2015/04/01

Philippoussis Defeats Agassi to Win 15 Powershares Series Opener in Salt Lake City

powershares

(March 24, 2015) SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Mark Philippoussis defeated Andre Agassi 7-6 (4) in the one-set championship match Tuesday to win the Champions Shootout, the opening event on the 2015 PowerShares Series, at the Huntsman Center at the University of Utah.

“A match like this could go either way,” Agassi said following the final. “I had a lot some chances early on when you get down to a breaker with Mark you have to execute on the right points. He did that tonight, but it was lot of fun trying to chase down his shots.”

Philippoussis, the 2003 Wimbledon runner-up, was aided not only by his powerful serve – which earned him the nick-name of “Scud” – but in the fact that his booming shots broke the strings in all three of Andre Agassi’s racquets, forcing the eight-time major champion to finish the match using one of the Australian’s racquets.

The tournament win was third on the PowerShares Series for Philippoussis and the first since winning in Surprise, Arizona in 2010. Agassi was seeking his eighth career PowerShares Series title.

The one-night four-player tournament event marked the first pro tennis event to exclusively use Hawk-Eye electronic line-calling technology in lieu of linespeople.

In the semifinal matches earlier in the night, Philippoussis posted a 6-3 win over James Blake, who won the PowerShares Series event in Salt Lake City last year, when played at the Energy Solutions Arena. Agassi defeated Jim Courier 6-3 in the other semifinal.

The PowerShares Series continues Wednesday night in Los Angeles at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California where Philippoussis, Courier and Blake will join Andy Roddick in the field. Philippoussis is a late replacement in the Los Angeles field for Pete Sampras, who injured his calf muscle while playing in an event in Sweden over the weekend and was forced to withdraw from the event. For full schedule, player and ticket information, go to www.PowerSharesSeries.com

The remaining PowerShares Series schedule with full fields are as follows:

 

Wednesday, March 25: Los Angeles, Calif., (Galen Center at USC) “SoCal Honda Dealers Helpful Cup” featuring Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis, James Blake

Wednesday, April 1: Lincoln, Neb., (Pinnacle Bank Arena at Univ. of Nebraska) “Champions Cup Presented by Woods Park Tennis” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

Thursday, April 2: Chicago, Ill. (Sears Centre) “PowerShares QQQ Challenge” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

Thursday, April 16: Austin, Texas (Cedar Park Center) “Champions Shootout” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

Friday, April 17: Little Rock, Ark. (Jack Stephens Center at the UALR) “Champions Cup” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis

Saturday, April 18: Dallas, Texas (Moody Coliseum at SMU) “Champions Showdown” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis

Wednesday, April 22: Boston, Mass. (Agganis Arena at Boston University) “Champions Cup” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

Thursday, April 23: Richmond, Va., (Siegel Center at VCU) “Champions Challenge” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

Wednesday, April 29: Minneapolis, Minn. (Target Center) “Champions Shootout” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Michael Chang, James Blake

Thursday, April 30: Cincinnati, Ohio (Cintas Center at Xavier) “Champions Showdown” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Michael Chang, James Blake

Saturday, May 2: Vancouver, Canada (Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre at UBC) “Champions Showdown” featuring Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Michael Chang, Mark Philippoussis

 

In 2014, John McEnroe won the points title for the first time in the nine-year history of Champions Series tennis by winning events in Kansas City, Indianapolis, Nashville and Charlotte. McEnroe was followed in the points standings by Blake in second place and Roddick in third place.

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John McEnroe, James Blake, Andy Roddick, and Jim Courier To Compete in Legends Event at Connecticut Open

John McEnroe
(Feb. 26, 2015) NEW HAVEN, Conn. – John McEnroe, James Blake, Andy Roddick, and Jim Courier, four of the best American tennis players of all time, will compete in the Legends Event at the 2015 Connecticut Open, to be held August 21-29, at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale, it was announced today by Anne Worcester, tournament director.
For the second year, the tournament will bring together some of the game’s most well-known and talented legends for two entertaining evenings of tennis. On Thursday, August 27, Blake will play Roddick, and on Friday, August 28, McEnroe will battle Courier. Both matches will be the second match of the evening session, following the WTA quarterfinal and semifinal match, respectively. The Legends match will be best of three sets, with a super tiebreak for the third set.
McEnroe, a seven-time Grand Slam singles and nine-time Grand Slam doubles Champion, will be returning to New Haven for the first time since 1992. One of the most talented players in history, he accumulated more than 150 singles and doubles championships in his career, and in 1984, had one of the greatest seasons in the history of tennis winning two majors (Wimbledon, US Open), 13 of 15 singles tournaments, and compiled an 82-3 record for the year, which still stands as the best year-long winning percentage on the ATP World Tour. McEnroe was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999.
“I look forward to competing against Jim Courier in New Haven later this year.  Both Jim and I will be prepared to give our very best to make sure the fans get their money’s worth.  New Haven has a rich tennis history so it will be good to be a part of the Connecticut Open.”
Blake, a two-time Connecticut Open Champion with 10 singles tournaments and seven doubles titles to his name, Roddick, a former World No. 1 player and US Open Champion, and Courier, a former World No. 1 and four-time Grand Slam Champion, entertained the crowds over two nights in 2014, and the event drew rave reviews from fans.
“Our 2014 Legends Event was a huge success for the Connecticut Open, and we are expecting the 2015 event to be even better this year with the addition of legendary John McEnroe,” said Worcester. “James Blake, Andy Roddick and Jim Courier will again showcase how mixing humor, fun and great tennis can create a dynamic evening that enhances the overall fan experience at the tournament.”
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Draws Announced For 12-City PowerShares Series Tennis Events In 2015

AgassiSamprasPostMatch

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 23, 2015 – InsideOut Sports & Entertainment today announced
the draws for its 2015 PowerShares Series champions tennis circuit. The
PowerShares Series, the North American tennis circuit for champion tennis
players, will visit 12 cities in 2015 starting March 24 in Salt Lake City, Utah
and concluding Saturday, May 2 in Vancouver, Canada. Players competing on the
2015 PowerShares Series are John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim
Courier, Andy Roddick, Michael Chang, James Blake and Mark Philippoussis.

Each one-night event will feature two one-set semifinal matches, followed by a
one–set championship match. For more information: www.PowerSharesSeries.com.

The full 2015 PowerShares Series schedule with event match-ups are as follows:

Tuesday, March 24: Salt Lake City, Utah (Huntsman Center) “Champions Shootout”
James Blake vs. Mark Philippoussis, Andre Agassi vs. Jim Courier

Wednesday, March 25: Los Angeles, Calif., (Galen Center at USC) “SoCal Honda
Dealers Helpful Cup”
Pete Sampras vs. Jim Courier, Andy Roddick vs. James Blake

Wednesday, April 1: Lincoln, Neb., (Pinnacle Bank Arena at Univ. of Nebraska)
“Champions Cup Presented by Woods Park Tennis”
Andy Roddick vs. Jim Courier, James Blake vs. John McEnroe

Thursday, April 2: Chicago, Ill. (Sears Centre) “PowerShares QQQ Challenge”
John McEnroe vs. Jim Courier, Andy Roddick vs. James Blake

Thursday, April 16: Austin, Texas (Cedar Park Center) “Champions Shootout”
John McEnroe vs. Jim Courier, Andy Roddick vs. James Blake

Friday, April 17: Little Rock, Ark. (Jack Stephens Center at the UALR)
“Champions Cup”
Andy Roddick vs. Jim Courier, John McEnroe vs. Mark Philippoussis

Saturday, April 18: Dallas, Texas (Moody Coliseum at SMU) “Champions Showdown”
John McEnroe vs. Jim Courier, Andy Roddick vs. Mark Philippoussis

Wednesday, April 22: Boston, Mass. (Agganis Arena at Boston University)
“Champions Cup”
John McEnroe vs. Jim Courier, Andy Roddick vs. James Blake

Thursday, April 23: Richmond, Va., (Siegel Center at VCU) “Champions Challenge”
Jim Courier vs. Andy Roddick, John McEnroe vs. James Blake

Wednesday, April 29: Minneapolis, Minn. (Target Center) “Champions Shootout”
John McEnroe vs. James Blake, Andy Roddick vs. Michael Chang

Thursday, April 30: Cincinnati, Ohio (Cintas Center at Xavier) “Champions
Showdown”
Andy Roddick vs. James Blake, John McEnroe vs. Michael Chang

Saturday, May 2: Vancouver, Canada (Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre at
UBC) “Champions Showdown”
Michael Chang vs. Mark Philippoussis, Pete Sampras vs. John McEnroe

In 2014, McEnroe won the points title for the first time in the nine-year
history of Champions Series tennis by winning events in Kansas City,
Indianapolis, Nashville and Charlotte. McEnroe was followed in the points
standings by Blake in second place and Roddick in third place.

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Former World No 4 James Blake to become Chairman of the USTA Foundation Board of Directors

James Blake (L) and Brooks Brothers CEO Claudio Del Vecchio (R)

James Blake (L) and Brooks Brothers CEO Claudio Del Vecchio (R)

From the USTA: (February. 09, 2015)WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The USTA Foundation, the national charitable organization of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), announced that it has appointed former world No. 4 James Blake as chairman of the Foundation’s board of directors. In his new role, Blake will serve as the Foundation’s spokesperson and ambassador to promote the mission and impact of its national outreach efforts.

 

Blake will help promote the Foundation’s mission of providing tennis and education opportunities to under-resourced youth and individuals with disabilities. He succeeds former pro and longtime tennis journalist and advocate Mary Carillo, who served as chairwoman from 2009 to 2014.

 

“I’m honored to have been selected as the chairman of the USTA Foundation board of directors. I admire the Foundation’s pursuit to support the combination of tennis and education and the impact it has on so many youth around the country,” said Blake. “I grew up playing tennis at a young age and participated in a National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) program. It was there that I learned the value and influence tennis can add to my life while being encouraged to stay academically focused. It’s through the support of the USTA Foundation where students today are given the same opportunities. And I’m proud to be a part of this outstanding mission to serving up dreams.”

 

Blake’s professional career spanned 14 years, in which he won 10 ATP singles titles, seven doubles titles and a Davis Cup Championship. He also reached the semifinals of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and climbed to a career-best No. 4 in the world, ranking as the top American during that time. Blake joined the U.S. Davis Cup team in 2001 – becoming the third African-American to play Davis Cup for the U.S., following in the footsteps of Arthur Ashe and MaliVai Washington. He teamed with Andy Roddick, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan to capture a record-extending 32nd Davis Cup championship title for the U.S. in 2007.

 

Blake attended Harvard University, where he became the No.1 player in the nation and acquired numerous accolades including ITA All-American, first team All Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis Association (EITA) honors and EITA/Ivy Rookie of the Year, to name a few. Blake turned pro in 1999, following his sophomore year with the Crimson. Blake began playing tennis at the age of 5, where he attended the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program (HJTEP), an NJTL program in New York City supported by the USTA Foundation. It was there where he heard Arthur Ashe speak to a group of kids that inspired him to pursue the sport of tennis.

 

In 2007, Blake co-wrote a New York Times best-selling autobiography, “Breaking Back.” The following year he was honored with the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year Award. Blake officially retired from professional tennis at the 2013 US Open.

 

“The board of directors of the USTA Foundation proudly welcomes James as our new chairman and ambassador for our important mission of  serving under-resourced youth and those in need through tennis and education,” said Thomas Chen, president of the USTA Foundation board of directors. “We have admired his success and reputation as a professional tennis player and are pleased that he shares our core beliefs in giving back through the sport of tennis.  We are honored to have him join the Foundation and know he will continue the great work and leadership we enjoyed by our outgoing chairwoman, Mary Carillo.”

 

A Yonkers, N.Y., native, Blake created the Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Cancer Research Fund at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in 2004. He runs an annual celebrity tennis and entertainment event, Serving for a Cure, to raise funds for cancer research and prevention.  He lives in Connecticut with his wife Emily and daughters Riley and Emma.

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BNP Paribas Open – John McEnroe Challenge for Charity Features Andy Roddick, Tracy Austin, Lindsay Davenport, James Blake and Madison Keys

(February 9, 2015) Indian Wells, Calif.– The McEnroe Challenge for Charity presented by Masimo, a one-day, free admission special event on Saturday, March 7 ahead of the BNP Paribas Open, the largest ATP World Tour and WTA combined two-week event in the world, will feature John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Tracy Austin, Lindsay Davenport, James Blake, Rick Leach, Coco Vandeweghe and Madison Keys, it was announced today by Steve Simon, tournament director.

This year’s event will be played in a team format, with McEnroe and Roddick each captaining a team. The teams will be determined on the evening of Friday, March 6 at the Charity Reception. Each match (men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, mixed doubles) will consist of one set, with each game won counting as one point towards the team’s cumulative score. No ad-scoring, receiver’s choice (gender to gender in mixed doubles), and a 12-point tiebreak (six-games-all) will be used throughout the event.

In addition, the “coach” may substitute a player, male or female, into any match at any time. There will be no limit on the number of substitutions that can be made. If the Team Match is tied at the end of the four matches, a super tiebreaker (10 point) will be played to determine a winner. Each player on the team will be required to play at least two points within the super tiebreaker.

Each player and doubles team will represent a designated local charity, and 100 percent of the prize money ($80,000) earned – $15,000 for the winner and $5,000 for the loser of each match – will be donated to the charity the player or team represents. The designated charities will be the Andy Roddick Foundation, Eisenhower Medical Center, Patient Safety Movement Foundation, and the War Casualty Fund.

Masimo, now a Premier sponsor of the BNP Paribas Open, is the new presenting sponsor for the McEnroe Challenge for Charity. A global medical technology company that has developed innovative medical devices including the recently introduced MightySat™ fingertip pulse oximeter for sports and consumer use, Masimo will have a booth/exhibit space on the grounds to showcase the company during the BNP Paribas Open.

“Masimo is excited to be the presenting sponsor for the McEnroe Challenge for Charity, as this event provides an ideal way to raise money for charity and kick off the BNP Paribas Open,” said Joe Kiani, founder and CEO of Masimo and founder of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation. “We look forward to supporting a special free evening for fans, watching some of the best tennis players in the history of the game compete, and most importantly raising money for terrific causes.”

On Saturday, March 7th, the gates will open at 5:00 p.m. and matches will begin at 6:00 p.m. To reserve a complimentary ticket to the McEnroe Challenge for Charity presented by Masimo (limit of four (4) per customer), please visit www.bnpparibasopen.com, call 800-999-1585 or come to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden Box Office at 78-200 Miles Avenue, Indian Wells, Calif., 92210.

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James Blake Hosts Foundation Event at Brooks Brothers; Discusses His Own Tennis Future

James Blake and Brooks Brothers CEO Claudio Del Vecchio

James Blake and Brooks Brothers CEO Claudio Del Vecchio

(November 13, 2014) NEW YORK, NY – Former top American tennis player and world No. 4 James Blake played host to a kick-off “Serving for a Cure” shopping event at the Brooks Brothers flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York City on Thursday night to benefit his foundation.

Blake’s foundation raises funds for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, specifically the Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Research Fund, which supports early detection cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Blake began “Serving for a Cure” in 2005 a year after he lost his father Thomas to cancer. The fund is named after his father.

Blake talked about the beginning of his foundation: “I wanted to do something one time as a memorial for him, and it turned out that the support I had that first year made me feel that I couldn’t stop at one. It’s been going strong ever since and now it feels like it’s never going to stop which is a really good thing and I’m proud of it. We passed the million dollar donation mark to Memorial Sloane Kettering.

“My father unfortunately was detected so late, but once he was a patient at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, he said it was like night and day. The treatment there was great, the research was unbelievable. They tried everything they could and we just want to give everyone a fighting chance. That’s why our research for early detection, we want give people a chance to beat the disease.”

In addition to his own philanthropic endeavors, the current Westport, Connecticut resident, commented on how dedicated players on the ATP Tour are to charity.

James Blake

“It’s kind of like the spirit of community,” said Blake. “We’re all in the same locker room together. We’re all not really part of the same team, like in team sports but it feels like it. We see what the others are doing and we see the example set at the top especially. Some of the older guys when I was growing up. -I saw (Andre) Agassi, I saw (Pete) Sampras, a lot of guys who were doing right by the rest of the world. It made me think that I’d want to do the same.

“Once something so personal hit my family, it made me realize I can make a difference in a positive way, because most of our lives as a tennis player are selfish. We’re playing tennis and doing it for ourselves.”

“I hope the young guys – the Sam Querrey’s , the John Isner’s, the Jack Sock’s, the Donald Young’s, they want to make difference too whatever way they can,” Blake continued.

Since Blake’s retirement from the tennis tour in 2013, he still is active in tennis in one form or another.

“Well I helped Jack Sock a little bit,” he said. “I also have stayed close with the USTA and with Katrina Adams becoming the new president. I’m proud of her and hopefully I’ll be able to be part of the staff soon if that comes to be we’ll see. But right now I’m mainly focusing on my family, being at home and spending a lot of time with two little girls, that definitely keeps me pretty busy.”

Blake admitted that he likes coaching but there are some drawbacks.

“I like it but I don’t like to travel, I don’t like being on the road 30 weeks out of the year like I was when I was playing,” he said.

“So in terms of Jack (Sock) I just helped him with some of the bigger picture stuff- to be able to talk to him on the phone and helping keep his mind set the right way, because he’s got a full time coach, I don’t want to interfere with that, I’m not dealing with the X’s and O’s, strokes and stuff. I’m more of a mentor and a friend, someone that’s going to be a sounding board for him.

“He’s going through a lot of stuff I was going through at his age, so I just want to be that resource that can help him. If I can do that for others, that would be something in the future that I’d be proud to be a part of. I went through it all and hopefully have others have that knowledge as well.”

Blake who was a member of the 2007 Davis Cup championship team told Tennis Panorama News that down the line he’d like to be the U. S. Davis Cup Captain. “I thought about it the first time I played Davis Cup,” he said. “I would love to have that opportunity and it’s something that’s such an honor. Jim’s (Courier) doing a great job. I know it won’t be for a long time to get a chance because I know Jim’s got a pretty good handle on it. There would be no reason to make a change anytime soon. Hopefully I have plenty more years to have that opportunity and if it ever comes my way, I won’t pass it up, that’s for sure.”

Blake had the opportunity to be in the broadcast booth for Tennis Channel as an analyst in February 2013 when the U. S. played a first round Davis Cup tie against Brazil in Jacksonville, Florida.

“I thought it was going to be much more natural than it was,” said of the transition to working on television.

“I worked with Brett Haber, who is a true professional ad he really helped me. I got better through the weekend.”

“The biggest thing was when to talk and when not to talk, because I felt like I needed to say more and he said it was ok to let the tennis do the talking, that actually made it easy for me to get better and just let the players do the talking on the court. I was getting better. It still feels there is a lot more work for me to get to anyone’s level like Bret Haber, John McEnroe and the people who have been doing it for years, but it’s something that’s fun and I think it helps me that I played again most of the guys I’m commentating on, so I don’t need to do as much work on the scouting reports I’ve already done that.”

 

Blake entertains doing more television work in the future. “It’s something that was fun the first few times I did it. I think it would be great to stay close to the sport. It may give me an opportunity to stay involved as it gets closer to a time if I have the opportunity to be Davis Cup captain but it is a good way to stay involved. It may be tough for me to stay objective. I maybe have a few favorites especially with the Americans. I like to see them doing well but I have to do my best to stay objective, just commentate on the facts.”

 

Brooks Brothers is a new sponsor for “Serving for a Cure.” “I’m really happy to be affiliated with a company with such a great tradition as Brooks Brothers. You see them at a lot of classic events, I know tennis and golf are known for that kind of classic feel and Brooks Brothers really brings that to the table.”

“When we met with James we were quite impressed with all that he’s accomplished,” said Claudio Del Vecchio, Chairman & CEO of Brooks Brothers. “It’s the same passion and dedication he shows on court that he brings to a cause that is so near to his heart.  Together we are helping to make a difference in the fight against cancer.”
Click here for more information on the James Blake Foundation.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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Update: Four Found Dead in a Fire at a Home Owned by Former Tennis Pro James Blake

WTSP

Photo from WTSP.com

(May 7, 2014) A fire broke out in a home owned by James Blake, north of downtown Tampa, Florida. The fire was reported at 6 a.m. Firefighters found four bodies in the burning mansion owned by the former world No. 4 player. Blake does not live in the house as he rents it out.

 

WTSP Tampa, Florida reports:

Tampa, Florida — Four bodies have been found inside the large, million-dollar Tampa home that went up in flames Wednesday morning.

During a 5:30 p.m. press conference Wednesday, Col. Donna Lusczynski of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said it took firefighters several hours to extinguish the fire as hot spots continued to pop up and the blaze kept restarting. Investigators were able to finally gain access to the inside of the mansion around 3 p.m.

Once inside, authorities found the bodies of two adults and two teenage children in their respective bedrooms. While investigators confirmed the home was being rented out by the Campbell family, they say a positive identification of the bodies would not be available for several days. Lusczynski did say, however, that the family is unaccounted for at this time.

SEE ALSO: Neighbors say family died in Tampa house fire

It was also revealed at the press conference that two of the victims suffered upper body trauma, but the extent of those injuries and how they were caused is not yet known. No weapons were located as of now inside the home.

Lusczynski went on to say that the fire was started intentionally by an accelerant that has not been identified at this time. Also, various commercial fireworks were found inside which is what the loud explosions likely were that neighbors reported hearing during the blaze. She also said investigators are considering murder-suicide as a possibility as to what happened and that no one else in the community is believed to be in any danger.

Investigators are expected to be out at the scene for days trying to collect evidence.

10 News’ search of property records confirm former tennis player James Blake owns the 5,856 square-foot mansion at 16223 Sierra de Avila, inside the exclusive Avila Golf and Country Club.

We were able to reach a contact with the James Blake Foundation, who says Blake was not inside the house when the fire broke out. He had been renting the home to someone else.

Blake is a former professional tennis player, who at one point was the #1-ranked American in the world. Blake retired last year.

 

 

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James Blake on a Roll as the Champions Shootout Comes to Sacramento

(L-R Andy Roddick, James Blake and John Isner)

(L-R Andy Roddick, James Blake and John Isner)

By Kevin Ware

(February 26, 2014) World-class men’s tennis returns to Northern California tonight with the Champions Shootout: the next stop on the PowerShares Series 12-city tour.  Featuring a roster of tennis icons and legends, the PowerShares Series combines the best of competitive tennis and fan appreciation in a condensed format that’s fun for both the players and fans alike.

The last PowerShares visit to the Bay Area saw Jim Courier, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, and Todd Martin battling it out for supremacy (and rankings points) in San Jose. This time around, Sacramento is the battleground. And stalwarts Courier and McEnroe are joined by Pete Sampras and series newcomer, James Blake.

McEnroe currently leads the rankings, followed by Courier and PowerShares newcomer Andy Roddick. Blake, however, is quietly making a run for the top spot after picking up his first PowerShares title with a 7-6 (5) win over McEnroe in Salt Lake City.

It’s hard to believe that Blake only just retired from the pro ranks this past fall at the ripe old age of 28. Hard to believe, maybe, but understandable given the toll that injuries have taken on his body over the years.

After struggling in qualifying rounds through most of the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Blake made his official retirement announcement at the 2013 US Open, after a first-round loss to Ivo Karlovic.

With pro tennis seemingly behind him, Blake looked ready finally enjoy some quality time with his wife and young daughter. But the lure of competition proved too strong, so five months later he’s back on the courts: hitting blistering forehands as though he never left, and having a good time with his old friends.

Blake’s first outing in Denver ended in a finals loss to Andre Agassi. His second was another finals loss to his good buddy Roddick in Houston. The third time definitely proved to be the charm, however, with his win in Salt Lake City. At this rate, McEnroe had better watch his back in Sacramento!

The Champions Shootout begins at 3PM with a special “Play with the Pros” on-court hitting session with Sampras and Blake, followed by a second session featuring McEnroe and Courier at 4PM. Semifinal match play begins at 6PM, with the winners advancing to the finals immediately afterward.

Kevin Ware is in Sacramento covering the Powershares event, The Champions Shootout as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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Tennis News & Net Notes

WTA Tour changes ranking points system for 2014: “Among the changes confirmed by the WTA are first round points at Premier Mandatory tournaments being doubled (from five to 10), qualifying points at International tournaments being increased and Grand Slam qualifying points being adjusted to lessen the difference between WTA Premier event qualifying points.” via WTA TOUR

(L-R) Sara Errani of Italy, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic, Serena Williams of USA, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, Li Na of China, Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, and Angelique Kerber of Germany pose with the Billie Jean King trophy for the official photo of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images for WTA).

(L-R) Sara Errani of Italy, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic, Serena Williams of USA, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, Li Na of China, Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, and Angelique Kerber of Germany pose with the Billie Jean King trophy for the official photo of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images for WTA).

ATP Player Retirement Recap for 2013: James Blake, Igor Andreev, Igor Kunitsyn, Ivan Navarro & Dick Norman via ATP Tour

James Blake

Australian Open Announces Music Lineup for 2014 Tournament: The Rubens and Clare Bowditch are set to headline the musical program at the Australian Open, playing on the night of the men’s and women’s finals, respectively. via Faster Louder

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Andy Roddick, James Blake and John Isner Team Up to Particpate in Justin Gimelstob Children’s Fund Tennis Exhibition

Justin Gimelstob Children’s Fund Tennis Exhibition

By Josh Meiseles, Special to Tennis Panorama News

(December 7, 2013) CHATHAM, NJ – Centercourt Athletic Club in Chatham, New Jersey played host to the Justin Gimelstob Children’s Fund Tennis Exhibition for the sixth time on Friday, as the star-studded event raised money for the former ATP pro’s foundation. The fundraiser amassed over $300,000 in support of comprehensive healthcare services for children with cancer and blood disorders. In conjunction with The Valerie Fund, a New Jersey-based non-profit organization, the event also included a free 10 & under tennis clinic.

 

“When we started this event and my foundation fifteen years ago, I could never have imagined it would have grown into what it is today,” said Gimelstob in a press release. “It brings me so much pleasure to come back home and bring world-class tennis with me…all for a great cause.”

 

A day after James Blake held his ninth annual Serving for a Cure event in New York City, the former ATP World No. 4 accompanied Gimelstob, Andy Roddick and John Isner for a few singles and doubles exhibition matches. Celebrities in attendance included David Duchovny, Anne V., Brooklyn Decker, ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell, New York Mets star pitcher Matt Harvey and former New Jersey Nets guard Kerry Kittles.

 

“It means a lot to us, to all of us,” said Isner. “All of us support each other and our causes as well and that’s really what we’re doing here. We did it last night with James, tonight with Justin and these guys are coming down with me to North Carolina. We’re all very good friends and through that friendship and our tennis we’re able to give back to some unbelievable causes. You really get a lot of satisfaction out of this time of year.”
The evening included plenty of comedic moments, especially from the witty Roddick. With no shortage of banter, the former World No. 1 razzed on Isner’s net game and jumped on Duchovny for overcooking a volley: “You know, I hated the X-Files before that shot.” The shot of the day came when Blake ripped a massive forehand winner off a Roddick serve to which the US Open champ replied, “You realize I’m going right for your forehand next time.”

 

Roddick also reflected on his first full season away from the tour. “I guess every retired guy has that kick in the gut moment where you miss it. Mine was Wimbledon and the grass season. I don’t know if that was because I didn’t quite get there. That’s what I wanted most. It didn’t help that all the guys lost in the first couple rounds and I’m thinking ‘what did I do?’ The cumulative six-week process of getting to the point of competing in Australia is what I couldn’t get to anymore. Obviously being at the [US] Open was great, seeing it again. I was sitting up top watching the final and I was just amazed at how the guys play.”

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