November 29, 2015

Made My Day – Videos from Cliff Drysdale’s Fundraiser During the Sony Ericsson Open

by Craig Hickman

The 2011 Sony Ericsson Open is now history. Before play was officially underway, Kim Clijsters, Andy Roddick, Caroline Wozniacki and Ryan Harrison supported the Greater Miami Tennis Club as part of Cliff Drysdale’s fundraiser at the Ritz-Carlton of Key Biscayne inside the tennis center that bears his name.

Last year, Clijsters and Roddick considered the same event their good luck charms as both went on to win the Sony Ericsson Open. I guess it’s true, then, that lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place. But the defending champions had a great time. Seeing tennis players doing what they love to do without the stress of a match was a beautiful thing.

The Ritz-Carlton of Key Biscayne is more like a palace than a hotel. I couldn’t help but thinking we were approaching royalty as we drove into the gated grounds. Perfectly designed and manicured landscaping all around, we finally found the tennis center valet. Once on the courts, I was able to see what Serena Williams once said about green clay being slower and grittier than the crushed red brick used in Europe and South America. It almost looks like gravel. On one of the outside courts, I recognized former Miami runner-up Guillermo Cañas playing a double’s match with other members.

The staff at the Ritz-Carlton gave customer service new meaning. Attentive, genuinely nice, they made us feel at home. Perfect weather, live musicians, an open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, and the chance to test-drive Cadillac’s new models would have attracted anyone who wanted to support a worthy cause..

Even with the great atmosphere and fun tennis exhibition , the event highlight came at the end when I approached Drysdale, who’d kept the proceedings efficient and light-hearted with his infectious personality and wit. He’s practically a stand up comedian.

“Just in case I never have another opportunity to say this to you, I just wanted to let you know that you are the voice of tennis for me. Didn’t matter where I was in the house, if I heard your voice on the television, I knew tennis was on. I enjoy your commentary, your humor, and the personality you bring in the booth is always a perfect foil for your colleagues.”

His face lit up more than it naturally does. “Wow. Thank you so much for telling me that. You have made my day,” he replied with an outstretched hand. Next thing I knew, he touched the side of my face as though I were his son. He made my day, too.

Michelle Payer, the media relations director who invited us to cover the event, insisted that I pose with Drysdale for a photo. As we posed, I told him of my sister’s home in South Africa and JD, who’s originally from the Netherlands, asked him if he spoke any Afrikaans, the Dutch dialect spoken by the Dutch who settled there centuries ago. Personal connections make every experience more memorable.

The entire event benefited the Greater Miami Tennis and Education Foundation and like last year, kids from the foundation attended the event as ball boys and girls. They earned that privilege based on their report cards, attendance, leadership and other factors. The $13,000 raised will benefit these socially and economically challenged Miami children, will help them learn tennis and valuable life skills by participating in free, affordable GMTEF tennis and education programs throughout the school year, as well as during the summer.

Next year’s event promises to be even better.

Craig Hickman covered the Sony Ericsson Open for Tennis Panorama News. He is the  founder and editor of Craig Hickman’s Tennis Blog

Photos by JD Blom

Videos by Craig Hickman and JD Blom.


Video Highlights




[nggallery id=14]


Kourtin’ Karen’s Sony Ericsson Open Week 1



Welcome to Miami

Tennis Panorama News was in Miami this week covering the Sony Ericsson Open. Craig Hickman of Craig Hickman on Tennis and JD Blom were on site covering all the on-court and off-court action.


Breaking News at WTA All Access

Due to Craig Hickman’s and JD Blom’s skills with the Flemish language they broke the “Clijsters won’t play in Asia” story on twitter first and with a complete translation later in the day.  Heads up to Chris Chase for recognizing this in Yahoo’s tennis blog Busted Racquet. It was interesting to see media outlets report the story without verification or source attribution.

Of  War and Radiation: Kim Clijsters Speaks



Soccer/Football Jinx

Photo courtesy of

Has anyone noticed that most of those players who participated in the charity soccer match for Japan earlier in the week have already lost in Miami?  The list so far includes Andy Murray, Fernando Verdasco, Marcos Baghdatis, Stanislas Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori.


Look out for Falling Seeds

On Saturday alone 10 seeds including Andy Roddick lost in Miami – 6 men  and 4 women.


Serena Sighting

From Serena Williams‘ twitter account, Williams and Caroline Wozniacki took in a Miami Heat game earlier in the week.



Losing Streak

Andy Murray (Photo of

Andy Murray is officially in a slump. He was a second round victim to Alex Bogomolov Jr. This marks his fourth consecutive loss beginning with the final of the Australian Open. Despite the loss, Murray will climb to No. 4 in the world due to Robin Soderling’s third round exit at the Sony Ericsson Open.


Doubles Point of the Week!




Swimming with the Fish(es)

Mardy Fish has a sense of humor to volunteer to participate in two photo-ops this week – swimming with the dolphins..

Mardy Fish and Dolphins Cheerleaders (Getty Images)

and posing with the  Miami Dolphins cheerleaders. Good news for Fish – not official yet but a Fish win in the next round, paired with Andy Roddick’s early loss will make Fish the top ranked US male.



Dance of the Week

Video and photo courtesy of Forty Deuce

Ana Ivanovic has paired up with Andrea Petkovic in doubles this week at the Sony Ericsson Open.  Needless to say Petkovic has shown her how to do the victory dance.


Photo-Op of the Week

NBA All-Stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat perfomed the coin toss at Saturday evening’s Rafael Nadal-Kei Nishikori match at the Sony Ericsson Open.


Do you wanna ride in my Mercedes boy?

Photo courtesy of

Kudos to who caught Roger Federer driving to the Sony Ericsson Open in a Mercedes.  Mercedes is one of Federer’s sponsors.


Parties and Events of the Week

Tennis Family Unites To Raise Funds for Japan Disaster Relief

Sony Ericsson Open Players Party – Welcome to the Oscars

New Experience with Sharapova and the Hot Shots

GR8 Friends For Japan Fundraiser with Novak Djokovic

Slideshow: GR8 Friends For Japan Fundraiser

Game, Set, Match, Videos and Photo Galleries!

JD Blom and Craig Hickman were all over the Sony Ericsson Open  from the matches to the “Party Patrol” events this past week. Here are links to videos and photo galleries. Also check out the live tweeting of the red carpet events they covered thorughout the week– here

Articles with Videos:

Videos – GR8 Friends For Japan Fundraiser with Novak Djokovic

Video – Roger Federer Practice Session at the Sony Ericsson Open

Video – Andy Roddick Practice Session at the Sony Ericsson Open


Photo Galleries












Sony Ericsson Open Players Party – Welcome to the Oscars

View the slideshow

by Craig Hickman

Tuesday night, the players chose their fashion-forward best for the “Oscars” of the player party circuit. Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Ana Kournikova were the biggest stars of the tennis world in attendance, as well as world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, Fernando Verdasco, and pretty boy Feliciano Lopez, who made one of the photographers weak-kneed.

Robin Soderling
, along with his girlfriend, were among the first to show up and they were already walking out when we arrived. Tomas Berdych and Lucie Safarova were the last to arrive on the red (blue) carpet. An adorable couple close up, their chemistry was palpable. Tomas has always had the look of an angel and Lucie’s baby-doll face was all aglow. I was thrilled to see Anastasia Myskina who arrived with the self-proclaimed “Russian Mob,” led by Svetlana Kuznetsova in another one of her head-scratching get ups.

Mixed in with the players were a few actors, a couple professional gamers, some well-known local DJ’s, and a few mystery men.

Venus Williams arrived about midway through and when Serena Williams wasn’t far behind, it was clear the superstar wasn’t coming. Also noticeably absent was Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Kim Clijsters.

Tweeting the photos was a stroke of genius suggested by photographer  JD Blom. I was all set to tweet my best descriptions of the outfits when he looked over my shoulder and said, “Just snap a photo.” Ah, technology. I’m not a wizard with the latest toys, so I had no clue you could do such a thing. Once I got the hang of it, it was all over. Would love to do that again someday.

Right before the paparazzi packed up equipment to leave, one of the Getty photographers asked my to identify most of the players he’d just captured for he only recognized a few big names. Who knew?

More photos from the live tweets – here.

On the Red (Blue) Carpet of the Sony Ericsson Open Players Party

Craig Hickman is founder and editor of Craig Hickman’s Tennis Blog He is covering the Sony Ericsson Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on twitter @CraigHickman.  Find his Sony Ericsson Open tweets on @GVTennisNews.

[nggallery id=3]