Staples

Tennis Needs a Change

Tennis is a brutal game on the body. Whether you’re a recreational player or a professional player, today’s game is not what it used to be. In recent memory, it seems that not a week goes by before we hear of players sustaining new injuries or having to re-address past injuries. Gael Monfils has suffered innumerable ankle and knee problems. David Nalbandian, Lleyton Hewitt and Tommy Haas all underwent hip surgeries this year alone. Rafael Nadal has experienced not only severe abdominal tears, but knee injuries that kept him from defending his title in Wimbledon last year.

In contrast, take the Champions Tour. While traveling the world and earning fame beyond their grand slammin’ years, retired tennis pros take combat in friendly matches and exhibitions for viewer pleasure. The likes of John McEnroe, Goran Ivanisevic, Mats Wilander and Jim Courier have been staples of this tour and are not likely to go anywhere soon. In fact, while watching some of these players on court, it’s daunting to see that their mentality, physical strength and tennis abilities have only been slighted to a minimal degree. They are not ‘young’ anymore, but they are all still in great shape and playing tennis well into their fifties! Most of the players on the Champions Tour sustained relatively few injuries during their time on ATP Tour, with the exceptions of Jimmy Connors (hips) and Andre Agassi (back). What gives?

John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg at the Champions Cup in Boston on May 1, 2010

How did they stay away from the injury bug while Marcos Baghdatis, Juan Martin del Potro and even Roger Federer can’t? Each player achieved elite status and was pitted against the toughest opponents of their era, so why the injury overload in today’s generation?

I think a better question to ask is: What has changed since then in the game of tennis?

The answer? Plenty. From the advancement in technology affecting racquets and strings, to the increased physicality of the sport, to the never-ending calendar of tournaments and commitments. Often times players laugh when asked about what they did in their ‘off-season.’ An off-season in most sports is several months. For top ATP pros, they’re lucky if they get a couple weeks at the end of the year before hustling back onto a tennis court. Others are plagued by injuries that cut their season short.  Tennis racquet material has also gone from laminated wood to aluminum to heavier carbon fibre composites. Strings have been given a makeover and have allowed players to tighten or loosen their strings to unthinkable tensions putting strain on their wrists, elbow, arms, and shoulders.

More interestingly, the height of the tennis player has increased. During the 80s and 90s, the average height of a top player was hovering around 6′. During the Sampras-Federer era, it was about 6’1”. Now, with John Isner, Sam Querrey, Marin Cilic, Juan Martin del Potro and Tomas Berdych leading the next round of elite players, the average has risen to 6’2.5.” We are seeing the optimal height of a tennis player look more like the expected height for a volleyball or basketball team. And with height comes stronger and more angular serves with some guys consistently serving in the 120- to 130-mph range.

American ATP standout, John Isner, measures in at 6′ 9” towering over Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells this year.

This raises questions about how much more physical can tennis get and what other technological advancements could possibly occur to make this game even more harsh on the human body. It’s tough to imagine a player that can retrieve more balls than Nadal, hit faster serves than Roddick or move as quickly as Andy Murray, but the evolution of tennis continues and we’re bound to see players surpass these already-amazing feats.

David Nalbandian, Lleyton Hewitt and Tommy Haas were mentioned at the beginning of this post. What do these three players have in common? They are all long-time veterans of the game and all three required hip surgeries earlier this year. They could be a good indication of where today’s guys will end up in five or ten years: broken down and battered.

I’m afraid one day I’ll wake up in 20 years, excited to go watch a retired pro play at a local venue, only to be disappointed that he can barely move on court because of all the beatings his body took during the pro tour. I wouldn’t be surprised to not see any of today’s top pros going into the Champions Tour or doing exhibition events like they once did.

Something needs to change in the game of tennis to preserve these players’ bodies, but what is it? Is it the scoring setup, the length of the season, technology or a combination of several things? Many players advocate for a shorter season with less necessary event commitments, others think that Davis Cup should be every four years instead of every year, yet others think that nothing needs to change and that the best win because they can balance and organize everything. What’s your take?

PHILIPPOUSSIS STICKS WITH FEDERER TO WIN AT WIMBLEDON

When Roger Federer won his first Wimbledon title in 2003, Mark Philippoussis was the man he beat in the final to break through and win his first of a now record 16 major singles title. Despite a shaky performance in the first round against Alejandro Falla on Monday, Federer is still the pick of Philippoussis to win a seventh Wimbledon title on Sunday, July 4. Philippoussis, who currently is the top-ranked player on the Champions Series tennis circuit, blogs his thoughts about Federer and his match with Falla as well as thoughts about the women’s draw and his pick of Venus Williams to win the women’s singles title at SW19. The blog can be read here: http://www.championsseriestennis.com/player_blog.php?id=47

Philippoussis defeated John McEnroe 6-3, 4-6, 10-5 (Champions Tie-Breaker) last month to win his first career Champions Series singles title at the $150,000 Staples Champions Cup in Boston. The win for Philippoussis also vaulted him into the No. 1 Champions Series ranking after reaching the singles final in the circuit’s opening event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he lost to Fernando Meligeni.

Philippoussis will join McEnroe, Jim Courier, Michael Chang, Mikael Pernfors, Wayne Ferreira, Aaron Krickstein and Jimmy Arias at the $150,000 Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships in Surprise, Ariz., to be played October 20-24 at the Surprise Recreation Campus Tennis and Racquet Complex. For more information on the Champions Series, go to www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com

IS “B” FOR “BORG” OR FOR “BOSTON” OR PERHAPS FOR “BRUINS”?

Bjorn Borg played his first match in the United States in 10 years Thursday night at the $150,000 Staples Champions Cup, part of the global Champions Series tennis circuit. He beat fellow Swede Mikael Pernfors 6-2, 2-6, 10-8 (Champions Tie-breaker).

It is interesting to see Bjorn playing tennis with a Dunlop tennis racquet – as opposed to the old Donnay racquets from all of those matches all of us remember so well (or have seen on YouTube if you are of a younger generation). You can’t help but notice the huge “B” on Bjorn’s shirt that he played in on Thursday. Does it stand for “Boston?” Since as a Swede, he grew up playing hockey and patterned his two-handed backhand after a slap shot, perhaps the B stands for “Bruins” as in the Boston Bruins, the NHL squad from Boston? Well, “B” stands for Bjorn or Borg and it is part of his Bjorn Borg line of clothing that is immensely popular in Europe. The Bjorn Borg line of underwear is available in the United States and is tremendously comfortable if you haven’t worn them.

Let’s hope John McEnroe can beat Mats Wilander Friday night so Borg and McEnroe can duke it out in the semifinals of the Boston event – for old times sake.

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TENNIS IDOL BORG OR EMPEROR BORG?

Bjorn Borg, it was announced Tuesday, will be playing in his first tournament in the United States since 2000 at the Staples Champions Cup in Boston, April 29-May 2. The event is part of the Jim Courier-run Champions Cup tennis circuit. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Borg’s epic fifth straight Wimbledon title, which will no doubt be celebrated and remembered for much of the year.

Which brings up the question; do we like the Bjorn Borg look from the late 1970s, early 1980s or the contemporary “stately” looking Borg who looks more like a Roman Emperor than the teen idol of yesterday? Tell us which look you like better?

Borg will play his opening match in Boston against fellow Swede Pernfors on Thursday, April 29 at 7 pm and, if victorious, will face the winner of the Friday evening quarterfinal match between McEnroe and Wilander on Saturday evening, May 1. Courier will face Arias in his opening match on Friday at 7 pm and, if victorious, will face the winner of the Philippoussis-Ferreira match on Saturday afternoon. For more on the Staples Champions Cup, go to www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com

“Bjorn playing in the United States is a very rare occurrence so it makes the Staples Champions Cup that much more special this year,” said Courier. “He’s one of our sport’s greatest champions and to have him play on the Champions Series is a highlight for the circuit.”
In 1980, Borg was able to win his fifth-straight title at the All England Club and stave off McEnroe, playing in his first Wimbledon final, by a 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (16-18), 8-6 margin, highlighted by the famous 18-16 fourth-set tie-breaker. He stopped playing full-time on the ATP circuit after the 1981 season.

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Wilander, Ferreira Join Courier, Ivanisevic In Grand Cayman

NEW YORK, March 5, 2009 – InsideOut Sports & Entertainment today announced that Mats Wilander, Wayne Ferreira, Mikael Pernfors, Jimmy Arias and Karel Novacek will join Jim Courier, Goran Ivanisevic and Mark Phillippoussis in the eight-player field at The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Legends Championships to be held April 23-26 in Grand Cayman. The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Legends Championships is the fourth of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over.

“We are looking forward to our second year of Outback Champions Series tennis at The Residences at The Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman with a terrific field of tennis legends,” said Jon Venison, co-founding partner of InsideOut Sports & Entertainment and the Outback Champions Series. “This event is the only Outback Champions Series event played on a clay court and will provide for some exciting tennis played in one of the most beautiful and luxurious resorts in the world.”

The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Legends Championships will feature a field of eight champion players competing in a single knock-out format event, vying for $150,000 in prize money and ranking points that determine the year-end No. 1 on the Outback Champions Series. Ticket, travel and tournament information can be found by visiting www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com. In 2008, Courier won the inaugural event last year defeating Ferreira 7-6 (3), 7-6 (1) in the championship match.

Wilander won seven major singles titles in his career, including three French and three Australian Open titles. In 1988, he won three major singles titles, capped by defeating Ivan Lendl in the final of the U.S. Open that earned him the No. 1 world ranking. Known as one of the best clay-court players of all-time, Wilander won 33 career singles titles and helped Sweden to Davis Cup titles in 1984, 1985 and 1987.

Ferreira, a silver medalist in doubles at the 1992 Olympic Games, has been one of the most successful players on the Outback Champions Series since the tennis circuit began in 2005. The South African has won three tournament titles and finished as runner-up two other times, including the Grand Cayman event in 2008. In 2006, he won the title in Houston, defeating Magnus Larsson in the final, while in 2007, he won titles in Naples, Fla., (defeating Krickstein in the final) and Dallas (defeating Jim Courier in the final.)

Pernfors is best known for his run to the singles final at the French Open in 1986, where he defeated Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker before losing to Ivan Lendl in the final. He won three ATP singles titles during his career, including the Canadian Open in 1993 where he came from 2-5 down in the third set to defeat Todd Martin in the final. Pernfors helped Sweden to the Davis Cup final in 1986 and won back-to-back NCAA singles titles for the University of Georgia in 1984 and 1985.

Arias turned pro at age 16 and reached a career-high ranking of No. 5 in April 1984. He enjoyed his best year in 1983 with four singles titles, including the U.S. Clay Court Championships and the Italian Open. That same year, at age 19, he reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open. Arias won five career titles, all in singles, in his career and represented the United States in Davis Cup play in 1984, 1986 and 1987. Last year in Grand Cayman, Arias registered his first career win over John McEnroe en route to finishing third at the event.

Novacek achieved a career high ranking of No. 8 in the world and posted the most significant results of his career at the U.S. Open, where he reached the singles semifinals in 1994, losing to Michael Stich, and in doubles with Martin Damm, he reached the doubles final in 1993, losing to Ken Flach and Robert Seguso. He won 13 career ATP singles titles.

The schedule of play for the event will be as follows;

Thursday, April 23
Starting at 3 pm
Wayne Ferreira vs Mikael Pernfors
Mats Wilander vs. Mark Philippoussis

Friday, April 24
Starting at 6 pm
Goran Ivanisevic vs. Karel Novacek
Jim Courier vs. Jimmy Arias

Saturday, April 25
Starting 1 pm
Doubles featuring all four losing quarterfinalists
Goran Ivanisevic/Karel Novacek winner vs. Mats Wilander/Mark Philippoussis winner

Starting at 6 pm
Doubles featuring all four losing quarterfinalist
Jim Courier/Jimmy Arias winner vs. Wayne Ferreira/Mikael Pernfors winner

Sunday, April 26
Starting at 1 pm
Third Place Match
Championship Match

About the Outback Champions Series
Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including 14-time major tournament champion Pete Sampras, four-time U.S. Open champion John McEnroe, two-time French and Australian Open champion Jim Courier and others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. The year-end No. 1 ranked player on the Series will receive a $100,000 bonus.

About The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, The DeckHouses and Secret Harbour
Stretching sea to sea from the acclaimed Seven Mile Beach to the North Sound, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Resort has set a lavish new standard of living on the Caribbean’s most prosperous, cosmopolitan and safe island – Grand Cayman. Comprising The Residences, The DeckHouses and Secret Harbour, all anchored by the hotel itself, living at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Resort is distinguished by an unparalleled lifestyle experience enhanced with the unique Endless Service program, which includes a fleet of luxury automobiles and intrepid 36-foot motor yachts available for use when in residence. Owners also have access to the legendary service and amenities of the $600 million Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Resort.  For more information, please visit www.residences-cayman.com, www.thedeckhouses.com or www.findsecretharbour.com.

About InsideOut Sports & Entertainment
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 one-night “Legendary Night” exhibitions as well as charity events and tennis fantasy camps, including 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

Wilander, Lavalle, Herrera Join Sampras, Rafter and Courier in Los Cabos

NEW YORK, February 26, 2009 – InsideOut Sports & Entertainment today announced that seven-time major champion Mats Wilander and Mexican standouts Leonardo Lavalle and Luis Herrera will join seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras, two-time U.S. Open champion Patrick Rafter and two-time French and Australian Open champion Jim Courier in the six-player field at the Del Mar Development Champions Cup to be held March 18-22 at the Palmilla Tennis Club in Los Cabos, Mexico. The Del Mar Development Champions Cup is a first-year event on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over.

Wilander, 44, won seven major singles titles in his career, including three French and three Australian Open titles. In 1988, he won three major singles titles, capped by defeating Ivan Lendl in the final of the U.S. Open that earned him the No. 1 world ranking. Lavalle, 41, was a standout on the Mexican Davis Cup team who was a singles quarterfinalist at the 1992 Olympic Games. He won one singles title and five doubles titles during his ATP career. Herrera, 38, was also a Mexican Davis Cup standout and is best known for defeating Jimmy Connors in Connors’ last Wimbledon match in 1992 and in beating Courier in Courier’s Davis Cup debut in Mexico City in 1991.

InsideOut Sports & Entertainment also announced the schedule of play for the event, which begins on Wednesday, March 18th with special “Mexico Day” activities starting at 1 pm with an Opening Ceremony, doubles exhibition and free kids’ clinic. The full schedule of play is as follows;

Wednesday March 18th
Starting at 1pm
Free Kids clinic
Doubles exhibition featuring Leo Lavalle, Luis Herrera and Jorge Lozano

Thursday March 19th
Starting at 1 pm
Mats Wilander vs. Leonardo Lavalle
Patrick Rafter vs. Luis Herrera

Friday March 20th
Starting at 1 pm
Leo Lavalle and Jorge Lozano vs. Mats Wilander and Luis Herrera
Jim Courier vs. winner of Patrick Rafter vs. Luis Herrera

Saturday March 21st
Starting at 1 pm
1pm: Leo Lavalle and Jorge Lozano vs. Jim Courier and Patrick Rafter
Pete Sampras vs. winner of Mats Wilander vs. Leo Lavalle

Sunday March 22nd
Starting at 1 pm
Third-Place Match
Championship Match

The Del Mar Development Champions Cup is the third of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series and will be contested on an outdoor hard court. The tournament will feature a field of six champion players competing in a single knock-out format event, vying for $150,000 in prize money and ranking points that determine the year-end No. 1 ranked player on the Outback Champions Series. Ticket, travel and tournament information can be found by visiting www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.

The 2009 Outback Champions Series kicked off Feb. 13-15 in Boston, Mass., at the Champions Cup Boston, where Pete Sampras won his fourth career Outback Champions Series title, defeating John McEnroe in the final. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will host the Rio Champions Cup – the second event of the 2009 series – March 12-15. Following the Del Mar Development Champions Cup, Outback Champions Series events will be staged in Grand Cayman (April 23-26), Newport, R.I. (August 20-23), Charlotte, N.C. (Sept. 24-27), Surprise, Ariz. (Oct. 8-11), and Dubai, U.A.E. (Nov. 19-22).

Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including 14-time major tournament champion Pete Sampras, four-time U.S. Open champion John McEnroe, two-time French and Australian Open champion Jim Courier and others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team.

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 one-night “Legendary Night” exhibitions as well as charity events and tennis fantasy camps, including 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.

Sampras In Awe Of 50-Year-Old McEnroe, But Beats Him To Win In Boston

BOSTON, February 15, 2009 – Pete Sampras defeated John McEnroe 7-6 (10), 6-4 Sunday to win the singles title at the $150,000 Champions Cup Boston, the opening event on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. McEnroe, playing on the eve of his 50th birthday, led 3-0 in the first set and held four set points in the first-set tie-breaker, but was unable to stay on top of the 37-year-old Sampras.pete-sampras-outback-a

Sampras had nothing but praise for the nearly half-century-old McEnroe, who has played high-quality competitive tennis for the last 17 years since he retired from full-time duty on the ATP Tour after the 1992 season.

“John McEnroe turns 50 tomorrow – it’s incredible how well this guy still plays. I’m in awe of it actually,” said Sampras following Sunday’s final. “At 50, it’s amazing to move that well. It’s pretty incredible. He’s been consistently playing since he retired. He’s still in great shape, his hands, his experience. He knows where to go on the court. He doesn’t move quite as well, but it’s pretty remarkable at 50 he plays this well.”

McEnroe defeated Sampras at the 2008 Champions Cup Boston en route to the title, his first career title on the Outback Champions Series, the four-year-old U.S.-based champions’ circuit. McEnroe also won the title in Surprise, Ariz., last year and finished the 2008 season ranked No. 2 on the Stanford Champions Rankings that determine the year-end champion on the Outback Champions Series.

“I gave it everything I had,” said McEnroe of the final with Sampras. “This guy (Sampras) knows a little about winning when the going gets tough. That’s why he won 14 Grand Slams which is unbelievable.”

Sampras earned $60,000 for the tournament title – his fourth career Outback Champions Series title. McEnroe earned a runner-up check for $40,000.

“It was a good match,” said Sampras. “I got off to a slow start getting broken. He was playing well, mixing up with his serve. I got back to even in the first, made it to the tiebreaker. My serve wasn’t great. I had a couple of double faults, but I got through that. It was good tennis and the crowd enjoyed it. I give him a lot of credit. He played great against me. He was hard to put away today.”

McEnroe said he played better with each match during the weekend. He said his Friday night quarterfinal win over Jimmy Arias was the match that featured the most rust and cobwebs from the long layoff since his last Outback Champions Series event in early November.

“I figured I’d get better this weekend since I haven’t played in three months,” said McEnroe, who won his first of seven major singles titles 30 years ago at the 1979 U.S. Open. “I felt by far my best match was today. Even though I lost I felt like I played my best match today. I felt like I was on the ball today. His serve was difficult to read. I had a break and anytime you have a break on a reasonably quick court, you can make the argument that you should win the set.”

Todd Martin earned third-place honors at the event when fellow losing semifinalist Jim Courier was unable to play in Sunday’s third-place match due to an injured back suffered in his Saturday loss to McEnroe. Martin did defeat Mats Wilander 8-6 in an exhibition match Sunday that preceded the Sampras-McEnroe final.

Last year, McEnroe won his first career Outback Champions Series title in Boston when he defeated Aaron Krickstein in the championship match. En route to his victory last year, McEnroe upset Sampras 2-6, 7-5, 10-4 (Champions Tie-Break) in round-robin play when the tournament featured a different format. Sampras won the Champions Cup Boston title in 2007, defeating McEnroe 6-3, 6-4 in round-robin play en route to the title.

Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including Sampras, McEnroe, Courier and others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. The Outback Champions Series features eight events on its 2009 schedule with each event featuring $150,000 in prize money as well as Champions Series ranking points that will determine the year-end Stanford Champions Rankings No. 1. The year-end champion will receive a $100,000 bonus courtesy of Stanford Financial Group, the official rankings sponsor of the Outback Champions Series.

Champions Cup Boston is sponsored by Outback Steakhouse, Stanford Financial Group, Staples, ASG, Providea, Talon Air, Coca-Cola, Taj Hotel, NESN and Greater Media.

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.

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McEnroe – One Day Shy Of 50th Birthday- To Play Sampras For Boston Title

BOSTON, February 14, 2009 – John McEnroe, who will turn 50 years old on Monday, will spend his final day as a “forty-something” taking on Pete Sampras in the final of the $150,000 Champions Cup Boston.

McEnroe advanced into the championship match of the opening event on the 2009 Outback Champions Series by defeating Jim Courier 7-5, 6-1 in Saturday’s semifinals. Sampras advanced into the championship match with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Todd Martin Saturday evening.

The Champions Cup Boston is the first of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. Last year, McEnroe won his first career Outback Champions Series title in Boston when he defeated Aaron Krickstein in the championship match. En route to his victory last year in Boston, McEnroe upset Sampras 2-6, 7-5, 10-4 (Champions Tie-Break) in round-robin play when the tournament featured a different format. Sampras, the winner of a men’s record 14 major singles titles, won the Champions Cup Boston title in 2007, defeating McEnroe 6-3, 6-4 in round-robin play en route to the title.

“At 50, he still plays great,” said Sampras of McEnroe, who won his first major singles title 30 years ago at the 1979 U.S. Open. “He’s got that lefty serve that’s effective, he’s smart and he has experience. It should be entertaining. It’s always entertaining playing John.”

On Saturday, McEnroe benefitted from Courier injuring his back in the middle of the first set, which severely hampered his movement and ability to generate pace on his shots. McEnroe took full advantage and routinely hit drop shots and made Courier move all over the court. Courier couldn’t do much with his bad back and eventually succumbed by losing a quick second set 6-1

“I thought the match was going to be rough,” said McEnroe. “He came out quick and he was hitting a big ball. I took it as a sign of respect that he had to step it up. Something happened to his back obviously. Maybe he was trying to push it and wasn’t quite ready. I felt like there were moments when I was hitting the ball better and clicking. I was moving better than yesterday.”

Said Courier, “I was disappointed my body betrayed me because I was playing very well, practicing very well and training for this tournament and the rest of the first half of our season. It’s disappointing to not be able to play at full throttle. I was up a break and serving and I would have hopefully been able to continue along that way. There is no guarantee playing John. He came out of the box in the first game and played very well.”

The second semifinal between Sampras and Martin – a rematch of the 2007 Champions Cup Boston final, won by Sampras 6-3, 5-7, 11-9 (Champions Tie-Break) – was highlighted by the dominant serving of both players.

“Not a whole lot separated us tonight,” said Sampras. “Todd was serving great and holding serve pretty easy. He had two loose games there, a couple of double faults and that was it. I felt pretty good. I felt sharp.”

Tickets for Sunday’s Champions Cup Boston 2 pm session featuring the third-place match and the championship match are still available by logging onto www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (617) 931-2000.

Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including Sampras, McEnroe, Courier and others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. The Outback Champions Series features eight events on its 2009 schedule with each event featuring $150,000 in prize money as well as Champions Series ranking points that will determine the year-end Stanford Champions Rankings No. 1. The year-end champion will receive a $100,000 bonus courtesy of Stanford Financial Group, the official rankings sponsor of the Outback Champions Series.

Champions Cup Boston is sponsored by Outback Steakhouse, Stanford Financial Group, Staples, ASG, Providea, Talon Air, Coca-Cola, Taj Hotel, NESN and Greater Media.

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.

Defending Champion McEnroe Advances At Champions Cup Boston

BOSTON, February 13, 2009 – Defending champion John McEnroe and 2006 tournament winner Todd Martin each posted straight-set victories Friday night to advance into the semifinals of the $150,000 Champions Cup Boston – the opening event on the 2009 Outback Champions Series.

McEnroe defeated fellow American Jimmy Arias, a last-minute substitute for a flu-stricken Mats Wilander, by a 6-3, 6-4 margin. Martin, who defeated McEnroe to win the Boston title in 2006, defeated Mikael Pernfors of Sweden 6-4, 6-2.

The Champions Cup Boston is the first of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. Last year, McEnroe won his first career Outback Champions Series title in Boston when he defeated Aaron Krickstein in the championship match. Three days shy of his 50th birthday, the three-time Wimbledon and four-time U.S. Open champion continued to display his strong serve and volley game against Arias, but was critical of the sharpness of his game.

“I’m sort of disjointed right now and the rhythm isn’t there,” said McEnroe. “I haven’t played a match in three months. The flow and the feel isn’t where it needs to be. I need to step it up. I’ve been struggling with a some arm and elbow stuff- I am just getting old. It’s doesn’t get any easier.”

Said Arias, “I thought it was a decent match. He didn’t sever as well as he could normally. We had some good points and good shots. I’m struggling with my body right now it broke down 4-3 in the first set and I think that annoyed him that I was hanging on.”

McEnroe will next face Jim Courier in Saturday afternoon’s 2 pm day session semifinal. Martin will take on Pete Sampras in the 7 pm night session in the other semifinal.

Martin also admitted to a few cobwebs in his match with Pernfors, but kicked his game into another gear after breaking his Swedish opponent’s serve at 4-4 in the first set.

“It was in many ways what I would have expected,” said Martin of his win over Pernfors. “It was not the smoothest transition back into competition. Fortunately I controlled my game better at the more critical moments and slowly, but surely, gained a little bit of rhythm.”

Pernfors, the French Open finalist in 1986, was playing in his first competitive match since injuring his Achilles heel in the summer, but felt satisfied, despite the loss.

“I knew going in it was going to be a struggle to play Todd even if I was 100 percent,” said Pernfors. “He has the advantage as he rules the points against me. When he serves well, even if I get into the service game, he is going to have two or three big serves and he’s going to be right back in it. I felt like I served pretty good today. I had to work so much harder with my serve. It’s always going to be an uphill struggle to play against him.”

Tickets for Champions Cup Boston are still available by logging onto www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (617) 931-2000.

Both day and night sessions on Saturday will feature a singles semifinal match and a mixed doubles match featuring Anna Kournikova and Tracy Austin. The Sunday, Feb. 15 session will feature the third-place play-off and the championship match.

Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including Sampras, McEnroe, Courier and others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. The Outback Champions Series features eight events on its 2009 schedule with each event featuring $150,000 in prize money as well as Champions Series ranking points that will determine the year-end Stanford Champions Rankings No. 1. The year-end champion will receive a $100,000 bonus courtesy of Stanford Financial Group, the official rankings sponsor of the Outback Champions Series.

Champions Cup Boston is sponsored by Outback Steakhouse, Stanford Financial Group, Staples, ASG, Providea, Talon Air, Coca-Cola, Taj Hotel, NESN and Greater Media.

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.

CONTACT:
Randy Walker
New Chapter Press for Outback Champions Series
917-770-0843

Laker Fan Sampras Headed To The Land Of The Celtics

BOSTON, February 12, 2009 – Pete Sampras, a big fan of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, will venture into the land of his team’s top rival, the Boston Celtics, this weekend as the seven-time Wimbledon champion joins the field of champions at the Champions Cup Boston, the opening event on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion players age 30 in over. Joining Sampras in the field at Boston University’s Agganis Arena are seven-time major singles champions John McEnroe and Mats Wilander, four-time major singles champion Jim Courier, two-time major singles finalist Todd Martin and 1986 French Open runner-up Mikael Pernfors.

Sampras, a Los Angeles resident, is frequently seen sitting courtside at Laker games at the Staples Center, including last spring when the Lakers and the Celtics met in the NBA Finals. While Sampras will be rooting hard for the Lakers to return to the NBA Finals to try and avenge last year’s loss to Boston, he admits having great respect for the Celtics, their players and their franchise.

“I’m a big Laker fan, but I am a (Kevin) Garnett fan. I like Ray Allen. I am a fan of these guys,” said Sampras earlier this week to WEEI Radio in Boston. “If they meet again, it would be great for the sport. Obviously, I will be rooting for the Lakers, but I have a lot of respect for Boston.”

Sampras, the seven-time Wimbledon champion and the winner of more major singles titles (14) than any other man, will open up play on Saturday night in a semifinal match against the winner of Friday night’s match between Martin and Pernfors. Sampras has won three Outback Champions Series events in the last two years, including the 2007 title in Boston. Sampras said that he enjoys the high-level of friendly competition that the Outback Champions Series provides.

“We all take it seriously and want to play well – it is not as cut throat as it used to be – I still think there is some good tennis that is being played,” said Sampras. “We all want to win, there is prize money involved. We take it seriously, but at the same time, we can go into the locker room and be ok about it. It’s fun.”

Tickets for Champions Cup Boston are available now by logging onto www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (617) 931-2000.

Boston will be the first tournament on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, a collection of men’s tennis events in the United States and abroad featuring some of the greatest names in the sport over the age of 30. McEnroe will defend his Champions Cup title where, one year ago, he defeated Aaron Krickstein in the final to earn his first-ever tournament victory at an Outback Champions Series event.

The Champions Cup Boston schedule will kick-off with two quarterfinal singles matches on Friday evening, Feb. 13 – Martin vs. Pernfors and McEnroe vs. Wilander. Both day and night sessions on Saturday, Feb. 14 will feature a singles semifinal match and a mixed doubles match featuring Anna Kournikova and Tracy Austin, while the Sunday, Feb. 15 session will feature the third-place play-off and the championship match.

Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including Sampras, McEnroe, Courier and others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. The Outback Champions Series features eight events on its 2009 schedule with each event featuring $150,000 in prize money as well as Champions Series ranking points that will determine the year-end Stanford Champions Rankings No. 1. The year-end champion will receive a $100,000 bonus courtesy of Stanford Financial Group, the official rankings sponsor of the Outback Champions Series.

Champions Cup Boston is sponsored by Outback Steakhouse, Stanford Financial Group, Staples, ASG, Providea, Talon Air, Coca-Cola, Taj Hotel, NESN and Greater Media.

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.

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