ITF

Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Futures Event In Vero Beach Moves To Boulevard Tennis Club

The Boulevard Tennis Club, the fastest-growing tennis club in Vero Beach, will host the 2019 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships, Vero Beach’s long-running U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) Pro Circuit professional tennis tournament April 29 – May 5, 2019.

An official contract was signed last week between representatives of the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation and The Boulevard Tennis Club to host the popular tournament featuring up-and-coming world-ranked touring tennis professionals from around the world. The Boulevard Tennis Club previously hosted the event for seven years from 2010 to 2016. The tournament benefits the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, the non-profit foundation benefiting children named for Vero Beach native son Mardy Fish, a former top 10 tennis star, U.S. Davis Cup hero and silver medalist at the 2004 Olympic Games.

“The Boulevard Tennis Club has turned into the epicenter of tennis in Vero Beach over the last few years and we are excited to once again stage our event there next spring,” said Tom Fish, President of the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation. “Our event is our top fundraising mechanism for the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation and our goal is to raise as much money as possible to benefit youth in Indian River County while continuing to run a first-class event and further promote tennis in our Treasure Coast community.”

“We are so happy to once again host the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships,” said Christophe Delavaut, the Tennis Director and co-owner of The Boulevard Tennis Club. “Under our club’s new ownership group, we are thrilled to open up our doors to the community for the most prestigious and longest-running professional sports event in Vero Beach.”

The Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation will be elevated to a $25,000 tournament in 2019, up from a $15,000 event in 2018, ensuring higher-quality ranked players competing in the event than in years past. A 24-player qualifying tournament will start Monday, April 29 with main-draw play starting Tuesday, April 30 concluding with the singles final on Sunday, May 5. A special pre-qualifying tournament open to all entrants will be played at The Boulevard starting Wednesday, April 24 with the winner earning a place in the 24-player qualifying tournament. The 2019 tournament is part of the newly restructured and rebranded ITF World Tennis Tour.

Founded in 2007, the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation (www.MardyFishFoundation.com and @MardyFishFound on Twitter) currently supports over 2,200 children in 15 elementary schools, six middle schools and two after school centers in Indian River County, Florida by funding 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.

The Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships has been played in Vero Beach since 1995 and regarded as one of the best entry-level professional tennis tournaments in the world. Some of the past competitors 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 and most recently world No. 50 player and teen sensation Denis Shapovalov, who played in Vero Beach in 2016. Former Vero Beach competitors have combined to win 19 titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles at Grand Slam tournaments. Seven former Vero Beach players have gone on to play Davis Cup for the United States – Roddick, Fish, Taylor Dent, Jared Palmer, Donald Young, Ryan Harrison and Frances Tiafoe.

Tickets for the event are available now at www.VeroBeachTennisTickets.com. Admission for children 18 and under is free. Sponsorships are available by contacting co-tournament directors Tom Fish ([email protected]) and Randy Walker at ([email protected]). Fans can follow news and developments on the tournament on Facebook and on Twitter at @VeroFutures.

The Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships have an annual economic impact of approximately $500,000 per year on the Vero Beach local economy. Approximately 3,000 fans annually attend the event, which is seen as one of the best-attended events entry-level events in the world.

Juan Benitez of Colombia won the 2018 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships beating Venezuelan Davis Cup team member Ricardo Rodriguez in the final.

The Boulevard Tennis Club, located in Central Vero Beach on Indian River Boulevard, is the fastest-growing tennis club in Vero Beach, featuring 13 clay tennis courts and world-class tennis instruction and programming for all levels of players. For more information, go to www.BlvdTennisClub.com

Albert Costa Named Davis Cup Tournament Director In Madrid

Albert Costa, a former Davis Cup champion with extensive experience as director of tennis tournaments and development projects, has joined Kosmos Tennis’s team as Competition Director and Davis Cup finals Tournament Director.

Costa will oversee all sporting aspects of the competition and the implementation of the new Davis Cup format in 2019, following the agreement signed by Kosmos Tennis and the ITF on 16 August at the ITF AGM in Orlando.

“We are really proud to have Albert Costa in our team to be part of our project and share with us the vision and enthusiasm to consolidate this new historic stage of the competition,” said Javier Alonso, CEO of Kosmos Tennis. “His experience as a former elite tennis player and Davis Cup captain, as well as his subsequent successful tennis projects, will provide huge impetus to the development of Kosmos Tennis’s sports capability. On behalf of the whole team, I want to give Albert our warmest welcome.”

Costa will be the second former player to join the company following Galo Blanco, Chief Competition Officer of Kosmos Tennis and member of the Davis Cup Steering Committee.

Albert Costa said: “Joining this project offers me a superb new challenge. I’m very excited that my work with Kosmos Tennis will give me the opportunity to get involved in the Davis Cup again, a competition I witnessed and enjoyed from the inside and from which I had many positive experiences. We still have a long way to go and I want to thank Kosmos Tennis for the opportunity and the trust they have placed in me at this new stage in my professional career.”

Albert Costa competed as a professional tennis player from 1992 to 2006. During his career, he won 12 titles, including 2002 Roland Garros, and was ranked in the world´s Top 10. Costa was also a member of the team that won the first Davis Cup for Spain in 2000 at Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona, and was the captain of the Spanish team from 2009 until 2011, winning two more titles (Barcelona in 2009 and Sevilla in 2011). He is one of 18 tennis players who, throughout the 118 years of Davis Cup history, has won the title both as a player and as a captain.

Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is the World Cup of Tennis. It is the largest annual international team competition in sport, with 127 nations taking part in 2018. The competition is 118 years old, having been founded in 1900. The title sponsor is BNP Paribas (Official Bank of Davis Cup). International sponsors are Rolex (Official Timekeeper) and Adecco (Official HR Sponsor), while Head (Official Ball) is an international partner. beIN SPORTS is the Official Global Media Rights Partner. In 2019, the all-new Davis Cup by BNP Paribas finals will be hosted at the iconic La Caja Magica in Madrid, Spain. Twenty-four nations will contest the Qualifiers on 1-2 February, competing in 12 locations around the world on a home-and-away basis. The 12 winning teams will join the 2018 semi-finalists plus two wild card teams in an 18-nation Davis Cup season finale.

ITF Announces Details On New ITF Transition Tour That Will Change Entry-Level Pro Tennis Around The World

The ITF announced details of the new ITF transition tour that will be launched in 2019 as part of a major restructuring of professional tennis. The tour will provide a more effective pathway linking the ITF Junior Circuit and the senior professional game, and ensure that prize money at professional level tournaments is better targeted to enable more players to make a living.

The creation of the transition tour is based on ITF research that shows that while over 14,000 players compete each year in professional tournaments, only around 350 men and 250 women break even financially without consideration of coaching costs. A large number of junior players are competing on the professional circuit but the transition to the Top 100 is taking longer.

The transition tour will be staged within a more localised circuit structure that reduces costs for players and tournament organisers. This will also increase opportunities for players from more countries to join the pathway and be supported in their transition to professional tennis.

The transition tour forms part of a new worldwide tournament structure that has been agreed between the ITF, ATP and WTA in order to address the current challenges at entry level. This structure is expected to reduce the number of professional players with ATP and WTA rankings from 3,000 players to approximately 750 men and 750 women.

The new transition tour tournaments, which will offer $15,000 in prize money, will replace the existing $15,000 men’s and women’s tournaments on the ITF Pro Circuit in 2019, and will award ITF Entry Points instead of ATP and WTA ranking points.

For more information on the ITF transition tour, watch this online video.

Ranking point systems

In women’s tennis in 2019, tournaments offering a minimum of $25,000 in prize money will continue to offer WTA ranking points. In men’s tennis in 2019, $25,000 ITF Pro Circuit events will offer both ATP ranking points (later rounds) and ITF Entry Points (all rounds); while the qualifying rounds of ATP Challenger tournaments will also offer both ATP ranking points (all events) and ITF Entry Points (events up to $125,000 in prize money). From 2020, it is anticipated that $25,000 men’s tournaments will also form part of the transition tour and offer ITF Entry Points only.

Many players will end up competing on both the transition tour and in ATP/WTA-ranking point tournaments, and will therefore have both a professional ranking and an ITF Entry Point standing.

Under the new structure, the two systems are linked with players able to use their ITF Entry Point standing to gain acceptance into professional events.

Reserved tournament places

In order that successful junior and transition tour players are able to progress more quickly to the next level, the different ranking systems will be linked to guarantee reserved places in tournaments as follows:

Men: reserved places for top ITF Entry Point-ranked players in the qualifying draws of ATP Challenger tournaments (up to $125,000 prize money level). The number of reserved places will be determined later this year following further research and monitoring.

Women: 5 reserved places for top ITF Entry Point-ranked players in the main draw of $25,000 ITF Pro Circuit tournaments.

Juniors: 5 reserved places in the main draw of transition tour tournaments for players in the Top 100 of the ITF Junior Ranking.

Play-down rules

The ITF, ATP and WTA will implement new ‘play-down’ rules to prevent higher-ranked players from competing in transition tour tournaments to maximise opportunities for other players. Currently anyone outside the Top 10 women or Top 150 men can play in $15,000 events. Under the new structure it is expected that most players with ATP and WTA rankings would choose to enter professional tournaments.

Introduction of new rankings in 2019

The implementation of the new ATP, WTA and ITF ranking systems will take place at the end of 2018.

Any ATP or WTA ranking points earned at $15,000 ITF Pro Circuit tournaments (as well ATP points earned in early rounds of $25,000 Pro Circuit events and Challenger qualifying draws) in 2018 will be converted into ITF Entry Points.

The ITF, ATP and WTA will run shadow rankings throughout 2018, so that all players can see what their professional ranking and ITF Entry Point standing would be under the new system.

Cheaper hosting requirements

More National Associations will have the opportunity to stage events due to the cheaper hosting requirements of transition tour tournaments. The tournaments will be shorter in length than Pro Circuit events and take place over seven days (including qualifying). There is no requirement to host three consecutive tournaments as per the current rule for Men’s Futures tournaments; and there is a reduction in officiating requirements. It is anticipated that this will increase the number of nations hosting tournaments in 2019, providing opportunities for more players.

ITF President David Haggerty said: “The new worldwide tournament structure in which we have collaborated with the ATP and WTA will help address the issues of transition between the junior and senior game, and enable more professional players to make a living. However it is vital that we do not reduce the chance for players of any nation or background to enter the professional pathway. The introduction of the transition tour will allow players to take the first steps towards becoming a future champion within a more targeted and affordable circuit structure.”

Chris Kermode, ATP Executive Chairman & President, said: “The new points structure from 2019 will lead to significant enhancements to the player pathway through men’s professional tennis, providing a seamless link for players to progress upwards into ATP Challengers and beyond. We look forward to the successful implementation of the new structure through our continued extensive collaboration with the ITF.”

Steve Simon, WTA Chairman & CEO, said: “It is the goal of many talented young tennis players to compete on the WTA Tour. We support the restructuring of the pathway to professional tennis that is being announced by the ITF which is designed to simplify the forward progress of talented young players through different tournament levels. These efforts will provide more targeted job opportunities for players, and ultimately establish a clear pathway structure for players to move up to the WTA professional level.”

USA Completes Historic Week By Winning Seven Titles At ITF Super-Seniors World Team Championships

American teams had a historic week at the USTA National Campus at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla. as teams won seven of the nine titles at the 37th International Tennis Federation (ITF) Super-Seniors World Team Championships.  The women’s team swept the four women’s divisions and the men won three of five divisions, including the inaugural men’s 85-and-over division.

 

The tournament is the senior tennis equivalent of the Davis Cup and Fed Cup competitions, with top American tennis players representing their country in the 65-, 70-, 75-, 80- and 85- and-over age groups. This is the first time that the event will feature the men’s 85-and-over division.  The ITF Super-Seniors World Team Championships is the most prestigious team event on the ITF Seniors circuit.

 

The U.S. brought home the titles in the Kitty Godfree Cup (Women’s 65 & over), Althea Gibson Cup (Women’s 70 & over), Queens’ Cup (Women’s 75 & over) and Doris Hart Cup (Women’s 80 & over), Britannia Cup (Men’s 65 & over), Gardnar Mulloy Cup (Men’s 80 & over) and Men’s 85 Cup. This was the eighth consecutive year that the U.S. team triumphed in the Queens’ Cup, the third consecutive year for the Doris Hart Cup and marked the sixth Gardnar Mulloy Cup victory in the last seven years.

 

Following the ITF Super-Seniors World Team Championships, the World Individual Championships will be held Oct. 14-21, also at the USTA National Campus.

 

Below is a list of players representing the United States in each competition and results:

 

Britannia Cup – Men’s 65 & over – Result: CHAMPION (USA def. Austria 2-1)

1. Larry Turville, Dunnellon, Fla., Captain

2. Paul Wulf, Salem, Ore.
3. David Sivertson, Addison, Texas
4. Leonard Wofford, Portland, Ore.

 

Jack Crawford Cup – Men’s 70 & over – Result: Fifth place (draw with Canada)

1. Michael Beautyman, Flourtown, Pa.

2. Leslie Buck, Asheville, N.C.
3. Jimmy Parker, Santa Fe, N.M., Captain
4. Dean Corley, Aliso Viejo, Calif.

 

Bitsy Grant Cup – Men’s 75 & over – Result: Fifth place (USA def. Germany 2-1)

1. Fred Drilling, Estero, Fla.   

2. Joseph Bachmann, Sarasota, Fla., Captain

3. Rudy Hernando, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

4. Ivo Barbic, Atlanta

 

Gardnar Mulloy Cup – Men’s 80 & over – Result: CHAMPION (USA def. Austria 2-1)

1. Lester Sack, New Orleans, Captain

2. King van Nostrand, Vero Beach, Fla.
3. Gordon Hammes, Naples, Fla.

4. Jerald Hayes, Westfield, Ind.

Men’s 85 Team Cup – Men’s 85 & over – Result: CHAMPION (USA def. Canada 2-1)

1. John D. Powless, Madison, Wisc., Captain

2. George J. McCabe, Oxford, Ohio

3.  Joseph Russell, Chagrin Falls, Ohio

4. Clement Hopp, Sarasota, Fla.

 

Kitty Godfree Cup – Women’s 65 & over – Result: CHAMPION (USA def. Austria 2-1)

1. Tina Karwasky, Glendale, Calif. 

2.  Wendy McClosky, Durham, N.C.

3.  Molly Hahn, Belmont, Mass., Captain

4.  Victoria McEvoy, Cambridge, Mass.

 

Althea Gibson Cup – Women’s 70 & over – Result: CHAMPION (USA def. Netherlands 2-1)

1.  Brenda Carter, Charleston, S.C., Captain
2. Carol Clay, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
3.  Leslie Pixley, Malvern, Pa.
4.  Susan Kimball, Oak Bluffs, Mass.

 

Queens’ Cup – Women’s 75 & over – Result: CHAMPION (USA def. Great Britain 2-1)

1. Charleen Hillebrand, Harbor City, Calif.
2. Cathie Anderson, Del Mar, Calif.
3. Suella Steel, La Jolla, Calif., Captain
4. Susanne Clark, New City, N.Y.

 

Doris Hart Cup – Women’s 80 & over – Result: CHAMPION (USA def. Canada 2-1)

1. Roz King, San Diego, Calif.
2. Doris DeVries, Reno, Nev.
3. Carol Wood, Rockville, Md., Captain
4. Burnette Herrick, Tarboro, N.C.

 

Tennis fans and players can read more about senior tennis in the new book “Sport of a Lifetime – Enduring Personal Stories From Tennis” written by long-time tennis enthusiast Judy Aydelott.

Featuring enriching and motivational stories about those who love and participate in tennis over the age of 35, “Sport of a Lifetime” is a volume of senior tennis through the stories and experiences of players from across the tennis spectrum – from late bloomers to seasoned champions. The book features 28 chapters of personal stories, including those of high profile players and personalities such as three-time Wimbledon champion John Newcombe, current U.S. Tennis Association and former WTA Tour player Katrina Adams and former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, as well as little-known but inspiring players such as Tony Franco, who has won 44 USTA national championships since age 75, and Betty Eisenstein, who won tournament titles into her 90s.

The book also features one of the last interviews ever given by International Tennis Hall of Famer and celebrated senior tennis champion Gardnar Mulloy before his death in 2016 as well as the riveting story of how Fred Kovaleski balanced playing international tennis while being a spy for the Central Intelligence Agency.

“Sport of a Lifetime” is available for sale and download wherever books are sold, including here on Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1937559645/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_s7AizbEES0ZD3

Aydelott, a resident of Katonah, N.Y., is a graduate of Abbot Academy in Andover Mass., from Smith College and from Pace University School of Law. She became a trial attorney in the field of medical malpractice, a legal analyst for Court TV, a candidate for U.S. Congress in 2006 and a director of a NYS chartered commercial bank. A tennis late-comer starting in her twenties, Aydelott is married to former Dartmouth tennis standout Gordon Aydelott and also documents their personal story of her and her husband’s life and passion for tennis in the book.

Said 2017 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee and author of “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” Steve Flink, “Here is a book that must be read by everyone who celebrates the best of all lifetime sports. Judy Aydelott has reached out to both renowned players and those who are less well known, and the common thread that runs across the pages is the enduring passion they all have for tennis. Yet Aydelott’s superb and poignant book transcends tennis; it is equally about the larger game of life.”

Analyzing Time of Match Between Djokovic-Nadal

by Matthew Laird

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic contested their third consecutive Grand Slam final at the recently concluded 2012 Australian Open. It was by a wide margin their most competitive and exciting meeting at this stage. There was a great deal of high drama, multiple swings in momentum, and no shortage of stellar shot-making from both players. It was an epic match and will surely be remembered among the most exciting Grand Slam finals of all time. The match also had its place in history assured because it shattered the previous record for the longest Grand Slam final of all time, breaking the previous record set by Mats Wilander and Ivan Lendl at the 1988 US Open by nearly an hour.*

It should come as no surprise that the length of the Nadal-Djokovic final, which was seven minutes short of six hours, was not due entirely to the quality of play. Both Nadal and Djokovic are known for their pace of play, which is – not to put too fine a point on it – quite slow. There has been a great deal of discussion recently about the amount of time taken between points, and Nadal and Djokovic are usually at the center of these complaints.

For anyone who may not be aware, there is a rule in both the ITF and the ATP rulebooks that states “play shall be continuous” and that limits the amount of time a server should be allowed between the end of one point and the beginning of the next to either 20 or 25 seconds, depending on which set of rules is being followed during the match (Grand Slam matches take place under ITF auspices). Both Nadal and Djokovic routinely go over this time constraint.

It is difficult for a casual tennis observer to try to figure out whether or not these delays are truly egregious, because the amount of statistical data that we have easy access to is severely limited. We cannot see precisely how much time is expended by each player in between points, how long points take on average, or any number of other stats that would be useful in trying to parse the seriousness of these concerns.

I’ve come up with a simple, blunt method of estimating the amount of time taken between points, using only data that’s available on either the ATP or Australian Open websites. To find the average length of a point, just take the match length and divide it by the total number of points. Granted, this includes the amount of time that the ball was actually in play in addition to the time taken in between points, so it is not as sophisticated a measurement as I would prefer, but it is the best method that I could come up with, given the information available.

Given that there were 369 points played over 5 hours and 54 minutes, the average length of each point in the Nadal-Djokovic final was 57.4 seconds – nearly a minute per point played. This is the longest amount of time per point for any Grand Slam final since the ATP started keeping track of these statistics. To fully understand whether or not that is an unusual stat, more historical data is necessary.

Prior to 2009, the seven slowest finals had all taken place at the French Open, which is as it should be, considering the court conditions at Roland Garros lead to more long, drawn-out rallies than at the other majors. The slowest-played finals up to that point were Nadal-Federer in 2006 and Kuerten-Corretja in 2001, which both took about 47 seconds per point. The fastest-played finals have been at Wimbledon (again, no surprise there), where Sampras-Becker in 1995 took 29 seconds for each point, Agassi-Ivanisevic in 1992 took 27, and Sampras-Ivanisevic in 1998 took 25.5 seconds.

The trend over the last twenty years has generally been towards slower matches. This is partly because the serve-and-volley game has become significantly less common, so that almost all points are decided by baseline rallies, which necessarily take up more time. But I don’t think that fully explains the extent to which the pace of play has dropped.

While the most recent Grand Slam final was the slowest-played on record, it is important to note that the top six slowest are also the six most recent. The 2011 Djokovic-Nadal US Open took 56 seconds per point, their 2010 US Open meeting took 52.4, the 2011 Australian Open between Djokovic and Murray took 51.8, the 2011 Djokovic-Nadal final at Wimbledon took 50.2, and the 2011 French Open between Nadal and Federer took 48 seconds for each point.

Before the 2010 US Open, no Grand Slam final had been ever played at a pace of 50 seconds per point or slower. Since then, all of them except one have. That one involved Roger Federer, who is a very quick player and was able to bring the average down, even though he was playing on the red clay of Roland Garros. The other five finals all involved Djokovic, Nadal, and Andy Murray, all of whom take their time between points.

In all of these finals, there were many long, grinding rallies. All three of the players I just mentioned are fantastic defenders, but I have trouble believing that the rallies in all of these recent finals were so historically lengthy, on average, that they should be solely responsible for the unprecedented slow pace of the last half-dozen Grand Slam finals. It has to come down to the amount of time that these players are taking in between points.

I do not recall a single instance in the final of the umpire giving either Nadal or Djokovic a warning about taking too much time. Honestly, I can’t remember that happening in any of the six most recent finals. This is not a situation like what is happening with grunting in the women’s game, where people are saying that there ought to be a rule to deal with this behavior. There is a rule, it’s just being ignored.

There are some commentators (like Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim) who find the pace of play on the men’s side to be as frustrating as the grunting or shrieking on the women’s side. I think there’s an argument to be made that the time limit as it currently stands is no longer appropriate. The game has gotten significantly more athletically-demanding in the last ten or fifteen years, so perhaps players do need more recovery time between points. However, I do think that the ATP and the ITF should either change the rule or enforce it, because simply ignoring it because the game’s top players flout it so consistently is not an appropriate response.

Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova: The Big Winners of 2011

Who could ever doubt that Novak Djokovic wasn’t going to be named ITF World Champion. With an almost perfect 2011 winning three Grand Slam titles and seven other titles Djokovic is the rightful winner by all standards. Next to the seven titles, Djokovic also bags $12.6 million in prize money. He won even more than Rafael Nadal did in 2010 and Roger Federer in 2007.  Djokovic amazing season  is one for the best sports books!

“Starting with victory in last year’s Davis Cup final, this has been an almost perfect 12 months for me,” Djokovic said. “I have always dreamed about becoming the best in the world, and to have won three Grand Slam titles and finished the year as No. 1 is very special.”

I have to say that I am equally impressed with best newcomer Petra Kvitova. She came, she saw and took Wimbledon right from under Maria Sharapova’s grasp. Well that is not true…Sharapova really never stood a chance in that Wimbledon final.

Kvitova has won Wimbledon, the prestigious year end championships in Istanbul and the Fed Cup for the Czech Republic. What better way to end the 2011 season with this prestigious award for a prestigious season.

“I will cherish this award, which is the cherry on top of a wonderful year,” said the 21-year-old Kvitova, who edged out top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki – last year’s champion – in the voting.

The ITF President, Francesco Ricci Bitti, praised the two for their achievements.

“Novak’s achievements this year are remarkable in such a strong era for men’s tennis, while Petra has made a major breakthrough on the women’s tour.”

Other awards were given out to Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic and Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia for their efforts in women’s doubles.

All of them will receive the award at the ITF Champions Award dinner in June 2012.

Serena Williams Pulls out of Australian Open 2011 – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Progress Coming

At the front part of this week, the powers-at-be of the ATP were happy to announce that a decision had been made to shorten the season by two weeks, beginning in 2012. In order to achieve shaving off two weeks from the current schedule, the week between the Paris Masters and ATP World Tour finals was eliminated, and four other smaller tournaments will be shifted around to different weeks in the calendar. In the end, the decision was not surprising, and all parties had to be fairly pleased with the outcome. The bigger question to look out for in the next few years to come will be if they opt to shorten the season any further. As that will most likely mean cutting tournaments, it may be dependent upon how much the players take advantage of the new 2012 off season as opposed to playing exhibitions. At the very least, expect the odds to increase that such a future decision will be messier than this current breakthrough.

More Changes

In recognition of the fact that the ATP has planned to shorten its season starting in 2012, the ITF has been forced to consider the possibility of moving both the Fed Cup and Davis Cup finals further up in the year. Such a move would most likely benefit both players and fans, as things tend to run more smoothly when all of the governing bodies work in sync. In addition to this consideration, it would probably be even more beneficial if the ITF sinks its energies into revamping the structure of the Davis Cup, a subject that people are hearing more and more whispers about.

Pay Up

Another legal battle appears to be on the horizon as the USTA has filed a claim against Olympus, the company that has served as the title sponsor of the US Open Series. The USTA claims Olympus is looking to save the nearly $11.7 million it will cost to sponsor the 2011 US Open Series, while Olympus is claiming it has the right to pull out of the contract due to category conflicts with Panasonic. The USTA will seek to acquire the $11.7 million for the 2011 US Open series sponsorship, as well as a declaratory judgment that it didn’t violate Olympus’ exclusive sponsorship rights. It will certainly be a hassle and a blow if the USTA comes out on the short end of the stick, but at least with the success of the series and the US Open itself, one would like to think that the USTA won’t have to look far to find a new title sponsor with Olympus having pulled out of the contract that was slated to run through 2013.

The Battle Wages On

It seems that mediation efforts between Tennis Channel and Comcast have failed, and now the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is apt to have to get involved. Tennis Channel is alleging that it shouldn’t be on one of the more costly sports tier of channels when two of Comcast’s own channels – Golf Channel and Versus – are part of the basic service package. Comcast claims Tennis Channel agreed to its place on the sports tier back when they first negotiated a deal. Comcast seems relatively confident that the FCC will find in its favor, but tennis fans will be hoping otherwise. A finding in favor of the Tennis Channel could help the game grow in a multitude of ways.

Out…Again

Well, the foot injury plaguing Serena Williams has once again forced her out of another Grand Slam, as she has already announced that she will not be in Melbourne to defend her 2010 title. Williams stated that she had to have additional surgery on the foot due to training too hard and too soon following her first surgery. The pullout will cost Williams 1,000 ranking points, and it is apt to cost her a place in the Top 10. It’s a blow to the younger of the two Williams sisters and her fans, but rest assured that when she is healthy, it’s difficult to imagine any scenario in which she won’t shoot back up towards the upper echelons of the women’s rankings. In fact, assuming she makes a full recovery from the freak foot accident, don’t be shocked to see her named the favorite going into SW19.

ROGER FEDERER: PUTTING THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE

By Peter Nez

Roger Federer is in Halle, Germany this week playing his typical warm up tournament before Wimbledon (Germany’s only grass court event) where the latest news reports that Roger has signed a lifetime contract with tournament organizers, meaning he is committed to the event as long as he is playing professional tennis. “It’s a sort of marriage,” Roger quipped about the lofty contract with the Gerry Weber Open. And while the entire media world is buzzing over Rafael Nadal’s fifth Roland Garros title he attained last Sunday by smearing the red clay with Robin Soderling’s face, nicknamed Rockin’ Robin, after his blistering ground strokes that sound like cannon fire when struck, who appeared more like a subdued Canary tweeting rather than Rockin’- and big headlines announcing the ‘Return of the King of Clay’ and ‘Rafa is back!’, referring to his reacquisition of the top slot in men’s tennis, there is another king, of another surface, some would say the true king going quietly into the night, preparing for a Wimbledon defense, and maybe something else…


 

One thing that is amazing about Roger, among many other things, is his ability to put things in perspective, and shrug off losses that most players would never be able to bounce back from. Andy Murray comes to mind, whom after losing to Roger in the Australian Open final this past January, hasn’t been the same player since. Novak Djokovic, another top player, who won his first slam in 2008, has been hampered by uncharacteristic losses and henceforth hasn’t been able to muster a similar run at any of the subsequent slams. Andy Roddick, after losing to Federer in the epic 2009 Wimbledon final, lost to John Isner in the following slam (US Open) in a startling fashion. After attending the Annual ITF awards dinner in Paris, following his defeat to Soderling in the quarterfinals of the French Open a week ago, which garnered stunned faces by reporters, participants, attendees, and Gustavo Kurten himself (guest of honor), as to his appearance after a loss like that, “Nobody expected him to show,” Mary Joe Fernandez commented; a salivating press contingent swooned to get some time with the great one, and Roger was blasted with the usual doubts, speculations on his demise, questions as to his game, ect. He answered, in his usual candid demeanor, full of cool, that he was grateful for the past year where he won the French Open and Wimbledon back to back, about the birth of his daughters, and the magnificent summer, and the Australian Open victory this year, without a shade of despondency, or any signs that he was worried in the least. He exemplified gratitude, and emitted a perspective that was just thankful to still be playing, and healthy, and with a huge smile on his face, was looking forward to grass, where, let’s face it, the records speak for themselves, he is the King. I only wish that the media and fans alike had this propensity to put things in perspective.

All I read about now, and hear about in the rumblings and byways of the tennis realm, is Rafa this, and Rafa that, and Rafa is the one to beat, and Rafa is the usurper and all of that. I have no qualms with Rafael Nadal. I think he is a fantastic player, a true ambassador, and a great role model. But, when I read things like Roger can’t beat Rafa, and that Roger has never beaten a fully healthy Nadal, and things of this sort, there is an obvious upset in the balance of things; people are not looking at the big picture, and least of all adopting any sort of sensible perspective on matters.

I have no desire to list off all of the accolades of Mr. Federer, for they should be automatic by now, and need no mention. Let us take the notion of Roger never beating a healthy Nadal, especially on clay. First of all, the health of your opponent is out of your control, can we at least agree on that? Second, if the running statement that Roger can’t beat a healthy Nadal stands on any significant grounds, how about the vice versa? Let’s take a look at the 2008 Wimbledon final, touted as the ‘Greatest Match of All Time’. If we have a short term memory, many may not remember that Mr. Federer was battling a year long bout with Mononucleosis that started just prior to the Australian Open and, maybe didn’t subside until the end of that same year. That would mean that not only was Federer “unhealthy” but it took a super healthy, super confident, super momentum filled man in Rafael Nadal to beat Roger, and it took everything he had, all the way to an epic fifth set finale. Nobody speaks of that of course. On top of that, does anyone fail to see that Rafa has an outstanding record against Roger maybe because most of their head to head matches have taken place on clay? And there is little argument as to who is the greatest of all time on clay. Also, has anyone commented on why there are so many masters’ series tournaments on clay, and why the clay season is the longest on tour, and why there are only two tournaments on grass each season, and no masters series tournaments on grass? I’ve never heard mention of this either. Let us take a look at Federer’s legacy as far as slams go: Roger has reached a staggering 23 of the last 24 slam semi-finals, a staggering 19 out of the last 21 finals over the past six years, and 16 grand slam titles and counting. Who beat Roger in the last six years? Well, let’s see: Rafael Nadal, the king of clay; Novak Djokovic, a top four player, playing a not so healthy Roger (2008 AUS Open); Marat Safin, in the 2005 AUS Open, playing his absolute best tennis; Del Potro (2009 US Open) and Soderling (2010 French Open) who defied physics with their pace for over two hours of play. Do you ever hear Roger justifying himself, as is his right, about any of all the talk and doubt and scrutiny? No. He talks about one thing: moving forward. And what is ahead? Grass. The king returns to the holy grounds where he has set up his palace shrine for the past seven years. Maybe after he wins another Wimbledon will things finally be put in perspective… I doubt it.

AGASSI, SAMPRAS RIVALRY UP IN FLAMES: THE FRIDAY FIVE

By Maud Watson

Rivalry Up in Flames – By now everyone around the globe must know about the infamous spat that took place between Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi at the “Hit for Haiti” charity event. I’ll go on record as saying that both men were wrong for the way that they behaved that night. But I’m also placing the overwhelming amount of blame on Agassi, and he’s the only one of the two for whom I also felt disgust. Agassi’s mouth was going a mile a minute the entire evening and taking subtle jabs at Sampras. Finally Sampras snapped, and his response was to do his impression of Agassi. I had no problem with this. Sampras did this same impression at an exhibition event several years ago with Agassi, and in response, Agassi then did an excellent Sampras impersonation. That was all Agassi needed to do last week. Instead, he hit Pete way below the belt. Even Agassi’s apology was sorely lacking, as he admitted to the joke falling flat but then faulted Sampras for not rolling with it. Why should he, Andre? He was the one being embarrassed in front of a stadium full of people. Sampras already took the high road once when Agassi’s book first came out, and Sampras offered little comment on it. To ask him to do so a second time in that kind of an atmosphere is too much. Worse still, Sampras is unlikely going to be willing to put himself in that kind of a situation again any time soon, so good luck to any exhibition organizer trying to get those two out on the court to hit for charity.

Void of Punishment – Not to keep harping on Andre Agassi, but I was also disappointed (though not surprised) to see that the ITF has come out with a statement declaring that the statute of limitations has passed, and there can be no retroactive punishment for Agassi’s past use of crystal meth. In many ways, it’s a shame that there’s no real retribution here. I can accept that people make mistakes, but to see Agassi get by with this on top of last Friday at the charity exhibition, this verdict is just one more thing that makes me shake my head and wonder how much more he’s going to be allowed to get by with before someone steps in and does something.

Pakistani Pullout – In a sad story that ran earlier this week, the ITF was forced to announce that the Davis Cup tie between Pakistan and New Zealand, which had been slated to take place in Pakistan, would have to be moved to New Zealand due to the recent bombings in the Pakistani nation. The move is completely understandable but a hard blow to Pakistani tennis. Home ties can so often help spark tennis interest and growth in the host nation, not to mention bring some joy if victorious. A troubled nation like Pakistan could have used this boost.

The Fallout Continues – Things continue to unravel in Great Britain after they suffered one of their most humiliating Davis Cup losses in history. The All-Party Parliamentary Tennis Group, which includes members of both the House of Commons and House of Lords, is staging an inquiry to further study the status of tennis in Great Britain at all levels of the game. Furthermore, John Lloyd is throwing in the towel, while coach Paul Annacone will no longer serve as the Davis Cup team coach. Bless whatever soul is brave enough to take over the helm of this rapidly sinking ship before they face Turkey later this year.

Latest Russian Maladies – In one of the more mind-boggling stories of the week, it was noted that Russian Nikolay Davydenko was forced to withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open due to a broken wrist. The fact that he had to pull out of the tournament with such an injury was not the mind-boggling part…it was the fact that he’d played with the broken wrist, which had been misdiagnosed earlier in the year. The Russian could possibly be out for the entire clay court season. My fingers are crossed that he makes a speedy recovery, especially given how well he’s played the past six months.

MARTINA HINGIS: SHINE ON YOU CRAZY DIAMOND

I woke up this morning, enjoying my cup of tea, reading the sports news on Yahoo! when a headline caught my eye. Martina Hingis to play the World Team Tennis. I was baffled by this news. I have been a fan of Hingis since 1998. When she won, we won. When she lost, we lost. When she cried, I usually turned off my tv or switched channels.  But Hingis won a lot. She continued to win.  Held top ranking on the WTA Tour for 209 weeks in a row.

And then came the sad news that she was forced to retire.

We wouldn’t be able to enjoy her marvelous tactical game that graced the courts anymore. We wouldn’t be able to get into chat rooms and cheer her on as any Hingis fan would. Or post on forums, from results to opinions. We panicked, who would we cheer on now?  There is no greater champion than her.

With her gone, I lost interest in the WTA Tour for a while. There was nobody to cheer for in my opinion. The WTA Tour felt dead, black and empty without her.

Until November 29, 2005.  That was the day Hingis announced her return to the tour.  Fans and pundits worldwide cheered her come back.  The media frenzy that followed made sure that there was no way around letting you know that the “Swiss Miss” was back on the tour.

The chatrooms were filled again with fans. People who kept live scores  updated us throughout the matches that followed.  And new friends were made.  This went on for about a year and a half.

It was great to be part of the community again.

Then on November 1, 2007  Hingis announced her second retirement from the game. She failed a drug test as cocaine was detected in her system. She denied the allegations but was banned by the ITF for two years. Two years would pretty much be the end of her career. According to a lot of fans.  While the chatrooms ran empty, the forums were less visited we never forgot the one player who made us smile when she smiled.

So today I open my browser, drink my tea and read that Hingis will make a return to World Team Tennis tour. I am baffled.

She told the press that she has watched a lot of Australian Open this year.

“Of course it makes you think. Tennis was all my life, and the most natural thing is that it makes you think. It would be sad if it didn’t make me think, don’t you think?” Hingis said.

“Tennis is still my life. Well, part of it,” she continued. “But my life is very comfortable, on the other hand. Tennis gave me a lot of things and sometimes you have to put things behind. It’s a lot of sacrifice, as well. I wouldn’t want to risk it anymore.”

When asked what she missed the most about tennis she replied with the following:

“What I miss is probably … the winning moments—when you hold up the trophy and you know you are the best in the world and you end up winning Grand Slams. That is probably the moment an athlete is most happy,” Hingis said.

“You miss that, but you know that getting to that point takes a lot of years, a lot of hard work, a lot of practice. It doesn’t come from heaven,” she added. “You never forget how much work, how much pain, you go through to get there.”

Now let’s hope that she hungers for those moments and makes a return to the tour. If Lindsay Davenport, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin can do it then why not her?