venus and serena

RODDICK TALKS WORLD TEAM TENNIS

Andy Roddick will play World Team Tennis for a sixth season this summer when he represents the Philadelphia Freedoms. Roddick, a Wimbledon finalist in 2009, talks to Harry Cicma, host of the New England Sports Network (NESN) television show “World Tennis with Harry Cicma” about his history of playing for the U.S.-based co-ed tennis league founded by Hall of Famer Billie Jean King in this video.

“World Tennis With Harry Cicma” is airing for a second season on the New England Sports Network (NESN) this year with five new shows that air on the third Saturday of each month from May through September. The thirty-minute television show with television personality Harry Cicma, features interviews and stories from the world of tennis, including one-on-one interviews with such stars as Venus and Serena Williams, Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters, John McEnroe, Ana Ivanovic and others.  In addition, the show will be available globally on the internet at www.WorldTennisMagazine.com and on the WorldTennisMagazine YouTube channel following its airing on NESN.

The New England Sports Network (NESN) is the flagship station for both the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins and is available on New England cable systems and nationally (in both standard definition and high definition through satellite TV providers DirectTV (Channel 628) and Dish Network (Channel 434). The Red Sox are a co-founder and majority owner (80 percent) of NESN with the Bruins owning the remaining 20 percent. NESN is delivered to over four million homes throughout New England and consistently receives higher ratings of any other national or regional sports channels in the region combined.

THE U.S. FED CUP DILEMMA: WINNING or LOYALTY?

By Blair Henley

The U.S. Fed Cup team pulled off an impressive win over Russia last Sunday – without the Williams sisters.

A roster spot was left open for Venus or Serena, should one of them be healthy enough to play, but both withdrew from the contest just days before it began. Though they both cited lingering knee injuries, their failure over the years to consistently represent the United States has frustrated many American tennis supporters. It’s no surprise that fans are calling for team captain, Mary Joe Fernandez, to stick with this weekend’s winning trio of Melanie Oudin, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Liezel Huber for the final against Italy in November. If this were a sport that offered bonus points for loyalty, I would immediately jump on that bandwagon. Too bad that’s not the case. Fernandez needs to assemble the team with the best possible chance of winning the Cup, even if that means ousting one or more of the gutsy players who got them there.

The unlikely heroine against Russia was none other than world No. 128 Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who is often recognized more for her outrageous wardrobe choices than for her notable play. Though her stellar performance on the final day of competition helped seal a 3-2 victory for the U.S. team, she and Melanie Oudin, currently ranked No. 31, would certainly be underdogs against Italy’s more experienced singles tandem of Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone, ranked No. 15 and No. 17 respectively.

Look, it’s not like the U.S. team has multiple options. If Venus and Serena do not make themselves available for the final (they didn’t last year and the team went on to get crushed by Italy), it seems reasonable to keep the roster as it is. But if, by miraculous chance, the sisters are willing and healthy, denying them a spot on the team would be like fighting a war with sling shots when machine guns are readily available.

Not surprisingly, Oudin doesn’t agree with that reasoning. When asked who she thought should play against Italy, her answer was clear: “The people that have gotten us there.”

“I think that is the fairest thing to do,” she went on to say. “You should have enough faith in that team to be able to bring them to the finals.”

Would that be fair? Yes. Would that be smart? No. Oudin’s answer, though undoubtedly stemming from an admirable desire to represent her country, is a bit shortsighted. She lost singles matches to both Pennetta and Schiavone in last year’s final. I would hope she would want Fernandez to send the team most capable of victory.

What people seem to be missing here is that the contribution of Oudin, Mattek-Sands and Huber would by no means be invalidated if that same team did not play for the title. The fight they showed against a formidable Russian team is, after all, the reason the Americans have a chance for the championship in the first place. The relatively small percentage of people who actually pay attention to Fed Cup results aren’t going to forget that.

It’s been ten years since the United States last brought home a Fed Cup title. Mary Joe Fernandez would be wise to do everything in her power to win another one with Venus and Serena before they decide to retire altogether. There’s no shame in that.

Tennis great Jack Kramer dies at 88: This Week in Tennis Business

From tennis legend Jack Kramer passing away at the age of 88 to a possible Justine Henin press conference this week to announce her comeback to US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro earning a winner’s paycheck of $1.6 million plus an additional $250,000 for finishing third in the Olympus US Open Series to Serena Williams being fined $10,500 for her outburst during her semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters at the US Open, these stories caught the attention of tennis fans and insiders this week.

  • Tennis legend and the first executive director of the ATP Tour, Jack Kramer passed away at the age of 88 on Saturday at his Los Angeles home. Kramer, who won Wimbledon in 1947 and the U.S. Championships in 1946 and 1947, was the top ranked player in the world for most of the late 1940’s. “Jack Kramer was truly one of the greats of the game and was instrumental in the growth and development of the sport in so many ways, both on and off the court,” said ATP Executive Chairman and President Adam Helfant. “He was like a father figure to so many in tennis and his wisdom, enthusiasm and advice will be sadly missed. On behalf of everybody at the ATP, I would like to pass on our sincere condolences to his family.”

  • According to Belgian television station RTBF, former world No. 1 Justine Henin has ordered 14 racquets and may hold a press conference as early as this week to announce her return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

  • By winning the US Open men’s singles title on Monday evening, Juan Martin del Potro earned a winner’s paycheck of $1.6 million plus an additional $250,000 for finishing third in the Olympus US Open Series. Women’s champion Kim Clijsters earned a winner’s paycheck of $1.6 million. Men’s doubles champions Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy and women’s doubles champions Venus and Serena Williams each split a winner’s paycheck of $420,000. Mixed doubles champions Travis Parrott and Carly Gullickson spilt the winner’s paycheck of $150,000.

  • Serena Williams was fined the maximum $10,000 by the US Open for unsportsmanlike conduct following her tirade during her semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters. Williams was also fined $500 for racquet abuse during her loss. The Grand Slam Committee is currently looking into the incident and could force more fines and a suspension.

  • Writing on her official website, Serena Williams says, “I want to amend my press statement of yesterday, and want to make it clear as possible – I want to sincerely apologize FIRST to the lines woman, Kim Clijsters, the USTA, and tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst.” “I’m a woman of great pride, faith and integrity, and I admit when I’m wrong.  I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately and it’s not the way to act — win or lose, good call or bad call in any sport, in any manner. I like to lead by example.  We all learn from experiences both good and bad, I will learn and grow from this, and be a better person as a result.”

  • US Open officials announced that they are ready to start developing plans to build a roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium but the final decision on when and if they actually will build a roof is a little bit away. The estimated cost to build a roof would be around $100 million. “We are substantially farther along the road of consideration than we were six months ago,” said Gordon Smith, Executive Director of the USTA. “It will be some time before there’s any decision made on whether or not to go forward with the roof.”

  • According to a study by Barclays and Professor Tom Cannon of the University of Liverpool, the British economy has increased by $405 million (UK) because of Andy Murray’s recent rise to No. 2 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. With Murray’s popularity rising at a fast pace, people are spending lots of money on everything from equipment to advertising to sponsorship. Cannon also mentioned in his study that the $1 billion (UK) spending gap between tennis and golf will soon close.

  • A LeRoy Neiman watercolor painting of Serena and Venus Williams, that was expected to be sold around $60,000, received no bids during a recent US Open auction in New York. The proceeds of some of the other items benefited USTA Serves, which funds community tennis programs and college scholarships.

  • Melanie Oudin’s magical run to the quarterfinals at the US Open was a ratings winner for ESPN2. About 2,324,000 viewers tuned in during Oudin’s loss to Caroline Wozniacki. The night before during the Venus Williams vs. Flavia Pennetta match and Rafael Nadal vs. Gael Monfils match, 2,128,000 viewers tuned in to watch.

  • BackOffice Associates, LLC, has announced that Melanie Oudin has signed a multi-year promotional partnership. BackOffice Associates, LLC, is the world leader in SAP data quality.

  • The organizers of the Shanghai ATP Masters 1000 presented by Rolex are giving fans the opportunity to vote on which trophy they would like to see presented to the tournament champion. Malaysian manufacturer, Royal Selangor, has created three trophies that fans can vote for on the official tournament website. Each person who votes for the trophy will be signed up for a chance to win a trip to Malaysia to see the trophy being made.

  • At the recent Legends Ball held at the Cipriani on 42nd Street in New York City, the following awards were given:

      • Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon received the Joseph F. Cullman III award.

      • Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe accepted the Eugene L. Scott award for her husband, the late Arthur Ashe.

      • Martina Navratilova earned the Danzig award.

      • Fred Stolle received the Johnston award.

  • More than $130,000 was raised during a silent auction at the Legends Ball. $18,000 was raised for a hitting session with Monica Seles, $6,000 for a hitting session with Jim Courier and $15,000 for a men’s and women’s finals travel package to Wimbledon.

  • Roger Rasheed, coach of Gael Monfils, and Vlado Platenik, coach of Dominika Cibulkova, are spearheading a new organization called, Tour Level Tennis Coaches Association, to support coaches and trainers by offering them benefits, forms of insurance, financial services, job training and mentoring.

  • On September 11, CNN’s Tony Harris and Natalie Morales of The Today Show on NBC hosted a Breaking the Barriers reception to honor the National Junior Tennis League on the 40th anniversary of its founding by Arthur Ashe.

  • Rafael Nadal will not play Davis Cup this weekend for Spain’s semifinal tie against Israel due to an abdominal injury. Juan Carlos Ferrero will take Nadal’s spot on the roster.

  • Roger Federer is scheduled to compete for Switzerland this weekend during their World Group Playoff match against Italy.

  • Andy Murray announced that he is fit to participate this weekend in Great Britain’s Davis Cup Zonal tie against Poland.

  • ATP World Tour CEO Adam Helfant said the tour is looking into an All-Star event for the players that will happen right before the Indian Wells Masters 1000 event. “We’ve talked to our players about it and our players are excited about it and committed to it,” said Helfant.

  • According to the Melbourne Herald Sun, former Australian tennis star Mark Philippoussis has sold his family house in Australia to pay off an outstanding mortgage. Philippoussis is still being sought out by American tax authorities for $500,000.

Terrorist Raids Near US Open

Federal officials from the Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York conducted two raids in two separate apartments – just blocks from the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York – early Monday, the same day of the conclusion of the 2009 US Open.

Officials raided apartments on 144-67 41st Avenue and on 146th Avenue in Flushing after they had been visited by a suspected associate of Al Qaeda over the weekend. The normal high security at the U.S. Open was noticeably increased on the final day of the tournament Monday, with increased police presence on subway lines going to and from the tournament and on the streets surrounding Arthur Ashe Stadium

No arrests were made in the raids and no weapons or explosives were found. Senator Charles Schumer of New York said the raids were preventative. According to the New York Times, the raids occurred after a man of Afghan descent under surveillance because of suspected Al Qaeda ties visited New York City over the weekend and then left.

The 2009 U.S. Open was scheduled to conclude on Sunday, Sept. 13, but rains on Friday and Saturday pushed play to Monday, where Juan Martin del Potro defeated Roger Federer in five sets to win the men’s singles title. Earlier in the day, Venus and Serena Williams won the women’s doubles championship over Liezel Huber and Cara Black.