July 29, 2015

Montreal Welcomes Back its Legends

By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin


MONTREAL – On Monday night, the 2012 Women’s Rogers Cup in Montreal was launched with some impressive guests. In its annual Legends matches, now moved to the opening night for the first time, the local crowd cheered on Michael Chang, Jim Courier, Martina Hingis and Martina Navratilova as they exchanged groundstrokes and jokes at Uniprix Stadium.


While the four players received a large welcome, you could feel a sense of disappointment as Andre Agassi, the obvious star of the event, had to withdraw earlier this week due to a back injury. The American, always popular in Canada with his three titles in the 90s, had last been seen on this court in 2005 when he lost a close final to Rafael Nadal. “No one is more disappointed than me and I promise you that I will be back the first opportunity I have!”, Agassi mentioned in a statement.“ I want to extend my personal “best of luck” to one of the greatest tournaments in the world and some of tennis’ greatest fans!”


His substitute, Michael Chang did a great job in amusing the crowd, mixing his impressive defensive game with punchy serves and comments.  The former French Open champion overpowered his fellow countryman Courier throughout their singles set, which he won 8-6. The two were then joined by Hingis and Navratilova in an entertaining mixed doubles match, which combined on the same court an impressive total of 79 Grand Slam trophies.


Courier and Hingis had previously just been introduced to the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame, which recognized their contribution to the Canadian event.  They joined their popular colleague Navratilova, as well as other tennis greats such as Agassi, Seles, Courier, Sanchez-Vicario and Connors. Hingis, winner of the Rogers Cup in 1999 and 2000, revealed that the Rogers Cup was one of her favorite stops on the tour. ‘’It is an honor to be inducted in the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame!”, she said in flawless French to the impressed crowd. “This city loves its tennis and I always felt welcome in Montreal.”


The Legends were preceded on court by an exhibition match featuring local player Stephanie Dubois, who will be participating in her 8th consecutive Rogers Cup main draw, Vancouver 2010 Olympics medalists Alexandre Bilodeau (moguls, gold) and Joannie Rochette (figure skating, bronze), as well as numerous comedians, athletes and actors.


This night was the official start of this 2012 edition. Main draw matches will start on Tuesday morning, while the sixteen seeds will come in action starting Wednesday.
Charles David Mathieu-Poulin blogs for WtaQuebec www.wtaquebec.com, a website promoting local Quebec players. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Montreal for Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on twitter @earthstroke, follow his Montreal coverage on @TennnisNewsTPN.


Podcasts – John McEnroe and Andre Agassi Face-off in World TeamTennis

RANDALL’S ISLAND, NEW YORK CITY – (July 19, 2012) -  NY Sportimes John McEnroe lost to Andre Agassi representing the Boston Lobsters in the men’s singles in World TeamTennis on Thursday night.

Agassi edged McEnroe in a 5-4 tiebreak. In the mixed doubles, McEnroe and Hingis teamed to stop Agassi and Gullickson-Eagle 5-3.

The NY Sportimes defeated the Lobsters 22-18 World TeamTennis.

Proceeds from the match benefited the Johnny Mac Tennis Project, McEnroe’s not-for-profit foundation to provide scholarships, coaching, transportation and other financial assistance to qualified young tennis players in the greater New York area.

Listen to the post-match on-court interviews where both men talk about competing and other tennis topics:

John McEnroe of NYSportimes- Post-Match on-court interview 7192012 World Team Tennis at Randall’s Island


Andre Agassi of Boston Lobsters-Post-Match On-Court interview 719201 World TeamTennis at Randall’s Island




Federer Joins 1000 Match Club with Straight Set Win Over Del Potro to Advance to Semis

MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Roger Federer joined the exclusive 1000 matches played club with his 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 win over Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.  This will mark the ninth consecutive year that Federer has advanced to the Australian Open semifinals. The Swiss joins the ranks of Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Guillermo Vilas, Andre Agassi, Stephan Edberg, Illie Nastase and John McEnroe who have played in 1000 matches or more.

On achieving the milestome, Federer said, “Well, 1000 matches, not 1000 wins.  Big difference.

“I wish it was 1000 wins, but I’m happy with 1000 matches in total, too.  It’s nice to win this one.  I mean, eventually I will forget which was one was my 1000th match and someone will remind me again.

I do not remember my 500, and that was the US Open final against Agassi.  No bigger matches than those ones.

“It’s a big milestone, I agree.  It’s a lot of matches and a lot tennis.  Either I have been around for a long time or I’m extremely fit.  You decide which way you want to describe it.  I don’t know.  But I’m happy.”

“We have played some big matches against each other,” Federer said of his match with Del Potro.  “So just knowing how well he’s been playing as of late, I was just hoping that I would get off a good start.  But I was able to mix it up well and control the ball, and right away sort of felt confident, which then sort of helped me to use all aspects of my game.

“Then it got tough with the shadow creeping in, and I knew that was going to happen rather sooner than later just because the matches before me took some time.  I knew it was going to happen eventually.  That’s why the second set, serving out the second set was key for me.  You know, get through that tough patch, and then in the third it was a bit more free swinging for me.

The almost two hour match saw Federer hit 38 winners with an 89% first serve percentage.

For the first time since 2005, Federer is on the same side of the draw at a major as Rafael Nadal. Federer will face the winner of the Nadal-Tomas Berdych quarterfinal on Tuesday night  in the semis for a spot in the Australian Open final.


Agassi and Kellmayer to be inuducted into Tennis Hall of Fame

Andre Agassi, who captured eight grand slam tournament titles, an Olympic gold medal, and the hearts of countless fans worldwide, will be presented the highest honor in the sport of tennis this weekend, induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Agassi is the sole inductee in the Recent Player category. In the Contributor Category, Fern Lee “Peachy” Kellmeyerwill be inducted. Kellmeyer is a tennis industry executive who was hired as the very first employee of the WTA Tour in 1973 and is still dedicated to the growth and development of the sport today. The Induction Ceremony will take place at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. on Saturday, July 9 at 12 pm. It will be broadcast live on Tennis Channel.


“Andre Agassi and Peachy Kellmeyer have achieved extraordinary success in their tennis careers, while improving the lives of so many. Through their determination and commitment they have made the sport of tennis better and have had an immensely positive impact on the world. We are very pleased to recognize their hard work and great accomplishments with the highest honor in tennis- induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame,” said Christopher Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. “The Induction Ceremony will be an extraordinary day and we look forward to sharing it with their families, friends and many fans- those attending the ceremony and those following the festivities on television around the world.”


The Induction Ceremony will feature speeches by the inductees, as well as presentation speeches by people they have selected. Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the WTA, will give Kellmeyer’s presentation speech. Agassi’s presenter will be revealed at the event.


The Induction Ceremony will be attended by special guests of the inductees, including Agassi’s coaches and trainer from throughout his career, other Hall of Famers and tennis legends, and more than 3,500 enthusiastic fans. Tickets for the ceremony are now sold out, but a limited number of tickets are available for a live simulcast, which will be shown on a giant, stage-sized screen in the newly restored, air-conditioned Casino Theatre at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The simulcast festivities will kick off with never-before-seen tribute videos, compiled from footage of great career moments and messages of congratulations from colleagues and friends. Following the ceremony, Agassi and Kellmeyer will visit with the audience for their first interviews after induction. Tickets for this event are $75 and may be purchased on tennisfame.com or by calling 401-849-6053.


Since 1955, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has honored 220 people representing 19 countries, inclusive of the Class of 2011. The International Tennis Hall of Fame features a comprehensive tennis Museum that commemorates the greatest champions and contributors of the sport and chronicles the history of tennis from its 12th century beginnings through present day. Special exhibits paying tribute to the Hall of Fame Class of 2011 have recently been installed and will be showcased for one year.


In Andre Agassi: From Changing the Game to Changing Lives, visitors are treated to dynamic, colorful photos showcasing some of the most exciting and emotional moments of Agassi’s tennis career, as well as imagery of his work since retirement- namely, the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy. Additionally, the exhibit features a collection of memorabilia ranging from memorable tennis apparel to tennis trophies, along with a video reel of career highlights. The exhibit is displayed in the Atrium Gallery.


In the Billie Jean King WTA Gallery, Peachy Kellmeyer: The Soul of Women’s Tennis highlights the inspiring story of the woman who dedicated her life to growing women’s professional tennis from its humble beginnings to the popular, global sport the world enjoys today. The exhibit highlights notable moments in the history of women’s tennis, and features photos of Peachy with the women she has worked closely with for more than 35 years- such as Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova.


Andre Agassi, 40, of Las Vegas, Nevada, held the No. 1 singles ranking for 101 weeks, and is regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. His passionate performances, non-traditional apparel and style, and extraordinary skill made him one of the most iconic athletes in the history of the game. He is credited for inspiring a generation of tennis players.


Agassi achieved a career singles record of 870-274, winning 60 titles, including four at the Australian Open, two at the US Open and one victory each at the French Open and Wimbledon. Within his 60 tournament wins, he captured 17 Masters 1000 events. In 1990, he won the season-ending ATP World Tour Championships. Agassi earned a Gold Medal at the 1996 Olympics by taking the Singles title in Atlanta. A member of two winning American Davis Cup teams (1990, 1992), Agassi achieved a career record of 30-6 in Davis Cup play for the United States.


Agassi turned professional in 1986 at the age of 16, and made his way into the top-100 in his first professional year, finishing the season ranked No. 91. He won his first Tour-level title in 1987, and closed out his second professional season ranked No. 25 in the world. In 1988, his year-end ranking was No. 3 and he surpassed $2 million in career prize money, after playing in just 43 career tournaments- the fastest anyone in history had reached that mark.


Agassi enjoyed a long, successful career through 2006, during which time he earned more than $30 million in prize money, fourth only to Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Rafael Nadal to date. In June 2003, at the age of 33, Agassi became the oldest player to hold the No. 1 singles ranking, a position that he held onto for twelve weeks. Agassi retired from professional tennis on September 3, 2006, after losing in the third round of the US Open. He delivered a memorable retirement speech and was honored with an eight-minute standing ovation from the crowd.


During his career and into retirement, Agassi has been a dedicated philanthropist. In 1994, he founded the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education, which is devoted to reforming public education in the United States. Since the inception of the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education, $150 million has been raised to benefit the mission of the Foundation, including $92 million from the Grand Slam for Children fundraising event. In May of 2011, Agassi partnered with Canyon Capital Realty Advisors on an innovative new real estate fund to promote the success and growth of best-in-class charter schools by building educational facilities in urban communities across the United States.


In 2001, Agassi opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a tuition-free public charter school in Las Vegas’ most at-risk neighborhood for kindergarten through grade 12. The school utilizes advanced technology, smaller class sizes and extended school hours, among other tactics, to combat lowered academic expectations and to foster a sense of hope among this community’s most challenged children. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, the school’s graduating class had a 100% acceptance rate for higher education.


Agassi is married to retired professional tennis player and 2004 Hall of Famer Stefanie Graf, and they reside in Las Vegas with their two children.


Fern Lee “Peachy” Kellmeyer, 66, of Wheeling, West Virginia, became involved in the game as a talented junior player, went on to be a star collegiate athlete, and then launched an administrative career in tennis. During her career with the WTA, Kellmeyer has led the WTA’s operations, player and tournament relations and has been at the center of all major policy decisions. Kellmeyer currently serves as WTA Operations Executive Consultant. She is also a member of the ITF Fed Cup Committee and oversees the WTA’s alumni program to ensure that past players and tournament directors remain engaged with the WTA that they helped build.


Women’s professional tennis has come a long way during Kellmeyer’s tenure. Prize money on the WTA has increased from $309,000 in 1973 to more than $89,000,000 in 2011, and the number of WTA events has increased from 23 domestic tournaments to 53 events in 33 different countries. Attendance at WTA events has increased dramatically with nearly 5 million in-stadium fans annually, and television exposure has increased with hundreds of millions of homes receiving more than 6,000 hours of international TV coverage on an annual basis.


Simultaneously with her efforts to build women’s tennis, Kellmeyer has been a tireless fighter for women’s rights in sports. When she was the Physical Education Director at Marymount College in Boca Raton, Florida in 1966, Kellmeyer spear-headed a lawsuit that ultimately led to the dismantling of an Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) rule that had prohibited athletic scholarships from being awarded to female athletes at colleges across the nation. The landmark case paved the way for Title IX and contributed greatly to the increase of female athletes in intercollegiate athletics. Additionally, Kellmeyer was a driving force behind the WTA’s campaign to achieve equal prize money for women.


On court, Kellmeyer began winning junior titles as early as age 11. By the age of 15 she was competing at what is now the US Open, and she was the youngest player at the time to be invited to such a prestigious event. She went on to be a tennis star at the University of Miami, where she became the first woman to compete on a Division I men’s team. As an adult, Kellmeyer was ranked nationally in both singles and doubles, and was a competitor at Wimbledon and the US Open.