forest hills

James Blake, Luke Jensen, Vince Spadea and Jan-Michael Gambill To Play Forest Hills Friday

Former standout tennis professionals James Blake, Luke Jensen, Vince Spadea and Jan-Michael Gambill will compete in a special one-day tennis tournament Friday, August 25 starting at 4:00 pm at the historic West Side Tennis Club at Forest Hills in Queens, New York as part of the club’s 125-year celebration.

The tennis matches are part of a day-long celebration at the club, the long-time former home of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships and the site of the most ever U.S. Davis Cup matches. The public has the opportunity to play on the famed grass tennis courts, watch the pro tennis matches and a special anniversary ceremony at the Forest Hills Stadium, followed by a Gala dinner with entertainment and dancing.

Blake, the former world No. 4 and member of the 2007 championship winning U.S. Davis Cup team, will play Gambill, the former world No. 14 and also a former member of the U.S. Davis Cup team, in the first semifinal match at 4:00 pm. It will be followed by Spadea, the two-time U.S. Olympic team member and former world No. 18, taking on Jensen, the charismatic winner of the 1994 French Open doubles title, in the second semifinal. The winners of each semifinal will then compete in a championship match. Each match will consist of one FAST-4 set, first to four games, no-ad scoring and a tie-breaker at three games all.

Following the tennis, fans will also be able to stay for a special 125-year anniversary ceremony featuring USTA President Katrina Adams and International Tennis Hall of Fame CEO Todd Martin. The legacies of Jack Kramer, a two-time U.S. singles champion, and Maureen Connolly, the second player to win the “Grand Slam” of tennis in 1953, will also be honored with a banner raising ceremony at the famed Forest Hills Stadium, the site of their greatest triumphs, with each family being represented.

Tickets for the tennis tournament and the Anniversary ceremony – that includes an Open Bar – are $100, with $50 being a tax-deductible contribution to the West Side Tennis Club Foundation, the non-profit organization that helps introduce tennis to children and the physically challenged while also preserving the history of the West Side Tennis Club.. A $250 ticket ($125 tax-deductible) includes play on the grass tennis courts starting at 2 pm, including the tennis and ceremony viewing, and the Gala Dinner starting at 7:30. To order tickets, go to www.WSTCFoundation.org or by calling the West Side Tennis Club front desk at 718 268 2300.

The West Side Tennis Club was founded in 1892, then located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The private club moved to its current location in Forest Hills in 1913, where it hosted the U.S. National Tennis Championships (known as the modern-day U.S. Open since 1968) from 1915 until 1977. In addition the club has hosted a total of 16 U.S. Davis Cup ties, more than any other facility. The club features 38 tennis courts featuring four different court surfaces – grass, hard, red clay and Har-Tru – including the 13,000-seat Forest Hills Stadium that is now a popular concert venue. The club also features a junior Olympic-size pool, paddle tennis courts and its famous Tudor-style clubhouse. For more information on the club, including membership information, go to www.ForestHillsTennis.com

Gun Shots, Protesters, Bomb Scares and Religious Fanatics – The Most Unusual Delays In Tennis History

By Randy Walker

@TennisPublisher

 

There is nothing worse than when you are locked into playing – or watching – a great tennis match and there is a delay in play. Rain and sometimes darkness are the most commons delays in play but in the history of tennis, there have been some rather unusual ways where play was delayed.

Here are six of the most unusual delays as documented in my book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY, which is also a mobile app (www.TennisHistoryApp.com) listed in no particular order. Which one do you think is the strangest? Please share any other worthy episodes in the comment section below or via [email protected].

 

March 18, 1984 – A bomb scare forces the Rotterdam men’s singles final between Ivan Lendl and Jimmy Connors to be called off. Lendl sweeps through the first set, 6-0, and breaks service in the first game of the second set when the police, reacting to an anonymous telephone call, order the evacuation of the Ahoy Sports Hall. The caller, claiming to represent an anti-capitalism movement, tells the police that a bomb had been placed close to center court. A search does not yield any suspicious articles, and spectators are then allowed to return to their seats. However, the crowd is then informed that Lendl and Connors would not be resuming their match. Wim Buitendijk, the organizer of the Grand Prix tournament, fails to persuade Lendl to stay and finish the match. He says Connors may have been persuaded to resume the game but ”Lendl was not prepared to take any risks.”

March 30, 1980 – Bjorn Borg dominates Manuel Orantes 6-2, 6-0, 6-1 in the final of the Nice Open in France in a match delayed by 25 minutes when a group of local physical education students storm the court and stage a “sit-in” to protest their department being closed by the French education ministry.

April 16, 1977 – Anti-apartheid protestors spill oil on court to protest the United States competing against South Africa and disrupt the doubles match between Stan Smith and Bob Lutz and Frew McMillan and Byron Bertram in Newport Beach, Calif.  U.S. Captain Tony Trabert hits one of the two protestors with a racquet before police apprehend the culprits. After a 45-minute delay to clean the oil, Smith and Lutz defeat McMillan and Bertram 7-5, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to give the United States an insurmountable 3-0 lead over the South Africans.

April 27, 2006 – The only thing bothering Rafael Nadal during his 6-4, 6-2 second round match with Spanish qualifier Ivan Navaro-Pastor at the Barcelona Open is a female intruder, who bursts onto the court and handcuffs herself to the net post. Nadal is leading 6-4, 4-0 when the woman enters the court and a brief delay ensues while the protester is cut loose and taken away by security guards.

September 4, 1977 – James Reilly, a 33-year-old resident of New York City, is shot in the left thigh as a spectator at the John McEnroe – Eddie Dibbs third-round night match at the U.S. Open at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills. The shooting, from a .38 caliber gun, occurs at the start of the match near Portal 8 in the north section of the stadium and delays play for about six minutes as Reilly is taken from the stands to the first aid station and then to nearby St. John’s Hospital. Most of the 6, 943 fans in attendance are not aware that a shooting had occurred. Police conclude it was likely a shot that came from outside the stadium. McEnroe wins the best-of-three set match 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

October 20, 1985 – A religious fanatic walks on the court, serves drinks to Ivan Lendl and Henri Leconte and preaches a sermon in the middle of the final round match of the Australian Indoor Championships in Sydney. In the ninth game of the third set, the man, wearing a caterer’s uniform, walks onto the court with a tray with two glasses of orange juice and religious pamphlets that he presents to both Lendl and Leconte. Reports the Associated Press of the incident, “To the astonishment of the players, officials and crowd, he put the tray down in the center of the court and proclaimed loudly, ‘I would like to bring these gentlemen two drinks.’ He then began babbling about the evil of credit cards and the devil before being escorted away by embarrassed officials. The tournament was sponsored by a credit finance company.” Says Lendl of the incident, “I was really, really mad at that. Not for the security reason, but because they were too gentle with him. They should have been rougher with him.” Lendl wins the match from Leconte by a 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 margin.

IT’S NOT ALWAYS A WALK IN THE PARK FOR UMPIRES

When does it become not acceptable to play tennis in the 21st century where TV scheduling and pleasing the sponsors appears now to take precedence over the welfare and requests of the players?

Now this is an oversight criticism of tennis itself. It may not relate fully to the situation on Wednesday where Gael Monfils and Fabio Fognini slugged it out in near pitch-black conditions on the hallowed clay of Roland Garros.

While many have slated the officials for bowing to crowd pressure to continue at 4-4 in the fifth set while other matches had long since ceased to continue, I feel that they may have been worried about the kind of weather-induced backlog that has haunted Wimbledon through the 1990s.

Fabio Fognini, of course, refused to take part in this farce and was handed a point penalty for his troubles, which lasted for over five minutes. After Monfils failed to capitalise on a match point Fognini clawed it back to 5-5 before the match was carried over to the following day.

But you know all this already. Is it an isolated case? Definitely not. How does this compare to tennis mishaps from the umpires of yesteryear? We take a look back through the annuls of tennis to find out.

Hearing Aid for the Umpire Please

During the third round of the 1977 US Open at Forest Hills John McEnroe was facing Eddie Dibbs when there was a large commotion in the crowd. The umpire called the two players over and informed them that somebody had been shot, before announcing that he had heard wrong and that somebody was in fact in shock. McEnroe went on to win the match and the umpire then admitted he had been right first time round. A spectator had been hit by a stray bullet from the streets of Queens. It was a sad end to the Open’s stay at Forest Hills before it shifted venue in 1978.

Mass Peer Pressure

Mr. McEnroe was involved once more but, again, it was not his temperament in question. This time he was fighting Ilie Nastase in the 1979 US Open at its new home at Flushing Meadow. During the fourth set McEnroe served and Nastase held up his hand to motion he was not ready. The umpire awarded McEnroe the point and Nastase, backed by 10,000 vocal fans, complained. Nastase continued his vocal crusade and was finally docked the game. The crowd exploded and rubbish rained down from the stands on to the court and the cops were called. After seventeen minutes Nastase was asked to resume and after refusing for the one-minute service time period he was disqualified and McEnroe handed the match. Again there were mass complaints and, fearing a full scale riot, the umpire was replaced by tournament officials and the match continued. Unfortunately for Nastase, McEnroe went on to win this one too.

Gentleman Tim Accidentally Sets Record

Of all the people you never thought it would be, in 1995 Tim Henman became the first man to be thrown out of Wimbledon. During a doubles match with Jeremy Bates Henman lost a crucial point in the fourth set tiebreaker and frustratingly smashed the ball downcourt. Unfortunately, standing in the way was the face of sixteen-year-old ball girl Caroline Hall who was running cross-court to resume her correct position. The umpire didn’t even hesitate and disqualified the pair. Still, Hall got a huge bunch of flowers and a kiss from Tim for her troubles the next day.

A Really Aggressive Wife Doesn’t Win You Tennis Matches

Obviously peeved that Henman had beaten him to that Wimby record a few days previously, American Jeff Tarango took particular umbrage to umpire Bruno Rebuah continually ruling against him. His outburst of “That’s it, I’m not playing” is now pretty famous as was his pleas to officials to remove the umpire. After telling an angry crowd to “shut up” he packed his bags and stormed off court, disqualifying himself. To make matters worse for Rebuah, Tarango’s wife Benedicte then stormed on court and slapped him twice in the face. Tarango was heavily fined for his troubles and banned from the next two Grand Slams.

Father Doesn’t Always Know Best

This could relate to a number of people here but we are in fact talking about Damir Dokic who was famously ejected from his daughter Jelena’s match in the pre-Wimby tournament at Birmingham’s Edgbaston Club in June 1999. After a string of decisions went against Jelena, Damir became increasingly agitated in his chair. A string of outbursts towards the umpire ended with him shouting to everybody present that “they were fascists” for which he was finally ejected. Once outside, he proceeded to lie in front of traffic in the middle of the road and eventually spent the afternoon in prison.

Of course there are many others. A lot have come from the mouths of that pesky Mr. McEnroe and Madame Serena Williams. But for now we return back to the present day and to the current happenings in Paris. It’s a Slam which is shaping up pretty nicely so far. We hope that continues, and more for the tennis than the likes of the difficult situations umpires find themselves in like those listed above.

It’s Del Potro In An Upset

NEW YORK – The reign is over. Long live the king.

Juan Martin del Potro, appearing in his first Grand Slam tournament final, overpowered five-time defending champion Roger Federer to capture the US Open on Monday 3-6 7-6 (5) 4-6 7-6 (4) 6-2.

Riding a fearsome forehand that rocketed winners from way behind the baseline, del Potro became the second Argentine to win America’s premier tennis tournament. Guillermo Vilas won in 1977 when the US Open was played on clay at Forest Hills. Now, it’s on hard court, del Potro’s favorite surface, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

“When I would have a dream, it was to win the US Open, and the other one is to be like Roger,” del Potro said during the on-court ceremony where he collected a check for USD $1.85 million. “One is done.”

Then, addressing Federer directly, del Potro said: “I need to improve a lot to be like you. I’d like to congratulate you for fighting ‘til the last point.”

Federer was seeking his record-tying sixth straight US Open championship and his third consecutive Grand Slam tournament title this year, having captured his first French Open and his sixth Wimbledon earlier this summer. But del Potro had other ideas.

“A dream came true,” del Potro said. “I don’t have words to explain how I feel.”

Words weren’t needed. The tears of joy streaming down his face spoke volumes.

Del Potro, who turns 21 next week, snapped Federer’s 41-match unbeaten streak at Flushing Meadows as he completely dominated his Swiss opponent who has been called the greatest tennis player of all time.

“It’s difficult to explain this moment,” said del Potro. “You know, since young I dream of this and now I take the trophy with me. I did my dream, and it’s unbelievable moment. It’s amazing match, amazing people. Everything is perfect.”

Federer admitted del Potro was the better player on the final day of this rain-delayed tournament. But he felt it was still a great year despite the loss.

“Five was great, four was great, too,” said Federer, who came into the US Open having won a men’s record 16 Grand Slam singles titles. “Six would have been a dream, too. Can’t have them all. I’ve had an amazing summer and a great run.

“I’m not too disappointed just because I thought I played another wonderful tournament. Had chances today to win, but couldn’t take them. It was unfortunate.

It wasn’t a typical Federer match. A lot of that was because of the play of del Potro, who controlled their baseline rallies with his monster forehand, which he ripped deep into the far reaches of the court or down the line, shots that Federer for the most part only could wave at or watch the ball clip off his racquet.

The Swiss superstar came within two points of taking a two-set lead. But del Potro recovered, then won the tiebreak to level the match. Federer won the third set and was up 5-4 in the fourth, again two points from winning the title while leading 15-30 on del Potro’s serve. It was the last time Federer came close as del Potro held, then went on to win yet another tiebreak.

It was only the third time since he began his championship run that Federer has had to play a fifth set at the US Open. It was the first time he has lost.

“Got to give him all the credit because it’s not an easy thing to do, especially coming out against someone like me with so much experience,” Federer said. “Towards the end, of course, up 5‑2 in the fifth. That was easy. But he had to live through some really tough moments earlier on in both breakers throughout those sets to come back. So his effort was fantastic.”

In the end, it was del Potro who dominated, the Argentine who rose to the occasion and won.

The reign is over. Long live the king.

Two days after she left the court amid a chorus of boos, Serena Williams returned to Arthur Ashe Stadium and with her sister Venus won the US Open women’s doubles title for the first time since 1999. It was the sister’s 10th Grand Slam tournament women’s doubles title, half as many as the record held by Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver.

The Williams sisters downed the top-seeded team of Cara Black and Liezel Huber 6-3 6-2.

At Least The US Open Final Won’t Be Delayed Another Seven Days

It’s official. The US Open will finish on a Monday – at the earliest. For the second year in a row, rain has played havoc to the final weekend of the US Open and has pushed the tournament into a third week. Last year’s men’s final between Roger Federer and Andy Murray, which started at 5 pm on the third Monday of the event, was the first Monday final since 1987, when Ivan Lendl defeated Mats Wilander to win his third straight U.S. title. However, as excerpted from my book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.TennisHistoryBook.com), the two most delayed U.S. finals were as follows…

From September 17, 1960 – In the most delayed conclusion to a major tournament in the sport’s history, Neale Fraser of Australia and Darlene Hard of the United States win the singles titles at the U.S. Championships – one week after winning semifinal matches to advance into the championship match. The U.S. Championships at Forest Hills are delayed a full seven days as Hurricane Donna slams New York and soggies up the grass courts at the West Side Tennis Club. Fraser finally defends his 1959 title, defeating fellow Aussie Rod Laver 6-4, 6-4, 10-8, becoming the first repeat men’s winner at Forest Hills since fellow Aussie Frank Sedgman in 1951 and 1952. Hard finally breaks through and wins her first U.S. singles title, upsetting defending champion Maria Bueno of Brazil 6-3, 10-8, 6-4. Fraser and Hard both win semifinal matches on September 10 – Fraser beating Dennis Ralston and Hard beating Donna Floyd – before the rains come. The Fraser-Laver final is a rubber match for the two Aussies, who split their two previous meetings in major finals on the year – Laver winning the Australian title in January for his first major singles title and Fraser turning the tide on “The Rocket” at Wimbledon. Fraser also ends Laver’s 29-match winning streak securing on the Eastern grass court circuit following his loss to Fraser at Wimbledon. Hard finally breaks through and wins her first U.S. title after five previous attempts to win the title. Says Hard, “I never thought I would do it, “ says Hard. “That girl (Bueno) never gives up. She hits winners when she least expects it. It’s been a long time coming. It’s great.”

From September 23, 1938 – After a delay of six days due to a hurricane hitting the New York area, play is resumed at the U.S. Championships at the West Side Tennis Club at Forest Hills as Don Budge keeps his dream of being the first player to win a Grand Slam alive by beating 1931 Wimbledon champion Sidney Wood 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in the men’s semifinals. Advancing to play Budge in the final is his unseeded doubles partner, Gene Mako, who defeats Australia’s John Bromwich 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 in the other men’s semifinal. In women’s singles semifinals, Alice Marble beats Sarah Palfrey Fabyan 5-7, 7-5, 7-5, saving two match points at 2-5, 15-40 in the second set, while Nancye Wynne defeats Dorothy Bundy 5-7, 6-4, 8-6.

Gun Shots At The US Open

James Reilly, a 33-year-old resident of New York City, was shot in the left thigh at the U.S. Open while viewing a third-round night match. This was the news that came out of the U.S. Open on September 4, 1977 as Mr. Reilly was shot while he was a spectator at the John McEnroe – Eddie Dibbs third-round night match at the U.S. Open at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills.

The shooting, from a .38 caliber gun, occurred at the start of the match near Portal 8 in the north section of the stadium and delayed play for about six minutes as Reilly was taken from the stands to the first aid station and then to nearby St. John’s Hospital. Most of the 6, 943 fans in attendance were not aware that a shooting had occurred. Police concluded it was likely a shot that came from outside the stadium.

McEnroe wins the best-of-three set match 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. For more unusual happenings in the world of tennis, pick up a copy of the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.TennisHistoryBook.com)