Manhattan

Challenge Accepted: My Workout with Vera Zvonareva

The morning after Wimbledon’s now-infamous “Black Wednesday” was a hazy time for most; fans and pundits were trying to come out from beneath the rubble left by the shocking number of upsets.

It is often said that exercise can help clear the mind and aid in decision-making. However, burning calories (as well as one’s own sense of dignity) with former World No. 2 and two-time Grand Slam finalist Vera Zvonareva did little to restore normalcy to an already-crazy week.

In a partnership with Fila, Zvonareva hosted a racquet sports oriented fitness class with Miami-based trainer Greg Corso in Manhattan, at the Upper East Side’s Sports Club LA. For the former Olympic Bronze medalist (and the group of reporters participating), the forty-five minute class was only a taste of the Russian’s off-court conditioning routine as she works towards a comeback from a shoulder injury.

“During the off-season, we train…probably four hours on the tennis court and at least two-three hours off the court,” Zvonareva remarked in a Q&A session following the class.

The course, held on the Sport Club’s roof, emphasized the importance of the full-body workout required by a professional athlete throughout the year. While most of the exercises were aerobic in nature, Corso and Zvonareva also made use of resistance bands and free-weights as heavy as ten pounds that morphed the burn into a small fire felt by the admittedly unprepared press core.

“To prevent [injuries], we do a full-body workout, but with lighter weights, with [exercise] bands just to keep ourselves conditioned.”

The workout was conceived with the help of videos taken during Zvonareva’s actual workouts with her coach, which adds a stamp of authenticity most fitness classes cannot boast.

“My job was to figure out how to adapt [those sessions] into a group exercise setting, with a big crowd and a limited space,” said Corso, who looked to the resistance bands (strapped to the ankles) as the key to making the class work for racquet-sport athletes who require practice with lateral movement.

Zvonareva agreed. “Using the bands helps a lot, because then you can do two steps, right/left, and you’re getting that movement that you want…you don’t need to run across the whole tennis court!”

The class required constant movement under the Manhattan sun, an essential feature for the athlete who will need to draw on that stamina over the course of a long tennis match.

“The thing about tennis is that you always have to give 100% every point, and it is very difficult because even if you’re tired, you still have to play the point at the professional level…you lose a couple of points, you lose your serve, you lose the game, it can cost you the whole match…[During this class], you have that hour but you have to keep pushing yourself.”

For the exhausted students, Zvonareva reminded us that it wasn’t always as effortless as she made the workout appear. On the exercise called the “Burpee,” she recalled, “I remember when I was 12 years old, my coach would do something like this and we were all dying…as soon as he turns away we’re like ‘stop it!’ It’s a very difficult one, but it helps a lot.”

The former Russian No. 1 has been off the court for nearly a year, last playing at the London Olympics. After getting surgery on her shoulder in February, she returned to school, and received a degree in International Economic Relations. She flew into New York the next day to conduct the class. Though looking in phenomenal shape, she admitted it was difficult to balance fitness with studying.

“I was studying so much that I had no energy to do fitness, it was so difficult for me…I was doing some, but not every day because once you start reading you keep going and going and it’s midnight already…when I’m playing tennis five hours a day, I still have energy to go and do fitness, but studying…it was so difficult!”

Keeping up with the Tour has been difficult for the college graduate, but she tries to keep in touch with friends like Elena Vesnina. For those wondering about that comeback, Zvonareva left the media in no suspense.

“I’m heading to Arizona, that’s where I will start my training. I’m meeting with my physiotherapist there and hopefully he will give me a green light to start training. I don’t know how long it will take but maybe three-four months before I can start playing at 100%.”

Zvonareva was a gracious host and encouraging teacher to her tired and, later, very sore students. The experience was a tremendous insight into the mind and work ethic of one of most disciplined and well-conditioned players on the WTA Tour, illustrating the key difference between “player” and “professional.”

Henin announces return to Sony Ericsson WTA Tour: This Week in Tennis Business

From seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Justine Henin announcing her return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour to Zina Garrison settling her racial discrimination lawsuit with the USTA to the Indianapolis Tennis Center being named a USTA Certified Regional Training Center to nearly 47 million viewers tuning into to the television coverage of the six week long Olympus US Open Series to a record 721,059 fans attending the US Open this year, these stories caught the attention of tennis fans and insiders this week.

  • Former world No. 1 Justine Henin ended months of rumors when she announced her return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour on Belgian television station RTL. “I’m truly happy and profoundly moved to be able to announce this evening that I am going to return to competition,” said Henin, who is now 27 years old. Henin wants to participate in exhibition events in Charleroi, Belgium and Dubai to prepare her game in time to play in the Australian Open in January. “Justine is one of the great champions in the history of women’s tennis, and we, along with millions of her fans around the globe, are thrilled with her announcement today,” said Stacey Allaster, CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

  • Le Soir announced that Belgacom, a Belgian telecommunications company, will be Justine Henin’s sponsor during her comeback.

  • Former United States Fed Cup captain Zina Garrison settled her racial discrimination lawsuit with the USTA, but terms of the lawsuit were not disclosed.

  • The USTA announced that the Indianapolis Tennis Center on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), has been named a USTA Certified Regional Training Center.

  • In its sixth year of existence, the Olympus US Open Series had its most successful season. A record of nearly 47 million viewers tuned into the television coverage over the six week season. Attendance was high at all events including 226,000 fans turning out during the two week Western & Southern Financial Group Masters and Women’s Open in Cincinnati and more than 200,000 at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, which is an ATP World Tour record for a one week tournament. “The success of the Olympus US Open Series in its sixth year proves that the Series is as popular as ever among players, fans and television viewers,” said Jim Curley, Chief Professional Tournaments Officer of the USTA. “The Series provides a national platform to promote the sport and showcase the USTA’s efforts to grow the game at every level, as we did with the Quick Start play format in a number of series markets.”

  • This year’s US Open attendance reached an all-time high with 721,059 fans attending the two week Grand Slam tournament in New York, surpassing last year’s mark of 720,227. The US Open also set a first week record with 423,427 fans attending, including a single day record of 61,554 fans attending during the first Friday of the tournament.

  • In the US Open championship match on CBS that saw Juan Martin del Potro beat Roger Federer to capture his first Grand Slam singles title, television ratings increased by 41 percent from last year. The overall viewership throughout the tournament was 55.8 million, a 24 percent increase from the 2008 tournament.

  • USOpen.org, the official website of the US Open, had unique hits on the website from more than 200 countries and a total of 392 million page views, which was an increase from the 222 million page views in 2008.

  • Roger Federer was fined $1,500 by the US Open for an audible obscenity during the US Open final. USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said a total of $31,500 in fines was collected by the tournament.

  • Serena Williams will be featured in a Proctor & Gamble ad campaign for its Tampax brand in October magazines.

  • Patron, the national vehicle of Malaysia, has signed on to be the tournament title sponsor for the inaugural Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur. The tournament will be held from September 26 to October 4.

  • The 2009 Grand Slam for Children hosted by Andre Agassi and presented by Genworth Financial will take place on Saturday, September 26 at the Wynn in Las Vegas. Now in its 14th year, the Grand Slam for Children has already raised nearly $75 million to support a movement to improve education for children.

  • Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reports that Novak Djokovic is in negotiations with K-Swiss for a clothing sponsorship deal. Djokovic’s clothing contract with adidas finishes at the end of this year.

  • According to the Melbourne Sun, Paul McNamee, the Chief Executive of the Australian Open from 2000 to 2006, has put his name in as a possible candidate to be the next President of Tennis Australia.

  • 2009 US Open junior singles champion Bernard Tomic of Australia has left the Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida and will now train in Australia.

  • On September 17, the Tennis Channel launched, Court Report, which is a one-minute nightly news update that will be produced four times a night on Thursday through Monday and will appear at the top of the hour from 7pm to 10pm EST. Court Report will be anchored in turns by experienced broadcast journalists, Cari Champion, Arlene Santana and Angela Sun.

  • Five-time Grand Slam singles champion Martina Hingis was the first celebrity voted off of the BBC’s reality show, Strictly Come Dancing. “It was a great experience, I learned so much,” said Hingis. “I wish it would continue but here we are.”

  • According to Latvian media, Ernests Gublis has hired former pro Hernan Gumy as his new coach.

  • Former world No. 2 Tommy Haas has signed a sponsorship deal with Lagardere, which is a French conglomerate with holdings in publishing, retail, media and aerospace.

  • American teenager Melanie Oudin has signed an endorsement deal with AirTran Airways. “I am thrilled to have AirTran as a partner as I strive to reach my goals as a professional tennis player,” said Oudin.

  • Gilbert Ysern, Director of the French Open, has downplayed but did not deny rumors that the French Open might move to Disneyland Paris. “It’s really premature to discuss such a project,” Ysern told L’Equipe. “We can’t deny the possibility exists, but no negotiations have been initiated. We are still working actively on the Georges Hébert stadium project. But given the technical and political problems we face, we have to envisage the worst-case scenario — that is to say, not being able to properly complete the project and being forced to leave Roland Garros.”

  • The day after her loss to Kim Clijsters in the US Open final, Caroline Wozniacki went apartment shopping in Manhattan. “On Monday, I went with my parents and a real estate agent to look at some properties in New York where I would really like to have a home in the U.S. to come stay and train at during the year,” Wozniacki said on her blog on her official website.

Wimbledon in New York City

Anyone in Manhattan this week could have attended Wimbledon – from
Rockefeller Center’s big screen. Food, Wii, talking…and oh yeah,
tennis. If you went to watch that. It was a great event for families
to see.
The crowd thinned out from an earlier match when I went a few days ago,
with people interested in eating the free snacks, getting up every few
minutes. And eating. Eating. I felt like saying, “There’s a game on!
Sit down!” If they wanted to do this a week, it might have made a
better idea to run it during the quarter and semi-finals to peak more
interest. The place would have been packed for a grand Nadal-Federer
showoff!
People were talking among themselves, some about tennis, some about
visiting Rockefeller Center.
Recently, I’ve been fascinated by playing surfaces. I took back
everything I said about court preferences against grass that day. You
could walk around the grass court set up for an exhibition match, and
seeing how the grass ripped up, smelled, looked, etc. I understood why
the surface is unplayable for some on a wet day. I asked someone about
playing on clay the past weekend. It’s supposed to create lots of dust
that makes you cough as you play, make a horrible mess for a few wash
machine cycles, and is generally “gross. Grass is better.” I’m curious
now about the benefits of a grass court experience.
I, of course, grabbed a complimentary strawberries and cream the HSBC
Bank employees insisted was “the same they eat at Wimbledon.” It was
really frozen Cool Whip, not anything I would ask for a load of like the
others, but good fresh strawberries all the same. I guess free food
does that to people.
Over in a corner, the bank had set up about six televisions hooked up to
Wiis. The Wii tennis matches were really interesting for me, having
never played anything on Wii. The last time I remember playing a sports
Nintendo game was on an already old back then Nintendo Entertainment
System in eighth grade. I must have been the single person over 18
trying the Wiis.
The row of TVs had kids with full Lacoste sets I am sure will be
tomorrow’s commentators and tennis fanatics. Not our other row. My
“opponents” were an elementary girl and a high school guy who didn’t
follow tennis much but had probably won Wimbledon in the Wiis they had
at home. The guy was winning at the beginning from having set mine on
right-handed! I made sure to correct that to left – I’m right-handed
and forgot I am left-handed in tennis. I played as Roger Federer. I
felt like being someone who has hair left. The high school guy wanted
to be Ana Ivanovic, and we joked about the reasons for that.
The sport? Oh, right. The person I wanted to win lost that day.
Everything is elevated watching it on a bigger screen. The ties, set
losses, the wanting to egg on your player, is more intense than watching
it in your living room. I really wish people would continue this for
another week to watch the bigger matches.

Anyone in Manhattan this week could have attended Wimbledon – from Rockefeller Center’s big screen. Food, Wii, talking…and oh yeah, tennis. If you went to watch that. It was a great event for families to see.

The crowd thinned out from an earlier match when I went a few days ago, with people interested in eating the free snacks, getting up every few minutes. And eating. Eating. I felt like saying, “There’s a game on!

Sit down!” If they wanted to do this a week, it might have made a better idea to run it during the quarter and semi-finals to peak more interest. The place would have been packed for a grand Nadal-Federer showoff!

People were talking among themselves, some about tennis, some about visiting Rockefeller Center.

Recently, I’ve been fascinated by playing surfaces. I took back everything I said about court preferences against grass that day. You could walk around the grass court set up for an exhibition match, and seeing how the grass ripped up, smelled, looked, etc. I understood why the surface is unplayable for some on a wet day. I asked someone about playing on clay the past weekend. It’s supposed to create lots of dust that makes you cough as you play, make a horrible mess for a few wash machine cycles, and is generally “gross. Grass is better.” I’m curious now about the benefits of a grass court experience.

I, of course, grabbed a complimentary strawberries and cream the HSBC Bank employees insisted was “the same they eat at Wimbledon.” It was really frozen Cool Whip, not anything I would ask for a load of like the others, but good fresh strawberries all the same. I guess free food does that to people.

Over in a corner, the bank had set up about six televisions hooked up to Wiis. The Wii tennis matches were really interesting for me, having never played anything on Wii. The last time I remember playing a sports Nintendo game was on an already old back then Nintendo Entertainment System in eighth grade. I must have been the single person over 18 trying the Wiis.

The row of TVs had kids with full Lacoste sets I am sure will be tomorrow’s commentators and tennis fanatics. Not our other row. My “opponents” were an elementary girl and a high school guy who didn’t follow tennis much but had probably won Wimbledon in the Wiis they had at home. The guy was winning at the beginning from having set mine on right-handed! I made sure to correct that to left – I’m right-handed and forgot I am left-handed in tennis. I played as Roger Federer. I felt like being someone who has hair left. The high school guy wanted to be Ana Ivanovic, and we joked about the reasons for that.

The sport? Oh, right. The person I wanted to win lost that day. Everything is elevated watching it on a bigger screen. The ties, set losses, the wanting to egg on your player, is more intense than watching it in your living room. I really wish people would continue this for another week to watch the bigger matches.

Roger’s On Top Of The World

Roger Federer took his fifth U.S. Open trophy up to the Empire State Building’s exclusive 103rd floor — the highest point in Manhattan. (The 102nd floor is an observatory available to the public.)

Roger later went down to the 86th Floor Observatory to sign some autographs and take in the views.