Tennis

Germany’s Jonas Luetjen Wins Singles, Doubles Titles At Mardy Fish Tennis Event In Vero Beach

Jonas Luetjen, a 25-year old German three years removed from playing college tennis at the University of Mississippi, won both the singles and doubles titles at the $10,000 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships Sunday at The Boulevard Tennis Club.

Luetjen won the first pro singles title of his career defeating 21-year old Martins Podzus of Latvia’s Davis Cup team 7-6(4), 6-3 in front of a crowd of over 300 enthusiastic and appreciative fans. After 45 minutes of rest, he then partnered 16-year old Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic to win the doubles title over the No. 1 seeds Deiton Baughman of Carson, Calif., and Anderson Reed of Daphne, Ala., a 10-point tiebreaker deciding the 6-1, 5-7, {10-8} decision.

“It’s obviously a great feeling…it’s a very special day for me,” said Luetjen, ranked No. 912 in the ATP World Tour singles rankings and the last player directly accepted into the main draw of the tournament.

A resident of Schessel, Germany, Luetjen became only third player in the 21-year history of the Vero Beach event to win the singles and doubles titles in the same year, joining Australian John-Patrick Smith in 2012 and American Doug Flach of the United States in 1996.

The singles final started off very tight as the first two games lasted 26 points.

“I got actually really lucky in the first set to stay in it. He started so well,” said Luetjen, who had to fight off five break points in his first service game.

The rest of the set was mostly straightforward from there as only two more games went to deuce, and the set had to be decided by a tiebreak.

Luetjen raced out to a 3-0 lead in the tie-breaker and didn’t look back. He would go up 6-2 before Podzus made a mini-comeback to get the score back to 6-4, but that would not be enough as the German won the next point to take the set.

Podzus, ranked No. 632 in the ATP World Tour rankings, showed some more fight early in the second set as he earned a break to go up 2-1. Luetjen, though, was able to break at love in the next game to get back on serve and everything went his way from that point on. Another break at love in Podzus’ next service game gave Luetjen a 4-2 lead and he would eventually go on to serve out the match at 5-3 for the win.

Luetjen essentially called his shot this week, as he told a German-born Vero Beach resident Henry Doehla after his first-round win that he felt like he could go all the way and win the title.
“I came here and first day I practiced on clay I had a great feeling,” said Luetjen.“I always have a positive mindset.”

That positive mindset earned Luetjen his first professional singles title and will see his amount of ATP ranking points more than double as he earned 18 ranking points for the title and he came into the week with only 17.
“It also gives me a great confident boost,” said Luetjen, who will be playing in another USTA Pro Circuit Futures level tournament in Tampa next week.

“First set, maybe I could beat him, but in the second, no chance. He played so good,” said Podzus, who was looking to extract revenge on Luetjen who beat him in the doubles tournament in Vero Beach, as well as in a Futures level qualifying match back in 2011.

“Unbelievable shots everywhere,” said Podzus of Luetjen’s performance. “I’m very tired now.”

In the post-match presentation ceremony after the singles final, Tom Fish, the co-tournament director and the chairman of the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, the new organizers of the event, unveiled the Mike Rahaley Cup trophy, named for the event’s founder, who retired from running the event last year. The trophy features all the singles champions at the event since its first year in 1995 and will be soon be fitted with Luetjen’s name.
The doubles final was also an exciting affair decided by a margin of only two points.

“I enjoyed a little sandwich and just carried the momentum,” said Luetjen, of his break between the singles and doubles final.

After an easy first set for the Europeans, the Americans fought back in the second set and won three deciding points in a row late in the set (a sudden-death point played a deuce, which is a feature now in professional doubles matches) to force a deciding 10-point tie-breaker played in lieu of a third set to determine the championship.

In that third set tiebreak, everything went the way of the server in the beginning before Baughman and Reed won a return point to get a mini-break. Kecmanovic and Luetjen quickly answered right back with a mini-break of their own to get back on serve at 5-5, and would later win three points in a row to open up an 8-6 lead. The Americans could not fight their way back from that deficit, as Kecmanovic and Luetjen won the tiebreaker 10-8.

Luetjen was happy with the doubles title, but was happier for his partner Kecmanovic as it was his first professional title, earning him his first ATP doubles points.

“I’m so happy for him to get his first title, he’s so young,” said Luetjen of Kecmanovic, who won the prestigious Orange Bowl junior title late last year. “I’m sure he’ll have many of those through his career.”

Said Kecmanovic, “I played really good. We both played really good in tough points and I’m just happy to get the win today.”

Baughman, the 20-year old American who played in the main draw doubles tournament at the U.S. Open in 2015, gave a lot of praise to Kecmanovic and Luetjen.

“Credit to them today,” he said. “Obviously Jonas was playing well all week. He came up clutch when he needed to and Miomir was playing insane. They made us work and it was a great doubles match.”

Many of the players praised the organization of the event and the facility at The Boulevard Village and Tennis Club as the tournament came to a close.

“This week is very awesome, awesome crowd, very nice tournament,” said Podzus. Added Luetjen, “It’s a very nice facility, I love it here.”

NetJets Signs On As Private Aviation Partner For PowerShares Series Tennis

NetJets® Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company and the worldwide leader in private aviation, today announced it has signed on as the official private aviation partner of the 2016 PowerShares Series, the circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30. NetJets will receive advertising spots, branded in-broadcast features, signage and hospitality while providing flights for PowerShares Series players to select events.

The 2016 PowerShares Series features 12 events throughout the year starting April 8 in Chicago and concluding December 3 with the first-ever tennis event at the Barclays Center in New York.

“We are thrilled and honored to be associated with such a prestigious company. This relationship highlights the value of our PowerShares Series brand, and we look forward to exceeding NetJets expectations,” said Jon Venison, President at InsideOut Sports & Entertainment, which operates the PowerShares Series.

 

The full 2016 PowerShares Series schedule is as follows:

April 8 – Chicago (UIC Pavilion)

April 9 – Charleston (Family Circle Tennis Center)

April 14 – St. Louis (Chaifetz Arena)

April 22 – Memphis (Landers Center)

April 23 – Tulsa (BOK Center)

July 17 – Newport (International Tennis Hall of Fame)

August 21 –  Winston-Salem (Wake Forest University)

August 25, 26 – New Haven (Yale University)

November 4 – Portland (Moda Center)

November 5 –    Denver Colorado (1stBank Center)

December 1 –     Orlando (Amway Arena)

December 3 –     New York (Barclays Center)

 

In 2015, Andy Roddick won the PowerShares Series points title in his second year of competing on the series with 1,600 points. Roddick won a record eight events in Los Angeles, Lincoln, Chicago, Austin, Little Rock, Dallas, Richmond and Minneapolis. Roddick’s U.S. Davis Cup teammate James Blake finished second in the points rankings with 1,200 points, winning events in Boston and Cincinnati. Former Wimbledon and U.S. Open finalist Mark Philippoussis finished in third with 1,100 points, winning titles in Salt Lake City and Vancouver. John McEnroe claimed the 2014 points title with titles in Kansas City, Indianapolis, Nashville and Charlotte.

ABOUT NETJETS

NetJets Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company, is the worldwide leader in private aviation with the largest and most diverse private jet fleet in the world. NetJets celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2014, having been established in 1964 as the world’s first private jet charter and management company. In 1986, NetJets pioneered the concept of fractional aircraft ownership—offering individuals and businesses all of the benefits of whole aircraft ownership and more, at a fraction of the cost. Today, NetJets offers a full range of private aviation solutions, including fractional ownership, leasing and jet cards,  through businesses bearing the NetJets®, Executive Jet Management®, and Marquis Jet Card® service brands in North America, Europe and China. For more information on NetJets customer programs and services, please visit www.netjets.com

Twitter: @NetJets

Instagram: NetJets

ABOUT INSIDEOUT SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT

InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a Los Angeles-based 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 Champions Series, a collection of tournaments featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, The World Series of Beach Volleyball and numerous corporate outings. Since its inception, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment has raised over $4 million for charity. In 2014, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment merged with Horizon Media, the largest privately held media services agency in the world. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.powersharesseries.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

ABOUT HORIZON MEDIA

Horizon Media, Inc. is the largest and fastest growing privately held media services agency in the world. The company was founded in 1989, is headquartered in New York and has offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Chicago. Horizon Media was chosen as 2011 Independent Media Agency of the Year by Mediapost, 2010 U.S. Media Agency of the Year by Adweek, Brandweek, and Mediaweek as well as by Ad Age and as one of the world’s ten most innovative marketing and advertising companies by Fast Company in 2011. In 2012, Bill Koenigsberg, President, CEO and Founder, was honored by Advertising Age as Industry Executive of the Year. Most recently, in 2014, Bill Koenigsberg was named 4As Chair of the Board and is the first person from a media agency to hold this prestigious position in the 100 year history of the 4As, the marketing industry’s leading trade association. The company’s mission is “To create the most meaningful brand connections within the lives of people everywhere.” By delivering on this mission through a holistic approach to brand marketing, Horizon Media has become one of the largest and fastest-growing media agencies in the industry, with estimated billings of over $5.3 billion and over 1,200 employees. The company is also a founding member of Columbus Media International, a multi-national partnership of independent media agencies. For more information, please visit horizonmedia.com.

ABOUT INVESCO POWERSHARES

Invesco PowerShares Capital Management LLC is leading the Intelligent ETF Revolution® through its lineup of more than 140 domestic and international exchange-traded funds, which seek to outperform traditional benchmark indexes while providing advisors and investors access to an innovative array of focused investment opportunities. With franchise assets of nearly $100 billion as of October 2, 2015, PowerShares ETFs trade on both US stock exchanges. For more information, please visit us at invescopowershares.com or follow us on Twitter @PowerShares.

ABOUT POWERSHARES QQQ

PowerShares QQQ™, an exchange-traded fund (ETF) based on the NASDAQ-100 Index®, is one of the largest and most traded ETFs in the world. Under most circumstances, QQQ will consist of all of the stocks in the index which includes 100 of the largest domestic and international nonfinancial companies listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market based on market capitalization.

Wilson Introduces First Tennis Shoe Designed To Support Players Sliding On Hard Court Surfaces

Wilson Sporting Goods Co., has announced it has introduced the Glide, the world’s first high performance tennis shoe designed to support, control and enhance how players slide on hard court surfaces±. Sliding is an increasingly popular technique competitive tennis players utilize to gain speed and agility advantages in match play where points can be won or lost in milliseconds. Wilson Labs, the innovation hub at Wilson, developed the Glide to help tennis players expertly slide into a shot, so they can recover up to 30 percent faster to the next ball.

“The Glide is a completely new type of performance tennis shoe and is a direct reflection of how the speed of the game has changed, said Hans-Martin Reh, General Manager of Racquet Sports. “In studying how players use sliding, particularly younger players, it was clear current performance tennis shoes are not designed to protect the athlete and accentuate the sliding movement. We knew that if we could develop a way to do both, we had the opportunity to revolutionize tennis footwear and provide our athletes with a new level of speed and efficiency not previously available.”

The shoe, which took Wilson Labs footwear engineers, materials experts and designers four years to develop, has been designed to allow players to precisely control forward and lateral slides on hard court surfaces. In play-testing, the Glide enhanced players’ natural speed, agility and quickness to command shots on the run, even stretched out wide shots.

The Glide is packed with the most innovative shoe technologies and construction elements available to players today:

  • Glide plates, made from polyethalyne technology, have been strategically sized and placed to allow for optimal slide when a player needs it the most.
  • The best performing, high traction and durable rubber Duralast® provides the ideal amount of traction to help athletes explode to the ball once their slide is complete. These technologies also increases the overall life of the shoe.
  • Rubber reinforced toe and inner drag pads offer a second wall of protection during lateral and forward sliding for increased durability.
  • A very low-to-the-ground heel drop (6mm) along with Dynamic Fit™ (DF1™) provide players with improved feel and control.
  • Endofit™ tongue provides an intuitive, comfortable fit and added stability.

The Glide is now available at specialty retailers and select tennis academies worldwide. The shoe retails for $199.00 (USD).  For a list of participating retailers and tennis academies, please visit www.wilson.com/Glide.

Wilson encourages players to talk with their coaches about sliding and the proper techniques to slide safely and effectively on hard court surfaces.  Players and coaches are also invited to visit www.wilson.com/Glide for instructional information on how to start using the Glide.

“On This Day In Tennis History” Book, Ebook, Mobile App Is Now An Audio Book

“On This Day In Tennis History,“ the popular tennis book, ebook and mobile app, is now also available as an audio book. The calendar-like compilation of historical and unique anniversaries, events and happenings from the world of tennis is now available in audio form via Audible.com and can be purchased here on Amazon.com: http://www.mailermailer.com/rd?http://www.amazon.com/This-Tennis-History-Day-Day/dp/B0178PCQH4/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1449508067&sr=8-1 The narrator is Tiffany Bobertz, a theatre production veteran graduate of Augustana College and resident of Tempe, Arizona. The audio version is available for sale for $26.21 or $14.95 with an Audible.com membership.

The popular mobile app version of the book is available for $2.99 at www.TennisHistoryApp.com. The app can be found by searching “Tennis History” in the iTunes App Store and Play Store or directly at these two links:

Apple iTunes: http://www.mailermailer.com/rd?https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/this-day-in-tennis-history/id647610047

Google Play: http://www.mailermailer.com/rd?https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.firstserveapps.thisdayintennis

“On This Day In Tennis History,” compiled by Randy Walker, is a fun and fact-filled, this compilation offers anniversaries, summaries, and anecdotes of events from the world of tennis for every day in the calendar year. Presented in a day-by-day format, the entries into this mini-encyclopedia include major tournament victory dates, summaries of the greatest matches ever played, trivia, and statistics as well as little-known and quirky happenings. Easy-to-use and packed with fascinating details, the book is the perfect companion for tennis and general sports fans alike and is an excellent gift idea for the holiday season. The book features fascinating and unique stories of players such as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, John McEnroe, Don Budge, Maria Sharapova, Bill Tilden, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova among many others. “On This Day In Tennis History” is available for purchase via on-line book retailers and in bookstores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

“On This Day In Tennis History” is published by New Chapter Press while the mobile app was designed and developed in conjunction with Miki Singh, founder of www.FirstServeApps.com. Fans can follow the app on social media at Twitter.com/ThisDayInTennis and facebook.com/thisdayintennis.

Said Hall of Famer Jim Courier of the book, “‘On This Day In Tennis History’ is a fun read that chronicles some of the most important—and unusual—moments in the annals of tennis. Randy Walker is an excellent narrator of tennis history and has done an incredible job of researching and compiling this entertaining volume.” Said tennis historian Joel Drucker, author of Jimmy Connors Saved My Life, “An addictive feast that you can enjoy every possible way—dipping in for various morsels, devouring it day-by-day, or selectively finding essential ingredients. As a tennis writer, I will always keep this book at the head of my table.” Said Bill Mountford, former Director of Tennis of the USTA National Tennis Center, “‘On This Day In Tennis History’ is an easy and unique way to absorb the greatest—and most quirky—moments in tennis history. It’s best read a page a day!”

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” by Steve Flink, “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “How To Permanently Erase Negative Self Talk So You Can Be Extraordinary” by Emily Filloramo, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time” by Sandra Harwitt, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “The 87 Rules For College” by Jacob Shore and Drew Moffitt, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli, “The Lennon Prophecy” by Joe Niezgoda (www.TheLennonProphecy.com), “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According To Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin, “Lessons from the Wild” by Shayamal Vallabhjee among others.

OnThisDay-AudioCover

“Titanic: The Tennis Story” – A Book Review

by Tori Cashman

@ToriCashman

 

“Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs is a powerful tale of love and devastating loss during the early 1900s based on real events. In addition to the hard facts about the voyage, this novel brings a fresh breath to a tragic topic through a strong tennis subplot. In fact, it might be safe to say that the ships tragic end isn’t the main focal point of the novel at all. As an avid reader, I found this to be a novel I can’t help but highly suggest to friends and family.

One of several prominent themes I enjoyed following throughout the book is the bond between father and son, particularly with Dick and Charles Williams—20th century tennis aficionados. It becomes clear very early in the novel that Dick and his father have created a unique relationship that is primarily focused on Dick’s career as a professional tennis champion. His driven and tireless father has coached him from an early age, as many great tennis players still are today. My favorite of many fascinating facts from the story derives from Charles Williams in the role of tennis coach. Charles keeps a moleskin notebook on him at all times—“He had stacks of them, chronicling everything from the very first match he has ever seen, to the playing patterns and styles of some of the most notable players in the world, to the plans he had to develop an international governing body for the sport.” With this encyclopedia, if you will, of tennis knowledge, Charles is able to sculpt Dick into a prime athlete, but the impression that this is not entirely what Dick wants becomes murkier as the story moves forward.

Unfortunately, Charles Williams was unable to escape the hands of the Titanic as she dragged down over 1,500 of her passengers to the depths of the Atlantic. I feel that this immeasurable loss created a void in Dick that he tried to mask by putting enormous pressure on himself to live up to his father’s high expectations; Dick’s survivors guilt made him feel the need to play for his father’s memory, but this in turn pushed Dick to his highest levels of career accomplishment. I’d argue that if Charles hadn’t been lost in the sinking of the ship, Dick would not have even had the chance to win the US Nationals because he would still be unable to decide for himself if tennis is his true passion.

Although Dick wavers between wanting to please his father and needing to pursue his own life while aboard the ship, a moment with his mother almost two years after the disaster allows for him to come to terms with himself. A post card sent to her that Dick quickly recognizes as having been from his very first tournament rushes a memory back to his mind—a feeling of overwhelming disappointment and the thought of never returning to a tournament court again. This feeling, very similar to the one he had recently felt after a humiliating show at Davis Cup, takes another toll on Dick, but he is soon to be brought back to life by one simple sentence: “I don’t think I could ever be prouder of him than I am at this very moment.” The endearing message written on the card provides Dick with the love and support necessary to rev up his tennis-playing engine and get back on the courts to win a national title. I find that by letting go of his grief, Dick is able to realize that happiness comes about in a lifetime through various endeavors, including—but not limited to—tennis.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Titanic: The Tennis Story” and believe I’d enjoy a second read-through to focus more on the tennis facts that are smoothly incorporated into the storyline. It is definitely worth picking up a copy from your local bookstore for a quick read. It also makes a great gift for anyone interested in the Titanic or tennis history.

To order the book on amazon.com – a hard book, electronic book or an audible book – click here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1937559041/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_LRTBwb1S243XJ

USTA Collegiate Clay Court Invitational at Disney Provides Lessons for All

by Kevin Craig

 

The USTA Collegiate Clay Court Invitational at the Tennis Resort at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando is not the biggest or most prestigious tournament in college tennis, but it serves an important event for experiences gained and lessons learned for not just players, but for everyone involved in the event.

In an event that is meant to give college players as much actual match experience as possible – and on the important developmental clay surface – every player certainly found strengths in their games that they would like to build upon, while they also may have found weaknesses that they will want to work on when they return to the courts at their respective campuses. The players weren’t the only people at the event that learned, though, as spectators, coaches, ball kids, and the tournament directors each had their own experiences and observations that will help them build upon this weekend.

On-court success came from a variety of schools as South Carolina, Pepperdine, Clemson, North Carolina State, Florida State, and Florida were all able to bring home titles. Each of the players that were able to win their respective tournaments will use these results to springboard them into successful spring seasons, while the players that came up short will certainly look back at this event and figure out what needs to be improved upon before the regular season comes around. With every tennis match played comes an opportunity to learn, allowing for constant growth and skill improvement. This doesn’t only apply to the players, though, as everyone involved with tennis can take something away from every match.

Coaches of every team in attendance got to see what each of their players can do in an actual match environment and were able to figure out the best coaching strategies and tactics for their team. One match of interest was the Men’s Gold Draw final that was played between two members of the South Carolina team – Harrison O’Keefe and Gabriel Friedrich. Coach Josh Goffi was forced into an awkward situation having to support and advise both of his players, but him and the rest of his staff and South Carolina players were able to do a great job of helping out each player through the difficult match. The rest of the tournament saw coaches running from court to court as they were helping their players during matches that were taking place far from one another. Every minute a coach can spend with his or her players is extremely valuable, so this event was very important for the coaches as it helped them develop their ideas as to how they can most effectively support their players and get the best possible on court result out of them.

The spectators of the event also had plenty to take away from the weekend. Not only did they have the pleasure of watching high quality tennis, but they were able to develop some tips for their own games by watching the highly-skilled players, talk with other tennis fans about their experiences in the tennis world, and some were even able to show their young kids what it can be like to be a tennis player with big goals. Throughout the weekend, parents could be seen with their young children all around the grounds, talking to them about everything from the game of tennis in general to how playing on clay is different from playing on a hard court. It is important for young kids who are passionate about tennis to be immersed in it as much as possible so they can develop a true understanding of the game and possibly develop into a star of the future.

After another very successful edition of the USTA Collegiate Clay Court Invitational, a huge congratulations must go to Florida State University, the USTA, and Carlos Goffi and his entire staff at the Tennis Resorts at the ESPN Wide World of Sports for putting on a fantastic event. A great venue like this one definitely deserves this great event and can hopefully attract more events throughout the calendar year. Every single person who attended this event will be able to take their experiences from the event and use them to help have a bigger and better future in the tennis world. This includes players, coaches, umpires, spectators, and ball kids, as there is something to be learned from every experience.

Behind The Scenes Covering The U.S. Open

by Andrew Eichenholz

 

In the middle of the summer I got a phone call from one of USOpen.org’s managing editors, who controls content production for the US Open’s official website. I never thought that a few months later I would be sitting here writing about how I got to be the last writer to publish a feature on one of my idols, sat front row in the press conference following arguably the greatest upset in the history of tennis and walked away with a wealth of experience that I never dreamt was imaginable when I published my first tennis story a year and a half ago.

Covering a Grand Slam was epitomized for me by Day 12 of the event— my eighth day reporting on the best tennis players in the world.

The impossible was happening— world No. 1 and history-chasing Serena Williams was down in the final set of her semifinal match, just three sets away from winning her fifth consecutive Grand Slam.

That may not mean much to people who do not follow tennis, but only 12 women have won five Grand Slams in their entire career during the Open era (since 1968), forget consecutively. Williams also would have tied Steffi Graf’s overall record of 22 with a victory. I was doing the “match of the day” story, and when arguably the best player ever is going down, that is a pretty big deal.

Generally, we tried to get all match stories out to our audience within ten minutes of the last point. Every single one of us in our office thought that Serena was going to find a way to survive. Her opponent, Roberta Vinci, would later admit that she thought the same. So, not only was it a matter of trying to pump out a quality product in a short amount of time, but both the writer who was covering the match itself and I were basically writing two stories, not knowing who would come out on top until Vinci hit a winner on match point.

At that point, we had a bit of a problem—few fans knew who the unseeded Vinci was and we did not know all that much about her ourselves besides her results and ranking. Who is she? The world wanted to know and our team had to make that happen, so after filing the “match of the day” story, I did some research on my phone as a few of us ran over to the Italian’s press conference so that I could file a quick piece to help people get to know Vinci.

It was a packed house at the presser— the Italian writers were still on cloud nine, shocked that two players from their country would be playing for the title the next day when not one had made the US Open final before.

If it seems like there was a lot of stuff going on at once, think again. Keeping in mind that this whole series of events happened in the span of an hour or two, I also was responsible for wrapping up the junior tournament and American Collegiate Invitational for the day.

The world outside of our office may have frozen in disbelief, but we still had work to do. That was my day every day at the US Open— there was no sitting for one match, writing it up and getting on the train home. There were always tons of things going on at once and I embraced that.

I would not have had it any other way.

My favorite part of covering sports— not just tennis— is writing feature stories. It is nice to sit back and take in a match to tell the reader what happened and why, but there were 256 players in the men’s and women’s singles draws alone at the US Open. Each of them had a unique story.

From a 19-year-old who spent plenty of time during the summer and the Open itself practicing with Roger Federer to a little-known American woman who went without seeing her mother for four years to pursue her dreams, there were so many stories that nobody had touched yet, so why not go for it?

The freedom my editors gave me was one of the nicer parts of working for the tournament’s website compared to a newspaper. I noticed that a lot of print writers spent their entire day focusing on one thing and one thing only, simply because their newspaper did not have enough space for more.

One of the pieces I wrote that got a lot of fan interaction was probably the piece that I turned around the quickest, believe it or not. Victoria Azarenka was the No. 20 seed because of injuries she sustained last season, but for years has been considered a top-five player.

Everybody in the media center at one point or another had done the same story on her competitive spirit shown on and off the court, including myself. But, a couple of days before I filed, I found her agent on the grounds and asked if her practice partner, who is in reality like a second coach, would be willing to talk to me. He never got back to me, so I was about to send my story in, but a couple of hours before her match, the practice partner texted me, apologizing for not getting back to me sooner.

It was well worth the wait, as even though he is a member of her team and is not going to say anything close to bad about her, I got a glimpse into a different side of Azarenka that really made the story unique.

Walking past the likes of Roger Federer and many of the game’s greats every day and talking to them when they were in press was interesting, but not new. I had been a ballperson at the US Open for a number of years; so being around the best of the best was not nerve-wracking.

That came into play one morning at about 9:00 a.m. when I was walking through the grounds toward our office while the juniors were practicing — juniors and lesser known players typically have to take what they can get in terms of practice courts, so they were out and about bright and early. I glanced around just out of curiosity, and saw a former world No. 1 coaching a couple of Russian girls.

I did not think anything of it at the time, but when the team finished our morning meeting, I realized that it would be interesting to catch up with a top player who was forced out of the sport by a back injury for our readers. So, after covering my matches for the day, I walked around the grounds only to find Dinara Safina watching one of her students’ matches.

During a break, I asked if she would not mind chatting for a bit once the match was over, but she was more than happy to catch up then and there. Safina was known as an extremely emotional player on the court, and it was not out of the ordinary to see her visibly angry with herself, as if she was not having any fun whatsoever. Yet, readers seemed to enjoy what she had to say— namely how much she loved tennis and despite being forced out of the sport as a player, would love to stay involved in it in some capacity for the rest of her life.

Perhaps the most completely reported story I wrote and the one that I spent the most time on was a long form painting of Lleyton Hewitt’s career.  Hewitt, who played his final US Open, spent plenty of time atop the world rankings over a decade ago and has become known as the prototypical warrior. Despite many injuries and a physical deficit in terms of size that he faced, Hewitt always seemed to find a way to beat players he should not have. My job was to not simply write about what made him an all-time great, but to talk to people who were or are around him to get insight into what he is like behind the scenes.

To do this, I even reached out to people Hewitt has not played or even spoken to since last millennium to get an authentic idea of what he was like before the Australian reached the top of the world, following his coaches and friends every step of the way until where he is now, laying out his career through the eyes of those around him.

I can go on for days about each and every story, but the one I may remember the most is one that I did not write.

The men’s final was widely anticipated throughout the entire sports world. A colleague and both agreed that we had never, ever been exposed to such an electric atmosphere in our lives. Roger Federer— who has won more Grand Slam titles than anybody— was the underdog against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

There were constant momentum shifts and the crowd responded every single time. Looking around at other press members chuckling as the waves of roars rushed through the chilly night, there was no doubt that something special was happening.

When my colleague and I walked down the stairs to head back to the office for the final time, there was one thing I knew for certain— that special match was the most fitting way to finish what was a more-than-special experience and I will never forget it.

The Difficulty of Turning the Corner from Juniors to the Pro Tour

by Jordana Klein

At the age of four, most children are more concerned with when their next visit to the toy store will be or, nowadays, when their parents will let them use the Ipad. Four years old seems quite young to make the decision about whether or not to continue with pre-school and kindergarden or take the route of becoming a professional tennis player. How can you know your child’s ability or coordination at four years old? Many parents around the world have to make the commitment about whether or not to pursue the professional tour dream for their child and even sacrifice some of the most valuable and cherished years of their child’s life.

Players such as Tammy Hendler know this route minute by minute, day in and day out, as they have lived through this journey. Unfortunately for Hendler, her journey ended, like so many other thousands of players, after her success in junior tournaments.

“I barely understood the rules and scoring of tennis when I stopped going to school in Georgia and began training full time, every day, with my dad and other coaches in the area,” Hendler said. “I worked for over a decade all the way to the top, but I fell short of the pro tour.”

Hender is not ashamed or embarrassed about her career, as she was ranked No. 2 in the world in juniors and made it to the qualifiers and even some main draw rounds of major tournaments. Hender’s career-high was her semifinal appearance in the Wimbledon juniors in 2008. She also made the quarterfinals of the 2008 US Open junior singles, represented Belgium in the Fed Cup, and won four ITF singles titles and three ITF doubles titles.

Unfortunately, these results were not enough to propel her into the top of the professional tour, and her career ended after several injuries, including those of the shoulder and elbow. After training in Bradenton, Florida with IMG Academy, Hendler reached a career high of No. 182 on tour in 2012 and earned a record of 122-93 in singles and 46-40 in doubles.

Hendler’s story is not unique, as many players attempt the professional tour after succeeding in the juniors and do not make it to the top. There can only be one Roger Federer, one Maria Sharapova, one Serena Williams. But there are dozens of Hendlers. The road to the top of the tour is incredibly tough, gruesome, time-consuming and difficult, but many players still travel the world every week to compete in as many tournaments as possible in hopes of slowly but surely increasing their ranking.

Even though one may think Hendler’s success in juniors should allow her to qualify automatically for the Grand Slams and other WTA events, she found out that there are hundreds of other players trying to make their way into the top 50 at the exact same time.

“I do not regret one second of my time in the junior and professional world of tennis,” Hendler said. “I met the most incredible people and visited the most amazing places, and I know I would have never had those opportunities had I not chosen this path when I was four years old.”

Rod Laver: Develop A Killer Instinct

Rod Laver documented his 1969 Grand Slam season – and his life story – with Hall of Fame tennis journalist Bud Collins in the book “The Education of a Tennis Player” (for sale here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0942257626/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_tiFEvb1MG9Y13 In the book, Laver also imparts his wisdom on how amateurs can achieve more success in tennis. In this book excerpt, Laver discusses “Killer Instinct.”

When I was a kid, and beginning to play well, a little better than the ordinary, I first experienced the enjoyment of playing to a crowd. It was a good feeling to have my strokes admired, and I was in no hurry to get off the court. As a result I let too many opponents off the hook. I found out that you have to play with the intention of making it a short day, of doing the job quickly and thoroughly.

I don’t mean rush it. Anything but that. But when you have the opportunity you strike then, and you realize that no lead is as big as it looks. If your opponent is serving at 1-4, you feel pretty good: three games ahead. But that’s only one service break, and you want to keep the pressure on, or you’re going to be in trouble. It’s no time to experiment with new shots or to show off for the “sheilas” in the crowd.

I’ve heard it said that you’re either born with the killer instinct or you’re not. I don’t agree with that. I feel I had to develop that killer outlook which, to me, means making the shot called for to win the point and resisting certain temptations. You don’t try to blast a ball 200 mph crosscourt into a corner when you have an easy sitter and your opponent is way out of position. If a soft, unimpressive-looking dink is called for, you hit it and make the point.

The good chances don’t come that frequently, and the killer knocks them off surely when presented with them. The killer doesn’t let up or ease off when he gets a good lead. This can be learned. Make sure of the easy shots—concentrate extra hard on those. Everybody has problems with difficult shots, but the killer gets his edge because he is meticulous with the setups.

Don’t compose eulogies to yourself when you get ahead. Concentrate on staying there. When Charlie Hollis, my coach, decided that I wasn’t homicidal enough, he sent me out with the intent of winning every match 6-0, 6-0. That seems grim for the usual player, but Charlie’s theme was good and clear: run scared and don’t let anybody up.

Tommy Robredo Always Fights To The End

By Andrew Eichenholz

When Andy Murray walked to the net after a hard fought victory in a final set tiebreak in Valencia late last year, he looked to embrace his opponent, who jokingly or not, flipped him the bird.

Murray had just Tommy Robredoed Tommy Robredo.

Now, it may seem impossible for a person to create a verb with his or her own name, but with his long track record of fighting until the end, Robredo has proven time and time again that he exemplifies that very thing better than anybody else.

So, when Murray looked to congratulate Robredo on a good match, which their clash was, one of the best of the season in fact, the Spaniard was not very happy. Not only did he lose a tough match, but he got beat at his own game, the game of survival.

Robredo’s Grand Slams on his least favorite surface, hard court, in 2014, show why the gritty right-hander has earned his reputation of being a fighter.

In his first Grand Slam match of the season at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Robredo played the always-dangerous Lukas Rosol. Although Rosol is somebody who many would expect Robredo to beat, down two sets to one makes things look a lot different.

It takes enough energy to play down under with the fatigue caused by the rigors of the Australian summer heat, but to hang tough in the fourth set, clinging to his life in the match until a tiebreak would be impressive enough. Not only did Robredo emerge from that vital tiebreak in an even match, but he toughed out the Czech 8-6 in the fifth.

Typical Robredo, never convincing, always there until the end.

Fast forward to Wimbledon, on yet another surface that is not conducive to the heavy topspin, high-net clearance game of Robredo. On the other side of the net, the powerful Jerzy Janowicz, whose serve and groundstrokes skip right through the Wimbledon grass.

Even after not getting off to a good start to his season, or their third round encounter, Janowicz fought back, and started playing tennis reminiscent of his standout 2013 season. From two sets down, Janowicz pushed one of the toughest players on tour around, evening affairs with all of the momentum in his corner.

That is exactly where Robredo wanted him. Down and nearly out, Robredo once again showed that he is most dangerous when backed into a corner. Although he would lose next round to Roger Federer, Robredo showed his character to stay the course and defeat Janowicz.

Robredo may have thought that nobody had seen the script before, so he pressed the rewind button when he arrived to Flushing Meadows for the United States Open. It was time to show the world who he is again, this time on the biggest stage of them all, Arthur Ashe Stadium.

As the crowd looking down from the seats of the largest stadium in the sport of tennis gasped in awe, Robredo was in trouble. The fans were witnessing the birth of a future star in Australian Nick Kyrgios during a third round match. The big-hitter was pushing one of the fleetest afoot of the ATP World Tour around for more than a set, making it seem like Robredo would be on the next flight out of John F. Kennedy Airport.

Slowly but surely, point by point, Robredo maintained his composure, and let Kyrgios start to miss. The first sign of Kyrgios’ dropping confidence was all it took, seemingly giving Robredo a hook to latch onto, never letting go, as he would pull away for a four set win.

By the way, Robredo was down two sets to love against Italian Simone Bolelli in the second round.

Although Robredo may never be a true Grand Slam contender, or a player who fans get to see be at the top of the world in the rankings, one thing is for certain.

Nobody wants to be stuck with Robredo in his or her section of the draw. And, while many opponents will go away and give up when they get down, that is when Robredo is most dangerous.

As he showed after his loss to Murray in Valencia, nobody hangs in there better, and he wants the world to know it.

To read more about the attitudes and teaching methods of Spanish tennis, order the book “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit available here: http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Spanish-Tennis-Chris-Lewit/dp/1937559491