November 26, 2015

James Blake added to Mylan WTT Smash Hits lineup as Sir Elton John and Billie Jean King announce teams


New York, N.Y. (September 22, 2015) — Sir Elton John and Billie Jean King have finalized their teams for the 23rd annual Mylan WTT Smash Hits, a charity tennis event set for October 12 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The two longtime friends have selected their lineups with Elton John taking Andy Roddick to head up his squad, while Las Vegas residents and Hall of Famers Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf will lead Team Billie Jean.  The one-night event will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Aid for AIDS of Nevada (AFAN).

Joining Roddick on Team Elton are former world No. 1s and Hall of Famers Martina Navratilova and Lindsay Davenport, along with American Mardy Fish. King rounded out her roster with a third Hall of Famer, Tracy Austin, and added former world No. 4 James Blake to join Graf and Agassi on her team.

Blake, who won 10 singles and seven doubles titles on the ATP World Tour, is also considered one of tennis’ most inspirational athletes. Blake staged a comeback in 2005 after suffering a fractured neck and illness and also started the James Blake Foundation to support early detection cancer research. Blake has played nine seasons of Mylan World TeamTennis and returns for his second Smash Hits event.

The all-star player lineup, which includes five Hall of Fame members, represents more than 700 singles and doubles titles plus 100 Grand Slam Championships and six Olympic medals.

The players will form two teams, coached by King and John, and play a Mylan World TeamTennis match including one set each of men’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles.  Sets are first to five games with a 9-point tiebreaker at 4-4.  Game scoring is no-ad and cumulative throughout the match.  The evening is expected to begin with a celebrity doubles match featuring Elton John. The night will close with a singles set between Roddick and Blake. The two Americans faced off 12 times on the ATP World Tour with Roddick holding the lead 9-3.

Men’s doubles will include an all-American lineup with Roddick and Fish pairing up for Team Elton against Agassi and Blake for Team Billie Jean. Women’s doubles will showcase four Hall of Famers sharing the court when Davenport and Navratilova lead Team Elton against Graf and Austin. One of the evening’s highlights will be the mixed doubles set featuring Team Billie Jean’s Agassi and Graf taking on Fish and Navratilova.

Tennis action is set for 7:00 p.m. on a specially-constructed tennis court in the valet parking lot adjacent to Caesars Palace Drive. The overall series is tied 11-11 after Team Billie Jean posted a 22-16 victory over Team Elton in London last year.

Tickets for Mylan WTT Smash Hits are selling quickly for the event’s first appearance in Las Vegas. Only a limited number of premium reserved chair back seats remain at $125, and general admission seats are $45. Order tickets through or, or by calling The Colosseum at Caesars Palace box office at (866) 320-9763 or AXS at (888) 929-7849. For group sales of 10 or more tickets, call USTA Nevada at (702) 792-8384 x. 101.

Special VIP ticket packages, including VIP courtside seating and admission to the pre-match VIP Reception and Auction, will also be available for $500. John, King and all players will participate in the pre-match live auction, which will include an Elton John signed piano bench and King’s Wimbledon tickets, among other items. To buy VIP Reception ticket packages or for more information, call AFAN at (702) 383-8081.

Sponsorship packages are also available by contacting Natalee Jarrett at or (212) 586-3444 x. 111.

Caesars Palace, which is home to Elton John’s hit show “The Million Dollar Piano,” will also be offering packages that include tickets to Elton’s show and special room rates. All available packages are listed at

Official event sponsors include title sponsor Mylan and host sponsor Caesars Palace. Ryan Wolfington and USTA Nevada are promotional partners of Mylan WTT Smash Hits. Additional sponsors and partners include Adecco, AmerisourceBergen, Aon Hewitt, BICP, Centerview Partners, Cognizant, Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP, DecoTurf, Ernst & Young, Forevermark, GEICO, Goldman Sachs & Co., Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, KPMG, Macy’s, Marty Hennessy Inspiring Children Foundation, McGuireWoods LLP, Perkins Coie LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers, RR Donnelley, Wilson, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and Wipro. Media partners include News 3, The CW Las Vegas, 97.1 The Point, ESPN radio 1100/100.9, Cox Communications and WG Communications Group.


TEAM LINEUPS & MATCH SCHEDULE (subject to change)

TEAM ELTON:                    Lindsay Davenport, Mardy Fish, Martina Navratilova, Andy Roddick

TEAM BILLIE JEAN:           Andre Agassi, Tracy Austin, James Blake, Stefanie Graf



*Celeb set:                         featuring Sir Elton John

Men’s Doubles:                Andy Roddick/Mardy Fish (Team Elton) vs. Andre Agassi/James Blake (Team BJK)

Women’s Doubles:         Lindsay Davenport/Martina Navratilova (Team Elton) vs. Stefanie Graf/Tracy Austin (Team BJK)

Mixed Doubles:               Mardy Fish/Martina Navratilova (Team Elton) vs. Andre Agassi/Stefanie Graf (Team BJK)

Men’s Singles:                  Andy Roddick (Team Elton) vs. James Blake (Team BJK)


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.


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 ( Follow him on twitter @sluggahjells.


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.