2014/07/25

John McEnroe and Michael Stich Help to Usher in a Green Future for Stuttgart

By Florian Heer

(July 7, 2014) STUTTGART – 2014 is an historic year for the ATP 250 Tournament in Stuttgart. This week is the last in which the Mercedes Cup will take place on clay. Due to modifications on the ATP World Tour calendar in 2015 with three weeks between Roland Garros and Wimbledon, the event will change its surface to grass. In co-operation with the All England Lawn Tennis Club, transition began on 12th August 2013 and this July the first court at the venue of the TC Weissenhof has become ready for some tennis action played on the green.

No other than seven-time Grand Slam Champion John McEnroe and former Wimbledon winner Michael Stich were the first to step on the new grass in Stuttgart for a show match on Monday afternoon. Both also captured the doubles title together at Wimbledon in 1992 and talked to the media earlier the day.

“Since the seventies the players wanted an extra week between the French and Wimbledon because it was very difficult to make that transition so quickly, as the courts were a lot different that time,” McEnroe said. “I think it will be great for the players as well as for events like Stuttgart to have the opportunity coming before the big events than after the big events,” the former world No. 1 added about the importance of the Mercedes Cup being part of the new “ATP Road to Wimbledon” project. “Obviously I was doing a lot of commentating at Wimbledon but I did have the chance to play with some juniors, which was nice. I also played with my brother, so yes, I did have the chance for some practice but only for about four hours a day and the grass looks greener here than in Wimbledon,” McEnroe added with a smile about his preparation for the show match.

“This transition to grass is a big chance for Stuttgart. The tournament has a long tradition and it is also a nice fact that the venue will remain the same with only the date and the surface changing,” Michael Stich said. “It is also quite a courageous act from the organizers to implement the project. For Germany it is a great story and I’m pretty sure that the players will like and accept the new surface. Furthermore, I’ll properly remain the last German winning this tournament on clay,” the Mercedes Cup champion from 1991 laughed.

The “Rasen – Premiere” took place in front of 2,000 spectators on former court 18 surrounded by terraces built from natural stones and even grass in the stands, which creates a special atmosphere. John McEnroe, nine years older than his opponent, emerged victorious winning 6-4, 5-7, 10-8. The US-American, who was born in Wiesbaden in Germany, was pretty satisfied with the outcome of the match and the experience on the new surface as well of its quality. “The grass is really great. You have a lot of grip on the court. I really enjoyed playing here. The atmosphere was fantastic, which will be even better when matches will be also played on centre court next year,” McEnroe said afterwards.

The entire show, with a doubles exhibition between former Mercedes Cup winner Henri Leconte and Alexander Waske and the two Wimbledon Champions following the singles match, lasted about four hours. Eventually a very special, yet unique day at the TC Weissenhof came to an end at 7.30 p.m. and it seems that the green future for the Mercedes Cup will be a bright one.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit.  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

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“OnThe Call” – ESPN Tennis Analysts Chris Evert, John McEnroe Talk Wimbledon

Chris-Evert

ESPN (June 17, 2014) ESPN tennis analysts Chrissie Evert and John McEnroe spoke with media about Wimbledon, which starts Monday, June 23, exclusive to ESPN, with live action on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS and ESPN3, plus weekend programming on ABC including same-day reairs of the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Championships. Listen to the full media conference here.

 

ESPN Broadcast Schedule for Wimbledon

Topics on the call included:

  • Andy Murray’s recent selection of Amelie Mauresmo as coach.  McEnroe:  “(Like Murray at Wimbledon, Mauresmo) had an extreme amount of pressure on her at the French Open …She wasn’t able to be herself there.  She eventually later in her career was able to succeed and win a couple majors.  From that standpoint she’s got the understanding of what it takes emotionally and mentally to maybe get through and add that extra percent or two.”
  • Evert picks Serena to win her sixth Wimbledon, despite pressure:  “I think there’s going to be a lot of pressure on her because she did not do well in the last two Grand Slams, pretty much had bad losses.  I think all eyes are going to be on how she’s doing.  If she can get through the first week, that’s going to be the big thing.  Once she gets through the first week, gets the ball rolling, gets more comfortable on the grass, she’ll be unbeatable.  She has one thing no other woman player has, she has the serve.  She’s walking on the court 2-Love or 3-Love already.”
  • Wimbledon dark horses to watchMcEnroe:  “(T)wo guys that I think have made the biggest advances, who we’ve been waiting on the longest to potentially do some serious damage at a major event, and they’re starting to show that.  That would be Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov.  Two guys, if they had a little bit of luck, things fell their way, they could make a real run in this tournament.”  Evert:  “I think Bouchard has shown a lot of positives in the last six months as far as stepping up, not being afraid to play the top players, not to be afraid to play on a stadium court, dealing with the pressure so well.  Especially after the French, she almost beat Maria Sharapova.  She likes grass.  She likes to step in and take the ball early.  She has power.  I think she’s one to watch.”
  • McEnroe on the need to recruit the top U.S. athletes to play men’s tennis:  “If you look at Djokovic…you’re looking at the best athletes in their respective countries, like Nadal.  While we’ve had some fine athletes, I think our premiere athletes are going mainly to football and basketball…. If you ask me one thing, I’m sitting here at Randall’s Island where my tennis academy is.  My goal is to go into Harlem, the Bronx, the inner cities and give kids an opportunity, try to get enough corporate sponsorship to allow these kids an opportunity to play because the game itself remains too unaffordable for too many people.”
  • McEnroe on the advantage soccer has vs. tennis, with the World Cup:  “(World Cup) is a perfect example where soccer can flourish to some degree because for the next month there will be a lot of focus on that…When I came up, Davis Cup was the only way you could represent your country in an international competition.  It seems like watching this it’s a damn shame we don’t have something like this or haven’t tried something like this for our sport potentially.”
  • On meeting Brazilian soccer legend Pele.  Evert:  “He was my idol growing up….I loved his attitude.  He had such a sweetness about him, but he was still a killer out there.  I loved everything about him growing up.  I just thought he was a great role model as far as being an athlete both on and off the field.  He’s always been really special.  And I did meet him once and it was very special to me, too.”  McEnroe:  “He’s one of these guys that makes you feel good about everything.  He just has this smile….  The way he played, he was like the Roger Federer on a soccer field.  He was like the most beautiful guy that combined this joie de vivre, and played the way he played…He’s just a wonderful man.  He’s one of those guys that will say something nice about you before he expects you to say something nice about him.”

 

Q. I would like to hear from both of you on the topic of Andy Murray’s hiring of Mauresmo, what you think about that, and also Murray’s prospects heading into Wimbledon. 

EVERT:  Well, I mean, Mauresmo’s very qualified obviously.  Amélie, she’s been a good coach before.  I think she and Andy click well together.  I like the line he said, My mom, I’ve always had sort of the female influence around me concerning my tennis.  Women listen more, which is probably true.

 

But the great thing about Andy now is he still has that influence from Lendl.  I think there was nobody better for him at that time, a couple years ago, than Lendl.  What he’s done for his tennis, what he’s done for his fitness and his attitude on the court is incredible.  I think if he continues to carry on with Lendl’s influence and takes what Mauresmo has to offer, I think he’s in a pretty good place right now.

McENROE:  Initially when he hired Ivan, I was taken aback and surprised that he made as bold a move.  The more I thought about it, the more I thought that actually, for a variety of reasons, it would work.  It turned out it did work.  I must say when I was hearing the possibilities of who Andy was going to hire, I was sort of hoping he’d do something out of the ordinary or out of the box like he had done with Lendl.  Not the sort of I don’t want to say same old, same old, ‘retreads’ is not a fair word, but qualified coaches that had been around with a number of other players.  Definitely from that standpoint it really surprised me, however, that he picked her.  I’m not quite as convinced that it’s going to succeed in the way I thought it was with Ivan.

 

I do think that Chrissie was correct in saying that she’s had a fair amount of coaching experience.  I’m assuming the logistics on some level, if there’s rain delays, et cetera, I don’t know if that means, for example, Amélie Mauresmo would have access to the locker room, would that have to be done somewhere else, coaching before, probably not a whole lot is going to be done.

 

Clearly it’s a tricky time to walk into a new coaching job because Murray is defending his title.  It was announced just a few hours before the men’s final at the French.  I don’t know how long they knew before that’s what the plan was.  But it seems like the whole thing was orchestrated to a degree.  I don’t know to what degree the decision was made to wait two hours before the men’s final.  It certainly doesn’t give anyone a whole lot of time for the two to get a feel for each other when most if not all of the training would already be done leading up to Wimbledon.

 

Q. I’m wondering what you think she could bring to the table and would you ever have considered hiring a female coach when you were playing?

McENROE:  I wasn’t one for coaches, male or female.  It was surprising.  I was on the air trying to recall with Mary Carillo when we were doing the finals at the French, I couldn’t remember a time when a woman had been coaching a male.  I believe there was a brief period of time when Billie Jean may have coached Tim Mayotte, I believe.  I think there was one other occasion.  But it’s very rare.  You talk about Andy Murray’s mom.  As far as what she can bring to the table, I suppose there’s certain situations that she’s gone through similar to Andy and Ivan.  That’s part of why I think he hired Ivan, because Ivan having been in the position of having succeeded but not won slams yet at somewhat an advanced stage in tennis terms.  He had credibility because he had been there and knew what it felt like.

 

I know Mauresmo, there’s a similarity in the sense that she had an extreme amount of pressure on her at the French Open as opposed to Wimbledon, not nearly as much as Andy, but certainly more than most players experience.  She wasn’t able to be herself there.  She eventually later in her career was able to succeed and win a couple majors.  From that standpoint she’s got the understanding of what it takes emotionally and mentally to maybe get through and add that extra percent or two.

 

I can’t say that I would have thought about it at the time, although I sort of think there’s no reason why not having thought about it.  But at the time when I was playing, I can’t say that we were thinking along those lines.

 

Q. John, you said you would have liked to have played the best, speaking of Roger Federer at the Open and Nadal at the French.  In an imaginary match, if you were playing them, how would you break them down?  You also said you would want to get into their heads.  How would you do that? 

McENROE:  You’re talking about the most difficult propositions there is in tennis.  Did I say I wanted to play him on clay?  I sometimes put my foot in my mouth.  That may have been one of those occasions.  I thought Borg was tough to beat on clay, watching what he was able to accomplish, until I saw Rafa.  And Roger at Wimbledon or the Open would be an incredible challenge, as would Sampras at Wimbledon, particularly the older courts.  Part of the way to succeed is you have to figure out a way to believe in yourself ultimately.  This is a very mental game.  It comes down to sort of will and desire and belief.  Connors taught me this early in my career.  No matter how badly I thought I wanted it, it seemed like he wanted it more.

 

I think guys like Murray, Novak, even Rafa, Roger early, they had to become better because they saw how hungry the people in front of them were.  That’s sort of the ultimate test.  My game wouldn’t be that much different if I were to play them because you have to believe in your style of play, trying to take it to them, not allow players to relax.  Sort of the ultimate example of that was Pete, Boris Becker to some degree on the faster courts.  But Pete was the ultimate.  These guys get rhythm and want to wear you down.  You can’t allow that to happen.  You have to make it more of a match where every shot would count and feel like you’re going to do something as soon as you have an opportunity to do that.  That to me it’s the only hope you’d have against players of this nature, the greatest of the greats.

 

Q. In the spirit of the World Cup, you met Pele a good number of years ago.  How did that meeting compare with other encounters with celebrities? 

EVERT:  He was my idol growing up.  Don’t ask me why.  There are a lot of great, great athletes when I was growing up.  I just loved him.  I loved his attitude.  He had such a sweetness about him, but he was still a killer out there.  I loved everything about him growing up.  I just thought he was a great role model as far as being an athlete both on and off the field.  He’s always been really special.  And I did meet him once and it was very special to me, too.

 

Q. Apologies for bringing up a topic that’s been well-mined over the years.  On the men’s side, the second ranked American player as we head into Wimbledon is Steve Johnson at 68.  There’s one American male who is seeded.  I’m curious to get your thoughts on that.  Not that we can take hours to dissect this, but what you think needs to change or should change to perhaps address this seeming trend? 

McENROE:  Well, this conference call is only supposed to last an hour, so I’m not sure we have time to discuss that in this particular timeframe.  As an example, I’m watching, a lot of other people are watching some of the World Cup go on right now.  Soccer, slowly but surely is getting into the mindset of more Americans.  Obviously there are a lot of immigrants that have come in from other countries where soccer is a bigger game, as tennis is.

This is a perfect example where soccer can flourish to some degree because for the next month there will be a lot of focus on that.  We never have taken advantage of that.  When I came up, Davis Cup was the only way you could represent your country in an international competition.  It seems like watching this it’s a damn shame we don’t have something like this or haven’t tried something like this for our sport potentially.

 

It’s not going to be exactly the same format, but the basic idea being all the countries coming together like the World Cup.  That’s one thing that we haven’t done that I think could have helped us.  Clearly over the years the game has become, because of the technology and other reasons that we’ve talked about, more physical and athletic than it’s ever been.  Because of that you need to have better athletes.

 

If you look at Djokovic, it’s not like I haven’t said this or Chrissie hasn’t said this a bunch of times, you’re looking at the best athletes in their respective countries, like Nadal.  While we’ve had some fine athletes, I think our premiere athletes are going mainly to football and basketball.  Perhaps more and more of the younger ones are coming into soccer at least early on.  It remains to be seen if it becomes a longer-term thing.

 

If you ask me one thing, I’m sitting here at Randall’s Island where my tennis academy is.  My goal is to go into Harlem, the Bronx, the inner cities and give kids an opportunity, try to get enough corporate sponsorship to allow these kids an opportunity to play because the game itself remains too unaffordable for too many people.

 

Some of this is cyclical.  Some of it is we’ve done a poor job.  We got maybe spoiled is an accurate word.  We expected there would be more Connors, Pete Samprases, Agassis.  Because of the worldwide interest in sports, if you go back to the ’88 Olympics, when tennis became part of the Olympics again, more countries put more money and resources into it to allow more kids to play tennis, so more countries have more of an interest and they see the upside of it.  That same thing hasn’t happened for us in the U.S.

 

If you combine all those things.  I’m talking about the male game.  The playing field for women is better than any other sports.  I think that’s why you see two of the greatest athletes that ever played, Venus and Serena.  At worst, they have to be the top two to four.  They’ve done a pretty good job, have had amazing careers.  Then you see some of the younger players.  I can see at my academy, generally you see girls that look to tennis maybe before guys do.  We have to do a better job promoting it.  That’s about half the answer or a third.

EVERT:  I think the expense is one big thing.  I actually have come into contact with a lot of people, a lot of women, when they hear I was a tennis player, they’re like, I wanted to play tennis but it was too expensive for my family.  As a mother of three kids, when my kids were younger, they wanted to do the team sports.  It was more social, more engaging.  They went out and were on a team.  I think a lot of kids are cut out for team sports.  There aren’t a lot of kids cut out for the pressures of an individual sport at such a young age.  Obviously you have to train at a young age if you’re going to be a tennis player.  The fact that tennis probably isn’t even in the top 10 in America as far as popular sports, most watched sports on TV.

 

John brought up a great point.  Our best athletes are definitely not going into tennis.  They’re going into a lot of different sports.  It’s funny, the Serena, Venus influence as far as the African American influence is starting finally to show up in the women’s game.  Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, Taylor Townsend, Victoria Duval, that has started in the last couple years.  So it also depends on who is number one in your sport.  Our number one player in the women’s sport the last 10 years has been either Venus or Serena.  So I think that is a big thing.

I think you’re going to see tennis grow in America.

 

Q. Could you assess the women’s side at Wimbledon, particularly Maria Sharapova 10 years after her victory.  Can she do it again this year? 

EVERT:  I think it’s going to be an interesting tournament for Serena.  I think there’s going to be a lot of pressure on her because she did not do well in the last two Grand Slams, pretty much had bad losses.  I think all eyes are going to be on how she’s doing.  If she can get through the first week, that’s going to be the big thing.  Once she gets through the first week, gets the ball rolling, gets more comfortable on the grass, she’ll be unbeatable.

She has one thing no other woman player has, she has the serve.  She’s walking on the court 2-Love or 3-Love already.  If the serve is going, the grass is custom made for her.  It frees her up to go for the returns.  She’s athletic, she moves well, she stays down low on the grass.  She’s the best grass court player in my mind right now.

 

As far as Maria, if she can do a double, the French and Wimbledon, that would be the greatest year she’ll ever have in her life.  That would be an incredible feat for her.  Number one, is she going to have a letdown after winning the French?  Number two, remember all the slipping and sliding, the problems she had last year.  Footing is a big problem with her.  She’s so tall, she can’t get down low for the ball, she doesn’t have that secure footing.  The movement on the grass is going to be key for her, as well as her first serve.  It can go all over the place or she can serve aces.  Sharapova, there’s a question mark.  But as far as confidence level, you’ve got to give that to her.  But I’m still favoring Serena a little bit.  With Halep, Kvitova, Bouchard, ones who can do some damage also.

McENROE:  I pretty much agree with what Chrissie said.  She’s absolutely right.  Serena’s game is very much made for the grass.  Maria I never would have thought would have become arguably a better clay court player than any other surface.  I really respect the effort she’s put forth to become that good and be able to win the French twice, a second time before any other major.

 

I think what Chrissie said earlier about the footwork, the movement, in the beginning it’s going to be tougher for Maria to get through the first week.  If she does, she’ll be able to sort of feel more comfortable with her movement.

After that, it obviously becomes much more of a crapshoot.  The bigger hitters, Kvitova won it because she can do damage with one shot.  It becomes harder for players that rely on getting a lot of balls back.  It’s tougher to win a tournament like that.  Or if they have liabilities with their serve…  Certainly if Serena and Maria don’t do well, it’s going to be much more difficult to pick who it would be after that.  Is Azarenka still in?

EVERT:  Yeah, she’s come back.  This is her first week.

McENROE:  She hasn’t played much for a while, so that would be an X factor for her.  She got hurt last year.  She’ll be hesitant early on.  Obviously, when she got hurt, she was 2, 3 in the world.

EVERT:  I’d like to see Serena this time, because they were going to meet in the quarters at the French, I’d like to see them (Serena and Venus) on opposite ends of the draw.  That would make it much more interesting, too.

 

Q. If you had to pick one to make it through the first week, would you go with Serena or Maria? 

McENROE:  If I had to pick one, I’d pick Serena.

EVERT:  Yeah.

 

Q. What is it like to defend a home Grand Slam challenge?

McENROE:  First of all, there’s no one that’s been under more pressure to win a major event than Andy Murray.  The fact that he’s done it takes a lot of pressure off him.  That should be understood.  He did something that took 76 or 78 years to do so there’s definitely less pressure.  Having said that, anytime you taste what it feels like to win it once, you obviously want to win it again.  So there’s an element of pressure you put on yourself for starters because you sort of want to see what that feels like at least one more time.  From that standpoint he’s going to be feeling pressure.  Clearly now once people know he can do it, they’re going to think he should do it again.  It’s not like there’s not going to be pressure.  There is going to be pressure.  It’s not going to be as staggering as it was.  You throw in this new coaching thing, that makes it a little bit hard to get your groove quickly.  He only won one match in Queen’s.  He lost early.  So this is sort of an X factor.

 

Murray is very comfortable on the surface.  I’m assuming that they’re going to seed him No. 4.  I would be surprised if they don’t move him up.  He’s presently 5.  I think Stanislas Wawrinka is 3 or 4.  I think it would make sense.  He deserves it, to me, based on the fact he won it last year, his history on grass, that they should seed him 4 and separate these guys.  He would potentially have to go through three of these guys, which I don’t think makes sense for anyone.  Are the seedings being made tomorrow?

EVERT:  Yes.

McENROE:  I would hope for all concerned that they put Stan, who won the Australian, he’s not as comfortable on grass, he had a decent run at Queen’s, but it would be ludicrous to me if they didn’t put Murray 4.

Once he gets going, he’s going to be obviously one of the toughest guys to beat.  He’s tougher to beat in best-of-five, particular on grass because he has a sense of what to do there.  He has as good a shot as anyone to win it.

 

Q. Do you see Mauresmo coaching a top 10 player on the ATP, is that a big step for women’s tennis? 

EVERT:  I don’t think it matters for women’s tennis.  I think it says something for women’s coaching.  You’re talking about two different things.  Again, this isn’t going to affect the Tour at all.  It’s a positive sign for women in coaching.  It hasn’t been done very much, very rarely.  Maybe it opens the door to not only men, but the women don’t seem to have women coaches.  Maybe it opens the door to more women.  It’s really interesting because the big question at the French was, Will this inspire more top women to be coaches?  The fact of the matter is, we all have kids.  I don’t think Steffi Graf is going to ask Andre, Can I go on the Tour for 35 weeks and coach a player?  I don’t think that’s going to happen.  When you look at the top players, Steffi, Pam Shriver, Tracy, Mary Joe, Kim Clijsters, Lindsay, everybody’s got kids.  That’s our priority.  You’re not going to have full-time coaches as women as much as full-time coaches with men.

 

Q. You covered some of the favorites on the women’s side at Wimbledon.  I wanted your thoughts on who the longshots or surprises might be.  Specifically what are the chances you see for Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, and down the line Daniela Hantuchova?

McENROE:  Wozniacki, I would put that’s not going to happen, as well as Hantuchova, even though they’re nice girls, young ladies.  Ivanovic has a remote chance.  She has some wins.  Way better chance than the other two as far as the girls.

 

As far as the guys, the four top guys are the obviously choices.  These aren’t longshots anymore.  These are the two guys that I think have made the biggest advances, who we’ve been waiting on the longest to potentially do some serious damage at a major event, and they’re starting to show that.  That would be Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov.  Two guys, if they had a little bit of luck, things fell their way, they could make a real run in this tournament.  Those would be the two guys I would pick.

EVERT:  I think on the women’s side, again, after Serena and Maria, there’s a little bit of a gap, a little bit of a question mark.  I think Bouchard has shown a lot of positives in the last six months as far as stepping up, not being afraid to play the top players, not to be afraid to play on a stadium court, dealing with the pressure so well.  Especially after the French, she almost beat Maria Sharapova.  She likes grass.  She likes to step in and take the ball early.  She has power.  I think she’s one to watch.

 

Kvitova, she started to play well at the French.  She lost weight.  She’s fitter.  I think having had that experience, she really enjoys playing on the grass.  She’s somewhat under the radar right now.  You could look at Sam Stosur, players that have all-around versatile games, that are good athletes.  I think grass favors the athleticism because you have to have good balance and know how to move smoothly on the grass.  I think those players.  And Halep, she’s a question mark.  Will she continue the momentum she had at the French?  Again, she’s a great athlete and can move well.  I think that’s very important on the grass, the court coverage.

 

Q. Chrissie, to you what does Sam Stosur have to do to have a good Wimbledon?  John, what is your take on Bernie Tomic?

EVERT:  She needs to believe in herself.  She needs to have that belief.  It’s not about her game.  She’s got a beautiful game.  She could do it all.  It’s just about her nerves.  I think what she needs to do is look back, look at the matches that she had leads, top players on the ropes, matches that she got nervous and lost.  You have to recognize your past before you move on to your future.  You got to figure it out.  Then she’s got to figure out, If I’m in this situation again, I’m going to react differently.  You have to talk yourself into reacting differently.  It’s all psychological with her.  She just needs to have more confidence in herself, in her game, just try to control those nerves a little better.

McENROE:  As far as Bernard, I haven’t seen him play since he underwent the surgeries.  I heard it was maybe one or both of the hips.  I’m not sure the extent.  Anytime you have surgery you’re worried, especially when you’re that young.  I’m not exactly sure what surgery he had on his hips.

Q. Was on both hips. 

McENROE:  I’m not sure exactly what they did.  But Bernard is unusual, obviously, in a number of ways.  But the main way, the way that’s interesting, is the way he plays.  He’s one of the few guys that I’ve seen where he makes guys that play him uncomfortable.  That’s what he had going for him.  He sort of takes people out of their games.  He gives you looks that you don’t expect.  He’s like a fastball pitcher that would suddenly go to an off-speed pitch.  Bowlers, cricket, taking everything off the ball, are spinning it.  He was very interesting to watch, I found.  There were always issues.  At times, how deep he was willing to dig, his fitness level.  He’s a big guy.  I saw a stat last year I think where he won a great deal of his service games.  He had one of the best records on the Tour as far as holding service games.  I thought that it was amazing because a lot of times it doesn’t look like he’s going more than 80% on his serve.  Maybe that’s why, he’s unpredictable.  At this stage I see a guy that clearly his best surface has always been grass, so he’s most comfortable.  He might start to find some confidence.  I notice he won a few matches in these tune-up events. I don’t know what his fitness level is like.  When you have to walk into best-of-five, it’s more mental than physical at Wimbledon than say the French.  He’d have a better shot.  I’d have to see him again, both on and off the court, what’s going on with his training, who he’s been coached by, all these other things that I’m not really sure of.  It’s going to be interesting to see if he’s going to be able to bounce back, have something serious happen.  I’m assuming his ranking has dropped down.

 

Q. Men’s and women’s winner and a dark horse in both? 

EVERT:  Serena, Djokovic.  Can Bouchard be a dark horse?  The men?  Oh, boy.  Go ahead, John, I have to think about the men.

McENROE:  I would pick the same women.  If Bouchard could be a dark horse, I would pick her as a dark horse.  I think she’s come a long way.  I like what I’m seeing.  I still think, especially on grass, that Serena, if she brings out her A game, is the best player without a doubt to win it.

EVERT:  I’ll pick Dimitrov for the guys.

McENROE:  I think as far as the men, this is like a really tough one.  If I had to pick one guy right now, I probably would pick Djokovic, even though I don’t think he’s as comfortable on grass as he is on hard courts.  My longshot pick, can I pick Federer as a longshot (laughter)?  He would be my longshot pick over Raonic or Dimitrov.

Roger is obviously amazing.  I still think he’s going to make a run in the majors.  I didn’t think he could go all the way and win one.  He just had another set of twins, for God’s sake.  Maybe it won’t be that easy.

EVERT:  Listen, he’s like the fourth favorite, though.  He could win Wimbledon.

McENROE:  That’s true.  But Dimitrov is probably the fifth favorite.

EVERT:  But what is his ranking?

McENROE:  He’s probably like 10 in the world now.

Q. He’s 13. 

McENROE:  I thought he was higher.  And Raonic is probably 9 or 10 in the world.  To a lot of people they would be longshots, so we’re sticking with it.  I’ll pick Raonic if you don’t want me to pick Federer.  He’s only won it, what, seven times (laughter).

 

Q. Chrissie, what are your thoughts on Martina Hingis coming back to play at Wimbledon as a wild card in the doubles tournament? 

EVERT:  John McEnroe can chime in.  He played with her and knows her better than I do.  He played with her in TeamTennis. I haven’t watched her play doubles.  I watched her play in TeamTennis a couple times.  She’s hitting the ball great.  She’s obviously winning a lot of doubles matches, so she’s still crafty, volleys really well, quick at the net.  I would have loved to have seen her play singles personally.  But I guess that’s not going to happen.

John, what do you think?

McENROE:  Certainly in doubles she could win the thing if she had the right partner.  I think she’s been playing with Lisicki.  I think they won at Key Biscayne.

EVERT:  She’s not playing with her at Wimbledon.

McENROE:  Who is she playing with?

EVERT:  Zvonareva.  If she had a great mixed partner, she’d have a great chance in the mixed, too.

McENROE:  Maybe it just shows you sometimes when it’s later than you like, you realize how much you love it and miss it.  I don’t know what she’s proving.  I think she could still play doubles.  She could lose first round, win the tournament.  Maybe she just likes to be around it.

 

Q.  John, do you see Dimitrov as a future superstar?  Can he break into the top four?  What do you like about him and where does he fit in?

McENROE:  I like a lot about him.  What I didn’t like about him was it didn’t seem he was dedicated enough compared to what the other top guys were doing.  Being around Sharapova I bet has helped him, maybe for obvious reasons, because he’s happier.  But the obvious ones were because she’s so dedicated.  I mean, I call her the Nadal of the women’s tour.  She plays every point like it’s her last point.  That has to have rubbed off on him.  Also Rasheed (Dimitrov’s coach) is known as a fitness guy.  He’s realized over the course of time if he wants to make a mark, he has to be fit.  He was cramping.  I saw him cramping in the second set of the French Open last year or the year before.  You can’t expect to be at the end of majors or winning them, there’s no way you can do that if you can’t last till the end of a best-of-a-five-set match.  I think one of the best matches he ever played was when he played Nadal at the Australian.  He looked like he could go the distance.  Looked like he had a shot at it.  He didn’t pull it off.  But it looks like he can at least go the distance now.  He lost first round in the French.  He hasn’t exactly knocked them dead in the majors.  He’s got a lot to prove.  He has a lot of upside.  Everyone has known that for a long time.  It takes longer to break through.  These guys are incredible.  You’re probably talking about the two greatest players that ever played, Nadal, Federer.  Djokovic is going up the all-time great rankings.  Murray has gotten himself better and better.  It’s extremely difficult to break into that.  He and Raonic are the two guys that I have seen who have done the most recently to make this breakthrough.

EVERT:  If I can say one thing.  The more I watch this game, I more I realize it’s getting to be so much about the team.  It’s getting to be so much about the influences that these players have.  They all have so much ability, natural ability.  When you look at Andy Murray with Lendl, that proves my point.  When I look at Dimitrov, he has Rasheed.  He’s got great credentials.  Like John said, he’s into the fitness part of it.  He’s got Maria as a girlfriend.  Like John says, that professionalism, that discipline has to be rubbing off.  She’s probably telling him things, too, giving him some advice.  I just think at the end of the day it really gives you a big edge if you have a great team around you.  I think he does.  I think that’s really improved his game.  It’s about the attitude and the confidence.

 

Q. John, I was asking you about your meeting with Pele.  What was that like for you and how did that compare to other great meetings?

McENROE:  Pele…I met a number of times.  He’s one of these guys that makes you feel good about everything.  He just has this smile.  Certainly, I don’t speak Portuguese obviously.  He didn’t speak English where it was easy to have a conversation.  It was just to be around his field was magical the way you could feel the beauty of this man.  The way he played, he was like the Roger Federer on a soccer field.  He was like the most beautiful guy that combined this joie de vivre, and played the way he played.  Brazil, it means so much for them obviously.  To have someone like that represent their country in a sport that they love so much, I mean, he’s like Wayne Gretzky in hockey.  He’s just a wonderful man.  He’s one of those guys that will say something nice about you before he expects you to say something nice about him.

Q. There’s another Brazilian like that, which is Guga. 

McENROE:  That’s so true.  Absolutely true.  This guy got totally gypped.  Every time I see the guy smile, I feel bad because he deserved so much better.

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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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Andre Agassi Beats James Blake To Win PowerShares Series Title In Houston

Agassi powershares

(February 21, 2014) HOUSTON –- Andre Agassi and James Blake played one of the most memorable U.S.
Open matches of all time in 2005, Agassi coming back from two-sets-to-love down
to win in a fifth-set tiebreaker in an epic quarterfinal. On Thursday night at
the Toyota Center, Agassi and Blake faced each other for the first time since
that U.S. Open classic, producing some familiar refrains from their defining
confrontation, albeit with considerably less tension, as Agassi again emerged
victorious 6-4 in the one-set championship match at the Camden Wealth Advisors
Cup, the sixth event on the 2014 PowerShares Series tennis circuit.

Agassi, playing in his first PowerShares Series tournament of the year, won a
furiously-fought final game of the match, breaking Blake’s serve in a 12-deuce
game and clinching the victory on his sixth match point. On Agassi’s first match
point, he stepped around a forehand return of serve and went for a winner
up-the-line, the exact shot he took on the ad-side of the court when up 7-6 in
the fifth-set tie-breaker from their famous 2005 match. While Agassi’s forehand
landed on the line for a winner to close out his win in 2005, his first attempt
Thursday landed in the net, causing Blake to shout to Agassi “Why didn’t you do
that at the Open!”

Agassi tried the exact same shot on his second match point two points later,
missing it wide. After he missed one other forehand return-of-serve on a match
point, Agassi finally closed out the win 18 points later when Blake netted a
forehand. The win was Agassi’s sixth of his career on the PowerShares Series,
the U.S. tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30.

Following the win, Agassi explained to reporters his motivations for continuing
to play competitive tennis on the PowerShares Series, that features one-night
events with two one-set semifinals and a one-set championship match over a
six-week season.

“I like not having as much drama and being able to take it in and enjoy it,”
Agassi said. “I like the format because it allows you to balance your life but
come out for one good go and sort of not worry about the training and the
how-far-can-I-push-myself kind of thing. It’s a nice contained evening and being
around the guys who you fought with for decades.”

In the semifinals earlier in the night, Agassi beat Jim Courier 6-4. Blake beat
Andy Roddick 6-3 in the other semifinal, avenging his loss the previous evening
in the tournament final in Denver.

With the tournament win, Agassi earned 400 points in the PowerShares Series
rankings. John McEnroe leads the rankings with 1200 points followed by Courier
with 900 points and Roddick with 500 points. Agassi sits in a tie for fourth
place with 400 points with Blake, who earned 200 points with a runner-up showing
for the second straight night. Michael Chang, Ivan Lendl and Mark Philippoussis
each have 300 points to rank in a three-way tie for sixth place.

The PowerShares Series continues Tuesday, February 25 in Salt Lake City when
Pete Sampras makes his 2014 PowerShares Series debut, joining Blake, Courier and
John McEnroe in the field.

The remaining 2014 Power Shares Series schedule with field of players are as
follows:

Tuesday, February 25, Salt Lake City, Energy Solutions Arena – Pete Sampras,
John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake

Wednesday, February 26, Sacramento, Sleep Train Arena – Pete Sampras, John
McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake

Thursday, February 27, Portland, Moda Center – Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Jim
Courier, James Blake

Wednesday, March 12, Nashville, Bridgestone Arena – John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl,
Jimmy Connors, Pat Cash

Thursday, March 13, Charlotte, Time Warner Arena – John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl,
Jimmy Connors, Pat Cash

Friday, March 21, Surprise, Surprise Stadium – Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Todd
Martin, Michael Chang

et capitalization.

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Andy Roddick Beats James Blake For PowerShares Series Title In Denver

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

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


(February 19, 2014) Andy Roddick and James Blake, stalwarts on the U.S. Davis Cup team for 
a decade, reunited Wednesday as rookies on the 2014 PowerShares Series circuit 
competing in the “Champions Showdown” in the mile-high altitude of the Pepsi 
Center. However, both American tennis standouts were not on the same bench 
cheering for each other against the tennis teams of the rest of the world, but 
playing in a championship match on this tour for legend tennis players over the 
age of 30. Despite being a full year longer off the ATP World Tour than Blake, 
Roddick was able maintain his certain level of supremacy over Blake, beating the 
long-time U.S. Davis Cup No. 2 by a 6-3 margin in the one-set championship match 
in front of an appreciative Colorado crowd.

“It doesn’'t seem like a rivalry because he has always been by my side,” said 
Blake of Roddick after the final. “He’s been leading the pack for myself, Mardy 
Fish and Robby Ginepri. We both held up American tennis on our shoulders, but he 
was doing the heavy lifting, I was kind of drafting behind him. I was so proud 
to be a teammate with him on the Davis Cup team.”

The two charismatic Americans famously ended a 12-year Davis Cup drought for the 
United States in 2007, leading their country to the Davis Cup title in Portland, 
Oregon with a victory over Russia. In all, Blake and Roddick were teammates for 
15 U.S. Davis Cup ties from 2001 to 2009. Roddick ended his sure-to-be Hall of 
Fame career at the 2012 U.S. Open, while Blake followed suit exactly one year 
later at the same event last summer. The two joined the PowerShares Series 
circuit together for the first time this season – Wednesday marking Blake’s 
debut event while Roddick was baptized last week in winning the title in 
Birmingham, Alabama.

“It’s not really fair,” said Roddick before the final of playing Blake. “He’s 
still skinny. He’s been retired for like six weeks? I got a head start on 
retirement. He’s much skinner, athletic and good-looking” later adding that 
Blake, who studied for two years at Harvard before turning pro, was also “more 
educated.” 

With strong serving and benefiting from errors from Blake, Roddick raced out to 
a quick 3-0 lead in the final and held a break point to take a 4-0 lead before 
Blake settled into the match and held serve to get onto the scoreboard. With 
Roddick serving at 4-2, Blake was able to capitalize on a few untimely Roddick 
errors and became more aggressive on Roddick'’s second serve to break back. 
However, Blake missed four forehands in the next game to again drop serve before 
Roddick served out the match.

“The conditions were tough with the altitude,” said Roddick. “I think everyone 
had a little bit of trouble adjusting. There were some easy balls missed, maybe 
the ball was carrying a bit. It happens in baseball. It was definitely happening 
a bit out there too.”

In the semifinals, Roddick defeated Mark Philippoussis 6-3 in a battle of 
bruising serves played just six days after their meeting in Birmingham that 
gained notoriety for Philippoussis hitting Roddick in the groin directly with a 
serve. Video footage of the incident, seen here: http://m1e.net/c?117624096-JSxlYww6XwA7Y%4076384989-nV51/ng95zl/Q 
quickly became viral and ended up on the tail end of the monologue for famed 
comedian Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” Tuesday night as seen here: 
http://m1e.net/c?117624096-Bp/Om9JLlTcsM%4076384990-bTR1M8cc0BYtY  Roddick was 
asked Wednesday in his pre-match interview with Tennis Channel’s Brett Haber if 
he was wearing body armor for his match with Philippoussis. Roddick laughed and 
said, “Playing Phlip, there is, apparently, a pretty good chance of getting hit 
in the schmeckle.”

Blake defeated current U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier 6-3 in the other 
semifinal in the first professional meeting between the two American standouts.

With the tournament win, Roddick earned 400 points to tie Courier in the No. 2 
position in the PowerShares Series points races with 800 points. John McEnroe, 
who will return to the PowerShares Series next week in Salt Lake City, 
Sacramento and Portland, leads the rankings with 1200 points. Michael Chang, 
Ivan Lendl and Philippoussis each have 300 points to rank in a three-way tie for 
fourth place. Blake, who earned 200 points with his runner-up showing in Denver, 
sits in seventh place.

The PowerShares Series, the U.S. tennis circuit for legend tennis players over 
the age of 30, continues Thursday in Houston when Andre Agassi makes his 2014 
PowerShares Series debut, joining Blake, Roddick and Courier in the field. Good 
tickets for all PowerShares Series events are still available starting at $25 at 
www.PowerSharesSeries.com. VIP packages – including meet-and-greet and 
play-with-the-pros on-court opportunities - are also available here 
http://m1e.net/c?117624096-zNR./DYCNPSYo%4076384991-hMi8wCUjvRXeI by email to 
VIP@insideoutse.com, or by phone at 253.315.4299.

The remaining 2014 Power Shares Series schedule with field of players are as 
follows:

Thursday, February 20, Houston, Toyota Center – Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Andy 
Roddick, James Blake

Tuesday, February 25, Salt Lake City, Energy Solutions Arena – Pete Sampras, 
John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake

Wednesday, February 26, Sacramento, Sleep Train Arena – Pete Sampras, John 
McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake

Thursday, February 27, Portland, Moda Center – Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Jim 
Courier, James Blake

Wednesday, March 12, Nashville, Bridgestone Arena – John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, 
Jimmy Connors, Pat Cash

Thursday, March 13, Charlotte, Time Warner Arena – John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, 
Jimmy Connors, Pat Cash

Friday, March 21, Surprise, Surprise Stadium – Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Todd 
Martin, Michael Chang
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John McEnroe Expands Role at ESPN to that of Radio Show Host

John McEnroe

(February 17, 2014) ESPN tennis analyst and Hall of Famer John McEnroe will expand his role beyond tennis to include year-round, non-tennis appearances on television and radio.  The 17-time Major winner (seven in singles, nine in doubles, one in mixed doubles) has worked the US Open for ESPN since 2009 and Wimbledon since 2012.

 

In addition to his work on tennis, McEnroe will serve as an analyst on SportsCenter discussing major topics of all sorts and handling sit-down interviews with top sports stars.  He also will make regular appearances on ESPN2’s Olbermann and on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike, also seen weekday mornings on ESPN2.  In addition, he also will also be heard on ESPN Radio New York (98.7 FM).

 

“Before John was a superstar in tennis, he was a sports fan…with sharp opinions and wit, as we’ve seen on our tennis productions,” said John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president, programming and production.  “His no-holds barred insights and personality will enliven whatever program or platform he is on,”

 

John McEnroe said, “I am excited about my expanded role with ESPN.  It should be interesting and fun, as a life-long sports fan, to be able to voice my opinions on a variety of sports programs and forums, alongside some of the most talented people in the industry. The broad platform offered by ESPN makes it the perfect place for me to bring my point of view to all sports, not just tennis. ”

 

McEnroe won 77 singles titles in his career, highlighted by four US Open titles and three at Wimbledon.  He also won 10 more major championships in doubles or mixed doubles.  Although a loss, his five-set duel with Bjorn Borg in the 1980 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Final – highlighted by McEnroe surviving an 18-16 fourth set tiebreak – is one of the most memorable events in tennis history.  An avid Davis Cup participant, he led the U.S. to five championships and later served as the team’s captain.  He also won the NCAA singles and team titles while attending Stanford.  In 2010, John founded the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in his hometown of New York City, where he is now working daily to develop the next great group of American tennis players.

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Andy Roddick Wins His Debut Powershares Event

Andy_Roddick_-_alternate-600x439

(February 13, 2014) BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Andy Roddick made his debut on the PowerShares Series
champions tennis circuit a successful one Thursday, fending off  John
McEnroe 7-5 to win the Champions Shootout at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention
Complex.

Roddick’’s debut event was a wildly entertaining affair highlighted by many of
his signature rocket serves and blistering forehands and by being hit directly
in the groin by a first serve by Mark Philippoussis in his semifinal match.

“”I had fun,”” said Roddick after the final of his Champions Series debut. ““I
honestly had no idea what to expect when I came out here. I hadn’’t played at
all. I enjoyed it. Those moments when you want to win and there’s tension in the
match – I haven’t had that for a while.””

The 31-year-old Roddick struggled to find his rhythm against McEnroe – 24 years
his senior – in the one-set championship match, admitting after that McEnroe’s
left-handed spins and serve-and-volleying threw him off.

““I was struggling during the match,” Roddick said. “I started thinking that I
don’t think I have hit with a left-hander since I stopped playing” (on the ATP
Tour).”

Roddick’’s first serve, which guided him to the 2003 U.S. Open title and the
world No. 1 ranking, was ultimately what carried him to victory against McEnroe.
After both players held serve for the first eight games of the match, McEnroe
took advantage of a Roddick double-fault at 40-30 and blistered an on-the-rise
forehand return-of-serve winner to secure a break point chance that would allow
him to serve for the match. Roddick, however, responded with an ace down the tee
to save the break point, followed by two more service winners down the tee to
hold serve and extinguish the threat.

After the two exchanged two more easy service holds, Roddick then broke McEnroe
at love to win the match, highlighted by a stretch backhand drop volley winner
and a running forehand up-the-line passing shot.
The buzz of the night, however, occurred in Roddick’s 6-3 semifinal win over
Mark Philippoussis when the Australian, nicknamed “Scud” for his monster first
serve, connected on a scorching first serve that hit Roddick directly in the
groin, causing a pause in play for about four-minutes before Roddick regrouped.

“”It was awkward,”” Roddick said of the direct hit inflicted by Philippoussis.
““That hurt. It really did.”” Roddick later predicted that the video of the
episode would probably be aired “27 times” on Fox Sports Live, the sports
television show he now reports for.

In his pre-match interview with event emcee and Tennis Channel broadcaster Brett
Haber before taking the court with Philippoussis, Roddick said of joining the
PowerShares Series just 17 months after leaving the ATP World Tour, “”You know
me, I can’t sit still long.”” Roddick also took pride in talking about his last
visit to the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center four years ago in leading
the United States to a 4-1 Davis Cup win over Switzerland.

“The win looks better now because I beat a guy named Wawrinka,” said Roddick of
beating the current Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka in 2009 in
Birmingham. “At the time, I was supposed to win but it has looked good the last
couple of weeks.”

McEnroe, playing three days before his 55th birthday, continued to show the
intensity and crafty play that earned him the tournament title in the opening
PowerShares Series event last week in Kansas City. He saved three match points
in his semifinal win over Jim Courier, winning the last five points of the
decisive tie-breaker to claim a 7-6 (8-6) win. Despite the final-round loss,
McEnroe maintained his lead atop the PowerShares Series points rankings after
the first three events, securing 200 points with his runner-up showing to
increase his total to 800 points. Courier, who won the title in Oklahoma City,
stays in second place with 600 points, while Roddick’’s 400 points for his title
places him in third place. Michael Chang, with 300 points, Ivan Lendl, with 200
points, and Philippoussis, with 100 points, round out the rankings after three
events.

The PowerShares Series, the U.S. tennis circuit for legend tennis players over
the age of 30, continues Friday, February 14 in Indianapolis, Indiana when
McEnroe, Courier and Philippoussis join Ivan Lendl in the field. Good tickets
for all PowerShares Series events are still available starting at $25 at
www.PowerSharesSeries.com. VIP packages – including meet-and-greet and
play-with-the-pros on-court opportunities – are also available here
http://m1e.net/c?117624096-s4yOQ29EX/39E%4075022537-NDqqDHi4rEQgs by email to
VIP@insideoutse.com, or by phone at 253.315.4299.

The remaining 2014 Power Shares Series schedule with field of players are as
follows:

Friday, February 14, Indianapolis, Bankers Life Fieldhouse – John McEnroe, Ivan
Lendl, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis

Wednesday, February 19, Denver, Pepsi Center – Andy Roddick, James Blake, Jim
Courier, Mark Philippoussis

Thursday, February 20, Houston, Toyota Center – Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Andy
Roddick, James Blake

Tuesday, February 25, Salt Lake City, Energy Solutions Arena – Pete Sampras,
John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake

Wednesday, February 26, Sacramento, Sleep Train Arena – Pete Sampras, John
McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake

Thursday, February 27, Portland, Moda Center – Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Jim
Courier, James Blake

Wednesday, March 12, Nashville, Bridgestone Arena – John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl,
Jimmy Connors, Pat Cash

Thursday, March 13, Charlotte, Time Warner Arena – John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl,
Jimmy Connors, Pat Cash

Friday, March 21, Surprise, Surprise Stadium – Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Todd
Martin, Michael Chang

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Courier Beats McEnroe To Pass PowerShares Series Test In Oklahoma City

Jim Courier

(February 6, 2014)OKLAHOMA CITY - Despite playing in Wimbledon, U.S., French and Australian Open 
finals, Jim Courier will tell you he also gets pre-match jitters before playing 
on the PowerShares Series tennis circuit.

Admitting to some first-event nervousness in Wednesday’s PowerShares Series 
opening event in Kansas City that ended in a semifinal loss to Michael Chang, 
Courier recalibrated Thursday in beating John McEnroe 6-2 in the one-set title 
match to win the Champions Cup at the Chesapeake Arena, home of the NBA’s 
Oklahoma City Thunder.

“It’s all about wanting to perform at your highest level,” Courier said of the 
source of his pre-match feeling of unease. “All of us suffer from anxiety about 
(playing at a top level) because this is a test out here. You have test anxiety 
when you go in. This is a pass-fail out here. There’s no ‘A’s or ‘B’s. It’s 
either pass or fail. I passed it tonight and I’m happy about that.”

Courier did not look himself in Wednesday’s 6-4 one-set semifinal loss to Chang, 
misfiring on his trademark inside-out forehand – while also playing without 
wearing his trademark baseball cap. On Thursday, Courier’s blistering 
groundstrokes – and his baseball cap – returned in avenging his loss to Chang 
6-2 in the semifinals before defeating McEnroe in the title match by the same 
score.

Against McEnroe, Courier lost only one point on his serve in his first three 
service games of the set and broke McEnroe to take a 4-2 lead. McEnroe, however, 
sensed the urgency of the service break and immediately pressured Courier in the 
following game, maneuvering himself to a break-point chance at 30-40, only to 
have Courier stifle it with a hard-hit first serve to McEnroe’s forehand wing 
that the left-handed was unable to control. Courier was able to hold serve and 
punctured the McEnroe serve once again in the next game, winning on his fourth 
match point opportunity.

“I was in really good rhythm with my serve and my forehand,” said Courier. 
“Those are the two keys for me. I like to hit my backhand with topspin, but on 
this court, playing John, he doesn’t give you much of a chance to. I’m digging 
the ball off my ankles. I need to be aggressive with the forehand to push him 
back off the net. Everyone can see what he can do once he is able to get the 
racquet on the ball up there.” 

McEnroe, at age 54, was looking to dominate the first two events on the 2014 
PowerShares Series, his 20th year of playing “champions” tournament tennis. In 
the semifinals earlier on Thursday against Ivan Lendl, McEnroe continued his 
recent near-mastery over his Czech-born rival winning for the fourth time in 
five career meetings on the PowerShares Series – and for the second time in two 
nights by an identical 6-4 scoreline. But despite the final-round loss, McEnroe 
sits atop the PowerShares Series points rankings after the first two events with 
600 points. Courier’s title places him in second place with 500 points, while 
Chang sits in third with 300 points.

The PowerShares Series, the U.S. tennis circuit for legend tennis players over 
the age of 30, continues Thursday, February 13 in Birmingham, Alabama when Andy 
Roddick makes his PowerShares Series debut and will be joined by McEnroe, 
Courier and Mark Philippoussis. Good tickets for all PowerShares Series events 
are still available starting at $25 at www.PowerSharesSeries.com. VIP packages – 
including meet-and-greet and play-with-the-pros on-court opportunities - are 
also available here http://m1e.net/c?117624096-WxU4LiHCyytOE%4073478786-x0G4.jmTcc3.c 
by email to VIP@insideoutse.com, or by phone at 253.315.4299.

The remaining 2014 Power Shares Series schedule with field of players are as 
follows:

Thursday, February 13, Birmingham, Alabama, Birmingham-Jefferson Convention 
Complex - John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis

Friday, February 14, Indianapolis, Bankers Life Fieldhouse – John McEnroe, Ivan 
Lendl, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis

Wednesday, February 19, Denver, Pepsi Center – Andy Roddick, James Blake, Jim 
Courier, Mark Philippoussis

Thursday, February 20, Houston, Toyota Center – Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Andy 
Roddick, James Blake

Tuesday, February 25, Salt Lake City, Energy Solutions Arena – Pete Sampras, 
John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake

Wednesday, February 26, Sacramento, Sleep Train Arena – Pete Sampras, John 
McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake

Thursday, February 27, Portland, Moda Center – Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Jim 
Courier, James Blake

Wednesday, March 12, Nashville, Bridgestone Arena – John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, 
Jimmy Connors, Pat Cash

Thursday, March 13, Charlotte, Time Warner Arena – John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, 
Jimmy Connors, Pat Cash

Friday, March 21, Surprise, Surprise Stadium – Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Todd 
Martin, Michael Chang
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John McEnroe Wins Opening 2014 PowerShares Series Tennis Event in Kansas City

John McEnroe

(February 5, 2013) KANSAS CITY – John McEnroe kicked off the 2014 PowerShares Series tennis circuit 
Wednesday night at the Sprint Center in frigid Kansas City beating both Ivan 
Lendl and Michael Chang back-to-back in one-set matches to win the title.

After defeating Lendl 6-4 in the opening semifinal, the 54-year-old McEnroe then 
immediately turned around to beat 41-year-old Michael Chang 6-4 in the final in 
front of a hearty and vocal crowd who braved single digit temperatures and a 
fresh half foot of snow.

"Michael is one of the greatest competitors ever," McEnroe said after the final. 
"He was serving big and I was having some trouble reading his shots. He fought 
hard and I played a few strong games there."

McEnroe broke Chang at love in the first game of the match before being broken 
himself the next game. Each player then held serve for the next six games, 
McEnroe still displaying the serve-and-volley tactics and deft touch around the 
net that guided him to seven major singles titles during his career. McEnroe 
then took advantage of crucial unforced errors from Chang in the ninth game of 
the set to collect the vital service break. Serving for the match, McEnroe 
sealed the championship by hitting two aces and a service winner on the final 
three points.

"I worked hard to keep it going for a couple of sets," said McEnroe, who first 
started playing organized "champions" tennis tournaments in 1995. "This format 
(of one-set matches) is good for me."

When asked to comment on starting his 20th year competing in "champions" tennis 
tournaments, McEnroe said, "Don't remind me."

As McEnroe was serving for the title at 5-4, a person in the crowd yelled "Come 
On Connors" - referencing another of McEnroe's biggest rivals Jimmy Connors. 
McEnroe hit a ball in the direction of the fan before serving out the match, 
then fired a shot to his rival in the on-court post-match interview, setting the 
stage for when he will renew his rivalry with Connors later this year on the 
PowerShares Series March 12 in Nashville and March 13 in Charlotte.

Quipped McEnroe, "Jimmy is from East St. Louis (Illinois) which is not that far 
from here and I think he's got one fan left in the area."

Chang, the 1989 French Open champion, advanced to the championship match by 
beating former world No. 1 and current U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier 6-4 in 
the other semifinal.

PowerShares Series, the U.S. tennis circuit for legend tennis players over the 
age of 30, continues Thursday night in Oklahoma City when McEnroe again faces 
Lendl and Chang again plays Courier. McEnroe is also scheduled to compete in 
Birmingham, Alabama on Feb. 13, Indianapolis on Feb. 14, Salt Lake City on Feb. 
25, Sacramento on Feb. 26, Portland, Oregon on Feb. 27, Nashville on March 12 
and Charlotte on March 13. Good tickets for all PowerShares Series events are 
still available starting at $25 at www.PowerSharesSeries.com. VIP packages – 
including meet-and-greet and play-with-the-pros on-court opportunities - are 
also available here http://m1e.net/c?117624096-8Mwr0LiorTQL.%4073198612-GXpgePctRkQnk 
by email to VIP@insideoutse.com, or by phone at 253.315.4299.

The remaining 2014 Power Shares Series schedule with field of players are as 
follows:

Thursday, February 6, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Chesapeake Energy Arena - Ivan 
Lendl, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Michael Chang

Thursday, February 13, Birmingham, Alabama, Birmingham-Jefferson Convention 
Complex - John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis

Friday, February 14, Indianapolis, Bankers Life Fieldhouse – John McEnroe, Ivan 
Lendl, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis

Wednesday, February 19, Denver, Pepsi Center – Andy Roddick, James Blake, Jim 
Courier, Mark Philippoussis

Thursday, February 20, Houston, Toyota Center – Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Andy 
Roddick, James Blake

Tuesday, February 25, Salt Lake City, Energy Solutions Arena – Pete Sampras, 
John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake

Wednesday, February 26, Sacramento, Sleep Train Arena – Pete Sampras, John 
McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake

Thursday, February 27, Portland, Moda Center – Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Jim 
Courier, James Blake

Wednesday, March 12 Nashville, Bridgestone Arena – John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, 
Jimmy Connors, Pat Cash

Thursday, March 13, Charlotte, Time Warner Arena – John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, 
Jimmy Connors, Pat Cash

Friday, March 21, Surprise, Surprise Stadium – Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Todd 
Martin, Michael Chang
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Andy Roddick and James Blake Join 2014 Powershares Series

AndyRoddickday1daviscuo2011TennisPanormaNews-600x450

(October 15, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – – InsideOut Sports & Entertainment announced the dates, venues and fields for the 2014 PowerShares Series tennis circuit, highlighted by the debuts of Andy Roddick and James Blake, who will join the 12-city tour and play alongside tennis legends such as Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors.

The PowerShares Series will kick off on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 in Kansas
City and will conclude March 21 in Surprise, Arizona. Players competing on the
2014 circuit are Roddick, Blake, Sampras, Agassi, McEnroe, Connors, Ivan Lendl,
Mats Wilander, Jim Courier, Michael Chang, Todd Martin and Mark Philippoussis.
Each event will feature two one-set semifinal matches, followed by a one-set
championship match.

An exclusive USTA member pre-sale offering a 15% discount for USTA members
begins today. Tickets and unique VIP fan experience packages will go on sale to
the general public next Tuesday, October 22. Tickets start at $25 and all ticket
and VIP information is available at www.PowerSharesSeries.com.

““We are excited to welcome Andy Roddick and James Blake as they
join our eighth year of Champions Series tennis and look forward to seeing them,
along with the other legendary players, compete and entertain crowds around the
United States this season,” “ said Jon Venison, Partner at InsideOut Sports &
Entertainment.

“I am looking forward to playing on the PowerShares circuit,” said Roddick.
“Having a chance to stay connected with tennis and compete on a limited basis
through events like these fits perfectly with my life these days.”

““It’s going to be exciting to start a new chapter of my tennis life playing on
the PowerShares Series circuit,”” said Blake. ““Having just retired from the ATP
tour, you’d think I have an advantage over some of the guys, but players like
Andy, Andre and Pete are so talented and competitive that is going to be a great
challenge for me to win some titles. I look forward to the challenge.””

The full 2014 PowerShares Series schedule with field of players are as follows:

Wednesday, February 5, Kansas City, Missouri, Sprint Centre – Ivan Lendl, John
McEnroe, Jim Courier, Michael Chang

Thursday, February 6, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Chesapeake Energy Arena – Ivan
Lendl, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Michael Chang

Thursday, February 13, Birmingham, Alabama, BJCC – John McEnroe, Andy Roddick,
Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis

Friday, February 14, Indianapolis, Indiana, Bankers Life Fieldhouse – John
McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis

Wednesday, February 19, Denver, Colorado, Pepsi Center – Andy Roddick, James
Blake, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis

Thursday, February 20, Houston, Texas, Toyota Center – Andre Agassi, Jim
Courier, Andy Roddick, James Blake

Tuesday, February 25, Salt Lake City, Utah, Energy Solutions Arena – Pete
Sampras, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake

Wednesday, February 26, Sacramento, California, Sleep Train Arena – Pete
Sampras, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake

Thursday, February 27, Portland, Oregon, Moda Center – Andre Agassi, John
McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake

Wednesday, March 12, Nashville, Tennessee, Bridgestone Arena – John McEnroe,
Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors, Mats Wilander

Thursday, March 13, Charlotte, North Carolina, Time Warner Arena – John McEnroe,
Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors, Mats Wilander

Friday, March 21, Surprise, Arizona, Surprise Stadium – Pete Sampras, Jim
Courier, Todd Martin, Michael Chang

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