Louis Armstrong Stadium

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Mondays With Bob Greene: The Summary Of The First Week Of The US Open

Kim Clijsters

STARS

(US Open First Week)

Petra Kvitova beat top-seeded Dinara Safina 6-4 2-6 7-06 (5)

Kim Clijsters beat third-seeded Venus Williams 6-0 0-6 6-4

Melanie Oudin beat fourth-seeded Elena Dementieva 5-7 6-4 6-3

John Isner beat fifth-seeded Andy Roddick 7-6 (3) 6-3 3-6 5-7 7-6 (5)

Yaroslava Shvedova beat fifth-seeded Jelena Jankovic 6-3 6-7 (4) 7-6 (6)

Francesca Schiavone beat eighth-seeded Victoria Azarenko 4-6 6-2 6-2

SAYING

“I learned, once again, proved to myself that I can compete with these top girls. And if I believe in myself and my game, then I can beat them.” – Melanie Oudin, after upsetting Maria Sharapova to advance to the fourth round.

“She was playing very aggressively, really enjoying this atmosphere, the crowd support and really going for the winners. So it’s just the beginning, but it looks like she has a good future.” – Elena Dementieva, on American Melanie Oudin, who upset the fourth-seeded Russian in a second-round match.

“I like to do aces on the match points. I did it (at) the French Open. I did it twice. Yeah, close my match with an ace. So it was nice.” – Yaroslava Shvedova, who finished her upset of Jelena Jankovic with an ace.

“She pretty much takes my advice if I offer good advice. I don’t traditionally offer good advice, so she doesn’t normally take it.” – Serena Williams, asked if she gives advice to her sister Venus.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come here a little bit tired, a little bit sore, a little bit injured, a little bit distracted. There’s nowhere to hide out there, so I’ve lived and died on this court many times and taken a lot of people with me.” – Andre Agassi, talking about playing at the US Open.

“What Andre did in his career is incredibly impressive. But to have someone who can be more impressive after their career is so rare. It’s why someone like Arthur Ashe is my idol. I’m sure a lot of kids have grown up in this era after mine. I hope they have someone like Andre Agassi as their idol.” – James Blake.

“I was jealous. I was happy for everybody that was doing well. I’m friends with them all, but I was jealous. I wanted to be here competing and playing well and playing matches. So to be back here accomplishing that is pretty remarkable. I still have a long way to go. I still feel like my game is still pretty rough around the edges, but it’s extremely exciting.” – Taylor Dent, making his first US Open appearance since 2005 and after three back surgeries.

“My goal (was) to not get crushed and make it interesting for a little while at least. I got up a break a couple of times and that was fun while it lasted.” – Devin Britton, a wild card entry who lost a first-round match to top-seeded Roger Federer.

“I don’t want to make the decision to stop and then after two, six, eight months thinking, it was not quite the time yet. Because then it’s too hard, I would say, probably to make a comeback as Kim (Clijsters) is making now, given the age.” – Amelie Mauresmo, now 30 years old, saying she will wait until the end of the year before making a decision on whether to retire.

“I love winning tennis matches. If I get more money for more matches I win, that’s why we play. … It’s nice to get money for what you love to do.” – Jesse Witten, a qualifier who reached the third round before losing to Novak Djokovic.

I hated to lose more than I liked to win. – Jimmy Connors, explaining his mindset when he played.

SONY ERICSSON WTA TOUR

In 2010, the women’s tennis tour returns to San Diego, California, and will stage new events in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Copenhagen, Denmark. The 2010 calendar features 53 tournaments, in addition to the four Grand Slam events, with total prize money of more than USD $83 million. The international breadth of tournaments includes 24 events in Europe, 15 events in the Americas and 18 events in the Asia-Pacific region. “With three new tournaments investing in our sport in each of the United States, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions, the Tour’s 2010 calendar continues to showcase the global commercial strength of women’s tennis,” said Stacey Allaster, chairman and CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. “I am proud of the fact that despite a worldwide recession we have been able to achieve modest growth.”

SAFINA SWITCH

When John Isner’s upset victory over fifth-seeded Andy Roddick went so late in the evening, tournament schedulers moved Dinara Safina’s match against the Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova from Arthur Ashe Stadium to Louis Armstrong. Safina wasn’t happy with the switch. “I’m number one player in the world, why did they move me?” Safina asked. “This is not an excuse, but I don’t think it’s a fair decision they made.” To make matters worse, the Russian lost to Kvitova 6-4 2-6 7-6 (5).

SUDDEN END

Sabine Lisicki left the court in a wheelchair after she severely sprained her ankle on the final point of her second-round match. Qualifier Anastasia Rodionova of Australia, ranked 139th in the world, upset the German 6-3 3-6 7-5. On match point, Lisicki, seeded 23rd in the year’s final Grand Slam tournament, raced to her left. But as she slid for the ball, she rolled her left ankle and stayed on the court for several minutes. The ankle was heavily wrapped and a wheelchair was brought to the court. Lisicki was taken to a hospital where x-rays showed there was no break.

STATISTICS AND OTHER LIES

Numbers don’t lie. Sometimes they just don’t tell the truth. Philipp Petzschner of Germany out-aced his foe 17-1 and had 52 winners – 24 more than his opponent. Yet when the 3-hour, second-round match was over, the winner was 24th-seeded Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain 1-6 3-6 6-4 6-2 6-4. The reason: Petzschner had 20 more unforced errors than Ferrero, 68-48, and the Spaniard won 147 points, nine more than the German.

Marat Safin had 15 aces to eight for Jurgen Melzer in their first-round battle. The two each had 40 winners, and Melzer had one fewer unforced errors, 28 to 29. The Austrian won three more points than his Russian opponent, 107-104, and when the contest was over, Melzer was the winner 1-6 6-4 6-3 6-4.

Andy Roddick won everything but the score in his third-round match against fellow American John Isner. Roddick won 162 points to Isner’s 155 and had his serve broken only once. Isner lost his serve twice, but he boomed 38 aces in the 3-hour, 51-minute battle and advanced to the fourth round at a Grand Slam event for the first time. It also was Isner’s first victory over a top five player.

STILL RELEVANT

The story of Rod Laver’s second Grand Slam season, capped by winning the US Open, is the subject of a book, “The Education of a Tennis Player.” Written with Hall of Fame journalist and historian Bud Collins, the book is Laver’s first-hand account of his 1969 Grand Slam season. Laver also writes about his childhood and early days in tennis, his 1962 Grand Slam and offers tips on how players of all levels can improve their games. Originally published in 1971, “The Education of a Tennis Player” was updated by Laver and Collins in 2009 with new content including Laver’s recovery from a near-fatal stroke in 1998. Laver won 11 major singles titles during his career, including Wimbledon in 1961, 1962, 1968 and 1969.

STARTING LATE

The US Open had its latest night session start in history during the first week. On Saturday, James Blake and Tommy Robredo took to the court at 10:35 p.m. following a special ceremony honoring Pancho Gonzalez. The night session normally starts at 7 p.m., but the last day match in Arthur Ashe Stadium, an all-American affair between fifth-seeded Andy Roddick and John Isner, lasted until 9:26 p.m. Officials moved the scheduled first night match between Dinara Safina and Petra Kvitova to Louis Armstrong Stadium and began the Blake-Robredo match in Ashe. Kvitova upset the top-seeded Safina, while Robredo beat Blake in a match that ended just shy of 1 o’clock in the morning.

SERIOUS THEY ARE

The US Open battles between Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe are legendary. The two left-handers, who defined a generation and won 15 Grand Slam tournament titles between them, still excite the crowds at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Now tennis commentators, Connors and McEnroe returned to the courts to face other during the first week of the US Open. The practice courts, that is. “Definitely brings back a few good memories,” McEnroe said.

SWOOP NOT

When James Blake walked onto the court to play his first-round match, the umpire made the American change his headband. “I didn’t know the rule,” Blake admitted. “I didn’t know you couldn’t have any writing on the headband or wristband.” A player can wear a logo on their headband, as in the Nike swoop. But Blake’s clothing sponsor, Fila, had the name “Fila” written on the headband. That’s a no-no. “I didn’t know we couldn’t do that,” Blake said.

SENOR PANCHO

The US Open honored two-time winner Richard A. “Pancho” Gonzalez on the 60th anniversary of his second consecutive victory in America’s premier tennis tournament. Gonzalez won the US Championships in 1948 and 1949, then turned pro at a time when only amateurs were allowed to play the Grand Slam tournaments. He went on to become the top draw on the professional circuit, then, when he was 40 years old, reached the semifinals of the French Open and the quarterfinals of the inaugural US Open. That same year he was elected into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In 1972, three months shy of his 44th birthday, Gonzalez became the oldest man to win a tournament title, capturing the championship at an event in Des Moines, Iowa. Among those participating in the on-court ceremony were members of the Gonzalez family as well as several Hispanic dignitaries.

STEPPING

You can’t find former US Open champion Martina Hingis on the tennis courts these days, thanks to a two-year ban after testing positive for cocaine. But the 28-year-old Swiss star has signed up to take part in the seventh season of BBC’s reality talent show “Strictly Come Dancing,” which starts September 18. Other former athletes participating in the show include boxer Joe Calzaghe, Olympic long jumper Jade Johnson, cricketer Phil Tufnell and jockey Richard Dunwoody.

SO FINE

The town of Midland, Michigan, has been named winner of the USTA’s “Best Tennis Town” search. The initiative by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) was designed to identify and reward American communities that “best exemplify the passion, excitement, spirit and impact that tennis brings to the local level.” Midland, which received the most votes during the nationwide, online balloting, will receive a USD $100,000 grant from the USTA to be used for community-wide tennis programming or facility enhancements. Finishing second was Ojai, California, which received a USD $50,000 community tennis grant from the USTA, while Independence, Kansas, was third in the balloting and received a USD $25,000 USTA grant.

SITES TO SURF

US Open: www.usopen.org
Davis Cup: www.DavisCup.com
Kim Clijsters: www.kimclijsters.be/
Roger Federer: www.rogerfederer.com/en/index.cfm
Rafael Nadal: www.rafaelnadal.com/nada/en/home
Serena Williams: www.serenawilliams.com/
Quebec: www.challengebell.com
Guangzhou: http://sports.21cn.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP and WTA

US Open (second week), New York, New York, USA, hard

ATP

$120,000 Genoa Open Challenger, Genoa, Italy, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$150,000 Pekao Open, Szczecin, Poland, clay

WTA

$220,000 Bell Challenge, Quebec City, Canada, hard
$220,000 Guangzhou International Women’s Open, Guangzhou, China, hard

DAVIS CUP

World Group Semifinals

Croatia vs. Czech Republic at Porec, Croatia
Spain vs. Israel at Murcia, Spain

World Group Playoffs

Chile vs. Austria at Rancagua, Chile; Belgium vs. Ukraine at Charleroi, Belgium; Brazil vs. Ecuador at Porto Alegre, Brazil; Netherlands vs. France at Maastricht, Netherlands; South Africa vs. India at Johannesburg, South Africa; Serbia vs. Uzbekistan at Belgrade, Serbia; Sweden vs. Romania at Helsingborg, Sweden; Italy vs. Switzerland at Genova, Italy

Americas Zone

Group I Playoff: Peru vs. Uruguay at Lima, Peru
Group II Final: Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Asia-Oceania Zone

Group I Playoff: China vs. Thailand at Jiaxing, China
Group II 3rd Round: Philippines vs. New Zealand at Manila, Philippines

Europe/Africa Zone

Group I Playoffs: Slovak Republic vs. FYR Macedonia at Bratislava, Slovak Republic; Great Britain vs. Poland at Liverpool, Great Britain

Group II 3rd Round: Latvia vs. Slovenia at Jurmala, Latvia; Finland vs. Cyprus at Salo, Finland

USTA Launches New Programming And Fan Enhancements For 2009 US Open

Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf

FLUSHING, N.Y., August 20, 2009 – The USTA announced today a series of expanded fan enhancements and programming for the 2009 US Open. This year’s Opening Night ceremony will celebrate athletes who “give back” with a special appearance by Andre Agassi and other notable athletes.  Other on-court ceremonies during the tournament will pay tribute to Arthur Ashe and Pancho Gonzalez.  New features at the US Open this year include the recently opened USTA Indoor Training Center that will host an array of US Open activities, hundreds of hours of US Open programming on new cable broadcasters ESPN2 and Tennis Channel, and for the first time a live reveal show of the US Open Draw on ESPNews.

Other fan enhancements include the return of SmashZone, the premier interactive fan experience in tennis, and the return of wheelchair tennis to the US Open.  The USTA will host its first-ever Family Day at the US Open, with reserved family courtside seating in Louis Armstrong Stadium.  Also at the 2009 US Open, the country’s Best Tennis Town will be announced on-site, and the nighttime order of play will be reformatted so the men take the court before the women during some evening sessions.  Instant replay also has been added to the Grandstand, meaning the US Open will now feature the system on all three primary show courts.

The US Open Welcomes ESPN and Tennis Channel: ESPN2 will make its debut as the lead cable broadcaster for the US Open, providing approximately 100 hours of TV coverage and more than 260 hours of coverage on its signature broadband network ESPN360.com. The US Open also will have a major presence on ESPN, ESPN.com, ESPN International, ESPNews, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Mobile Properties. All action on televised courts will be presented in High Definition.  Tennis Channel will provide “round the clock” coverage of the US Open in 2009, with nearly 250 hours of planned total coverage.  In addition to live match coverage, Tennis Channel will bring fans up-to-speed with post-match highlight shows and next-day preview shows.

Special Opening Night Ceremony: A ceremony celebrating athletes who “give back” will feature two-time US Open champion Andre Agassi, soccer’s Mia Hamm, quarterback Doug Flutie and former San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson.  The special ceremony on Arthur Ashe Stadium court also will include an appearance by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and featuremusical performances by Grammy winner Rob Thomas and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The O’Jays.  The ceremony will be televised live on ESPN2.

Pancho Gonzalez Tribute: On Saturday night, September 5, special guests including actor Benjamin Bratt will host a tribute to former U.S. National Champion Pancho Gonzalez on-court in Arthur Ashe Stadium.  The tribute will celebrate Gonzalez on the 60th anniversary of his second consecutive victory at the U.S. Championships and will include a video presentation highlighting Gonzalez’ life and tennis career.  Gonzalez family members, as well as a number of former players and Hispanic community leaders, will be in attendance.

Arthur Ashe Court of Champions Induction: Arthur Ashe will be inducted into the US Open Court of Champions in a ceremony held Thursday evening, September 10.  In 1968, Ashe won the first US Open of the Open Era.  An amateur at the time, Ashe became the first African-American man to win the US Open.

25th Anniversary of Super Saturday: On Saturday, September 12, the USTA pays tribute to the first official “Super Saturday,” which took place 25 years ago.  The US Open stands alone among the four majors by packaging the Men’s Singles Semifinals and the Women’s Singles Final on the second-to-last day (and evening) of the event.  The first Super Saturday was the biggest blockbuster of them all, featuring some of the greatest names in tennis—including Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe, and Martina Navratilova—with all four matches on Center Court (including the men’s seniors match) going to the limit.

Live US Open Draw Reveal Show on ESPNews: For the first time ever, the US Open draw will be unveiled live from Bristol, Conn., airing uninterrupted on ESPNews from 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 27.  Defending champions Roger Federer and Serena Williams will join USTA President and Chairman of the Board Lucy Garvin for a viewing ceremony at The TimesCenter in Manhattan.  ESPN anchor Chris McKendry will host with Patrick McEnroe and Mary Joe Fernandez analyzing the draw.

Live Online Streaming: USOpen.org, the official website of the US Open, will offer the most extensive live streaming in the history of the event, airing all matches within the ESPN and Tennis Channel broadcast television windows. Streaming up to five matches simultaneously, US Open.org will make more than 150 matches available for free within the United States.  Live streaming also will integrate live match stats updates, fan commenting and picture-in-picture capabilities.

US Open Bracket Challenge: The 2009 US Open Bracket Challenge will make its debut, allowing fans to fill out the US Open brackets online to win prizes.  With separate competitions for the men’s and women’s singles draws, the participants compiling the most bracket points in each draw by the end of the tournament will win a trip to the 2010 US Open.  Prizes will be awarded to the second through 10th place finishers as well.  The challenge can be accessed at USOpen.org and will go live following the US Open draw unveiling ceremony, aired live on ESPNews on Thursday, August 27.

USTA Indoor Training Center: The new 245,000-square-foot indoor building near the East Gate is a state-of-the-art training facility that opened in November and will house the fan-friendly SmashZone, USTA Membership, the Heineken Light Lounge and other activities during the 2009 US Open.  Featuring 12 tennis courts, locker rooms, a fitness center and a full-service pro shop, the new building increases year-round access for tennis players to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the world’s largest public tennis facility.

Family Day: The US Open is holding its first-ever Family Day on Tuesday, September 1. Parents accompanied by children 14-and-under can sit together in reserved courtside seating in Louis Armstrong Stadium.  The day’s activities will feature contests, giveaways, special entertainment attractions and autograph sessions. An exclusive family breakfast, located in the Corporate Hospitality Pavilion in the Indoor Training Center, is also available as an add-on package with a previously purchased September 1 day session ticket.

SmashZone: The premier fan interactive attraction in tennis, SmashZone will return to the 2009 US Open after a three-year hiatus.  Located in the Indoor Training Center, the 20,000-square-foot interactive experience features the QuickStart Tennis play format (tennis scaled to size for kids) on two courts, as well as on “Center Court” where there will be revolving programming each day, including special guest appearances, games, contests and exhibitions. Other activities include a Fast Serve Cage, “American Express Challenge a Pro,” “The Training Zone,” a state-of-the-art electronic backboard, “You Call the Shots” where fans can become sports broadcasters, and tennis video games.

American Express “Challenge a Pro:” Using interactive GreenScreen technology, fans are invited to “virtually” play against tennis pros Sam Querrey or Caroline Wozniacki on-site at the US Open “SmashZone.”  A unique digital video is captured and then sent to the participant via text, MMS or email, which can also be shared with family and friends and posted to their social networks.

American Express “Rally Experience:” All tennis fans on-site will be able to take their passion for tennis into the gaming world by simultaneously engaging in a virtual tennis match using their mobile phone as a controller with pro players Shahar Peer and Gael Monfils.  American Express will donate $1 to the USTA Serves Foundation for every participant that plays throughout the US Open event, up to $10,000.  Players and Open attendees can watch as the number of participants is tracked along with the time of each play on a giant LED screen located in the heart of the Open.

Best TennisTown: On September 6, the much-anticipated winner of America’s Best Tennis Town will be announced on-court in Arthur Ashe Stadium.  Representatives from the finalist cities of Independence, Kan.,Midland, Mich., and Ojai, Calif., will attend the US Open, with the winner receiving $100,000 for tennis programs in its local area. The nationwide call required towns to self-nominate via application form and submit a five-minute video highlighting the community’s passion for tennis. Ten cities were chosen as semifinalists and then voted on by the general public.

Kids Nightly Anthems: An instant tradition from the past two US Opens, children selected from auditions at the US Open Casting Call held at Radio City Music Hall in early June will perform in Arthur Ashe Stadium.  Out of the 225 children who tried out, 15 were selected to perform. The performers hail from the New York metro area, Philadelphia,Florida, Tennessee, and New Jersey.  Two singers have performed in all three US Opens and two sisters from Brooklyn, N.Y., will take the stage together.

Record Prize Money: The 2009 US Open purse will top $21.6 million, marking the third consecutive year that the tournament’s prize money has increased by $1 million. Both the men’s and women’s US Open singles champions will earn a record $1.6 million with the ability to earn an additional $1 million in bonus prize money based on their performances in the Olympus US Open Series. The top three men’s and top three women’s finishers in the Olympus US Open Series will together earn up to an additional $2.6 million in bonus prize money and be crowned at the US Open, which provides a potential total payout of $24.2 million.

Instant Replay on Grandstand: The Chase Review electronic line calling system makes its debut on Grandstand, giving the US Open instant replay on all three primary show courts.  In 2006, the US Open became the first Grand Slam tournament to use electronic line calling technology, which serves as an officiating aid while increasing the excitement for in-stadium fans and TV viewers.

The Return of Wheelchair Tennis: Wheelchair tennis returns after a 2008 absence due to the Paralympic Games in Beijing. The world’s finest players will take to the courts, as eight men and eight women will compete in the Wheelchair Division in singles and doubles, while four players will take part in the Quad Division in singles and doubles (non-gender specific). Play starts on Thursday, September 10, and runs through Sunday, September 13, with a 33 percent increase in prize money over the 2007 competition. Rules of wheelchair tennis are the same as able-bodied tennis, except that the ball can bounce twice.

New Nighttime Play Format: Breaking the tradition of putting the men’s match in the second half of the nightly doubleheaders, in 2009 there will be a new gender-equality policy under the lights. This year, some evening sessions will start with a men’s match followed by a women’s match.

New Champions Invitational Format: The US Open Champions Invitational returns for its fourth year with a new design—players will compete in the popular World TeamTennis format.  Players will be divided into three four-person teams, with each team playing a total of two matches from Wednesday, September 9, to Saturday, September 12.  Each match consists of one set each of men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles.  As in past years, each of the players invited for 2009 is either a past Grand Slam singles champion or finalist.  This year’s invitees include Tracy Austin, Mary Joe Fernandez, Goran Ivanisevic, Hana Mandlikova, Todd Martin, Ilie Nastase, Stan Smith, Guillermo Vilas and Mal Washington, among others.  The team captains will be Pat Cash, Billie Jean King and Ivan Lendl.

Heineken Light Lounge: Adults are invited to visit the Heineken Light Lounge, located in the front of the Indoor Training Center.  Fans can relax and enjoy a Heineken in the lounge featuring the Heineken Wisdom Wall and the EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis game on the Nintendo Wii system.  Limited edition US Open-Heineken merchandise will be available.

US Open Gallery – International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum: Each year since 1999, the US Open Gallery features a display from the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum.  This year’s exhibit is themed, “The Grand Slam: Tennis’ Ultimate Achievement” and showcases the Grand Slam achievement in singles, doubles, mixed doubles and on the junior level.  The exhibit will display trophies, photos and artifacts from historic calendar-year Grand Slams, including Rod Laver’s in 1969, Steffi Graf’s in 1988, the doubles Slam of Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver in 1984, as well as Stefan Edberg’s junior Grand Slam in 1983.  The US Open Gallery is open daily and located in the southwest corner of Louis Armstrong Stadium.

US Open Tennis Auction: The US Open will host the first major tennis auction in North America, featuring a wide variety of tennis memorabilia including Bobby Riggs’ “Sugar Daddy” jacket from the historic 1973 Battle of the Sexes with Billie Jean King, trophies won by the legendary Bill Tilden and assorted racquets used by Jimmy Connors.  The auction, hosted by the prestigious Guernsey auction house, will take place on Friday, September 11, at 2:00 p.m. and Sunday, September 13, at 11:00 a.m. in the Indoor Training Center.  Bidding can take place in person or live at auctioneers.com and guernseys.com. A portion of the proceeds benefit USTA Serves, the philanthropic entity of the USTA.

Green Initiatives: The USTA is expanding its efforts this year at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in order to ensure that the US Open will register as little impact on the environment as possible.  The NTC grounds will feature 500 recycling bins and all paper products will be made with 30 percent post-consumer waste.  Hybrid vehicles will make up 52 percent of the Lexus player transportation fleet (up from 30 percent in 2008) and Constellation Energy, the US Open’s energy provider, will supply Renewable Energy Certificates to offset the US Open’s electricity consumption.  A reusable tote bag and organic T-shirts, including one designed by Venus Williams, will be sold on the grounds and a fan awareness campaign which includes player PSAs; an additional PSA from Alec Baldwin will run throughout the tournament.

The US Open Is Only Four Months Away

Posted by E.C. Sullivan

The US Open will be held in just about four months time at the Billie Jean King/USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. The facility is open to the public to enjoy and play tennis for the other 49 weeks of the year when the US Open is not being held. Late last year, the USTA unveiled its spectacular new indoor tennis building, but now, as spring is in full bloom in New York City, the outdoor courts are now starting to be filled with enthusiastic players. We hope you enjoy this photo essay of the home of the US Open taken on a late April afternoon.

NTC – 21 – The Arthur Ashe Commemorative Garden in the shadow of Arthur Ashe Stadium on an April day in New York.

NTC – 22 – The 2008 US Open Champions are already documented in the “US Open Court of Champions.”

NTC – 20 – The South Plaza – five months before it is abuzz with US Open excitement

NTC – 19 – Some casualties from the winter

NTC – 18 – The field courts are getting some early use from New York City residents

NTC – 17 – New corporate hospitality space, just above the food court

NTC – 16 – Two new Platform Tennis courts at the Billie Jean King / USTA National Tennis Center

NTC – 15 – Remnants of the 2008 US Open

NTC – 14 – Some clean-up still to be had

NTC – 13 – Food Court looking over to Ashe Stadium

NTC – 12 – Food Court looking over to Louis Armstrong Stadium

NTC 11 – Tennis clinics taking place

NTC 10 – A beautiful lounge area to take in all the indoor tennis action

NTC – 9 – Jimmy Connors champions’ photo

NTC – 8 – Rod Laver champions’ photo

NTC – 7 – The lobby features photos of all of the men’s and women’s singles champions of the Open Era (since 1968)

NTC – 6 – Roger Federer’s photo in the lobby

NTC – 5 – The spectacular news indoor tennis building with 12 courts

NTC – 4 – The new lobby of the new indoor building

NTC – 3 – The new indoor building at the Billie Jean King / USTA National Tennis Center

NTC – 2 – Front entrance

NTC – 1 – Re-branded and welcoming tennis players of all levels

An Unexpected Summer Vacation For Local Girl Ahn

Kristie Ahn lost her first round match at the US Open, but gained a whole new fan base on Tuesday at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Hitting multiple winners from the baseline and maintaining a high percentage of first serves throughout the match, the 16 year old from New Jersey hung tough with No. 6 seed Dinara Safina in losing 6-3, 6-4.

“My attitude is to fear no one, but respect everyone,” said Ahn. “I didn’t want to give her more credit than she deserved before going out there. It’s a first round match and a lot of upsets take place early in the tournament,”

Despite losing serve while trailing 3-2 in the first set, Ahn fought off break points in her next two service games to keep within striking distance of Safina. Safina became visibly frustrated by Ahn’s retrieving skills as she threw her racquet several times during the match.

Trailing 4-3 in the second set, Ahn leveled the match by breaking Safina’s serve on her fifth break point opportunity. It would be the last game Ahn would win in the match as Safina broke her serve to love at 4-4, and then served out the match to reserve a spot in the second round.

“Players at this level just seem to handle the pressure better,” said Ahn, who is only competing in her fourth professional tournament. It seemed like Safina was able to utilize her serve out there when it mattered most.”

Having grown up in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, a 45 minute drive from the USTA/Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Ahn has declined to move south for training unlike many of her peers on the junior circuit, choosing to instead train at home.

“My parents and I talked about it and they said they would prefer for me to stay at home for now,” said Ahn. I feel like you establish a better relationship with a private coach anyway.

Ahn said that she hadn’t even considered playing pro tournaments until this year, and entered a $10,000 tournament last May in Pennsylvania simply to gain experience. After winning the event, Ahn entered another $10,000 event in Texas, coming through the qualifying to win her second consecutive event. These two wins prompted the USTA to give her a wild card into the qualifying of the US Open, which she utilized by advancing into the main draw without the loss of a set.

Despite her rapid progress on the tour, Ahn said that she is still intent on intending college once she graduates from high school.

“Even if I defeated Safina, it still wouldn’t be the wisest decision to turn pro right away,”said Ahn. “Once you turn pro, it just adds all this pressure which isn’t necessary right now.

Ahn has already competed against this year’s NCAA champion, Amanda McDowell, easily defeating her 6-0, 6-2 at the $10,000 event in Texas. Despite the routine win against the best college player in the country, Ahn said that she sees other benefits to attending college.

“Everybody I’ve talked to says that college is the best four years of your life,” said Ahn. “I’ve always played well in team events and it would be unbelievable to be around that atmosphere. Even if the level isn’t that high, I can always travel and play pro events during the summer.”

Asia Muhammad, a 17 year old American who recently turned professional, said on Monday that college tennis is a distraction for young American players and called for upcoming junior players to take their tennis more seriously. While Ahn said she agrees with the need for more focus amongst top junior players, she also sees the benefits of playing at the junior level.

“I think rather than worrying about turning pro right away, you should appreciate being one of the top juniors in the country,” said Ahn. “It’s a tremendous honor to be able to have that distinction.

Despite Ahn’s grounded personality, she said that she envisions a career for herself on the pro tour and wants more of the experiences that she had today on Louis Armstrong Stadium.

“It was a privilege to be able to play on that stadium today,” Ahn said. “When the crowd was getting behind me out there and cheering my name, it’s something that I’ll never forget. It’s something that I want to get to experience more.”

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