December 3, 2016

VDROP Launches US Open Crowdfunding Campaign with Top American Players to Benefit First Break

First Break (Pam Shriver) LR

(AUGUST 30, 2016) NEW YORK – With the 2016 US Open Tennis Championships hitting the courts this week in Flushing, new mobile application platform VDROP (http://vdrop.com/) has teamed-up with the First Break Academy (First Break) (http://www.first1break.com/) and top American US Open tennis stars to put on an entertaining crowdfunding campaign that will benefit the award-winning grassroots outreach program headquartered in Los Angeles.

 

Participating in the series of high-profile video challenges taking place on VDROP are Greatest Doubles Team of All-Time Bob and Mike Bryan, #1 American ATP World Tour Singles Player Stevie Johnson and top American WTA stars Christina McHale and Nicole Gibbs. Through VDROP’s new mobile application platform, tennis fans can engage with the entertaining video content between the players and then crowdfund each challenge they want to see completed in order to raise money for First Break.

 

“From the outset, we have been driven to create a more intimate experience for fans and their heroes,” said Mark John, Founder of VDROP.  “This partnership with First Break is so exciting for us as we get to create connections with some of the world’s great tennis players and their fans whilst serving those in need.”

 

With a mission to empower kids and positively impact their futures by championing access to excellent tennis programs featuring multi-sport play activities and academic enrichment, 100% of the proceeds from the VDROP campaign will go to First Break.

 

Serving on the advisory board of First Break is former WTA Tour doubles specialist and ESPN Tennis commentator, Pam Shriver, in addition to International Sports Science Speaker and Performance Physiologist, Researcher and Coach Mark Kovacs, PhD, Founder and CEO of Top Notch Management Sam Duvall, and University of Southern California Men’s Tennis Coach, Peter Smith. The Governing Board for First Break Academy includes ATP Tour Coach Craig Boynton who has been working with Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson over the last year.

 

“We set out to get to know the kids going to school in the neighborhood surrounding our facility at StubHub Center because we’d like to introduce new families to the game that has given us so much,” said Marc Lucero, First Break’s Fundraising Chair and Tennis Development Advisor, and WTA Tour Coach. “Tennis is transformative; no doubt, the game has offered me a lot personally. All of us at First Break are intent on sharing this opportunity. It’s only natural to want to do all we can for the kids who are now cheering when they see the nets on campus.”

 

The RAMP tennis outreach initiative that has evolved into First Break grew out of the belief that an early break can have a lifetime of meaning, and sports provide a universal platform that breaks through barriers and invaluable life skills like teamwork, leadership, and integrity. In the spirit of asking, “What else?” First Break is working to sustain the momentum started by RAMP outreach so more children can experience the lifelong benefits of tennis. The programs offered by First Break Academy reflect the community they serve and are designed in collaboration with experienced educators and tennis development coaches.

 

“The Rio Games opened the eyes of sports fans around the world to so many great things. Countless Olympians reaped the benefits of playing multiple sports as children; sports like basketball and soccer develop skills that translate to tennis and vice versa,” added Pam Shriver of the First Break Advisory Board. “By providing urban youth access to tennis in a multisport environment, we give tennis the opportunity to sell itself and know that kids will fall in love with our great game.”

 

In the last few years, First Break has had over 400 urban children introduced to tennis through monthly RAMP Tennis Outreach PE classes taught by volunteer coaches, parents, junior players, and friends of the game. The grassroots effort led to more than 600 hours of donated tennis instruction on the playground, 60 local first to seventh grade kids from two schools have participated in First Break MultiSport tennis and education programs at the RAMP courts at StubHub Center, home of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Player Development-West and the LA Galaxy. The emphasis on multisport activities is based on a belief that the social, physical and mental benefits of participating in a diversity of sports is more advantageous to the choice of early single sports specialization for young athletes.

 

First Break has received awards from the USTA Foundation, Women’s Sports Foundation, LA84 Foundation SCTA/NJTL (Southern California Tennis Association/National Junior Tennis League), USTA Diversity & Inclusion, PTR Foundation and the WAATC (Women’s All-American Tennis Championships).

 

A revolutionary platform changing the way a growing community of celebrities, athletes and artists interact with their fans, VDROP is giving fans the ability to send them a personal, one-on-one video request of anything they want to see them to do along with a financial offer for it.  VDROP is the first mobile application solution to monetize the social media relationship between celebrities, professional athletes and their fans in a fun, meaningful and emotional way. Currently, top ten ATP World Tour Singles Player Tomas Berdych serves as VDROP’s sports ambassador and was an early adopter of the platform.

 

For more information on VDROP, visit www.vdrop.com or download the mobile app VDROP to view the campaign challenges and crowdfund them to support First Break.

 

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Davis Cup: Isner “Aces” Australia, Powers U.S. to Quarterfinals with Victory over Tomic

DAVIS CUP: ISNER “ACES” AUSTRALIA

Powers U.S. to Quarterfinals with victory over Tomic

By Junior Williams

(March 6, 2016) MELBOURNE, Australia – John Isner blasted 49 aces – including one on match point – to give the United States a 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(4) victory over Bernard Tomic and Australia, securing an unassailable 3-1 lead and advancing into the quarterfinal round of the Davis Cup World Group.

In the first set, Isner took advantage of his first break point opportunity with a successful backhand volley, putting the U.S. up 3-2.

The world No. 11 finished the set with ten aces and won all six of his net points.

Isner’s next break of serve came in the second set when Tomic netted a return from the American, resulting in a 4-3 U.S. lead. Tomic shook his right wrist numerous times during that game and had it wrapped during the changeover. Isner went on to win the set after a Tomic volley at net went wide.

The momentum shifted in the third set, when Tomic began impersonating a backboard, successfully defending against the Isner serve. The world number 24 secured the set on his fifth break point of the game, giving hope to a home crowd cheering for a comeback.

But in the end, Isner pulled through after being down a mini-break early in the fourth-set tiebreak, rebounding to go up 5-4 – putting the match on his racket.

It was only fitting that he closed out the match — and the tie — with his 49th ace.

”We always knew it was going to be very difficult coming down here,” said U.S. captain Jim Courier. ”Our team came good. John stepped up today.”

“It was incredible tie for us,” Isner said. “We knew Australia was going to be tough and they put up a great fight.”

With the victory, The U.S. avoided a fifth and deciding rubber that the Aussie faithful at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club had been hoping for: A potential match-up between American Jack Sock and Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt.

Halfway through the second set Tomic was picked up on a court microphone berating his countryman Nick Kyrgios who could not play the tie due to a virus. Tomic said to Hewitt during a changeover: “While I’m here, Nick’s sitting down in Canberra. Bull**** he’s sick.”

Next up for the U.S. A home tie in July against the winner of the first round tie between Belgium and Croatia.

***************************************************************************************************

Some irony involving the U.S. victory over Australia: International Tennis Federation admitted the tie should have played on hard court instead of on grass. That’s because of an agreement in 1999 to have the Aussies play the Americans in the U.S. that year to celebrate the Davis Cup centennial – this despite it being Australia’s turn to host a tie between the two countries.

 

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Melbourne covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Australia.

 

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Bryan Brothers Hang on to Beat Hewitt and Peers in Davis Cup Five-Set Thriller

DAVIS CUP: U.S. HANGS ON TO BEAT AUSTRALIA

Goes up 2-1 after Bryans hold off Hewitt & Peers in 5-set thriller

By Junior Williams

(March 5, 2016) MELBOURNE, Australia – Bob and Mike Bryan fought off a comeback attempt by Lleyton Hewitt and John Peers to give the U.S. a 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Australia at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, putting the Americans up 2-1 against the home team in their Davis Cup World Group First Round tie.

Australian Davis Cup Captain, the recently retired Lleyton Hewitt, inserted himself into Saturday’s line-up.

“Yeah we made the decision last night,” said Hewitt, making his debut as Davis Cup Captain. “Just, you know, sharing the workload really. You know, that was the determining factor. We thought whatever pair we went with had an outside chance of going well. But, you know, that was probably the determining factor in the end.”

The Bryans raced out to a two sets to none lead by breaking the Aussies three times — twice on team captain Hewitt’s serve. But Australia began to rally after breaking the U.S. to go up 4-3 in the third set – Hewitt hitting solid returns and yelling “come on” for good measure, while Peers was stellar at the net and with his ground strokes. He closed out the set with a serve and volley point.

Australia maintained its momentum buy winning the fourth set, capped by put away at the net by Hewitt which sent the crowd into a frenzy.

But in the end, the Bryans showed why they’ve won 106 titles as a doubles team. They regained their groove by going up 2-0 in the fifth set after breaking Australia at love. With strong net play and service games, the Americans remained consistent throughout the set, winning all six of their second serve points and committing no unforced errors. The final point was an overhead smash at the net, followed by the twins’ trademark celebratory chest bump. The Bryans are now 24-4 as a doubles team in Davis Cup competition.

“The level was incredible on both sides of the net,“ noted U.S. Captain Jim Courier. “Grass court doubles can sometimes be a little bit messy because it’s so quick, tough to return. But man, the level from first ball was extremely high and obviously it got very complicated there after the second set. Those guys lifted, Lleyton in particular lifted his returns and fortunately Bob and Mike did the same in the fifth set and really put a stamp on it early which was big and just held it out.

Bob Bryan was not surprised by Hewitt’s decision to take the court. “No, not at all, He said. “He was practising 10 feet from us all week, playing lots of doubles, playing lots of singles, playing more than anyone out there and, you know, the guy’s an accomplished doubles player and probably this is his best surface to play on. With that serve, you know, it slides away, those cutter serves and he can return well on anything.”

On Sunday, World No. 11 John Isner will look to clinch the tie in a reverse singles match against Australia’s Bernard Tomic. Both players won their respective Friday matches. If it comes down to a fifth and deciding rubber, it’s scheduled to be American Jack Sock versus Sam Groth, but don’t rule out the possibility of Captain Hewitt stepping in for the Aussies.

“Well, it’s going to be an exciting day for sure,” Courier said, “Bernie played awfully well yesterday, so did John. So that’s where we’ll start and it looks like it’s going to be a toasty one again, so you know, that could play a part in the match. Hopefully John has been, I would think a little fresher than Bernie given he only played three sets might be a factor. But it’s going to be exciting, the crowd’s going to be jacked up. You know, we’re going to be ready for a fifth obviously too, and at this stage we don’t know necessarily if it’s going to be Sam or Lleyton playing in that fifth. Where Lleyton played, you know, I would think he would give himself consideration should there be a live fifth match.

“So we’ll be ready for that eventuality if it comes to pass. But this is why we love this competition, you know, it’s Sunday, it’s live, it’s all on the line and energy levels are going to be extraordinary.”

As to what to expect on Sunday, Hewitt said: “We need Bernie to win, so it’s pretty simple at the moment. So, you know, that’s obviously our main focus. He’s our number one player, he’s the leader of the team and you know, he played awfully well yesterday and we’re going to need that again out of him tomorrow.”

As for the former No. 1, will he insert himself into the singles line-up? Hewitt said, “ Possibly, wait and see.”

 

===============

 

NET CORDS

 

Unlike Friday, fans and players at Kooyong received a break from severe heat. Temperatures ranged between 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with lots of cloud cover and an occasional light breeze.

 

Kudos to the Aussie “Fanatics” band for their cover versions of songs including Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” and Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon.”

 

Prior to the match, a moment of silence was observed in memory of legendary tennis journalist and commentator Bud Collins, who died at the age of 86.

 

U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim courier on the passing of Bud Collins: “Bud meant an immense amount to the sport of tennis and touched so many people. The things I remember about Bud were his generosity to everyone and general enthusiasm for life. Not just for tennis, but for travel and for learning and for sharing his stories. He was so kind and super positive. I had the privilege of working on television with Bud for NBC for several tournaments, so I go to know him and his lovely wife Anita very well. It is a sad day.”

 

Bob Bryan on the passing of Bud Collins: “It’s obviously a sad day, the guy meant a lot to tennis, he was so colorful and a positive part of our sport. We knew him pretty well and he was always so kind to us and gave us great advice, and you know, he was such a veteran and had been around this tour for so many years and he was a very familiar face at every tournament and we’ll definitely miss him.”

 

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Melbourne covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Australia.

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Davis Cup: Deadlocked Down Under, USA and Australia Tied at 1-1

 

DAVIS CUP: DEADLOCKED DOWN UNDER

U.S., Australia tied at 1-1 in World Group First Round

 

By Junior Williams

(March 4, 2016) MELBOURNE, Australia – On a sizzling hot afternoon which saw temperatures surge close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, Bernard Tomic defeated Jack Sock 7-6(2), 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, to bring Australia even with the United States at 1-1 in their Davis Cup World Group First Round tie at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club.

Tomic’s victory came after American John Isner dispatched Sam Groth 7-6(2), 6-2, 6-2 to give the U.S. an early lead.

It was a tight but impressive first set for Tomic, who won all 22 of his first serve points. His ball striking and defense of Sock’s ground strokes also gave the Australian the edge.

The world’s 20th-ranked player continued his momentum in the second set, securing it by breaking Sock with a shot that handcuffed the American on what was the fifth set point.

Sock bounced back in the third set, breaking Tomic for the first time in the match after the Australian mishit a ball past the baseline. The world number 24 also broke Tomic in the final game of the set.

But Tomic — who was 0-3 head-to-head against Sock prior to this match — took control in the fourth set, going up 5-4 winning a break point after rocketing a deep return of serve that Sock hit into the net.

Tomic closed out the 2 hour 24-minute match in the following game, to the delight of the home crowd. He won 120 points to Sock’s 114.

“It was very tough out there,” Tomic said. “I haven’t beaten Sock before so I knew that it was going to be tough. Anyone that you haven’t beaten before in your career – I think he’s on 2 or 3-0 record against me. So, for me I knew it was going to be tough but also playing him on a surface where I could beat him on and I was very happy because the conditions were very tough because I travelled so quickly here and you have to reset and you only have two or three days. So for me it was very tough out there.”

The top Australian admitted that it was difficult to get through the fourth set: “It was very tough because I had chances to be up a break in the third and then he got that break and it became a little bit hotter and after playing those first two sets everything got to me. So I had to find a bit of that energy and sometimes that’s good, I mean, I lapse away with my concentration a lot and that, to me, is a good thing because you rebuild your energy and it worked out in my favour in that fourth set. Gee, can you listen to that rain? I swear I finished and three minutes later it started.”

“Bernie did really well,” said Australian Davis Cup Captain Lleyton Hewitt. “Right from the start he came out serving great, hitting his spots really well. That was obviously a key to not let Jack get into too many of Bernie’s service games and we felt like Bernie’s going to get a lot more into his and put a lot more pressure on his second serve and he was able to do that. Bernie, the first set was a huge key as well and he played a great tie break, he picked the right side on a couple of shots and came up with a couple big passes and to have that first set, you know, it was hot out there as well especially those first couple of sets and once he went two sets to love up, he had a little lull there, which, you know, it happens in any five set matches. It’s about how you respond to that and he found a way in the fourth set. It’s not an easy thing to do to come out when you’re the number one player for your country and you’re one love down in Davis Cup in a World Group match. Bernie did fantastic today and he’s done absolutely everything that we’ve asked of him all week.”

“Bernie played some good tennis today when he needed to and came up with some good shots and, I’ll just take away you know the things I need to work on from that and take it into Sunday,” Sock said in press.

“Well we were put on grass, that’s the biggest difference I would say. I’ve played him on some slow hardcourts and some other hardcourts where you know my style definitely matches up well against and you know, his favourite surface is grass. His best results, you know, in the Slam are on grass and very crafty out there and his game is suitable for it. But, you know, I was in there and I felt confident after getting that third and then having a few chances early in the fourth, definitely felt like I was right. So, you know, for me my least experience has been on grass, so for me it actually did take away some confidence today playing out there against an experienced grass player and I’ll definitely use that for Sunday.”

In the opening match — a battle of high-powered servers — John Isner hit 20 aces and held serve throughout the match, despite six break point opportunities for Sam Groth, who was tapped to play singles for Australia after Nick Kyrgios pulled out of the competition due to illness.

The first set included a lot of what you’d expect, with eleven aces for Groth and ten for Isner. Groth also sprinkled in some doubles skills, winning four out of six net points. But Isner won a first set tiebreak, helped by a successful challenge that gave him a mini-break, and an ace up the middle to capture the set.

After that it was all Isner. Aside from his service game, the world No. 11 consistently cracked forehand and backhand winners up the sidelines. He also was helped by Groth’s first-serve percentage of 48-percent in the second set. The Georgia Bulldog notched his victory in 1 hour 49 minutes.

“It was a lot of confidence, you know, getting through that first set, I mean, I knew I was going to go out there, I knew I wasn’t going to be feeling fantastic right away,” Isner said. “Of course there’s a lot of nerves and you know, I haven’t seen his serve yet. So I got rid of those nerves in the first set and I got used to seeing the serve out there, so I became a lot more comfortable after that first set and I think it showed right away. I believe I broke the first game of the second set.

“So it was a very, very good performance for me and certainly I’ve played some matches in a lot in my career where I’ve struggled on return but I think today I was pretty solid.”

Isner commented on the court conditions with temperatures close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. “Yeah I thought the court was great, he said. “The heat was pretty hot. It was more humid than I’ve ever played in Melbourne it’s generally dryer in my opinion, but it was pretty humid. At the same time in a match up like that, you tell me how many rallies we had more than five shots, so it could have been 200 degrees out there and I probably would have felt all right.”

“I think the first set was always going to be big, especially in the way we both play, we both play with a little bit of confidence, both play behind our serve and especially on a day where it’s quite hot out there as well,” Groth said. “You know, had I maybe taken a chance, that 0-40 game earlier, maybe it’s a different story but I felt like after that when he won that back-hand winner that clipped the line in the tie breaker and then his confidence just seemed to build. He started taking cuts on returns and, you know, to his credit they started going in.”

The tie now moves to doubles Saturday. Future Hall of Famers Bob and Mike Bryan are slated for the U.S., with Groth and doubles specialist John Peers scheduled to go for Australia.

But the watch is on to see if captain Lleyton Hewitt will put himself in the mix for the green and gold.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Melbourne covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Australia.

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Lleyton Hewitt on Standby as a Playing Captain to Replace an Ill Nick Kyrgios in Davis Cup Tie

(March 3, 2016) MELBOURNE, Australia – Lleyton Hewitt, who just retired from professional tennis at his home country’s major in January looks as though his career will continue. Hewitt, the 35-year-old former No. 1, who is making his debut as Australia’s Davis Cup Captain, will be a playing captain due to Nick Kyrgios who has been ill with a virus and can’t participate. Hewitt is officially on standby to play the tie against the United States in the first round of the Davis Cup World Group this weekend to be played at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club.

Hewitt is Australia’s most accomplished Davis Cup player winning 58 of the 78 singles and doubles matches in his career.

“We took him (Nick Kyrgios) through his paces this morning and gave him a little fitness test to see how he pulled up from yesterday, but he just wasn’t fit enough to play this weekend,” Hewitt said. “It’s bad timing for us but it was really out of our hands and the end.”
“The illness is a kind of an unknown a little bit. You just don’t know,” Hewitt said “But obviously before nine o’clock this morning we had to make the best possible decision for the team, and we were dealing with Nick on everything. He wanted to put his hand up and certainly didn’t want to let the team down, and that’s why it was a tough decision for everyone involved.”

The draw for the tie took place in Kooyong on Thursday where Bernard Tomic, Sam Groth and John Peers were officially named to team Australia. Friday will see No. 1 U.S. player John Isner play Groth, followed by Australia’s top player Tomic face Jack Sock. Doubles day on Saturday as the Bryan Brothers are scheduled to play John Peers and Sam Groth. Sundya will be reverse singles – Isner versus Tomic and Groth against Sock.

U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier said he was not shocked to see Hewitt change the team.

“I wouldn’t say we are surprised given that we saw Lleyton practicing this week and Nick’s pretty conspicuous absence,” he said. “It is certainly not something coming to Australia that we were anticipating though. Nick is a very tough player who is on a high now with his results. However, Sam is a very capable grass court player and we won’t take him lightly for one second.

“I am sure that Lleyton will do whatever is best for his team. That’s his role. He is very aware of doing whatever is required to give him the best chance to win. He knows how everyone is feeling with health and length of matches. There are all types of combinations that could bring him to the court. That will be his call and we will be prepared.”

Jack Sock says he’s ready to take on friend Tomic on Friday. “It is going to be a very competitive and fiery match. He has had great results in Davis Cup and this is just my second tie, but we also played each other a few times in the past. It is a different scenario in Davis Cup, but I think the matches in the past will help me with my confidence and how to go about the match. We have always had some close matches and it comes down to a few points here or there. He is definitely playing some great tennis right now with some good results this year.”

Australia and the United States will be meeting for the 46th time. The U.S. team leads 25-20, last competing against the Aussies in the 1999 quarterfinals, when Australia won and went on take the Davis Cup title. The U.S. and Australia are the two leading nations with the most Davis Cup titles, 32 and 28 respectively.

Weekend Line-up

DAY/LOCAL MATCH TIME                  EVENT                    DETAILS/PAIRING

Friday, 11:00 a.m.                                   Singles A:                John Isner (USA) vs. Sam Groth (AUS)

Singles B:                Jack Sock (USA) vs. Bernard Tomic (AUS)

Saturday, 12:00 p.m.                               Doubles:                  Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (USA) vs. Sam Groth/John Peers (AUS)

Sunday, 11:00 a.m.                                 Singles C:                John Isner (USA) vs. Bernard Tomic (AUS)

Singles D:                Jack Sock (USA) vs. Sam Groth (AUS)

 

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Australia Takes On U. S. in Davis Cup This Weekend in Kooyong

U. S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier

U. S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier

(March 1, 2016) The United States will take on Australia in the Davis Cup World Group First Round this weekend at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club in Kooyong, Australia, from March 4-6 on a temporary grass court. The club was the former home to the Australian Open from 1972- 1987. The U.S. has met Australia more times than any other nation in Davis Cup play. The U.S. leads the head-to-head series 25-20.

Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, who retired at this year’s Australian Open will be making his debut as Australia’s Davis Cup captain. Hewitt has named world No. 20 Bernard Tomic, world No. 27 Nick Kyrgios, world No. 77 Sam Groth, and doubles specialist John Peers to team Australia.

Tomic holds a 15-3 singles record in Davis Cup competition, Kyrgios is 3-3 and Groth is 2-1 in singles and 1-2 in doubles. Peers is making his Davis Cup debut.

United States Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier has chosen top-ranked American and world No. 11 John Isner, world No. 24 Jack Sock, and 16-time major doubles champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan to the U.S. Davis Cup Team. Isner is 8-9 singles in Davis Cup competition. Sock made his debut on the U.S. team last year in the World Group Playoff, where he won both of his singles matches, becoming the first American since John McEnroe in 1978 to win two live rubbers in a Davis Cup debut. Bob and Mike Bryan are a dominant 23-4 in Davis Cup doubles together and are the all-time winningest U.S. Davis Cup doubles team in history.

Both teams held a pre-draw news conference on Tuesday, the draw will be made on Thursday.

Kyrgios was absent from the news conference due to a virus said Captain Hewitt who told him to rest: “Nick has a virus. At the moment, he is taking it easy and trying to get over that 100% to be ready to go. I didn’t want him around the other boys if he is a bit infectious. It is more of a precaution. He will be ready.

“Nick has played a lot of matches, as well as Bernie. They are coming in confident with their ball striking and it is about these guys doing the small things to feel comfortable on the grass courts. Come match day, I am backing both of these boys.”

 

“I am lucky with both of these guys (Kyrgios and Tomic),” Hewitt said. “Both of their games suit grass with big serves and good returns. The reason both boys are approaching career-high rankings right now is because of their serves. That will be a big point this weekend because the U.S. team serves well, too. It will come down to a few points here or there, just like any grass-court five-set match, but I am glad our boys have won quite a few matches in the last month.”

Tomic is back from just having played the final of Acapulco over the weekend.

“It was tough to play a final then fly here,” Tomic admitted. It was tough to get here, but I am happy to be here. The hit today was good and now on grass, I need to get as ready as I can.

“It is tough to say if I will be 100% by Friday, but there will not be a lot of rallies. There will be quick points. I am serving really well and playing very confidently. I just played one of my biggest tournaments and I am very happy with the way I am playing and will be ready for the show on Friday”

On making the transition to being a captain from a player, Hewitt said: “I have adjusted pretty smoothly. This week has been all about getting these boys on the practice courts and working out drills. It has been good this week, especially with doubles, and learning what times to say something and other times not to say so much. I have been a good hitting partner.”

U.S. Captain Courier reacted to Hewitt’s comments about Australia being the underdog: “It doesn’t matter one bit. We are the away team and we travelled to get here. The crowd will be behind them. We are here to play whether it is as an underdog or overdog. None of that matters, which I wish it did. We have to go to battle and play.

“We have to get through the first tie, but our draw is more favorable this year than it has been,” said Courier in discussing the outlook for the U. S. in Davis Cup competition this year. “Second round matchups are not easy, but it is easier than some other teams for us. But, you cannot look past anyone in Davis Cup and we have learned that the hard way. You have to put one foot in front of the other and this will be a tough tie for us.”

“Jack (Sock) had a great debut as a Davis Cup player in Uzbekistan last year and that is big part of why he is here. We have a lot of confidence in what he brings to the table and he is getting valuable experience here. We have some younger players that have had good success in the juniors that is translating to the pros. It is nice to feel that energy coming up below our best players.”

“Every point is huge,” said Isner. “I have been playing Davis Cup for quite a bit, but not nearly as long as the Bryans. Jack is a bit newer at this. There is certainly pressure on every player that is competing this weekend and we know that. I don’t think there is any extra pressure on me by any means.

I am preparing for the team that has been submitted. It can change come Thursday, but as of right now, I am prepared for all of them.”

Sock discussed the challenge of taking on Tomic and Kygios this weekend.

On facing Bernard Tomic, Sock said: “We are good friends. We have spent some time together in our careers. However, in any setting on the court, we go out there and you put that aside and compete. Afterwards, you are still pretty good friends, but when it is on the court, that doesn’t really enter your mind.

He has always been a good player. He is consistently staying more professional and working on the things he needs to do and that is why his results are showing.”

As for Kyrgios: “Similar to Bernie, I am friends with Nick, but when you step on the court, it is about the tennis and playing each other.

“When you are off the court, you can still be friends. When you are out there playing, that is the only thing that matters—especially this weekend when you are representing your country. It gives me all the more reason to go out there and compete as hard as I can.”

The winner of this tie moves into the World Group Quarterfinal, July 15-17, and will play either Croatia or Belgium. The tie will air on Tennis Channel in the United States.

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Isner, Sock and Bryan Brothers Selected to Face Australia in Davis Cup World Group First Round

USDavisCup

From the USTA: (February 23, 2016)The USTA and United States Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier announced that top-ranked American and world No. 11 John Isner, world No. 23 Jack Sock, and 16-time Grand Slam doubles champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan will represent the U.S. in the 2016 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group First Round against Australia. The best-of-five match series will be played on an outdoor grass court at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, March 4-6, in Kooyong, Australia.

 

Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, who retired at this year’s Australian Open and will be making his debut as Australia’s Davis Cup captain, named world No. 21 Bernard Tomic, world No. 33 Nick Kyrgios, world No. 75 Sam Groth, and doubles specialist John Peers to compete against the United States.

 

Play begins at 11 a.m. local time (7 p.m. ET the day prior) on Friday, March 4, and Sunday, March 6. Play begins on Saturday at 12 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET on Friday). Friday will include two singles matches featuring each country’s No. 1 player against the other country’s No. 2 player. Saturday’s schedule features the pivotal doubles match. And the final day of play on Sunday features the two “reverse singles” matches, when the No. 1 players square off, followed by the No. 2 players meeting each other in the final match. All matches are best-of-five sets until one nation clinches the tie. A revised schedule for Sunday may take place if a team clinches in the third or fourth match.

 

The United States has faced Australia in Davis Cup play more times than any country, holding a 25-20 overall record. The last time the Americans and Aussies met was in 1999 in a World Group Quarterfinal tie played in Chestnut Hill, Mass., where the U.S. lost, 4-1. The site of that tie was chosen as part of the 100th anniversary celebration of Davis Cup due to its proximity to the first site of the Davis Cup at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston. The U.S. last defeated Australia in the 1997 World Group Semifinal in Washington D.C., 4-1, behind a team of Pete Sampras, Todd Martin and Michael Chang. The U.S. is 78-46 in ties played on the road.

 

The winner of this tie advances to the World Group Quarterfinal, July 15-17, and will play either Croatia or Belgium. Should the U.S. defeat Australia, it will host the tie in July. The losing nation will compete in the World Group Playoff, Sept. 16-18, for the right to remain in the World Group in 2017.

 

Isner, 30, is ranked No. 11 in the current world rankings and will be competing in his 11th Davis Cup tie; he is 8-9 in singles and 2-0 in doubles. His last Davis Cup appearance was in the 2015 World Group First Round against Great Britain. His biggest Davis Cup victory came in 2012, when he defeated Roger Federer in the U.S. Davis Cup team’s first-round win at Switzerland. The tallest player in U.S. Davis Cup history, at 6-foot-10, Isner made his Davis Cup debut in the 2010 World Group First Round in Serbia, where he became the first U.S. player since 2003 to compete in three live rubbers in the same tie. He also represented the U.S. in the 2012 London Olympics, reaching the quarterfinals before losing to Federer. Isner turned pro after an outstanding four-year career at the University of Georgia, leading the Bulldogs to the 2007 NCAA team title as a senior. Isner holds 10 career tour singles titles, the last of which came in Atlanta during the 2015 Emirates Airline US Open Series. So far this year, he has reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and the quarterfinals of the ATP event in Auckland, New Zealand.

 

Sock, 23, is ranked No. 23 in the world. He made his Davis Cup debut last September in the World Group Playoff in Uzbekistan, where he won both of his singles matches to keep the U.S. Davis Cup team in the World Group for this year. Sock reached the final of the ATP event in Auckland earlier this year. He won his first career ATP singles title in 2015 at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, defeating American Sam Querrey in the final. He then reached the fourth round at the 2015 French Open and the semifinals of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, R.I. He has also thrived in doubles, winning the 2014 Wimbledon doubles title and the 2015 Indian Wells crown with Vasek Pospisil and peaking at a career-high No. 6 in the individual doubles rankings in May 2015; he also reached the doubles quarterfinals of the 2015 French Open and 2016 Australian Open. In 2011, Sock won the US Open mixed doubles title with fellow American Melanie Oudin.

 

Bob and Mike Bryan, both 37, hold a 23-4 doubles record together in U.S. Davis Cup competition; the 23 wins are first all-time in U.S. Davis Cup history for a tandem. Bob and Mike, the only brothers to pair in victory for the U.S. Davis Cup team, hold the all-time Open era record of most Grand Slam men’s doubles titles (16) and ATP doubles titles (109). In addition, the Bryan brothers won the gold medal in doubles at the 2012 Olympics in London, where they completed a career Golden Slam by winning all four Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal. The Bryans ended 2014 as the No. 1-ranked doubles team in the world for a record 10th time in 12 years.

 

Overall, Bob holds a 24-4 doubles record in Davis Cup competition; he is also 4-2 in singles (all dead rubbers). Mike holds a 25-4 record in Davis Cup doubles matches, playing without Bob just twice in his Davis Cup career. Bob did not compete in the 2012 first-round match at Switzerland due to the birth of his daughter, Micaela; in that case, Mike teamed with Mardy Fish to defeat 2008 Olympic doubles gold medalists Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka to clinch the tie. Mike also partnered with Fish in the 2008 semifinal against Spain. Bob played without Mike (food poisoning) in the 2010 first round in Serbia, partnering instead with Fish.

 

Additionally, U.S. Captain Jim Courier announced the practice partners for the U.S. Davis Cup team—former Ohio State standouts Connor Smith and Peter Kobelt. Smith, 25, graduated from OSU in 2013 after transferring from Florida State after his sophomore season. He went 36-7 in singles and 33-7 in doubles during his senior year. Smith had a breakthrough 2014 on the USTA Pro Circuit and in ITF-level events, winning two USTA Pro Circuit singles titles and a title in Ecuador; he also holds seven USTA Pro Circuit/ITF-level doubles titles. In 2015, Smith won an ITF-level event in Korea, and this year, he competed in Australian Open qualifying for the first time. Kobelt, 25, graduated from OSU in 2014 and finished his college career as just the fourth player in program history to earn All-America honors four times. He also became the program’s all-time career doubles win leader with 142 doubles wins and reached the doubles final of the 2014 NCAA championships with Kevin Metka.

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The Road to the US Open Begins This Weekend at the BB&T Atlanta Open

BB&TAtlantaOpen

By Herman Wood

(July 24, 2015)ATLANTA, Georgia – The road to the US Open starts in Atlanta with the BB&T Atlanta Open this weekend with qualifying.  The BB&T is a ATP World Tour 250 event, with a 28 player singles and 16 player doubles draw.  Total prize money this year is $585,870.00.  The venue is set in downtown Atlanta, amongst the sky scrapers and shopping of Atlantic Station.  Two time champion and former University of Georgia all-time leader in singles and doubles wins, John Isner returns in search of a historic three-peat.

Arguably the best doubles team of all time, Bob and Mike Bryan make their debut in the BB&T.  They got their first tour win in an Atlanta event in 1998.  Defending doubles champ and singles semifinalist Jack Sock, along with doubles partner Vasek Pospisil, are looking to take another step in their development.  The doubles draw could be very interesting if a showdown between the Bryan brothers and “Popsock” materializes.  It was only a year ago that Pospisil/Sock denied the Bryans the Wimbledon 2014 title.

Marco Baghdatis is already turning heads in the ATL.  As he dropped off his racquets for stringing by the Prince Team at the Serious Tennis tent with Deana Buzzy Mitchell, he was reportedly, “very sweet and winked at me!”  That kind of behavior is sure to make him a fan favorite with at least half of the crowd.  Americans Steve Johnson, Tim Symzek, and Donald Young are also looking to make a statement.   In what could be a big story line, two time champion Mardy Fish is returning to the tour in this tournament.  He has struggled with health issues almost since the last tournament win in Atlanta.  He’ll also be teaming up with another former Atlanta champion, Andy Roddick.  Roddick will not play in the singles main draw, but is playing an exhibition match against another young American, 17 year old Frances Tiafoe on Monday night.  Tiafoe created a stir in the qualifying last year and has been granted a wild card into the main draw.  Other crowd favorites returning include Dudi Sela, last year’s finalist, 2013 finalist Kevin Anderson, and 2012 finalist Giles Muller.  The draw will also include 4 players from a 32 draw qualifying tournament to be played this weekend.

2015 French Open Boys’ champion Tommy Paul and this year’s Wild Card Challenge winner Trent Bryde have accepted two wild card spots into that BB&T Atlanta Open qualifying tournament.  Paul is the No. 5-ranked American junior. Bryde had to make his way through 5 matches in the Wild Card Challenge.  Georgia Tech also is providing a wild card to sophomore Christopher Eubanks.  Eubanks was named all Atlantic Coast Conference as a freshman last spring and finished ranked number 47 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.

Ticket sales have been on a record pace according to Tournament Director Eddie Gonzalez.  Atlanta has always been a tennis town, with the largest local doubles league in the United States.  There will be several special events that are part of the tournament scene, including the above mentioned exhibition with Roddick, a kids weekend with special ticket promotions during the qualifying tournament, a Commodores concert, College Night, another concert featuring LoCash, Ladies Day, USTA member appreciation day, and a Family Zone presented by Prince at Atlantic Station where kids can play tennis.

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

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Inaugural Taste of Tennis Miami to Take Place March 23

taste-of-tennis-miami

(February 25, 2015) MIAMI BEACH, FL – AYS has announced the inaugural Taste of Tennis Miami presented by Citi taking place on Monday, March 23rd poolside at W South Beach. For 15 years, Taste of Tennis has kicked off the US Open Tennis Championships in New York and it is widely considered the World’s Premier Food & Tennis Experience! The event brings together professional athletes, top chefs and luxury brands for an unforgettable evening of gourmet food, interactive sponsor experiences, signature cocktails and appearances by the world’s best tennis players. Tennis personalities and local celebrities will be paired with some of Miami’s best chefs to Serve Up a unique food tasting experience. Tennis’ most celebrated doubles team, Bob and Mike Bryan, will be joined by a number of Miami’s finest chefs, including chefs from BLT Prime, Sushi Samba, Wild Fish Direct, Bocce, Khong River House and more to be announced.

 

“Taste of Tennis has such an amazing history in New York and we believe W South Beach provides the perfect backdrop for the inaugural Taste of Tennis Miami. We’re looking forward to celebrating our passions for crafted cocktails/cuisine and of course, to setting the scene here in South Beach. We couldn’t be more excited to host this one of a kind event,” said Rick Ueno, General Manager at W South Beach. AYS President Judi Lerner added, “We are thrilled to bring this event to Miami. Great food, music, signature cocktails and pro tennis players, poolside at the W South Beach, we can’t think of a better way to celebrate the return of tennis to South Florida.”

 

A portion of the proceeds from the event benefits a local charity of choice. This year’s beneficiary, in addition to a full list of participating chefs and players, will be announced prior to the event. For more information and to purchase tickets to the 2015 Taste of Tennis Miami presented by Citi, please visit www.tasteoftennismiami.com. Major sponsors for the Innaugural Taste of Tennis Miami include Citi, W South Beach, Franciscan Estate, Mouton Cadet, Volkl, Head Penn, among others.

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“Lucky” Federer Wins Shanghai Masters for Fourth Title of the Year

Federer wins with arms raised

(October 12, 2014) Roger Federer defeated Gilles Simon 7-6 (6), 7-6 (2) to capture his first Shanghai Masters title on Sunday, his fourth tournament win of the season, 81st of his career.

Down five match points in his opening match against Leonardo Mayer just four days ago, who would have thought that Roger Federer would be the champion of the Shanghai Masters.

“I got very, very lucky,” Federer said after the match. “I know what a privilege it is to be here today.”

Federer had his serve broken to begin the match, but brought the match back on serve breaking his French opponent as Simon was serving for the first set at 5-4.

Simon had a set point in the first set tiebreak, which the Swiss fought off with an unreturnable serve.

Forward to the tightly contested second set where Simon had set points on Federer as the 17-time major champion was serving at 5-6 in which he could not take advantage. Federer dominated the tiebreak 7-2 to close the match.

Federer leads the men’s tour this year in match wins with 61, top ten wins with 13 and final appearances with 9.

“It makes me very happy winning here because this tournament means a lot to me,” Federer said. “I’ve always enjoyed coming here. I’ve come close a couple of times, but I’ve always wanted to win it as a Masters 1000.

“I feel unbelievable prestige to win this event. Especially putting my hands on the trophy for the first time is a good feeling, I must say. I’m very happy with the way I’m playing. Overall I’m just extremely happy right now.”

Playing a more aggressive game, Federer won 24 of 35 points at net.

“He still has the same strengths, this fantastic serve and this huge forehand,” Simon said. “He’s always showing you that he is ready to be really aggressive on every shot. So he keeps you under pressure.”

Federer will move past Rafael Nadal into the No. 2 spot in the rankings on Monday. Nadal who lost in Shanghai in his opening round match against Feliciano Lopes, is dealing with appendicitis.

Simon, currently No. 29, will move up to No. 19 in the world.

The Bryan Brothers, who won the doubles title, became the first pair to clinch a career golden Masters – winning all of the Masters Series events at least once. For Bob and Mike it was their 101st career title as a team.

“It’s another great milestone,” said Bob Bryan. “This week was full of them for us. To come and get in the title match, have a shot at winning the tournament that’s eluded us, complete the Golden Masters, is amazing.”

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