June 29, 2017

Approach Shots – Q & A with USTA Player Development GM Martin Blackman

Martin Blackman photo courtesy of the USTA

Martin Blackman photo courtesy of the USTA



(September 9, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Tennis Panorama News sat down with the General Manager of Player Development at the United States Tennis Association, Martin Blackman, to ask a few questions about his goals for Player Development.


Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News (TPN): I’d like to know how became involved in tennis in the first place?

Martin Blackman (MB): I was born in New York, while my dad was going to Columbia University. When I was two-years-old, we moved to Barbados, that’s where my father’s from and I had two older twin brothers who played tennis. They were very good players. So they basically coached me, when I was a kid in Barbados from 2-13.

When I was eleven, we started coming over to New York for the summers and I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to the Port Washington Tennis Academy. So I trained at Port in the summers, when I was 11 and 12, I was still living in Barbados.

When I was 12-years-old, I lost in the finals of the Orange Bowl and Nick Bollettieri offered me a scholarship to his academy. So I went to high school at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy from 13-17. And then I played at Stanford for two years – two NCAA championship teams. Had the pleasure of playing doubles with Patrick (McEnroe) my freshman year so we became great friends and then I played on the (ATP World) tour for six years.

Coming off the tour I finished my degree at GW (George Washington University). I thought I wanted to get out of tennis, but a head coaching position opened at American University, and was able to get tuition remission. I was doing graduate work so I took that job as head coach and I fell in love with coaching.

I’ve had three jobs – American University for five years – loved it. Had success there, really learned what it meant to be a coach and be a mentor of young men.

Then I ran the program at the Junior Tennis Champions Center at College Park (Maryland), a program that produced Frances Tiafoe and Denis Kudla.

Then I went to work for Patrick in Player Development as the Director of Player ID and Development. Then I left for three years to run my own tennis academy and then I’ve been back in Player Development as a GM for 16 months.


TPN: You played with Patrick McEnroe and you succeeded him in Player Development. That’s a big name to follow. When you came in, what were you looking at, at first and what challenges coming in did you see or do you still see and how are you tackling them?

MB: Well I think the benefit of having worked in Player Development before, was that I really understood how our division worked. I really understood how our coaches and performance staff and admin staff were doing on a day-to-day basis, so I understood the operations and I wanted to make sure that I provided continuity in the areas that were working already.

The two biggest most impactful things that Patrick did were one – to bring in Jose Higueras as our Director of Coaching and to really create a comprehensive teaching and coaching philosophy in collaboration with the private sector. I think that has really unified the country, not in a cookie cutter prescriptive approach to training players, but in a framework that kind of unifies us in terms of how we see the game, how we train players and how we talk about the game.

And the second is the Team USA initiative that started under Patrick about four years ago where we made a concerted effort to reach out to the private sector, be more collaborative, be more inclusive. Making sure that all of the information was going through private coaches and really build and strengthen that trust with private sector coaches who are the ones doing the work in the trenches with those young players.

So, when I came in, I definitely saw those two things as working, but I also saw some opportunities to invest more in areas where there is a need. So a few of the things that we did, one is we had a need to support our best players between 100 and 300. Those young pros just coming out, they’re doing well, can’t afford to travel with a full team and we know from doing studies that the faster a player breaks into the Top 100, the more likely they are to go farther to become a Top 50 or Top 20 player. So we created Team USA Pro Department, that provides supplemental support for all of our American pros between 100-300 and that’s been really successful.

Tom Gullickson on the men’s side, and Kathy Rinaldi on the women’s side, supported by Jeff Russell, have done a great job of helping those players to move a little bit faster, giving them support on the road.

The other thing that we’ve done is that we’ve really increased our investment financially and from a human resources perspective in college tennis. That was an area, obviously, you look at our rankings, you look at John Isner and Steve Johnson. They’re our top two Americans, both went to college for four years. We’ve got Nicole Gibbs, Irina Falconi, Jennifer Brady doing well. So that was an area where we really weren’t investing a lot. I think we were a little too focused on the players who could turn pro coming out of high school and I saw that as an opportunity that we needed to capitalize on.

So those are two moves that I made to capitalize on opportunities to help more players and to help them progress a little bit faster and make sure those college players are getting the emotional support as they go into college, and making sure that we are totally engaged with college coaches to help with the developmental process.


TPN: In years past really good juniors would go straight into the pro ranks. You see a lot of them now thinking about going to college, because you see with both the men and the women, they’re older when they make an impact in majors it seems.

MB: Absolutely. I think there are two factors – one, the physical demands of the game have increased so much. The game is so much more physical, so it’s hard for a girl or a boy to compete with women and men. The other piece of it is that players are taking such good care of their bodies. Their nutrition, they are traveling with a physio. They’re stretching more than they ever have been.

The average age of the Top 100 player has gone up, I think it’s about 28 and 1/2 on the men’s side and almost 25 on the women’s side. If we had said that 20 years ago, people would have thought that you were crazy, but those two factors, the physical demands of the game and the fact that players are taking really good care of their bodies are contributing to that. So that’s why I think you don’t see as many junior players bursting on to the tour the way we did in the 80’s and early 90’s.


TPN: Speaking of groups of “kids” as it were, its seems that on the men’s side, like the Tiafoes and the Taylor Fritzes are coming up together. I guess we haven’t seen that since, I don’t know Agassi, Sampras and Courier? Some of them are down in Florida. There must be a lot of camaraderie down there with them all coming up together.

MB: The great thing about this group of boys is that, there is a lot of camaraderie, there is a lot of positive peer pressure. You know, Reilly (Opelka) will have a good week and Taylor will have a good week, Frances will have a good week and that’s really the type of dynamic we want to see. We want to see a group of boys, a group of women, coming up together, pushing themselves.

And the other great thing is when the younger players play our established older players that really creates a lot of positive pressure as well. So when one of that group you mentioned plays Stevie (Johnson) or Sam (Querrey) or Donald (Young), they really, really want to win. The older guys want to win. They don’t want to lose to one of these young guys and the younger guys really want to make a breakthrough and beat one of those established guys and that’s a very healthy dynamic.

We’re seeing that on the women’s side as well. The women were a little bit ahead demographically. After this tournament we’ll have 15 women in the Top 100. We’ve got Madison (Keys) playing really well. We’ve got Christina McHale playing well. Sloane (Stephens) when she is healthy, will be back doing well. CoCo Vandeweghe has such a big game. Shelby Rogers breaking through at the French. Louisa Chirico. So all of these women, I think are really poised to get to the next level. And luckily we have two amazing champions in Serena and Venus (Williams) to really set the bar where it needs to be, right at the top.


TPN: The announcement from the other day about the Adidas partnership, how long was that in the making? Was it something that you prioritized? Reaching into the private sector as you mentioned before, was this a big goal for you, or was it something that you thought about before coming in?

MB: Coming in my first month, our Sponsorship department on the pro side told me that this was a partnership they had been looking to form, if they could find the right partner and design a deal with the right parameters. So I gave my input as it related to what would be beneficial to player development. I didn’t give my input specifically, it needs to be Adidas or it needs to be Nike, but just in terms of what would really help Player Development and then Lew Sherr (USTA Chief Revenue Officer) kind of reached out in the market place. Spoke to a lot of big companies and at the end of the day it was Adidas that wanted to make the direct investment, not just in Player Development, which is going to be very beneficial to us, but also in our junior competitive national tournaments, in the national campus, in leagues.

Again, as I said during the press conference, it’s really encouraging to see a global leader in our industry making a direct investment back into the game.


TPN: A lot has been done, what more do you want to do? What’s on your wish list for Player Development?

MB: If I kind of take a step back, I think what are the two big things that Player Development does or should do. I think on the one side, it’s to create really strong relationships with our players, parents and coaches across the board, from juniors all the way through to the pros.

On the other side it’s to make sure that the expertise and the performance support that we give to those players as a result of those strong relationships, is the best in the world. So there is a performance excellence component and there’s a relationship component and if you don’t have both of them, you are not going to be effective. Because it doesn’t matter how much you know or how good you are at what you do, if you don’t have relationships and trust with the players.

So we have to invest in both of those things and if we get it right, we have an unbelievable opportunity at the national campus in Orlando. And if we get both of those things right, you are going to see the resurgence of American tennis.


Related Articles:

USTA and ADIDAS Announce Partnership To Support US Tennis On Multiple Levels

Martin Blackman Named General Manager, USTA Player Development



In Their Own Words – Serena and Venus Williams

(September 6, 2015) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Venus and Serena Williams have set up a sister versus sister clash in the quarterfinals of the US Open set for Tuesday. This will be their 27th meeting overall. Serena hold the edge with a 15-11  record.

Older sister Venus knocked out 19-year-old qualifier Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 6-2, 6-1 in only 50 minutes. At 35 Venus is the oldest competitor on the women’s side of the draw.

No. 1 Serena Williams took just  68 minutes to defeat the 20-year-old rising star 19th-seeded Madison Keys on Sunday 6-3, 6-3.



Sunday, September 6, 2015

Serena Williams

Press Conference


6-3, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You were asked the other day if you can remember a match this year that you really felt good after and satisfied with. Is this a match that you feel good about?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think I played really well. I had to play well. I did hit a ball that bounced before it hit the net, so that is a first. (Smiling.)

Q. When Venus was here earlier she said even playing against you is fun, that it’s always fun playing tennis. What is it like for you on the court and even thinking about it before you step on the court to play your sister?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Nowadays, I would agree, I think it’s more fun than it used to be. We really relish the opportunity. We’re both happy to still be involved in getting so far.

And it’s still super intense. She’s doing well and she wants to win this. So do I. It’s not easy.

Q. What do you think your rivalry has meant to the sport?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it’s been an amazing rivalry. I think it’s meant a lot. We’ve done a lot for the sport. I think, you know, hopefully it can continue as long as we play.

Q. You said you have been calm for a while. What was it about this match that made you so relaxed?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I haven’t really felt a lot of pressure. Only in that second round; for whatever reason I got tight. The whole tournament I’ve been really kind of rather relaxed.

I don’t really feel like if I win this tournament it’s going to make or break my career.

So, you know, I look at it that way.

Q. How do you prepare differently to play your older sister?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, I’m playing, for me, the best player in the tournament, and that’s never easy. She’s beaten me so many times. I’ve taken a lot of losses off of her – more than anybody.

Yeah, she’s a player that knows how to win, knows how to beat me, and knows my weaknesses better than anyone.

So it’s not an easy match at all. Hopefully things will go right.

Q. Genie Bouchard just withdrew with a concussion. We’re not used to seeing that much in tennis. Have you ever had one or tried to play through one?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I’ve never had it. Well, there was one time I was at the pizza joint in Palm Beach and I did fall and hit my neck and head. I don’t know if that counts as one. I came to the next morning.

Anyways, that was it. (Smiling.)

Q. When was this?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That was an interesting story. But the pizza never fell. It was perched perfectly in my hand as I slipped.

But anyway, that’s the closest I’ve been to a concussion.

Q. When did that happen?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Earlier this year.

Q. Venus was in here earlier and she said she loves you dearly, but you have an annual family reunion. She wasn’t thrilled with the idea that every year you seem to pick the theme of the reunion. How would you respond to that very serious accusation?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know what? Her team are just haters, to be honest. They’re jealous. Our team, the Kryptonians, do well. We tend to win every year.

We’ll just let it slide off our shoulders. We don’t take it personal.

Q. Because you know each other so well, is it hard not to overthink?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. For me it’s about that moment, about doing well at that moment. It’s not very easy. Like I said, for me, the only player in the draw I don’t want to play, not only because she’s my sister, but for me she’s the best player.

So it’s not easy.

Q. Will the two of you interact more or less the next couple days before you play?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t think anything’s going to change. Whatever the outcome is, I don’t think it’s going to change either.

Q. What is it about her game that you admire most?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, we play a lot. She plays similar. She’s fast; I’m fast. She hits hard; I hit hard. She serves big; I serve big.

We have a very similar game. We’ve had the same coach for a long time. It’s like playing a mirror. I have to be really ready.

Q. Is it harder or easier to lose to Venus than another player? If you have to lose, would you rather lose to her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I would rather lose to Venus as opposed to anyone else. I, in general, don’t like to lose.

Yeah, so hopefully we’ll just go out and do the best that we can, and whatever happens hopefully have a good attitude about it.

Q. The match you had in Montréal was really high quality last year and just tooth and nail. What do you remember about it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She played really good in that match. I mean, she did everything well. I won the first set barely; probably shouldn’t have. She came back and never gave up.

She served well. Yeah, she just did everything to win that match, so…

Q. She’s playing really well right now. Is that a concern, that she’s in top form?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Always. It’s always a concern. I’m going to have to play better, keep up my level, keep playing better.

Q. You didn’t serve many double-faults today. Did you think about that at all during the match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I did, obviously, because I’ve been serving so many recently. Normally I serve like this my whole career. Past year and a half I haven’t.

But, no, my serve was definitely better. I also was hitting them a lot harder than I normally hit ’em. Still didn’t hit the double-faults.

Q. Is there a match that stands out in your mind when you played Venus where you felt like you played the best match against her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t really remember a lot of matches I play against her. I don’t like to remember them.

Q. How do you deal with the pressure that in a long time you may become the first player to win all four major tournaments?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I have to play Venus Williams next. I have to deal with that pressure first.

Q. Can you imagine being as successful without having Venus as your counter?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Definitely not, no. I think she helped create me, for sure.

Q. From the outside looking in it looks like you flip a switch. From your perspective, how do you do that? You all of a sudden turn it on.
SERENA WILLIAMS: You have to. If you’re playing a great player, someone that knows how to win, you have to play better or you can go home.

You can choose one, so…

Q. Venus talked about you guys playing informally growing up. She recalls winning all the time. What do you remember most about that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, she always won. Like always. I don’t remember much. I just remember I never was able to beat her, and I don’t think I liked playing her, so…

Q. You and Venus are so popular and well-known. There are a couple of other sisters, the president’s daughters. Have you ever met them?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, well, I met them. They’re really nice young ladies, beautiful young ladies. They’ve matured. I’ve met them at different stages of their life. They’ve really matured.

They’re just becoming really ladies to look up to and be role models.

Q. Did you chat with them at all about life?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. Maybe now I can, but no.

Q. You tapped into your intensity when you needed to in your matches. When you play Venus, it’s a little bit muted, probably out of respect. How do you deal with that balance when you’re competing against her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I guess I just try to be more internally excited. I still have a few C’mons, maybe not as many, but I’m definitely obviously as intense.

Q. What do you think of the example of the way you and Venus have conducted each other on the court has meant to people about friendly competition and sisters going at it but not disturbing their relationship?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think it’s been a great experience. I feel like Venus and I have definitely proven that you can be friends and you can be sisters, you can be enemies on the court, and you can be friends and sisters off the court.

Q. Do you have any idea why it took so long that any player came up, after Steffi Graf, who has a chance to win all major tournaments in one year? What is the reason it took so long?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know why it took me so long. (Smiling.).

Q. Back to Genie Bouchard. She’s had a rough patch. Now she’s playing great this year. How much the confidence comes back when you win?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it comes back fast. This is just a little hiccup. Hopefully she’ll be okay.

Q. You mentioned before that the girls you have in Africa, the schoolgirls, they see you play, they play some tennis themselves. Is it instructional? Do you have any designs to put an academy over there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Not yet. That’s definitely something I want to look forward to when I’m done with all this.

Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

Venus Williams

Venus Williams


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Venus Williams

Press Conference

V. WILLIAMS/A. Kontaveit

6-2, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. If you were not here will you be watching your sister’s match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely. But also after the match you have to cooldown and do different things. Have to still respect the process as well.

So it’s a balance between both.

Q. What is the most challenging thing emotionally and what is the most challenging thing in terms of tennis when you’re facing Serena in a match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, obviously that she’s so good. What else can you do except try to win the point and hope she doesn’t hit an ace.

Q. Emotionally what are the challenges? Obviously none of us have ever experienced anything like what you do. How would you best describe…
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, we’re both prepared obviously hoping she gets through this match. She’s looking good. We both know the draw so we are both prepared to play each other in case we both play well.

It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes it does. Then we go. We go.

Q. Do you have fun when you play against her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Tennis is fun, so any day that I’m out doing what I love, and I think she feels the same, then that’s the day that you feel blessed.

Q. Which is the more powerful feeling looking potentially to a match with her? The irony of meeting her at that stage here, or the sort of joy and wonder of the fact that you’re meeting her again here after so many years?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don’t know about the joy and wonder, per se, but it’s still all focus. You still have to prepare. Still have to play well.

Even though you’re playing your sister you have to be prepared and focus. The preparation doesn’t change.

Q. We know what will be at stake for her. (Indiscernible.)
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, obviously getting to a Grand Slam semifinal is the next step toward the final. Pretty clear what’s up for grabs here.

Q. A lot of other players were asked, How does it feel to be the spoiler of the Grand Slam, trying to derail Serena?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Would they feel bad?

Q. Most of them said they would feel fine with it. Just wondering how you would feel.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don’t think anyone wants to be a spoiler. I think people love to see history being made. I think. No one is out to be a spoiler, but at the same time, you’re focused on winning your match even though the circumstances are really much different than you.

Q. When Serena was asked to name the one thing that got under her skin about you, she said your dog, who was loyal to her until you come home and she abandons Serena. I know you love her dearly, but the one thing that gets a little bit under your skin about your little sister?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, we have a family gathering every year, and every year I don’t get much say. She always picks the theme, and so that bothers me. (Laughter.)

Q. On court when she makes a great crosscourt forehand or good volley or something, an ace, do you ever get a little frustrated with her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Because I play a lot of opponents who just play out of their head, that’s kind of a usual day for me. There’s no easy days.

At least you expect that from Serena. She’s not playing at a level that’s abnormal, it’s just her level.

Q. How do you account for the level of your play this week?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Been great. I’m happy. Whenever it’s a win, doesn’t matter what the level is because you have a chance to improve.

So today definitely was my highest level; the last round was pretty high, too. I think my opponent today was very good. She took a lot of risk. She has power, determination.

I think just the experience helped me to be able to keep the scoreline a lot easier. I think she’s not used to those kind of balls coming back or coming back at the pace or facing a serve at that pace or the constant focus, so those are probably new things for her.

But if she continues to play then she will experience that more and it will be more commonplace.

Q. Anything different in your approach or your training to the game this week?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. Just try to focus on the good things and try to not be too hard on yourself in these tournaments. You have to really give yourself a pat on the back for the good things.

As a professional athlete you’re always going for perfection, but it’s not always realistic.

Q. A lot of talk has been made about you getting your college degree. Serena is taking pre-med classes, as well. Can you just talk about your parents and the importance that they stressed education and being a well-rounded person growing up?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. It’s great to know that they didn’t put all the eggs in the basket of you’re going to be a professional tennis player, because if that doesn’t happen it can be tragic.

So to be a well-rounded person and know what’s going on in the world around you, to have a perspective outside of your sport, is important for every athlete. I’m blessed that our parents gave us that.

Q. Can you recall your first match versus Serena? I remember reading in the newspapers a lot of speculation saying, Oh, father Richard is saying that today Venus should win or today Serena should win. Of course you always say it wasn’t true, but what your father was saying to you before your matches against your sister, and what would he say today when you have to play Serena in such an important match for her especially and for you also?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. He wouldn’t say anything. Just stay relaxed and have fun. Especially when we play each other, he doesn’t even come to those matches.

Q. Didn’t come but he was talking to you.
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. No. No, at that point it’s both of your daughters, so whoever wins is a win anyway for you. I think that’s how my parents feel.

Q. So much focus on Serena, but do you think you can win the US Open this year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Of course. I’d love to. But it’s easier said than done.

Q. What would it feel like to win this?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. (Smiling.) It feels so good. But, you know, that’s not the thing that you focus on. You focus on the moment of whatever round that is.

Next round is the quarterfinals. That’s my focus, and not really to win.

Q. Genie Bouchard has had a head injury and doubtful she will actually play. I guess it’s up to her whether she will be able to play. Do you think it’s a situation where tennis doctors or officials should prevent a player they think might be endangering themselves by taking the court to play, or should that always be totally up to the athlete?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don’t even know what the rule is on that.

Q. I think the rule is up to her.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Okay. Well, it’s up to her. It’s difficult for anyone to tell you not to play, especially at this stage in the tournament you want to give it your all.

So I don’t know what she’s going through. I have no idea what the circumstances are. But it’s just super unfortunate and just not ideal, and especially she’s playing so well. It’s like the last think you think is going to happen.

Q. You’re getting a lot of questions on your legacy and impact, especially this year. How does it make you feel? Do you feel lucky to get them or what?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don’t know. A question is a question for me. I don’t take anything personal. Unless it’s a crazy question. Then we’re going to go toe to toe.

But it’s all good as long as long as it’s respectful.

Q. You said a few minutes ago that it’s fun even when you’re playing Serena. What has the opportunity to play against Serena as many times as you have had that opportunity on the biggest of stages, what has that meant to both of you, you in particular, and what do you think it’s meant to the sport?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I like to think it’s helped the sport to grow because it’s been such an unusual circumstance and so intriguing for everyone.

I don’t remember the other part of the question.

Q. What has it meant to you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: What’s it meant to me? I don’t know. I feel like that’s what we always wanted growing up, just to be out there on the big stage duking it out when someone named Williams will win. That’s a given on that one.

Q. You talk about the informal matches that you and Serena had growing up. Do you remember the first time she beat you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, in (indiscernible) she didn’t. That was a giant, though. It was always so tall and she was really small at the time. So it wasn’t a fair match, really.

Q. You and Serena have so many offcourt ventures in the business world and philanthropy. Is there comfort whenever you decide to walk away from the game you have all these opportunities lined up for you the second you leave?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Absolutely, absolutely, because there’s a big part of me that wants to be able not to move away from tennis but to explore other things in life and to transition and to find new challenges.

Of course I will always be involved with tennis, but it’s a certain challenge when you try something new. I love that.

Q. You have talked about in the past Kimiko Date has been the elder statesman and now you are. Following on his question, once you decide to hang it up, whenever that is, with the tennis involvement involve going back to Compton, helping kids there?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I will be low key, just helping kids in the neighborhood or people who might want advice. Definitely need a break from traveling. I will take a break from tennis in terms of that.

Maybe I will come back at some point 20 years down the road and someone asks me to coach. I’m all right, I’m…

Q. Academy of some sort?

Q. An English writer wrote a line about siblings know every little detail and every little nuance of the other sibling. Do you think you know everything there is about Serena? And if not, what do you think it might be?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I hope so. It might help me in the match, right? I don’t know what the score is, but theoretically, so…

Q. Can you see yourself playing doubles for…

Q. You could continue to play doubles until after you’re 50 years old. Can you see yourself after playing singles playing doubles in Grand Slam tournaments?
VENUS WILLIAMS: If Serena wants to, yeah, maybe. We’ll see.

Q. Have your other sisters said who they will root for if Serena makes the quarters?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, that’s never come up. That’s never come up.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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tech 129


Note from the US Open Media Operations Guide as to why Tennis Panorama News is allowed to post transcripts:

Transcripts of player interviews cannot be posted until one (1) hour after the interview has ended. Player transcripts can only be posted on the website of the publication that was accredited.

Victoria Duval – Cancer Survivor, Venus and Federer Fangirl

(September 3, 2015) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Just over a year ago Victoria Duval was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma just one day before the start of Wimbledon. She lost in the second round. Just the year before, the American of Haitian descent qualified for the US Open and upset 2011 champion Sam Stosur in the first round.

She returned to the tour at an ITF event in Landsville, Pennsylvania in early August this year, winning two matches before withdrawing from her quarterfinal match.

She played in the US Open qualifying tournament where she lost in the second round.

I asked her about the biggest challenge in being back on the court.

“I think the mental aspect, just like the focus that it takes to do a long match,” she said. “In my second round (qualies) match, I was tired emotionally in the third set more than physically and I think that the hardest thing coming back is staying in the moment for hours at a time, so it’s going to take a few more months being in competition.”

“I think the serve and the return are the hardest coming back. Adjusting to the speed, the different speeds, the ball comes from a different direction. The serve is something that I’m constantly working on. I was impressed with the level I was able to play at. It was good.”

Losing in the first round of the mixed doubles with Christian Harrison on Thursday, I asked the effervescent teen about what she plans to do in New York now that she’s completely done at the US Open.

“I will probably stick around tomorrow and go home the next day. It’s New York so you have to live a little.”

“I went to the Guggenheim, because I love art, O my gosh! Art fanatic. I want to go to the Metropolitan.

“I saw that (Roger) Federer went. Jealous! I can go that day. I so just want a selfie with him!”

“That would be a highlight of my life, just one selfie,” the bubbly Duval squealed. “I tweeted that one time, but then I deleted it, because I said that’s too much fangirling.

“Like my family gets emotional when he loses. Like we are staunch Federer fans. It gets serious.”

She talked about Venus Williams as a very significant example in her life.

“For Venus to be doing what she’s doing at her age, with all of the health issues that she’s had to battle, she’s definitely a role model for me even though we have totally different illnesses. What she has been able to do and I’ve been able to look up to someone like that. And obviously she’s so nice and she talks to me whenever I need her to talk to me, so I feel super blessed to have someone like that.”

“Venus is everything I want to be,” the 19-year-old proclaimed. “She’s like so poised. Oh my god, I love her so much! Massive fangirl in the locker room. She walks in and I’m like ‘aaahh!’ I have to hide in the corner. She was doing her hair and I wanted to talk to her so badly, but she getting ready for her match – I’m like ‘what do I do?!!’

“I like freak out when I see her!”

Duval is among a group of young American women tennis players on tour. “Yea, for sure. We’re trying to be the next generation, we boost each other, we’re all friends so it helps.”

Does she or her peers feel pressure after Serena and Venus Williams are no longer on the scene?

“Not yet,” Said Duval. “Yah, we will, but not yet. Especially for me right now, I’m just too happy to be back, for other players I’m not sure, but for as young as we all are, I think we have no pressure.”

She was asked if she’s seeking a rise in the diversity of the sport of tennis.

“Yes, I definitely think so. I think we are seeing our group – me Taylor (Townsend), Sachia (Vickery), Alicia (Tornado Black) even.

“I think that the fact that we are all rising together we’re making more of an impact because we’re not at the lower level we’re kind of making a name for ourselves now, we’re being seen so I definitely think it’s a boost.”

For now, Duval is focusing on making the draw of the next major.

“My next tournament is going to be a 75K in New Mexico,” she said. “Then I’ll probably just stay in the states and do Challengers… Carlsbad and stuff like that and hopefully have my ranking up for Australia next year.”


Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama at the US Open.

Related articles:

A New “Sunshine” – Victoria Duval

296th Ranked Qualifier Victoria Duval Upends 2011 US Open Champ Sam Stosur in First Round of US Open

Victoria Duval Diagnosed with Cancer


In His Own Words Lleyton Hewitt


(September 3, 2015) Lleyton Hewitt rallied from two sets down against his Australian countryman Bernard Tomic but could not capitalize on two match points and lost 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 5-7, 7-5 in an almost 3 1/2 hour match on Thursday at the US Open. This is the transcript from his post match news conference. This was Hewitt’s last singles match at the US Open. The former No. 1 won the title in 2001.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Lleyton Hewitt

Press Conference

B. TOMIC/L. Hewitt

6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 5-7, 7-5

An interview with:


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What were your emotions after that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I left it all out there again. Yeah, obviously you go through the pain barrier out there on the court. Everything happens so quickly. It was the same as Wimbledon.

But, you know, was a great atmosphere out there on that court. The crowd was really involved. You know, it was nice to be able to turn it into a decent match.

Q. You had your little boy out there watching you. He’s here now. What does it mean for you to be able to share this moment, even though it didn’t go your way tonight?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, no, it’s great. Obviously my two oldest kids especially are old enough to understand what daddy does out there now. It’s been a lot of fun this year taking him to a few more tournaments.

He’s really enjoyed it. He loves sport. For him to sit out there for five hours, it was a pretty good effort.

Q. Did you feel you had it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, obviously I felt like once I got to the fifth, if I could have broken that first game as well, I could have really opened it up. You know, Bernie’s got such an easy serve, though, he hits his spots well. He was able to do it in that first game from Love-40 down. That sort of just kept the momentum going for him there. If I was able to break it open early in the fifth…

But then obviously had 15-40 at 5-3. He was kind of in that mood of just going for everything. Couple of shots went in.

Q. Would you take that backhand that just dropped over?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I can’t remember now. The first backhand he hit, hit the tape. Went for a winner. The next one I felt like I scrambled as much as I could have. He was sort of just redlining on every shot.

Q. What will you miss about playing at the US Open?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, just great atmosphere like tonight. Especially the night matches are really special at the Open here. I’ve been fortunate to play in so many long four- and five-set matches out there on all three of the major courts.

You know, it was a great atmosphere out there again tonight.

Q. You’re kind of a real mentor and kind of a father figure to these youngsters. Did you feel any conflict? Is it easy to set aside that aspect of things when you go out there and play against them?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was really awkward. I said it would be before the match, and it was (smiling).

As I said before, I get along really well with Bernie. Yeah, he’s a good guy. He’s moving in the right direction. You know, the last couple years I’ve gone out of my way to try to help him out a lot. Yeah, I think it was awkward for both of us.

Q. Do you think something like this does something good for him?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably, yeah, in the long run I think. He obviously was well on top. Yeah, I was able to somehow find a way. That’s what I’ve been renowned for in my career. If I can instill a little bit of that especially into the three promising young guys on the way up, you know, with their games and the weapons they have, then that’s just another positive for them.

Q. Talk about your quality of fighting. Obviously that was something you had from the get-go. Did you work on that at all? Did it just come naturally?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, it just came naturally, yeah. I’m just very competitive. I pride myself on getting the most out of myself.

Q. Do you think you have the same level of ferocity and fight now that you did at the very beginning?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I do. Yeah, maybe in a different way in some way, though.

Q. It was obviously a very emotional match. You’ve both spoken about that. Is it a match you could actually enjoy while you were in the heat of the battle or just too much pressure and too much else going around to really enjoy what was happening? The second part is, in one sense is this like a baton change between you and the young ones, playing Bernie, now the No. 1 Australian?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he’s been I guess the No. 1 for a while, for the last couple years anyway. In terms of that, I’ve seen my role the last couple of years as more of a mentor to those guys anyway.

Yeah, I guess once you’re out in the heat of battle it’s hard to enjoy it because you’ve got so many things going through your mind about trying to get the most out of yourself and performing as well as possible.

So, yeah, I would have liked to have been able to enjoy it a bit more. But obviously when it’s so tight, especially in the fifth set, you’re just trying to find a way to obviously get across the line.

Q. You said your competitiveness is something you’ve always had. How do you go about trying to instill that in another player?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it’s not easy. Everyone’s personalities are different, so you’ve got to work with that a little bit, I think. It’s probably a work in progress.

But I think the biggest thing is if they see what you can get out of it, just doing a lot of the 1% things, and it doesn’t always even have to be on the match court. It could be being the ultimate professional in the locker room and preparing as well as possible for matches. Then it just becomes part of your daily routine.

So there’s a lot of things the younger guys can learn.

Q. You’ve heard the Aussie fans singing a fun song about walking in a Hewitt Wonderland. What’s the one most wonderful thing about all your years playing tennis?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Playing tennis?

Q. Yes.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don’t know. Tennis has given me the life that I have, and that’s the best thing. Obviously I’ve had a lot of success. A lot of hard work and dedication and sacrifices. But obviously at the end of the day, you know, tennis has given me this great life.

Q. Can you mention some of your most cherished memories from here, if any, other than the year you won? Big or small things you’ll always remember about this place or your time here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, the night matches are always, you know, that’s probably the biggest difference to a lot of the other tournaments. When you play at night here, great atmosphere here, obviously 23,000, 24,000 people. You really feel like you are the showtime, prime time match.

Yeah, probably a couple years ago, two years ago, whenever I beat del Potro in the second round in five sets, because I came back from a foot surgery and didn’t know if I’d have the opportunity to compete out there on the center stage against those guys again. To beat another former winner here in the night match, that was probably, apart from winning it, one of my biggest ones.

Obviously my first breakthrough year in 2000 of making the semis in singles and winning the doubles the year before I won it. This has always been result-wise one of my more successful slams.

Q. Talk about the first great win when you were young, winning your hometown tournament, how important was that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It was obviously important. I went from 750 in the world to 150. Winning a couple satellites, I wouldn’t have done it that quick.

Yeah, I guess, you know, instilled the confidence and self-belief that I can go out there and match it against tour players because I really was just not even a rookie. I was on the junior tour.

To go out there and beat guys like Agassi and hold up under that pressure and circumstance in the heat of battle against the best guys, that gave me a lot of belief. I think that’s one of the reasons why I was able to succeed at a young age.

Q. At Wimbledon you spoke about some of the toughest strokes you’ve faced. Mentally, who would be the one or two greatest fighters that you’ve faced in your career?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, Nadal for sure. The way he goes about it is fantastic. He’s one of my favorite players to watch. How he handles, even at the French Open this year, Novak was well on top early, when he finally got on the scoreboard, incredible competitor.

Q. Can you sense a transformation in the way you were received here? Back when you were younger, you weren’t the crowd favorite. Today everyone was going crazy wanting you to win.
LLEYTON HEWITT: They like the old guy, don’t they? It’s nice (smiling).

Yeah, unbelievable atmosphere out there. The night matches have been great. Even two years ago when I played on center court against del Potro, the whole crowd got behind me there. I really felt the love. Yeah, coming back as a champion as well as the years go on, once you’ve been back, your 10-year anniversary of winning the thing, you’ve been around for a while. I guess I appreciate that.

Q. What will you think about leaving the grounds tonight?
LLEYTON HEWITT: What time to book a practice court for tomorrow. Sam Groth already messaged me (laughter).

Q. A lot of your biggest rivals have long retired. Is there anybody who you’re going to particularly miss playing against?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably Roger just because how good he is. Everything that he can do on a tennis court, it’s second to none. I’ve had a lot of practice sessions before every major tournament the last couple years with Roger and I’ve really enjoyed that as well.

Q. When you first came into it, there were a bunch of Aussies. Now at the end of it there’s a bunch of Aussies too. Is there a message you would like to give to the young guys coming through?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I will pass on stuff to the young guys. I don’t have to say it here. But, yeah, obviously that’s my next role, is to help those boys out.

I was very fortunate that I came up in a group where there weren’t a lot of egos, especially the Woodies Stoltenberg, Fromberg, Wayne Arthurs, a lot of these guys. I stayed at both the Woodies’ houses around the world. They helped me out with a lot of stuff. Obviously Rafter came up when I was playing Davis Cup with him. He took me under his wing.

So I was really fortunate with that stuff. It’s just like, you know, I had Nick at my house in The Bahamas last week training beforehand. I think that’s just part of a really good Australian culture.

Q. How special was it playing in front of your biggest fan, and what advice did he give you after the match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: He said I nearly won (laughter).

No, he gets along well with Bernie, too. No, it was good. He loves his tennis. I’m very proud that he could sit through five sets. Now he knows what Bec and my parents have had to sit through their whole life.

No, he loves it. Yeah, Bernie is fantastic with Cruz, Nick and Thanasi. They’re great. Hopefully some of this rubs off and he wants to be out here someday.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


Note from the US Open Media Operations Guide as why Tennis Panorama News is allowed to post transcripts:

Transcripts of player interviews cannot be posted until one (1) hour after the interview has ended. Player transcripts can only be posted on the website of the publication that was accredited.

Catching Up with Vania King

Vania King gives towels to children

(September 1,  2015) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY –  WTA player Vania King is back on tour after being absent for about almost a year. Playing under a protected ranking, we caught up with the Californian who is currently ranked at 414 in the world after her first round US Open loss to Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-4, on Monday.

Tennis Panorama News: A tough match on the road back. You are under a protected ranking, am I correct?

Vania King: So I played three tournaments prior to this and yes I was out for almost a year. I didn’t touch a racquet for seven months. I had a herniated disc in my neck. I started having pain in May of last year. By US Open I had decided that I had needed some time to take off. I took off seven months, it got much better, so I was very happy with that. Started practicing and I really wanted to make the US Open. I felt that my tennis was good and I needed matches. Today I felt like it was a good match for me. I really see I need to get stronger. I was out for seven months and only practiced for three months. The first two I was so weak that I really couldn’t do what I wanted to do. Now I really can’t do what I really want to do in terms of fitness –wise, court-wise, because my body is not strong enough to do it. So slowly my goal is next year. I feel that my tennis is there.

I was up a break in both sets, I just need to get stronger.

TPN: Have you set your goal for next US Open in terms of your fitness?

VK: I haven’t set a specific date, but I really hope that I can be back next year, with or without any injury. Being strong and healthy. One year, I was gone for a year so I lost all of my rankings (points).

One year to get back into the the 100 may be a tough task for me but, I’m going to take it a step at a time and I feel that my tennis is good, so I’m happy about that. It just depends on how long this body takes to get strong again.


TPN: What keeps you motivated to keep playing? You are only 26, but it seems like you have been around for a long time.

VK: Tennis has changed a lot. When I came on tour it was fairly common for players to come up at 14, 15, 16… I was late actually at 16, 17 – that was late. But after me, no player that broke through was a teenager, very, very few players, but Americans overall.

It’s very hard for players to break through, the game has gotten very physical and players are mentally and physically very tough, so it’s hard to break through you have to be consistent physically and mentally throughout the year.

I needed to stop for my physical health, but it was also very benfeficial for me to stop mentally, because I have never had a break.

As to your question, to stay motivated, to recognize that players, we do get burned out during the year because we do play a long season. If we play too many tournaments in a row, then we get burned out. With experience every play figures out what they can handle mentally. So for me it took me a few years to figure out how many tournaments can I play in a row. Which areas geiographically do I feel better in, in that way I adjust my schedule. And if I’m feeling bad, what do I do, should I push through it, should I take a break, go on holidays…

With experience, I learned to recognize the signs and for me it was always better to take a step back and not to push through it, take a few days off, take a week off… and then come back.


TPN: Are you playing doubles at all?

VK: I’m playing here with a protected rank, so I’m playing maybe Wednesday or Thursday.


TPN: What’s been the highlight of your tennis career?

VK: Winning my first title in Bangkok. Winning the grand slams. Results-wise those are the best, but I think that if I could be happy consistently then I could I could be pleased. That was my goal to be happy for a long period of time. Recognizing metal dips and stuff and trying to maintain that.


TPN: Tennis idols growing up?

VK: When I grew up I loved Pete Sampras, I played nothing like him because I’m tiny. Don’t have a big serve but I loved watching Pete. Watched all of his matches, tape them and watch them. I loved watching the rivalry between him and (Andre) Agassi, but I always rooted for him.


TPN: What do you think of when I say the name Serena Williams?

VK: I want her to win the Grand Slam. I think she can do it. I think she needs to stay focused. I think most of the tennis tour would be excited if she won it because it’s milestone for our generation. Of course Steffi (Graf) has done wonders for tennis, but we haven’t had someone from our generation to surpass the world records. She has won four in a row. Technically not the Grand Slam. I think she’s a great champion. I am so envious, I admire her so much for how strong she is mentally. Everyone’s got great tennis, of course she’s got great tennis but she is mentally the most stable and strong and that’s why she’s where she is.

TPN: Are you playing any tournaments the rest of the year?

VK: My plan is to play challengers because now I don’t have a ranking. I’ll play challengers get stronger and then use my protected rank. I’ve got a couple more protected ranking tournaments I’ll use them for next year.


Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News at the US Open.


Q & A with ATP Rising Star Elias Ymer

(August 31, 2015) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – In qualifying for the US Open, Sweden’s Elias Ymer became only the second man to qualify at all four Grand Slams in a single season. The world No. 144 on the ATP World Tour lost in his first round main draw match to Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. He took time out after his loss to speak to Tennis Panorama News.

Tennis Panorama News: Can you talk about the rare feat of making all for major main draws through the qualies in the same year? Can you talk about your road through the qualies?

Elias Ymer: Of course it’s a big effort. I was really motivated in the qualies. I played every slam I wanted to make the main draw. I was really working in the qualies, focusing on every match. I had good structure before every match, planning, everything was good. I earned it, I was winning every match. I really played good in the qualies.


TPN: Most challenging qualies?

EY: I think in Australia when I was playing my first qualies. When I qualified it was really like, I felt the most in Australian because the others, I feel of course but it’s not the same feeling. The first one is an unreal feeling.


TPN: How did you get into playing tennis?

EY: My father was a professional runner and my parents come from Ethiopia and my father wanted me to be a runner but I don’t like running so much you know. In Ethiopia everyone running and when we came to Sweden. In Sweden tennis is a big sport, they have so many great players.


TPN: There has been a bit of a tennis player drought in Sweden, do you feel pressure because of it?

EY: No. I wish I had some players coming up with me, so I was not the only one. They could challenge me and I could challenge them we would move up together. It is what it is now and I have to see some other young guys coming up. I try to focus against them and challenge them.

TPN: Who were your tennis idols? Did you mimic them in your style?

EY: Not really because I haven’t see many players who play like me I play really different because, sometimes when I try to watch and see who I’m playing like, I cannot find the guy.

TPN: Describe your playing style.

EY: Aggressive from both sides. I need to be a little bit more consistent. When I’m playing really good, everything works for me sometimes when I’m little off I can be up and down. I use my forehand a lot to move the players side to side, trying to come to the net, I know it’s going to come, my game.


TPN: So who were the tennis players you admired?

EY: Of course Sweden has a lot of players… I was always too young, we never really had one to look up to. (Robin) Soderling was a Swedish player we were watching quite young. What he has done is unbelievable. It was sad when he had stopped playing.


TPN: Do you speak to any of the former Swedish pros?

EY: I speak a lot with Magnus Norman and Stephan Edberg. Twos guy who I really admire, really admire. They know a lot about tennis and they are a big help.


TPN: You are only 19, what’s been the highlight of your career so far?

EY: When I qualified for all four slams is a big highlight and I have to say when I qualified in Australia, it was a dream come true, actually to play in the main draw. Because I’ve been wanting to play in Grand Slams, it’s what you dream of.


TPN: Do you have any goals set for you within the next year?

EY: I think this loss for me was very important. I saw a lot of stuff I need (to work on), I have a lot of work ahead of me, I’m going to need to put my head down and work my a** off because it’s not coming easy. This job is like really tough and I have a lot of work.


TPN: What are your plans for the rest of the year?

EY: I’m going to Turkey, then I’m going to stay in Europe playing some ATPs mixed with Challengers.


Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News at the US Open


Q & A with US Open Wildcard NCAA Champion Ryan Shane

(August 31, 2015) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Ryan Shane is the reigning NCAA Men’s Singles Champion, playing for the University of Virginia. Winning the NCAA’s earned him a wildcard into the US Open main draw. Shane lost his main draw match on Monday to the 27th seed Jeremy Chardy 6-2, 6-1, 6-7(6), 6-2.

He talked to Tennis Panorama News after the four-set loss.


Tennis Panorama: Talk about the match.

Ryan Shane: Obviously he’s the 27th seed, I think he just semi-ed in Canada.

I knew going in it was going to be a tough match.

I tried to make it as exciting as I could, I made it go four sets – he has a big serve, a big forehand, so I was just trying to manage that as well as I could, keep it away. He did a good job of finding his forehand today.


TPN: What was it like playing in the main draw with a big crowd?

RS: It was pretty amazing. I started playing tennis when I was really young. I’ve always wanted to play here, so now getting to play inside the stadium here, really a lot of fun. Tried to embrace the moment as much as I could.. It’s not 3 out of 5 that’s for sure it’s a different, it just feels different out here. You don’t play lets, in college tennis you just keep going, you don’t have that in pros

A lot more fans, all of the Americans cheer for you here, where in a college match, Americans cheer against you and so, it seemed so much different, so much bigger here.

College tennis is a little different.


TPN: so what’s next for you?

RS: It’s back to school, school has already started and back here for a college event next Thursday. I’ll be back for that. Other than that just back to school.


TPN: What do you plan to do after your Senior year?

RS: I plan on playing tennis, tennis is a lot of fun, give it a go and see what I can do, that’s what I plan on doing right now.


TPN: How did you discover the game?

RS: When my older brother (Justin) was born, my Dad built a court in the back of our house. He was a big tennis fan he always watched it. When I was really young I would go out and see my older brother playing, and I just picked up one of his little racquets and started swinging and my Dad saw that maybe he loves it so maybe I’ll let him play. Ever since then I’ve been playing.

(Note: His older brother played college tennis at UVA with him)


TPN: Which one of you is the better player?

RS: I would have to say him. He’s beating me a lot of times, he’s two years older, he’s got an edge on me.


TPN: Why do you think no US men have won a major since 2003?

RS: It’s a tough sport. I don’t know, we work hard. There’s a lot of good players out there and people want to win. You can’t just say it’s America’s fault or anything – Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are just unbelievable competitors.

I think our time is coming, we have a lot of young Americans that I think that little era of not winning a major may be over.


TPN: Who were your tennis idols?

RS: Idols growing up I was a big (Pete) Sampras fan growing up when I was really young my dad loved him and was forced to watch him. I kind of got the idea of the one-handed backhand from him. And of course Roger Federer, I have so much respect for him, he’s an amazing player, so talented and hardworking, humble.

And Steve Johnson is actually one of my favorite players now. I think he’s top 50 now. He went to college and sets a good precedent for all college players who come out who are not 6’10” , 6’8” with massive serves and can rip 145mph serves. He gives me someone to look up to. If he can do it, May be I can too.

TPN: So what’s after the US Open, just school?

RS: Playing a lot of challengers in the fall, probably missing a lot of school. I’m hoping for six or seven in the fall, get some (ATP) points.

TPN: So what happens to the first round money, since you are not a pro?

RS: First round money – Have to expense it for hotel and travel and all that. Sad it would have been a nice starting little salary. It’s not bad, I have another year in school.


Shane will be participating  in the second annual American Collegiate Invitational, being held Sept. 10-12 at the US Open.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News at the US Open


Brad Gilbert Talks US Open Draws with Tennis Panorama News

Brad Gilbert Voya

(August 27, 2015) NEW YORK, NY – Former pro tennis player coach and current ESPN tennis analyst Brad Gilbert is known for having a unique tennis vocabulary. The former world No. 4 is putting his tennis glossary to good use starring in six Voya Financial-produced videos for social media.


This is the second edition of the “Gilbert’s Glossary” videos that began during Wimbledon received more than four million views. The new campaign includes six new comical video shorts featuring Gilbert.

Voya’s sponsorship of ESPN’s coverage spans the entire duration of the US Open and will air over two weeks — from Aug. 31 through Sept. 13 — across ESPN networks. The agreement features a number of media rights including significant commercial inventory, live Voya “Bench Talk” segments with accompanying graphics and audio mentions, and the debut of 360-degree “freeD” replay technology with Voya on-screen branding.


Gilbert spoke to Tennis Panorama News to talk about the videos and the US Open singles draws which were made on Thursday.

Tennis Panorama News: Let’s talk about the men’s draw first. What were your impressions?

Brad Gilbert: There are about a half a dozen really good popcorn matches in the first round. We’re going to have some intriguing matches.


Definitely Rafa (Nadal) – (Borna) Coric, The bad boy (Nick) Kyrgios versus (Andy) Murray, I think that’s a bad match-up for him anyways. (Thanasi) Kokkinakis versus (Richard) Gasquet.


I think Djoker (Novak Djokovic) got a great draw and down on the bottom (of the draw), I’m not really sure if he had a good draw or a bad draw, if (Roger) Federer is playing the way he did in Cincinnati, I think he’s in store for a big run. It’s been six years since he made a final at the (US) Open. What he showed in Cincinnati was really impressive. I’m looking forward to see if he can bring that in New York.


TPN: Can you predict the winner after seeing the draw today?

BG: No. I will pick a winner in a couple of days. I do it for ESPN.com. One thing’s for sure, sometimes you look at a draw, you look at a brutal draw and a couple days later it can open up. So, Serena’s (Williams) draw on paper is brutal, but you never know if she’ll have to navigate all the way through the draw the way it is ‘cause things can change.


Last year was a major surprise (on the men’s tour) with what we had and probably the first time, we had a couple of surprises. We had Stan (Wawrinka) winning (the Australian Open) and (Marin) Cilic (US Open) – I don’t think we are going to see a major surprise like that this year (at the US Open) that’s for sure.


TPN: So do you want to go out on a limb and make a prediction for the women?

BG: No, not yet. I have to think about it for a few more days. I usually fill out 2 or 3 draws. I sit there and scratch through them in my room until I come up with the right one.


TPN: I want to ask you about your new videos that were launched Voya Financial. How much fun was it making them, especially with your unique spin on things.

BG: It was a blast doing them. Obviously Voya is a great company. They had a tremendous team making me look good. And one of the coolest compliments – I had a young kid come up to me and say “Are you that YouTube dude?” (Laughter)


So, I’ve been called a lot about being a coach and playing, the way the kid said it, it kind rang home – like to him it really meant something. I like to have a lot of fun on Twitter, and I like to have a lot of fun, when I do the studio stuff, so I am really happy that Voya gave me a platform to have fun.



Here are two of the videos in “Gibert’s Glossary” campaign for Voya Financial

Videos called Moonball, Flatliner, Fearhand and Dead Let Court will be released during the US Open.

Related article:

Brad Gilbert Talks Tennis “Glossary”

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News at the US Open.


Brad Gilbert Talks Tennis “Glossary”

Gilbert's Glossary

(June 29, 2015) Brad Gilbert has a new series of unique video shorts entitled “Gilbert’s Glossary,” which will air online during Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. The former world No. 4 and ESPN Tennis commentator puts his own spin on explaining tennis terms such as “Buggy Whip,” “Love,” “Breadsticks” and “Bagels,” “Can Opener” and Moonball to name a few. These video shorts are produced by Voya Financial and coincide with the company’s sponsorship of ESPN’s telecasts of the last two majors of the year.

Tennis Panorama News asked Gilbert a few questions about his own personal tennis glossary and about his tennis nicknames.

Tennis Panorama News: Brad, you have a unique set of glossary terms of your own, including a number of player nicknames, how did that begin? Was Bud Collins an influence on why you do it, since he’s done it for ages?


Brad Gilbert: The glossary of terms and nicknames has been more of a natural progression of having fun. I always kind of did it as a player and then as I progressed into coaching I used it for levity and memory/code words, etc.  For TV it really took off, just because I feel it’s important to have fun and keep things simple for the viewer and fans. It’s just my thing. It’s always respectful and more to the strengths of the player than anything else. Plus there are so many players, it’s a way to remember and keep it fun. As far as it stemming from anyone, not really, but if anybody, I’m a Chris Berman fan.


TPN: What’s your favorite term from your “own” glossary?

BG:  Favorite terms:

FEARhand:  Massive Forehand

SURF & TURF: A one-two term for a big serve and big fearhand winner.

LARGE & IN CHARGE:  Refers to a player dominating on the court.

BACHHAND – (always liked it Vic Braden accent as a kid.)  Just a beautiful looking shot on the backhand side.

All-time favorite: DISHEVELED when a player looks gone in the match (plus it irritates the grammar police)


TPN: Any plans to produce a master list of your unique nicknames any time soon?


BG: No, it’s more of a cult following approach. My Twitter followers always attempt at creating one, but it’s a never ending thing and should remain elusive. Also, I don’t have a staff – with the exception of Mrs. G and doubtful she’d be in agreement, she has her limits!


TPN: With this new Voya Financial sponsorship for the U.S. Open and Wimbledon will you do different glossaries for each?


BG: Throughout Wimbledon and the US Open, Voya will distribute a total of 12 ‘Gilbert Glossary’ videos, six for each tournament. In the videos I hope to change the way people think about tennis just like Voya is helping change the way consumers think about retirement.


TPN: With both slams being very different, what new types of glossary terms would you use to describe each of them?


BG: Wimbledon Terms? Grass related, it’s a Cathedral of Tennis. It’s unique because it’s a club. The US Open and Wimby are two completely different events, atmospheres, fans, and flow. I’ll have to come up with something for the weather during the “Fortnight” (one of the unique Wimby terms), as they are anticipating an unprecedented heat wave. I’m predicting I’ll have a lot of weather references…something will come from that I’m sure. In general, The Glossary is spontaneous, there’s no forethought, no over-thinking, no planning – it just comes to me. It’s what the moment speaks – it’s just my style.

Look out for Gilbert’s videos throughout the summer. Each video ends with a tag line, “Brad Gilbert: Changing the Way You Think About Tennis. Voya Financial: Changing the Way You Think About Retirement.”

Follow Brad Gilbert on Twitter at @bgtennisnation

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News


From ATP Pro to “Shark Tank” – Zack Fleishman Talks About Being an Entrepreneur

Zack Fleishman ucla 4

(May 12, 2015) Former ATP World Tour professional Zack Fleishman will be taking the plunge on the ABC-TV show “Shark Tank” on Friday, May 15, 2015.


Shark Tank, which has aired on ABC since 2009, is a program in which aspiring entrepreneur contestants make business presentations to a panel of “shark” investors.


The former tennis player who reached a career-high singles ranking of No. 127 in 2007, will have his company Shark Wheel featured on the program. Fleishman is the company’s Chief Operating Officer.


Shark Wheel is based in in the Lake Forest community of Orange County. Shark Wheel’s technology guru David Patrick has literally reinvented the wheel with a design that offers superior performance advantages to the traditional wheel.


The Shark Wheel design is the perfect intersection of a cube, a sphere, and a three-dimensional sine wave. It appears to be a square or cube rolling from the side/45 degree angle, but from the rear view looks like a snake or three-dimensional sine wave in motion.


The former UCLA All-American who competed in all four majors as a professional, with career wins over the likes of Fernando González, David Nalbandian, Vince Spadea, Mardy Fish, Robby Ginepri, Daniel Nestor, Tomáš Berdych, Kei Nishikori, Kevin Anderson and Nicolas Mahut talked about his transition from swinging racquets to reinventing wheels.

“What happened was that I was having my best year in tennis in 2007, reached my career high of No. 11 in the United States, No. 127 in the world and in 2008 I flew off a mountain bike and had a horrible accident, said the 35-year-old Californian. “My tire popped and I flew over the handlebars and severely injured my shoulder, I tore everything, so I had to get reconstructive shoulder surgery. And I tried to come back a year later. I actually won a futures tournament and I had to get a second shoulder surgery, re-torn in the same spot. So that basically knocked me out of competition.”


“Then I started teaching tennis full-time and then what happened was my tennis coach, he was also my fitness trainer. He used to travel with me to the U.S. Open and a bunch of other big tournaments and he used to always make fun of me because I used to read science books all the time. That was my obsession – physics, cosmology, anything to do with science.

“So one day when I was working out, one of my clients made a major scientific discovery which made the cover of Time Magazine. He said that I think you would understand the scientific discovery and that he would like me to hear all about it. I said absolutely.


“So he introduced me to one of his clients and it started off for the first two months as me almost being his apprentice, learning all about the discoveries that he made, it was beyond fascinating.


“And then it slowly turned into a business relationship when he had all these unique shapes that came out of this discovery.

“He actually spent years developing this scientific model.

“Then one day he said, did I ever show you this wheel.

“He showed it to me, and I literally called the patent lawyer five minutes later.

“And we changed directions only working on the (Shark) wheel.

“I was just extremely hungry to help him get his ideas to the marketplace and that’s how I got involved and went from tennis into entrepreneurship.”


A small company based in the Lake Forest community of Orange County, Shark Wheel’s technology guru David Patrick has literally reinvented the wheel with a revolutionary design.


Patrick’s passion for skateboarding along with his interest in the natural world led to the discovery of the Shark Wheel.  Patrick discovered the shape while studying natural sciences. It is based on the shape of shark jaws and is a pattern found throughout nature. Once he realized the significant advantages of the wheel, a team was assembled, a patent was obtained, and Shark Wheel was born. The Shark Wheel offers a faster ride, more slide control, and better grip through rain and rough terrains.


The Shark Wheel can be used for almost any application that uses a wheel, but it is the company’s intent to manufacture only skateboard products and roller skate/roller derby wheels.  Shark Wheel ‘s expansion into a full spectrum of markets where the Shark Wheel could increase efficiency, roll faster, and maneuver through uneven surfaces would be executed only through licensing agreements.


As for expanding the wheel’s use, Fleishman said: “We decided to start in skateboarding because it’s a cool market.

“We plan to go into a variety of markets – doing licensing deals from everything from scooters to roller skates to luggage to office chairs, all the way down to cars one day.”

Any possible use of this wheel in tennis someday? “Not quite yet -we may be able to throw some wheels on the umpire’s chair and a couple of other places,” the entrepreneur said with smile in his voice, “but I plan to look into that soon because I’d love to bring my current business back into the tennis world somehow.”

Fleishman talked about playing pro tennis versus what he’s doing now in the business world: “I look at business as a sport and when I was playing tennis, all I was doing was trying to out-work my opponent, out-think my opponent and figure out ways to get ahead, find advantages – and that’s exactly how I look at business.

“I’m scared that my competition is out-working me, out-thinking me. So even though it’s a lot less physical, it’s a lot more mental, it’s a whole new exciting learning curve for me to master the art.

“And I’m just an extraordinarily competitive person and I look at this as a different sport that I took up.”


As for preparing his pitch for Shark Tank, “We were only given a few weeks of preparation time so it was a full-time job getting ready for the show, he said. “We had a very small time frame to build prototypes to show on the show and I had to learn every single part of our business, every single number, down to the penny. I was very well-prepared by the time the filming of the TV show came around.”

The show was taped a few months ago.

The former world No. 127 still keeps up with the tennis world. Of particular interest to him is college tennis and the up-and-comers on the pro tours.

He’s very proud of having coached the No. 1 women’s college player – Maegan Manasse of the California Bears, University of California, Berkeley. He predicts that she’ll be a Top 20 player someday. He thinks she’s ready for the pro tour and to keep an eye out for her as she’s been “under the radar” for her entire career.


As for the men, Fleishman likes to watch Dominic Theim, Borna Coric. “I really like watching those young guys, how they are able to perform at such a high level at such a young age.”


“It’s so amazing for me to be part of a new discovery that has never occurred in all of human history – somebody reinvented the shape of the wheel and it actually out performs a traditional wheel.”


See if Fleishman can convince the panel on Shark Tank to back the Shark Wheel on Friday, May 15, 2015 on ABC-TV. Check local listings for the time and the exact channel.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News