2014/07/28

USTA to Attempt to Set Record for ‘‘Largest Tennis Lesson” in Conjunction with World Tennis Day

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., February 25, 2014 – The United States Tennis Association (USTA)  announced that in conjunction with World Tennis Day on March 3rd, it will launch thousands of Tennis Play Events nationwide throughout the month of March. These events are designed to encourage families and children of all ages and skill levels to try tennis. To help garner excitement for the initiative and to inspire youth, the USTA will attempt to set the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® title for the ‘‘Largest Tennis Lesson.” The event, which will be held on March 2nd, will feature more than 250 children from local youth organizations in the New York area participating in the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS attempt at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.

 

The event coincides with the World Tennis Day celebration at New York’s Madison Square Garden, which will feature US Open and Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray facing former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, and a sibling doubles matchup between the Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, and the McEnroe brothers, John and Patrick in the BNP Paribas Showdown. The USTA will hold a special presentation recognizing  the World’s Largest Tennis Lesson preceding the evening’s tennis matches at the Garden.

 

Joining the efforts to get kids excited about the sport is Judy Murray, mother of Andy Murray, who will participate in the special presentation and on-court youth tennis demonstration with local New York City kids.

 

“I am excited to be part of the USTA’s efforts to enrich the lives of young people,” said Judy Murray. “Tennis is a fun way for parents to play with their children and encourage them to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.”

 

Since 2009, the USTA has led the charge in using World Tennis Day to provide a platform for facilities to register children for spring and summer programming. To date, more than 6,500 youth tennis events have been held as part of that initiative. Youth Tennis is focused on ensuring a positive first experience for kids by offering play for all ages and levels. An early, positive experience in sports is vital and creates a lifelong commitment to an active lifestyle.

 

“World Tennis Day is a celebration of our sport and a great platform to bring attention to the importance of getting kids active and ensuring a positive first experience in the sport,” said Dave Haggerty, Chairman, CEO and President of the USTA. “These efforts are part of USTA’s long-standing commitment to increase access to the sport. If we reach children when they are young enough, they can learn to love physical activity and tennis for life.”

 

The GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS attempt will take place March 2nd from 9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. EST at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Participating youth organizations include the New York Junior Tennis and Learning and the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education programs, among others.

 

The GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS presentation is scheduled to take place at 6:15 p.m. EST on March 3rd. The doubles match will be featured on ESPN3 at 7 p.m. followed by the singles match on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. The BNP Paribas Showdown is a production of StarGames and MSG Sports. Tickets are on sale now at the Madison Square Garden box office, online at www.thegarden.com and all Ticketmaster outlets.

 

To find a Tennis Play Event and information how families can get involved, visit youthtennis.com.

Share

Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part Three

 

JudyMurray

(September 19, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – During the US Open, Great Britain’s Fed Cup Captain Judy Murray, mother of ATP players Andy Murray and Jamie Murray, sat down to do an interview with Tennis Panorama News.

In part three of our Q & A,  we go off the beaten path and ask the former top Scottish women’s tennis player about tennis and twitter and discuss her famous sweet tooth.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News: Tennis and Twitter seem to go together. Out of all the social media out there tennis players, tennis fans, tennis media have taken to twitter in great numbers

Judy Murray: Yes, I think that’s the great thing about it. It allows you to engage with people who are tennis fans and in a very fun and safe way.

It’s up to you if you want to do it. It’s up to you what you put there. I enjoy it. I reply to a few tweets, maybe not daily, but I try to reply to a few tweets. I’ve actually made a few very good friends on twitter, strangely. You just have to make up your mind how you want to use it. I just think it’s a really good way to engage with fans.

And I think there are people I follow on twitter, they tend to be either people who are funny or people who I get tennis information from or tennis people who amuse me. Or might be people you admire from other sports. Not too many like that but I just like to follow a few people from different walks of life and it’s just quite interesting. I fit’s used in the right way, it can be very creative and it’s harmless. It can be quite addictive. You can spend quite a lot of time on it. In fact when you are over here (United States) my phone bill goes up quite a lot if I’m on it. It’s good fun.

 

KP: You are known for having a sweet tooth. Do you have favorite pastries, desserts, did you go to Taste of Tennis?

JM: I didn’t go because I wasn’t here (New York City). I would’ve gone if I had been here. I went the one in Melbourne, I really enjoyed that. That was great fun.

I’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth.

I like anything that’s sponge (cake) – sponge with icing on it. So I like cupcakes with not too much icing. If it’s too much, it’s too sweet and I can’t eat it all.

I like fresh cream like chocolate éclairs and mille-feuille with fresh cream through it.

A sponge, filled with cream, fresh cream with jam would be my absolute favorite, so it’s not like too sweet. I like a good dessert as well. I like banana and pineapple and chocolate, coconut, meringue. I like caramel sauce.

I could eat most things.

 

Related articles:

Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part One

Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part Two

Share

Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part Two

 

JudyMurray

 

(September 18, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – During the US Open, Great Britain’s Fed Cup Captain Judy Murray, mother of ATP players Andy Murray and Jamie Murray, sat down to do an interview with Tennis Panorama News.

In part two of our Q & A, the former top Scottish women’s tennis player spoke about the current women’s tour and some of her proudest moments.

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News: What are your thoughts on the women’s tour? Do you think there is more depth or is it just Serena(Williams) and everyone else?

Judy Murray: When Serena is at the top of her game is very, very tough to beat because she’s just so strong and she’s just fabulous to watch when she’s playing well and I love watching her when she’s on top of her game. And just behind her is obviously (Victoria) Azarenka and (Maria) Sharapova. So the top three are very much power players – there’s not a huge amount of variety there. You don’t see too much, not too many drops shots or changes of pace, it’s really all about the power.

Then there’s sort of a pack of players behind that that are all very solid. The players that I miss are the (Amelie) Mauresmo’s and the (Justine) Henin’s. I like watching (Sara) Errani and (Flavia) Pennetta. I like watching the Italian’s creativity and variety.

I think you know, you need personalities. I think that’s the thing you kind of feel that tennis, is just to try and create more personalities out of the players so fans can start to identify with them as people. And I think that I think Serena is a huge personality and I think Sharapova probably is as well, but we need try and get that with more of them. I guess it’s up to the WTA tour to find a way to be able to do that so that fans can really identify them and want to come out and watch and support.

It’s tough on the women’s tour – this year I’ve noticed it’s more difficult getting into a lot of the tournaments. A lot a tournaments that have been lost and maybe the sponsors withdrawing, so they’re not so many options open to the girls on the calendar. I think that the last three weeks on the women’s tour (during the summer) from New Haven, Toronto and Cincinnati. I think cutoffs of the main draw were 40? It’s very, very tough. The girls are having to pay out a lot of money every week to travel.

KP: No secondary tournaments going on.

JM: That’s right. There used to be a lot more so. It’s not just at that time of the year, it’s just very noticeable just lately. There’s not so much choice now.

If the women’s tour calendar is losing tournaments because it’s harder to get sponsors, then you have to look at why is that. Why are sponsors not coming forward, are they not getting crowds? Why are they not getting crowds? Not getting TV showing it. Why are they not getting TV showing it? You need to ask those questions and find out what people want and the tour. The WTA has to find ways to help players to market themselves better so that people do want to come and watch women in the same way they want to watch the men. I think the events that are mixed, where they have both at the same time, have been fantastic. There is huge, huge buzz about those tournaments. May be they need to have more of those if that’s possible, but if it isn’t….

I have this theory that if it’s more women who come and watch women’s sports, so you need to create an army of tennis fans from women to come along and support women’s sport.  It’s like I went to watch the British Women’s Open golf a few weeks ago and I had the same feeling there. You know, that there were not a lot of young people, girls watching that. There were a lot of older people that and I was thinking, golf was one of those sports that women are more likely to take up when they’re older than when they’re younger. That’s a challenge to golf.

I do think that tennis needs to ask itself questions about why, and I’m sure they are, asking questions about why they’ve lost so many tournaments and how they can make the calendar more busy. But also it needs to be a bit smarter, I think in terms of where tournaments are placed so that you could have a run of three tournaments without having to travel from one side of the world to the other. I think that makes a lot of sense because the expenses for the players are getting bigger and bigger all the time and especially if you’ve got someone travelling with you and you probably need two rooms and two flights, food every week.

Or maybe finding ways where they can help the girls to supplement their income. I don’t necessarily mean the top ones ‘cause they don’t need it. The other girls you know, some more pro-ams or little exho matches before tournaments start and things where sponsor might need to have some of the girls play with their clients. You see things like that at Indian Wells. I always think, you know that’s one of few venues that do that sort of thing really well.

And for the doubles guys, because of Jamie, it’s a great help to go off and do a few of them. It helps to pay for your hotel bill for a week, but they probably need some help in trying to encourage people to put more of that on for the women’s side.

 

KP: What have been your proudest moments in tennis?

JM: There’s been absolutely loads.

I think when I first started coaching, I was just a volunteer coach at the club, I had been doing it for a few years. Our high school team at Dunblane High School won the Scottish schools championship, the boys team and that was my first success in coaching and I can remember being very emotional when they won that because it was just great. It’s your local town, just something that you helped out and these kids have managed to win this big thing.

But anytime when the boys (Andy and Jamie) have played together, on Davis Cup teams for Great Britain, watching them play together and that’s a huge thing, seeing both of your children, side by side. Any time they play together – I think the Olympics and Davis cup are very special. In 2008 here (US Open) Andy was in the singles final and Jamie was in the mixed doubles final, that was a great time. And obviously the two Wimbledon wins – Andy winning the singles and Jamie winning his mixed doubles. They were huge. The Olympics, US Open last year.

I have proud moments that have nothing to do with the tennis – they’re good kids. They do good things. They’re good with people and they’re still very normal through everything that’s happened.

 

In the part three, the final part of the interview, Murray discusses tennis and twitter, and her sweet tooth.

Related articles:

Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part One

Share

Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part One

 

JudyMurray

(September 17, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – During the US Open, Great Britain’s Fed Cup Captain Judy Murray, mother of ATP players Andy Murray and Jamie Murray sat down to do an interview with Tennis Panorama News.

In part one of our Q & A, the former top Scottish women’s tennis player spoke about her introduction to tennis and coaching, Fed Cup, women coaches and those women coming up the ranks of British tennis.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News: How did you get involved in tennis?

Judy Murray: I started playing tennis when I was about 10. Back in those days, when racquets were wooden and balls were heavy, the courts were all just one size. It was actually quite tough to start tennis younger than that unless you were quite big because the equipment was heavy.

My Mom and Dad both played, they played for the county, played a lot down at the local club. When I was big enough, I started to join in. I just learned from playing with my parents.

 

KP: With your sons, did they naturally want to play because you played?

JM: Probably, we lived about 300 meters from the tennis courts and when they were very small, we didn’t have much money and I didn’t have a car. I went round to our local club and did some work just as a volunteer and started working with some of the older juniors because I was still playing at a good level. I was the Scottish No. 1 for quite a number of years.

I started working as a volunteer coach when they were very small and some of the kids that I started working with, they started to get quite good and that is when I realized that my initial coaching qualification that I had done when I was a student wasn’t really helping me to help them particularly, so I was just teaching them from a tactical base, which was based on my own playing experience. In my day you didn’t have coaches. You learned how to play the game by playing the game.

I upgraded my qualification when Jamie and Andy were six and seven and then a couple of years later I upgraded it again, because I realized  that a lot of the kids I was working with, were becoming pretty good at the Scottish level and I wanted to help them to be the best that they could be. And I realized that my knowledge of playing the game was all about playing the game, it wasn’t too much about teaching them from a technical base, so I wanted to learn about that. I haven’t up graded my qualification since then. That was the highest level of coaching qualification at the time in Britain. It was a year-long course that was a big thing for me to take on when the boys were quite young, the workshops were all down south.

Also what I remember about that course is that there was a lot of information but not enough about how to actually use the information. And what I have learned in my 20 years or so of coaching is that it doesn’t matter how much information you’ve got if you are not able to communicate it effectively and in the right way with the kids or the adults in front of you, you are not going to get the job done. I think a lot of it comes down to how well you communicate, how much you can enthuse the kids by the way you behave with them. I keep saying kids because I’m so used to working with juniors but now I’ve started working more on the women’s side, but it’s the same thing – you need to have a good rapport. You need to have some fun. You need to get your point across. The other thing is that the better you know your player as a person, the more chance you have at doing a good job with them because understand what makes them tick and what makes them react badly and you’ve started at the best way to get them to do things.

KP: Speaking of working with different players, how challenging is it to be the Fed Cup Captain?

JM: That’s quite a challenge. It’s certainly was a challenge the first year because I had never worked on the women’s side before. I’d worked with juniors and obviously on the men’s side. But working with girls is quite different than working with boys and working with women is quite different from working with girls. Had to learn a lot about that but like throughout my coaching career, I speak to people. I speak to people who have been there and done it before and have lots of experience and then you form your own opinion. You form you own view or philosophy. So I picked a lot of people’s brains. It’s mostly men on the women’s tour, mostly male coaches.

 

KP: Why do you think there are so few female coaches?

JM: I think there is not a great career pathway for female coaches. I think it doesn’t matter whether you work in clubs or whether you are working with better level players. I think it’s you know, that natural thing is for women to get married probably in their twenties and have their kids and then the life of a coach is actually very difficult because if you are coaching in a club for example or a domestic program, your busiest times are going to be after four o’clock and on weekends. So you’re working in the evenings and on weekends, if you’ve got family it’s very difficult. I think if you get to the stage where you want to work with a full-time player then you need to be prepared to be on the road for probably about 30 weeks of the year and that’s very tough as well.

But I think there are one or two things which come into play too. It’s tough to make a living in the game unless you are probably 70, ranked 70 and above. And really anyone ranked below that, it’s tough to have to pay for a coach and a coach’s expenses on the road with you and your own expenses too. Most girls, I think will try to pick a coach who can also work as a sparring partner, and that tends to lend itself more to males who play at a decent level and who can fill that kind of dual role. I think that has something to do with it as well.

Of course there is nothing wrong with having male coaches, but I think we could do with having more females because I do think that female coaches understand the needs and feelings of girls a lot better than guys do and I’ve been saying this for some time now. In our country we need to get more little girls playing tennis and taking up tennis. Tennis has become very attractive now since Wimbledon and since the success of Laura (Robson) and Heather (Watson), very young and exciting prospects and they’re great role models for young girls and for women’s tennis. But once we get little girls into tennis, we need to make sure they are having a lot of fun, doing what they are doing. We need to have a lot more female coaches working with little girls, for exactly the same reasons – to ensure we can retain them in the sport because little girls tend to generally be not as competitive, not as boisterous as boys and can be put off by being in a mixed group or being with a male coach who finds it easier to deal with the boys, because the boys kind of do all the competitive things because they enjoy doing that sort of thing. Building a stronger female coaching workforce in our country is important to us to retain more girls in the game.

KP: Beyond Heather and Laura, who are the women coming up behind then in Great Britain?

JM: Some of the girls have started to do quite well pushing themselves up the rankings. Johanna Konta was at a career-best ranking at 112 before the US Open, I think she’ll drop a little bit. She won a 25 and a 100K back-to-back during the summer which was very good progress for her. So she’s moving in the tight direction. She’s 22 now.

Tara Moore is the same age as Heather Watson and she is very, very talented and she has started to show some good signs of progress. She still needs to work at being able to put good performances in on a consistent basis, and so much of that being able to perform consistently well is down to how emotionally stable you can be for longer periods of time and that always doesn’t come quickly to every player. I think sometimes you have to let them grow into themselves a bit. But she has a huge amount of potential – a very, very skillful player. I think that if she can get herself together I think she can go places over the next couple of years.

And we have Sam(antha) Murray who was playing in the qualies here (US Open). She was at a US college on a scholarship and she has started to push herself up the rankings. Very hard worker, good all-court game, plays good doubles as well, big first serve.

Elena Baltacha had a surgery on her foot in the off season last year, so she’s just playing again full-time, but she has produced good performances as well. It won’t be long before she’s back at her best. Beyond that we are starting to look at the juniors.

We have three very good juniors born in 1998.  Maia Lumsden who won the 14s Orange Bowl in December, Gabby (Gabriella) Taylor who trains in Spain and Jazzy Plews who also trains in Spain. All have been ranked within the top ten at the end of last year in the 14s. So they are all in a good place as well.

But certainly, from my point of view we need to use this opportunity now where tennis is the kind of buzz word among sports in Britain just now. We need to use the opportunity to get more girls playing and to develop a stronger female coaching workforce to retain more of them in the early stages, and then to educate more coaches to be able to do a better job through all the development stages. There’s quite a big job to be done but there’s a huge opportunity at the moment. I will always argue that more better coaches, produce more better players. We need to, in my opinion, to invest in our coaching workforce.

 

In part two of our interview, Murray talks about the women’s tour and some of her proudest moments.

Share

Tennis Players and Chefs Serve Up a Feast for Charity at Taste of Tennis

 

Taste of Tennis1

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 10, 2013) MELBOURNE, Australia – A service game of a different kind was on the menu for the tennis stars who attended the 4th Annual Melbourne Swisse Taste of Tennis event held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Thursday night.

 

Players joined with chefs from Melbourne’s top restaurants to serve up gourmet treats to A-list guests in the name of charity.

 

Many top 20 ATP and WTA players featured among the guests at the event which raised money for Diabetes Australia and the National Institute of Integrative Medicine. Top ten players Janko Tipsarevic and Richard Gasquet graced the red carpet, along with other notable players including Marion Bartoli, Marin Cilic, Kevin Anderson, Lucie Safarova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Ivo Karlovic.

 

Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt paired with celebrity chef George Colombaris to kick off the evening with a special presentation on stage before chefs and players combined to act as food servers, handing out small gourmet delights throughout the night.

 

Celebrities and chefs began arriving at the venue from 6.30pm sporting a wide variety of outfits based on the ‘elegantly casual’ dress theme. Many of the men came smartly dressed in jeans, while Marion Bartoli and the Rodionova sisters glammed up the red carpet in sky high heels and sleek dresses.

 

British Fed Cup captain Judy Murray is known to tweet her love of desserts to her 49,000 plus twitter following, and expressed her delight at the event’s offerings. She said “we’ve had a great time because to be able to go around and try small amounts of lots of different things is great. I think the trick is to pace yourself so that you have enough room left for desserts.”

 

Murray also spoke of her hope for the British girls at the Australian Open starting on Monday and said she is hopeful for a good run from Heather Watson and Laura Robson who have both recently broken into the top 50 singles rankings for the first time.

 

Swedish doubles specialist Robert Lindstedt enjoyed the social aspect of the evening and said it’s a welcome break from the day to day. “It’s great. It’s nice for the people to turn out where most of the guests are not players so it’s quite nice.” He said that on tour “we enjoy good food. We always try to find maybe not always the nicest restaurants because they’re a bit expensive but we always try to eat well so food like this is what we look for.”

 

Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic said he loves eating out at restaurants. “It’s something that I enjoy doing and also traveling around the world I have the chance to try different cuisines. But when I’m at home I like a home cooked meal and I’m really lucky that my wife cooks really well so I enjoy that as well.”

 

Silent auctions were held throughout the night to raise money for the elected charities. Items up for auction included signed memorabilia of international sporting stars such as Tiger Woods, Sebastian Vettel and Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as experiences including dining packages and the opportunity to have a personal chef serve you at your home.

 

The Norman Brookes Challenge Cup and the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup were also a popular attraction on the night, with guests lining up for the chance to hold and have a photo taken with the Australian Open championship trophies.

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her persona @JackattackAU.
All photos by Melinda Samson who runs the site Grand Slam Gal. Follow her on twitter @Grandslamgal.
Share

Watson, Robson, Keothavong and Konta Named to British Fed Cup Team

FedCupLogo

(January 7, 2013) Heather Watson, Laura Robson, Anne Keothavong and Johanna Konta have been announced by the Lawn Tennis Association as Great Britain’s Fed Cup team for the  Europe/Africa Zone Group I tie that will take place from February 6-9 2013 at the Municipal Tennis Club in Eilat, Israel.

 

Elena Baltacha who is currently recovering from injury will also be traveling with the team. The team will be led by Judy Murray who was appointed as Fed Cup Captain back in December  of 2011.

 

Judy Murray said: “Last year’s Fed Cup was a great experience for all of us and we came close to securing a place in the World Group for the first time since 1995. Heather and Laura have pushed themselves up into the top 50 in the WTA rankings this year and they will have wonderfully experienced back-up in Anne and Bally who have 22 Fed Cups between them. Jo Konta makes her debut on the team after a terrific 2012 season which saw her break into the top 150. We have a great squad and we will be aiming to put ourselves in World Group contention once again.”

 

British No. 1 Heather Watson said, “Playing Fed Cup is always a highlight for me during the year. Most of the time we are out there playing for ourselves, but it’s a lot of fun and a great honour to compete as a team and represent our country against the best in the world.” Watson ended 2012 at a career-best No. 49 (currently No. 47) in the world winning her first career WTA singles title at the Japan Open, having already claimed Tour doubles titles at Stanford and Dallas in the USA during the summer.

 

Robson said, “’I am really excited to be part of the Fed Cup team again and I can’t wait to get back out there and hopefully win all of our matches.” Robson ended a career-best season in 2012 close to the Top 50, highlighted by a Silver Medal in mixed doubles at the Olympics, beating former Grand Slam champions Kim Clijsters and Li Na at the US Open and then becoming the first woman since 1990 to reach a WTA singles final, before Watson went one better, three weeks later.

 

“I can’t believe this will be my 12th time representing my country,” said British No. 3 Anne Keothavong. “I feel really proud how we have grown as a team in the last couple of years and came so close to making World Group II last year. It’s an added motivation knowing how close we were to try and take the extra step in 2013.”

 

Johanna Konta, is making her Fed Cup debut: “I’m so excited it’s beyond words and a real thrill to be nominated alongside Heather, Laura, Anne and Bally.”

 

The Aegon GB Fed Cup Team will contest the Europe/Africa Zone Group I, alongside 15 other nations, all vying to take the top two spots and progress to the World Group II play offs in April.

The 16 tennis nations in the Europe/Africa Zone Group I include: Austria, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Great Britain, Hungary, Israel, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Turkey.

 

The format will be four groups, each having four teams, all competing against each other (three matches) in Round-robin format. Play starts on Wednesday, 6 February and continues every day. The winners of each group will play off (Group A v Group C and Group B v Group D) to determine which two nations will advance to the World Group II Play-offs in April 20-21, 2013. All other nations will compete for positional Play-offs, including the final two relegation spots.

 

Share

Kick on for Queen and Country

For most years the success (or otherwise) of Britain’s tennis players rises to the top of people’s priority for the last week in June and the first week in July.

Then for the non-tennis following public, the hub-bub simply disappears and remains perhaps a footnote on the odd national news sports bulletin.

But this year something strange happened.

Perhaps due to the Jubilee, or the forthcoming Olympics, but the news of five people into the second round was a cause for a decent cream tea and perhaps a cheeky Pimms.

Even where players fell at the first hurdle, there were hard fought battles with higher raked opponents being pushed hard, step forward plucky fighters Jamie Baker and Laura Robson, giving former Slam champions Andy Roddick and Francesca Schiavone more than just a routine practice.

But Slam progression is just one match at a time, and the second round saw the numbers dwindle sharply.

Andy Murray needed to harness physical and mental strength to withstand the bombardment of 130 mph+ missiles from big serving Croat Ivo Karlovic, winning 7-5 6-7(7), 6-2 7-6(7).

In a match where it was unlikely he would gather much rhythm, and was at times surprised by Karlovic’s nimbleness at the net, Murray prevailed in a fourth set tiebreak which left many fans fingers gnawed to the bone.

Heather Watson has impressed everyone this year with the apparent ease of her first two victories, and faces a real test against the world number 3 Agnieszka Radwanska in the third round.

Yet there still could be a good chance for her, if her self-belief continues.

Maybe the key to her success this year has been a willingness to change her approach.

After her second round victory against USA’s Jamie Hampton, 6-1, 6-4, she acknowledged that making some changes was a way to move herself up a level.

Watson said:”I’ve been known as kind of a counter‑puncher, good at moving and reading the game well, and I wanted to get to the next step, improve my game.

“I’ve been working with my coach at being more aggressive, coming to the net.

“I can volley.  I love to volley.  Probably volleyed once today and missed it.

“I’ve been working on being more aggressive.  And especially on the grass, you have to be.”

James Ward had a real chance to push his way past Mardy Fish, and battled through a tough fifth set decider, before Fish’s experience got the better of him.

After his great run at Queens last year, and already having come through a five-setter to get to the second round, the crowd on Court 1 stood to give Ward an ovation at the end of the match.

Ward said “It was nice of Mardy, as well.  He said the standing ovation was for me, so go out and enjoy it.  It was nice.  I appreciate it.”

Elena Baltacha pushed the 2011 Champion Petra Kvitova more in the second set, but sadly lost 0-6. 4-6.

However, Baltacha remained fairly pragmatic.

“I just kind of wish the second set was the first set, and then who knows what could have happened.  She played absolutely unbelievable,” she said, “she’s a very classy player.”

And of course being awarded an ITF wildcard, Baltacha will return for the Olympics

After years of injuries and an illness that almost put paid to her career, she could be forgiven for allowing retirement to cross her mind.

“I think if I still really enjoy it, if I still believe I’m improving and I still love it, then I’ll carry on.  But I’m literally going on a week‑to‑week basis.  I don’t put any pressure on myself.”

Anne Keothavong had perhaps more chances against French Open finalist Sara Errani, but succumbed 4-6, 4-6.

She admitted that she had her chances, and simply didn’t take those opportunities.

Keothavong said: “I’m disappointed with my own performance because I know I can play better.  I didn’t challenge her today as much as I would have liked.

“To lose in that fashion, you know, it’s not particularly pleasing.”

Like Baltacha, she will be returning to SW19 for the Olympics, also having been awarded a wildcard.

In between, she is looking ahead to the US swing.

“Had I not been on the Olympic team I would have camped out there until the US Open.  But I think the gap’s just too long from now until the Olympics.”

As with Baltacha, the question of retirement was also put to her.

“I have been around for a while, but there are girls older than me who are still out there winning slams and doing really well.

“That keeps me motivated.  You know, as long as I’m still enjoying it and as long as I’m fit and healthy, there are worse ways to make a living.”

It is strange to use the words “putting Murray aside”, but the real question is can these players now kick on and achieve more success as we gear up first for the Olympics, and then the US Open.

Where once cynics would complain about our Brits “crashing out”, there does appear to be some optimism.

Is there a sense of optimism in 2012 and a stirring of national pride in our tennis players?

And more importantly, with the US Open still to come in the tennis calendar, is now the time for the top British players to use this sense of optimism to “kick on” for Queen and country, and perhaps reach their full potential?

Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT Journalist by day, a Sports journalist part-time and her match observations can be found at the Chalkdust Chronicles (chalkdustchronicles.blogspot.com). Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.

Share

Murray Leads Five Brits into Second Round at Wimbledon

It was a momentous day for Britons at Wimbledon on Tuesday, as Andy Murray found himself in the rare position of having four other Brits alongside him for the second round.

A very business-like Murray perhaps silenced some of his detractors since the end of his clay campaign and early exits at both Queens Club and the exhibition event at The Boodles.

He dominated his match against Nikolay Davydenko, 6-1, 6-1, 6-4.

Murray said: “I played well.

“Once I got ahead of him, I wanted to make sure I didn’t let him back in.”

Although it has been a while since Davydenko has been in his ATP World Tour Final winning form of 2009, Murray was quick to acknowledge that this match-up might not be a walk in Wimbledon’s Aorangi Park.

“He’s very, very dangerous.

“He’s a very good returner as well.

“I needed to stay concentrated on my serve, and I did it well.”

There had been some speculation as to the success of his coaching relationship with eight-time Slam Champion Ivan Lendl, after his quarter-final exit from the French Open, and first round exits at Queen’s Club and The Boodles exhibition event.

Murray said: “I never saw him play when I was a kid.  I’ve only seen him play since I got older.

“He was obviously a great player, very ruthless, one of the best players that ever played.

“I’m glad to have him working with me.”

In the past Murray has been drawn on his view on the success of his compatriots, especially if they crash out in the first round.

But in this Olympic year, he is joined in the second round currently by James Ward, Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong and Heather Watson who booked her place in the Centre Court dusk on Monday night.

“Anytime the Brits do well in slams it’s good for British tennis.

“It’s been a good tournament so far, and hopefully it continues.”

For Baltacha, it was a gritty match, winning 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 with Karin Knapp getting the better of her in the first set.

A bad slip saw Knapp injure herself at the start of the second start, allowing Baltacha back in.

Baltacha said: “I played well and I fought, and I was very, very delighted to have won that and to come through that being a set down.

British Fed Cup Captain Judy Murray gave her the Olympic news at the end of the match, and emotions were flowing freely for the both of them.

“I was very, very emotional at the end, especially with Judy.  She told me that I got the wildcard for the Olympics.”

“I’m glad no one told me before, to be honest, because I would have been all over the place.

“But, yeah, it was just amazing news.  I think that’s why we both just started crying our eyes out.”

It looked initially like Laura Robson would be starting the British-second-round-roll taking the first set from an injury-troubled Francesca Schiavone who had to take an extended medical time out.

She took the 2010 French Open champion to three sets, losing 6-3, 4-6, 4-6.

Robson said: “I’m really disappointed actually.

“I thought I was in control of it, and then just made a few mistakes and let her get back into the match.

“She’s a Grand Slam champion.  She took advantage of that completely.”

James Ward came through a tough five-setter staying positive despite being a break down in the fifth set, beating Pablo Andujar 4-6, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Ward said: “I always knew if I kept to my own serve and I started serving a bit smarter and towards the end of the match, because he was returning really well off his backhand, so I mixed it up, bit more body and forehand, and then got a few more free points.

“I knew I had it in the tank, and I knew if I kept carried on going I’d get a few chances, and in the end it worked out.”

However, there was a little disappointment for Ward, as he missed the Olympic cut.

“Of course it’s disappointing.

“It would have been great to be playing the home Olympics in London.  It’s once in a lifetime really.

“And being from London and obviously now playing well at Wimbledon, it would have been great to play again here again in a few weeks’ time.

“But it’s not to be.  My ranking is not where it is.”

Along with Murray, Anne Keothavong won her match on straight sets, beating Laura Pous-Tio 6-3, 6-3.

She said: “The win today was good.  I think I made it a little difficult for myself out there.

“But I felt like I settled into the match well eventually, and I never really felt I was going to lose the match.”

Keothavong found out about her place in the British Olympic team just before starting play.

“Just to have that confirmation, it’s just something I’ve always dreamt about, you know, something I’ve worked hard towards, and I’m just so proud to say I can be representing Great Britain at the Olympics this year.”

Great Britain will have eight players in the Olympic Tennis tournament.

Wildcards went to Keothavong and Baltacha for the women’s singles, with Robson and Watson teaming up in the doubles.

Murray qualifies by right for the men’s singles, and will team up with older brother Jamie for the doubles, along with the regular tour pairing of Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins.

The Mixed Doubles line up is yet to be announced.

Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.

 

Share

Judy Murray Named Great Britain’s Fed Cup Captain

 

Judy Murray the mother of World No. 4 Andy Murray was named as non-playing captain of  Great Britain’s Fed Cup team on Thursday by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).

“It is a huge honor for me to represent my country in this way and the role presents a very exciting challenge, given the mix of talent, experience and determination we have in our top female players right now,” said Murray.

Murray’s first tie as captain will be in February when she leads Great Britain against Israel in the Euro/Africa zone I play.

Share