Lisa Raymond

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“Clicking” Partnership: Laura Robson and Lisa Raymond Roll into Miami Doubles Final

Lisa Raymond and Laura Robson at the Sony Open

By Jane Voigt

MIAMI, FL (March 29, 2013) — Lisa Raymond nodded at her doubles partner, Laura Robson. Way to put the ball away.

The gesture seemed parental. Given their age difference, Robson is 19 years old and Raymond a few months away from 40, the attention given to the teen fit perfectly.

Raymond is probably the most recognized face in women’s doubles. Her resume is plump with titles: 79 WTA career doubles titles; 11 women’s major titles in doubles; and a career Grand Slam in doubles to boot.

Robson, naturally, can’t compete with Raymond when it comes to doubles titles. However, over the course of the Briton’s time on tour she has wowed tennis. Last summer she and Andy Murray came up with a Silver Medal in mixed doubles at the London Olympics.

“Yeah, what about that?” Raymond said, like an older sister or college pal, while Robson blushed in front of a handful of journalists inside the crowded interview after their match.

Their unlikely pairing was by happenstance. Samantha Stosur, Raymond’s expected partner at Sony Open, pulled out with an injury before registration closed. Raymond jumped on the chance to bring in Robson.

“I always thought we’d suit well,” Raymond began. “With Laura’s huge groundies that allow me to move a little bit at the net, plus a little practice. You never know … but it’s clicking.”

Over the week the team has beaten the No. 6 seeds Rachel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears plus Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, the No. 4 seeds.

Today’s victory, though, had to have been the sweetest. They thumped the world’s No. 1 team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, 61 62, in less than an hour, the same team that has won three of the last four Grand Slam doubles.

“Straight from the start of the match we were firing,” Robson said. “I was trying to be aggressive from the baseline and Lisa definitely took advantage at the net. So, yeah, we had a very good day.”

“It’s funny,” Raymond began, when asked about their partnership. “Some of my most successful partnerships did not fit well at the beginning. Whether it was Stosur or [Liezel] Huber, we floundered for the first couple months. So this is nice to play our first event and click like this.”

With women’s doubles transformed from a serve-and-volley game to one more akin to singles, these two epitomize a balance made for the new-age game. Robson could hit deep from the baseline and Raymond could sense the volleys.

During one exchange Robson pinned Errani deep. Raymond’s sneak volley winner brought fans to their feet in admiration of her touch and their teamwork, an intrinsic sense between the two that is normally only seen in a grooved partnership like Errani’s and Vinci’s.

“Laura’s got so much game, which lets me do so much,” Lisa said. “She’s so powerful with her serve and she’s volleying unbelievable.”

Stadium Court was not stuffed full of fans, but those on hand were definitely behind the wildcards, which made Errani’s and Vinci’s job even tougher. After losing the first set, Errani took a medical time out. She returned with her right thigh wrapped, another sign of their struggle.

Whether it was swirly wind, the bright sun, or an injury, Raymond and Robson took complete advantage of the Italians.

During the last point, which broke the Italians to win the match, Raymond whacked a down-the-line forehand that whizzed past Vinci. Her head dropped. Seconds later, Robson smacked the same shot down her side of the court. The two smiled at each.

“I mean that team … I haven’t come close to winning a set off them in a year,” Raymond added. “So for us to go out there and play that well against them was great.”

Robson credited her elder partner with bringing some focus to her game. When Errani took the medical time out, Laura tried to figure out a Lady Gaga dance. Raymond, though, redirected Robson.

“Let’s focus on the next game,” Raymond told Robson.

Robson’s singles tournament didn’t go well this week. Out in the second round, she felt nervous against Alize Cornet and lost the third set 61.

“Serving out the match today I didn’t have any nerves,” Laura said. “I was having a lot of fun on court just going for everything. In doubles, if they use the “I” formation I can just go for my shot. Whereas in singles you have to think a bit more.”

Both women are thrilled to be in the finals, which will be played Sunday along with the men’s final. But neither woman thought they would make it this far.

“I’ve been here for a couple weeks already,” Laura said, smiling. “I’m loving Miami and looking forward to spending a couple more days here.”

The obvious question for the two is will they continue their partnership.

“That’s something Laura and I could definitely talk about,” Raymond began, when Laura piped up to remind Lisa about her low ranking. “That’s okay, I have unlimited number of wildcards.”

Robson’s youthful spirit has rubbed off on a normally task-driven Raymond. The levity at changeovers and between points has added a new dimension to Raymond’s mindset while Laura has benefited from the experience of a 20-year expert; Robson had no need for a coach during this match.

This exchange of friendship, tennis strategies and tactics, and serve placements is a normal fallout from any doubles partnership. What seems to set these two apart is, number one, they have advanced to the final of a WTA Premier Mandatory event on their inaugural attempt, and, number two, they giggle like kids.

Apparently Raymond has a lucky shower in the site’s locker room, as Laura described it, adding that many players use the same one throughout a tournament.

“I was in the shower after warmup, and I heard Lisa say something like she wondered why I wasn’t in one of the other showers,” Robson began, on the brink of laughter. “But she’s waiting outside mine because it’s her lucky shower as well.”

If their luck continues they could become the 2013 Sony Open’s women’s doubles champions.

Will Huber and Raymond Notch a Season for the Ages?

Liezel Huber (left) and Lisa Raymond (right) - Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe

It’s as if winning streaks are a prerequisite if you’re going to be at the top of the rankings. Novak Djokovic won dozens of matches in a row last year, and in 2012, Victoria Azarenka is unbeaten.

In  women’s doubles, the world’s number-one pair of Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond is racking up the victories. The Americans are in the semifinals at this week’s tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., bringing their winning streak in ’12 to 15.

And it doesn’t look like it’s going to end anytime soon.
Granted, the veterans’ start to the season didn’t give any indication of where they would be at now. They lost in the finals of their first tournament in Sydney to Katarina Srebotnik and Kveta Peschke. Then, Huber and Raymond went on to the year’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, and fell in the quarterfinals to Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina in a controversial match.
Since that loss, though, Huber and Raymond have been on a tear: They won the Paris Indoors and the tournaments in Doha and Dubai. Between those three events, they were only pushed to a match tiebreak four times out of 12 matches.
But probably the most impressive result they had over those tournament wins was in the finals in Dubai: There, they won a rematch of sorts against Mirza and Vesnina, 6-2, 6-1.
If Mirza and Vesnina are among their chief rivals and they’re dismissing them so easily, what does that say about the year Huber and Raymond are capable of having in 2012?
Plenty.
After Indian Wells, it’s off to Miami for another tournament on hard courts, the pair’s best surface. Then, the clay-court season gets into full swing. There are teams that will definitely challenge the two with doubles on the dirt relying more on ball-striking than playing the classic serve-and-volley style displayed by Huber and Raymond.
However, neither one of them is strangers to having success on clay: Raymond’s a former French Open champion and Huber has made the finals of the season’s second Slam. Both of them have won numerous titles on the surface with different partners over the years.
Weather that storm then it’s off to the brief grass-court season, which includes what some consider the game’s biggest prize, Wimbledon. Not many players in the field will have the grass-court pedigree of the American pair as both of them have won at the All-England Club in the past, too.
This being an Olympic year, they would have to be considered among the favorites for a Gold medal—provided they’re selected to represent the U.S., which isn’t a given, despite what they’ve accomplished. But if they aren’t chosen for the team, then that gives them the chance to get an early start on the summer hard-court swing. It’s obvious the defending U.S. Open champions are at their best when on the concrete and have proven they can get through the unique challenges the last Major of the year provides.
The fall indoor season sees Huber and Raymond back playing in conditions similar to where their 2012 winning streak first started. And with the year-end championship only requiring two matches won to be named the victor, a title at the season finale would be a proper way to cap off 2012.
While the season is still early, the possibility is there for Huber and Raymond to find their names in the record books among some of the game’s all-time greats. Djokovic and Azarenka have made it look easy at times on the singles front, why can’t two players get it done?

McEnroe edges Borg but Philadelphia Freedoms rally to top New York Sportimes, 21-19

Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe in Boston 2010

John McEnroe edged Bjorn Borg, 5-4, but the visiting Philadelphia Freedoms rallied past the New York Sportimes, 21-19, in World TeamTennis action on Thursday night at Sportime on Randall’s Island.

Trailing, 17-16, Philadelphia sent Beatrice Capra up against Martina Hingis in the women’s singles competition, which Capra claimed, 5-2, to give the Freedoms the win.

Philadelphia’s mixed doubles tandem of Lisa Raymond and Nathan Healey opened the match with a 5-4 win over Katie O’Brien and Travis Parrott. O’Brien and Hingis teamed to win women’s doubles, 5-2 over Raymond and Capra. Healey and Brendan Evans evened the match with a 5-3 men’s doubles victory over McEnroe and Parrott, before McEnroe’s win over Borg gave the Sportimes a slim edge entering the final event.

New York (6-3) hosts Springfield on Friday, while Philadelphia (1-8) returns home to face Boston.

Proceeds from the match benefited the John McEnroe Tennis Project.

World TeamTennis at New York

Philadelphia Freedoms 21, New York Sportimes 19
Mixed Doubles – Lisa Raymond/Nathan Healey (Phil.) d. Katie O’Brien /Travis Parrott, 5-4
Women’s Doubles – Martina Hingis/Katie O’Brien (N.Y.) d. Beatrice Capra/Lisa Raymond, 5-2
Men’s Doubles – Brendan Evans/Nathan Healey d. John McEnroe/Travis Parrott, 5-3
Men’s Singles – John McEnroe (N.Y.) d. Bjorn Borg, 5-4
Women’s Singles – Beatrice Capra (Phil.) d. Martina Hingis, 5-2

LATE BLOOMER STOSUR A RARITY ON WTA TOUR

By Blair Henley

The ATP Tour is full of late bloomers. Sure there is the occasional teenage superstar, but it’s often more common for men to peak in their mid to late 20’s.

Not so on the women’s side.

That’s why 26-year-old Samantha Stosur’s recent first-time appearance in the Top 10 is an unusual feat. Her stellar doubles resume has made it easy to miss the fact that her singles ranking has been steadily improving since her professional debut in 1999.

In an age where mindless pounding from the baseline seems to have taken over, Stosur has shown that a well-rounded game, complete with solid volleys and a blazing serve, pays long-term dividends. Up-and-coming players and their coaches would be wise to take note.

Stosur, who goes by the nickname Sam, grew up in Queensland, Australia and didn’t start playing tennis until age 8, when a friend gave her a racket for Christmas. She spent as much time as possible hitting with her older brother until he advised their parents to get her some real lessons. By the time she turned 16, Sam’s rapid improvement had secured her a spot in the Australian Institute of Sport’s tennis program, which helped launch her professional career.

Stosur’s aggressive style of play took some time to develop, and it wasn’t until 2005 that she started seeing significant results in both singles and doubles. She teamed up with Lisa Raymond midway through the year and proceeded to win seven doubles titles with her new partner, including the U.S. Open and the WTA Tour Championships. Her newfound success provided the necessary momentum heading into 2006, where Stosur delighted her home crowd by making it to the fourth round of the Australian Open. After that solid season, she reached the No. 1 ranking in doubles and sat comfortably at No. 29 in singles.

Things were looking great for the Aussie, but trouble lurked right around the corner. After a decent start to 2007, Stosur’s season was cut short by extreme fatigue and joint pain. It wasn’t until October of that year, after a viral meningitis scare, that she was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease. The tick-borne illness sapped her strength and energy and left many wondering if she could come back from such severe health issues.

Stosur overcame the odds and had a fairly successful return to tennis in 2008, but she didn’t completely regain steam until the following year. In addition to her consistent doubles success, Sam’s all-court game fell together in 2009, making her a significant singles threat in the process. Her breakthrough season was capped off by her first WTA Tour singles title in Osaka.

That brings us to 2010. Stosur went into this year with a new and improved slice backhand and an intense focus on her singles play. Boy has that paid off. She recently captured the Family Circle Cup title and just fell in a tough three-setter to Justine Henin in the final of the Stuttgart Grand Prix. Interestingly, many of her biggest tournament wins have come on clay, which speaks to her adaptability and peak physical condition.

Stosur may have been a long-shot for success when she turned pro over ten years ago, but her slow and steady ascent shows just how dedicated she has been to a game-style that took some extra time to develop.  For every hard-hitting baseliner that has succeeded on the pro tour, there are many more that have flamed out upon realizing their games had hit a permanent plateau. Sam is a fantastic example for the next generation of players who would be smart to establish an aggressive, well-rounded game that can set them up for long-term success.

Only time will tell if Samantha Stosur will become a fixture among the world’s tennis elite,  but for now it looks like this late bloomer has effectively thrown her “doubles specialist” title out the window, trading it in for something more along the lines of singles powerhouse.

AUSSIE MOVINGS AND SHAKINGS: TENNIS IN THE COMMONWEALTH

Tennis fans of Queensland, Australia, were celebrating after three of their big name stars received wild cards this week for the 2010 Australian Open.

Davis Cup star Carsten Ball, two-time junior Grand Slam winner Bernard Tomic and national under 18 champion Jason Kubler were all handed passes to the event.

Ball missed the recent wild card playoff tournament with a back injury but has performed exceptionally well in 2009 and came close to making the main draw cut off point so the organisers made the decision to hand him a wildcard.

Tomic won this year’s US Open boy’s title to add to the 2008 Aussie boy’s title he’d already picked up. The Australians view Tomic as a huge prospect for the future and he has already shown promise by reaching the second round of the 2009 tournament.

Sixteen-year-old Kubler went on a 30-match winning streak this year which included victory at the prestigious Osaka Junior Open as well as leading Australia to Junior Davis Cup victory.

Former World No. 8 Alicia Molik and rising star Olivia Rogowska received wild cards in the women’s draw, Rogowska being the losing finalist in the recent wildcard playoffs.

The decision on the final wildcards to be handed out to the men’s and women’s draws will be made soon.

*Women’s doubles pairs were left feeling nervous as one of the most successful pairings of all time, America’s Lisa Raymond and Australia’s Rennae Stubbs, announced that they will once more compete together in 2010. Between 1996 and 2005 they won 32 titles together including three Grand Slams – Australia (2000), Wimbledon and the US Open (both 2001). They also won the 2001 Sony Ericsson Championships and both held the No. 1 ranking slot. Raymond has won a further two majors with another Aussie, Samantha Stosur, but the pair were always the most successful together. Raymond commented: “It’s funny how things come full circle.”

*Australian World No. 77 Peter Luczak has signed up to play in the 2010 Movistar Open, an ATP World Tour 250 tournament beginning January 31st in Santiago, Chile. The tournament takes place during the 200th anniversary of Chilean independence and vast celebrations are set to mark the event.

*Spanish clay court coach Felix Mantilla has been added to the Australian Davis Cup coaching team and captain John Fitzgerald was full of praise for the move, describing it as one of the most significant moves in decades. “Having Felix Mantilla now is a great asset to us,” he said. “I reckon it’s a very, very important appointment.”

*British tennis has awarded its December AEGON Awards with Naomi Broady picking up player of the month, Luke Bambridge (Junior Player) and Neil Frankel (coach) being the other benefactors.

*The Australian Open Changing Ends Film Festival has extended its entry deadline until January 18th. By submitting a film of no longer than 30 seconds you could win the top prize of $5,000 and have your film shown during end changes at the 2010 Open. Films must have a tennis theme. For more information visit www.changingends.com.au.

Mondays With Bob Greene: Mirka and I became proud parents of twin girls

Dinara Safina wins Banka Koper Slovenia Open

STARS

Robby Ginepri beat Sam Querrey 6-2 6-4 to win the Indianapolis Tennis Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Nikolay Davydenko beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4 6-2 to win the International German Open in Hamburg, Germany

Dinara Safina won the Banka Koper Slovenia Open in Portoroz, Slovenia, beating Sara Errani 6-7 (5) 6-1 7-5

Andrea Petkovic beat Ioana Raluca Olaru 6-2 6-3 to win the Gastein Ladies in Bad Gastein, Austria

SAYING

“I have some exciting news to share with you. Late last night, in Switzerland, Mirka and I became proud parents of twin girls. This is the best day of our lives.” – Roger Federer, announcing the births on his Web site and Facebook page.

“The twins certainly come from good tennis stock. If they are half as good as their dad they will still be a potent force on the court.” – Nick Weinberg, spokesman for British bookmaker Ladbrokes on the twin girls one day winning Wimbledon.

“When you have a lot of losses, you start questioning if you can play at this level. It creeps in the back of your mind, so this is definitely a confidence boost for me the rest of the summer.” – Robby Ginepri, after winning the Indianapolis Tennis Championships.

“It’s been a great week for me. Of course, when you are in a final you always want to win but it has been a great week for me.” – Paul-Henri Mathieu, after losing in the Hamburg, Germany, final to Nikolay Davydenko.

“I know I am good enough to beat most players on this level.” – Andrea Petkovic, after reaching her first career WTA Tour final, which she won.

“I played better each match this week. I beat two Top 30 players this week, the best wins of my career. I’m sorry about today: I wish I could have done more, but there’s always next tournament.” – Ioana Raluca Olaru, who lost in the Gastein Ladies final to Andrea Petkovic.

“I am a hundred percent. I mean, if I wasn’t at that point, I certainly wouldn’t be playing.” – Maria Sharapova, who played for the Newport Beach Breakers in a World TeamTennis match against Kansas City.

“There’s always a lot of pressure against Korie (Homan) because I have not lost a set at this tournament since 2000 and of course I have the winning streak.” – Esther Vergeer, after stretching her unbeaten singles record to 364 matches in wheelchair tennis by again beating world number two Korie Homan.

“Andy’s presence really does give a boost to County Week and British tennis in general. It proves to 12-, 13- and 14-year-old children that if the world number three can be bothered to show up and compete for his county, then they can do it, too.” – Ian Conway, captain of the North of Scotland team, on Andy Murray playing an amateur event.

SUCCESS, FINALLY

It’s been awhile since Nikolay Davydenko took home the biggest check at a tournament. The Russian won his first ATP World Tour title in over a year when he trounced Paul-Henri Mathieu at the International German Open in Hamburg. Davydenko last appeared in a final at the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai last November, and he hadn’t won a title since Warsaw, Poland, in June 2008. Davydenko also became the first Russian to win in Hamburg.

SONY TOPPER

Until this past week, Andrea Petkovic had a 3-8 lifetime record in WTA Tour-level events, with all three match wins coming at Grand Slam tournaments. That changed in Bad Gastein, Austria, where Petkovic won five straight matches and her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title, the Gastein Ladies, when she stopped Ioana Raluca Olaru. The unseeded German dropped only one set all week, that to seventh-seeded Anna-Lena Groenefeld in the quarterfinals. “It’s the best moment of my career,” Petkovic said. “I hope I can keep playing like this and build on it.” Olaru was also appearing in her first Tour singles final, having upset third-seeded Sybille Bammer, sixth-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova and top-seeded Alize Cornet en route to the title match.

SURE BET

It didn’t take the British bookmakers long. Just a day after their birth, Roger Federer’s twin daughters were given 100-1 odds for either to win Wimbledon. Charlene Riva Federer and Myla Rose Federer are 50-1 to win a Grand Slam as part of the same doubles team and 200-1 to capture the Wimbledon women’s doubles. Andy Roddick, who has lost the Wimbledon final three times to the twins’ father, agreed with the bookies. The American sent a message from his Twitter page, which read: “Wimbledon women’s champs in 2029-2040 … the Federer girls: congrats to the new parents!”

SUPER TIEBREAKS

Playing together for the first time, Dmitry Tursunov of Russia and Ernests Gulbis of Latvia won all four matches in third-set super tiebreakers to capture the doubles title at the Indianapolis Tennis Championships. “They’re obviously better as a team, but when there’s a lot of firepower against you, there’s not much you can do,” Tursunov said after the pair beat top-seeded Ashley Fisher and Jordan Kerr 6-4 3-6 11-9 (match tiebreak). Not one to break up a winning pair, the two plan to play together in Los Angeles this week. “It’s kind of like beginner’s luck in poker, so we’ll see how it goes,” Tursunov said. “If we’re having success, it makes sense to continue to play.”

STEPPING IT UP

The knee injury must be better. Rafael Nadal has returned to training for the first time since he was sidelined by tendinitis in his right knee. Nadal is planning on returning to the ATP tour at the Montreal Masters next month. He has been out since losing to Robin Soderling in the fourth round of the French Open, where he was seeking his fifth straight title. The injury also kept him from defending his Wimbledon crown. With Nadal not there, Roger Federer won both Roland Garros and Wimbledon to record his 15th Grand Slam trophy and reclaim the number one ranking.

STRUGGLING

Leander Paes was named the league’s male MVP as he led the Washington Kastles to their first World TeamTennis Pro League championship. Paes teamed with Scott Oudsema to win the men’s doubles and with Rennae Stubbs to win the mixed doubles as the Kastles downed the Springfield Lasers 23-20. Oudsema beat Springfield’s Raven Klaasen in the men’s singles, while Washington’s Olga Puchkova downed Vania King in women’s singles. King and Liezel Huber captured the women’s doubles. King was named the league’s female MVP.

STANDING TALL

Cara Black is only 5-foot-6 ( 1.67m) but she stands tall in the tennis record book. The Zimbabwean player is second only to Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova in the number of weeks spent as the number one doubles player in the world. When Black recorded her 125th week at number one spot, she moved past Natasha Zvereva. The 30-year-old first took over the top spot on October 17, 2005, staying there for 16 weeks. She regained the spot on June 11, 2007, before relinquishing it two weeks later to Lisa Raymond. But Black began her third and current stint at number one on July 9, 2007, after winning Wimbledon. Navratilova led the doubles rankings for 237 weeks.

SPOTLIGHTED

Austria’s national anti-doping authorities are investigating Tamira Paszek after she received a medical treatment for a back injury that allegedly violated doping regulations. Authorities say that during treatment earlier this month, blood was taken from Paszek for enrichment, then later injected back into her, which is not allowed under international anti-doping rules. Paszek said she was not aware that the treatment was possibly illegal until a reporter told her. Paszek then alerted the Austrian anti-doping agency NADA, which began its investigation. The Austrian right-hander has struggled with back problems since last season. She has not played since retiring during her first-round match at Wimbledon.

STAYING HOME

Argentina’s David Nalbandian and Croatia’s Mario Ancic won’t be playing in this year’s US Open. According to the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the 15th-ranked Nalbandian is still recovering from recent hip surgery, while Ancic is battling mononucleosis. Their spots in the men’s main draw were taken by Ivan Navarro of Spain and Karol Beck of Slovakia.

An injury has caused Li Na of China to withdraw from China’s National Games in Shandong. The 27-year-old said she felt a recurrence of her right knee injury. Li will undergo tests in Beijing to determine whether she will be able to play the North American hard court season, including the US Open. “We have signed up for it and got the visa,” said Li’s husband and coach, Jiang Shan. “If she is OK by then we will go to play.”

SUSPENDED

John McEnroe seems to be a lightning rod for problems on a tennis court. His World TeamTennis club has been fined for what the league called “unprofessional conduct.” During the men’s doubles match between McEnroe’s New York Sportimes and the Washington Kastles, a shot by Washington’s Leander Paes hit New York’s Robert Kendrick. McEnroe and Sportimes coach Chuck Adams went to Paes’ side of the court and yelled at him. Four points later, Kendrick hit Paes with a serve, prompting more confrontations. The league suspended and fined Adams the next day, then, after reviewing the video and getting the umpire’s report, issued fines on both teams. Kendrick and Kastles player Olga Puchkova received individual fines.

SHORT STICH STAY

Michael Stich’s return to competitive tennis lasted only 62 minutes. The former Wimbledon champion lost his first-round doubles match at the German Open in Hamburg. The 40-year-old Stich, who retired from the sport 12 years ago, and 21-year-old Mischa Zverev were beaten by Simon Aspelin of Sweden and Paul Hanley of Australia 6-4 6-2. Stich won Wimbledon in 1991 and reached the final at both the French Open and US Open. His best ranking was number two in the world. As tournament director of the German Open, Stich gave himself and Zverev a wild card into the tournament. Stich is not the only retired player to make a brief doubles comeback. John McEnroe was 47 when he and Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman won the doubles at San Jose, California. That came 14 years after his previous title.

SAYING AU REVOIR

Nathalie Dechy is calling it a career. The 30-year-old Frenchwoman is expecting a child and wants to devote her time to family life. Dechy reached the Australian Open semifinals in 2005, but is currently ranked 88th in the world. She won two US Open women’s doubles titles, with Vera Zvonareva in 2006 and Dinara Safina in 2007. She also won the French Open mixed doubles in 2007 with Israel’s Andy Ram. Dechy won her only WTA Tour singles title at the Gold Coast tournament in 2003 and reached her career-highest ranking in January 2006 when she rose to 11th in the world. She played for France in the Fed Cup in singles and doubles from 2000 until this year.

STRIKE IT WASN’T

Robby Ginepri had an unusual way of throwing out the game’s first pitch when he was a special guest at the Triple-A baseball game between the Indianapolis Indians and the Durham Bulls. In Indiana where he was competing in the Indianapolis Tennis Championships, Ginepri used his racquet and a tennis ball to serve to the Indians catcher. The umpire called balls on both of Ginepri’s “serves,” but the American was delighted with his performance. “It was very close to a strike,” Ginepri said. “It is quite different to have to serve at a catcher’s glove. The target is just very small.”

SCHOLARSHIPS BY MARIA

Maria Sharapova is continuing to give back. The former world number one has launched the Maria Sharapova Foundation to distribute scholarships among first-year students at Belarusian State University throughout the 2009-2010 academic year. The USD $3,500 scholarships will be available to Belarus residents attending BSU who come from areas formally recognized as affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident. According to the BSU press office, recipients should actively participate in public, research and volunteer activities, and should have a high average grade in their general education school diplomas. It’s not the first time the tennis player has given generously. In February 2007, Sharapova, who serves as a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Development Program, donated USD $100,000 for eight Chernobyl relief projects in Belarus and Ukraine. Sharapova’s father and pregnant mother fled Homyel, a town 80 miles north of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, shortly after the accident in April 1986. She was born in a Siberian city months later.

SUMMER COUNTY CUP

Forget the ranking. Andy Murray took time to compete in the AEGON Summer County Cup, a 115-year-old amateur team tennis competition. With no umpires, line judges or ball-persons, the players call their own lines in the last amateur grass-court competition in the United Kingdom where senior professionals mix with junior players to represent their county in a competitive team environment. It was a huge surprise to the other players and the 300 spectators at Eastbourne when Murray showed up to play for North of Scotland. “Andy has come down to Eastbourne under his own steam, paying for his transport and lunch out of his own pocket,” said North of Scotland captain Ian Conway. “I was surprised and delighted, and his presence has given the rest of the team a huge boost.” While Murray and Owen Hadden won all three of their matches for the North of Scotland, Hertfordshire won the tie 5-4 when Andy’s brother, Jamie Murray, and his partner lost the deciding match 6-3 6-7 (3) 10-8 (match tiebreak).

STILL WINNING

Esther Vergeer is not slowing down. The Dutch woman won her ninth consecutive women’s wheelchair singles title at the British Open in Nottingham, defeating Korie Homan. Ranked number one in the world, Vergeer stretched her winning streak to 364 matches.

Shingo Kunieda of Japan won the men’s main draw singles, while American David Wagner captured the quad singles titles. Kunieda beat Stephane Houdet for his third successive men’s main draw singles title. Wagner won his second British Open quad singles in three years as he beat world number one and home favorite Peter Norfolk.

SIGNED ON

Nicole Pratt has been appointed Australian national women’s coach. A former junior Australian Open champion, Pratt will work with Australia’s Fed Cup team and on player development, according to Tennis Australia. Pratt’s highest ranking on the WTA Tour was 35th in the world.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Indianapolis: Dmitry Tursunov and Ernests Gulbis beat Ashley Fisher and Jordan Kerr 6-4 3-6 11-9 (match tiebreak)

Hamburg: Simon Aspelin and Paul Hanley beat Marcelo Melo and Filip Polasek 6-3 6-3

Bad Gastein: Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka beat Tatjana Malek and Andrea Petkovic 6-2 6-4

Portoroz: Julia Goerges and Vladimira Uhlirova beat Camille Pin and Klara Zakopalova 6-4 6-2

SITES TO SURF

Los Angeles: www.latennisopen.com/

Gstaad: www.allianzsuisseopengstaad.com/e/

Umag: www.croatiaopen.hr

Stanford: www.bankofthewestclassic.com/

Istanbul: www.istanbulcup.com/

Washington: www.leggmasontennisclassic.com/

Segovia: www.teniselespinar.com/

San Marino: www.atpsanmarino.com/

Vancouver: www.vanopen.com/

Los Angeles: www.latennischamps.com/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$700,000 Countrywide Classic, Los Angeles, California, USA, hard

$500,000 Allianz Suisse Open, Gstaad, Switzerland, clay

$450,000 Studena Croatia Open, Umag, Croatia, clay

$100,000 Orbetello Challenger, Orbetello, Italy, clay

WTA

$700,000 Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, California, hard

$220,000 Istanbul Cup, Istanbul, Turkey, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$1,402,000 Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Washington, DC, USA, hard

$150,000 ATP Open Castilla y Leon, Segovia, Spain, hard

$120,000 San Marino CEPU Open, San Marino, clay

$100,000 Odlum Brown Vancouver Open, Vancouver, Canada, hard

WTA

$700,000 LA Women’s Tennis Championships presented by Herbalife, Los Angeles, California, USA, hard

World Team Tennis Final Results – Kastles Round Out The Playoff Field

With their 21-14 win tonight over the Springfield Lasers, the Washington Kastles clinched the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and will face the New York Sportimes on July 24 in Washington, D.C.  The top-seeded Sportimes reached an agreement with the Kastles for the Advanta WTT Eastern Conference Championship to be held at Kastles Stadium in Washington, D.C., which will also be the site of the Advanta WTT Finals on July 26.

The Advanta WTT Western Conference Championship will take place on July 24 in Springfield, Mo. when the Springfield Lasers host the Newport Beach Breakers.  The winners of the Conference Championship matches advance to the Advanta WTT Finals.

Advanta World TeamTennis Pro League – Results for Wednesday, 7/22

(Home teams in capital letters)

FINAL RESULTS – All matches complete:

BOSTON LOBSTERS def. New York Buzz 20-16

Mixed Doubles – James Auckland\Raquel Kops-Jones (Lobsters) def. Ryan Lipman\Sloane Stephens (Buzz) 5-2

Women’s Singles – Sloane Stephens (Buzz) def. Stephanie Foretz (Lobsters) 5-2

Men’s Singles – Jan-Michael Gambill (Lobsters) def. Alex Domijan (Buzz) 5-0

Women’s Doubles – Mallory Burdette\Sloane Stephens (Buzz) def. Stephanie Foretz\Raquel Kops-Jones (Lobsters) 5-3

Men’s Doubles – James Auckland\Jan-Michael Gambill (Lobsters) def. Alex Domijan\Ryan Lipman (Buzz) 5-4

St Louis Aces def. PHILADELPHIA FREEDOMS 21-17

Women’s Doubles – Kim Clijsters\Liga Dekmeijere (Aces) def. Madison Keys\Lisa Raymond (Freedoms) 5-2

Women’s Singles – Kim Clijsters (Aces) def. Madison Keys (Freedoms) 5-3

Mixed Doubles – Kim Clijsters\Tripp Phillips (Aces) def. Lisa Raymond\Nathan Healey (Freedoms) 5-4

Men’s Singles – Nathan Healey (Freedoms) def. Mislav Hizak (Aces) 5-1

Men’s Doubles – Mislav Hizak\Tripp Phillips (Aces) def. Josh Cohen\Nathan Healey (Freedoms) 5-3

WASHINGTON KASTLES def. Springfield Lasers 21-14

Men’s Doubles – Scott Oudsema\Leander Paes (Kastles) def. Martin Damm\Raven Klaasen (Lasers) 5-2

Women’s Singles – Nadia Petrova (Kastles) def. Vania King (Lasers) 5-3

Men’s Singles – Scott Oudsema (Kastles) def. Raven Klaasen (Lasers) 5-2

Women’s Doubles – Liezel Huber\Vania King (Lasers) def. Rennae Stubbs\Nadia Petrova (Kastles) 5-1

Mixed Doubles – Nadia Petrova\Leander Paes (Kastles) def. Liezel Huber\Martin Damm (Lasers) 5-2

NEWPORT BEACH BREAKERS def. Kansas City Explorers 24-15

Men’s Singles – Mike Russell (Explorers) def. Ramon Delgado (Breakers) 5-4

Women’s Doubles – Julie Ditty\Maria Sharapova (Breakers) def. Eugenie Bouchard\Meghann Shaughnessy (Explorers) 5-2

Mixed Doubles – Maria Sharapova\Kaes Vant Hof (Breakers) def. Eugenie Bouchard\Dusan Vemic (Explorers) 5-2

Women’s Singles – Maria Sharapova (Breakers) def. Meghann Shaughnessy (Explorers) 5-4

Men’s Doubles – Ramon Delgado\Kaes Vant Hof (Breakers) def. Mike Russell\Dusan Vemic (Explorers) 5-2

SACRAMENTO CAPITALS def. New York Sportimes 22-14

Mixed Doubles – Mark Knowles\Coco Vandeweghe (Capitals) def. Jesse Witten\Christina Fusano (Sportimes) 5-3

Women’s Doubles – Angela Haynes\Coco Vandeweghe (Capitals) def. Abigail Spears\Christina Fusano (Sportimes) 5-3

Men’s Singles – Sam Warburg (Capitals) def. Jesse Witten (Sportimes) 5-0

Women’s Singles – Abigail Spears (Sportimes) def. Angela Haynes (Capitals) 5-2

Men’s Doubles – Mark Knowles\Sam Warburg (Capitals) def. Robert Kendrick\Jesse Witten (Sportimes) 5-3

Standings

Eastern Conference MP W L PCT MB

y – New York Sportimes         14  10  4 0.714  –

x – Washington Kastles         14  7  7 0.500  3

Boston Lobsters            14  7  7 0.500  3

Philadelphia Freedoms      14  4  10 0.286  6

New York Buzz              14  4  10 0.286  6

Western Conference MP W L PCT MB

y – Springfield Lasers         14  12  2  0.857  –

x – Newport Beach Breakers     14  9  5  0.643  3

Sacramento Capitals        14  6  8  0.429  6

Kansas City Explorers      14  6  8  0.429  6

St Louis Aces              14  5  9  0.357  7

x = Clinched Playoff Spot

y = Clinched #1 seed for Conference Championship

Next Matches: 7/24/2009

Washington Kastles @ NEW YORK SPORTIMES, 7:00 PM (EDT)

Newport Beach Breakers @ SPRINGFIELD LASERS, 7:05 PM (CDT)

For live scoring and complete player / match statistics, please visit www.WTT.com

Kim Clijsters concludes WTT Comeback en Route to U.S. Open

Kim Clijsters concludes WTT Comeback en Route to U.S. Open

King of Prussia, Pa. (July 22, 2009) – Kim Clijsters completed her debut World TeamTennis season, leading the St. Louis Aces to a 21-17 victory over the Philadelphia Freedoms. Clijsters, the 2005 U.S.Open Champion, is making her return to professional tennis after a two year hiatus following the birth of her daughter.

The match opened with women’s doubles featuring Clijsters and Liga Dekmeijere for the Aces against the Freedoms’ Lisa Raymond and Madison Keys. Clijsters appeared in top form as the Aces tandem earned a 5-2 victory over the Freedoms. The former world no.1 continued her dominant play in women’s singles with a decisive 5-3 win over 14 year old phenom Madison Keys. Clijsters completed her Philadelphia “trifecta,” partnering with Tripp Philips to earn a hardfought 5-4 win over Raymond and Nathan Healey in mixed doubles.

The men took center stage following halftime. Reading, PA resident Healey played perhaps his best tennis of the season for the Freedoms, dominantly defeating the Aces’ Mislav Hizak 5-1 in men’s singles. The Freedoms finished out their 2009 season with men’s doubles, where Hizak and Phillips of the Aces prevailed over Healey and Josh Cohen 5-3.

The Freedoms conclude their 2009 season with a record of 4-10. For full coverage of the Freedoms season in review, go to philadelphiafreedoms.com. Though the Freedoms are missing the 2009 World TeamTennis playoffs, be sure to follow all the action from the conference championships and the Advanta WTT Finals with live scoring on WTT.com. The conference championships take place on July 24 with the finals taking place in Kastles Stadium in Washington, D.C. on July 26.

Advanta World TeamTennis Pro League – Results for Wednesday, 7/22

FINAL RESULTS:

(Home teams in capital letters)

St. Louis Aces def. PHILADELPHIA FREEDOMS 21-17

Women’s Doubles – Kim Clijsters\Liga Dekmeijere (Aces) def. Madison Keys\Lisa Raymond (Freedoms) 5-2

Women’s Singles – Kim Clijsters (Aces) def. Madison Keys (Aces) 5-3

Mixed Doubles – Kim Cljisters\Tripp Phillips (Aces) def. Lisa Raymond\Nathan Healey (Freedoms) 5-4

Men’s Singles – Nathan Healey (Freedoms) def. Mislav Hizak (Aces) 5-1

Men’s Doubles – Mislav Hizak and Tripp Phillips (Aces) def. Nathan Healey\Josh Cohen (Freedoms) 5-3

The 2009 Philadelphia Freedoms season featured the greatest lineup of tennis stars ever seen in Philadelphia – Andre Agassi, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Kim Clijsters, and Anna Kournikova – each appeared during one home match in July.

The Freedoms play their matches at the 3,000 seat Freedoms Stadium at the King of Prussia Mall. All events feature world-class tennis in an innovative, fast-paced World TeamTennis format. Each evening includes exciting Block Parties produced by Comcast Spectacor and featuring USTA Quick Start Tennis, live music, inflatables, mascots, kids’ games, prizes, food, and much more.

2009 Freedoms Sponsors include Advanta, Abington Hospital, Fidelity Investments, Beneficial Bank, Lincoln Mercury, Novo Nordisk, Comcast Cable, Skinny Water, USTA Middle States, 23K, Museum Catering, Endo Pharmaceuticals, ACME, Energy Plus, Macy’s, Dolce Valley Forge, McShane Sports Medicine, Excel Physical Therapy, Maui Wowi, CBS 3, WIP, WPHT, KYW Radio, WOGL, Bertolinis, Mortons Steakhouse, The Inquirer, and Drexel University Sport Management.

Navratilova leads Boston Lobsters to an overtime victory over Philadelphia Freedoms

Martina Navratilova

King of Prussia, Pa. (July 20, 2009) – Playing in her 20th World TeamTennis season, tennis legend Martina Navratilova led the Boston Lobsters to a 23-18 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Freedoms. Navratilova, a 31- time Grand Slam Doubles Champion, along with partner Raquel Kops-Jones defeated Wayne, Pa native Lisa Raymond and Madison Keys 5-2. Navratilova partnered with James Auckland but they were unable to overcome the Freedoms’ Raymond and Nathan Healey in mixed doubles. The Freedoms prevailed 5-4, forcing overtime, where the Lobsters won the first game to decide the match in their favor.

In the opening set, Philadelphia’s Josh Cohen made his 2009 debut for the Freedoms to lead them to a win in men’s doubles. Cohen teamed with Nathan Healey take down the Lobsters team of James Auckland and Jan-Michael Gambill 5-3.

In women’s singles, Stephanie Foretz of the Lobsters got revenge against Keys from their July 12th match in Boston when Foretz prevailed 5-3. In Freedom stadium tonight, Foretz battled back from a 1-3 deficit to defeat Keys on her home court 5-3. Riding on the wave of momentum, Jan-Michael Gambill rallied to beat Healey for the third time this season. He secured a solid 5-3 win for the Lobsters in men’s singles.

The Freedoms play their final home match of the season this Wednesday, July 22 when former world no.1 player and 2005 U.S. Open Champion Kim Clijsters and the St. Louis Aces visit Freedoms Stadium. Cljisters is playing the 2009 World TeamTennis season in preparation for her return to the pro tour leading up to the 2009 U.S. Open. Tickets for the final home match can be purchased by calling 866-WTT-TIXS or visiting philadelphiafreedoms.com.

Advanta World TeamTennis Pro League – Results for Monday, 7/20

FINAL RESULTS:
(Home teams in capital letters)
Boston Lobsters def. PHILADELPHIA FREEDOMS 23-18 OT
Men’s Doubles – Josh Cohen\Nathan Healey (Freedoms) def. James
Auckland\Jan-Michael Gambill (Lobsters) 5-3

Women’s Singles – Stephanie Foretz (Lobsters) def. Madison Keys (Freedoms)
5-3

Men’s Singles – Jan-Michael Gambill (Lobsters) def. Nathan Healey (Freedoms)
5-3

Women’s Doubles – Martina Navratilova\Raquel Kops-Jones (Lobsters) def.
Madison Keys\Lisa Raymond (Freedoms) 5-2

Mixed Doubles – Martina Navratilova\James Auckland (Lobsters) def.
Lisa Raymond\Nathan Healey (Freedoms) 5-4

Mixed Doubles- Overtime- Martina Navratilova\James Auckland (Lobsters) def.
Lisa Raymond\Nathan Healey (Freedoms) 1-0.

The 2009 Philadelphia Freedoms season features the greatest lineup of tennis stars ever seen in Philadelphia – Andre Agassi, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Kim Clijsters, and Anna Kournikova – each appearing during one home match in July.
The Freedoms have two remaining home matches at the 3,000 seat Freedoms Stadium at the King of Prussia Mall. All events will feature world-class tennis in an innovative, fast-paced World TeamTennis format. Each evening will include exciting Block Parties produced by Comcast Spectacor and featuring USTA Quick Start Tennis, live music, inflatables, mascots, kids’ games, prizes, food, and much more.

PHILADELPHIA FREEDOMS 2009 REMAINING HOME SCHEDULE
Wednesday, July 22 St. Louis Aces (Clijsters) at Phildelphia Freedoms
Match Begins at 7:30 p.m.

2009 Freedoms Sponsors include Advanta, Abington Hospital, Fidelity Investments, Beneficial Bank, Lincoln Mercury, Novo Nordisk, Comcast Cable, Skinny Water, USTA Middle States, 23K, Museum Catering, Endo Pharmaceuticals, ACME, Energy Plus, Macy’s, Dolce Valley Forge, McShane Sports Medicine, Excel Physical Therapy, Maui Wowi, CBS 3, WIP, WPHT, KYW Radio, WOGL, Bertolinis, Mortons Steakhouse, The Inquirer, and Drexel University Sport Management.

Mondays With Bob Greene: I’m so happy, I wouldn’t trade this victory for a Grand Slam

Flavia Pennetta wins the Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo

STARS

Robin Soderling beat Juan Monaco 6-3 7-6 (4) to win the Catella Swedish Open in Bastad, Sweden

Jeremy Chardy won his first career ATP title, beating Victor Hanescu 1-6 6-3 6-4 in the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany.

Flavia Pennetta beat Sara Errani 6-1 6-2 to win the Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo in Palermo, Italy

Sybille Bammer beat Francesca Schiavone 7-6 (4) 6-2 to win the ECM Prague Open in Prague, Czech Republic

Marcos Daniel won the Open Seguros Bolivar in Bogota, Colombia, defeating Horacic Zeballos 4-6 7-6 (5) 6-4

SAYING

“I’m so happy, I wouldn’t trade this victory for a Grand Slam.” – Robin Soderling, the French Open finalist, after becoming the first Swede to win the Swedish Open since 2000.

“It is the first time I’ve won a title here in Italy. And it’s even more special with my family and friends here watching and supporting me.” – Flavia Pennetta, after winning the Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo.

“I felt the pressure because I knew this would be my first title.” – Jeremy Chardy, after beating Victor Hanescu to win his first ATP title, the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany.

“I like practicing, but I like playing matches better.” – Kim Clijsters, saying she’s rejoining the WTA Tour after a two-year retirement during which she got married and had a baby.

“I’m tired of the tour, tired of staying at hotels and tired of travelling…I’ve had enough now.” – Marat Safin, after his first-round loss at the Swedish Open.

“I still want to win. Especially that title. I like winning that one. I’m used to winning that one.” – Venus Williams, taking little consolation that the Wimbledon women’s singles title remained in the Williams family when she lost the final to sister Serena.

“I thought it would be pretty easy. You play five games, you get to sit down. But it’s highly competitive and a difficult way to tiptoe back into it.” – Andre Agassi, after returning to the sport by playing World TeamTennis.

“Basically, it was a great match, probably one of the greatest World TeamTennis matches ever played, maybe the greatest. All in all, I thought it was a great night.” – New York Sportimes owner Claude Okin, after his coach was suspended following a wild and crazy match that saw two players get hit by batted balls.

SWEDE VICTORY

It was Robin Soderling’s fourth ATP title and his first on clay. But what made his 6-3 7-6 (4) victory over Juan Monaco even sweeter was that Soderling became the first Swede to win the Swedish Open since his coach, Magnus Norman, won in 2000. Soderling, who upset defending champion Rafael Nadal en route to the final of the French Open, was playing in his third ATP final in Sweden. He lost both previous times on the indoor hard court of the Stockholm Open. He wasn’t to be denied this time as he didn’t drop a set on the clay courts of Bastad. Swedish players have won the singles 18 times in the 54-year history of the Swedish Open. Soderling also was in the doubles final, but he and partner Robert Lindstedt lost to Jaroslav Levinsky and Filip Polasek 1-6 6-3 10-7 (match tiebreak).

SNOW WHITE

Frenchman Richard Gasquet escaped a two-year ban when an independent panel agreed with him that the reason he tested positive for cocaine was because he had kissed a woman in a Miami, Florida, nightclub who had been using the drug. The panel also ruled that while Gasquet’s test was officially in competition, this was a technicality as he had decided the day before his first match to pull out of the Sony Ericsson Championships. Cocaine is not banned out of competition. Fearing a dangerous precedent, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) sought a mandatory two-year band and may yet appeal the ruling, as may the World Anti-Doping Agency. Gasquet’s test showed traces of a tiny quantity of cocaine, about the size of a grain of salt. Gasquet missed the French Open and Wimbledon, but could return to the tour at the Montreal, Canada, Masters that starts on August 10.

SCHEDULING BLAME

The president of the Russian tennis federation blames his team’s upset Davis Cup loss to Israel on the scheduling of the men’s tour. “The main problem is this murderous calendar,” said Shamil Tarpishchev. “This is not only a big problem for us. Just look at the other top teams like U.S., Spain, Argentina or Germany. It seems like every top team was missing their best players.” Tarpishchev, who had led Russia to Davis Cup titles in 2002 and 2006, said the timing of the World Group quarterfinals coming immediately after the French Open and Wimbledon gave top players almost no time to recover. Russia played without its top two players, Nikolay Davydenko and Dmitry Tursunov. Others missing Davis Cup quarterfinals included American Andy Roddick, Spain’s Rafael Nadal, Argentina’s David Nalbandian, Germany’s Tommy Haas and Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic and Mario Ancic.

STILETTO

Before President Barack Obama headed to baseball’s All-Star game to throw out the first pitch, he welcomed Wimbledon champion Serena Williams to the White House. “I love President Obama; he has such an unbelievable presence, and he seems to be so normal – and he noticed my shoes,” Williams said. “I think that was the highlight of the whole day, was he liked my shoes.” Serena said she was wearing 5-inch heels and the President wondered if she should be wearing them. “I thought that was kind of funny because he may have been right,” Serena said. “Because it is a job hazard for me, but I insist on wearing them.”

SPANISH TOP

Spain is on top of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Davis Cup Nations Ranking. The Spaniards ended Russia’s 2 ½ -year reign as number one. The United States moved up to second place, followed by Russia. Israel, which upset Russia in the quarterfinals, advanced to a career-high sixth.

STRUGGLING

When Andre Agassi ended his nearly 3-year retirement, he did it all. The 39-year-old played mixed doubles, doubles and singles for the second straight week while competing for the Philadelphia Freedoms in World TeamTennis. Agassi also traded shots with youngsters and bantered with fans as the Freedoms played the Newport Beach Breakers. He teamed with Lisa Raymond to post a mixed doubles victory, but lost in singles to Ramon Delgado and to Delgado and Kaes Van’t Hof in the men’s doubles.

SISTERLY LOVE?

Venus and Serena Williams aren’t the only sisters meeting on the opposite ends of a tennis court. The difference, though, is what part of the week they face each other. In their latest pairing, Serena beat Venus in the Wimbledon final. In Prague, Czech Republic, fifth-seeded Alona Bondarenko was ousted by her unseeded sister Kateryna in the opening round of the Prague Open 6-1 6-3. That snapped a tie and the younger sister now leads in their head-to-head matchups 4-3. In their career head-to-head battles, Serena leads her older sister 11-10. The Bondarenko sisters did team up to win the doubles in Prague, their third doubles title together. They won the Australian Open and Paris indoors last year.

SET FOR THE CAPITAL

Washington, D.C., will be the site for this year’s World TeamTennis championship finals. The July 26 competition, being played in America’s capital for the first time, will pit the 10-team league’s Eastern Conference champions against the winners of the Western Conference.

SHANGHAI STOP

The Qi Zhong Tennis Center in Shanghai is adding new courts as it gets ready to stage an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in October. The Tennis Center was the site for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup for five years, an event that this year will be held in London. For this year’s tournament, Qi Zhong’s main stadium roof will be opened, turning it into a 15,000-seat outdoor facility. The Grand Stand Court 2 will accommodate 5,000 spectators, while Court 3 will seat 2,000. Construction of the new facilities is expected to be completed by August. The tournament will be held October 10-18 and will conclude a four-week Asian tour, following stops in Bangkok, Tokyo and Beijing.

SUSPENDED

New York Sportimes coach Chuck Adams was suspended and fined by World TeamTennis after his team and the Washington Kastles got into heated arguments over players getting hit by shots. The league barred Adams for “violating the World TeamTennis Coaches’ Code of Conduct.” During the melee, Adams went onto Washington’s side of the court to confront a Kastles player. The league said this was “the first p[punishment” for what happened between the two teams. WTT said it “continues to investigate the incident to determine if there will be any additional punishments issued.” During the men’s doubles match, a shot by Washington’s Leader Paes hit New York’s Robert Kendrick, prompting Adams and Sportimes player John McEnroe to yell at Paes. The chair umpire issued a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct against the New York team. Four points later, Kendrick hit a serve that hit Paes as he stood near the net as his partner waited to return serve. Kastles players Olga Puchkova and Rennae Stubbs responded and both drew code violation warnings, Puchkova for yelling at Kendrick and Stubbs for abuse of officials.

SET TO RETURN

Having taken time to get married and have a baby, Kim Clijsters is ready to rejoin the WTA Tour. The 2005 US Open champion, Clijsters reached number one in the world in singles and doubles in August 2003. She also was runner-up at four major tournaments – losing to fellow Belgian Justine Henin at both Roland Garros and the US Open in 2003 and at the Australian Open in 2004 – as she won 34 career singles titles before beginning a two-year retirement. This will be her first US Open since she captured the title. She has been given wild cards to enter tournaments at Mason, Ohio, and Toronto, Canada, before the US Open, which begins its two-week run on August 31. The 26-year-old Clijsters married American Brian Lynch in 2007 and their daughter, Jada, was born in February 2008.

SET FOR MONTREAL

Rafael Nadal is shooting to return to the men’s tennis tour at the Montreal Masters next Month. The Spaniard has been slowing recovering from tendinitis in his knees and plans to resume training this week. He last played at Roland Garros, where he was upset in the fourth round by Sweden’s Robin Soderling. Nadal then was forced to skip the defense of his Wimbledon title. He is the defending champion in Montreal. While he was recuperating, he also lost his number one ranking to Roger Federer, who succeeded Nadal as champion at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

SUFFERIN’ SAFIN

Marat Safin is looking forward to life free of racquets and balls. The Russian is scheduled to play another eight tournaments before he retires at the end of the year. After losing his first-round Swedish Open match to Nicolas Almagro, Safin said, “I’ve had enough now.” Asked by the Swedish news agency TT if he would be interested in a coaching career, Safin replied: “I am tired of everything that has to do with rackets and balls. I want to do something completely different.”

STICH BACK

Yet another retiree is returning to the courts. However, when former Wimbledon champion Michael Stich snaps his 12-year stint on the sidelines, it will be only to play doubles at the tournament in Hamburg, Germany. Now 40 years old, Stich is the director of the event that is struggling to survive after losing its Masters Series status on the tour. Stich will team with 21-year-old Mischa Zverev, one of Germany’s top prospects. “I’ve been practicing with Mischa in Hamburg for about five years and we got the idea at some point to play doubles at a tournament,” Stich said. “The opportunity has now presented itself and as Hamburg boys we will play before the home fans next week.” Stich upset fellow German Boris Becker to win Wimbledon in 1991. The following year he teamed with John McEnroe to win the Wimbledon doubles.

STAYING HOME

Wimbledon runner-up Andy Roddick will skip this week’s Indianapolis Tennis Championships because of a right hip flexor injury. It’s the same injury that caused Roddick to pull out of the United States Davis Cup team’s quarterfinal at Croatia. Without Roddick, the Americans lost.

SKIPS SUSPENSION

Australia won’t be suspended from Davis Cup for refusing to play in India in May. But while the International Tennis Federation board declined to impose tougher sanctions on Australia, it did say the next Davis Cup tie between the two countries will be played in India. Australia forfeited May’s competition when it refused to send a team to India, claiming security fears. While the board also reversed the Davis Cup committee’s decision that Australia would lose its hosting rights for its next home match, the board upheld a USD $10,000 fine and additional legal costs imposed on the Australian federation.

Spurred by last year’s competition in Argentina, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has decided that Davis Cup finals must in the future be held in major cities. The ITF said Argentina’s use of Uslas Malvinas Stadium in Mar del Plata last November did not meet capacity requirements. Wary of the Spaniards’ dominance on clay, Argentina moved the Cup final to indoor carpet. Spain won the final anyway, 3-1.

Three countries – Albania, Kenya and Zambia – have been promoted from Class C membership to Class B while two others have been dropped as the ITF has reconfigured the Europe/Africa Zone. It now will be Europe Group II and Africa Group III. Mongolia and Antigua and Barbuda are the nations who were dropped.

SWISS AWARD

Roger Federer has been named “Ehrespalebaerglemer,” an award given to outstanding citizens of Basel, Switzerland, the tennis star’s home town. A plaque, unveiled in Federer’s honor, sits alongside those honoring other local heroes in the historic city center of Basel. “It’s a nice honor for me to receive the plaque and I will walk past it, I am sure, just a few more times,” said Federer. “It’s going to be a proud moment, maybe also to show my kids in the future.”

SCOTT TO STACEY

The new chairman and chief executive of the WTA Tour is Stacey Allaster. The native of Canada had served three years as president of the WTA Tour after previously serving as vice president and tournament director of Tennis Canada. Allaster replaces Larry Scott in the top job at the WTA Tour. Scott resigned in March after six years as chief executive to become commissioner of the Pacific-10 Conference of US colleges.

SAD NEWS

Jon Gibbs, a trailblazer in computerized tennis statistics, has died in Verona, New Jersey, USA. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. A video tape editor for ABC Television before he retired, Gibbs created TenniSTAT, a computer program that enabled a complete printout of every point after a match. At one time TenniSTAT was the official statistics program for the US Open, the WCT Tournament of Champions, the Volvo Masters and the Virginia Slims Championships in New York City, and the US Pro Indoors in Philadelphia. He also provided statistics at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Gibbs had just celebrated his 71st birthday. A memorial service will be held July 26 at Temple Beth Sholom in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. Among his survivors are his wife, Roz, and two sons, Noah and Josh.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Bastad: Jaroslav Levinsky and Filip Polasek beat Robert Lindstedt and Robin Soderling 1-6 6-3 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Prague: Alona Bondarenko and Kateryna Bondarenko beat Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-1 6-2

Palermo: Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Mariya Koryttseva and Darya Kustova 6-1 6-2

Stuttgart: Frantisek Cermak and Mischa Mertinak beat Victor Hanescu and Horia Tecau 7-5 6-4

Bogota: Sebastian Prieto and Horarcic Zeballos beat Marcos Daniel and Ricardo Mello 6-4 7-5

SITES TO SURF

Indianapolis: www.tennisindy.com/

Portoroz: www.sloveniaopen.si/

Bad Gastein: www.matchmaker.at/gastein/

Los Angeles: www.latennisopen.com/

Gstaad: www.allianzsuisseopengstaad.com/e/

Umag: www.croatiaopen.hr

Stanford: www.bankofthewestclassic.com/

Istanbul: www.istanbulcup.com/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$1,500,000 Bet-at-Home Open, Hamburg, Germany, clay

$600,000 Indianapolis Tennis Championships, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, hard

WTA

$220,000 Banka Koper Slovenia Open, Portoroz, Slovenia, hard

$220,000 Gastein Ladies, Bad Gastein, Austria, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$700,000 Countrywide Classic, Los Angeles, California, USA, hard

$500,000 Allianz Suisse Open, Gstaad, Switzerland, clay

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