2014/11/23

James Blake Hosts Foundation Event at Brooks Brothers; Discusses His Own Tennis Future

James Blake and Brooks Brothers CEO Claudio Del Vecchio

James Blake and Brooks Brothers CEO Claudio Del Vecchio

(November 13, 2014) NEW YORK, NY – Former top American tennis player and world No. 4 James Blake played host to a kick-off “Serving for a Cure” shopping event at the Brooks Brothers flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York City on Thursday night to benefit his foundation.

Blake’s foundation raises funds for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, specifically the Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Research Fund, which supports early detection cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Blake began “Serving for a Cure” in 2005 a year after he lost his father Thomas to cancer. The fund is named after his father.

Blake talked about the beginning of his foundation: “I wanted to do something one time as a memorial for him, and it turned out that the support I had that first year made me feel that I couldn’t stop at one. It’s been going strong ever since and now it feels like it’s never going to stop which is a really good thing and I’m proud of it. We passed the million dollar donation mark to Memorial Sloane Kettering.

“My father unfortunately was detected so late, but once he was a patient at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, he said it was like night and day. The treatment there was great, the research was unbelievable. They tried everything they could and we just want to give everyone a fighting chance. That’s why our research for early detection, we want give people a chance to beat the disease.”

In addition to his own philanthropic endeavors, the current Westport, Connecticut resident, commented on how dedicated players on the ATP Tour are to charity.

James Blake

“It’s kind of like the spirit of community,” said Blake. “We’re all in the same locker room together. We’re all not really part of the same team, like in team sports but it feels like it. We see what the others are doing and we see the example set at the top especially. Some of the older guys when I was growing up. -I saw (Andre) Agassi, I saw (Pete) Sampras, a lot of guys who were doing right by the rest of the world. It made me think that I’d want to do the same.

“Once something so personal hit my family, it made me realize I can make a difference in a positive way, because most of our lives as a tennis player are selfish. We’re playing tennis and doing it for ourselves.”

“I hope the young guys – the Sam Querrey’s , the John Isner’s, the Jack Sock’s, the Donald Young’s, they want to make difference too whatever way they can,” Blake continued.

Since Blake’s retirement from the tennis tour in 2013, he still is active in tennis in one form or another.

“Well I helped Jack sock a little bit,” he said. “I also have stayed close with the USTA and with Katrina Adams becoming the new president. I’m proud of her and hopefully I’ll be able to be part of the staff soon if that comes to be we’ll see. But right now I’m mainly focusing on my family, being at home and spending a lot of time with two little girls, that definitely keeps me pretty busy.”

Blake admitted that he likes coaching but there are some drawbacks.

“I like it but I don’t like to travel, I don’t like being on the road 30 weeks out of the year like I was when I was playing,” he said.

“So in terms of Jack (Sock) I just helped him with some of the bigger picture stuff- to be able to talk to him on the phone and helping keep his mind set the right way, because he’s got a full time coach, I don’t want to interfere with that, I’m not dealing with the X’s and O’s, strokes and stuff. I’m more of a mentor and a friend, someone that’s going to be a sounding board for him.

“He’s going through a lot of stuff I was going through at his age, so I just want to be that resource that can help him. If I can do that for others, that would be something in the future that I’d be proud to be a part of. I went through it all and hopefully have others have that knowledge as well.”

Blake who was a member of the 2007 Davis Cup championship team told Tennis Panorama News that down the line he’d like to be the U. S. Davis Cup Captain. “I thought about it the first time I played Davis Cup,” he said. “I would love to have that opportunity and it’s something that’s such an honor. Jim’s (Courier) doing a great job. I know it won’t be for a long time to get a chance because I know Jim’s got a pretty good handle on it. There would be no reason to make a change anytime soon. Hopefully I have plenty more years to have that opportunity and if it ever comes my way, I won’t pass it up, that’s for sure.”

Blake had the opportunity to be in the broadcast booth for Tennis Channel as an analyst in February 2013 when the U. S. played a first round Davis Cup tie against Brazil in Jacksonville, Florida.

“I thought it was going to be much more natural than it was,” said of the transition to working on television.

“I worked with Brett Haber, who is a true professional ad he really helped me. I got better through the weekend.”

“The biggest thing was when to talk and when not to talk, because I felt like I needed to say more and he said it was ok to let the tennis do the talking, that actually made it easy for me to get better and just let the players do the talking on the court. I was getting better. It still feels there is a lot more work for me to get to anyone’s level like Bret Haber, John McEnroe and the people who have been doing it for years, but it’s something that’s fun and I think it helps me that I played again most of the guys I’m commentating on, so I don’t need to do as much work on the scouting reports I’ve already done that.”

 

Blake entertains doing more television work in the future. “It’s something that was fun the first few times I did it. I think it would be great to stay close to the sport. It may give me an opportunity to stay involved as it gets closer to a time if I have the opportunity to be Davis cup captain butt it is a good way to stay involved. It may be tough for me to stay objective. I maybe have a few favorites especially with the Americans. I like to see them doing well but I have to do my best to stay objective, just commentate on the facts.”

 

Brooks Brothers is a new sponsor for “Serving for a Cure.” “I’m really happy to be affiliated with a company with such a great tradition as Brooks Brothers. You see them at a lot of classic events, I know tennis and golf are known for that kind of classic feel and Brooks Brothers really brings that to the table.”

“When we met with James we were quite impressed with all that he’s accomplished,” said Claudio Del Vecchio, Chairman & CEO of Brooks Brothers. “It’s the same passion and dedication he shows on court that he brings to a cause that is so near to his heart.  Together we are helping to make a difference in the fight against cancer.”
Click here for more information on the James Blake Foundation.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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Inaugural Serena Williams Ultimate RUN South Beach to Take place on December 14

Serena Williams ultimate run

(November 13, 201) World No. 1 and 18-time major champion  Serena Williams got to watch first-hand as friend and tennis competitor Caroline Wozniacki finished the New York City Marathon. Now it’s Williams turn to run a race. She will join running enthusiasts from South Florida and around the country for the inaugural Serena Williams Ultimate RUN South Beach, taking place on Sunday, December 14th. The Quarter Marathon (6.55 miles), 5K Run/Walk and Ultimate KIDS Dash will bring together runners of all ages and abilities to support the Serena Williams Fund, which provides assistance to families affected by violent crimes and providing underprivileged youth around the world with the highest quality of education available to them. Registration for each event is now open at www.TheUltimateRun.com.

“Miami is very close to my heart — I’ve lived and trained here throughout my career — and it’s such an electric and diverse city,” said Williams. “I really hope Miami will come out to support this fun event and run with me to help youth in need, so that they’re able to thrive and live fulfilling lives.”

On Sunday, December 14th, famed Ocean Drive will be closed to traffic for the Ultimate RUN’s scenic start and finish lines. The course will take runners through Miami’s South Beach. Those scheduled to participate include U.S Olympian and American middle distance runner Shannon Rowbury, and the Canadian long-distance Olympic runner, Cam Levins American track coach and retired long-distance runner, Alberto Salazar, is expected to fire the starting gun as a tribute to kick off the new event. Caroline Wozniacki, Venus Williams, Andy Murray and other special guests are expected to attend the new event.
“Our goal is to think of what would make the ultimate run,” says Marc Wachter, the event’s executive producer. “We are thrilled to be working with Serena for the first annual Serena Williams Ultimate Run.  One of the world’s number one female athletes behind our inaugural event in Miami Beach, together with participants from the Nike Oregon Project, will make this run the Ultimate experience.”

Open to runners of all ages, registrants of the Ultimate RUN will receive a premium, Nike tech, gender-specific Ultimate RUN shirt and custom artisan Ultimate RUN finisher medal, official finisher certificate, chip timed results, recovery refreshments, post-race entertainment and an amazing RUN experience along one of the most famous beach front locations on earth. At the all-inclusive fun RUN, a medal and a Nike shirt will also be presented for the Ultimate KIDS Dash for ages 2-10, on a special secure course for the children lined with volunteers and parents who will help direct and cheer the smallest runners to the finish.

“Serena, South Beach, and running down Ocean Drive breaking a sweat for a good cause is a perfect combination,” said Michael Rose, Managing Partner of Rose Capital Advisors in Miami Beach and Board Member of the Serena Williams Fund. “We’re extremely fortunate and grateful that the community has embraced this project as strongly as all of our partners, sponsors, volunteers, family, and friends have. The race will truly be a weekend affair, leveraging all that South Beach has to offer – including an intimate welcome reception on Friday evening, an outdoor health and fitness expo open to the public on Saturday afternoon, and of course, a celebratory post-race karaoke party!”

A significant portion of proceeds from the Serena Williams Ultimate Run will go towards the Serena Williams Fund, which provides assistance to families affected by violent crimes and providing underprivileged youth around the world with the highest quality of education available to them.  For further information, visit www.theserenawilliamsfoundation.org

Registration for the first annual Serena Williams Ultimate RUN South Beach on Sunday, December 14th is now open at www.TheUltimateRun.com at facebook.com/SerenaWilliamsUltimateRunSouthBeach and via Twitter @TheUltimateRun.  Additional inquiries can be made by calling 305.538.8899.  For further information and updates, visit  www.TheUltimateRun.com

The Serena Williams Ultimate Run is sponsored by Nike, Gatorade, beats by dr. dre, Delta Airlines, MISSION Athletecare, Merchant Hub, Whole Foods Market, Douglas Elliman, Rose Capital and Ocean Drive Magazine.

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Roger Federer vs. Grigor Dimitrov in BNP Paribas Showdown at MSG on March 10, 2015

Federer vs Dimitrov

(October 22, 2014) New York, NYRoger Federer will return to Madison Square Garden to face Grigor Dimitrov and headline the annual BNP Paribas Showdown on Tuesday, March 10, it was announced today.

 

Federer, current World No. 2, will make his third appearance in the BNP Paribas Showdown after facing Pete Sampras in 2008 and Andy Roddick in 2012.  Arguably the greatest tennis player of all-time, he holds several men’s world records including holding the world No. 1 ranking for an unprecedented 302 weeks, including 237-consecutive-weeks from 2004 to 2008; winning 17 Grand Slam singles titles; reaching each Grand Slam Final at least five times (an all-time record); and reaching the Wimbledon final nine times. He is one of seven men to capture the career Grand Slam. Federer also shares the Open Era record for most titles at the Australian Open with Andre Agassi and Novak Djokovic (4), at Wimbledon with Pete Sampras (7) and at the US Open with Jimmy Connors and Sampras (5).

 

The young rising star, Dimitrov, who is often compared to Federer, is currently ranked No. 11 and will be making his Madison Square Garden debut.  He recently cracked the top ten when he climbed to No. 8 after reaching the Wimbledon semifinals in 2014.  Dimitrov is the only Bulgarian tennis player to ever be ranked in the top 10.  He’s also the first Bulgarian to win an ATP singles title (Stockholm – 2013) and reach a final in doubles (in 2011) as well as the only one to reach the third round or better at a Grand Slam tournament.

 

The two top players faced each other once before in Basel, Switzerland with Federer beating Dimitrov 6-3, 7-6 (2) in a quarterfinal match.

 

The BNP Paribas Showdown is produced by MSG Sports and StarGames. Tickets start at $50.00 and will go on-sale Monday, October 27. They can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office, online at www.thegarden.com and at all Ticketmaster outlets.

 

“It’s huge and I’m unbelievably excited.  I did have the honor twice already to do it, once against Pete Sampras and once against Andy Roddick and both nights were very special,” said Roger Federer.  “I’ve played in many arenas and many cool places around the world but, there is nothing like MSG.  That is why when I heard there is another opportunity for me to come back and people wanted to see me, it got me going and I can’t wait for March 10.”

 

“Growing up, Roger was one of my heroes. To play him on such a stage is definitely an honor for me. I am really happy and excited to be part of the event since it is one of the biggest sporting venues,” added Grigor Dimitrov.  “This will absolutely be different. I’m getting goose bumps thinking about it. I’m just going to really enjoy it and embrace the moment. You are in New York and in one of the biggest arenas against arguably the best player of all-time. It means a lot to me to have an opportunity like that. I’m just going to try and make every moment count.”

 

“The BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden has continually showcased the very best players in the world and has provided countless thrills and terrific moments for New York tennis fans,” said Joel Fisher, executive vice president, MSG Sports.  “At any given moment you can see Ben Stiller come from the crowd to play doubles or watch the No. 1 golfer in the world, Rory McIllroy take to the Garden court. Having the best player in the world in Roger Federer back for a third time to face Grigor Dimitrov will certainly entertain the thousands in attendance and make new memories for years to come.”

 

“The BNP Paribas Showdown continues to be the crown jewel of World Tennis Day and this year will be no different with the New York fans being able to see great tennis between Roger and Grigor who I expect will put on a dazzling display,” said Jerry Solomon, president StarGames Inc.  “And, to add to the excitement, we will soon be announcing an opening match which will feature two of the greatest players in women’s tennis history to fill out a night that no one will want to miss.”

 

The 8th annual BNP Paribas Showdown, which consistently attracts the biggest names in tennis, will follow the likes of Pete Sampras, Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Ivan Lendl, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Mike and Bob Bryan, John and Patrick McEnroe, Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic who all took part in previous Showdowns providing unforgettable memories for New York tennis fans.

 

As in years past, the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden will once again headline a full day of nationwide activities as part of “World Tennis Day,” a global tennis participation effort. All events promote tailoring the game to players 10-and-under with smaller racquets, lighter balls and modified scoring.

 

Additional information on the BNP Paribas Showdown and World Tennis Day will be announced at a later date.

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USTA Eastern Junior Awards Gala

Junior player Matthew Gamble receives his award from Justin Gimelstob and Katrina Adams at the Junior Awards Gala on Day 1 at the US Open.

Junior player Matthew Gamble receives his award from Justin Gimelstob and Katrina Adams at the Junior Awards Gala on Day 1 at the US Open.

By Dave Gertler

(August 25, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – The achievements of USTA Eastern juniors in tournaments over the last 12 months, and the dedication of their families, was celebrated at the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center before the first ball was struck at the US Open on Monday, at the 2014 Junior Awards Gala. Future stars of American tennis gathered to hear guest speakers, including former professional player and current Tennis Channel broadcaster Justin Gimelstob, honor the achievements of 30 junior players, as well as present awards to the top three in each age group.

 

“As you see out there today, for the next 15 days, this is an incredible sport,” said Gimelstob, “This sport challenges you in a way physically, mentally, tactically, emotionally, that almost nothing else can compete with, in an individual way. To find enjoyment in that, you’re a unique bunch.”

 

First Vice President of the USTA, and former world No.8 doubles player Katrina Adams, also praised the dedication of the kids and their families. While the complete list of award-winners from each age group is listed below, there were a small group of players who won awards in multiple age categories.

 

“I play every day, try to get better every day,” said Matthew Gamble, who was the top achiever in the 16s Boys category, as well as third overall in the 18s. “It’s a big part of my life.” Gamble cites the interaction with other players as an important part of the sport for him, saying, “Lately I’ve done more and more team events, so the team aspect and just playing your best, giving 100%.”

 

The junior from Rochester doesn’t want to stop here. While his favorite player, Rafael Nadal, was absent from the US Open this year, perhaps Gamble might one day find himself facing his idol at his home slam. “I obvioiusly want to play college tennis,” said Gamble, “And then after college, I’m gonna try to go pro and make it on the pro tour.”

 

The USTA Eastern Section, based in White Plains, N.Y., is a not-for-profit community service organization whose mission is to promote and develop the growth of tennis. The section encompasses all of New York State, Northern New Jersey and Greenwich, Conn. It is one of 17 geographic sections of the United States Tennis Association, the governing body of tennis in the United States, and supports more than 49,000 members.

 

Exceptional players recognized at the Awards Gala:

 

Boys’ 10s:

1. Ty Switzer (New York, N.Y.)
2. Evan Wen (Morristown, N.J.)
3. Julian Wu (Tenafly, N.J.)

Girls’ 10s:

1. Stephanie Yakoff (Fort Lee, N.J.)
2. Amaya Goulbourne (Pelham, N.Y.)
3. Hailey Stoerback (Saint James, N.Y.)

Boys’ 12s:

1. Billy Suarez (Huntington, N.Y.)
2. Jeffrey Fradkin (New York, N.Y.)
3. Ronan Jachuck (Slingerlands, N.Y.)

Girls’ 12s:

1. Rosie Garcia Gross (New York, N.Y.)
2. Gabriella Price (Montebello, N.Y.)
3. Alexa Noel (Summit, N.J.)

Boys’ 14s:

1. Sean Wei (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.)
2. Ronan Jachuck (Slingerlands, N.Y.)
3. Michael Sun (Livingston, N.J.)

Girls’ 14s:

1. Rachel Lim (Braircliff Manor, N.Y.)
2. Lea Ma (Dix Hills, N.Y.)
3. Anna Brylin (Short Hills, N.J.)

Boys’ 16s:

1. Matthew Gamble (Webster, N.Y.)
2. Brenden Volk (Dix Hills, N.Y.)
3. Jordan Benjamin (Fairport, N.Y.)

Girls’ 16s:

1. Stephanie Schrage (Millburn, N.J.)
2. Rachel Lim (Braircliff Manor, N.Y.)
3. Sabrina Xiong (Fresh Meadows, N.Y.)

Boys’ 18s:

1. Daniel Grunberger (Great Neck, N.Y.)
2. Daniel Kerznerman (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
3. Matthew Gamble (Webster, N.Y.)

Girls’ 18s:

1. Katharine Fahey (Fair Haven, N.J.)
2. Sabrina Xiong (Fresh Meadows, N.Y.)
3. Rima Asatrian (Tenafly, N.J.)

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Signature Series: Arthur Ashe to Air on Tennis Channel

tennis_channel_logo

Tennis Channel will celebrate the career of tennis pioneer, devoted activist and Hall of Famer Arthur Ashe in Signature Series: Arthur Ashe during the 2014 US Open. The newest edition to the network’s original Signature Series documentary lineup – Ashe’s first authorized television biography – will debut Sunday, August 31, at 11 p.m. ET at the conclusion of Tennis Channel’s US Open coverage. A complete schedule of episode airdates can be found on the channel’s website at www.tennischannel.com/schedule.

Signature Series: Arthur Ashe delves into the  tennis career, activism and untimely death of one of the most respected athletes of all time. In a pantheon with other 20th Century agents of change like Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens and Muhammed Ali, Ashe is remembered as a man who broke color barriers and affected human rights issues.  With perhaps nothing more important to him than education and the opportunities it can afford people, of all walks of life, Ashe took a leading role in advancing this cause of using a locker room as a means of promoting the classroom.  The dignity and grace with which he led his life, on and off the tennis court and in the face of his own mortality, remain respected around the world.

“Arthur Ashe’s legacy transcends tennis and even sports, and this is a story that simply had to be told,” said Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO, Tennis Channel. “For the first time television audience will experience Arthur in the context of history and learn why he was one of the greatest social leaders our world has seen.”

An eventual World No. 1, Ashe began as an outsider in tennis, an African-American unable to play junior tournaments – or even walk onto the same court with a white opponent – because of racial segregation laws in his home state of Virginia. He went on to lead the University of California Los Angeles’ championship tennis team, and became the first African-American to play for the U.S. Davis Cup team in 1963. This landmart “first” was one of many in a lifetime of firsts for Ashe.  He later became the first man to win the US Open in 1968, its inaugural year. In doing so, he also became the first – and to this day only – African-American man to win the singles title at the US Open or the U.S. National Championships, as the tournament was known before the Open Era.

Ashe added to his place in history with championships at the Australian Open in 1970 and Wimbledon in 1975, also firsts for an African-American man. Even today his Wimbledon championship upset of Jimmy Connors is considered a match for the ages.  Ashe remains the only black man to win singles championships at the US Open, Wimbledon or the Australian Open. He also, with 1983 French Open winner Yannick Noah of France, became one of only two black men to win a major tennis singles title. He finished his career with 33 titles overall.

This documentary, however, charts the story of not only a Grand Slam champion, but also a lifetime leader, humanitarian, philanthropist and human rights activist who worked with three different U.S. presidents. Known for his character, Ashe’s passionate and tireless leadership translated into many causes – both politically and socially. He protested South African apartheid, championing human rights and serving as a beacon of hope to the people suffering under segregation there. Ashe became such a virtuous example to South Africans that they nicknamed him “Sepo” or “Hope.” After decades in prison, future South African president Nelson Mandela immediately sought a meeting with Ashe upon his release. Ashe was also committed to protesting U.S. crackdowns on Haitian refugees. He was arrested twice while demonstrating his beliefs regarding these issues. Above all Ashe was a fierce advocate of educational empowerment, and gave back to his community throughout his life. Paramount among his achievements may be his role as a founding member of National Junior Tennis and Learning, a non-profit dedicated to helping underprivileged youth through tennis.

“We are humbled to be able to honor Arthur Ashe’s memory in this edition of Signature Series,” said Laura Hockridge, vice president, original programming, Tennis Channel. “His actions as a player have helped to mold the sport as we know it today, and his convictions as an activist continue to inspire people and motivate positive change in the world.”

In 1992, Ashe announced that he had contracted AIDS during a blood transfusion years earlier while receiving treatment after heart surgery. In doing so, he became an early and public face for raising awareness about the disease. Ashe, with his wife Jeannne, helped to bring attention to AIDS by founding the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS, which generated funds for study into treating, curing and preventing the disease, with the eventual goal of finding a cure. He continued to bring light to the plight of AIDS victims by speaking before the U.N. General Assembly, inciting a call to action for delegates to increase funding for research and see the virus as a global issue. At a local level, Ashe also founded the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health. He designed the institute to address poor health care delivery issues amongst urban minorities. Ashe died in 1993 of AIDS-related pneumonia.

“The greatness of Arthur Ashe was not his tennis. It was the way he carried himself and what he tried to create. He represented so many good ideals and values … and I always believed that America lost a great deal when we lost Arthur Ashe,’ said longtime friend and agent of Arthur Ashe, Donald Dell, in an interview that appears in the documentary.

Spending nine years in the World Top 10, Ashe contributed more to the sport than just great match play and big wins. In response to tennis’ growing popularity and the stalemate of tennis professionals’ earnings, he co-founded the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) with Jack Kramer and others in 1972. The ATP was formed to represent the interests and rights of the men who made their living on the pro tennis circuit. Ashe served as president for two years and went on to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985. Today he is the namesake of the main venue at the US Open, “Arthur Ashe Stadium,” the largest tennis arena in the world. It was Ashe’s dedication to promoting equality and championing human rights – both in his professional and personal life – that keeps him in the hearts and minds of the public.

Ashe’s family, friends and contemporaries have joined together to help Tennis Channel honor the tennis great by speaking about their fondest memories of him on camera. Each was asked to write a personal letter to Ashe from the present, addressing the ways in which his legacy lives and the changes in the world today because of him.  Read in “Dear Arthur” segments throughout, the letters form the pillars of the film’s structure. His brother Johnnie Ashe, Ambassador Andrew Young, prize winning sports writer Frank Deford and tennis icon Billie Jean King are among those featured.  Other interviewees include contemporaries like all-time great Rod Laver and Cliff Drysdale, and tennis chroniclers Richard Evans and Steve Flink.

Signature Series: Arthur Ashe is a a part of Tennis Channel’s on going  Signature Series documentary lineup. Other tennis personalities and subjects have included Rod Laver, Andre Agassi, Vitas Gerulaitis, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Rene Lacoste, Bud Collins and the sport’s centuries-old origins.

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Isner Discusses College Tennis Rule Change and Upcoming Davis Cup Tie

ISnerparty with the pros

John Isner photo courtesy of Getty Images, used with permission

By Karen Pestaina

(August 23, 2014) NEW YORK, NY – John Isner was one of the four tennis pros in attendance along with 150 people at the “Party with Pros event,” a part of Taste of Tennis Week, at the Measure Lounge of the Langham Place Fifth Avenue Hotel in Manhattan produced by AYS.

I asked the 29-year-old Isner who played college tennis at the University of  Georgia, about what he thought about Division I college singles rule change to using the no-ad scoring system.

He replied: “I think in doubles it’s good. Singles – if I had it my way, I’d probably not choose it that way, but at the same time you can argue that it will make players play better under pressure, when it does get to deuce, that no-ad point, there is going to be so much riding on that game, because the is.

“Sometimes college matches can drag on a little bit too much. I can understand what they’re doing, but if I was in charge I wouldn’t have that.”

After the US Open, the North Carolina native will be traveling to the Chicago area to lead the United States Davis Cup team in a critical World Group playoff tie versus the Slovak Republic. The winner will be in the World Group in 2015 while the loser will be relegated to Group 1 in their respective zone.

“Well it’s going to be a tough tie, “Isner said. “I think our chances are very good of moving on, but at the same time, it’s going to be extremely tough.

“I don’t care who we are playing against, I always believe that our team can win. It’s an extremely important tie for the fact that it’s a relegation tie. It’s a must win for both countries, but we do have the home court going for us. We’ll try to get that win to get back in the world group and start fresh next year.”

Isner pulled out of the Winston-Salem Open with a sprained left ankle earlier in the week. He said that he’s “doing very well.”

With the week before the US Open full of parties and photo-ops, I asked him if enjoyed participating in these type of social events before a major.

“It draws attention to our game,” he said. “Obviously we are here at the US Open. The US Open draws enough attention by itself. You know it’s a worldwide event and this city embraces the US Open, some people are watching it from all over the world, that’s why they have record crowds come in every year.

“Events like this draw more attention to the game. I guess people get to meet me. Hopefully they have a good impression of me and they try to watch me on TV cheer me on. If I can gain some fans by interacting a little bit it’s well worth it.”

The 13th seed at the US Open, Isner begins his quest for a US Open title when he faces off against fellow American 21-year-old Marcos Giron in the first round.

 

Azarenka Talks US Open “Party Patrol at Party with the Pros” Event

John Isner Defends Atlanta Open Title

Catching up with David Ferrer and John Isner

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Azarenka Talks US Open “Party Patrol at Party with the Pros” Event

 

AZARENKA party with the pros

(August 23, 2014) NEW YORK, NY – As part of Taste of Tennis Week, a series of special culinary events and parties leading into the 2014 US Open, the Measure Lounge of the Langham Place Fifth Avenue Hotel played  host to an exclusive party on Saturday night limited to 150 people called “Party with the Pros” an event produced by AYS.  Partygoers were treated to culinary delights as well as a chance to take photos with s few tennis pros. In attendance for the event were No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska, two-time Australian Open winner, No. 17 Victoria Azarenka, No. 22 Sloane Stephens and top US men’s player John Isner, currently ranked at No. 15 in the world.

Tennis Panorama News has a chance to speak with Azarenka about her week before the US Open.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News: You’ve been on what I like to call “Party Patrol” this week, at Taste of Tennis and now here at Party with the Pros. What do you like about doing these type of events?

Victoria Azarenka: Well Taste of Tennis is always a great opportunity to just get the night out, you know. It’s a great celebration with great food, which all of the athletes like to eat, obviously, and to just get your mind away a little bit and they always place where you can go out and enjoy yourself. It’s not too close to the tournament, an you know when they put me and Gael Monfils in the same room, it’s always going to be fun!

KP: I noticed that you tow were almost dancing when “Happy” came on (at the Taste of Tennis).

VA: We were dancing, we were dancing. I was also dancing with somebody else. We always have a good time. It’s great for other people to us enjoy ourselves off the court. On the court we mean business, but off the court, we are just chill, cool people who like to have a good time.

KP: It seems that tennis players are “foodies.” Would you agree with that?

VA: I am a big foodie. I love food. I appreciate good food. I appreciate healthy food, I’m not too big on junk food and hot dogs and all this stuff and I love to cook so I am definitely a foodie.

KP: I know that this has been a very challenging season for you. What are you looking forward to about playing the US Open?

VA: Just enjoy and really have to give my best and try my hardest. That’s what it’s all about all the time. We go out there to compete and give your best, you face your opponent who tries to do the same. Just to be out there and playing tennis for me, because I wasn’t even able to play four months ago at all so, I’m really going to enjoy that. And for me the process to get back into the playing mode. I’ve been working really hard, it’s all about just getting into the rhythm and then it’s gonna happen.

 

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Photos from 2014 Taste of Tennis

Top Chef Masters Finalist Kerry Heffernan to Host Celebrity Chef Challenge as part of Taste of Tennis Week

Serena Williams, Azarenka, Bryan Brothers and More To Headline First-Ever Taste of Tennis Week

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Photos from 2014 Taste of Tennis

(August 22, 2014) NEW YORK CITY – Thursday night the world’s top tennis players and chefs served up the US Open’s hottest pre-tournament action at the 15th annual Taste of Tennis Gala on Thursday, August 21st at the W New York in midtown Manhattan as part of the first ever Taste of Tennis WeekThis year’s event was headlined by world No. 1 Serena Williams and Chef Masaharu Morimoto of Iron Chef fame and was hosted by The TODAY Show and MSNBC’s NewsNation’s Tamron Hall.  Guests mixed and mingled with tennis players while sampling an eclectic mix of specially designed dishes served up by some of the most renowned New York City chefs.

 

Serena Williams, Morimoto and Tamron were joined by some of the world’s top tennis players including Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens, the Bryan Brothers, Aga Radwanska, Dustin Brown, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jack Sock and some of New York’s most prestigious chefs including Marc Murphy (Landmarc), Peter Andino (Heartbeat), Daniel Holzman & Michael Chernow (The Meatball Shop) and Kerry Heffernan (Top Chef Masters Finalist), Zac Young (David Burke Group). Proceeds from the event benefited City Harvest.

 

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Mats Wilander to Host Second Foundation Tennis Pro-Am to Benefit Epidermolysis Bullosa

Wilander Playing Tennis

(August 18, 2014) Mats Wilander and debra of America return to the West Side Tennis Club on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 for the 2nd Annual Mats Wilander Foundation Tennis Pro-Am. Play with former No. 1 player, Mats Wilander, Cameron Lickle of Wilander on Wheels, and other current and former tennis pros. Past pros have participated have included: John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Jonas Björkman, Thomas Blake, Thomas Johansson, Mikael Pernfors and Karel Nováček.

The Tennis Pro-Am is open to guests of all ages and playing levels. All proceeds benefit debra of America’s fight against Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) – The Worst Disease You’ve Never Heard Of.™

DATE: Wednesday, August 27, 2014
TIME: 8AM – 4PM
VENUE: The West Side Tennis Club, 1 Tennis Place, Forest Hills, Queens, NY
BENEFITING: debra of America and the “Butterfly Children” with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB)
BUY TICKETS AND LEARN MORE AT: www.debra.org/Tennis

YOUR TICKET INCLUDES:
– Playing with Mats Wilander, Former #1 Tennis Player in the World, 7 Grand Slam Singles Titles, & International Tennis Hall of Fame Member
– Hitting with Former & Current Tennis Pros on 3 Court Surfaces – Including Grass!
– Instructional Clinics, Competition Drills & Round-Robins
– Team Competition for Prizes (NEW!)
– Pro Meet-and-Greet
– Viewing a Professional Exhibition Match
– Continental Breakfast
– Barbecue Lunch with Beer, Wine & Cocktails

EXCLUSIVE ACE CHALLENGE – NEW!
Fundraise $500 or more using our Personal Fundraising Pages and get the exclusive opportunity to ace Mats Wilander at the Pro-Am. When you register for the event, you will automatically be set up with a Personal Fundraising Page to send to your friends and supporters. It’s that easy! If you raise $500 or more, you will win 2 serves to try to ace Mats Wilander. If you succeed, you will win a 15-minute private singles match with the 7-time Grand Slam Singles winner! (Email events@debra.org or call 212-868-1573 for more details.)

WHAT IS EB?

Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) is a rare connective tissue disorder with many genetic and symptomatic variations. Yet, all of the variations share a common symptom of extremely fragile skin that blisters and tears with even the slightest friction or trauma and that is why children with EB are often called “Butterfly Children.” Because the disease also affects internal organs and bodily systems, the list of complications and symptoms from EB can be long and may require multiple interventions from a range of medical specialists. EB affects both genders and all racial and ethnic backgrounds equally. As of today, there is no cure or treatment.

ABOUT EPIDERMOLYSIS BULLOSA (EB)

Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) is a rare genetic disorder in which children do not produce a vital protein to allow their skin to adhere to itself. Because their skin is so fragile, they are often known as ‘Butterfly Children.’ EB affects 1 out of every 20,000 live births in the United States and afflicts both genders and all racial and ethnic backgrounds equally. The most well-known and prominent manifestation of EB is blistering or tearing of the skin from any friction. That means taking off a shirt or a hug from a loved one is incredibly painful and causes the skin to peel away. Imagine your child suffering from a disease where more than 70% of their body is covered in open sores and blisters. There is no treatment or cure. Daily wound care, pain management and protective bandaging are the only options available. Learn more at debra.org

 

ABOUT THE MW FOUNDATION

SAVE IT. SEND IT. SHARE IT. are the ideals that the MW Foundation stands for, not only while on a tennis court but for everyday life. Mats Wilander started the Foundation in association with Wilander on Wheels, when his 15 year old son, Erik, was born with a mild form of Epidermolysis Bullosa. Mats has been instrumental in helping debra of America raise awareness for Epidermolysis Bullosa and funds for research and the supportive services and programs.

 

ABOUT DEBRA OF AMERICA

The Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association of America (debra of America) was founded in 1980 and is the only national nonprofit dedicated to funding research for treatments and a cure, while providing supportive services and programs for those who suffer from the rare and painful genetic disorder, Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) – The Worst Disease You’ve Never Heard Of.™ Visit debra.org

 

For more on last year’s event:

From  the December 2013 issue of Tennis Magazine, Mats Wilander helps lead the charge against what’s described as The Worst Disease You’ve Never Heard Of by Andrew Friedman

 

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Top Chef Masters Finalist Kerry Heffernan to Host Celebrity Chef Challenge as part of Taste of Tennis Week

sam and Kerry

Chef Kerry Hefferman with Sam Stosur

(August 13, 2014) Since 2000 the world’s top tennis players and chefs have been serving up culinary delights at the Annual BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis. This year’s premier pre-US Open social event to be held on Thursday night, August 21 at the W New York Hotel, is again being hosted by world No. 1 Serena Williams, along with featured Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Other players scheduled to appear are Gael Monfils, Victoria Azarenka, Agnieszka Radwanska, Bob & Mike Bryan, Dustin Brown and Sloane Stephens.

Serena Williams, Azarenka, Bryan Brothers and More To Headline First-Ever Taste of Tennis Week

In addition to the Thursday gala, Taste of Tennis will be hosting several special events as part of “Taste of Tennis Week” including the Celebrity Chef Doubles Tennis Challenge on Wednesday, August 20th at the Midtown Tennis Club. The tournament will pair guests with a top chef in a round-robin style tournament. Serena Williams will team up with Chef Morimoto for the event which will be televised at a later date on MSG Plus and New England Sports Network on a program hosted by sports broadcaster Harry Cicma.

Hosting the Celebrity Chef Challenge will be Top Chef Masters Finalist Kerry Heffernan. Hefferman who is one of the chefs who has participated in Taste of Tennis the longest, said although he played a little tennis growing up in the suburbs, he didn’t really get thoroughly absorbed by it until he received a tennis racquet as one of the gifts in his Taste of Tennis goodie bag a few years ago.

”You get these great goodie bags and in them were these amazing tennis racquets,” he said.

“Wait a minute these look like really good racquets, maybe I should try this thing. One thing led to another… and it’s been three years now since I really got into it.”

“It grows on you, you want to get better, you want to play more, you want to find people that play. You just mushroom into this obsession that creeps into all different parts of your life.”

The idea for the Celebrity Chef Challenge came about as the result of attending the BNP Paribas showdown at Madison Square Garden earlier in the year.

“Other chefs were in attendance tweeting pictures at the event,” Hefferman continued. “Through social media and texts among other chefs” the idea gained a lot of momentum.

I asked Chef Hefferman if he thought that many tennis players are “foodies” and many chefs are into tennis.

“I would concur 100 percent,” he said. “The passion that most chefs have for tennis, is like their display of their cooking. Many similarities – it’s hot, it’s unpredictable, you’re subject to a lot of pressure.

“Lot of parallels between a tennis match and cooking in a professional kitchen.

“The other thing is I notice, having done this for 13 years, that probably a set number of celebrities come and cook with me, so many of them are interested in food and are so knowledgeable about food, it’s really, really satisfying to have somebody come back and recognize that you have an heirloom tomato, or chose a carrot with an usual herb, just to have that culinary fluency.

“And I would say that certainly the European players are a little more fluent even. But the Bryan Brothers for example are super. We did this almost quickfire challenge with Gail Simmons from Top Chef and Top Chef Masters and they were having a blast. Bob Bryan is such a great guy, he still follows me on twitter, we still both keep in touch. Okay, he’s a bit busier than I am. It was a connection through food that like lasts.”

With such a link between Chef Hefferman and tennis, I asked him: ‘If you were a tennis player, who would you be in the Culinary world?’

“That’s a good question,” he said. “I guess you would want to be (Roger) Federer because it’s that effortless execution, that focus and determination.

“Like many chefs, I have such admiration for him having gone back and strengthen part of your game….. his serve for example brought him to the finals at Wimbledon that you just have some respect for the craft. Many chefs would like to be compared to someone like that because he approaches it with ultimate appreciation for how the game is played almost the technical aspect. Anybody would want to be a (Rafael) Nadal or even a (Novak) Djokovic, for the passion, the energy and the dedication but for me if I could be compared to a Federer.

“Your cooking should appear as effortless as his backhand, it shouldn’t looked contrived, it shouldn’t look like you are trying to make look like something it’s not.

“The way that Roger plays the game has got sort of that natural beauty to it. There’s a kind of energy that we really appreciate.”

For more details on the Taste of Tennis events, visit www.tasteoftennis.com.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

 

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