2014/07/26

Andy Roddick and James Blake Join 2014 Powershares Series

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(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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Tennis Legends Gather At ‘No. 1 Celebration’ To Commemorate 40 Years Of Emirates ATP Rankings

 

From the ATP World Tour – AUGUST 24, 2013 -NEW YORK — ATP World Tour No. 1s past and present gathered to mark the 40th anniversary of the Emirates ATP Rankings at the ‘No. 1 Celebration’, Friday night at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.

Ilie Nastase, who became the first ATP World No. 1 on 23 August 1973, was present to be honoured on the night, along with successors John Newcombe, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier, Marcelo Rios, Carlos Moya, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Gustavo Kuerten, Lleyton Hewitt, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Andy Roddick, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

The legends each took part in an on-stage Q&A with Justin Gimelstob and Guy Forget, sharing their experiences of reaching the summit of world tennis, before posing for a group photo with the ATP World Tour No. 1 trophy. Each year-end No. 1 received an engraved replica of the trophy.

No. 1 Celebration  Nadal, Federer

“It’s definitely an ultimate goal for any athlete, not just tennis players,” said current World No. 1 Djokovic. “Growing up, in early childhood, you are inspired to show that love and appreciation and passion towards the sport, and of course there is this big drive – waking up every morning, working so hard, developing skills to be No. 1 in the world. Not many players have achieved that and to sit with fellow champions, it’s an incredible feeling… I’m really honoured to be here.”

Watch Highlights Of No. 1 Celebration

Federer, who held the No. 1 ranking for a record 302 weeks, spoke about sharing the stage with the players who inspired him. “It was very important for me to have someone to look up to. Stefan was one of them, so it’s nice to see you here tonight and all the others players… We’ve put such huge effort in the game, and that’s a platform we can enjoy today. So it’s unbelievable. Thanks for being an inspiration Stefan, all of you here today.”

On a lighter note, a self-deprecating Roddick said, “It is an honour to be the worst player in the room.” Fellow American Courier added, “It’s a great honour to be here among friends. I dreamed of being in this arena, and to be part of this group is mind-blowing.”

Year-End No. 1s  McEnroe, Djokovic

The evening, part of the broader ATP Heritage programme, also included a tribute to former ATP Executive Chairman and President Brad Drewett, who passed away in May following a battle with Motor Neurone Disease. Drewett founded the ATP Heritage programme earlier this year.

“Brad cherished the history of the ATP and men’s professional tennis in general,” said Mark Young, CEO ATP Americas. “Tonight’s celebration is a reflection of that. It was his vision to see all the No. 1 players gathered together as we honoured their achievements.”

The ATP Heritage programme, with the support of its founding partner Rolex, will continue to serve as a platform to celebrate the rich history of the ATP and the remarkable achievements of the world’s greatest players throughout history.

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Wilander Sounds Off On Big Four, Monday Finals and More in Atlanta

 

By Erik Gudris

(November 10, 2012) ATLANTA – Mats Wilander is literally getting back into the swing of things when it comes to competitive tennis. The seven-time Grand Slam singles champion made his second appearance on the PowerShares Series at the Champions Shootout in Atlanta, Georgia. Wilander joined Michael Chang, Jim Courier, and John McEnroe on the eighth stop of the 12 city tour.

“I’m getting into the swing of trying to channel my focus and concentration into two hours which you get really good at playing professional tennis,” said Wilander during a pre-match media meet with reporters. “You have to be able to switch on and off and when you are not used to the competitive element when the match is on the line you forget how to do that. It would be nice to do this 10 nights in a row because its not that easy. But it gets easier. I was better today in practice than I was yesterday. It’s more getting used to the pace that these guys play at.”

When asked about his Major titles that include three Australian Opens, three French Opens and one U.S. Open and which one was the most special to him, Wilander said, “There are all so different. I mean what’s better? A sunny day on the beach in Caribbean or a sitting near a fireplace on a snowy, cold day in Sun Valley, Idaho? It’s a matter of the big picture and how happy you are with your effort. And then on top of that you get pretty good results that make you wonder to yourself. “How the hell did that happen? Wow amazing.” I hope my best day is tomorrow.”

Wilander, who took part in a pre-match clinic with amateur players, splits half of his time teaching tennis across the U.S. with his “Wilander On Wheels” experience and the rest serving a tennis commentator for Eurosport including hosting his own “Mats Point” show. The former No. 1 is known for speaking his mind about current players and the pro tour and he didn’t hold back when it came to this week’s ATP World Tour finals in London. Though Wilander had high praise for the current “big four”, he also felt it was disappointing that someone else hasn’t shaken up the recent status quo of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal dominating the biggest events.

“It’s great to have the big four playing right now at this time. They’re unbelievable. Don’t get me wrong, they’re amazing. But sometimes you wonder why (the other players) are running around applauding Federer’s shot when they hit to him. ‘Ah great shot Roger’. Why would you do that? He’s kicking your ass. You should be angry and not just happy you are playing the greatest player of all time.”

Wilander took exception to recent statements from players like Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga that beating the ATP’s top four is nearly impossible despite the fact that they have done so in their careers. But Wilander would like to see that happen more often and from more players as he thinks it would help the sport.

“Are they not human,” Wilander says about the ‘Big Four’ so to get his point across. “We have these great players in every generation. But Sampras lost. Agassi lost. They all lost because the other guys thought that they could win. But you don’t get the feeling that the guys now don’t think they are going to win sometimes. It’s hard to be the best player in the world but its not impossible and the other guys think that it is. I think you can say that the top four that we have right now are the best top four we’ve ever had. And the next 96 out of the top 100, in relative terms, might be the worse we’ve ever had because they don’t beat the best guys and that didn’t use to happen. Obviously they (the big four) are much better and the competition is much harder, but in relative terms its very rare that they upset the big four so it’s worrying I think.”

Juan Martin Del Potro, who has now beaten Federer in their last two meetings, still could improve even more according to Wilander, but he may have more of an edge in making the leap into the ATP’s top four since he has already won a Major.

“Obviously he’s done it to Federer, I mean it’s amazing once you beat a guy in a big final you believe you have that in you. That’s it’s going to happen. So Del Potro I think has the biggest heart and he’s got a big game and loves competing and that’s why he sometimes is doing it and has won a Major.”

The ATP World Tour Finals will be played on a Monday but though that event won’t have to worry about weather and schedule delays due to being played indoors at the 02 Arena, Wilander himself is not a fan of Monday finals or even using roofs at events like Wimbledon or the U.S. Open.

“It makes sense (at Wimbledon) but I don’t think it should be used ever until the semis and the finals. I think we should stay away from Monday finals especially at the U.S. Open because I think its little unfair for the game I think. For the players and the crowd? Maybe. But I think for the sport it should be played on the day when its supposed to be played. Beginning of the tournament? I think they should wait and try and play outdoors when they can. I’m not for it but when it comes down to the end its too important for the sport to be played at the right time.”

Erik Gudris is a freelance tennis writer and frequent contributor to Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on Twitter at @ATNtennis

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Courier Wins Atlanta to Sweep Southern Swing in PowerShares Series

Jim Courier photo courtesy of PowerShares.com

By Herman Wood

(November 10, 2012) ATLANTA – The PowerShares Series came to Atlanta tonight for the second leg of its southern swing. On Friday night in Tampa, Jim Courier, in front of his hometown crowd, pulled out a narrow 8-7 (2) after being down 1-5.

It’s a very different feel at this event- definitely not a typical tour stop. The night starts with a video montage, highlights of all the PowerShares Series players in their heyday set to loud rock and roll. As the players enter via spotlight, another montage of their personal highlights plays with more raucous rock and roll. The Atlanta program featured some big names, with a total of 19 grand slams between all the participants. The format features two semifinal matches of 1 regular set, then an 8 game pro set final.

Courier had a different path in Atlanta, taking on Michael Chang in the first match rather than Mats Wilander. Before the matches, each player spoke to the media.  Chang says its a little different for him in his forties. “Our body just doesn’t respond. That’s just normal. It’s been fun, but we definitely have to work in order to compete well. I think from a strategic point of view, I’m a better player.” “It’s a lot more fun- interactions with the crowd. At the end of the day we all have egos. We want to win.” For Courier, it isn’t all that different from the tour; “I don’t worry too much about it. I just get out here and go. Get into grind mode. Head down moving forward. It’s fun!”

The match started with Chang serving- or trying to serve. As he stepped to the line, a baby began crying. It looked like he was going to try to play through it, but paused just before his toss. He looked to the child, then to Courier, remarking that ” its a dad thing” Courier said “he wouldn’t know” Play began as the baby settled in. Apparently Chang didn’t, as an early break went to Courier. On Courier’s serve he held, but with a bucket list- “successful serve & volley to Michael Chang. You saw it here first.” with laughter from the crowd. It seemed Courier caught fire until Chang asked what side of the bed he woke up on. “Center- very zen.” After a couple of errors, he finally held off Chang. Both players showed the hallmarks of their game, Chang running down balls, Courier firing from the ad corner, running around backhands. Despite the scrambling and a break back, Courier was too much, breaking again to close the match at 6-3.

A short intermission followed, with Chang out helping some kids win Prince racquets by hitting targets. He fed U10 balls to the kids and gave then an assist with hitting the target. All the kids won a racquet, mostly thanks to Chang!

John McEnroe and Mats Wilander were the second semifinal. Wilander seemed to agree more with Courier’s assessment of the demands; “You’re trying to channel your concentration and focus into two hours, which is what you’re really good at if you’re playing professional tennis.” McEnroe, who has more points than anyone else in the series, said “It’s tough to do it back to back at this point, especially against this competition. Sometimes it’s tough to get that last point at the end. The court can beat you up. Staying injury free is a constant. We’ve got a good trainer. He takes good care of me. You have to work at it all the time. One of the factors is time. You have to take some time. It’s almost more important than practicing. You have to keep with it or you have no chance.” It looked like he needed a bit of service practice early on, as he was broken in the first game. The first point went to Wilander on a net cord. He apologized , but said he was not sorry. The crowd loved that! Early on, it seemed McEnroe had forgotten what his game was, rallying from the baseline much more frequently than making forays into the net. Once he moved in, momentum swung his way. Some service aces on his part didn’t hurt either. After getting the break back, McEnroe turned up the pressure, but Wilander stiffened his resolve and the games got longer. Wilander was often corner to corner and McEnroe had quite the number of volleys and overheads. He ultimately held on, 6-3, to earn another tiff with Courier in the final for a second night in a row.

After a very short intermission, they went at it just like the clock was turned back, only the groans from the players were a bit more frequent. Courier opened serving, going big right away- 2 aces and a service winner for the hold. McEnroe had a bit of struggle to hold for 1-1, but was able with a little encouragement from the crowd. Courier kept bringing the heat off the ground and from the serve all match. McEnroe soon matched him, holding easily with service aces, winners, and his usual characteristic touch volleys. Both men went corner to corner, with few mistakes and most points earned rather than given. Courier tried a bit of McEnroe touch while up big in a service game, much to his embarrassment. He asked McEnroe for some help, which he obliged with a demo volley. He then asked Courier for help with his forehand. That would have to wait until later.

Joking aside, the match turned a bit more serious as McEnroe turned on the pressure at 6-6, forcing 6 deuces. At one point, Courier asked if they could flip for it and McEnroe surprisingly agreed. They didn’t, but Courier held for 7-6. It turned out the push was too much for McEnroe, as he was broken for the match, 8-6 Courier.

“It’s always special to win and it’s nice to take over the top spot, but we have plenty more ahead of us on this tour,” said Courier. “Andre is going to be coming on strong to compete in these last four events, and John’s been so consistent all season long. So I expect an uphill battle to try and finish in the top spot but it was great to be back on top in Atlanta.”

Herman Wood was in Atlanta covering the PowerShares Series Champions Shootout at the Gwinnett Center  for Tennis Panorama News, follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/hermanewood

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Sampras Wins Champions Series Opener in Florida

FT. LAUDERDALE, (September 22, 2011) – Pete Sampras took out Jim Courier 8-6 in the finals Thursday night of the HSBC Tennis Cup to win the opening event of the 2011 Champions Series at the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. The win gives Sampras the early lead in pursuit of the #1 ranking on the Champions Series, with $1 million dollars of bonus pool money on the line for the top three finishers on the circuit at the end of the season.

 

“It was really good to get back out there in a relaxed environment and play some of my old friends and competitors, and it seemed like we still have it,” said Sampras, the 14-time major champion. “As long as I didn’t get hurt and the fans had a good time, the winning was a bonus.”

 

The eight-game pro set final match was tied at five before Sampras broke Courier’s serve, then held his own to get ahead 7-5, and earn the two-game cushion he needed. The two stars then traded the next two games, as Sampras closed out the victory on his own serve.

 

Courier reached the finals with a 7-5 win over Jimmy Connors, who returned to competitive tennis for the first time in 11 years. Connors – who is just ten weeks removed from left knee surgery – led the game 4-2, before Courier rallied to win five of the last six games to take the set.

 

“I’m very happy with the way I played, the tennis was there,” said Connors. “The crowd was terrific and I feel pretty good. I really enjoyed feeling those competitive juices again.”

 

Sampras won his semifinal match 6-4 over Michael Chang.  For the victory, Sampras earned 400 points in the official 2011 Tour rankings, while Courier gained 200. Chang and Connors each earned 100.

 

The Champions Series continues Friday night in Washington D.C. at the Verizon Center, as Courier will take on Andre Agassi – who will be making his 2011 Series debut. Sampras will again face Chang in the other semifinal. The Washington stop on the circuit will be co-produced by Mark Ein Events/Washington Kastles, the city’s extremely popular World TeamTennis franchise.

 

The 2011 Champions Series is a competitive tennis circuit featuring Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, Michael Chang and Mats Wilander. The 12-city tour of one-night tournaments is being played in major U.S. arenas from September 22 – October 22. Each tournament features four Champions paired off in one set semifinals and culminates with the winners meeting in an eight-game pro-set championship match.

by  Dave Fanucchi

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Wilander and Courier to Offer Commentary from Flushing Meadows This Week for Tennis Channel

Tennis Channel announced on Tuesday  that former US Open Champion Mats Wilander will once again comment on matches Wednesday, August 31 and Hall-of-Famer Jim Courier will be offering analysis  through Friday.

 

Courier and Wilander are joined by US Open Tonight host Bill Macatee, lead analyst Martina Navratilova and the rest of the Tennis Channel on-air team.

“With Mats and Jim coming aboard, we continue to provide our fans with insight from some of the greatest players of this sport,” said Larry Meyers, senior vice president, production, and executive producer, Tennis Channel.  “We’re very excited to add such legendary names to our roster this week.”

 

Jim Courier is a former world No. 1 professional tennis player from the United States. During his career, he won four Grand Slam singles titles – two at the French Open and two at the Australian Open and five Masters 1000 series titles. He holds the record for being the youngest person to have reached the finals of all four Grand Slam singles tournaments at the age of 22. Courier was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.

 

Mats Wilander is an eight-time Grand Slam titleholder and former No. 1 Hall-of-Famer from Sweden.  A champion of all four majors, Wilander holds one US Open, one Wimbledon (doubles), three Australian Open and three French Open titles throughout his successful 15-year professional tennis career. Wilander was also an integral member of Sweden’s highly successful Davis Cup team throughout the 1980s.  In 2002 he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

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Venus Williams, Wilander and Lendl at Caesars Tennis Classic News Conference


Listen to the Venus Williams, Mats Wilander, and Ivan Lendl News Conference
from the Caesars Tennis Classic.

(WMA file)

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