NEW HAVEN, Conn., April 26, 2012 â€“ American No. 2 Christina McHale has committed to play the 2012 New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, a WTA event that is part of the Emirates Airline US Open Series to be held August 17-25, 2012 at the Connecticut Tennis Center, it was announced today by Tournament Director Anne Worcester.
The teenager from Englewoods Cliffs, New Jersey has had a great start to 2012, recording a win over reigning Wimbledon champion and World No. 3 Petra Kvitova, amassing an undefeated record for the United States in Fed Cup play, and reaching a career-high ranking of No. 32 in the world. Last year as a wildcard at the New Haven Open, McHale beat two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in her run to the quarterfinals. Just two weeks prior, McHale became the lowest-ranked player to defeat world No. 1 and four-time New Haven Open champion Caroline Wozniacki in all of 2011.
â€œWe are thrilled to have Christina return to play at the New Haven Open,â€ said Worcester. â€œShe is a rising American star who has climbed more than 70 spots in the WTA rankings over the past year. She is another example of how the stars of tomorrow annually shine at the New Haven Open.â€
On Thursday, McHale demonstrated what it takes to be a top tennis player to 300 New Haven first and second graders in the 11th annual First Niagara Tennis Play Day (formerly the Free Lesson), introducing many of them to the sport and showing them the importance of fitness in their lives through fun, low pressure play. The kids were also encouraged to continue playing tennis by signing up for affordable summer programs offered by New Haven Parks & Rec. To date, more than 5,000 New Haven kids have participated in these year-round tennis programs which offer a safe place to play, academic support and mentoring, as well as competitive tennis opportunities to children and youth throughout New Haven.
As an added incentive for the kids to continue playing tennis, First Niagara will be donating tennis equipment including age-appropriate tennis balls and nets to all nine participating elementary schools: Davis, Sheriden, Troup, Barnard, Truman, Martinez, Edgewood, Fairhaven and St. Aedan/St. Brendan.
â€œFirst Niagara is pleased to offer tennis equipment to these New Haven elementary schools,â€ said First Niagara Regional President David Ring. â€œWe are dedicated to the local communities in which we live and work, and giving back to these young members of our community is just one way First Niagara is able to help fulfill its commitment to corporate social responsibility.â€
Previous pros leading the First Niagara Tennis Play Day include World No. 11 John Isner, Connecticut native Thomas Blake, former ATP pro Taylor Dent, General Manager of USTA Player Development Patrick McEnroe, former US Olympic coach Zina Garrison and past WTA professionals Mashona Washington and Alexandra Stevenson.
About New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara has always been much more than a tennis tournament; it is a leading example of leveraging a large-scale international sporting event to generate $26 million in regional economic impact and to build community pride, spirit and engagement, especially among youth. The 2011 tournament featured World No. 1 and now four-time defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, and three Grand Slam champions Li Na, Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova. The womenâ€™s-only WTA event is part of the Olympus US Open Series and will be held August 17-25, 2012 at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale. The New Haven Open is prominently featured domestically on ESPN2 and also broadcast around the world. For more information about the tournament and tickets, visit www.newhavenopen.com