October 7, 2015

Archives for 2012

Chris Evert – A Life Devoted to Tennis

NEW YORK, NY – From hoisting 157 singles trophies during her career on the court, to her current role as tennis commentator for ESPN, tennis hall of famer Chris Evert continues to be very active in the sport.


Evert was ranked No. 1 in the world for seven years, won 1309 matches, captured 18 majors titles, and won one slam each year for 13 years in succession.


Not resting on past laurels, the Floridian has stayed involved in the sport since she retired in 1989.


On Friday night the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum honored the Class of 2012 at the “Legend’s Ball”  at Cipriani – the inductees included Jennifer Capriati, Gustavo Kuerten, Manuel Orantes, Mike Davies, and Randy Snow (posthumously).


Also among the award recipients was Chris Evert, inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame back in 1995. She was being honored for her dedication to tennis and the positive impact she has made on the sport with the Eugene L. Scott Award. Scott was a US Davis Cup player, tournament director and the founder of Tennis Week magazine. He wrote a column for magazine called “Vantage Point.” Many referred to Scott as “the conscience of the game.”  He died in 2006. Former winner, Billie Jean King presented Evert with her award.


“I don’t win any trophies anymore for tennis on the court so it’s nice to receive a service award to put me back into the game and I never really retired,” the 57-year-old Evert said.


Past recipients of this award which were selected based on their commitment to communicating honestly and critically about the game, or has had a significant impact on the tennis world have been John McEnroe (2006); Andre Agassi (2007); Billie Jean King (2008); Arthur Ashe and his wife Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe (2009); Martina Navratilova (2010); and Dick Enberg (2011).


“I stopped playing professional tennis but it’s still my life and I still talk about it on ESPN and I write about it in Tennis Magazine, Evert said, “and I have a tennis academy. It’s been a great livelihood for me.”
Evert also reflected on this years’ US Open.

“It’s kind of a sad, bittersweet US Open,” Evert said due to the retirements of Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick.

“It’s not really a happy US Open with those two players gone because they’re very well-liked and they had a lot of presence on the court lot of personality. But that’s how life is. We also saw the emergence of Laura Robson and some other young players. And we’re going to see some young players not. It’s kind of like the changing of the guard right now.”

Speaking of young players, Evert noted the success of a player in her own academy in Boca Raton, Florida. “We had one girl Anna Tatishvili get to the round of 16,” Evert said.  Tatishvili lost to Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 6-2.

“So she had been training with us for like 10 years. We have a lot of young kids and if their goal is to get a scholarship to college or to win their local tournament or to be on their high school team, it’s the same to us as if they’re going to be on tour.”

On top of her academy, her broadcast work for ESPN and her work as publisher and contributor roles for Tennis Magazine, Evert also hosts a charity event each year since she has been retired. Over the years, her philanthropic endeavors have raised more than 20 million dollars to fight against drug abuse and child neglect in Florida.

Her playing days may be long over, but it doesn’t stop her from serving the game that has been her life.


Karen Pestaina is the founder and editor of Tennis Panorama News.


Andy Roddick Announces Retirement after US Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Andy Roddick held a news conference at the US Open Thursday evening to announce that he is retiring from playing tennis after the US Open.

“I have decided that this is going to be my last tournament,” Roddick said. “I don’t know if I’m healthy enough or committed enough to continue another year. I’ve always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event. I have a lot of family and friends here. I’ve thought all year that I would know when I got to this tournament. When I was playing my first round, I knew.”


When asked about what he will miss most he answered, “All you guys,” referring to the media

During his career Roddick won 32 career ATP World Tour titles. He became No. 1 in the world in November 2003 and ended the year as the youngest American to do so at 21 years and three months.

Roddick won the 2003 US Open and was a Wimbledon finalist 2004-05 and 2009.

Roddick was always a Davis Cup stalwart, helping to lead the US to the 2007 title.

 In his own words: exerpts from Andy Roddick’s news conference


I just feel like it’s time.  I don’t know that I’m healthy enough or committed enough to go another year.  I’ve always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event.  I have a lot of family and friends here.  I’ve thought all year that I would know when I got to this tournament.

When I was playing my first round, I knew.

You know, certain parts throughout the year, I’ve thought about it.  You know, just with the way my body feels, with the way that I’m able to feel like I’m able to compete now, I don’t know that it’s good enough.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been someone who’s interested in existing on tour.  I have a lot of interests and a lot of other things that excite me.  I’m looking forward to those.

Q.  You’ve been talking about this for a couple years.  We’ve talked about 30 is not that old in tennis.  Obviously Federer is 30.  You’ve been a good athlete, very competitive.  In a sense, you’re sort of retiring early, no?

ANDY RODDICK:  Now you’re saying that (smiling)?

Q.  Yes.

ANDY RODDICK:  Well, it’s good.  I didn’t want to make it through this press conference without a direct comparison to Roger, so thank you for that.

I don’t know, necessarily.  A number is a number.  But I think wear and tear and miles is something that’s not really an age thing.  You know, if you look at my contemporaries that started with me, Roger is the only one that’s still going and still going strong.

It’s a matter of how I feel.  I feel like I’m able to compete at the highest level.  Frankly, these guys have gotten really, really, really good.  I’m not sure that with compromised health that I can do what I want to do right now.

Well, immediately we announced yesterday or the day before we’re building, with my foundation, a youth tennis and learning center in Austin.  I’d like to be hands on with that and not see it periodically.  I’d like to be kind of on‑site every day.  There’s some other projects, kind of side projects, that I’ve been doing.

Those excite me a lot right now.  So I’m looking forward to it.

I’ve always, for whatever my faults have been, felt like I’ve never done anything halfway.  Probably the first time in my career that I can sit here and say I’m not sure that I can put everything into it physically and emotionally.  I don’t know that I want to disrespect the game by coasting home.  I had plans to play a smaller schedule next year.  But the more I thought about it, I think you either got to be all in or not.  You know, that’s more kind of the way I’ve chosen to do things.

I’ve had some hard conversations with Brooke this year, with Doug and Larry.  You know, it was Brooke and I’s little secret over the last couple days.  I talked to Larry and Doug today.

We had talked about it throughout the year, obviously.  Talked to a bunch of my friends that are here.  It’s time.

You know, I’m lucky enough, there are a lot of players where I live.  I don’t think I’m one of the guys who won’t pick up a racquet for three years.  You know, I still love the innocent parts of the game.  I love hitting tennis balls.  I love seeing the young guys do well.

I’ll still have a lot of friends to watch.  I’ll miss the relationships probably the most.  As time passes, I’ll probably miss the tennis more.  But immediately that’s probably the thing that is toughest for me.

I think I wanted an opportunity to say good‑bye to people, as well.  I don’t know how tomorrow’s going to go.  I hope it goes well and I hope I’m sticking around.  I just imagine being off the court tomorrow in an empty locker room.

I think I wanted a chance to say good‑bye.  Also, if I do run into some emotions tomorrow or in four days or however long, I don’t want people to think I’m a little unstable, or more unstable (smiling).  That’s why I came to this decision.

There are a lot of different personalities.  Some people just want to play until they can’t play anymore, until they’re pushed out just by ranking, or they can’t get into tournaments.

I don’t think it’s fair to maybe generalize this moment for people.  Different people tick in different ways.  I don’t know that I looked at anybody else’s scenario when thinking about this ’cause I don’t know that I could pretend to relate to whatever they were thinking at a given moment.

I think so.  At the end of the day, I know that people view it as a career, last little while, of some hard knocks.  But I got to play.  I got to play in a crowd, play in Wimbledon finals, be the guy on a Davis Cup team for a while.  Those are opportunities not a lot of people get.

As much as I was disappointed and frustrated at times, I’m not sure that I ever felt sorry for myself or begrudged anybody any of their success.

For the moments where it’s been hard, I’ve had 25 positive things that have come from it.  Again, anything that people may view as tough, I’ve been very lucky and very fortunate.  I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities.

I wouldn’t trade away a day of it.  I’ve loved every minute.

A lot of stuff with my foundation will probably be my primary focus from here for a little bit.  Obviously I’ve gone over to the dark side with you guys with the radio show a little bit.  So that’s fun.  It’s something I enjoy doing.  I’ll probably build on that a little bit.

There are some other things also.  I’m looking forward to it.

I feel clear.  If I’m being honest, I would have bet against myself on getting through this without tears today.  I must have already gotten them all out earlier.

I feel pretty good today.  This has been a huge part of my life always.  But I don’t know that it’s always been my entire life.  So I do feel very confident in the things and the people that I have to fall back on.

My first time?  I was here in ’98, I played Fernando González in the juniors first round.

I came here in I think it was 1990 with my parents as a birthday present.  I snuck into the players lounge without a credential.

I saw Pete.  He was playing video games.  I’m pretty sure I beat him at like Mortal Kombat or something.  That was fun.

I was here in ’91 when Jimmy was making his run.  We only had grounds passes, but I got into the stadium every day somehow.

Then playing here, I think I played professional in ’99 doubles for the first time.  There have been a lot of memories here.

It’s meant a lot.  It’s the highest of highs and probably the lowest of lows also.  It’s certainly never been boring.  I’ve always enjoyed the energy.  I feel like each Grand Slam is almost a microcosm of the place it’s played in.

This is a show.  It’s New York City in every way.  I’m glad that I’ve been a very, very small part of it.

I mean, it’s the most electric atmosphere in our sport.  There’s something about it.  There’s a lot of eyeballs on TV sets from people who don’t even normally watch tennis during night matches of the US Open.  I think I’ve played as many as anyone.

Again, it’s just something I’ll look back on with really fond memories.  Hopefully won’t be my last one.

You know, I don’t think I’m foolish enough to think that it’s all going to be easy for me.  I don’t know that I would be that presumptuous.

I love my home life, my friends, my wife.  My dog is going to be excited.  I’m not going to be a dead‑beat dad anymore (smiling).  It will be an adjustment, but hopefully if I ever want to come say hi to you all, they’ll give me a credential.


A New “Sunshine” – Victoria Duval

Victoria Duval photo by Steve Pratt


(August 28, 2012) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Tennis may already have a player with the nickname “sunshine” in Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, but in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday night a 16-year-old wild card entrant from Florida may be taking that “sunshine” nick name away from the Dane. Meet the US National 18 and under champion and Florida native Victoria Duval. She was a hit with both the public and media at the US Open despite losing to 25th seed Kim Clijsters 6-3, 6-1.

The charming, high-pitched teenager ranked 562 in the world welcomed the fact that she drew Clijsters, one of her idols in the first round. I felt like one of the luckiest 16-year-olds ever,” said Duval. To play Clijsters in her last tournament, it was exciting.”

It was like history repeating, when Clijsters was 16, she played Steffi Graf in the German’s last tournament. “She told me that walking out to the court,”Duval noted.

“I had moments when I was younger when I played Steffi (Graf) at Wimbledon and she was my big idol,” Clijsters said. “So it kind of takes you back through a lot of emotions and memories.

“It was nice in a way to get a feeling of the atmosphere from her side. I just told her that we’ve all been there, and it’s great to have these opportunities. We spoke a bit after the match. She was really sweet. I think she has a good game to be out there.”

“I was saying that I couldn’t even sleep I was so excited, so she (Clijsters) said ˜I know how you feel.”

From the moment she stepped on court, the New York crowd was supporting the teenager and loudly cheered her on, for every point and game she won. It was the Floridian of Haitian descent’s first-ever tour-level main draw match.

“Indescribable feeling,” was Duval’s reaction in regard to 23,000 fans supporting her, “it was much more than I expected. The whole atmosphere was just incredible.”

“I was really nervous. But I thought I did a good job of not showing it.”

“What surprised me was the crowd, it was a different experience when you are hearing it on TV than when you are actually there. Having all those people behind me since the first game, it was incredible,” said the teenager with almost the sense of disbelief.

Duval actually had a 3-2 lead in the first set against Clijsters, “Walking to the chair, I was like, `I am actually up 3-2 right now!'” Duval said. “She definitely picked up her level a lot¦.she played like Kim Clijsters from that point on.”

Duvall”s engaging personality dismissed the struggles her family has had while living in Haiti. Although she was born in Florida, she grew up in Haiti where her parents are from. As a child, Duval and some of her cousins were taken hostage by robbers.

Her father also survived a 2010 earthquake in Haiti, in which he survived being buried under rubble and his legs were broken.

Her hardships have made her and her tennis stronger.

“It helped my tennis in the sense that in those circumstances, we were just saying, no matter how tough things get, you’re always going to get out of it.’ So in my tennis, that’s basically what I’ve been living by,”

“We were in the locker room and Kim asked to take a picture, just for her memory. I thought that was so nice cuz I was he one that should be begging her her for her picture.”

“She is definitely, you know, my idol, and that”s why it shows again why she”s a nice person.”

Duval”s other tennis idols include Venus and Serena Williams.

“I got a chance to see Venus,” Duval commented. “I didn’t get a chance to interact with her.. but hopefully I”ll get a chance because I love her too.”

“I get compared to Venus with my game, because of our physicality, “ Duval said. “So I always watch her tapes to see what I can improve in my game.”

Answering a question on whether or not she’ll reach Venus’s height, Duval quipped: “I was told my growth plates are still open, so it looks goooood!!! Six feet, C’mon!”

With a large Haitian community in the New York City area I asked her about their support. I’m sure a lot of them were watching,” Duval said. “Maybe all of Haiti but I don’t know.”

Duvall may be out of the women’s singles but she’ll play the Junior tournament. “Downgrading,” she said jokingly. Last year she played three junior slams – the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

She’s planning on playing more professional tournaments, while playing some of the junior Grand Slam events. She’s hoping to get her ranking high enough to play in the professional ranks. “My dream is playing pro tennis,” Duval said.

Karen Pestaina is covering the US Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.


Sharapova Launches Sugarpova Candy at Henri Bendel in New York City

NEW YORK – Maria Sharapova – tennis player, designer and endorser of many products is now a candy entrepreneur. On Monday on Fifth Avenue the four-time major winner and current World No. 3 launched her own candy line called “Sugarpova.” It features 12 different types of treats for sweets consumers which range from gummies and licorice to tennis ball shaped gumballs.
Sharapova spoke about why she went into candy-making business in the first place. “I’ve always had a sweet-tooth, she explained. “My earliest memory was being a kid asking my parents after practice if I could have a lollipop, the tough-to-find European lollipops. If you have a great week of practice you can get it.” Sharapova told herself. “That’s kind of where it started.”
“I’m a big “foodie” with a big sweet-tooth,” she said. Sharapova said that she’s always looking for a treat that you can have after a good workout and trying to be healthy.
“So I wanted to own my own business for awhile and I’ve been part of many great collaborations and collections,” Sharapova added. “But I felt it was really time tostart things on my own a little bit – be involved make the final decisions. “it’s been 18 months sinceit all started. To see it at Henri Bendel’s is incredible.”
Sharapova’s favorite of her candy wares is named “quirky” – a licorice with marshmallow inside with a rainbow on the outside. The Russian is also reponsible for the concept and development of the products as well. “I went to the factory Spain and made sure that they, you know when things are getting mass produced it can lose it’s quality a little bit. From the beginning I wanted it to be a premium candy line from the packaging to the quality of the candies, that was very important to me.” For example Sharapova wanted the “tennis gum balls” to look exactly like tennis balls. “All those little things really matter,” Sharapova noted.
Sharapova is set to play the US Open  where she’ll be the third seed in the Women’s singles draw. The tournament begins next week.


Listen to the short interview she did with Tennis Panorama.

Maria Sharapova at Sugarpova Launch


Melanie Oudin – Looking backward, yet looking forward

NEW HAVEN – Almost three years have passed since her surprise surge to the quarterfinals in the 2009 US Open, but Melanie Oudin is still looking onward and upward despite her inconsistency on the court since that magical run in Flushing Meadow which saw her knock out Elena Dementieva and Maria Sharapova along the way. Oudin’s ranking plummeted to No. 370 back in April – a far cry from her career high ranking of 31 achieved back in late April of 2010, but she’s made strides since then to move back up to 106 in the world this week, thanks to capturing her first career WTA title in Birmingham back in June. She’s also moved her training base to the United States Tennis Association’s training center at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow.
I asked the Marietta, Georgia native on Saturday, ‘What would 2012 Melanie Oudin tell 2009 Melanie Oudin after all that has happened?’
She replied:  “I would probably tell myself that I cannot believe everything that I’ve been through in the past three years and I’m only twenty years-old. I’ve already been through the highs and the lows of a tennis career, in about a three-year period.
“So that’s probably the craziest thing ever but really I think that.. there were always things that helped about that run in ’09 and there are things that didn’t help me in the run 09. I’ve never regretted it though. Of course not.
“Everyone says that it’s the best I’ve ever played, but I really, really think that I can still play better tennis than I played in ’09 and I have a feeling that I am going to be a better player through everything. You know, I’m getting smarter. As I get a little bit older I think that it’s just not quite here yet. I feel that it’s just going to take a little bit more time for me. But I do think I’m going to be a better player even when I did well in ’09.”
Oudin is looking forward to the upcoming US Open where she and Jack Sock are defending Mixed Doubles champions.
“We are going to play again,” said an excited Oudin. She said that people seemed to be surprised that she and Sock are playing together again. “We are undefeated- I mean our first time playing we win the tournament! So we are definitely looking to defend the title. It should be really, really fun.”
Oudin will participate in all three events at the US Open- singles, doubles and mixed doubles. “I’m looking forward to going deeper in singles and in Women’s Doubles as well,” Oudin said gleefully.
“Last year all I had to focus on were the Mixed Doubles, but this year I’m hoping to do well in all three events.”
Oudin reached the main draw of the New Haven Open as a “Lucky Loser” and lost in the first round on Monday to Sofia Arvidsson. Oudin will play in the US Open beginning next week.
Karen Pestaina is the editor and founder of Tennis Panorama News.

Nicole Gibbs on Proposed NCAA changes “I think it would be a huge problem for college tennis”

Nicole Gibbs photo courtesy of the WTA and Getty Images

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut – Reigning NCAA singles and doubles champion, Stanford’s Nicole Gibbs advanced to the finals of qualifying at the New Haven Open on Saturday with a 6-3, 6–3 win over Lourdes Dominguez Lino.

Gibbs is upset about the NCAA’s recent proposals for Division I college tennis which include 10-point tiebreaks to be played in place of a third set, doubles matches shortened to a six game set, no warm ups with opponents before singles matches, breaks between doubles matches being reduced from 10 minutes to five minutes and changeover breaks being shrunk from 90 seconds to 60 seconds.

“I’m incredibly disappointed to hear that that’s even it is a proposal to be honest,” Gibbs told Tennis Panorama News and the Hartford Courant,  “and I’m kind of praying along with the rest of my fellow college tennis players that that  doesn’t come to pass.

“I think we have a lot of support going up against that proposal and I know, I’ve signed the petition and a lot of other players have signed a petition online to you know end the proposed changes…and  you know everyone from players to coaches are really involved and very serious about making sure those things don’t happen because I think it would be a huge problem for college tennis.”

Gibbs first learned about the proposed changes from a tweet from Junior and College tennis journalist Colette Lewis of ZooTennis.

This is all with the intent to shorten the matches, allegedly increase viewership which I really don’t see happening given that tennis is a very niche sport,” Gibbs added.

“ The people that come to our matches are people who are going to be there regardless of what the format is. Perhaps we could get a few more fans based on a shorter match link but I think more importantly we’re going to lose a huge fan base, a huge support base for college tennis because it won’t be legitimate grounds for development anymore.

Asked if more college players will turn pro if the proposals take place, Gibbs said: “Absolutely! I mean If I had been looking to four-years of 10-point tiebreaks in the third set, I don’t think I would have gone to college in the first place.”

“There are a lot of players really on the bubble about whether to go college to use those years to develop or to go straight on the tour because there’s an argument that college isn’t a good enough development program as is. And this is especially frustrating for players like me and specifically Mallory Burdette my teammate who have been out here on the tour all summer trying to prove to people that you know, this is a legitimate grounds for development and encouraging people to get their education so they have you know, something to fall back on after their tennis careers. We think that’s really important and that what’s we’re representing and I think the NCAA proposal would be a huge set back to that.”

Gibbs, broken when serving for the match admitted to be nervous in closing the match. “I definitely got a little tight at the end there, started thinking about the broader scope of what it means to beat a top-100 player,” Gibbs said. “She played tough points and made me earn it, so credit to her on that front, but I was very tight.

Gibbs goes for a spot in the main draw on Sunday when she takes on Garbiñe Muguruza.

Karen Pestaina is covering the New Haven Open this weekend for Tennis Panorama News. follow her updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

Nicole Gibbs talks about NCAA proposed changes at  New Haven Open – 08182012

At the 3:50 mark to the 6:30 mark, Gibbs discusses the NCAA.


Stringer Stories in Atlanta

Adam Queen from Your Serve Tennis, Photo by Herman Wood for Tennis Panorama.

By Herman Wood


ATLANTA, Georgia – At Atlanta’s BB&T Open, players are on a plane far above the recreational, league player or even teaching professional. Yesterday, Jack Sock recorded a 141 mph service ace while playing Alexander Bogomolov. Bogomolov had a few thunder claps of his own (or was that the usual Atlanta summer thunder storm that interrupted the match?). I know they’re bigger, stronger, and certainly better conditioned, but how is it possible to hit a ball 40 mph faster than the average Joe USTA? The racquets are the same, right? They’re using the same string, aren’t they?

I spoke to Adam Queen, stringer from Your Serve Tennis, the official stringer for the tournament to find out. “All the players are particular. They know what works best for them for different courts, balls, and conditions.” Conditions? “Most go up on tension with heat & humidity because the ball tends to fly.” Unlike you or I, professionals don’t need the stringers’ advice. They’ve experimented with different strings, tensions, number of knots and everything else you can imagine. Queen’s job is to meet those specs, unlike in one of his stores, where he’ll talk to a customer to find out what they need. Just like you and I, the pros want quality and consistency, but they want it to a high level. As an example, most players want their racquets done as close to match time as possible. Mardy Fish wants the second racquet he’ll use delivered ten minutes after the match starts! How would that make a difference?

It turns out that strings lose tension with time, not just use. Polyester string can lose thirty percent overnight! Alright, I could get my racquet strung just before my match if I could hit a 140 mph serve!

“That could be kind of tough on your arm if you use the same string the pros do and you’d have to restring for every match.” I asked Queen why it was tough on the arm. “Almost every pro uses polyester. Polyester string loses tension relatively quickly and becomes dead. Professionals’ shoulder, wrist, and elbow are better able to handle the demands of daily play and demanding equipment.” So that’s why my shoulder hurts when I hit with that year old polyester string! “They restring every time out.” That sounds expensive! So what else do they do differently? “Jack Sock strings at 40 pounds. James Blake uses 63 pounds. Both use polyester.” I guess that means I can play like Sock if I string at 40 and like Blake if at 63? Oh, I forgot- I don’t practice for hours on end every day and do physical conditioning for hours on end. What can I do?

“Be willing to experiment. Talk to your stringer. Give polyester a try, but be willing to cut it out after a few weeks even if it doesn’t break.” You think maybe I can hit that 140 mph serve, just once?

Herman Wood is in Atlanta covering the BB&T Open action from around the grounds for Tennis Panorama News, follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/hermanewood


Podcast – Meet the Pliskovas of the Philadephia Freedoms

RANDALL’S ISLAND, New York, NY – In World Team Tennis on Friday night the the NY Sportimes defeated the Philadelphia Freedoms 22-16. Among the players on the Freedoms’ roster are twins out of the Czech Republic – right-handed Karolina and left-handed Kristyna Pliskova.

The 20-year-old Pliskovas are  currently ranked 107 (Karolina) and 125 (Kristyna) and  are playing their first season of World TeamTennis.

The sisters paired up in women’s doubles to stop  Ashley Harkleroad and Martina Hingis of the Sportimes 5-2, while Kristyna lost to Martina Hingis in singles 5-3 and Karolina paired with Jordan Kerr to fall 5-3 in the mixed doubles.

The sisters took time out to talk about their respective goals and their favorite cities.

Pliskova twins and WTT July 13, 2012


Capriati and Kuerten Highlight Emotional Hall of Fame Inductions

Gustavo Kuerten photo by Ben Solomon

By Jack Cunniff

NEWPORT, Rhode Island – The skies in Newport were dry, but the eyes were not, as Jennifer Capriati and Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten headlined the 2012 class of inductees into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The ceremony was held Saturday, July 14th on Center Court at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.  Capriati and Kuerten, former top-ranked players elected to the Hall of Fame under the Recent Player category, gave stirring speeches that touched the tennis fans in attendance.  Other inductees this afternoon were Randy Snow, the late wheelchair tennis champion and advocate; Mike Davies, in the Contributor category; and Manuel Orantes, in the Master Player category.

Monica Seles, a 2009 Hall of Fame inductee, was selected by Capriati to introduce her at the ceremony. It was a fitting selection as both players burst on the tennis scene just months apart as teenagers, and set multiple “youngest ever” records for women’s tennis.  Capriati, a three-time champion at Grand Slam events and Olympic gold medal winner, was emotional throughout her acceptance speech.  While honored by the Hall of Fame recognition, it closes a chapter in her life that Capriati was not quite ready to close. It signifies that there are no more comebacks in store, and her career would end as the result of wrist and shoulder injuries. But as she did throughout her career, Capriati persevered today. She expressed the joy and pain that tennis has brought to her life, and noted that tennis taught her what hard work and commitment mean. She thanked her friends and family for their love and support over the years, and also recognized the fan support she received throughout her career, a comment that was punctuated by someone in the crowd shouting “We love you!”

Alice Kuerten, Gustavo’s mother, had the honor of introducing her son to the crowd. She spoke not of Guga’s French Open titles or number one ranking, but of his intangible qualities, his role as son and brother, and his philanthropy. Guga charmed the crowd with an unscripted speech, sharing his appreciation for all that tennis has provided him. His father introduced Kuerten to the sport, but passed away when Guga was a teenager. It was tennis, Kuerten noted, that provided him two new fathers in the form of his former coach Larri Passos, and older brother and manager Raphael. Kuerten was very close to his late younger brother Guillaime, who suffered from cerebral  palsy and passed away in 2007, and thus found it fitting to be inducted on the same day as Randy Snow. Kuerten also thanked Mariana, his wife and mother to their five-month-old daughter.

Randy Snow passed away in from a heart attack in 2009, so his father Tom accepted the award on his behalf. A successful junior tennis player when he was paralyzed at age 16, Snow found his success as a wheelchair tennis champion and gold medal winning Paralympian.  Tom thanked Brad Parks, a fellow Hall of Fame member who created the concept of wheelchair tennis, and the various federations who have supported wheelchair tennis.

Mike Davies was awarded for his leadership behind the scenes with tennis. He was the driving force behind several changes in tennis targeted at making it more television friendly. Thanks to Davies, we have yellow tennis balls, blue courts, colored clothing, and chairs on changeovers. Each of these advances made tennis more marketable, and contributed to increased popularity of the sport in the 1970s. Davis thanked his fellow pros and co-workers for today’s honor.

The Hall of Fame president Stan Smith introduced Manual Orantes, and noted Orantes was not only a great champion, but a great sportsman.  Orantes looked back on his 1975 U.S. Open title over Jimmy Connors, and semifinal comeback over Guillermo Vilas earlier in that event, as the greatest matches in his career. He expressed appreciation for his Barcelona tennis club for making him into a champion.

While many tears were shed during the ceremony, the newest Hall of Fame members were all smiles when they took a final march around Center Court.

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No History Made at Wimbledon for Murray


WIMBLEDON – History was going to be made today, whoever won.  If Andy Murray had won, he would have become the first British man to lift the title, since the legendary Fred Perry, in 1936.

If Roger Federer won, he would equal Pete Sampras’ record of seven Wimbledon titles, and will have won his first Slam title in two-and-a-half years.

The slice of history went to Federer, who defeated Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

No-one could accuse Murray of starting slowly, breaking Federer in the first game, and starting decisively.

Although Federer did break back, a further break saw Murray claim his first Slam set, in four finals.

A nation dared to hope.

Murray said, of his match: “I’d say that’s the best I’ve played in a slam final.

“I created chances.  Obviously went up a set.

“It wasn’t like I gave away bad games or stupid games and stuff.  I played a good match.  I made pretty good decisions for the most part, so I’m happy with that.

“I felt more comfortable this morning and before the match than I had done maybe in the previous slams.”

When Federer took the second set, having settled his obvious nerves, Murray started to look fatigued.

When the rains came down hard the players were still gathering their things as the groundsmen covered the court, and British fans hoped the break would rejuvenate Murray.

Both players have had to play under the roof a lot this year, so it was hoped they would adapt the conditions quickly at the restart.

When the play started again, Federer’s ball-striking, placement and timing was nothing short of dominating.

Murray said: “When we came out after the break he was more aggressive on my serve.

“I maybe didn’t serve as well under the roof as I did the first couple of sets.”

The pivotal point of the match was a 20 minute service game on Murray’s serve in the third set, and once broken, Federer dictated the play as the momentum stayed with him.

Murray said: “It was tough, a tough game to lose.

“But, you know, I wasn’t disappointed necessarily with the way I played in that game.  Yeah, it was a frustrating game to lose, but I still had chances after that.”

A single break in the fourth set was all that he needed, to equal Sampras’ record – let’s not forget his first Wimbledon victory came at Sampras’ expense.


The runner’s up speech was always going to be tough, and many still remember Murray’s emotional speech after losing to Federer in the 2010 Australian Open final.

Yet he still managed to display some of that trademark dry humour, saying: “I’m getting closer.”

He took the microphone and delivered congratulations to Federer before emotionally thanking his support team and the fans.

Many in the crowd were reduced to tears, including his mother Judy, and his girlfriend Kim Sears.

Federer equally looked moved as his daughters came in the players box after he won the match, acknowledging that a win after two and a half years, and tying another record was a special moment for him.

Federer said: “I didn’t try to think of the world No. 1 ranking or the seventh or the seventeenth.

“So I think that’s going to actually, for a change, take much longer to sort of, you know, understand what I was able to achieve today.”

With his victory, he reclaims the world number one slot.  Not bad for a 30-year-old (to paraphrase Murray’s congratulatory speech).

“I’m so happy I’m at the age I am right now, because I had such a great run and I know there’s still more possible,” said Federer, “it’s very different than when I was 20 or 25.”

He continued: “I’m at a much more stable place in my life.

“So this is very, very special right now.”

Both players paid tribute to each other in press, Murray acknowledging that Federer and Rafael Nadal are among the greatest athletes in tennis history, and Federer believing that Murray will win Slam(s) and praising his professionalism and work ethic.

History smiled down on one, and for the other?  Well the Olympics are around the corner followed by the US Open.  The Slam dream is not over yet.

Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.