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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s All In The Head For Nick Kyrgios

It’s often quite frustrating when you see a player who undoubtedly has talent but lacks the temperament to make it to the very top of their game. The career of Australian Nick Kyrgios has been littered with such incidents and again it’s surfaced at the Miami Open. His world ranking is rising, though, so could he rid himself of his inner demons and one day become a Grand Slam-winning top ten player?

A poor temperament can limit the success a player has. Take Ilie Nastase for example, a great player who would surely have won more Grand Slams if he hadn’t lost his temper so many times. The same can be said about John McEnroe, an all-time great but one who should have won more titles than he did. Even Ronnie O’Sullivan, one of the greatest ever snooker players, has had to seek help regarding his mental approach to the game.obably never will. Yet here’s a player with great potential, particularly on a grass court. A Wimbledon title can’t be ruled out and he’s 20/1 at Paddy Power to win there this year. To keep himself at the top of his game for a fortnight is a task that looks beyond him. There always seems to be a temper tantrum just around the corner, doesn’t there?

Last year saw him suspended for three weeks for “lack of best efforts” in a game against Mischa Zverev. Future champions don’t go around asking umpires, “Can you call time so I can finish this match and go home?” Later he claimed he doesn’t owe fans anything, so a future career in public relations isn’t that likely.

2017 has been a mixed bag so far for Kyrgios. The Australian Open wasn’t a great experience for him as he lost to Andreas Seppi in the second round, despite leading two sets to love. Kyrgios even considered taking a break from the game. He felt that all the country was against him but help from his family helped change that view.

When a player is on record as saying “I think when things get tough. I’m just a little bit soft,” then you know something has to change. He has sought some help regarding his often appalling mental approach to the game and it looks as if that might be paying off.

His form has improved and he has twice beaten Novak Djokovic, including at Indian Wells on his way to the last eight. Who knows, he might have progressed further but for having to pull out of his quarter-final with Roger Federer (who could teach him a few lessons on how to behave during a game) due to illness. His ranking is up to 16 and due to rise higher, especially if he were to have a good clay court season.

But again, the bad side of his character was shown during the Miami Open. He appeared to reprimand a ball boy during his match with Ivo Karlovic. “How am I supposed to catch that? It’s right at my feet,” the Australian shouted, leading to boos from the crowd. Okay, he made up with the ball boy later but it’s still a sign that his temperament isn’t quite up to scratch.

At the age of 21, Kyrgios is still a work in progress. The talent is there and he could well be a Wimbledon Champion one day, but the fiery Australian still has a lot of maturing to do in the meantime.

A Preview of the 2017 French Open

The French Open at Roland Garros in Paris is the second Grand Slam of the year, and, following Roger Federer’s success in Melbourne where he claimed the 18th GS title of his career, it could spring another surprise winner.

 

Rafael Nadal tops the betting with the bookmakers, where the King of Clay can be backed at 5/2 to win his 10th French Open title, with a number of free bet offers also available to first-time punters. The Spaniard looked back to his best in the Australian Open where he was runner-up, and although he has struggled with injuries over the last couple of years, it now appears he is 100% fit again.

Nadal has only been beaten on three occasions at Roland-Garros, and the world number seven will be the name everyone will want to avoid in their half of the draw. With a full preparation expected this year, the man from Manacor will fancy his chances of lifting the trophy in Paris once again.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic has not been as consistent since his victory in this event in 2016. The Serbian was surprisingly beaten by Sam Querrey in the third round at Wimbledon just a month after his win in Paris, and the 12-time Grand Slam winner then lost his place at the top of the world rankings to Andy Murray. Not only that, but he has also started 2017 poorly, going out in the second round of the Australian Open to Denis Istomin.

The French Open has historically been Djokovic’s worst Grand Slam tournament. His game is not generally suited to clay; however, most recently he has been able to adapt to the surface well, which has resulted in him reaching the last two finals.

Djokovic missed the Miami Open last week due to injury and will now get some rest before the clay court season. If he is to return to the top of the world rankings at the end of the year, he will need to find his best game again ahead of the two Grand Slams in the middle of the calendar year.

Murray is also struggling with a niggling injury at the moment, and was forced to pull out of the Miami Open. The world number one has only made the final once at Roland-Garros and that was last year where he lost to Djokovic in four sets.

The British player has already won a title in 2017, as he was successful in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships last month. He did, however, lose in the second round of the Indian Wells Masters a week later to Vasek Pospisil.

Despite clay being his least successful surface, Murray has performed consistently well in France over the last three years; he has gone as far as at least the semi-final in each of those tournaments.

Murray won his first clay court tournament in Madrid in 2015 where he beat Nadal in straight sets in the final. In what is arguably the most open French Open in many years, the world’s top-ranked player will be in with a big chance of breaking his maiden in Paris in June.

How To Be A Good Tennis Player

 

To be a successful tennis player you must possess essential physical and mental skills. If you want to become a world class tennis player and be part of the offer of the best tennis betting sites on LBS.co.uk you definitely must have these skills.

In this article we will try to see what all world famous tennis players have in common and how a tennis beginner can come close to the professionals we see on TV.

Physical Skills

All world class tennis players possess great physical strength, flexibility, stamina, balance, are agile and are in great physical shape in general. But how can a beginner reach these levels of strength?

The obvious answer is through hard work. Doing off the court physical training which can include conventional working out methods as well as yoga or something as unconventional as T’ai Chi can do wonders for your balance and flexibility.

Breathing exercises, which are essential for aerobic fitness and proper work of the heart are also very important for tennis players. These can be done when swimming, running or cycling and can be of great use on the tennis court

Mental Skills

Being able to deal with the pressure during a tennis match is absolutely essential for tennis players. In football, basketball and other team sports the pressure is often divided amongst the individual players and that makes pressure in these sports more manageable.

In tennis however, you are all alone and all the pressure is on you. If you break under this pressure you have no place amongst the tennis elite. That’s why the best tennis players are relying more and more on psychology to manage these in-game situations.

Cognitive psychology and relying on past experiences to overcome new situation is currently the most popular psychological method for improving mental strength among tennis players.

This method implies that if you lost a match in which you could have performed better you should draw upon that experience and use it for future matches. In the meantime you should replay this match in your mind over and over again, but with the performance which would have won you the match. In this way you are going to create a winning scenario in your brain which you can draw upon when losing.

Emotional Skills

Tennis is an emotional game and being able to control your emotions during a match is crucial. Optimism, happiness and confidence are cited as the most important feelings that a tennis player should feel during a match if he wants to come out as the winner.

However, oftentimes tennis players are low on confidence and feel pessimistic of their chances because of a bad play they made. In these situations the worst thing that a tennis player can do is to let negative emotions take over and destroy his game plan.

Tennis coaches and sports psychologists recommend that you should always try to have empowering emotions, to control your breathing and to transfer emotions from your head to the court through visualization and simulation of positive feelings.

Jay Berger – The Man With The Back-Scratch Serve

The following is a chapter excerpt on Jay Berger from Sandy Harwitt’s book “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time” (for sale here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/193755936X/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_RIZZyb1KGTC5C

It sounds very cliched to say, but nonetheless is very true: Trying to catch up with Jay Berger is like trying to hit a moving target.

Jay is here, there and everywhere, which is not that surprising considering that since 2008 he’s served as the USTA Head of Men’s Tennis. Trying to develop talent is no easy or part-time responsibility. It was never that Berger wasn’t amenable to chat about himself, his life in tennis, and his relationship to Judiasm. It’s just he’s one guy trying to be in a multitude of places at the same time. Just watching him traverse a Grand Slam tournament with American players — pros and juniors alike — on courts peppered around the grounds is dizzying to the observer.

Finally, during a relatively mundane work week at the USTA’s Boca Raton training facility, Jay phoned, first offering apologies for being so hard to pin down, and then with the good news that he had some time to talk – right then and there.

“You’re in a car,” the question was posed, but not needed since the background noise betrayed Berger’s whereabouts. He laughed, “Yes.” The response: “Perfect, you’re a captive audience then.” Jay patiently waited as the tape system was turned on and then spent some quality time telling his story.

Jay was born in Fort Dix, New Jersey, but relocated with his family to South Florida where Jay grew up and initially facilitated his own interest in tennis.

“I started playing tennis on my seventh birthday,” said Berger, the son of a dentist. “I got $10 from my grandmother and I went out to Walmart and bought an Emerson racket. I started by hitting balls in the street with my dad.”

Berger quickly upgraded from the road in front of his house to a tennis court, playing at Center Court, a club in Sunrise, Fla., where standout doubles star Robert Seguso also played. A half year into owning that Emerson racket and Jay was taking a once-a-week tennis lesson and by eight he was starting to play 10-and-under tournaments.

“I was dropped off at the courts at eight in the morning and picked up at five o’clock,” said Berger, thinking about how he developed as a youngster. “I would just try to find people to play with. I’d just hang out at the courts at the club all day. I’d play with anyone I could find.”

Back in Berger’s time, there were so many quality juniors in South Florida alone that a player had all the competition they needed to improve while living a more traditional childhood. Part of Jay’s normal childhood routine was attending Hebrew School and being Bar Mitzvah’ed.

Of growing up, Berger said, “Judiasm was definitely part of my life and who I was.”

He remembered that his dad donated money to the Israel Tennis Center. Nowadays, however, Berger says, “Not so much,” when asked if he’s active within the Jewish community. His wife, Nadia, isn’t Jewish and they haven’t raised their four children in the religion.

“There was definitely a sense of who the other players were who were Jewish and I think there probably still is,” Berger admitted. “You know, when I see (Israeli tennis player) Dudi Sela I think he knows who I am and I know who he is — there’s definitely some recognition.”

From the time Berger was 12-years-old to throughout his pro career his main coach was Jorge Paris. But he also was fortunate enough from his mid-teens to pick the brains of tour players Brian Gottfried and Harold Solomon. Solomon would frequently hit with Berger, but it was Gottfried who would become a vital mentor and coach. Besides for Berger, Gottfried worked at the same time with Aaron Krickstein, Jimmy Arias and Greg Holmes.

“I was lucky at 16 to start training with Brian Gottfried,” Berger said. “Brian was a huge influence in my life, my pro career. I couldn’t have a better transition to the pros than with someone like Brian, who was such a consummate professional. In a different way, Harold was also an influence.”

In 1985, Berger made quite a splash in the juniors, winning the USTA Boys’ 18s Clay Court and USTA Boys’ 18s Hardcourt titles. The latter, more commonly known as Kalamazoo, comes with a special prize to the victor every year – a wildcard into the upcoming U.S. Open. Still an amateur, the No. 730th-ranked Berger, who had only ever played one pro tournament prior to the U.S. Open — losing a first-round match in Boston that summer — made great value of that U.S. Open wildcard. He journeyed to the fourth round, where he fell in four sets to Yannick Noah. To reach that fourth round, however, Berger upset Brian Teacher, the 1980 Australian Open champion, in a four-setter in the third round. The big joke about Berger at that U.S. Open was that this unknown junior and his family had to keep checking back into the swank St. Moritz Hotel on Central Park South every time he’d win his match. No other Kalamazoo champion has fared better as Berger did at that U.S. Open in the Open Era.

In today’s world, Berger would’ve probably taken that fourth-round appearance as a sign he was ready for the real world: the pros. But in those days, juniors went on to college and that’s exactly what Berger did. He enrolled at Clemson University, where he spent two years and received All-American honors before joining the pro tour.

During his career, Berger won three titles (Buenos Aires in 1986, Sao Paulo in 1988 and Charleston in 1989). He ended the 1989 season with a year-end best ranking of No. 10, enjoying a career-high ranking of No. 7 in April of 1990. His best results at the Grand Slams was reaching two quarterfinals — at the 1989 French and U.S. Opens. He also represented the United States in Davis Cup, winning both singles matches he played.

“For me, the highlight was playing Davis Cup, without a doubt,” Berger said. “That’s something I always dreamed of being part of and is one of my greatest memories. Obviously, making it to the Top 10 was something I’m not sure I ever thought I’d be able to do. Getting to the quarterfinals of a couple of Grand Slams would be some of my highlights. And getting to the semifinals at the Lipton (Key Biscayne) at home in front of friends and family was exciting.”

During his career, Berger claimed a number of victories against top players, including Mats Wilander, Pete Sampras, Michael Chang and Boris Becker. In fact, when he upset Becker 6-1, 6-1 in the Indian Wells third round, en route to the semifinals, it would turn out to be the worst defeat Becker would suffer during his stellar career.

“Really, when I look back on my career I think the thing that is nice is that I did everything I could to be the best player I could become,” Berger said. “I was known by my peers to be a great competitor, somebody who was pretty fierce on the court. You know, it’s great to be able to look back and have no regrets in the way I went about my tennis and I think that’s what it’s all about.”

Berger would be the first to admit that although he was a top 10 guy his American compatriots, such as Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, kept him from being a major focal point in the game. However, there is one notable, quirky style to his game that many fans remember clearly. Berger had a unique service motion where he did away with the normal backswing motion of a serve. When he got in position to serve, his starting point was with the racket located behind his back — almost as if he was using it as a back scratcher.

“My serve developed — the first time I ever used it I was 16-years-old and I was playing the 16-and-unders at Kalamazoo,” Berger said. “I was going to graduate high school a little bit ahead so that was the year that college coaches were going to be looking to recruit me because I was going to graduate at 17. In my first round match I pulled a muscle very badly — my chest muscles — and the only way I could’ve continued the tournament was to continue serving in a half motion. I served some of the best tennis I ever served.

“That was the first time I ever used that serve,” Berger continued. “When I went to college my first year I was having a lot of shoulder issues and I also wasn’t serving that great – it was probably the weakest part of my game. So I just decided to try the serve again and it just worked better for me so I stuck with it and never went back.”

Upon his retirement, Berger went into coaching and spent some time as a coach at the University of Miami. In 2003, he joined the USTA national coaching staff, working to help current players and assist in identifying talent for the future. Berger believed his path after playing the pros was to pursue coaching as it would fulfill his desire to give back to the game he loved.

“I find it extremely satisfying at times, sometimes not as satisfying, but overall I really enjoy what I do,” Berger said. “I do love learning about tennis. I enjoy trying to become as good as I can as a coach. I don’t feel like I go to work every day. I feel like I get to follow my passion.”

“The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players Of All Time” is a guide to the best and most influential Jewish tennis players in the history of the sport and includes features and biographies of the greatest players, stories of both break-out success and anti-Semitism. Beginning with the Italian Baron Umberto de Morpurgo in the 1920s, the book features stories such as the best German player who was prevented from playing by the Nazis, the player who competed on both the men’s and women’s tour, the only fully Jewish player to rank No. 1 in the world, and the player who was denied entry into a country to play a Women’s Tennis Association tournament—in the 21st century. This history also discusses the ways in which Jewish individuals have been instrumental behind the scenes, playing key roles in the growth of tennis into one of the world’s most popular sports. Among the 37 players featured are Dick Savitt, Brian Teacher, Ilana Kloss, Aaron Krickstein, Brad Gilbert, Julie Heldman, Amos Mansdorf, Anna Smashnova, Justin Gimelstob, Angela Buxton and Brian Gottfried. The book retails for $19.95 and is available where books are sold, including here on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/193755936X/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_vl8rub1RK7P00

“Tennis does have its ‘Game, Set and Matzo’ element and I am thrilled to present them in ‘The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time,’” said Harwitt. “Each player’s personal saga will touch all tennis fans, Jewish or not, because their stories are instrumental to the history of the game. The experience writing this book was an exciting and rewarding adventure in discovering many fascinating stories.”

Harold Solomon, who is also profiled in the book, contributed the foreword to the book. “You don’t need to be Jewish to appreciate the story of any of these Jewish tennis players,” wrote Solomon. “You just have to be someone who has a curious side and likes to learn about people and how they ended up being who they are and doing what they did.”

Gottfried, the 1977 French Open singles finalist, said of Harwitt, “Who better to write a story about the lives of Jewish tennis players than someone who has ‘been there and done that.’ Sandy has been a fixture on the ATP and WTA Tour for many decades as a very knowledgeable and respected tennis journalist. My family and I have enjoyed getting to know her over the years and being included in her book has been an honor and a privilege.”

Peter Bodo of Tennis.com said, “Sandy Harwitt is a deeply experienced and well-traveled writer, which brings to this book a special stamp of authority. It isn’t just a good book about Jewish tennis players – it’s a good tennis book, period.”

U.S. Davis Cup captain and former world No. 1 Jim Courier said, “Sandy has lived and breathed the sport for years. Her detail and insight into these players personal and professional lives is both remarkable and inspiring.”

Tennis writer and historian Joel Drucker said, “Dozens of Jewish men and women have made a distinctive mark on tennis. Longstanding tennis writer Sandra Harwitt has dug deep to bring these compelling stories to life – fascinating backstories and remarkable journeys both inside and outside the lines.”

Television commentator and former player Mary Carillo said, “Sandy Harwitt is the ideal writer to bring you the lives of the people in this book. She is a true tennis “lifer” and her love and knowledge of the game has produced one remarkable story after another, about tennis players you knew, or wish you knew.”

Harwitt, a freelance sportswriter who specializes in tennis, has covered more than 70 Grand Slam tournaments for media outlets such as the Associated Press, ESPN.com, ESPNW.com, the Miami Herald, the New York Times, and Tennis magazine. She is a member of the International Tennis Writers’ Association and the Association for Women in Sports Media. She lives in Boca Raton, Florida.

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All-Time” by Steve Flink, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “Macci Magic: Extracting Greatness From Yourself And Others” by Rick Macci with Jim Martz, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer (www.RogerFedererBook.com), “The Days of Roger Federer” by Randy Walker, “Andy Murray, Wimbledon Champion: The Full Extraordinary Story” by Mark Hodgkinson, “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “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, “Court Confidential: Inside The World Of Tennis” by Neil Harman, “A Backhanded Gift” by Marshall Jon Fisher, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), “Internet Dating 101: It’s Complicated, But It Doesn’t Have To Be” by Laura Schreffler, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “Bone Appetit: Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Suzan Anson, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin among others.

Improve Your Backhand – Book Excerpt From “Tennis Made Easy”

Having trouble with your backhand? The following chapter from Kelly Gunterman’s book “Tennis Made Easy” may help you execute the shot better the next time you play. To improve your game, buy or download his book here https://www.amazon.com/dp/0942257715/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_BsAYybKY4RG27 via @amazon

 

The backhand has remained a bit more traditional than the new more open stance forehand. That being said let’s try to make some adjustments in the backhand to make it more of a strength on the court. No longer will our opponents say “just hit to his/her backhand and you’ll win the point”. Our goal is to be equally strong off both sides.

The forehand and two handed backhand are based on rotational swings with the dominate arm swinging across our body. We need the rotation of our hips and shoulders to clear our body from the path of the swing and allow the racquet to accelerate through the ball. The one-handed backhand is much more of a linear swing, with your arm swinging away from your body. Here, keep our body much more sideways and balanced to accelerate the racquet through the contact point of the swing.

One handed backhand;

Hitting the backhand with one hand is a little less stable than the two-handed backhand but with the proper footwork, grip and timing this can be a very graceful and effective shot with a lot of variety. We can drop the racquet head [photo] and close the face to hit with a great deal of topspin or we can start the racquet head higher [photo] and more open to hit through the ball with underspin or slice. Slice, topspin or flat backhands are similar in body movement. The difference is the starting position of the racquet, the plane of the swing through the ball and the follow through

[Sequential photos of one handed slice and topspin backhands]

Back to basics:

• Step first with the foot on the same side as the ball. ( the left foot for right handed players) This turns your hips and shoulders while preparing you to move to the ball. At this point the racquet should be prepared (take the racquet back) for the shot.

• Weight is back when the racquet is back. Try to hold your weight on the back foot until the swing starts forward, transferring the weight as the racquet moves through the contact point of the stroke.

• In the backswing close the racquet face to hit with topspin, [photo] or open it to hit with underspin. [photo] This can be done by rolling the knuckles toward the court for topspin and to the sky for slice. Dropping the racquet head much lower, below the contact point of the swing, allows you to generate a great deal of top spin. Use your free hand to pull the racquet back, this helps you control the angle of the backswing and generate the desired spin on the shot.

• Step into the court with the right foot (right handed players), not across your body. [photo] By having the weight transferring in the direction of the shot it allows you to swing faster through the ball, which generates a much stronger shot.

• Contact with the ball is slightly in front of the right foot. The more closed and down the racquet head is in the backswing, the more the contact point has to be front of the body. If the racquet face is slightly open and underspin is the goal the contact point is much closer to the body.

• As you start the racquet forward pull your free hand back (much like an umpire making a safe sign) to keep your shoulders sideways to the net. This simple move helps keep the racquet head moving through the contact point and allows you to follow through the plane of the ball to get the desired depth and spin.

• For topspin finish high and in front. Release the wrist on the follow through like throwing a Frisbee. The release of the wrist adds racquet head speed, which increases power through the full swing.

• When hitting the ball with underspin or slice avoid chopping at the ball. This swing feels as if you are sliding the ball off a table top with a very smooth motion through the ball. The wrist rolls under the contact point allowing the racquet to impart underspin. The racquet finishes up and slightly open on the follow through. [photo of finish]

• Recover back to the athletic ready position anticipating the move to the next shot.

If you are trying to develop topspin or slice backhand it is very important that you keep your body sideways through the swing. If your shoulders open on the swing, the racquet face will also open at contact and the ball tends to go high and long. Staying sideways through the shot helps keep the racquet head moving through the plane of the ball.

Practice drill; Standing sideways with a ball in your racquet hand, hold ball next to your left hip, for right handed players, now simply throw the ball across the net to the back fence with a backhand motion. Keeping your shoulders sideways and releasing the wrist on the throw will give you a great feel for the one handed backhand. [photo] This will give you the feel of a full follow through on the one handed backhand. This drill can also give you a feel of how to direct the ball from one side of the court to the other. With the same motion throw a few balls cross court and then down the line. This is exactly the feel you will need to direct the ball on your backhand.

Two handed backhand;

The biggest difference between the one handed and two handed backhand, besides the obvious second hand on the racquet is how much your body moves through the swing. As we discussed earlier, the one handed backhand is a linear swing with the hips and shoulders remaining somewhat sideways through the entire swing. The two handed backhand requires the body to rotate through the swing as if you are hitting a left handed forehand for right handed players.

As with the one handed backhand, we initiate the swing by turning the left foot parallel to the base line and placing it slightly behind the right foot. [photo] This move rotates the hips and shoulders preparing the racquet for the stroke. Keeping your hands for right handed players close to your left hip sets you up to take a rip at the backhand. Remember, this is a left hand dominate swing that feels as if you are driving the racquet through the ball. The weight transfers from your left foot to your right by pushing off from the left foot, rotating your hips and shoulders as you accelerate the racquet through the contact point of the swing. Finish over your right shoulder with the elbows high. Imagine you are wearing a watch on your left arm; now finish with your watch next to your right ear.

[Sequential photo of the two handed backhand]

Since this shot is very similar in structure to a forehand, work the rotation of the hips, direction can be gained by pointing the left elbow to the desired target (right handed players). By the time you point your elbow to the target the ball is long off your strings but this thinking does help with developing the proper rotation on the swing. Stay relaxed and allow the body to flow with the swing.

Back to basics:

• Preparation is similar to that of the one handed backhand. Always step first with the foot on the side that the ball is coming from. Turn your left foot and step to the side to prepare for the two handed backhand for right handed players.

• Keep the weight back when the racquet is back. Holding your weight on the back foot longer allows the transfer of weight as the racquet is moving through the contact point of the swing. This helps keep everything in balance as you swing. The “old school” thinking of step in and get your racquet back just doesn’t work.

• In the backswing start with your hands close to your left pocket for right handed players. This gives you a solid reference point to start the swing. For high or very low balls there will be some adjusting to this starting point but it is a great place to start when developing a new two handed backhand.

• Use your left hand!!! For right handed players. This shot is very similar to hitting a left handed forehand. If the right hand becomes dominate the swing will be a pull rather than a drive resulting in a weaker grip and consequently a much weaker shot.

• Avoid a big cross over step as it locks your hips and limits the swing. Rotate your hips and shoulders eliminating a lot of the pressure off on your lower back. The rotation makes the swing to longer, resulting in a faster more powerful stroke.

• Follow through over your right shoulder for right handed players, as if you were listening to your watch on your left wrist with your right ear. This little trick will guarantee a solid follow through and helps keep the racquet on a low to high path resulting in more topspin.

• Finish with the back foot on the toe, which assures you have rotated your hips and works as a balance point. This looks a little like the finish of a golf swing but don’t hold the position very long; just long enough to finish the shot and maintain your balance.

• Recover back to your athletic ready position.

If you hit a two handed backhand, topspin is your shot of choice. But to hit with slice use one hand or at least release the left hand as you swing forward. It is important to keep the shoulders sideways to the net to avoid the racquet face opening on contact.

Tennis Fantasies With John Newcombe & The Legends To Mark Its 30th Year

The longest-running, most comprehensive tennis fantasy camp in the world marks a special anniversary this coming October.

The 30th edition of Tennis Fantasies with John Newcombe and the Legends will take place from Sunday, October 15 to Friday, October 20, 2017 at the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch in New Braunfels, Texas (30 miles from San Antonio).

Tennis Fantasies was created in 1988 by Steve Contardi.  A Cincinnati-based tennis club manager and veteran teaching pro, Contardi the previous year had attended a baseball fantasy camp and asked himself a simple question: Why not try this with tennis?  Contardi soon joined forces with Newcombe, a three-time Wimbledon singles champion who also operated one of the world’s preeminent tennis facilities.

A male-only event, Tennis Fantasies takes place only one week a year.  Approximately 80 campers play on teams under the eyes of the legends – players who have accumulated more than 150 Grand Slam titles.  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 mixing beer and blarney inside the ranch’s Waltzing Matilda Room.

ROD LAVER ATTENDING FOR THIRD TIME

The presence of Laver – often considered the greatest player in tennis history – has added an exciting new dimension.  Laver first came to Tennis Fantasies in 2014 and in 2017 will appear for the third time.  “It was great to come and spend time with all my friends who I’d competed against,” said Laver, “and then it was terrific to meet all the campers and see how much they loved playing and being around the tennis.”

Said Newcombe, “The repeat rate is more than 70 percent, so over the years everyone from the legends to the campers have really made this a special community.  Competition and camaraderie are the cornerstones of Tennis Fantasies.  People leave blood on the court – and then they eat their meals together.  It’s a lot like the days when we were all traveling the world.”

Hall of Famers Newcombe and Laver will be joined in 2017 by 12 additional coaches, including five other Hall of Famers: Roy Emerson, Fred Stolle, Mark Woodforde, Owen Davidson and Charlie Pasarell.  Rounding out the staff are seven Grand Slam champions: Marty Riessen, Rick Leach, Brian Gottfried, Dick Stockton, Luke Jensen, Murphy Jensen and Ross Case.

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

 

Get Your Tickets For The Miami Open!

The 2017 Miami Open presented by Itaú will be returning to the Crandon Park Tennis Center for its 30th consecutive year and now is your opportunity to secure tickets to what will be another entertainment and sports extravaganza.

The 2017 Miami Open will take place March 20 – April 2 and will once again be the hottest ticket in town. With ticket packages starting at just $136 and individual session tickets starting at just $30, the Miami Open will be the place-to-be in Miami.

For more information or to purchase tickets go to www.miamiopen.com or call (305) 442-3367.

For three decades the Miami Open has been bringing the best in sports, food, fashion, and entertainment to the Magic City and 2017 will be another global showcase of what makes the event and surrounding community so special.

Located in one of the world’s most multicultural cities, with amazing weather and a glamorous celebrity appeal, the Miami Open has an energy and excitement unlike any other tournament in the world.  Combine that with the greatest men’s and women’s tennis players in the game and you are certain to have an experience to remember.

For those looking to entertain clients and guests in style, the Miami Open has a limited number of Patron Sponsorship opportunities available. These highly sought after sponsorships do not become available very often and include access to premium seat locations for all Stadium sessions, VIP parking, access to the exclusive Patron Sponsor lounge, box seat name identification and recognition in tournament promotional materials and front gate, and 12 vouchers for meals at the Champions Club. These sponsorships will not be available for long, so call today.

Vacation Packages are also on sale. If you are planning a trip to Miami for the Miami Open, then let us take care of your hotel and ticket arrangements at one low price. Packages are inclusive for two (2) guests, which includes three nights at one of our partner properties, plus tickets to the sessions of your choice for the 2017 Miami Open.

Don’t miss any of the action. Secure your seats for 2017 and watch the best players in the world as they battle on the purple courts for one of the most coveted titles in tennis.

About the Miami Open presented by Itaú

The 2017 Miami Open will be played March 20-April 2 at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Miami. The two-week combined event is owned and operated by IMG. The Miami Open is one of nine ATP Masters 1000 Series events on the ATP calendar, a Premier Mandatory event on the WTA calendar, and features the top men’s and women’s tennis players in the world. The tournament is widely regarded as the most glamorous on the ATP and WTA calendars because of its exotic Miami location, thriving nightlife, five-star hotels and restaurants, beautiful weather and beaches, and its celebrity appeal. For ticket information, call +1.305.442.3367 or visit www.miamiopen.com.

About Itaú

Itau is the largest Latin America privately owned bank, with approximately 95,000 employees and operations in 20 countries throughout the Americas, Asia and Europe. Itaú’s relationship with sport goes back to the 1970s, when Itaú first sponsored the Itaú Tennis Cup in Brazil in 1970. Itaú has been a sponsor of the Miami Open for the last six years, and also sponsors the Rio Open, the only combined ATP/WTA event in South America. Itaú also supports the Brazilian Women’s Tennis Circuit, only female professional tournament in South America, certified by the Brazilian Tennis Confederation (CBT) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), as well as the Tennis Institute Training Center, responsible for the development of young, new talent.

About IMG

IMG is a global leader in sports, events, media and fashion, operating in more than 30 countries. The company represents and manages some of the world’s greatest sports figures and fashion icons; stages hundreds of live events and branded entertainment experiences annually; and is one of the largest independent producers and distributors of sports media. IMG also specializes in sports training; league development; and marketing, media and licensing for brands, sports organizations and collegiate institutions. In 2014, IMG was acquired by WME, a leading global entertainment agency.