Nearly a year removed from her championship run to the Wimbledon girl’s title, Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard has joined the WTA tour looking every bit the part of junior prodigy turned senior contender. Impeccably packaged, Bouchard is tall, blonde, and obviously styled to have a Sharapova-like serenity on the court.
But her “womanly bearing” can be deceiving, for despite all visual cues pointing to Bouchard’s readiness to play on the woman’s tour, the fact remains: she still plays a girl’s game.
Gone are the days when young talents like Tracy Austin and Martina Hingis can sweep onto the Tour and beguile older opponents with a mature cunning that belied their age. The grinding (but ultimately underpowered) game that works wonders on the contemporary junior circuit is too often in for a rude awakening when it tries to transition to the seniors.
Serving as a stark contrast, the WTA Tour has expanded from one-dimensional “Big Babe Tennis” into early ball striking with laser-like precision. Better technique paired with more forgiving technology has raised the collective margin of error, which allows big hitters to take more risk, and narrows openings for players like Bouchard, who prefer to rely on opponents’ errors.
As much as the women’s game has evolved in the last decade, expert defenders can still make their way through a field of lower-ranked players who beat themselves. At a Wimbledon warm-up in Birmingham, Bouchard drew one such “baseline basher” in Bojana Jovanovski. The Canadian must have liked her chances of causing a minor upset against the Serbian No. 3, who lacks a lengthy grass court resumé.
But Jovanovski had just come off of consecutive victories over former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Despite the Dane’s fall from the top of the rankings (punctuated by a slump that saw her win only one match on red clay), she still plays the kind of game that could be kryptonite for the hyperagressive Serb. Wozniacki’s style of play, even at its worst, is Bouchard’s, only taken to the tenth power. Though similar at its core, Bouchard not only eschews most aggressive inclinations, but also lacks the kind of scrambling defense required to outlast players like Jovanovski.
That kind of perfect storm can have some unintentionally hilarious consequences.
After falling behind a set, Jovanovski began taking more and more advantage of the Canadian’s weak serve. By the end of the match, she was standing mere inches from the service line to crush returns and gain immediate ascendency. Bouchard was able to capitalize on enough Jovanovski errors to make games tight, but the match was always in the Serb’s hands. Though the Canadian had opportunities to level the third set, Jovanovski was able to suddenly end games at will, with winners that seemed to scream “Enough!” to both her young opponent and the crowd, who began to squirm out of sympathy for the overmatched Bouchard.
Jovanovski would end the titanic struggle anticlimactically with a 6-2 final set that was surprising in its efficiency. Far from a notorious closer, Jovanovski may have been allowed to flounder against a more game opponent, but Bouchard was in no position to make her opponent over-think things.
It may only be Bouchard’s first full year on the senior tour, but at 19, she is already older than other aforementioned “well-packaged prodigies.” As the Canadian inches into her twenties, it will only become more difficult for her to revamp her game, to “woman up” in order to compete with the game’s best. Not unlike Wozniacki, Bouchard looks built for aggression, but conversely looks less adept at retrieving compared to her Danish counterpart.
A loss like this may have come early enough to be a lesson, or perhaps an ultimatum: play a big girl’s game, or risk becoming a little girl lost.
by Steve Fogleman, Special for Tennis Grandstand
When I arrived at the Tennis Center at College Park to speak with its CEO, Ray Benton, he was finishing up a lesson with former U.S. Congresswoman Jane Harman. He’d agreed to speak with me after the practice and he was still stretching when our conversation began. I admit that at first I was bemused by the notion of a crossroads of politics and tennis. You don’t see that every day. But for tennis statesman Ray Benton, it was business as usual. He’s as comfortable on court with children as he is in the halls of power in Washington. Legendary House Speaker Tip O’Neill used to repeatedly insist that all “politics is local”. Witnessing the VIP lessons he’s giving and the expansive, state-of-the-art tennis training facility he’s managing (largely funded by the former Chairman of the US Export-Import Bank), you realize that Benton is the embodiment of O’Neill’s mantra. Benton’s career arc has taken him from local to national to international and now, to some degree, back to local tennis. With that breadth of experience, he brings with him the uncanny ability to cultivate a major-league presence even in the deepest of grassroots tennis.
His office substantially resembles the International Tennis Hall of Fame in miniature. The walls of his paper-piled workspace are adorned with posters and photos from tennis events from the last forty years. With all of his energy, it is difficult to believe he is 71. He still competes in senior tournaments “when my body’s working”, he said.
Benton is an Iowa native who moved to Washington in 1971. He started playing the game at 15 and “really took to it right away”. Later, he spent two years with the Iowa Hawkeye team in Big Ten play. While attending college, law school and a year of business school, he worked in the summer as the tennis pro at Dubuque Country Club in Dubuque, Iowa. He was brought in to start a tennis program at a “golf wacko club where tennis was a nuisance”. It had “two broken-down courts and 35 tennis playing club members”. He was up for the challenge, and within a few years, Benton had installed six lighted courts, attracted 500 players and even trained 20 state-ranked juniors there. “That’s when I figured out maybe I should be in the business”.
Even after he was drafted and sent to Fort McClellan in Anniston, Alabama in 1966, he managed to stay active in the game, serving as head pro at the Gadsden and Anniston Country Clubs and varsity coach for Jacksonville State University in Alabama. He then spent a couple of years in Colorado running that state’s Youth Tennis Foundation and putting on professional events before Washington called. Then, Benton’s call to DC came to Denver. Through Dubuque.
“As I was finishing business school, a guy I knew from Dubuque had hit it big, Bob Lange. He invented the plastic ski boot. I went into business with him to develop the first plastic tennis racquet. We had a prototype and I suggested that we have a tournament in Denver. And in order to get any American players there, I had to talk to the Davis Cup captain named Donald Dell. We worked together and a year later, I moved here.”
Dell was looking for partners in a law firm that would eventually morph into sports management company ProServ years later. During his early days in Washington, he also served as the first National Executive Director of the National Junior Tennis League.
From DC, the firm represented big names in tennis like Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and Tracy Austin. They also managed top athletes throughout the world of sport, including Michael Jordan, Boomer Esiason, Dave Winfield and Payne Stewart. Yet the firm’s focus stuck with tennis for an important reason.
Mark McCormick started IMG and based it around golf and Donald started ProServ around tennis. After all, he was the Davis Cup captain and Stan Smith and Arthur Ashe were on his team.
As a law firm, we couldn’t solicit clients. We could write a letter to a company saying ‘I’m writing on behalf of Arthur Ashe to see if you might have interest’. We couldn’t put out a promotional brochure for Arthur, so we started the company Proserv. It was an affiliated marketing company to the law firm. When our firm split in ’83, Donald and I kept the name ProServ and made it the major identity.
During the nineties, Benton founded the Worldwide Senior Tennis Circuit. He secured more than $35 million in corporate sponsorships at a time when interest in tennis had started to wane. He also saw the events as more than a tournament, but an “entertainment event” with theme nights, contests and celebrity matches.
After spending most of the last decade doing marketing consulting for clients like the ATP, the PGA, the Vic Braden Tennis Academy and national mentoring advocacy group MENTOR, he was hired as the CEO of the Tennis Center at College Park. Once again, politics and tennis intersected, as banker and Clinton Administration appointee Kenneth Brody needed someone to market the tennis facility he had built in College Park. And he went straight to Benton to market it.
So, now that this writer knows he’s talking to the right person for the question, is DC a tennis town?
It is, but it needs to regain the stature it once had, and not only Washington, but many other area of the country. Tennis is totally a bottom-up sport. The great majority of energy comes from the grassroots. And that’s what advances tournament play, pro play, collegiate play. Frankly, I think we got lazy in this sport. We had so much momentum, so much success and great stars and I think the leaders of tennis, everyone became deluded that tennis was driven by Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. And the fact of the matter is in the days of Connors, Borg and McEnroe, participation in tennis in the United States decreased. We didn’t develop the next generation of Nick Bollettieris, of Vic Bradens or Dennis Van Der Meer or Peter Burwash. Who are the biggest names of teaching pros these days? Still those guys. If I asked you that same question 35 years ago, you’d have the same answer.
Benton’s approach to bringing the game back is simple. “A kid should be introduced to tennis the same way they should be introduced to basketball, which is they should have fun, be on a team, and compete the first day. And then they get hooked on the fun. And when they improve, then you offer them instruction. How many kids would play basketball if they were required to take three weeks of dribbling lessons and two weeks of shooting lessons before they were allowed to play the game? You’d have a lot fewer basketball players, wouldn’t you?”
He’s already building JTCC for the future. “You need leadership from the bottom. We’re going into schools now. We have a program called “Game On”. We’re trying to spread this game as far and wide as we can. We’re working with Prince George’s County Parks. We’ll have five sites in the summer. I see a lot more highly-ranked kids. I see a lot more inner city stuff. Five years from now, I see a much larger percentage of our kids coming from the inner city. I see considerable expansion here. We can expand. We’ve got room.”
As far as accolades the Tennis Center and the Junior Tennis Champions Center have received recently, he’s not wasting any time basking in the glory. “Attention is fine, but substance is what counts. We were very under marketed when I got here. There’s no question about that. One of the main reasons to get your name out is to attract the best athletes and do fundraising, because we’re a non-profit. We depend on it.”
Benton is audibly proud of the hundreds of kids who have been a part of the program. When he talks about the JTCC talent, it’s as if he is the proud grandfather of all of them. You almost expect him to have a photograph of every one of them in his wallet. “Denis Kudla is #184 in the world right now. There are only one or two players younger than him who are ranked higher. Mitchell Frank is excelling at Virginia. Trice (Capra) is at Duke. Skylar Morton graduated from here in three years and is playing very well, #3 or 4 at UCLA. She should be a senior in high school.”
Then there’s the next class of Junior Champions. After we spoke about Riverdale’s FrancisTiafoe and Reisterstown’s Yancy Dennis, he was more than ready to talk up the local girls climbing the ladder. “We have a girl named Elizabeth Scotty, who’s 10 and 16th in the country in under 12s. We are really strong in the 14 girls, including three girls from Baltimore, NadiaGizdova (Columbia, MD), Raveena Kingsley (Parkton, MD) and Jada Robinson (Reisterstown, MD). And next week, we’ll have a girl that is as good as any of them. Usue Arcornada. She’s coming with (longtime JTCC Coach) Frank Salazar. She’s originally from Argentina, but grew up in Puerto Rico. And she is a tiger.”
From the Austrian Postal Service launching a commemorative Roger Federer stamp to the Andre Agassi Foundation raising $8 million during the Grand Slam for Children event in Las Vegas to former top-ranked doubles player Ai Sugiyama retiring from professional tennis to Li Na signing with IMG to tennis icon Jack Kramer being remembered at a memorial service at Starus Stadium at UCLA to John Isner and Melanie Oudin agreeing to team up in January to represent the United States in Hopman Cup, these stories caught the attention of tennis fans and insiders this week.
According to a report by AFP, the Austrian Postal Service will launch a commemorative stamp honoring Roger Federer and his record 15 Grand Slam singles titles. About 400,000 Federer stamps will be issued.
The Andre Agassi Foundation’s Grand Slam for Children event raised $8 million over the weekend in Las Vegas. The Engelstad Family Foundation also pledged another $7.5 million to Agassi’s Foundation over a five year period.
Ai Sugiyama of Japan has retired from the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour following a first round defeat to Nadia Petrova at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. Sugiyama was honored on court during a special ceremony put on by WTA Tour officials and players to honor her remarkable career, which included speeches by her regular doubles partners Daniela Hantuchova and Katarina Srebotnik. Throughout her career, Sugiyama won six singles titles, 38 doubles titles and earned more than $8 million in tournament prize money.
Li Na, the highest ranked Chinese player ever on the WTA Tour, has signed a representation deal with IMG. “We are very pleased to have Li Na as an IMG client,” said Max Eisenbud, the Senior Vice President of IMG.
Tennis legend and the first executive of the ATP Tour Jack Kramer was remembered on Saturday during a memorial service at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on the campus on UCLA. Hundreds of people were in attendance during the service, as former WTA Tour star Pam Shriver and Los Angeles Times reporter Bill Dwyre acted as hosts of the ceremony. Barry MacKay, Tracy Austin, Donald Dell, US Open tournament director Jim Curley and former player Charlie Pasarell were among the speakers during the service.
John Isner and Melanie Oudin will represent the United States at the Hopman Cup from January 2-9, 2010 in Perth, Australia.
The inaugural Maria Sharapova South American Tour will take place from November 29 to December 4 and will feature the former Grand Slam singles champion and Argentine Gisela Dulko. The tour will feature exhibition matches between the players in San Paulo, Brazil on November 29, Santiago, Chile on December 2 and Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 4. Fashion shows, charity appearances and tennis clinics for the local children will also be a part of the three-city exhibition series.
The USTA and Levy Restaurants, the official restaurateur of the US Open, combined to donate more than 21,000 pounds of unused food from the US Open to City Harvest. City Harvest, which is based in New York City, is a food rescue organization that feeds people in need of food. “We are very thankful to the USTA and Levy Restaurants and for this generous donation,” said Jilly Stephens, the Executive Director at City Harvest. “Our long-standing partnership with the US Open demonstrates their commitment to helping us feed hungry New Yorkers.”
AEGON signed a five-year deal until 2013 to become the title sponsor of the prestigious Masters Tennis at Royal Albert Hall in London and will now be called the AEGON Masters Tennis. The tournament has featured former Wimbledon champions such as Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg. “We are delighted to welcome AEGON as our new title sponsor,” said Peter Worth, the Senior Vice President of IMG.
Defending US Open champion Kim Clijsters has announced her 2010 tournament schedule. Clijsters will play at Brisbane, Australian Open, Fed Cup, Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, French Open, Eastbourne/Rosmalen, Wimbledon, Cincinnati, Montreal, US Open, Beijing and possibly the year-end championships in Doha.
The 2010 Davis Cup World Group opening round ties have been announced:
Spain vs. Switzerland
France vs. Germany
Russia vs. India
Sweden vs. Argentina
Croatia vs. Ecuador
Serbia vs. United States
Chile vs. Israel
Belgium vs. Czech Republic
Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu has signed a sponsorship deal with Lagardere.
Romanian Andrei Pavel officially retired from the ATP World Tour following a straight sets loss to Pablo Cuevas in his hometown tournament last week in Bucharest. Pavel, who lives in the United States, will continue to be the captain for the Romanian Davis Cup team and has plans to open a tennis academy in Arizona.
Argentine tennis player Sergio Roitman has announced that he will retire from the ATP World Tour at the conclusion of the Copa Petrobas Challenger tournament in Buenos Aires. Roitman reached a career high ranking of No. 62 in October 2007 and has won more than $1.2 million in tournament prize money. “It is a strange moment for me, but the time has come for me to leave professional tennis,” said Roitman.
A lawsuit filed against Frenchman Richard Gasquet has been dismissed in Parisian courts stating no finding whether he took cocaine or if somebody else was responsible.
A Serbian court has confirmed that Jelena Dokic’s father has been sentenced to 15-months in prison for threatening to kill the Australian Ambassador to Serbia.
The Tennis Industry Association (TIA) is set to launch the website, www.playtennis.com. The website is designed to allow people to join the sport, learn more about tennis and get on a system to become a frequent player. “PlayTennis.com will be the first step,” said TIA President Jon Muir. “We’ll get key messaging out there through this site. It’s a wonderful opportunity for all stakeholders to get behind.”
Nine tennis professionals earned the distinction of Master Professional by the USPTA. The nine honorees were honored during the recent USPTA World Conference on Tennis at the Marriott Resort, Golf Club and Spa in Marco Island, Fla. Only about one percent of the 15,000 USPTA members have achieved the Master Professional merit.
Cory Ross of Littleton, Colo., won the men’s open division $30,000 USPTA International Championships on Thursday in Marco Island, while Marina McCollom of West Des Moines, Iowa won the women’s open division title.
Robert Greene Jr., of Rangeley, Maine, who is the Director of Tennis at the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel in Dixville Notch, N.H., earned the USPTA’s Alex Gordon Award for the Professional of the Year.
FLUSHING, N.Y., September 12, 2009 — Team Lendl rallied behind the dominating play of two-time US Open champion Tracy Austin to defeat Team Cash 21-17 in the final day of the US Open Champions Invitational at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. With the win, Team Lendl finished the competition as the only undefeated team, posting a 2-0 record.
With her team trailing by four games after the first three events, Austin teamed with Guillermo Vilas to roll over Hana Mandlikova and Ilie Nastase, 5-2 in mixed doubles. Austin and World TeamTennis CEO/Commissioner Ilana Kloss routed Mandlikova and Iva Majoli 5-0 in women’s doubles to give Team Lendl the match win.
Team Cash, coached by Pat Cash, started the day with an early lead when Majoli edged Conchita Martinez 5-4 in the opening set of women’s singles. The set was evenly matched with every game going to 3-points all, forcing a 9-point tiebreak at 4-4. Majoli won the tiebreak for the 5-4 victory.
Cash and Todd Martin topped Vilas and Jimmy Arias in men’s doubles 5-4 to add to Team Cash’s lead. Cash subbed in the men’s doubles event when Ilie Nastase had not arrived by the start of the set. Nastase showed up a few minutes later and when interviewed by the announcer about the reason for his late arrival, the irrepressible Nastase replied, “I cannot say – there are kids around.”
Nastase continued in classic form on the court as well, partially mooning Austin during mixed doubles and trying to unnerve her with a bit of trash-talking. “This one is for you, Tracy”. Austin was unaffected as she and her Team Lendl doubles partners outgunned her opponents 10-2 over the final two sets.
Team Cash and Team Lendl, along with Team King coached by Billie Jean King, each played two matches over three days of team competition. The event used the World TeamTennis format for the first time in US Open history and featured a lineup of Grand Slam champions and finalists competing on co-ed teams. Team Lendl finished with a 2-0 record, while Team King was 1-1 and Team Cash was 0-2.
Each match consisted of one set each of men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles. Other WTT features included cumulative scoring, sets to five games, no-ad scoring, playing let serves, Overtime and Supertiebreakers.
Final Score: Team Lendl def. Team Cash 21-17
Women’s Singles: Iva Majoli (Team Cash) def. Conchita Martinez (Team Lendl) 5-4 (4)
Men’s Doubles: Todd Martin/Pat Cash (Team Cash) def. Jimmy Arias/Guillermo Vilas (Team Lendl) 5-4 (1)
Men’s Singles: Todd Martin (Team Cash) def. Jimmy Arias (Team Lendl) 5-3
Mixed Doubles: Tracy Austin/Guillermo Vilas (Team Lendl) def. Hana Mandlikova/Ilie Nastase (Team Cash) 5-2
Women’s Doubles: Ilana Kloss/Tracy Austin (Team Lendl) def. Hana Mandlikova/Iva Majoli (Team Cash) 5-0
Check www.USOpen.org for more details on the US Open Champions Invitational.
FLUSHING, N.Y., September 9, 2009 – Team Lendl defeated Team King 24-16 in Overtime to win the first match of the US Open Champions Invitational today at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The event, which uses the World TeamTennis format for the first time in US Open history, features a lineup of Grand Slam champions and finalists competing on co-ed teams.
Team Lendl, coached by three-time US Open champion Ivan Lendl, jumped to an early lead as Jimmy Arias downed Luke Jensen in singles, 5-3. Arias then paired up with Guillermo Vilas to boost their overall advantage to 10-5 with a 5-2 doubles win over Jensen and Stan Smith.
Team King’s tandem of Mary Joe Fernandez and Gigi Fernandez may have won two Olympic gold medals in doubles together, but they were outgunned this afternoon by two-time US Open champion Tracy Austin and Conchita Martinez, 5-2, in women’s doubles.
Martinez, the 1994 Wimbledon singles champion, held on for 5-4 win over Mary Joe Fernandez in women’s singles to give Team Lendl a 9-point advantage heading into the final event.
Team King, coached by WTT co-founder Billie Jean King, rallied in mixed doubles when Smith and Gigi Fernandez topped Austin and Vilas 5-3 to send the match into Overtime. The match was highlighted by back-to-back aces from Tracy Austin against Stan Smith. Austin and Vilas held on to win the first game of Overtime and end the match with a 24-16 team victory.
The Champions Invitational continues on Thursday on Court 4 at 4 p.m. with Team King taking on Team Cash, coached by Pat Cash. Team Lendl returns on Saturday, Sept. 12, at 11 a.m. to face Team Cash in the final match of the Champions Invitational.
The three teams, which have a combined total of 33 seasons of World TeamTennis experience, play two matches each between Sept. 9-12. Each match consists of one set each of men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles. The event will use the traditional WTT format, which includes cumulative scoring, sets to five games, no-ad scoring, playing let serves, Overtime and Supertiebreakers.
TEAM KING: Mary Joe Fernandez, Gigi Fernandez, Stan Smith and Luke Jensen.
Coach: Billie Jean King
TEAM LENDL: Tracy Austin, Conchita Martinez, Guillermo Vilas and Jimmy Arias.
Coach: Ivan Lendl
US OPEN CHAMPIONS INVITATIONAL RESULTS – Sept. 9, 2009
Team Lendl def. Team King 24-16 (OT)
Men’s Singles: Jimmy Arias (Team Lendl) def. Luke Jensen (Team King) 5-3
Men’s Doubles: Jimmy Arias/Guillermo Vilas (Team Lendl) def. Luke Jensen/Stan Smith (Team King) 5-2
Women’s Doubles: Tracy Austin/Conchita Martinez (Team Lendl) def. Gigi Fernandez/Mary Joe Fernandez (Team King) 5-2
Women’s Singles: Conchita Martinez (Team Lendl) def. Mary Joe Fernandez (Team King) 5-4
Mixed Doubles: Stan Smith/Gigi Fernandez (Team King) def. Guillermo Vilas/Tracy Austin 5-3
OVERTIME: Guillermo Vilas/Tracy Austin (Team Lendl) def. Stan Smith/Gigi Fernandez (Team King) 1-0
SCHEDULE FOR THURSDAY, SEPT. 10
4 pm – Court 4 (subject to change)
Team Cash vs. Team King
TEAM KING: Mary Joe Fernandez, Gigi Fernandez, Stan Smith and Luke Jensen.
Coach: Billie Jean King
TEAM CASH: Iva Majoli, Hana Mandlikova, Ilie Nastase and Todd Martin.
Coach: Pat Cash
Check www.USOpen.org for more details on the US Open Champions Invitational.
Match Times (time/court subject to change – refer to official US Open schedule):
Thursday, Sept. 10 – 4 pm: Court 4 – Team Cash vs. Team King
Saturday, Sept. 12 – 11 am: Court 4 – Team Cash vs. Team Lendl
FLUSHING, N.Y., August 20, 2009 – The USTA announced today a series of expanded fan enhancements and programming for the 2009 US Open. This year’s Opening Night ceremony will celebrate athletes who “give back” with a special appearance by Andre Agassi and other notable athletes. Other on-court ceremonies during the tournament will pay tribute to Arthur Ashe and Pancho Gonzalez. New features at the US Open this year include the recently opened USTA Indoor Training Center that will host an array of US Open activities, hundreds of hours of US Open programming on new cable broadcasters ESPN2 and Tennis Channel, and for the first time a live reveal show of the US Open Draw on ESPNews.
Other fan enhancements include the return of SmashZone, the premier interactive fan experience in tennis, and the return of wheelchair tennis to the US Open. The USTA will host its first-ever Family Day at the US Open, with reserved family courtside seating in Louis Armstrong Stadium. Also at the 2009 US Open, the country’s Best Tennis Town will be announced on-site, and the nighttime order of play will be reformatted so the men take the court before the women during some evening sessions. Instant replay also has been added to the Grandstand, meaning the US Open will now feature the system on all three primary show courts.
The US Open Welcomes ESPN and Tennis Channel: ESPN2 will make its debut as the lead cable broadcaster for the US Open, providing approximately 100 hours of TV coverage and more than 260 hours of coverage on its signature broadband network ESPN360.com. The US Open also will have a major presence on ESPN, ESPN.com, ESPN International, ESPNews, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Mobile Properties. All action on televised courts will be presented in High Definition. Tennis Channel will provide “round the clock” coverage of the US Open in 2009, with nearly 250 hours of planned total coverage. In addition to live match coverage, Tennis Channel will bring fans up-to-speed with post-match highlight shows and next-day preview shows.
Special Opening Night Ceremony: A ceremony celebrating athletes who “give back” will feature two-time US Open champion Andre Agassi, soccer’s Mia Hamm, quarterback Doug Flutie and former San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson. The special ceremony on Arthur Ashe Stadium court also will include an appearance by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and featuremusical performances by Grammy winner Rob Thomas and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The O’Jays. The ceremony will be televised live on ESPN2.
Pancho Gonzalez Tribute: On Saturday night, September 5, special guests including actor Benjamin Bratt will host a tribute to former U.S. National Champion Pancho Gonzalez on-court in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The tribute will celebrate Gonzalez on the 60th anniversary of his second consecutive victory at the U.S. Championships and will include a video presentation highlighting Gonzalez’ life and tennis career. Gonzalez family members, as well as a number of former players and Hispanic community leaders, will be in attendance.
Arthur Ashe Court of Champions Induction: Arthur Ashe will be inducted into the US Open Court of Champions in a ceremony held Thursday evening, September 10. In 1968, Ashe won the first US Open of the Open Era. An amateur at the time, Ashe became the first African-American man to win the US Open.
25th Anniversary of Super Saturday: On Saturday, September 12, the USTA pays tribute to the first official “Super Saturday,” which took place 25 years ago. The US Open stands alone among the four majors by packaging the Men’s Singles Semifinals and the Women’s Singles Final on the second-to-last day (and evening) of the event. The first Super Saturday was the biggest blockbuster of them all, featuring some of the greatest names in tennis—including Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe, and Martina Navratilova—with all four matches on Center Court (including the men’s seniors match) going to the limit.
Live US Open Draw Reveal Show on ESPNews: For the first time ever, the US Open draw will be unveiled live from Bristol, Conn., airing uninterrupted on ESPNews from 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 27. Defending champions Roger Federer and Serena Williams will join USTA President and Chairman of the Board Lucy Garvin for a viewing ceremony at The TimesCenter in Manhattan. ESPN anchor Chris McKendry will host with Patrick McEnroe and Mary Joe Fernandez analyzing the draw.
Live Online Streaming: USOpen.org, the official website of the US Open, will offer the most extensive live streaming in the history of the event, airing all matches within the ESPN and Tennis Channel broadcast television windows. Streaming up to five matches simultaneously, US Open.org will make more than 150 matches available for free within the United States. Live streaming also will integrate live match stats updates, fan commenting and picture-in-picture capabilities.
US Open Bracket Challenge: The 2009 US Open Bracket Challenge will make its debut, allowing fans to fill out the US Open brackets online to win prizes. With separate competitions for the men’s and women’s singles draws, the participants compiling the most bracket points in each draw by the end of the tournament will win a trip to the 2010 US Open. Prizes will be awarded to the second through 10th place finishers as well. The challenge can be accessed at USOpen.org and will go live following the US Open draw unveiling ceremony, aired live on ESPNews on Thursday, August 27.
USTA Indoor Training Center: The new 245,000-square-foot indoor building near the East Gate is a state-of-the-art training facility that opened in November and will house the fan-friendly SmashZone, USTA Membership, the Heineken Light Lounge and other activities during the 2009 US Open. Featuring 12 tennis courts, locker rooms, a fitness center and a full-service pro shop, the new building increases year-round access for tennis players to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the world’s largest public tennis facility.
Family Day: The US Open is holding its first-ever Family Day on Tuesday, September 1. Parents accompanied by children 14-and-under can sit together in reserved courtside seating in Louis Armstrong Stadium. The day’s activities will feature contests, giveaways, special entertainment attractions and autograph sessions. An exclusive family breakfast, located in the Corporate Hospitality Pavilion in the Indoor Training Center, is also available as an add-on package with a previously purchased September 1 day session ticket.
SmashZone: The premier fan interactive attraction in tennis, SmashZone will return to the 2009 US Open after a three-year hiatus. Located in the Indoor Training Center, the 20,000-square-foot interactive experience features the QuickStart Tennis play format (tennis scaled to size for kids) on two courts, as well as on “Center Court” where there will be revolving programming each day, including special guest appearances, games, contests and exhibitions. Other activities include a Fast Serve Cage, “American Express Challenge a Pro,” “The Training Zone,” a state-of-the-art electronic backboard, “You Call the Shots” where fans can become sports broadcasters, and tennis video games.
American Express “Challenge a Pro:” Using interactive GreenScreen technology, fans are invited to “virtually” play against tennis pros Sam Querrey or Caroline Wozniacki on-site at the US Open “SmashZone.” A unique digital video is captured and then sent to the participant via text, MMS or email, which can also be shared with family and friends and posted to their social networks.
American Express “Rally Experience:” All tennis fans on-site will be able to take their passion for tennis into the gaming world by simultaneously engaging in a virtual tennis match using their mobile phone as a controller with pro players Shahar Peer and Gael Monfils. American Express will donate $1 to the USTA Serves Foundation for every participant that plays throughout the US Open event, up to $10,000. Players and Open attendees can watch as the number of participants is tracked along with the time of each play on a giant LED screen located in the heart of the Open.
Best TennisTown: On September 6, the much-anticipated winner of America’s Best Tennis Town will be announced on-court in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Representatives from the finalist cities of Independence, Kan.,Midland, Mich., and Ojai, Calif., will attend the US Open, with the winner receiving $100,000 for tennis programs in its local area. The nationwide call required towns to self-nominate via application form and submit a five-minute video highlighting the community’s passion for tennis. Ten cities were chosen as semifinalists and then voted on by the general public.
Kids Nightly Anthems: An instant tradition from the past two US Opens, children selected from auditions at the US Open Casting Call held at Radio City Music Hall in early June will perform in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Out of the 225 children who tried out, 15 were selected to perform. The performers hail from the New York metro area, Philadelphia,Florida, Tennessee, and New Jersey. Two singers have performed in all three US Opens and two sisters from Brooklyn, N.Y., will take the stage together.
Record Prize Money: The 2009 US Open purse will top $21.6 million, marking the third consecutive year that the tournament’s prize money has increased by $1 million. Both the men’s and women’s US Open singles champions will earn a record $1.6 million with the ability to earn an additional $1 million in bonus prize money based on their performances in the Olympus US Open Series. The top three men’s and top three women’s finishers in the Olympus US Open Series will together earn up to an additional $2.6 million in bonus prize money and be crowned at the US Open, which provides a potential total payout of $24.2 million.
Instant Replay on Grandstand: The Chase Review electronic line calling system makes its debut on Grandstand, giving the US Open instant replay on all three primary show courts. In 2006, the US Open became the first Grand Slam tournament to use electronic line calling technology, which serves as an officiating aid while increasing the excitement for in-stadium fans and TV viewers.
The Return of Wheelchair Tennis: Wheelchair tennis returns after a 2008 absence due to the Paralympic Games in Beijing. The world’s finest players will take to the courts, as eight men and eight women will compete in the Wheelchair Division in singles and doubles, while four players will take part in the Quad Division in singles and doubles (non-gender specific). Play starts on Thursday, September 10, and runs through Sunday, September 13, with a 33 percent increase in prize money over the 2007 competition. Rules of wheelchair tennis are the same as able-bodied tennis, except that the ball can bounce twice.
New Nighttime Play Format: Breaking the tradition of putting the men’s match in the second half of the nightly doubleheaders, in 2009 there will be a new gender-equality policy under the lights. This year, some evening sessions will start with a men’s match followed by a women’s match.
New Champions Invitational Format: The US Open Champions Invitational returns for its fourth year with a new design—players will compete in the popular World TeamTennis format. Players will be divided into three four-person teams, with each team playing a total of two matches from Wednesday, September 9, to Saturday, September 12. Each match consists of one set each of men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. As in past years, each of the players invited for 2009 is either a past Grand Slam singles champion or finalist. This year’s invitees include Tracy Austin, Mary Joe Fernandez, Goran Ivanisevic, Hana Mandlikova, Todd Martin, Ilie Nastase, Stan Smith, Guillermo Vilas and Mal Washington, among others. The team captains will be Pat Cash, Billie Jean King and Ivan Lendl.
Heineken Light Lounge: Adults are invited to visit the Heineken Light Lounge, located in the front of the Indoor Training Center. Fans can relax and enjoy a Heineken in the lounge featuring the Heineken Wisdom Wall and the EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis game on the Nintendo Wii system. Limited edition US Open-Heineken merchandise will be available.
US Open Gallery – International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum: Each year since 1999, the US Open Gallery features a display from the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. This year’s exhibit is themed, “The Grand Slam: Tennis’ Ultimate Achievement” and showcases the Grand Slam achievement in singles, doubles, mixed doubles and on the junior level. The exhibit will display trophies, photos and artifacts from historic calendar-year Grand Slams, including Rod Laver’s in 1969, Steffi Graf’s in 1988, the doubles Slam of Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver in 1984, as well as Stefan Edberg’s junior Grand Slam in 1983. The US Open Gallery is open daily and located in the southwest corner of Louis Armstrong Stadium.
US Open Tennis Auction: The US Open will host the first major tennis auction in North America, featuring a wide variety of tennis memorabilia including Bobby Riggs’ “Sugar Daddy” jacket from the historic 1973 Battle of the Sexes with Billie Jean King, trophies won by the legendary Bill Tilden and assorted racquets used by Jimmy Connors. The auction, hosted by the prestigious Guernsey auction house, will take place on Friday, September 11, at 2:00 p.m. and Sunday, September 13, at 11:00 a.m. in the Indoor Training Center. Bidding can take place in person or live at auctioneers.com and guernseys.com. A portion of the proceeds benefit USTA Serves, the philanthropic entity of the USTA.
Green Initiatives: The USTA is expanding its efforts this year at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in order to ensure that the US Open will register as little impact on the environment as possible. The NTC grounds will feature 500 recycling bins and all paper products will be made with 30 percent post-consumer waste. Hybrid vehicles will make up 52 percent of the Lexus player transportation fleet (up from 30 percent in 2008) and Constellation Energy, the US Open’s energy provider, will supply Renewable Energy Certificates to offset the US Open’s electricity consumption. A reusable tote bag and organic T-shirts, including one designed by Venus Williams, will be sold on the grounds and a fan awareness campaign which includes player PSAs; an additional PSA from Alec Baldwin will run throughout the tournament.
It was an historic day at Wimbledon Monday when the $225 million retractable roof was used for the first time, when it was closed for the conclusion of the women’s round of 16 match between No. 1 seed Dinara Safina and 2006 Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo. The roof stayed closed for Andy Murray’s “roof-raising” five-set, fourth-round win over Stan Wawrinka. Because the closed roof also features lights, Murray’s win also created history at SW19 as the first “night” match at The Championships and as the latest finishing match in the history of the tournament with an official 10:39 pm finish.
As for additional Wimbledon history on June 29, the following are events that will go along with Safina and Murray’s matches, as excerpted from the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennishistorybook.com). Excerpts from June 30 are also featured below.
1984 – Jimmy Connors wins his 65th men’s singles match at Wimbledon, breaking the men’s record set by Arthur W. Gore, defeating Marty Davis 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-4 in the third round. Says Connors, “It’s an honor to have won more matches at Wimbledon than any other male, but I play to win tournaments, not matches. Maybe if I’d won three more matches, I’d have won this tournament a lot more. For me, tennis is geared around two tournaments, the U.S. Open and Wimbledon. When I leave here, I go out preparing to win the next year.”
1991 – Twenty-nine-year-old Nick Brown of Great Britain scores a big upset at Wimbledon, beating 10th-seeded Goran Ivanisevic 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 in the second round. Brown, ranked No. 591 and the lowest-ranked player in the men’s championship, posts the biggest upset, based on comparative rankings, since the ATP began compiling world rankings in 1973.
1994 – Martina Navratilova sets a Wimbledon record, playing her 266th career match as she passes Billie Jean King’s record of 265 when she and Manon Bollegraf beat Ingelisa Driehuis and Maja Muric 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of women’s doubles.
1988 – In a match featuring the Wimbledon men’s singles champions from the previous three years, 1985 and 1986 Wimbledon champion Boris Becker defeats defending champion Pat Cash 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in the men’s quarterfinals. ”I watched on television and it hurt when Cash won,” Becker says of watching Cash win the 1987 title. ”My life changed after that Wimbledon. I realized I am a human being who plays tennis and that I’m beatable, and in the back of my mind, I thought that he was the one to beat to get the title back. But it is not over. This match has given me confidence but not the trophy yet.” Mats Wilander’s bid for a Grand Slam is ended as the Australian and French and Australian Open champion is defeated by Miloslav Mecir 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 in the quarterfinals. ”After the match, I was very disappointed,” Wilander says. ”I have been thinking of the Grand Slam a little bit. But I am going to get over that in a few days. I don’t think you can expect yourself to win the Slam.” Ros Fairbank nearly ends Martina Navratilova’s six-year grapple-hold on the Wimbledon women’s singles championship as she lets 4-2 leads in the second and third set slip away in a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 loss in the quarterfinals. Says Navratilova, “Several times today. I thought I was going to lose the match. I thought, ‘What a way to go. On Court 14, to Ros Fairbank, in the quarterfinals.” Says Fairbank, ”I thought about ending Martina’s streak all the time. Maybe that was my problem.”
1977 – Thirty-one-year-old Virginia Wade stuns No. 1 seed Chris Evert 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 to become the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon women’s singles final since Ann Jones won the title in 1969. An all-British Wimbledon final, however, is dashed by Holland’s Betty Stove, 32, who defeats Britain’s Sue Barker 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in the other women’s semifinal. Says Evert, “Virginia played more patiently than I did. I could see in her eyes how much she wanted to win. I just couldn’t reach deep down inside myself for what I need to win. I didn’t have it.”
1946 – Frank Parker wins the first 16 games of the match and defeats Rolando Vega 6-0, 6-0, 6-2 to help the United States to a 2-0 lead over Mexico in the Davis Cup second round in Orange, N.J. Parker, a two-time U.S. singles winner, had registered one of the three “triple bagels” in U.S. Davis Cup history in the previous round, defeating Felicisimo Ampon of the Phillippines 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 on June 14.
1977 – Bjorn Borg and Vitas Gerulaitis stage one of the great Wimbledon semifinals in the history of the event, with Borg edging out his good friend and practice partner by a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 8-6 margin. Playing as the first qualifier and youngest man in a Wimbledon semifinal, 18-year-old John McEnroe is defeated by No. 1 seed Jimmy Connors 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in McEnroe’s first major singles semifinal. Says Gerulaitis of the loss, “Maybe a couple of years ago I would have been happy just to play a match like that. But today I really wanted to win and get into the final. I didn’t let anything upset me. I had one intention and that was to win the match.”
1991 – For the first time in the 114-year history of Wimbledon, play is contested on the middle Sunday of The Championships, due to excessive rain the plagues the first week of the tournament. The tournament opens all of its seats to fans on a first come, first serve basis that creates a “People’s Sunday” as avid tennis fans, who normally do not have access to the prestigious and elite tickets, are allowed to enjoy the tennis – and do so in a carnival type atmosphere of singing, chanting, cheering and standing ovations. Derrick Rostagno and Jimmy Connors play their third round on Centre Court in front of a raucously appreciative crowd, as Rostagno follows up his second-round win over Pete Sampras by beating Connors 7-6, 6-1, 6-4, in Connors’ 101st match at Wimbledon. The most exciting match of the day comes when No. 3 seed Ivan Lendl comes from two-sets down to defeat Mal Washington 4-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in the second round.
1979 – No. 2 seed John McEnroe falls victim to Wimbledon’s infamous Graveyard Court No. 2 and No. 16 seed Tim Gullikson as the 20-year-old is defeated by Gullikson 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 in the round of 16. Says Gullikson of McEnroe, “He’s not playing nearly as well as he was. He’s not serving as well, and the whole match — just looking across the net at him all the time — he really seemed like he was unsettled. It just seemed like there were a lot of things on his mind. Maybe it’s the tremendous pressure that’s been put on him. He’s been kind of labeled as a bad boy, which he really isn’t. He’s only 20 years old, and really everybody thought he was going to win Wimbledon this year. That’s a lot of pressure on anybody, and you can’t play well all the time. There are a lot of good players out there.”
1987 – In one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the sports, Jimmy Connors trails Mikael Pernfors 6-1, 6-1, 4-1, but incredibly rallies to a 1-6, 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 round of 16 victory in 3 hours, 39 minutes.Writes Peter Alfano of the New York Times. “Connors added another page in a career that has required several volumes. The complete works of Jimmy Connors will now include what Wimbledon sages are saying was one of the more memorable matches in history, a comeback the equal of any staged here during Wimbledon’s 101 years.“ Says Connors, “I don’t think I’m surprised I won. I think I can still play. I didn’t have time to be embarrassed today. I was too busy trying to do something to win. If I didn’t want to win, I’d just lose, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1, and get off there.”
1988 – Controversy strikes the 78th meeting between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova as Evert’s cross-court forehand clips the top of the net and apparently lands on the line, only to be called out by the linesman, giving the 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 victory to Navratilova, advancing her into the Wimbledon final. After fighting off a match point in the 10th game of the final set, Evert faces triple-match point serving at 5-6 in the final set. Evert is able to fight off the first two match points, before her controversial missed forehand on the third match point. Says Evert, “But I was sure it was good and I was so happy that I just turned and walked back to the baseline. Then, I turned again and saw Martina with her hand out. I put two and two together and figured the ball was called out…Maybe it was a mixture of me hoping and seeing what I wanted to see. The umpire will rarely overrule on that kind of call. It was bad luck for me considering the match was so close.” Says Navratilova, “I cannot say that it was good or that it was out and there was nothing that I could do about it. It’s a shame it had to be like that because now, there will always be doubts in people’s minds. But we’ve never had a stranger ending in one of our matches than that.”
1983 – Thirty-nine-year-old Billie Jean King suffers her worst defeat in 110 Wimbledon singles matches as she is defeated 6-1, 6-1 in 56 minutes by 18-year-old Andrea Jaeger in the women’s singles semifinals. “She just cleaned my clock,” says King. In the other women’s semifinal, Martina Navratilova needs only 36 minutes to defeat Yvonne Vermaak of South Africa by the same 6-1, 6-1 score.
1982 –Thirty-eight-year-old Billie Jean King defeats Tracy Austin 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 for the first time in her career to advance to the semifinals of Wimbledon for a 13th time in her career. King’s achievement makes her the oldest Wimbledon women’s semifinalist since Dorthea Lambert Chambers reaches the last four in 1920 at 42.
1984 – Boris Becker’s first Wimbledon ends in injury as the 16-year-old upstart retires with torn ligaments in his left ankle in the fourth set of his match with Bill Scanlon. Becker returns to Wimbledon the next year and becomes the youngest men’s singles champion in the event’s history.
1987 – Thirty-five-year-old Jimmy Connors reaches the Wimbledon semifinal for an 11th time in his career with a 7-6, 7-5, 6-3 quarterfinal win over Slobodan Zivojinovic of Yugoslavia.
2003 – Mark Philippoussis fires 46 aces to defeat Andre Agassi 6-3, 2-6, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-4 in the round of 16 of Wimbledon.
Today, April 7, is an anniversary to forget for Pete Sampras and Mal Washington, who lost memorable Davis Cup matches ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY. The excerpts from the April 7 chapter of my book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennishistorybook.com) is excerpted below.
2000 – Pete Sampras suffers the worst Davis Cup loss of his career, losing to Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the opening day of play in the USA vs. Czech Republic Davis Cup quarterfinal at the Forum in Los Angeles. With Captain John McEnroe sitting with him courtside, Sampras is unable to break serve and fails on all 11 of his break point opportunities. Says Sampras, “I just got out played. I haven’t said that too often throughout my career, but today I ran into someone that was pretty much in the zone…It’s been a while since I felt I was getting outplayed like that. Right now I’m trying to figure out why and what happened.” Andre Agassi defeats Slava Dosedel 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to even the score at 1-1 after the first day of play.
1980 – Seventeen-year-old Tracy Austin assumes the No. 1 ranking on the WTA Tour computer – the fourth player to hold the position following Chris Evert, Evonne Goolagong and Martina Navratilova. Austin holds the ranking for two weeks, before surrendering it back to Navratilova. Ten weeks later, she again assumes the ranking for a 20 week period, before losing the ranking to Chris Evert, never to hold the ranking again.
1996 – MaliVai Washington is defeated by Petr Korda 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-2 in the fifth and decisive match as the Czech Republic regisers a 3-2 Davis Cup quarterfinal win in Prague over the United States, playing without its top four players – Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang and Jim Courier. Washington is unable to convert two set points with Korda serving at 4-5 in the first set, which ultimately proves critical in the loss. ‘When you win that first set, it changes the whole complexion of the match,” Washington says after the match. ”If I could have won that first set, it would have been a lot different.” Earlier in the day, Todd Martin evens the series at 2-2 by routing Daniel Vacek 7-6 (1), 6-3, 6-1 in a flawless display as the American never loses his serve and during one incredible stretch in the first and second sets wins 34 consecutive points on his serve, including seven straight love service games. Says Vacek to Martin at the conclusion of the match, “Just how much should I pay you for the lesson?”
1996 – In her 10th appearance, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario defeats Barbara Paulus 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 to finally win her first title at the Family Circle Magazine Cup in Hilton Head Island, S.C. Says Sanchez Vicario, “I was coming every year, hoping to do a little better than the year before. Finally, the 10th time has been the one.”
Rafael Nadal won the BNP Paribas Open men’s singles at Indian Wells, California, USA, beating Andy Murray 6-1 6-2
Vera Zvonareva beat Ana Ivanovic 7-6 (5) 6-2 to win the BNP Paribas Open women’s singles at Indian Wells, California
Robin Soderling won the BMW Tennis Championships, beating Tomas Berdych 6-1 6-1 in Sunrise, Florida, USA
Horacio Zeballos beat Santiago Gonzalez 7-6 (3) 6-0 to win the Bancolombia Open in Bogota, Colombia
Marcos Daniel beat Lamine Ouahab 4-6 7-5 6-2 to win the Marrakech Challenger in Marrakech, Morocco
Pete Sampras beat Patrick Rafter 7-6 (6) 6-4 to capture the Del Mar Development Champions Cup in Los Cabos, Mexico
“A win here is amazing, another victory at the start of the season. It was a dream for me to win the Australian Open and now here. I love playing here.” – Rafael Nadal, after beating Andy Murray to win the BNP Paribas Open.
“It’s amazing, and a great feeling to win such a big event. I’ve been watching this tournament since I was a kid, you know. It’s been on television back home for so many years. It’s basically one of the biggest events after the majors.” – Vera Zvonareva, who won the BNP Paribas Open women’s singles.
“Honestly, it was the toughest conditions I ever played in. It was very, very windy and it wasn’t much about the game and a game plan today. It was just who can handle the conditions better and who can stay mentally tougher through it. Today she did. She played really well.” – Ana Ivanovic, after losing to Vera Zvonareva in the title match.
“It’s just one of those days when you really don’t feel comfortable on the court. I just didn’t have any momentum. No feel for the ball, no movement, no solutions.” – Novak Djokovic, after losing to Andy Roddick.
“I don’t think he had his best day by any means.” – Andy Roddick, after beating defending champion Novak Djokovic.
“He’s a big favorite and anything that happens to me, it’s all positive. It’s been a while since I didn’t play without that pressure. I feel like I’m 18 again without anything to lose.” – Ivan Ljubicic, before losing to Andy Murray at Indian Wells, California.
“I’m not thinking about this, because if it comes, it comes. If I play like this, definitely it will not come.” – Dinara Safina, on her chances of becoming number one in the world.
“It was only fair. He carried me for three sets. I only had to carry him for about five seconds.” – Andy Roddick, after Mardy Fish jumped on his back following their victory over Andy Ram and Max Mirnyi in the doubles final in Indian Wells.
“We’re both emotional. It’s just the way we are. … We want to win so bad. We want to be so much better that sometimes we just probably expect too much from ourselves. But I think you have to be emotional on the court. Otherwise I don’t think it’s fun.” – Victoria Azarenka, after teaming with Vera Zvonareva to win the women’s doubles in Indian Wells, California.
“Tonight we are here to celebrate. Celebrate our accomplishments, celebrate the Tour’s current success, and of course, celebrate its bright future, which now includes the establishment of the Tour Alumnae & Friends Program. This is a welcome addition to an association that is continually evolving. Let us continue the fun, reconnect with friends and celebrate all that has been achieved over the last 35 years.” – Billie Jean King, speaking at Indian Wells.
“It’s an elegant game that you can watch in every country. It’s a worldwide sport I’m in awe watching.” – Michele Sicard, head of BNP Paribas corporate communications in North America, talking about tennis, a sport she doesn’t play.
Pakistan has been forced to give up its right to stage its Davis Cup tie against the Philippines because of security fears in the wake of an attack on Sri Lanka’s cricket team. The Asia/Oceania Zone Group II competition was scheduled to be played July 10-12 in Lahore, Pakistan. But the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has moved the tie out of Pakistan. Three of the five Filipino players, including Cecil Mamiit, are dual US-Philippine citizens and Philippine Lawn Tennis Association vice president Randy Villanueva feared they may be targeted because they carry American passports. Rashid Khan, secretary of the Pakistan Tennis Federation, called for the series to be held in a third country.
Rafael Nadal ended up winning yet another title, but getting past the fourth round was a struggle for the world’s number one player. Nadal had to save five match points before beating David Nalbandian 3-6 7-6 (5) 6-0 in Indian Wells, California. Nalbandian had four match points at 5-3 in the second set and another on his own serve at 5-4. But Nadal survived to beat Nalbandian, snapping a two-match losing streak to the Argentine. “I didn’t go to the match with a clear idea of how to play,” Nadal said. “I was scared about his backhand and it was a mistake. I played too much to his forehand and he killed me.” Nadal ended the week by besting Andy Murray in the title match.
The new president of the Romanian Tennis Federation is 38-year-old Ruxandra Dragomir, who played on the WTA Tour for a number of years. She succeeds Dumitru Haradau, who became the vice-regent president of the federation after Ilie Nastase resigned. During her playing career, Dragomir won four singles and five doubles titles. Her highest ranking was 15th in the world in August of 1997. In 2001 she suffered a major ankle injury, which ultimately resulted in ending her career.
By reaching the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open, Victoria Azarenka continued her strong move up the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings. She became only the second player from Belarus to crack the top ten, joining Natasha Zvereva in that rarified ranking. Azarenka won the first two titles of her career earlier this season, at Brisbane, Australia, and Memphis, Tennessee. And while Azarenka lost to eventual champion Vera Zvonareva in the semifinals, she didn’t come away from Indian Wells without a title. She teamed with Zvonareva to win the doubles, besting Gisela Dulko and Shahar Peer 6-4 3-6 10-5 in the final.
SKIPPING MONTE CARLO
Roger Federer will miss the Monte Carlo Masters where Rafael Nadal will be going after his record fifth consecutive title. “Roger already told me some time ago that he had to renounce to play in our tournament because of a change in his clay season’s schedule,” tournament director Zljko Franulovic. A three-time finalist at Monte Carlo, Federer could still ask for a last-minute wild card if he changes his mind. Last year, Nadal beat Federer in the final. Also missing from the field will be American Andy Roddick.
STILL NUMBER TWO
Dinara Safina failed in her bid to overtake Serena Williams and climb into the number one spot in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings. The Russian would have moved to the top of the rankings had she reached the final of the BPN Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California. Instead, she lost to eighth-seeded Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals 6-7 6-1 6-3. Safina’s aggressive all-round game was the reason she moved up in the rankings in the past year. But she says she has gotten away from that in recent weeks. “I played three rounds before and I was struggling with every player that I’m playing,” Safina said. “With everyone I played, they were either serving for the set or had set points. I have to finally start playing my game, because I’m not playing it. Since Australia, I’m playing defensive, and it’s not me. I just want to play aggressive.”
SEEING IS UNBELIEVING
Even the Hawk-Eye system was against Ivan Ljubicic on his 30th birthday. The big-serving Croat was playing Andy Murray in a quarterfinal match at Indian Wells when a shot by Murray landed just outside the line. “I didn’t play the ball because it was clearly out,” Ljubicic said later. Murray, however, challenged the line call and everyone seemed surprised when Hawk-Eye showed the ball was good. “The (Hawk-Eye) operator showed a second bounce instead of the first,” Ljubicic said. “It’s just human error, and it’s frustrating when you see such a clear mistake. We really wanted to take control of the human error with that machine, and then you have a human error of the operator who is controlling that machine. It’s a strange situation.” Murray, who ended up winning the match, agreed. “Obviously I got pretty lucky,” Murray said. “Supposedly he (the operator) took the second bounce of the ball, which obviously landed on the line. So it wasn’t the technology problem. It was sort of human error, which can happen with line calls. But I don’t think it had a huge bearing on the outcome or the result.”
Teenager Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is showing her triumphs as a junior was a harbinger of things to come. The Russian battled her way to the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, knocking off second-seeded Jelena Jankovic and seventh-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska before losing to defending champion Ana Ivanovic. It was the first WTA Tour semifinal berth for Pavlyuchenkova, who won three junior Grand Slam tournament titles.
Robin Soderling made a loss pay off. After losing his first-round match at Indian Wells, California, Soderling flew to Sunrise, Florida, fought his way through qualifying and eventually won the BMW Tennis Championship title. But in the second set of his quarterfinal match, Soderling smashed his racquet and drew a third conduct warning and game penalty to trail 1-3. Although the Swede won his fourth career title, his temper almost knocked him out of the Challenger event. When he missed a backhand pass down the line in the first-set tiebreak, he belted the ball out of the stadium for violation number one. He received another ball abuse penalty before he slammed his racquet to the court for the third violation and game penalty.
More than 100 guests attended a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Alumnae Reunion Celebration in Indian Wells, including Hall of Famers Billie Jean King, Tracy Austin and Rosie Casals. Others in attendance included Lindsay Davenport, Pam Shriver, Mima Jausovec, Mary Joe Fernandez and Diane Desfor Stadler. King honored another Hall of Famer, journalist Bud Collins, as the reporter most interested in women’s tennis and truly promoting it. Casals also spoke at the event, which also reflected on the progress made by women’s tennis since the 1970s, and the recent awarding of equal prize money at all four Grand Slam tournaments.
Women’s tennis once again has to deal with sexual identity on the courts. Sara Gronert, a 22-year-old from Germany, was born with born male and female genitalia, but underwent surgery to become female both legally and physically. That hasn’t stopped some coaches, players and officials from charging that she seems unnaturally strong for a woman and questioning whether she would be allowed to compete against women. “There is no girl who can hit serves like that, not even Venus Williams,” Schlomo Tzoref said after Gronert upset Julia Glushko, whom Tzoref coaches. Gronert has won two USD $10,000 International Tennis Federation tournaments, one in Israel, the other in Germany. Since her last title, she has lost in two USD $10,000 ITF events in France. In the late 1970s Renee Richards became the first reassigned female to play on the women’s tour after a New York Supreme Court ruled in her favor. Richards, then known as Richard Raskin, had played on the Yale University men’s tennis team before undergoing a sex change operation.
When Pete Sampras beat Patrick Rafter to win the Del Mar Development Champions Cup in Los Cabos, Mexico, he also overtook John McEnroe as the top-ranked player on the Outback Champion Series. It wasn’t easy for Sampras as he fought off two set points in the opening set, including at 5-6 in the first-tie tiebreaker. It was Sampras’ second tournament title this season on the Outback Champions Series and his fifth career title on the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over.
It was a rough day for Mashona Washington. She and partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands lost their doubles match at the BNP Paribas Open. Later the same day, Washington was arrested on suspicion of felony vandalism, according to the Riverside Count Sheriff’s Department. The 32-year-old Washington is scheduled to be arraigned on May 14 in Indian Wells, California. According to authorities, a felony vandalism charge is specific to damage estimated at USD $5,000 or more. Washington, who has been ranked as high as 50th in the world, was released on USD $5,000 bail. Mashona Washington is the sister of 1996 Wimbledon runnerup MaliVai Washington.
Mario Ancic switched from his tennis clothes in Indian Wells to his lawyer garb at Harvard University. Ancic spoke to students at Harvard Law School about the business side of tennis. Ancic received his law degree from the University of Split in his native Split, Croatia. His 90-minute lecture and question-and-answer session at Harvard was based on his thesis describing the “legal foundation and organization of the ATP Tour.” “I had given a couple of speeches before in Croatian, so it was a little more challenging delivering it in English, but I was prepared and I was really happy with the way it went.” Ancic said.
A five-person Class of 2009 will be inducted into the USTA New England Hall of Fame on June 6 in a ceremony in Newport, Rhode Island. This year’s inductees are Peter Allen, Jules Cohen, Avis Murray, Jean Osachuk and Aileen Smith Eleey. Murray is a USPTA Master Professional who has held the number one rankings in both the United States Tennis Association and the USPTA.
Indian Wells (men): Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick beat Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram 3-6 6-1 14-12 (match tiebreak)
Indian Wells (women): Victoria Azarenka and Vera Zvonareva beat Gisela Dulko and Shahar Peer 6-4 3-6 10-5 (match tiebreak)
Sunrise: Eric Butorac and Bobby Reynolds beat Jeff Coetzee and Jordan Kerr 5-7 6-4 10-4 (match tiebreak)
Bogota: Sebastian Prieto and Horacio Zeballos beat Alexander Peya and Fernando Vicente 4-6 6-1 11-9 (match tiebreak)
Marrakech: Ruben Ramirez Hildago and Santiago Ventura beat Alberto Martin and Daniel Munoz-De La Nava 6-3 7-6 (5)
SITES TO SURF
Bethanie Mattek-Sands: www.bmattek.com.
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (first week)
$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (first week)
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (second week)
$116,000 Napoli, Italy, clay
$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (second week)
VERONA, N.Y. – In celebrating the grand opening of the Tennis Dome at the Sportsplex, Turning Stone Resort • Casino will be hosting their first professional event. Four former world No. 1 players – John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Tracy Austin and Anna Kournikova – will compete in a “Legendary Night” to be held Saturday, May 2 at 7pm at the Turning Stone Event Center.
The legendary night of tennis will consist of a grudge match between McEnroe and Courier in singles followed by a mixed doubles match of McEnroe and Austin against Courier and Kournikova.
Tickets for a “Legendary Night” are priced at $35 – $100 and are available by calling the Turning Stone Box Office at 361.SHOW or toll free at 1.877.833.SHOW. The Turning Stone Box Office is open daily from 10am to 8pm. Tickets can also be purchased at any Ticketmaster location or online at ticketmaster.com. Overnight accommodation packages can be purchased by calling 1.800.771.7711.
For those who really want to get into the experience, Pro-Am clinics will take place within the Tennis Dome located at the Turning Stone Sportsplex. Clinics will consist of a 50 minute session with the players rotating into mixed doubles with the professionals.
“We are very excited to host some of the biggest stars in the history of tennis at our first ever tennis event at Turning Stone,” said Brian Galle, Tennis Club Manager/Head Professional at Turning Stone Resort • Casino. “We feel as though this very special evening of tennis is another excellent way to showcase the Turning Stone Resort as a premier entertainment destination.”
McEnroe and Courier will be competing for the first time in the state of New York since Courier ended McEnroe’s Grand Slam singles career in the fourth round of the 1992 US Open. The former U.S. Davis Cup teammates are both residents of New York City and current rivals on the Outback Champions Series global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over.
McEnroe is regarded as one of the biggest personalities and one of the most talented players in the history of the sport. During his illustrious career, he won three Wimbledon titles (1981, 1983 and 1984) and four U.S. Open singles titles (1979, 1980, 1981, 1984) and finished as the No. 1 player in the world four consecutive years from 1981 to 1984. He captured 155 career titles (77 singles, 78 doubles) and helped the United States win five Davis Cup titles. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999.
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.
Kournikova is one of the most popular female players in the history of the sport and was the world’s No. 1 ranked doubles player in 1999. She was a semifinalist at Wimbledon in 1997, becoming just the second woman along with Chris Evert to reach that level in her first appearance at the All-England Club. She was ranked as high as No. 8 in the world in singles and won 16 career WTA doubles titles including two at the Australian Open, teaming with Martina Hingis in 1999 and 2002.
Austin won the first of her two U.S. Open titles in 1979 at the age of 16 years 9 months, becoming the youngest player to ever win the U.S. national title. She prevailed again two years later in 1981, defeating Martina Navratilova in a final-set tie-breaker in the championship match. Austin won 30 singles titles and was ranked No. 1 in the world for 21 weeks. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1992.
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 danceclub 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.