Fan Watch

Young American Vasil Kirkov Falls In U.S. Open Qualifying

By Randy Walker

@TennisPublisher

 

Vasil Kirkov, the 17-year-old who reached the semifinals as a lucky loser in the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships USTA Futures event earlier this year in Vero Beach, Florida, competed in the qualifying rounds of the 2016 U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center.

Kirkov, however, suffered an early exit, falling 6-2, 7-5 in the first scheduled match of the competition to No. 242-ranked Yannik Reuter of Belgium.

Kirkov, ranked No. 1146, played the match on Court No. 5 – the shadow of the new Arthur Ashe Stadium retractable roof – in front of an audience of about 200 people that included U.S. Olympic men’s tennis coach Jay Berger, former US Davis Cup Captain Tom Gullikson and Hallof Famer – and Vero Beach resident – Ivan Lendl, who works with Kirkov as part of his advisory role with the USTA Player Development program.

Kirkov was awarded a wild card entry into the U.S. Open qualifying tournament by the U.S. Tennis Association after, not only his strong result in Vero Beach, that saw his ATP ranking rise almost 1000 spots, but by reaching the final of the USTA National Boy’s 18 Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., where he lost to another Vero Beach Futures alumnus Michael Mmoh.

Kirkov is expected to compete in the U.S. Open junior championships in two weeks.

Can Novak Djokovic Overcome Wimbledon, Olympic Failures At The U.S. Open?

After a first-round exit at the Olympic Games and a surprise third-round loss at Wimbledon, one has to wonder the status of world No. 1 Novak Djokovic heading into the U.S. Open?

The Serbian has been the dominant force in tennis for most of the last two years, winning three of the four major titles in 2015 and completing a “Novak Slam” by winning his four straight major title at Roland Garros in June. However, since then Djokovic has shown vulnerabilities that will affect his online tennis betting odds at the U.S. Open.

After winning his second straight Olympic singles gold medal in Rio – a first in tennis history – Andy Murray is seen as Djokovic’s main rival in New York. Murray is also primed with the confidence of winning a second Wimbledon title in July.

Juan Martin del Potro, who beat Djokovic in the first round of the Olympics and eventually earning the silver medal, seems back in the form that lead him to the 2009 U.S. Open title. However, he is ranked No. 141 in the world and did not gain direct entry into the U.S. Open. He will need a wild card entry from the tournament or be forced to win three qualifying matches the week before the main draw. Exhaustion – physical and mental from his Rio efforts – could also affect him in New York.

Monica Puig was the sensation of the women’s Olympic tennis competition becoming the longest shot winner of the gold medal in women’s singles with a rank of No. 34. She posted stunning upsets of No. 4 Garbine Muguruza and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova en route to the final where she hit an incredible 54 winners to upset world No. 2 Angelique Kerber in the gold medal match. Puig will likely not be emotionally ready to contend for a major title in New York, but Muguruza, Kvitova and Kerber will be favored to go deep in the draw. Serena Williams, the world No. 1 and reigning Olympic gold medal winner, was a shock upset victim in the third round in Rio by the hands of Elina Svitolina from Ukraine. She seemed stricken with a should problem that affected her famous powerful serve – as well as being under the weather – and, if healthy – will be motivated to win another U.S. Open title where she would eclipse Steffi Graf’s Open Era record with 23 major singles titles.

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Andy Murray A Solid Favorite To Win US Open After Another Olympic Gold In Rio

Two Wimbledon titles. Two Olympic Gold Medals. How about two U.S. Opens for Andy Murray?

The Scotsman won his second Olympic Gold Medal in Rio de Janiero, Brazil beating Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in the gold medal match to become the first singles player in Olympic history to win two gold medals – and repeat as champion. The Olympic gold medal for Murray comes on the heels of him winning his second Wimbledon singles title in July.

He now heads to New York as a betting favorite for the U.S. Open, the site of his first major singles title in 2012.

Murray has won his last 18 singles matches – not losing since the French Open final to Novak Djokovic and since he rehired former coach Ivan Lendl, himself a three-time U.S. Open champion. It is his longest winning streak of his professional career.

After being the dominant force in men’s tennis for much of the last three years, Djokovic has shown chinks in his game after a surprising third-round loss to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon and an opening-round loss to del Potro at the Olympics. However, redemption is a motivator for the Serbian as he looks to win in New York for a third time.

The U.S. Open women’s singles event may also be a battle for the No. 1 ranking with Serena Williams seeking to hold off the challenge of world No. 2 Angelique Kerber of Germany. Williams had trouble with her health and her shoulder in her upset loss to Elina Svitolina in the third round at the Olympics that could hamper her in New York. Despite her upset loss to upstart Monica Puig of Puerto Rico in the gold medal match in Rio, Kerber could counter-punch her win to a second major singles title of the year after her win over Williams in the Australian Open final in January. Garbine Muguruza of Spain, the French Open champion, may also contend in New York, but has struggled since achieving her new status in the tennis world order in Paris.

With the Olympics proving to be a physical and emotional drain for many athletes who competed, a dark horse could also emerge in either the men’s or women’s field and win a first major singles title. New top 10 stars Dominic Thiem of Austria and Milos Raonic of Canada, the Wimbledon finalist, may be fresh enough to make a mark at Flushing Meadows. Romania’s Simona Halep, who also skipped Rio, and Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, a first-round loser at the Olympics, may also be ready to break through in New York. Madison Keys of the United States, who finished a painful fourth in Rio, is moving fast up the rankings and may be fueled by her disappointment in not winning a medal in Rio into Grand Slam success in New York.

Philippoussis Beats Safin To Win PowerShares Series Title In Newport

Mark Philippoussis won his third PowerShares Series of the year Sunday beating Marat Safin 6-4 in the one-set championship match to win the PowerShares Legends Newport title at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.

The win was the third in as many events for Philippoussis this year on the North American tennis circuit for champion tennis players over age 30. By earning 400 ranking points, Philippoussis moved passed Andy Roddick into the top position in the PowerShares Series rankings. Through six events on the 12-event PowerShares Series in 2016, Philippoussis has 1200 points to Roddick’s 1000 points, while James Blake ranks No. 3 with 700 points.

The win from Philippoussis came 10 years and one day when he won his 11th and final ATP singles title when he won the 2006 Hall of Fame Championships on the very same grass court as his PowerShares Series title Sunday.

Philippoussis was able to use his powerful serve and frequent trips to the net to beat both Andy Roddick in the semifinals and Safin in the final. Against Safin, he broke Safin’s serve for a 2-0 lead with a falling down backhand overhead winner on break point. Nicknamed “Scud” for his powerful serve, Philippoussis even knocked Safin to the ground with a 127 mph ace to hold serve for a 5-3 lead, before serving out the title two games later.

In April, Philippoussis won PowerShares Series titles on back-to-back nights indoors in Tulsa and Memphis, beating Jim Courier in both finals. Philippoussis has now won seven career PowerShares Series singles titles in his career. Safin, who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame the previous day, was playing in his first PowerShares Series event since 2010.

To advance to the final, Safin beat James Blake 7-6(2) while Philippoussis beat Roddick 6-4.

On Saturday, Safin was officially inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, alongside Justine Henin, Yvon Petra and Margaret Scriven.

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 event marked the return of PowerShares Series tennis to Newport after the International Tennis Hall of Fame hosted events in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

The remaining 2016 PowerShares Series schedule with player fields are listed below and ticket, schedule and player information can be found at www.PowerSharesSeries.com;

 

August 21 – Winston-Salem, N.C. (Wake Forest University) – Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake, Mardy Fish

August 25, 26 – New Haven  (Yale University) – Andy Roddick, John McEnroe, James Blake, Mardy Fish

October 27 – Los Angeles (Sherwood Tennis Club) – Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake, Mardy Fish

November 4 – Portland, Oregon (Moda Center) –  Andy Roddick, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Mardy Fish

December 1 – Orlando (Amway Arena) – Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

December 3 – New York (Barclays Center) – Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

 

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

Angelique Kerber Prevents All-Williams Sister Wimbledon Final

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Angelique Kerber of Germany was able to prevent an all-Williams sister final from happening at Wimbledon as she defeated Venus Williams on Thursday, 6-4, 6-4, to reach the final.

“It’s just amazing…to beat Venus in the semis. It’s always tough. I’m so excited to be in the final here,” said Kerber. “I’m just happy to be playing my best and to be in my second grand slam final.”

The match got off to a very unexpected and topsy-turvy start as each of the first five games were breaks, as well as seven of the first eight. It was Kerber, though, who was able to get that crucial extra break and first hold of the match for 4-2, before eventually snatching the first set.

“I don’t know what was the problem. I think we both were returning very well at the beginning of the first set. I mean I was a little bit nervous when I go out there because I was trying to play my best tennis,” said Kerber.

The second set looked like it could be similar to the first as the German was able to break in the opening game, but that was that. The No. 4 seed felt little pressure from that point as she lost just five points in her five service games of the set, setting up a rematch of the 2016 Australian Open final in which she was able to defeat the 21-time major champion Serena Williams, who needed just 48 minutes to win her semifinal against Elena Vesnina, 6-2, 6-0.

“I know that she played long matches, in the first week especially. I was trying to move her. That was the plan,” said Kerber of her strategy against the 36-year old Venus, who made 10 more unforced errors than her opponent.

“I played against a lot of great opponents. I had a lot of tough matches. It’s not easy out there,” said Venus. “There is no such thing as impossible. It’s always possible. That’s what you feel as an athlete.”

Venus did manage to show signs of life halfway through the second set as she was able to fend off three break points while down 1-3 to hold before earning a 0-30 lead on Kerber’s serve in the next game. The German was too good though and managed to hold on, making her eager for another shot at arguably the greatest female tennis player of all time.

“I know she will go out and try everything to beat me right now,” said Kerber of her matchup with Serena which will take place on Saturday at Wimbledon.

Williams Sisters Each One Win Away From Wimbledon Final

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Sisters Serena and Venus Williams both won quarterfinal matches Tuesday at Wimbledon, meaning they are both just one win away from setting up an all-Williams Wimbledon final, the first since 2009.

“I’m so happy we’re both in the semifinals…Obviously, she’s such a tough opponent. I want her to win. But not the final, if I’m there,” said Serena.

Serena, who has won six Wimbledon titles, defeated Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-4, while Venus, who has won five Wimbledon titles, defeated Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan, 7-6(5), 6-4.

Serena, who is defending the Wimbledon title she won in 2015, got off to a slower start than she would’ve liked on Tuesday as she was unable to work her way into any of Pavlyuchenkova’s service games. The 21-time major champion persisted, though, and stood strong on her serve, allowing her to capitalize on the one weak service game of the set from the Russian. It came at a costly time too, as Serena, who won 90 percent of her first serve points in the match, earned a 0-40 lead at 4-4, converting on the first break chance before holding at love to close out the first set.

The second set was not any easier for the American, though, as Pavlyuchenkova refused to go away. After fighting through a long game on serve to open up the second set, the Russian appeared to have the momentum on her side. Pavlyuchenkova became the aggressor, forcing Serena to work for her service games.

That time of the match was short lived, though, as once again at 4-4, the Russian played a poor service game and Serena capitalized on her first break chance. The break earned the No. 1 player in the world a 5-4 lead, a carbon copy of the first set, before holding comfortably to close out the match and reach her 10th semifinal at Wimbledon.

“I am excited to be able to win and get through, it felt really good,” said Serena. “I am just trying to win my match…one thing I have learned this year is just to focus on the match.”

Venus, who is the oldest player in the Top 200, looked like she would have a tough day at the office from the get go. The American found herself down break point four times total in her first two service games of the match before being broken in her third game, giving Shvedova a 3-2 lead. The seven-time major champion was able to break right back, though, settling things down in the set.

Venus earned a set point on Shvedova’s serve at 5-4, but the Kazakh was able to fight it off and eventually force a tiebreak. Shvedova, the No. 96 player in the world who was playing in her third major quarterfinal, raced out to a 5-2 lead and looked to be in charge. No pressure was felt by Venus, though, as she was able rattle off five points in a row to steal the set.

“She was on fire…somehow I walked out with the set,” said Venus.

Shvedova wasn’t able to bounce back from the disappointment of dropping the first set in a tiebreak, as Venus broke in each of her first three service games, grabbing a 4-1 lead. It was straightforward from there for the American as she closed out the match to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon for the first time since 2009.

“What a tough day on court…I love playing the game, I always have. The wins and losses all lead to this big moment,” said Venus. “This is an awesome day. I would love to be walking towards the final.”

Serena will take on Elena Vesnina in the semifinals, while Venus have the more difficult task of battling the 2016 Australian Open champ Angelique Kerber on Thursday.

Not only is a potential matchup in the final on their minds. The sisters are playing doubles together at Wimbledon for the first time since 2014 and have reached the quarterfinals as they look to snag their sixth Wimbledon doubles title and 14th major title overall.

 

Roger Federer Ends Cinderella Run of Marcus Willis at Wimbledon

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Roger Federer ended the Cinderella run of Marcus Willis on Wednesday at Wimbledon as the No. 3 player in the world defeated the No. 772 player in the world, 6-0, 6-3, 6-4.

Willis, the Brit who was extremely close to pulling the plug on his professional tennis career, decided to make a run at his dream one more time and was successful, winning a wild card tournament to earn entry into the qualifying tournament at Wimbledon, where he was able to beat three top-quality players, one of which was ranked inside the Top 100, to earn a spot in the main draw.

“This story is gold. I hope the press respects his situation. It’s easy now to use it, chew it up, and then throw it all away. He’s got a life and career after this,” said Federer of Willis’ story.

A match with Federer on Centre Court inspired Willis to confidently breeze through his first round match in straight sets, but the 17-time major champion was able to quickly stomp out any possibility of Willis’ run continuing, racing out to a quick one set advantage in less than half an hour.

Willis provided the crowd with something to cheer for early in the second set as he got on the scoreboard for the first time to get to 1-1. The 25-year old played Federer tight throughout the set, but was unable to create any chances on the serve of the Suisse, winning just four points in four return games. Because of the inability to create chances on the return, one poor service game from Willis at 2-3 was the turning point in the set, as Federer converted on his third break point of the game to grab a 4-2 lead, before eventually closing out the set.

The British crowd continued their massive support of Willis in the third set, and he did not disappoint. The Brit looked like he belonged on the biggest stage in tennis as he battled toe-to-toe with arguably the greatest player of all time, serving confidently and beginning to create chances on return. Willis saw just his second break point of the match at 3-2 in the third set, but it was staved off by the veteran, propelling him to break at love just three games later before closing out the straight sets win.

“It’s not easy for him to come out there and play a decent match. There’s a lot of pressure on him as well. I thought he handled it great,” said Federer, complimenting Willis’ performance.

Sure, Willis didn’t win the match, but he earned something so much more important than that. He won the respect of millions of tennis fans around the world, especially those in his own country, who surely hope that he will change his plans and continue his professional tennis career.

“It was all just a blur. It was amazing…I love every bit of it,” said Willis. “The whole experience was incredible.”

After the match had ended, Federer stayed by his chair, allowing Willis to be the one who walked out to the middle of the court to acknowledge the applauding fans giving him a standing ovation, something he may never be able to do on that big of a stage again.

“It was his moment. I wanted him to have a great time,” said Federer.

Federer will take on the winner of Dan Evans, another Brit, or Alex Dolgopolov in the third round.

Juan Martin del Potro Makes Winning Return To Wimbledon

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Juan Martin del Potro made a winning return to Wimbledon on Tuesday as he defeated Frenchman Stephane Robert, 6-1, 7-5, 6-0.

Del Potro was in complete control of the match from the get go, breaking Robert in four of his first five service games, and having a look at three break points in the one game that he did not break. That, combined with a few easy holds, allowed the Argentine to cakewalk to a first set win before having to battle in the second.

After splitting breaks in the first two games, there were almost no opportunities on return for either player until the 12th game in which del Potro, who lost just four points on his first serve throughout the match, was able to break and win the set.

That break was the first of four consecutive for the 27-year old as he only dropped one point on serve in the third set to bagel Robert and close out the match in comprehensive fashion.

“To be honest, I feel my forehands and serves are working well at the moment. But my confidence is not there yet,” said del Potro, who hit 20 forehand winners and zero on the backhand side.

While Robert may be ranked just No. 79 in the world, he has racked up impressive results in 2016, and the way that del Potro was able to dispatch the journeyman was a confidence boost for the former No. 4 player in the world, but he is still making sure to look at the bigger picture.

“This is my comeback after three years. I’m expecting to be better in the future, but for this year my challenge is to finish healthy and ready to make a good preparation for the next year.”

Del Potro, who last played at the All England Club in 2013 when he reached the semifinals of Wimbledon, has had to deal with a plethora of problems with his wrist that have required three separate operations, sidetracking what had the potential to be one of the greatest careers of all-time.

“I was close to quit tennis in the end of last year, but now…I’m enjoying tennis again. I’m starting to talk about tennis and no more about my wrist. That’s important,” said del Potro.

His appearance at Wimbledon this year is his first at a major since the 2014 Australian Open. Of course, his most notable result at a major is his US Open title in 2009 in which he beat Roger Federer in an epic five-setter, but he did have a great amount of success at the majors throughout his career before injuries hit, including two semifinal and five quarterfinal appearances, which allowed him to reach a career high ranking of No. 4 in 2010 and finish the season in the Top 5 twice.

Del Potro has already successfully come back from an issue with his wrist as he was sidelined in early 2010. He was unable to defend his US Open crown and fell to a year-end ranking of No. 257, before impressively climbing back to No. 11 in 2011, re-solidifying his position at the top of the game.

Unfortunately, injuries returned in early 2014, limiting del Potro’s play to just a few tournaments in recent years, and he is looking to make a second successful comeback.

“I’m working hard mentally because I have to deal with some pains and some frustrations,” said del Potro.

After playing just two tournaments in 2015, the Argentine has been able to play seven events coming into Wimbledon this year and has surprised himself with how much success he is having as he was able to reach the semifinals in Delray Beach and Stuttgart.

“This year is completely different for myself and I am enjoying tennis a lot,” said del Potro.

The 2009 US Open champ will take on the two-time major champ in Stan Wawrinka in his second round match in what is sure to be a blockbuster.

Shelby Rogers Is New American Tennis Cinderella

by Ashley Brownstein

 

With the clay season complete and another French Open in the books we get that rare time to reflect on the two weeks in Paris before we start up again with a new major. We now know the obvious headlines, Serena Williams falling short again of slam twenty-two and Novak Djokovic completing his career grand slam. But for American tennis it was especially exciting as one of our own, whose name wasn’t Williams, made it to the quarterfinals. Shelby Rogers, 23, was the American that cemented herself as the one making a lasting impression.  Rogers entered the French Open ranked 108 in the world but took out three seeded players before falling to Garbine Muguruza who became the eventual champion.

Now we turn our attention to grass as we prepare for the road to Wimbledon. Shelby is looking to expand on her success from Paris while in Mallorca, Spain as she tunes up on grass. With the change of scenery (not just sunny skies rather than consistent rain) comes the switch to a new surface. But that doesn’t seem to faze Shelby; rather she finds that grass is better suited to her game. With a big serve and powerful groundstrokes she feels she can carry the success from clay to grass.

“I served especially well in Paris so that’s definitely a positive,” she said. “It gives me pretty high confidence to take from the French that I can carry over here.”

Confidence she has but what about pressure?

“No I don’t really feel any right now,” she said. “Especially being in Europe it’s not as big of a deal. Maybe if I was in the states I’d feel it more but I’m really enjoying being here. You see different players and feel a different dynamic with the grass but I’m just trying to push myself and also be realistic. My goal at the beginning of the year was to make it into the slams this summer, which I’ve already achieved so I’m proud of that. I want to finish the year definitely in the top seventy-five so again realistic but there are always things I can improve on.”

Shelby seems to possess the type of realistic stamina that will keep her in the game for some time. And while she “of course” wants to reach number one in the world one day she does find this time for women’s tennis very exciting. Who wouldn’t? The past three slam winners have all been first time champions. Add to that the support coming from the locker room itself. As Shelby describes “it’s really an amazing thing to be a part of American tennis. We’re all cordial, all friends and give each other friendly competition. We genuinely want each other to do well, I’m so happy to be a part of that.”

Of course it is too soon to tell and no one really knows what will happen in the future. But if I had to guess Shelby Rogers is going to do everything she can to make sure that she is a part of the future of American tennis. Even though we were gifted with one “Cinderella story” perhaps we can get a second at Wimbledon. Shelby even said “on any given day it could be your time in women’s tennis” so why not hers?

Rod Laver To Coach at “Tennis Fantasies” in New Braunfels, Texas October 16-21

Rod Laver, often considered the greatest tennis player of all-time, has committed to coaching at the 2016 edition of Tennis Fantasies with John Newcombe and the Legends.

The 2016 Tennis Fantasies with John Newcombe takes place from Sunday, October 16 to Friday, October 21 at the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch in New Braunfels, Texas.  The ranch is located 30 miles from San Antonio.

Tennis Fantasies is the longest-running, most comprehensive fantasy tennis camp in the world.  Started in 1988, this male-only event takes place only one week a year.  Approximately 80 campers play on teams under the eyes of Grand Slam champions.  In addition to coaching during singles and doubles matches, campers receive tactical and technical instruction and spend time with the legends virtually round-the-clock, including all meals and ample time at the ranch’s Waltzing Matilda Room.

Laver made his Tennis Fantasies debut in 2014 and is primed to return for a second time.

“Competition, camaraderie and community were the cornerstones of my career,” said Laver, “so the chance to replicate that with dozens of recreational players and my lifelong mates was a real treat.  I’m looking forward to having that experience once again.”

Laver is the only player in tennis history to have won all four major singles titles in a calendar year on two occasions (1962 and 1969).  All told, Laver won 11 major singles titles, including four at Wimbledon.  His brilliant, shotmaking game has inspired such notables as John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova and Pete Sampras.

In addition to Laver, there will be 13 coaches at Tennis Fantasies in 2016, including six Hall of Famers: John Newcombe, Roy Emerson, Fred Stolle, Mark Woodforde, Owen Davidson and Charlie Pasarell.  Rounding out the staff are seven legends: Marty Riessen, Rick Leach, Brian Gottfried, Dick Stockton, Luke Jensen, Murphy Jensen and Ross Case.  All told, the Tennis Fantasies coaching staff has won more than 150 Grand Slam titles.

“We first started this event nearly 30 years ago and have built a very special community,” said Newcombe. “It’s fantastic, for example, that we have a repeat rate in the 70 percent range.  In a way, the mix of match play and friendship among campers and legends has helped all of us create the atmosphere of the days when we were all traveling the world.  People leave blood on the court trying to beat one another – and then sit down and eat their meals together.”

For more information about Tennis Fantasies, contact Steve Contardi at 1-800-874-7788 or email him at [email protected]