Ashley Harkleroad

Summer heats up in D.C. with the Washington Kastles tennis team: a win in photos

By Romi Cvitkovic

From a grandmother doing “The Dougie,” to 2011 Washington Kastles’ tennis players receiving commemorative championship rings, to familiar D.C. faces in the crowd like Kastles’ owner Mark Ein, former D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty and current Tennis Channel commentator Brett Haber, there is something in store for every tennis fan during the Washington Kastles’ season at The Wharf in downtown D.C.

Thursday night’s home opener against the New York Sportimes marked the Kastles’ 19th straight win that stretched from last year’s perfect 16-0 season. Returning players Leander Paes,  Bobby Reynolds and Arina Rodionova, along with newcomer Anastasia Rodionova, entertained the crowd with five tight matches and energetic play, that culminated in a 20-18 win.

The evening festivities began with mixed doubles as Anastasia Rodionova and Leander Paes took on the duo of Martina Hingis and Robert Kendrick. Paes, a thirteen time men’s and mixed doubles Slam champion, carried his partner with his deft hands at net to even the score at 4-4. Tennis wouldn’t be tennis without a disputed call, and after a brief discussion with the official by the Sportimes coach, play continued — but the Sportimes had lost their momentum. Paes quickly knocked off four clean winners, including a backhand volley to seal the set, 5-4(1).

Next up was women’s doubles featuring the Rodionova sisters (the “Hot Rods”) taking on Martina Hingis and Ashley Harkleroad (the “Models”). With Hingis, a former World No. 1, and Harkleroad, a former World No. 39, the Rodionova sisters had an uphill battle. But with competitive rallies, good looks, and giggling players, it was difficult not to get energized. Arina’s serve was broken at love with a couple of unforced errors and the “Hot Rods” quickly went down 1-3. They re-grouped and broke back on Hingis’ serve but two games later, the “Hot Rods” were again broken by the “Models”, losing 3-5.

With the Sportimes leading with a score of 9-8, the men’s doubles team of Leander Paes and Bobby Reynolds kicked it into high gear over the tandem of Robert Kendrick and Jesse Witten. Reynolds, a former World No. 46 in doubles, blasted serves while Paes fed off his lead to put away easy volleys. In the blink of an eye, the Kastles’ were up 4-0 on a Sportimes team that was struggling to find their balance. Reynolds, nicknamed “The Closer” for his ability to seal the team win on the final men’s singles matches, did much the same as he served out a 5-0 win in doubles, giving the Kastles’ a 13-9 edge.

Halftime was full of spectator giveaways, quickstart tennis with Paes and Coach Murphy Jensen with two lucky young fans, as well a ring presentation for Rennae Stubbs, who was part of the 2011 Washington Kastles Championship team. The short ceremony had Coach Jensen and Paes praising Stubbs, Paes receiving a kiss from both Stubbs and Jensen(!), and Stubbs commenting on her love of the city of Washington D.C.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Iuvk0jNRQc&hd=1&w=585

After crowd applause and appreciation, the tennis action was quickly underway as Anastasia Rodionova took on Martina Hingis in the women’s singles. As Hingis hit deep into the court, Rodionova responded with wicked backhand winners to even the set out at 2-2. After failing to convert on three break points, Rodionova self-destructed hitting error after error, giving Hingis the set, 5-2.

With the score tightly standing at 15-14 for the Kastles, the concluding men’s singles match between Bobby Reynolds and Jesse Witten had a whole season riding on the outcome. Always the most intense match of the night, it didn’t disappoint as it went the distance with a tiebreaker at 4-4 and a Reynolds fistpump to the crowd. Witten, although deceptively agile and hard-hitting, couldn’t do much to hold back an energized Reynolds who reeled off three winners to go up 3-0 in the tiebreaker. After a Witten error and an unreturnable serve by Reynolds,  the Kastles “Closer” sealed the win, 20-18.

After celebratory handshakes, and exchanges of of hugs and laughs, the Kastles team huddled together on court as any team proud of winning and keeping the steak alive would.

Catch the Washington Kastles this month as they battle for another perfect season! Full schedule and for tickets, click here.

Full gallery below; credit to author.

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Kournikova Out of Chilean Mine!!

Anna Kournikova made her first public appearance since she was rescued after over two months underground along with 33 Chilean miners at last week’s Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships in Surprise, Ariz.

Well, she wasn’t really trapped in the Chilean mine. But, while in Arizona, she did sport some great looking sun-glasses like those miners did as their eyes slowly got used to sunlight.

On Saturday, she participated in mixed doubles matches in conjunction with the event during the day and night sessions.

Mark Philippoussis won the singles title at the event, defeating Jim Courier in the final. Michael Chang beat John McEnroe in the third-place match. Other participating players were Wayne Ferreira, Jimmy Arias, Aaron Krickstein and Jeff Tarango. Ashley Harkleroad, the Playboy pin-up of tennis, also participated in the mixed doubles events with Kournikova.

Here are some more photos of the event, courtesy of the InsideOut Sports & Entertainment. For more info on the Champions Series, go to www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com

Harkleroad Wedding Photos

Let’s just say that these photos of Ashley Harkleroad are not quite as interesting as others we have seen of the tennis starlet, but these are photos of her wedding to her coach/manager Chuck Adams. The two tennis aces were married on September 19 in Inglewood Courthouse in Inglewood, Calif. The two have an infant child, Charlie, (born March 30, 2009) who also attended the ceremony.

Harkleroad, 24, was once ranked as high as No. 39 in the world and represented the United States in both Fed Cup and Hopman Cup. She dropped off the circuit in 2009 when she was pregnant with Charlie, but plans to make a comeback in 2010. The tennis tart is best known for posing for Playboy magazine in 2008.

Nicknamed “Pebbles” since she lived in the town of “Flintstone” – a one traffic light town in Northern Georgia – Harkleroad was previously married ATP tennis pro Alex Bogomolov from December 2004 to October 2006.

Adams, 38, was ranked as high as No. 34 in the world and reached three ATP singles finals and reached the fourth round of the 1993 US Open.

This Week In Tennis Business

The US Open Series is in full swing with a few events completed and four weeks of great tennis still to be played before the start of the US Open. Here are some of the big headlines from the latest edition of “This Week in Tennis Business”: Billie Jean King will soon receive America’s highest civil honor from President Obama…In his first exhibition match with a current ATP player, Andre Agassi will take on former World No. 1 Marat Safin, just days before Safin plays his final grand slam event…The Bank of the West Classic signs an extension to stay at its present location through 2012.

  • Tennis legend Billie Jean King will be honored by President Barack Obama on August 12 at a White House ceremony honoring 16 individuals as recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “I am honored and humbled to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom and I share this recognition with my family, friends and those who have come before me, those who will follow and those who are committed to making a difference in the lives of others,” said King.

  • Andre Agassi will face off against Marat Safin at the Asheville Civic Center during The Grand Slam of Asheville on August 28. Former Top 40 WTA player and new mom Ashley Harkleroad will be featured in the preliminary match against a local high school player.

  • The Bank of the West Classic will continue to be held at Stanford University’s Taube Family Tennis Center through 2012, allowing the longest running women’s only professional tournament to stay put at its current location in California. France’s Marion Bartoli defeated Venus Williams to win last week’s $700,000 Premier event.

  • The Bjorn Borg spring and summer underwear collection for 2010 was launched at fashion designer Peter Elliot’s posh Upper East Side clothing stores in New York City. The underwear collection features five styles for both men and women and can be found in Borg’s new SoHo store in Manhattan.

  • Kim Clijsters, who will be making her comeback on the WTA Tour next week in Cincinnati, has signed a sponsorship deal with the Adecco Group, a Swiss-based world leader in Human Resources.

  • Andy Roddick will headline the 10th annual BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis on August 27 in New York City. The charity event, featuring the world’s best tennis players and chefs, gives guests the chance to interact with their favorite players and chefs, while tasting special food dishes. The popular pre-US Open event is produced by AYS Sports Marketing and benefits the Food Bank For New York City.

  • Pacific Entermark GmbH, manufacturer of strings, grips and accessories, has announced the acquisition of the racquet sports division of Austrian-based Fischer Tennis. The newly purchased racquet sports division will be located in Hochdorf, Germany.

  • Nick Bollettieri, Rick Macci, Emilio Sanchez Vicario and former U.S. Davis Cup captain Tom Gorman are among the featured speakers at the United States Professional Tennis Association’s World Conference at the Marco Island Marriott Resort, Golf Club and Spa, which will be held from September 21 to 26 in Marco Island, Fla.

  • According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, 18.6 million Americans play tennis, a growth of 43 percent since 2000.

  • Adam Peterson, former coach of Lindsay Davenport and ATP Tour player, has been hired as a national coach for the USTA Player Development program and will be based in Carson, Calif.

Using your core

medballbasement-002You use your Core when you hit every single tennis shot. I’d like to show you how you use your core when hitting a two handed backhand, and how to strengthen it in the gym.

I chose pictures of Ashley Harkleroad training in the gym. Ash is using the cable machine to mimic the actual stroke. Training with the cable machines is one of the best things you can do to strengthen your game. This along with Medicine Ball training will help you control the ball more and add zip to your groundies.

This type of training should be done 2 to 3 times per week. When you start, start off with a light weight to ensure proper form and to prevent injury. If you are too loaded up with weight, you can strain your lower back and injure yourself.

mariasharapovabackhand

I chose Maria’s backhand to demonstrate this. As you can see from these two pictures, the starting positions are similar.

To get more “underneath” the full follow through, lower the cable machine handle and sweep through the hitting zone in a low to high fashion. This exercise continues to be one of the favorites of many of my clients. It’s different than your traditional weight lifting exercises and can be a lot of fun. Don’t be surprised if you see your heart rate spike up here!

To view the rest of the picture pictorial, click on the link below.
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Mondays With Bob Greene: The whole week Amelie was playing very solid

STARS

Andy Murray beat Rafael Nadal 6-3 4-6 6-0- to win the ABN Amro World Tennis in Rotterdam, Netherlands

Amelie Mauresmo beast Elena Dementieva 7-6 (7) 2-6 6-4 to win the Open GDF Suez in Paris, France

Radek Stepanek won the SAP Open in San Jose, California, by beating Mardy Fish 3-6 6-4 6-2

Vera Zvonareva won the Pattaya Women’s Open, beating Sania Mirza 7-5 6-1 in Pattaya City, Thailand

Thomas Robredo beat Thomaz Bellucci 6-3 3-6 6-4 to win the Brasil Open in Costa Do Sauipe, Brazil

Pete Sampras won the Champions Cup Boston by beating John McEnroe 7-6 (10) 6-4 in Boston, Massachusetts

SAYING

“The feeling you have when you conclude a tournament with the title is different than a good week with a defeat. It’s a special feeling. It gives you an extraordinary confidence.” – Amelie Mauresmo, after winning the Open GDF Suez in Paris, France.

“The whole week Amelie was playing very solid. She really picked up her game and played her best, especially today. … She has had some difficult times with all of those injuries, and it’s really great to see her win here, especially since it’s at home.” – Elena Dementieva, who lost the Paris final to Amelie Mauresmo.

“He made it difficult as he was hitting the ball so hard and being aggressive on every shot to try and keep the points short. It just shows how good he is that he can beat me on one leg.” – Andy Murray, after beating an injured Rafael Nadal to win in Rotterdam, but losing the second set.

“I had a problem with the injury, but I don’t want to talk about that. Andy played very well today and he deserved to win the tournament.” – Rafael Nadal.

“I’ve been playing a lot of tennis. Maybe it’s just a sign that I need to take a day off or two and get ready for the next event.” – Serena Williams, after pulling out of a WTA Tour event in Paris.

“The Tour is reviewing appropriate remedies for Ms. Peer and also will review appropriate future actions with regard to the future of the Dubai tournament. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour believes very strongly, and has a clear rule and policy, that no host country should deny a player the right to compete at a tournament for which she has qualified by ranking.” – Larry Smith, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour CEO, on the refusal of the United Arab Emirates to give a visa to Israeli Shahar Peer.

“This is my second tournament this year after six months of injury last year. I couldn’t ask for a better start by winning the mixed doubles in the Australian Open and making it to the final here in Pattaya City.” – Sania Mirza, who lost to Vera Zvonareva in the Pattaya Women’s Open title match.

“Everything went – starting with my leg, my feet. You stop moving, you get a little tight. … To say it doesn’t creep in your mind that you remember some of those losses you have in all those finals – I have 10 losses in all those finals – that’s a lot.” – Mardy Fish, the losing finalist in San Jose, California.

“It was an amazing week for me. It never happened to me to win the singles and doubles in the same week. It seems like there is some magic around here. I’m always playing well here.” – Radek Stepanek, who won both singles and doubles at the SAP Open.

STOPS PEER

Shahar Peer was denied a visa to compete in the Dubai Tennis Championships, a move that could damage Dubai’s efforts at fostering an image of full openness in business, sports and other high-profile events. Peer broke barriers last year when she became the first Israeli to play a WTA Tour event in Qatar. But the visa denial could prove to be a blow to Dubai. “Ms Peer has earned the right to play in the tournament and it’s regrettable that the UAF is denying her this right,” said Larry Scott, WTA chief executive. Scott said WTA tour officials will take a close look at the event’s future. Peer’s brother said the 21-year-old player applied for a visa months in advance and was assured by tournament organizers that she would be allowed entry.

SWEET SUCCESS

Amelie Mauresmo returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in two years when she beat Elena Dementieva in the final of the Open GDF Suez in Paris, France. A two-time Grand Slam tournament winner, Mauresmo has been beset by several injuries. Her last title came in Antwerp, Belgium, in February 2007.

STOPPED

Losing to Andy Murray in the final at Rotterdam, Netherlands, was the least of Rafael Nadal’s problem. The Spaniard hurt his knee in the first game of the second set and received treatment from the ATP trainer after the third game. Then came eight successive service breaks as Nadal went for broke on Murray’s service games. The strategy worked for awhile as Nadal won the second set to level the match. But after that it was all Murray, who kept the ball in play and cut down on his own errors. Murray’s victory was the first in Rotterdam for a British player, while the final pitted the top two seeds against each other for the first time since Ivan Lendl played Jimmy Connors in 1984.

SERBIA VS SPAIN

Serbia will travel to Spain for their World Group playoffs in April. In other matchups, with the winners qualifying for next year’s World Group competition, Slovak Republic will be at France, Germany and China and Ukraine an Argentina. The losing nations of the April 25-26 competition will drop to the World Group II in 2010. In World Group II playoffs, Canada will be at Belgium, Estonia at Israel, Poland at Japan, and Switzerland at Australia.

SIDELINED

A right knee injury forced Serena Williams to withdraw from her semifinal match at Elena Dementieva at the Open GDF Suez tournament in Paris, France. “My left knee always hurts, but this time it’s my right knee,” said Williams. “When I woke up this morning it wasn’t feeling good. I wasn’t moving well at all in practice.” Williams said she hurt her knee during a victory against Emile Loit and was in too much pain to compete.

SWIMMINGLY STUNNING

Three tennis players – Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, Maria Kirilenko of Russia and Tatiana Golovin of France – are appearing in the 46th edition of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Joining some of the world’s top supermodels, the players spent five days shooting on the secluded beaches of the Dominican Republic. While Hantuchova, Kirilenko and Golovin are making their SI Swimsuit debuts, several other players have been featured in the publication, including Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Anna Kournikova, Steffi Graf and Ashley Harkleroad.

SWITCHING COACHES

In a bid to regain the form that brought her the French Open title a year ago, Ana Ivanovic has hired Craig Kardon as her new coach. The 47-year-old Kardon has coached a number of other top players, including Martina Navratilova, Lindsay Davenport, Mary Pierce and Jennifer Capriati. Ivanovic, who had been coached by Sven Groeneveld, took over the number one ranking when she won at Roland Garros, but has since dropped to number eight in the world.

SPANISH RESCUE

Brazilian tennis is turning to Spain in a bid to reinvigorate the sport in the South American country. Emilio Sanchez Vicario, who led Spain to the Davis Cup title last year, will oversee a project to find new talent and reorganize the structure of the sport in Brazil. “The project will focus on high level in all spheres of the confederation, from youths to professionals. I chose Brazil because it has a very large base to work with,” said Sanchez Vicario, who won 15 singles and 50 doubles titles on the ATP tour. The only Brazilian player to reach number one in the world was Gustavo Kuerten, the three-time French Open champion who retired last year. There are currently no Brazilian women ranked in the top 100.

SAVES DAY

Tommy Haas helped out tournament officials of the SAP Open by playing two singles matches on the same day. The German downed Lars Poerschke 6-1 7-6 (8) in a first-round match, then returned to the court to play an exhibition match against Pete Sampras. “Tommy saved the day,” said Sampras, who had been scheduled to play James Blake. But citing back spasms, Blake withdrew from the exhibition match less than 15 minutes before the scheduled state. “Pete asked me and I said sure, why not?” Haas said. “A lot of people came to see Pete tonight, and not who he played. It was fun. Pete still has an unbelievable serve.” For the record, Haas beat Sampras 6-7 (4) 6-4 12-10 (match tiebreak).

SERBIAN IRE

Jelena Jankovic is a little ticked off at Roger Federer. Last month, Federer criticized the WTA rankings, saying a player who has never won a Grand Slam tournament should not be ranked number one in the world. Jankovic, who has been number one and has never won a major singles title, told Reuters that she could not understand why Federer felt he needed to hit out at women’s tennis while Rafael Nadal was, in her words, “so humble.” Jankovic said Federer should not criticize fellow players. “I don’t think it’s nice to attack other players,” the Serbian right-hander said.

STILL OUT

Maria Sharapova is now looking at the end of March before returning to tennis. Her shoulder injury has caused her to miss the last two Grand Slam tournaments as well as the Beijing Olympics. Writing on her web site, Sharapova said she hopes to return by March 25 at Key Biscayne, Florida, “depending on how things shape up.” The Russian has been recovering from a torn rotator cuff tendon in her right shoulder.

SENIORS

Mark Philippoussis, Jim Courier and Goran Ivanisevic will headline the field at The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Legends Championships to be held April 24-26 in Grand Cayman. The tournament is the fourth of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. The event’s other three competitors will be announced in the near future.

SUCH HIGH HOPES

Grigor Dimitrov, who won the Junior Boys titles at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, is moving to France where he will be coached by Peter Lundgren, the man who has coached Roger Federer and Marat Safin. A native of Bulgaria, Dimitrov will train at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in France.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Rotterdam: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes 6-2 7-5.

Paris: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Kveta Peschke and Lisa Raymond 6-4 3-6 10-4 (match tiebreak)

San Jose: Tommy Haas and Radek Stepanek beat Rohan Bopanna and Jarkko Nieminen 6-2 6-3

Pattaya City: Tamarine Tanasugarn and Yaroslav Shedova beat Yuliya Beygelzimer and Vitalia Diatchenko 6-3 6-2

Costa Do Sauipe: Marcel Granollers and Tommy Robredo beat Lucas Arnold Ker and Juan Monaco 6-4 7-5

SITES TO SURF

Marseille: www.open13.fr/

Buenos Aires: www.copatelmex.com/

Memphis: www.rmkchampionships.com/1/home/

Dubai: www.dubaitennischampionships.com

Bogota: www.copacolsanitas.com

Acapulco: www.abiertomexicanodetenis.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

576,000 Open 13, Marseille, France, hard

$600,000 Copa Telemex, Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay

$1,226,500 Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, Memphis, Tennessee, USA, hard

WTA TOUR

$2,000,000 Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, Dubai, United Arab Emigrates, hard

$220,000 Regions Morgan Keegan Championships & the Cellular South Cup, Memphis, Tennessee, USA, hard

$220,000 Copa Colsanitas, Bogota, Colombia, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$2,233,000 Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, Dubai, UAE, hard

$1,226,500 Abierto Mexicano Telcel, Acapulco, Mexico, clay

$500,000 Delray Beach International Tennis Championships, Delray Beach, Florida, USA, hard

WTA TOUR

$220,000 Abierto Mexicano Telcel, Acapulco, Mexico, clay

Bill Mountford: Exposure in America

If you support tennis in the United States, then I urge you to visit your local newsstands and purchase the July 14-21 double issue of Sports Illustrated.  First of all, it celebrates “the Greatest Match Ever” with an action shot of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer doing battle.  This will be a collector’s item for years to come.

Tennis has not gotten its due in recent years from SI.  The most important sports magazine in the US has not had a tennis player on the magazine cover in over five years

(Serena Williams was the last, from way back in May 2003).  What is the corporate reason for this slight? Apparently, the Sports Illustrated “tennis issues” have traditionally been among the worst-selling.

So… tennis supporters please heed the call.  Go to your newsstands and purchase one (or many) of this great issue and send a clear message to advertisers and the mainstream media.  For a review of ALL the times that tennis players have graced the cover of SI, visit http://subs.timeinc.net/SI/coverstore/CoverMain.jhtml?category=Cover&subcategory=tennis.

By the way, nothing should please the U.S. Tennis Association more than seeing this SI issue.  Tennis has enjoyed a growth period over the past half-decade that puts golf (to name just one traditional sport) to shame.  The USTA mission is to promote and develop the growth of tennis, and this cover exposure on Sports Illustrated is an invaluable marketing bonus.

Speaking of magazine covers, the August issue of Playboy magazine hits newsstands on Friday, July 18th.  America’s Ashley Harkleroad, the No. 72 ranked player on the WTA Tour, is this month’s cover girl.  This is a brave – and lucrative – move for the 23-year-old. She joins a list of other athletes to pose for Playboy, which includes Amanda Beard, Katarina Witt, and Gabrielle Reece.

Harkleroad will surely enjoy additional attention, and some extreme media scrutiny, throughout the summer on the “greatest road trip in sports.”  The US Open Series got underway this week.  Visit http://www.usopenseries.com/home/default.sps for daily updates and various previews and features.

On a feel-good note, if you are anywhere near a World Team Tennis franchise, take a carload of kids to these matches.  The unique format (men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles played in shorter sets and with no-ad scoring) creates an entertaining night out.  It also includes some of the greatest names in our sport, including past champions, current stars, and future prospects.  A small sampling of these players includes John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Lindsay Davenport, Bob and Mike Bryan, Serena and Venus Williams, and- of course- Anna Kournikova.  For a full list, as well as the schedule and standings, visit www.wtt.com.  Thankfully, the Tennis Channel is covering many of the matches.  Enjoy!

Lastly, a few weeks ago our sport lost a dear friend.  Thomas Pura, of Bedford Hills, NY and Los Angeles, passed away suddenly.  Pura produced the documentary “50,000 Balls” about top-level 12 & under tennis.  His precocious son, TJ, is one of America’s top young prospects.  Tom was always a smiling, positive presence in the junior tennis community, and his love and support of our sport was obvious.  The Pura family requests that in lieu of flowers any donation in Tom’s name should be made to Partnership for After School Education (PASE), 120 Broadway, 2nd Fl., New York, NY 10271 or Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program, 130 West 143rd Street, New York, NY  10037. Rest in peace, Tom.  You will be sorely missed.

Tennis Featured on Covers Of Playboy, Sports Illustrated

A first for the sport of tennis as in consecutive weeks, the sport graces the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine and Playboy magazine. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are both cover boys on Sports Illustrated for playing the “Greatest Match Ever” at the Wimbledon final. U.S. Fed Cup star Ashley Harkleroad is the first tennis player to pose for Playboy and is the cover girl of the August issue, now on newsstands. Both are sure signs that tennis is continuing to cross over into the main stream.

Mondays With Bob Greene: Rafael Nadal Wins His First Grass-Court Title

16 June 2008

STARS

Rafael Nadal won his first grass-court title, the Artois Championships, by beating Novak Djokovic 7-6 (6) 7-5 in London, England.

Roger Federer won the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, for the fifth time, downing Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-4

Nikolay Davydenko beat Tommy Robredo 6-3 6-3 to win the Orange Prokom Open in Warsaw, Poland

Kateryna Bondarenko won her first WTA Tour title, the DFS Classic in Birmingham, England, by beating Yanina Wickmayer 7-6 (7) 3-6 7-6 (4)

Maria Kirilenko defeated Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-0 6-2 to win the Torneo Barcelona KIA in Barcelona, Spain

SAYINGS

“I now have titles on all surfaces, so I am now a more complete player than I was a week ago.” – Rafael Nadal, after winning a grass-court tournament, The Artois Championships.

“It feels great. Finally I have my own title. I didn’t expect my first one to come on grass.” – Kateryna Bondarenko, who earned her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title by capturing the DFS Classic.

“Maybe if he wins it six times people won’t question him. People are sitting here saying, `Can Roger win Wimbledon?’ Yes, he can. He’s won it five times.” – Andy Roddick, about Roger Federer.

“It’s been a terrific week. I’ve only been playing on grass for three years so it’s quite an improvement for m e to get to the final.” – Novak Djokovic, after losing to Nadal in the final at Queen’s Club.

“I need three days off. Four would be amazing! I’ve spent nine days in the last four months at home. I need to be with friends, family, forget the tennis for a few days. I need to play some golf.” – Rafael Nadal.

“We’re confident going into Wimbledon. I think we’ll be second seeds, and anytime you’re the opposite of the Bryans it’s a nice thing.” – Daniel Nestor, who with his partner Nenad Zimonjic won The Artois Championships doubles.

“I am mentally exhausted after the French Open. I am not ready to compete so soon after winning my first Grand Slam.” – Ana Ivanovic, withdrawing from the Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Eastbourne, England.

“My game plane was just to make her play every point. I knew she hadn’t had a lot of wins recently and I wanted to stop her taking the initiative out there.” – Bethany Mattek, after upsetting world number seven Nicole Vaidisova at the DFS Classic.

“I think I played well. Even though my knee hurt a lot, I kept on fighting. I’m not a quitter.” – Yanina Wickmayer,

“Nobody beats John Sadri 15 times, so he’s lucky I retired. I drew the line.” – John Sadri, noting his career record against John McEnroe was 14-0, including the 1978 NCAA championship match.

SPANISH HISTORY

When Rafael Nadal won The Artois Championships at Queen’s Club in London, he became the first Spaniard to capture a grass-court title since Andres Gimeno at Eastbourne, England, in 1972. Nadal also became the first player to win the French Open and The Queen’s Club in the same year since Ilie Nastase of Romania captured both titles in 1973. He also is the first player since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win at Roland Garros and a grass-court title in the same year. And he is the first left-hander to win The Artois Championships since Scott Draper of Australia in 1996.

SURFACE STREAK

Roger Federer has compiled an Open Era record 59-match winning streak on grass going into Wimbledon, where he is seeking his sixth consecutive title. He extended his record to 25-0 at the Gerry Weber Open, where he has won in his last five appearances on the grass in Halle, Germany. Federer’s last loss on grass was to Mario Ancic in the first round at Wimbledon in 2002. The victory was Federer’s 10th grass-court title, tying him with Pete Sampras for the Open Era record.

SERBIAN SWEEP

With Ana Ivanovic ranked number one in the world and Jelena Jankovic number two, Serbia becomes only the third nation since the rankings began in 1975 to have the world’s top two players. The United States have had five different pairs occupy first and second in the rankings at the same time, and Belgium joined the select group when Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters held those two spots.

STRATOSPHERIC MATCH

Kateryna Bondarenko of the Ukraine and Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium reached the final of a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event for the first time when they squared off for the title at the DFS Classic in Birmingham, England. Before last week Bondarenko had never been beyond the quarterfinals of a Tour singles event, while Wickmayer’s best showing before Birmingham was a second-round appearance in Antwerp, Belgium. Bondarenko won the hard-fought battle of newcomers 3-6 (7) 3-6 7-6 (4).

SECOND-SET IRE

Fernando Gonzalez forfeited his third-round match at Queen’s Club when he let his temper get the best of him. The Chilean was warned for ball abuse in the first set, then was docked a point when he smashed his racket in anger. When he abused a ball again after losing his serve in the 11th game of the second set, umpire Les Maddock issued a game penalty, sending Gonzalez to the locker room and giving the match to Ivo Karlovic.

SEEKING MORE SAY

The world’s top three players have become political allies in an attempt to take more control over their sport. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are all but certain to be elected to the ATP Player Council. The three have complained about the current ATP leadership and have expressed concern about the potential impact of a lawsuit filed against the ATP by tournament organizers in Hamburg, Germany. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are running unopposed for three of the four slots reserved for players ranked one to 50.

SPADEA INTO WIMBLEDON

American Vincent Spadea and Frenchman Thierry Ascione gained spots in the main draw at Wimbledon when officials decided not to award the final two of eight wild cards in the men’s singles. Spadea, ranked 110th in the world, and Ascione, ranked 119th, where the next two players in the rankings who were eligible to play at the grass court Grand Slam. Receiving wild cards into the men’s field were Belgian Xavier Malisse, Britons Jamie Baker and Alex Bogdanovic, Canadian Frank Dancevic and Jeremy Chardy of France. The women’s wild cards went to Australia’s Samantha Stosur, Poland’s Urzula Radwanska, Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro and Britain’s Elena Baltacha, Naomi Cavaday, Katie O’Brien and Melanie South.

STILL NUMBER ONE

Cara Black is moving up the all-time list of players who have held the number one ranking in doubles. The Zimbabwean has been ranked number one for a total of 68 weeks, tying her with Helena Sukova. Martina Navratilova leads the list with a total of 237 weeks being ranked number one. Liezel Huber, who teamed with Black to win the DFS Classic in Birmingham, England, joined her partner at number one and now has been ranked at the top position for 31 weeks.

SPANISH SKIN

Fernando Verdasco has bared all for a good cause. The Spanish player can be seen without clothing in the July issue of the United Kingdom’s Cosmopolitan Magazine. Verdaco is the second tennis player to pose in the nude in support of the Everyman Male Cancer Campaign. Another Spaniard, Tommy Robredo, was the first to pick a unique way to help raise awareness and funds for research into testicular and prostate cancer.

SWISS RETURN

Martina Hingis and Jana Novotna will repeat their Wimbledon final of 1997 when they play an exhibition match at the Liverpool International Tournament. Hingis retired after banned for two years from competitive tennis following a positive test for cocaine at Wimbledon last year. Hingis also took time to join Pat Cash, Goran and American Ashley Harkleroad at a charity dinner in Liverpool, England, to support Claire House, a hospice for children.

SWITCHING SPORTS

John Sadri’s current love is golf, where last week he shot an opening-round 77 that put him 10 strokes off the lead in the North Carolina Amateur in Raleigh. Now 51, Sadri once was ranked number 14 in the world in tennis and lost to Guillermo Vilas in the 1979 Australian Open men’s singles final. Sadri, who owns a construction company in Charlotte, North Carolina, said he took up golf to get closer to business clients.

SIGN OF AFFECTION

Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s home town is going big-time to honor their champion. How big? The New South Wales town of Barellan is building a giant replica of the wooden tennis racket Goolagong used during the height of her success in the 1970s. The steel construction will be 13.8 meters (45 feet) high and will stand on a 45-degree angle in the town’s Evonne Goolagong Park. Goolagong won 92 tournaments during her career, including Wimbledon in 1971 and 1980.

SPORT FOR AUSSIES

Australia’s most popular sport is tennis, according to the Sweeney Sports Report, which used various indicators such as participation, attendance at major events, viewing figures and merchandise sales to quantify the popularity of major sports. Golf, which moved into first place when Aussie Greg Norman was the world’s number one player, is now near the bottom of the list. The survey showed that swimming was second most popular and cricket third. The year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, was voted the third most popular sporting event in Australia behind the Australian Football Rules Grand Final and The Melbourne Cup, a horse race.

SPEED SKILLS

Tennis players can judge speed better than others, according to a study in Switzerland. But it could either be the case that tennis improves temporal processing or that better temporal processing allows people to become better tennis player. And the effects observed were quite small since we all use some of the skills on a daily basis, as when driving a car. Tennis players are only significantly better at spotting tennis balls in a match, not at spotting a cat running across the road while they are driving.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

London: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa 6-4 7-6 (3)

Halle: Mikhail Youzhny and Mischa Zverev beat Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes 3-6 6-4 10-3 (match tiebreak)

Warsaw: Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski beat Nikolay Davydenko and Yuri Schukin 6-0 3-6 10-4 (match tiebreak)

Birmingham: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Yaroslava Shvedova and Tamarine Tanasugarn 5-7 6-4 10-4 (match tiebreak)

Barcelona: Lourdes Dominguez Lino and Arantxa Parra Santonja beat Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 4-6 7-5 10-4 (match tiebreak)

SITES TO SURF

Eastbourne: http://eastbourne.lta.org.uk/

‘s-Hertogenbosch: www.ordina-open.nl

Wimbledon: www.Wimbledon.com

Roger Federer: www. rogerfederer.com

Ana Ivanovic: www.anaivanovic.com/

Koninklijke Nederlandse Lawn Tennis Bond: www.knltb.nl

The Lawn Tennis Association: www.lta.org.uk/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$584,000 Ordina Open, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, grass

$584,000 The Slazenger Open, Nottingham, Great Britain, grass

$125,000 Braunschweig Challenger, Braunschweig, Germany, clay

WTA TOUR

$600,000 International Women’s Open, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass

$175,000 Ordina Open, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, grass

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP and WTA TOUR

The Championships, Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass

Serena shuts up the Playboy talk with a demure dress

Serena Williams used a conservative Nike outfit — the Doubles Dress from this Spring’s tennis collection — to end the run of soon-to-be Playboy bunny Ashley Harkleroad.

The top-ranked American, who went with a heart theme for her jewelry, next faces Mathilde Johansson of France.

Buy: Nike Doubles Dress, $75 at TW.

(photos by Getty Images)