social networking

FUNDING CUTS, COMEBACKS, WITHDRAWALS: TENNIS IN THE COMMONWEALTH

By Leigh Sanders

British No. 2 Alex Bogdanovic’s career looks in jeopardy after the 25-year-old was told he is one of eleven players cut from the list to receive the highest level of support from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) next year.

He is ranked No. 164 in the world, 97 places above British No. 3 Dan Evans who has been retained on the LTA’s high priority list. But the LTA appear to be growing impatient with his lack of progress and had already informed him in June that he was unlikely to receive a wildcard entry to the 2010 Wimbledon championships following his eighth consecutive first-round exit this year.

He is, however, still eligible for a reduced level of support. Bogdanovic had his financial support cut in 2004 after the LTA questioned his commitment but he recovered to reach a career-high 108 in 2007. The news comes following his recent exclusion from the British Davis Cup Team after only one victory in eight singles rubbers.

British No. 7 in women’s tennis, Naomi Broady, has also been left off the list despite finishing 2009 with three straight ITF titles and a career-high ranking at No. 309. The 19-year-old hit the headlines in 2007 when she had her funding cut after posting “inappropriate” pictures and messages on a social networking website.

*The venues for the opening round matches of the 2010 Davis Cup World Group have begun to be announced. The ties, played March 5-7, have given India a tricky encounter as they travel to Moscow to face the formidable Russians. The Indians lead 2-1 in head-to-heads and they will hope for progression to the quarterfinals as the Commonwealth’s only hope in the top band of Davis Cup countries. It is India’s first year in the top group since 1998.

*Belgian former world No. 1 Justine Henin has been handed a wildcard for the Sydney International in Australia next month as she makes her return to the tennis circuit.

*Britain’s Anne Keothavong has announced her return from knee ligament damage will be Team GB’s Fed Cup match up with Portugal in February. “To make my comeback from injury at the Fed Cup will be tough,” the 26-year-old told BBC Sport, but hopefully we can perform well and move GB into the World Group.” She joins Elena Baltacha, Katie O’Brien and doubles specialist Sarah Borwell in being selected.

*Casey Dellacqua has recovered from injury to secure a wildcard for the 2010 Australian Open after winning Tennis Australia’s 2010 Australian Open Wildcard Playoff. The 24-year-old returned from shoulder surgery to recover from a 1-6, 2-5 deficit to beat upcoming star Olivia Rogowska 1-6, 7-6(9), 6-3. Alicia Molik was also in the draw but fell at the quarterfinal stage. In the men’s draw, Nick Lindahl defeated Bernard Tomic to book his place at the 2010 extravaganza.

*The 2010 South African Open in Johannesburg has been hit by a host of shuns after registration for the event closed on Tuesday. Defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France will be missing as a tough schedule including Davis Cup play after the Australian Open means he can not return to defend his title. South African tennis fans will be angered that their No. 1 star Kevin Anderson has also decided to miss the event, instead choosing to play in Challenger Events of lesser stature in Dallas and Hawaii. Anderson infuriated his countryman a few months ago when he refused to play in South Africa’s crucial World Group Davis Cup Playoff against India and this certainly won’t heal those bridges. However Tsonga’s compatriot Gael Monfils and Spanish Davis Cup hero David Ferrer have confirmed they will play the event at the Montecasino Entertainment Resort.

*The latest ‘Active People Survey’ in Great Britain has shown an increase across all age groups of people participating in tennis. Those playing tennis weekly and monthly as well as club memberships have all seen increases. Yorkshire, in particular, saw a huge rise in the number of weekly participants. The stats will please the LTA who rank increasing participation highly in their ‘Whole Sport Plan.’

*Tennis Canada has announced the addition of promising junior Steven Diez to its National Team Program. The Toronto native will now represent Canada on the world stage.

*The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) of Great Britain was in mourning this week following the passing of three of its highly respected names of past and present. Board member Sir Robert Phillips sadly lost his long battle with cancer this week and passed away in the early hours of December 22nd, aged 64. His distinguished career also saw him serve as Deputy Director-General of the BBC and most recently as the Chief Executive of the Guardian Media Group. This followed the sad news that Dick Robinson OBE had also passed away aged 93. He joined the LTA board in 1954 and served as Chairman in 1973. Another former LTA President, Ron Presley OBE, has also lost a long battle with cancer and has passed away aged 78. He was one of the first men to serve as a Past President in 1995 when the category was first introduced.

Courier “Tweets”- And Beats McEnroe at Turning Stone Resort

VERONA, N.Y., May 2 – Jim Courier not only beat John McEnroe in a tennis match Saturday night, but “tweeted” about it as well.

Using the social network “Twitter” to update fans and followers via his blackberry on changeovers, Courier beat McEnroe 6-3, 4-6, (10-4 in Champions Tie-breaker) in a special “Legendary Night Exhibition” at the Turning Stone Resort in Central New York.

“Posting was a fun exercise,” said Courier, who can be found on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jimcourier. “It forced me to evaluate what was happening in real time although it also made me realize my thumbs are slow for typing. Hopefully it gives some insight into the mind of a tennis player in the heat of battle. I am looking forward to checking out the transcript and seeing if I actually made any sense or was just babbling.”

Courier is believed to be the first professional tennis player to use Twitter or any social networking device while competing in a professional match. The use of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) are forbidden in the rules of tennis as it opens up the possibility of illegal coaching. Courier’s match with McEnroe Saturday was not an officially sanctioned match or part of the Outback Champion Series global tennis circuit where Courier and McEnroe now compete. Courier frequently uses Twitter to connect with fans, comment on current issues in professional tennis and discuss behind-the-scenes details of the Outback Champions Series.

“Mac 2-1 on serve. Ball’s moving fast w/ppl in bldg. Feel good so far,” was Courier’s first in-match “tweet” during a changeover as McEnroe took a 2-1 lead.

Courier broke McEnroe’s serve in the fifth game of the match, tweeting of McEnroe double-fault on break point and of having to be aggressive on his forehand, “Got the break 3-2. Mac df on bp. I need to stay down and go after fh more. Covering it too much. Stay slow on 1st serve. Rushing a bit.”

Four games later, Courier broke McEnroe again to close out the first set 6-3, documenting McEnroe’s anger in breaking a racquet by tweeting, “6-3 JC. Mini McFreak. Broke a stick. Some shaky calls out here. I start serve 2nd set. Feeling better now. Got to keep driving the ball.”

Later in the second set, after taking a 2-1 lead, Courier, then tweeted, “2-1 JC on serve. Keep aggressive on his serve works well. Almost broke 2nd game. He’s edgy”

Two games later, taking a 3-2 lead, Courier wrote, “3-2. Tight service game. Was down bp. Served out of it. Rushed that game 2 dbl flts. Relax!!!”

McEnroe broke Courier in the seventh game of the second set, benefitting from Courier missing an easy forehand on break point. On the changeover, Courier wrote, “Gagged a fh sitter to lose serve 4-3 mac. Gotta refocus. Loose game there” Then two games later, Courier typed, “4-5. Gotta break. Stay down and rip returns. No cute shots.”

McEnroe served out the set the next game – forcing a first-to-ten points “Champions Tie-Breaker” played in lieu of a third set. Courier cruised to win the tie-breaker 10-4, winning eight of the last 10 points of the match.

Courier’s final tweets concluded, “10-4 in the breaker my way…served huge and ripped some passing shots. Felt good to finish big. I hit a rick-donk-u-lous slice angle pass to go up 2 minibreaks off of a sick mac approach. Yee haw.”

Following the singles match, Courier continued to document the evening of highly-entertaining tennis as he and Tracy Austin were defeated by McEnroe and Anna Kournikova 6-4, 2-6, (10-4 Champions Tie-Breaker) in mixed doubles.

The line of the evening may have come from McEnroe, who while serving at set point at 5-4 in the mixed doubles, yelled to Courier on the other side of the net, “Do you want to twitter before I serve?” Courier smiled and McEnroe then fired an ace up the middle by Courier to close out the first set.

The Legendary Night was run by the Turning Stone Resort in conjunction with InsideOut Sports & Entertainment, the New York-based sports marketing company co-founded by Courier that also runs the Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over.

Courier is one of 15 men in the history of tennis to play in all four Grand Slam tournament finals. He won two French Open singles titles (1991 and 1992) and two Australian Open titles (1992 and 1993) and was a Wimbledon finalist in 1993 and a US Open finalist in 1991. Courier finished the 1992 season as the world No. 1 ranked player and won 29 career titles (23 singles titles, 6 doubles). He also helped the United States win the Davis Cup in 1992 and 1995. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.

Home to the PGA TOUR’s Turning Stone Resort Championship, the Turning Stone Resort delivers AAA Four Diamond award-winning accommodations, world-class gaming and entertainment, five challenging golf courses, a private dance club and a world-class spa. The Turning Stone Resort is located 35 miles south of Syracuse and just a four hour drive from New York City. More information can be found at www.turningstone.com.

InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a New York City-based independent producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Outback Champions Series, a collection of tennis events featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, charity events and tennis fantasy camps such as the annual “Ultimate Fantasy Camp”. Through 2008, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment events have raised over $4 million for charity. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.