September 3, 2015

Charlie Pasarell Receives Hall of Fame Ring

 Left to right: Hall of Famers Mark Woodforde, Donald Dell, Butch Buchholz, Rosie Casals, Bud Collins, Roy Emerson, Brad Parks, Rod Laver, Hall of Fame President Stan Smith, Hall of Fame Chairman Christopher Clouser, Hall of Famer Charlie Pasarell, Hall of Fame CEO Mark Stenning, BNP Paribas Open Tournament Director Steve Simon, Charles Pasarell, Sr., and BNP Paribas CEO Ray Moore. Photo by Billie Weiss


Left to right: Hall of Famers Mark Woodforde, Donald Dell, Butch Buchholz, Rosie Casals, Bud Collins, Roy Emerson, Brad Parks, Rod Laver, Hall of Fame President Stan Smith, Hall of Fame Chairman Christopher Clouser, Hall of Famer Charlie Pasarell, Hall of Fame CEO Mark Stenning, BNP Paribas Open Tournament Director Steve Simon, Charles Pasarell, Sr., and BNP Paribas CEO Ray Moore. Photo by Billie Weiss

By Kevin Ware

(March 14, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – As tournament director and managing partner, Charlie Pasarell was instrumental in helping to build the Indian Wells tournament into the world-class event it has become. So it was more than fitting that he received his official International Tennis Hall of Fame ring last night on the Stadium 1 court, in front of an adoring crowd, before the start of the evening session.

Pasarell was inducted into the Hall of Fame last summer. But the International Tennis Hall of Fame has a wonderful tradition of presenting the ring at a home location that affords the best opportunity for the inductee to be surrounded by as many family and friends as possible.

The stadium ring ceremony was a public affair. The celebration dinner afterward, emceed by Pam Shriver, was much more intimate; attended by some Pasarell’s immediate family, as well as his extended family in the tennis community.

Also on hand were several other Hall of Fame members, many of whom spoke glowingly about their friend and fellow-inductee. Those in attendance included Hall of Fame President Stan Smith, Donald Dell, Bud Collins (pants as colorful as ever), Butch Buchholz, Brad Parks, Rosie Casals, Billie Jean King, Roy Emerson, and Mark Woodforde.

Pasarell, with his father and son looking on, was just as moved by this moment as he was at his official induction in Newport. After an encore viewing of his video tribute, and hearing the touching tributes of his friends, it was obvious to see how touched he was by this moment.

Looking out at the familiar faces, his voice at times struggling to control his emotion, Charlie offered a simple, “Thanks to all my friends who are here today. I’m touched by all the support.”

Kevin Ware is in Indian Wells covering the BNP Paribas Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

Photos from the private party held before the ceremony.

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Billie Jean King’s Mother Passes

(February 7, 2014) Betty Moffitt, the mother of tennis hall of famer Billie Jean King and former major league pitcher Randy Moffitt, passed away on Friday in Prescott, Arizona at the age of 91.

Due to her 91-year-old mother’s illness, Billie Jean King did not attend Friday’s opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics in Russia.

King who is openly gay, was chosen by President Barack Obama was to help lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympic Games, has spoken against Russia’s anti-gay law.  Former U.S. hockey player Caitlin Cahow will take King’s place,

Kin’s father Bill Moffitt died in 2006, the very year the U.S. tennis center that hosts the U.S. Open in New York was renamed for King.

The family will have private services. Instead of flowers, the family would like donation made to Hospice Family Care, 100 E. Sheldon Street, Suite 100, Prescott, AZ 86301.

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Billie Jean King, Mary Carillo Represent Tennis at Women’s Sports Foundation Awards

Mary Carillio

Mary Carillo

By Andrew Jones

(October 16, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – Despite the absence of the Williams sisters, Sloane Stephens, and Jamie Hampton to name a few, tennis was still represented at the 34th annual “Women in Sports” Awards, presented by the Women’s Sports Foundation Wednesday evening down on Wall Street. Billie Jean King and Mary Carillo were in attendance, as well as ESPN Wimbledon and U.S. Open host Hannah Storm. King founded the Women’s Sports Foundation back in 1974.

A slew of great women’s athletes, including Olympic legends Michelle Kwan, Sarah Hughes, Missy Franklin, Aimee Mullins and Nastia Liukin, along with greats such as Nancy Lieberman and Annika Sorenstam attended the event, graced the event, which was hosted by the Women’s Sports Foundation.

Carillo, the ubiquitous commentator, announcer, and reporter for a myriad of sports outside of tennis, shared her thoughts about the lack of media attention the tournaments outside of the Grand Slams receive nowadays.

“It’s amazing to me, when I first started covering tennis 35 years ago, there were a lot of people in the press room that I knew,” Carillo said. “And the newspaper business has changed so much, that’s the fact. There are people who are paying their own way to blog and to tweet. More and more magazines are just taking AP stories, they are just taking wire services stories. A lot of people who cover tennis well, they beg to go to Wimbledon, and they have to pay their way over, where they have to rent a house for two weeks. It has been very, very difficult.”

Carillo also shared thoughts on how tennis’ sponsors and the focus on the four Slams have diminished the prestige of other great events around the world, as well as the confusion of the WTA’s Premier 5/Mandatory structure in comparison to the ATP’s simple Masters 1000 series.

“There’s all kinds of names,” she said. “It killed me when the Italian, the Canadian Open, the German Open, these were national championships, and all of a sudden, we got rid of that name. Don’t call it the Italian Open anymore, now it’s the so-so, the (BNL D’Italia). And you’re like, ‘Wait a minute!’ Sometimes we marginalize the events by adding names like Premier. And you’re thinking what does that mean? Does that strictly relate to the prize money offered. So I agree with you that it could be confusing.”

Despite Serena Williams‘ tremendous year, the Sportswoman of the Year award went to the teenage swimming sensation Franklin, who is also a big tennis fan and participated at the 2012 Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day event.

Andrew Jones is a freelance sports, political, and music journalist. He is also the founder and publisher of The Whole Delivery (twd4u.com). Follow him on twitter @sluggahjells.

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Say “No” to Best of Three

By Dave Seminara

Why is it that tennis writers and former players always seem to be agitating for changes that would result in less tennis being played in the pro ranks? For years, we’ve been hearing that the Davis Cup shouldn’t be an annual event, and that tennis’s offseason should be longer. Now during the first week of this year’s U.S. Open, the buzz was all about reducing the men’s matches from best of 5 to best of 3 in majors.

 

Ben Rothenberg made a best-of-3 pitch in the New York Times’ U.S. Open Preview issue, ESPN tennis analyst’s Darren Cahill and Patrick McEnroe said that the idea was getting some traction and merited further discussion and Billie Jean King wrote a piece for The Huffington Post arguing the same point.

 

I’m a tennis fanatic and I live for dramatic five setters. While Cahill and others have said that the Olympics best of three until the final format proved that best of three could be as compelling as the best of five majors, I had the opposite experience. For me, the Olympics felt no different than a Masters 1000 series tournament like Toronto, Cincinnati and the rest.

 

King maintains that the men should play less in order to avoid injuries like the one that’s kept Rafael Nadal out of action this summer. But there are scores of current and former players that continued to win into their 30’s under the best of 5 format- Jimmy Connors, Ken Rosewall, Roger Federer, Andre Agassi- and some athletes from every sport will sustain injuries no matter how many sets they play.

 

Rothenberg’s primary justification for paring back the length of men’s matches is the notion that the player who is leading at the end of 3 sets nearly always wins the match. He cited a statistic indicating that the player leading after the first three sets won 90% of matches in the last five years, but this year’s Open certainly bucked that trend.

 

There was a total of 23 five setters, with 10 players coming from 2 sets to love down to win in the first four days, tied for the second most in the Open era, and only 4 behind the all time record set at the 2002 Australian Open. Of the 23 five setters, the player who was winning at the end of the 3rd set won on only six occasions.

 

If the final had been straight sets win for Andy Murray, just imagine all the drama we would have missed out on. The match was full of plot twists, and despite the fact that it lasted almost five hours, the crowd didn’t want it to end. After Murray won the first two sets, the crowd seemed to shift allegiance to Djokovic-because they wanted more tennis- and then shifted back to Murray in the 5th.

 

One could argue that this year’s draw has been the exception, not the rule, but consider how different tennis history would be if the men had been playing best of three in the majors during the Open era. Roger Federer wouldn’t have a career slam, because at Roland Garros in 2009, his one win there, he would have lost to Tommy Haas in the Round of 16. And he wouldn’t have regained the #1 ranking, breaking Pete Sampras’s record for weeks in the top spot, because he was down two sets to love in the 3rd round of Wimbledon this year against Julien Benneteau.

 

Then again, he would have won the 2009 U.S. Open over Juan Martin Del Potro and could have fared better in other majors, like the 1999 Wimbledon, the 2011 U.S. Open, and the 2002 and 2005 Australian Opens.

 

In a best of three set world, Rafael Nadal would have lost to Robin Haase in the 2nd round at Wimbledon in 2010, rather than winning the title; Novak Djokovic wouldn’t have won this year’s Australian Open or the 2011 U.S. Open; and McEnroe would have a career slam, having beaten Lendl in the final of the ’84 French, rather than blowing a two set to love lead, but he wouldn’t have won Wimbledon or the U.S. Open in 1980.

 

Neither Michael Chang nor Boris Becker would have won majors at 17, and Becker wouldn’t have won Wimbledon or the U.S. Open in 1989. The point here is twofold: first, it isn’t that uncommon for players who are trailing at the end of three sets to win the match and then go on to win the tournament, and second, the better player is more likely to prevail in best of five set encounters. For obvious reasons, fans want to see Rafael Nada late in the final, not Robin Haase; Roger Federer not Julien Benneateau. If the men’s game switched to best of 3 sets now, it would also make it difficult to compare records from one era to another.

 

But the most important reason for keeping the best of five format is that five set matches test a player’s mental and physical strength in a way that three setters don’t. All of the most dramatic men’s matches I’ve seen in my lifetime- Federer-Nadal in the final of Wimbledon in 2008, Federer- Roddick at Wimbledon in 2009, Borg-McEnroe at Wimbledon in 1980, Lendl-McEnroe at the ’84 French, Connors-Krickstein at the ’91 U.S. Open, Isner- Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010, and McEnroe-Becker at the Davis Cup in ’87- were five setters.

 

Yes, five setters are tough on the body, but at most majors, the players have a day off in between most of their matches. And, let’s face it; watching guys overcome cramps and other injuries to win is high theater. Who could forget watching Pete Sampras gut out a win over Alex Corretja at the U.S. Open in ’96 after throwing up in the plants at the back of the court?

 

Tennis writers often suggest making dramatic changes to the sport, but I love tennis too much to advocate any changes that would result in less tennis. As far as I’m concerned, the sport is just fine the way it is.

 

 

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