), Casa de Campo’s La Terraza Tennis Center is an integral component to Casa de Campo’s Sporting Life experience. The 12-acre facility boasts personal ball boys for every player and 16 fast-dry, Har-Tru courts – 10 of which are lighted for night play. The facility will soon begin to offer more organized tennis programming, including Cardio Tennis classes, game arranging, tennis socials, clinics and intense training for advanced players.
“We established this resort as a golf resort with 90 holes of golf designed by Pete Dye and the legendary “Teeth of the Dog” but when I came here three years ago, I recognized that tennis was an asset that was underutilized,” said Peter Bonell, Chief Marketing Officer for Casa de Campo. “We have 16 great Har-Tru courts and a beautiful facility but we were lucky if we were doing ten players a day. We united our ideas and put together this event with the help of InsideOut Sports & Entertainment to invigorate the local players and invigorate this country to get into tennis like it is golf. We see this as a take-off point where we will be able to put more capital into it, develop more packaging, get more partnerships and hopefully do bigger events like this.”
Courier, a two-time French Open champion, hung on for a 8-7 (7-1) win over McEnroe in the exhibition in front of an intimate and enthusiastic crowd of several hundred, including James Brewster, the U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Prior to the singles match, Courier and McEnroe played doubles with two young junior players from the club, with a special appearance by former top-ranked Dominican player and current Dominican Fed Cup captain Joelle Schad.
“It is really a privilege to get a chance to come to a place as beautiful as this,” said Courier. “I have never been to Casa to Campo but I have heard a lot about it from friends who have spent time here. It is every bit as beautiful as they say. It’s wonderful to be here to promote tennis at Casa de Campo and in the Dominican Republic.” (Expanded quotes from both players can be found at the end of this release.)
Both tennis stars were visiting the world famous resort for the first time and it was McEnroe’s first ever visit to the Dominican Republic. McEnroe’s wife Patty Smyth performed at the resort’s 5,000-seat stone amphitheater years ago when she was a member of the rock band “Scandal.”
Known for the Sporting Life, Casa de Campo offers an unmatched array of sport experiences including 90 holes of Pete Dye golf (including Teeth of the Dog, ranked No. 1 in Latin America), Polo & Equestrian Center, La Marina & Yacht Club and a Skeet/Trap Shooting Center. Additional amenities range from fine dining at The Beach Club by Le Cirque and six other resort restaurants, to private beaches, The Casa de Campo Spa, and Altos de Chavon, an artist’s village with a 5,000-seat Grecian style amphitheater.
Situated among 7,000 acres in La Romana, Casa de Campo is easily accessible through La Romana International Airport operating direct flights from JFK and South Florida, or the nearby major cities — like Punta Cana International Airport and Las Americas International Airport — servicing hundreds of nonstop flights daily from all major U.S. airports.
For more information on vacation packages, visit http://www.casadecampo.com.do/. Tennis enthusiasts can also book tennis packages via Mason’s Tennis in New York City at http://masonstennis.com/casa-decampo/. Mason’s Tennis serves as a tennis consultant for the resort and assisted in putting together the McEnroe-Courier exhibition match.
The McEnroe – Courier exhibition was produced by Casa de Campo in conjunction with InsideOut Sports & Entertainment, the 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 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, charity events and corporate outings. Since inception, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment has have raised over $4 million for charity. For more information, please log on towww.InsideOutSE.com or www.powersharesseries.com or follow on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Select Quotes from the Press Availability are found below:
John McEnroe on playing the world famous “Teeth of the Dog” golf course, where, as a 20-handicapper, he shot a 92:
“We don’t want to talk too much about that… This is my first time ever being in the Dominican Republic… Hopefully I will be invited back.”
Jim Courier on Victor Estrella, the 34-year-old player from the Dominican Republic who broke into the top 100 this year, the first Dominican to do so:
“I enjoyed seeing Victor play this summer. To see him get into the top 100 for the first time at 34 years of age was pretty special…Being where he is, I am sure it is really inspiring for all of the young players in this country to see that a player from the Dominican Republic can make it into the big time. He is a hard working guy who loves the game.”
McEnroe on Estrella:
“He is also inspiring to older players since he made it at such a late age.”
Courier on the PowerShares Series coming to Casa de Campo:
“I think there absolutely is a chance for a PowerShares Series event to come here….This would be a great location at Casa de Campo with players like John, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Ivan Lendl. This (exhibition) event is kind of a truncated version of that.”
McEnroe on his competitiveness, even in exhibition matches:
“I don’t think our competitive juices ever go away, it’s just different levels. When you play in the finals of a major event, that is what you dream about. It’s the pinnacle of the sport, but in certain ways I appreciate that I am out there doing what I am doing at this age. While I know I can’t do what I used to do, I appreciate it more. People come out and press come out and ask us questions and our opinions. It is pretty darn nice.”
Courier on McEnroe’s competitiveness:
“I think you will notice that with John’s competitive juices, the way that they flow, we may need some extra towels on court.”
Courier on Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer battling for No. 1 ranking:
“It’s been an impressive year for Roger. He has his back “back” to full health which has made a big difference in his movement. The new racquet seems to be helping. He has been very consistent but the one the he hasn’t done – and he has been very close – is win a major and Novak has. Novak has a pretty healthy lead and I think Roger will have a difficult time to catch him for year-end No. 1. That doesn’t diminish the type of comeback year for Roger, I don’t think we can call it a comeback year because of his high unbelievable standards. He’s in a great spot right now. He can challenge for No. 1 also in Australia. There are a lot of points to offer between the London Masters and in Australia. It’s not inconceivable that Roger could get back to No. 1, which would be something.”
Courier on Latin American players and their development in the last 20 years:
“Traditionally the Latin American players in my day, they preferred clay which was the surface got this far on when they were younger. The American players tended to be more hard court players, by virtue of that is what we played on for most of our junior tournaments. It feels like that has changed. It certainly changed over the course of the end of my ATP career, where Spanish players like Emilio Sanchez and Sergi Bruguera started to play pretty darn well on hard courts. And you saw players like Gustavo Kuerten, who was obviously a great clay court player who also won the Masters in Portugal. I see players be more comfortable on hard courts and clay courts from Latin America in the last 20 to 25 years. That is what I have seen.”
McEnroe on Latin American players and their development in the last 20 years:
“(Juan Martin) Del Potro and (David) Nalbandian – two Argentines talked about growing up talking about playing quite a bit on hard courts. I think around the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, the Spanish Federation decided to build some hard courts and wanted to prove that their players could play on all surfaces. That sort of opened up the doors for other countries. It sort of like what we need to do more of and I think people are aware of in America. We need to prove ourselves on clay so that we can be more well-rounded. It would help us if we were better on clay even our hard court games down the road, give us more variety. The opposite is true for other countries. They realized that they needed to play on more than just clay courts. If they learned how to serve, it was like a huge advantage on other surfaces, for example.”
McEnroe on if there was any player he feared playing:
“No one who we would want to name publicity…If you don’t mind. There was one guy I didn’t want to play on clay and that is him (pointing to Jim Courier)…If you are afraid to play someone, I think you have already lost.”
Courier on his top 3 tennis players of all time:
“I would say Roger, Rafa…For me it would hard not to put Rod Laver in there since he won the Grand Slam twice. For me, that would rude not to mention Rod.”
The International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), the inaugural international city-based professional tennis league featuring legendary players such as Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova, will be available for live viewing via TV and on-line pay-per-view in the United States by Integrated Sports Media beginning November 28th through the conclusion of the season on December 13. All 24 matches of the highly anticipated inaugural season will be available on both cable and satellite pay-per-view – live and for replay – via iN DEMAND, DirecTV, DISH and Vubiquity and online at www.GFL.TV starting at $9.95 per match and $69.95 for packages.
The International Premier Tennis League (www.iptlworld.com) is the first international city-based professional tennis league played across four countries. Created to for fill the increasing demand for top-level tennis in Asia, the IPTL features teams based in India, Singapore, the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates featuring current champions, tennis legends and up-coming talent in a unique format of team matches to determine a team champion. Seventeen-time-major tournament champion Federer, 18-time major winner and current world No. 1 Serena Williams, current world No. 1 and seven-time major champion Djokovic and five-time major champion and former world No. 1 Sharapova headline the players competing in the inaugural season of the IPTL. The league also features past champions such as 14-time major champion Pete Sampras and career Golden Grand Slam winner Andre Agassi and other top current players including 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, 2014 Wimbledon finalist Genie Bouchard, 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, and former world No. 1s Ana Ivanovic and Lleyton Hewitt among others. In all, the league will feature 21 Grand Slam tournament champions and 14 current or former world No. 1 players competing in 24 team matches from November 28th through December 13.
“There has been a lot of anticipation and curiosity about the inaugural season of the IPTL and we are thrilled to provide it for American audiences to view via pay-per-view on TV along with access online,” said ISM President Doug Jacobs. “The IPTL is going to showcase a very unique and never seen before brand of professional tennis, with players like Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic and many other legendary tennis champions all competing on co-ed teams representing Asia in fast-growing emerging tennis markets. These are events that no tennis fan is going to want to miss.”
Team rosters are as follows:
Manila Mavericks – Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray, Joe Wilfried Tsonga, Kristen Flipkens, Daniel Nestor, Carlos Moya, Treat Huey
Singapore Slammers – Serena Williams, Andre Agassi, Thomas Berdych, Lleyton Hewitt, Nick Krygios, Daniela Hantuchova, Patrick Rafter, Bruno Soares
Micromax Indian Aces – Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Gael Monfils, Ana Ivanovic, Sania Mirza, Rohan Bopanna, Fabrice Santoro
UAE Royals – Novak Djokovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Goran Ivanisevic, Genie Bouchard, Malek Jaziri, Nenad Zimonjic
Each IPTL match will consist of five sets played by different players that will include men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, mixed doubles and former champions singles. Each game won counts as one point for the team points total and the team that wins the most games overall across the five sets wins the match. The IPTL matches will feature live entertainment, a running shot clock and many more features to ’Break the Code’ of the traditional etiquette of tennis to attract a new audience to the sport across the world. The team with the most accumulated points during the season are declared league champions and are awarded the IPTL Challenge Trophy in Dubai on December 13.
The IPTL season begins November 28 in Manila, Philippines. The November 28-30 matches will be played in Manila, Philippines. The December 2-4 matches will be played in Singapore. The December 6-8 matches will be played in New Delhi, India and the December 11-13 matches will be played in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The full schedule of matches are as follows:
Dates and times from Manila, Philippines
Aces vs. Slammers (3:00 am ET/12:00 Midnight PT)
Mavericks vs. Royals (6:30 am ET/3:00 am PT)
Royals v Slammers (3:00 am ET/12:00 Midnight PT)
Mavericks vs. Aces (6:30 am ET/3:00 am PT)
Royals vs. Aces (3:00 am ET/12:00 Midnight PT)
Mavericks vs. Slammers (6:30 am ET/3:00 am PT)
Dates and times from Singapore
Aces v Royals (3:00 am ET/12:00 Midnight PT)
Slammers v Mavericks (6:30 am ET/3:30 am PT)
Mavericks v Royals (3:00 am ET/12:00 Midnight PT)
Slammers v Aces (6:30 am ET/3:30 am PT)
Mavericks v Aces (3:00 am ET/12:00 Midnight PT)
Slammers v Royals (6:30 am ET/3:30 am PT)
Dates and times from India
Royals v Slammers (5:30 am ET/2:30 am PT)
Aces v. Mavericks (9:00 am ET/6:00 am PT)
Aces v Slammers (5:30 am ET/2:30 am PT)
Mavericks v. Royals (9:00 am ET/6:00 am PT)
Mavericks v. Slammers (5:30 am ET/2:30 am PT)
Aces v. Royals (9:00 am ET/6:00 am PT)
Dates and times from UAE
Aces v Slammers (7:00 am ET/4:00 am PT)
Royals v Mavericks (10:30 am ET/7:30 am PT)
Mavericks v Slammers (7:00 am ET/4:00 am PT)
Royals v Aces (10:30 am ET/7:30 am PT)
Mavericks v Aces (7:00 am ET/4:00 am PT)
Royals v Slammers (10:30 am ET/7:30 am PT)
About Integrated Sports Media:
Integrated Sports Media: North America’s leading distributor of International Pay-Per-View and Closed Circuit sports events has presented World Championship and world-class mixed martial arts shows featuring Fedor Emelianenko, Tim Sylvia, Bobby Lashley, Mirko Filipovic, Bob Sapp, Jeff Monson and Roy Nelson, in addition to World Championship and world-class boxing matches featuring Gennady Golovkin, Erik Morales, Vitali Klitschko, Ricky Hatton, Cristian Mijares, Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones, Jr., Tomasz Adamek, Paulie Malignaggi, Ivan Calderon, Rocky Martinez, Nicolai Valuev, Amir Khan, Marco Antonio Barrera, Arthur Abraham, David Haye, John Ruiz, Wilfredo Vasquez, Jr., Brian Viloria, Giovani Segura and Ruslan Chagaev. In addition, Integrated Sports Media has distributed numerous International soccer matches featuring teams like Real Madrid, Club America of Mexico and the National Teams of Argentina, Honduras, El Salvador and the USA. For more information on upcoming Integrated Sports events visit www.integratedsportsnet.com or follow on Twitter @IntegratedPPV.