mixed doubles

Sampras, Moya, Lisicki Join Li Na for Exhibition Tournament in China

2011 Roland Garros champion Li Na received a hero’s welcome in her hometown of Wuhan, kicking off a two-day exhibition tournament on December 17, 2011 called “Li Na and Friends.” The festivities  also feature 14-time Grand Slam champion Pete Sampras and former world number number 1 Carlos Moya, as well as 2011 Wimbledon semifinalist and WTA Comeback Player of the Year Sabine Lisicki. The event gave fans a chance to celebrate Li Na’s historic Grand Slam victory and brought tennis to a quickly-growing market in China.

Li’s slump since winning Roland Garros in June seems to have ended as she looked to be in better form this weekend after a month-long training camp in Germany.

“I trained quite solidly and effectively in Germany. I feel much better now compared with the past several months. But how good my form is, I think it will be tested at this tournament … I just want to relax my nerves after the Germany trip. It’s a feedback event for my home fans,” Li said after being greeted at the Wuham Tianhe airport by a cheering home crowd.

The 29-year-old was also nominated for the Laureus “Breakthrough Player of the Year” award on Thursday showing just how far the veteran has come not only in tennis, but in the international world of sports.

The first day of the exhibition featured a square off between Li and Lisicki followed by mixed doubles with Li teaming up with Sampras and Lisicki pairing with Moya. On Sunday, the men will take court for their singles match followed by a reverse mixed doubles match.

After fighting off two match points to defeat Li at this year’s Wimbledon 3-6, 6-4, 8-6, Germany’s Lisicki again praised Li’s mark on tennis.

“I am delighted to have been included in the ‘Li Na and Friends’ event. Li Na and I had one of the best quality matches of Wimbledon 2011 and it is always a pleasure to play a champion — especially a reigning Grand Slam Champion like Li Na who is so friendly and professional, something all of China should be very proud of,”  said the 22-year-old.

After growing up watching Sampras on TV, Li shared how starstruck she was upon meeting one of her idols.

“I always admired his skills and play, but only saw him on TV. But during the China Open this year, I met him for the first time outside the locker room, and he said ‘Hi, Li Na, I am Sampras. Congratulations for the French Open championship,'” said Li. “After he was gone, I had to ask myself, ‘Did that really just happen?'”

Likewise, Sampras reciprocated the feelings of mutual respect.

“It’s good to be back,” said Sampras, referring to his third trip to China in three months. “I’m a friend of Li Na now, which is a great honour for me.”

Check out more photos from the exhibition tournament’s press conference in wintery China below. Massive log cake included!

(Sabine Lisicki/Na Li photo courtesy of Lisicki’s Facebook page; Press Conference photos courtesy of IMG; Rest from LiNaAndFriends.com)

St. Louis Aces win WTT Western Conference title, to face Washington Kastles in WTT finals

The St. Louis Aces are headed to the World TeamTennis Finals for the first time in 15 years after narrowly defeating the Sacramento Capitals 20-19 to win the WTT Western Conference title on Saturday evening at the Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, S.C.   The Aces advance to Sunday’s WTT Finals presented by GEICO to face the Eastern Conference Champion Washington Kastles for the King Trophy at 5 p.m. ET.

The last time Sacramento and St. Louis played each other on July 13, it took a Supertiebreaker to decide the match.  Once again, these Western Conference rivals kept it close throughout Saturday’s Western Conference Championship match, splitting the first two sets of singles.

Dusan Vemic gave Sacramento an early lead with a 5-3 singles victory over St. Louis’ Roman Borvanov.  St. Louis took over the lead when Tamira Paszek ran past Vania King of Sacramento in women’s singles 5-1.

The Capitals men’s doubles team was only ranked No. 8 during the regular season but they turned up the heat as Mark Knowles and Vemic beat the Aces’ Borvanov and 2011 Male Rookie of the Year Jean-Julien Rojer, 5-3, to even the score at 11-11 at half.

King and Yasmin Schnack upset 2011 WTT Female MVP Liezel Huber and Paszek in women’s doubles in a tight 5-4 set, giving the Capitals a one point lead, 16-15, heading into the final set of mixed doubles.

Huber and Rojer got the only service break of the final set and wrapped up a 5-3 victory over Knowles and King when King’s shot sailed wide on match point.

“Every point, every game counts (in WTT),” said Huber.  “I wanted to win so bad for my team and St. Louis tonight.”  Huber said not to count out the Aces in the Finals against the Kastles, who have yet to lose a match this season.  “They are a great team but we start from scratch tomorrow,” she said.  “We have nothing to lose.”

The Aces will face the undefeated Washington Kastles in the WTT Finals on Sunday, July 24 at 5 p.m. ET.  With a victory, the Kastles would become the first team in WTT history to complete a perfect season.  The Aces are vying for their first WTT title since they won their only Championship in 1996.  The Finals will be televised live on Tennis Channel and live streamed on http://video.wtt.com.

FINAL RESULTS FROM THE WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH:

(Home teams in capital letters)

ST LOUIS ACES def. Sacramento Capitals 20-19

Men’s Singles – Dusan Vemic (Capitals) def. Roman Borvanov (Aces) 5-3

Women’s Singles – Tamira Paszek (Aces) def. Vania King (Capitals) 5-1

Men’s Doubles – Mark Knowles\Dusan Vemic (Capitals) def. Roman Borvanov\Jean-Julien Rojer (Aces) 5-3

Women’s Doubles – Yasmin Schnack\Vania King (Capitals) def. Liezel Huber\Tamira Paszek (Aces) 5-4

Mixed Doubles – Jean-Julien Rojer\Liezel Huber (Aces) def. Vania King\Mark Knowles (Capitals) 5-3

Next Match: 7/24/2011

WTT Finals presented by GEICO:  St. Louis Aces vs. WASHINGTON KASTLES, 5:00 PM (ET)

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

Kournikova Out of Chilean Mine!!

Anna Kournikova made her first public appearance since she was rescued after over two months underground along with 33 Chilean miners at last week’s Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships in Surprise, Ariz.

Well, she wasn’t really trapped in the Chilean mine. But, while in Arizona, she did sport some great looking sun-glasses like those miners did as their eyes slowly got used to sunlight.

On Saturday, she participated in mixed doubles matches in conjunction with the event during the day and night sessions.

Mark Philippoussis won the singles title at the event, defeating Jim Courier in the final. Michael Chang beat John McEnroe in the third-place match. Other participating players were Wayne Ferreira, Jimmy Arias, Aaron Krickstein and Jeff Tarango. Ashley Harkleroad, the Playboy pin-up of tennis, also participated in the mixed doubles events with Kournikova.

Here are some more photos of the event, courtesy of the InsideOut Sports & Entertainment. For more info on the Champions Series, go to www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com

WHERE ARE THE WOMEN IN THE PROPOSED TENNIS WORLD CUP?

By Melina Harris

An exciting new proposal to introduce the first ever World Cup to the already packed tennis calendar (replacing the outdated Davis Cup format) has one glaring fault as far as I’m concerned; it’s men only and there has been no mention of a female equivalent. According to the Times of London Tennis Correspondent Neil Harman on Wednesday, “although the idea for a World Cup is in its formative stages, it has already been presented to leading tennis administrators and television executives, who believe that a men-only competition would attract a larger audience.”  Who are these ‘leading tennis administrators and television executives’ I wonder? Much like Will Carling noted about the Rugby Football Union, probably ‘fifty seven old farts’ of the middle aged male variety.

This represents yet another snub to both professional and amateur female players alike. Wimbledon only relented on equal pay in 2007 as Sir Richard Branson a member of the WTA Tour global advisory council quite rightly noted ‘Women players have every right to feel strongly about the issue of equal prize money at Wimbledon. The outdated position adopted by the All England Club tarnishes the good name of the world’s greatest tennis tournament and sends a completely negative signal to women everywhere.’

Equal pay and coverage for women has always been an issue with nearly every sport across the globe; why can’t tennis be progressive and put forth an innovative mixed World Cup event including players from both gender? Admittedly, this would be impossible for team games such as football and rugby, however with the nature of tennis, the International Tennis Federation could easily pioneer this event, with individual singles matches for men and women, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles events all scoring points for their respective nation giving equal coverage to both men’s and women’s tennis globally. This would create a real buzz for the game, rather than simply providing male role models for the younger generation.

It’s hardly surprising that we’ve heard Andy Murray’s view; ‘I am a great fan of the Davis Cup, but if a decision was taken to drop it, or something else could change in the calendar, then a World Cup is a fascinating idea’ and the thoughts of Novak Djokovic (One of the Vice Presidents of the ATP Tour’s player council) who said ‘nothing has been decided, we didn’t decide to put anything on official terms because we have to consider other sides as well.’ I wonder if one of those ‘sides’ is the possibility of a mixed World Cup? I doubt it very much, so hurry up Venus and Serena, step up and start campaigning before the fifty old farts decide for us!

ELENA DEMENTIEVA INCIDENTALLY

I wish I knew then what I know now. That’s pretty much my opinion when it comes to Elena Dementieva. As I am writing this I am staring at her photos from the Medibank International in Sydney. Two photos in particular draw my attention. It’s the two dark shots.

In the meantime Dementieva has told the press that she found the Hopman Cup in Perth as an ideal preparation and a good way to get her going in the 2010 season.

“I had some good matches here, — singles and also mixed doubles — and it is good for your confidence to be playing real matches, but also to be able to relax and enjoy them,” she said.

“I think it was good preparation — we had done all the hard work already off the court.

“Now it is just about playing points and matches and feeling your game.”

I am seriously hoping that she can win a slam this year. I know her nervosity on critical moments is a problem but I am hoping she will get over it. In my view she should have won a slam many moons ago.

I am actually even going to insert a little poll here, just because I am curious about your opinions. Will Dementieva ever win a slam before she retires? Cast your votes after the photos!

[nggallery id=7]

[polldaddy poll=2502519]

ANOTHER SCALP FOR HENIN: THE FRIDAY FIVE

By Maud Watson

Henin Collects Another Scalp – The weekend before it was Flipkins and Pennetta, and this past weekend it was current world No. 20, Nadia Petrova. Henin once again vanquished her foe in straight sets in an exhibition match in Cairo. Granted, Henin has not faced the likes of either Williams sister, Clijsters, or any other Top 10 players for that matter, but there’s no denying that she’s looked sharp in the early stages of her comeback.  I, for one, am licking my chops to see what she can do at the 2010 Aussie Open.

The Ban is Lifted – It was nice to see the ITF end things on a positive note for 2009. After what I personally consider some questionable rulings on their part, I was thrilled to read that the ITF did the right thing by agreeing to suspend the bans that had been put on Belgian tennis players Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse. It is unfortunate that neither player will be able to play the Australian Open given that entries are now closed (unless of course someone is kind enough to offer them a wildcard), but at least they will not be subjected to losing an entire year of their careers.

Back in the Mix – At the end of last week, the IOC announced that Mixed Doubles would be a part of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. It’s been a long time since mixed doubles was included in the Olympics, with American Hall of Famers Richard Norris Williams II and Hazel Wightman being the last pair to compete and win in the event back in 1924. Not sure if it’s too early to start taking bets, but who’s got odds on Serbia or India taking gold?  (And who wishes there were still the possibility of seeing Federer and Hingis take on the competition?)

The Boys are Back In Town – The town of Abu Dhabi that is.  The exhibition will feature six of the world’s top 10 players on the ATP World Tour, including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.  The event was a great success in 2009, and it’s definitely shaping up as a great way to kick off the 2010 tennis season.

King Juan Carlos – In the annual Spanish Masters event, which was held in Bilbao Spain, Juan Carlos Ferrero proved he still had plenty of game left in the tank, when he defeated countryman Tommy Robredo in a three-set semifinal encounter before going on to take the title over Nicolas Almagro in three tight sets. It couldn’t have been a better way to end the year for the former world No. 1 and 2003 Roland Garros champion, who earlier this year had slipped to No. 115 in the rankings and required a wildcard to play in Wimbledon. He put together a remarkable summer and finished his year just outside of the Top 20.  Fingers crossed that he can build on this success in 2010 and fans around the world will treated to some vintage Ferrero.  Vamos!

Washington defeats New York to win Eastern Conference, advance to Finals on Sunday

WASHINGTON, DC (July 24, 2009) – The Washington Kastles upset the top-seeded New York Sportimes 22-19 in Overtime to win the Advanta WTT Eastern Conference Championship title on Friday night and advance to Sunday’s Advanta WTT Finals at Kastles Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Oudsema hit a second serve ace in the final set to win the first game in Overtime and put the Kastles into Sunday’s Advanta WTT Finals against the winner of the Western Conference Championship clash between the Springfield Lasers and the Newport Beach Breakers (also played on Friday night).

2009 Male MVP Leander Paes and Rennae Stubbs got the Kastles off to a strong start in the opening set of mixed doubles with a 5-4 win over Robert Kendrick and Abigail Spears. Spears dominated Olga Puchkova in women’s singles 5-2 to give the Sportimes a 9-7 lead after two events. Paes and Scott Oudsema outgunned Kendrick and Jesse Witten 5-3 in men’s doubles to tie up the match 12-12 at halftime.

Last season’s Female MVP Rennae Stubbs and Puchkova energized the boisterous crowd with a dominating 5-2 win over Spears and Christina Fusano in women’s doubles, giving the Kastles a 3-game cushion leading into the final set.

Kendrick sent the match into Overtime and pulled the Sportimes within two games by outlasting Oudsema in men’s singles 5-4. However Oudsema’s serving heroics secured the first Finals appearance for the Kastles in only their second season in the League.

Tickets for the Advanta WTT Finals are available by calling (202) 4-TENNIS or at www.washingtonkastles.com. The match starts at 5 pm EST on July 26 at Kastles Stadium and will air on Tennis Channel on July 29 at 7 pm EST.

Advanta World TeamTennis Pro League – Results for Friday, 7/24

(Home teams in capital letters)

Completed Matches:

ADVANTA WTT EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP:

Washington Kastles def. NEW YORK SPORTIMES 22-19 (OT)

Mixed Doubles – Leander Paes\Rennae Stubbs (Kastles) def. Abigail Spears\Robert Kendrick (Sportimes) 5-4

Women’s Singles – Abigail Spears (Sportimes) def. Olga Puchkova (Kastles) 5-2

Men’s Doubles – Scott Oudsema\Leander Paes (Kastles) def. Robert Kendrick\Jesse Witten (Sportimes) 5-3

Women’s Doubles – Rennae Stubbs\Olga Puchkova (Kastles) def. Christina Fusano\Abigail Spears (Sportimes) 5-2

Men’s Singles – Robert Kendrick (Sportimes) def. Scott Oudsema (Kastles) 5-4

Overtime – Men’s Singles – Scott Oudsema (Kastles) def. Robert Kendrick (Sportimes) 1-0

Late Matches:

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

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

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

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

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.