2014/04/18

Melanie Oudin, Coco Vandeweghe, Victoria Duval and Taylor Townsend to Headline South Seas Island Resort Women’s Pro Classic

 

(October 31, 2013) CAPTIVA, FLORIDA – The South Seas Island Resort Women’s Pro Classic is thrilled to announce today that top rising American tennis stars are headlining the upcoming $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Event getting underway on November 3rd. The line-up of young American talent in the Singles Main Draw will include Melanie Oudin, Coco Vandeweghe, Maria Sachez, Madison Brengle, Sachia Vickery, Julia Cohen, Victoria Duval, Jessica Pegula, Nicole Gibbs, Allie Kiick, Taylor Townsend and Chieh-Yu Hsu.

In addition to this, recently announced Wild Card recipients including the Women’s Pro Classic Wild Card Tournament winner Nikki Kallenberg (who will receive a direct entry into the Singles Main Draw) along with the three Singles Main Draw Wild Cards awarded by the USTA to Julia Boserup, Ellie Halbauer and Alexandra Mueller. Receiving the Doubles Main Draw Wild Card is local Southwest Florida residents and doubles duo Kerry Kendricks and Angie Guillette. Additional Singles Qualifying Draw Wild Cards were also awarded to six players.

“The turnout of American players for our first USTA Pro Circuit Event in Captiva Island is tremendous,” said Tournament Director, Nick Blackwood. “We have such an incredible group of young talented women playing in our event that will make for a great week of competitive tennis at a beautiful facility for spectators to enjoy. I hope many of our locals will take advantage of the opportunity to see some of the best up-and-coming American tennis stars playing right in their backyard.”

Of those in the Main Draw, Melanie Oudin, who has been ranked as high as #31 in the WTA Tour Singles Rankings, is known for her thrilling run at the 2009 US Open where she defeated Maria Sharapova to advance to the Quarterfinals. Just this summer, Victoria Duval captured the hearts of Americans at the 2013 US Open after defeating Grand Slam Singles Champion Sam Stosur in the first round. In addition to this, local Florida residents Sachia Vickery and Taylor Townsend have had breakthrough junior accomplishments on their way to playing the USTA Pro Circuit events with Taylor Townsend the winning the Junior Australian Open Singles Championship in 2012 and finishing the year ranked number one in Girls Singles Junior ITF World rankings. In 2013, Sachia Vickery won the USTA National Junior Singles Championships that earned her a spot in the Singles Main Draw of the 2013 US Open.

The South Seas Island Resort Women’s Pro Classic will be held from November 3rd-10th at the award-winning South Seas Island Resort in beautiful Captiva, Florida. The Main Draw Singles and Doubles will begin on Tuesday, November 5th, with the Finals taking place on Sunday, November 10th. As the last USTA Pro Circuit Women’s Event on the calendar in 2013 and opportunity for players to obtain WTA Tour points for the 2014 Australian Open, the Women’s Pro Classic will showcase world class tennis by bringing the game’s emerging and future tennis stars to the area while benefiting three local philanthropic causes – the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Madisen’s Match and Partners for Breast Cancer Care, Inc.

Throughout the week of the Women’s Pro Classic, there will be a line-up of festivities and fundraising events starting on Sunday, November 3rd, with the FREE Kids Day from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. along with high level competition and tennis action at the two Pro-Am fundraisers on Monday and Tuesday that will all benefit the local philanthropic causes.

This year’s Title Sponsor for the Women’s Pro Classic is the South Seas Island Resort with Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille as the Presenting Sponsor. Additional sponsors include Sofibella, NU Men’s Formal Tennis, Pro Graphx and PSAV.

The Pavel & Blackwood Tennis Academy was founded by top 15 ATP Tour player Andrei Pavel and successful junior development coach Nick Blackwood. The Pavel & Blackwood Tennis Academy provides premier opportunities for both junior and professional players as well as programming for adults of all abilities, including beginners. With a combination of physical training, mental development and an emphasis on education for junior players, the Academy creates an environment where each hard-working player is a winner.

The South Seas Island Resort’s tennis facilities include 11 recently resurfaced hard courts (four lighted courts for nighttime play) making it the finest tennis facility on Sanibel and Captiva that was recently recognized by TripAdvisor as one of the industry’s most outstanding resorts.

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Melanie Oudin Captures Party Rock Open Title

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LAS VEGAS (Sept. 29, 2013) – Melanie Oudin captured her seventh overall career singles titles, sixth USTA $50,000 Pro Circuit event and first Party Rock Open with an exciting three-set win over fellow American CoCo Vandeweghe on Sunday at the Darling Tennis Center.

Traditionally not a fast starter, the 22-year-old Oudin from Marietta, Ga., was broken in the first game of the match and dropped the first set 5-7, before gaining control of the match to reel off a 6-3, 6-3 win and capture her first title of 2013 and the $7,600 that goes along with it.

For the second straight year the singles final was contested by two Americans at the Party Rock Open, which was played under ideal and warm 82-degree desert temperature and in front of an enthusiastic crowd that enjoyed top-level tennis all week long, even though both players said they got off to a slow start Sunday due to nerves.

“It wasn’t the best quality tennis from both of us,” said Oudin, who has won one WTA event on grass and now has six $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit titles, including wins in Vegas, Charlottesville, Va. (2012), New Braunfels, Texas, (2012), Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., (2009), Raleigh, N.C., (2009) and Lexington, Ky., (2008). “Obviously it’s never easy returning CoCo’s serve, but I felt like I was doing a better job of attacking it in the second set. It was close the entire time.”

Vandeweghe, 21, had a long exchange with the chair umpire after a disputed line call with Oudin leading 2-0 in the third set and Vandeweghe serving at deuce.

A late out call by the linesman went in favor Oudin and she won the next point taking the crucial 3-0 lead.

“I thought the ball was out,” Oudin said. “It was just a late call. It makes sense to me. And I think that’s what happened. But she was obviously upset about it.”

Vandeweghe took what seemed like two or three minutes to get an explanation from the chair umpire. “I have no idea what happened there,” Vandeweghe said afterward. “There was no explanation. I did my best to come back and kept fighting.”

Vandeweghe did, indeed, breaking Oudin’s serve for 3-1 and then serving what Oudin called a “great” game in the fifth game to hold and make it 3-2.

Oudin said she hasn’t decided but would like to play the next Pro Circuit event in her home state, a $25,000 event in Macon, Ga. Then she will play three more $50K events, two in Canada and one in Florida before shutting it down for the season.

Oudin was asked by a local reporter if she gets tired of often being solely linked to her great US Open quarterfinal run in 2009. “Yes, that’s way over. That’s like so long ago now. I’m so past that. Waaaay past that.”

Vandeweghe, who won $4,053 for finishing runner-up, was able come back and win the doubles title a week after taking the Albuquerque Challenger doubles event as she Austrian partner Tamira Paszek, the No. 2-seeded team, took out the U.S. pair of Denise Mursean and Caitlin Whoriskey, 6-4, 6-2. The winning team split $2,786 ($1,393 each) while the finalists earned $1,393 total ($696.50 each). Mursean and Whoriskey were both three-time All-Americans from the University of Michigan and the University of Tennessee, respectively.

The Party Rock Open is Las Vegas’ only professional tennis tournament, and is named for LMFAO’s Redfoo and his Party Rock franchise’s title sponsorship.

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Mattek-Sands, Hantuchova and Davis Receive Main Draw Wild Cards into Cincinnati

D Hantuchova

CINCINNATI (August 6, 2013) — Four of the nine women’s wild card recipients for the 2013 Western & Southern Open have regional ties to Cincinnati and the surrounding area.

 

Two of the three main draw wild cards were born in the Midwest – Lauren Davis from Cleveland and Bethanie Mattek-Sands from Rochester, Minn. The third wild card went to Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova.

 

Qualifying wild cards were awarded to back-to-back NCAA singles champion and Cincinnati native Nicole Gibbs, as well as Pittsburgh’s Alison Riske. The remaining four qualifying wild cards went to New Jersey’s Christina McHale, Georgia’s Melanie Oudin and California’s Maria Sanchez along with Slovenian Polona Hercog.

 

“We take great pride that we have ticket buyers from all 50 states, and so much of that support comes from around the region because of the number of tennis fans who live within driving distance of the event,” said Tournament Director Vince Cicero. “We’re excited about this talented group of wild card recipients, and we hope that the Western & Southern Open can be a ‘home’ tournament for these players from this region.”

 

Davis, 19, who is from the Cleveland suburb of Gates Mills, won the 2008 Ohio High School Division II singles title while playing at Gilmour Academy. Early this season she reached her second WTA quarterfinal in Hobart.

 

Mattek-Sands will be making her fifth appearance at the Western & Southern Open. A semifinalist here in 2005, she also won the doubles title in 2007. In 2013, she has reached the final at Kuala Lumpur, the semifinals in Stuttgart and the fourth round at the French Open.

 

Hantuchova, who is playing Cincinnati for the sixth time, reached the 2005 semifinals here and was a quarterfinalist on two other occasions. She owns six career titles, including a win earlier this summer in Birmingham.

 

The six qualifying wild cards will begin play Saturday in a two-round tournament to earn one of 12 spots in the main draw.

 

Gibbs, 20, just completed her junior year at Stanford by winning her second straight NCAA singles title. In addition to her collegiate success this year, Gibbs has reached a pair of ITF event finals, winning the title in Yakima.

 

Riske, 23, reached the semifinals at the grass court event in Birmingham earlier this summer for the second time in her career. She has reached the semifinals or better in three ITF events this season.

 

McHale, 21, has had previous success in Cincinnati, reaching the main draw third round two of the last three years, including in 2011 when she defeated World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the second round.

 

Oudin, 21, reached the US Open quarterfinal in 2009, and in 2012, she won her first career WTA title. This year she has successfully qualified at WTA Premier events in Rome and Brussels.

 

Sanchez, 23, was an All-American at the University of Southern California. In 2013, she has reached the third round at the WTA event in Birmingham as well as two ITF quarterfinals.

 

Hercog, 22, owns two career WTA titles and this season has claimed two ITF tournament titles. She has been ranked as high as No. 35 in her career.

 

The draws for both the main draw and qualifying will be made on Friday. Qualifying begins Saturday, which is also AdvancePierre Foods Kids Day, and tickets start as low as $5. WTA main draw play begins Monday. All matches will take place at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio.

 

The Western & Southern Open hosted 176,000 fans in 2012, recording a record 10 sellouts over the 16 total sessions spanning nine days. The event drew fans from all 50 states and 19 countries. Cincinnati is one of the last stops on the Emirates Airline US Open Series leading up to the US Open, and often critical points and bonus money are on the line adding drama to the week.

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Oudin and Kudla Serve Up Tennis for Kids at Citi Open Kids Program

Oudin Kudla

Washington, D.C., July 17, 2013 – Citi, title sponsor of the 2013 Citi Open SM, hosted its first Citi Open Kids program in coordination with the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF) at the East Capitol Campus location. The event featured WTA player Melanie Oudin, American ATP player Denis Kudla, along with former professional tennis player and three-time Grand Slam mixed doubles champion, Zina Garrison. The tennis stars were joined by youth from the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF), a premier educational and tennis organization for underserved children in Washington, D.C.

 

Citi Open Kids is an educational and motivational community-based initiative for students located in the Washington, D.C. area developed by Citi in collaboration with the WTEF. Citi Open Kids reinforces Citi’s commitment to make a positive impact in the communities it serves and aims to provide cultural, social, athletic and economic enrichment for the members of the WTEF. As the tournament’s benefactor, the WTEF is instrumental in identifying ways to ensure the continual athletic and educational success of its members and Citi strives to aid to these efforts throughout the year.

 

Citi Open Kids will begin with a brief program promoting the importance of financial literacy and saving for the future. Both Oudin and Kudla will share their experiences, and offer advice on staying focused while pursuing both academic and athletic success. The Citi Open Kids program will conclude with a 45-minute tennis clinic for all program participants with Oudin, Kudla and Garrison.

 

“Citi is committed to making a difference in the communities in which we do business, and programs like Citi Open Kids provide a meaningful and unforgettable experience for children all over Washington D.C,” said Candi Wolff, head of Global Government Affairs for Citi and a board member of WTEF. “Similarly to our mission of supporting clients in their journeys from ambition to achievement, Citi is delighted to create programs that help empower and enable underserved D.C. students to achieve their highest potential.”

The Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF) was founded in 1955 as an organization designed to help disadvantaged youth through tennis. Since then, it has evolved into an organization that provides academic help to at-risk children, by helping them to apply the lessons learned on the tennis court in the classroom and beyond. Today, WTEF is a leader in the best practice of providing academic enrichment, supplemented by tennis and life skills instruction, as a means for developing the skills necessary to achieve academic and personal success.

 

“The Citi Open Kids program is a wonderful opportunity for the children involved with the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation to learn about the importance of financial education and hear from professional athletes the importance of perseverance, resilience, and optimism, both on and off the court.” said Eleni Rossides, Executive Director, Washington Tennis & Education Foundation. “Our kids are tomorrow’s leaders, and it is fantastic that Citi is investing in their futures as part of a solid commitment to the Washington, DC area.”

 

The Citi Open will be held July 27-August 4 at the William H.G. Fitzgerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C. It is one of only 11 elite ATP World Tour 500-level events worldwide and the only one held in the United States. The event is also part of the prestigious Emirates Airline US Open Series, the five-week summer tennis season that links nine North American hard-court tournaments to the final Grand Slam of the year, the US Open. In addition, the Citi Open features a WTA International Tournament which provides fans the opportunity to watch simultaneous competitions of both world-class men’s and women’s tennis throughout the nine-day event. The tournament features 48 men’s singles players and 16 doubles teams, 32 women’s singles players and 16 doubles teams, and offers nearly $2 million in player compensation.

 

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Americans in Paris – Day Two at Roland Garros

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Sloane Stephens

(May 27, 2013). Americans went 8-4 in Paris on the day 2 of the French Open. Here is a look at how they all fared:

First round: Sloane Stephens (17) (USA) def. Karin Knapp (ITA) 6-2, 7-5

In a bit of a slump since reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open and the recent coverage of her controversial comments during an ESPN magazine interview, Stephens said that she was positive about her win.

“Obviously really excited to be back here.  Had a great year last year, and this was one of my favorite tournaments.  So it’s good to be back and playing a lot better than a couple weeks ago.

Just excited to be back on the court and playing well again.

Stephens commented  on the media attention since her ESPN interview after aftermath off-court:

“Yeah, I mean, it’s been okay for me.  Obviously I haven’t had that many good results leading up to the clay season, so to get some match in on my favorite surface and get some confidence back and kind of just start feeling ball better.

“It wasn’t that my mind wasn’t on the court.  I just needed to find a balance, and obviously that’s tough.

“I’m only 20 years old, so I have a lot to learn and a long ways to go.  Just finding the right balance is what we’re doing.

“It’s been fine for me.  My really good friend came and my mom is here.  I’m just having a good time.  It’s been fun.

“I mean, obviously attention is attention.  It comes, it goes.  When you’re winning they love it; when you’re losing they love it.  It’s all the same really.”

 

First round: John Isner (19) (USA) def. Carlos Berlocq (ARG) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4

 

First round: Varvara Lepchenko (29)(USA) def. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) 6-1, 6-2

 

First round: Martin Klizan def. Michael Russell (USA) 3-6 6-3 6-1 Ret. Left hamstring injury

 

First round: Madison Keys (USA) def. Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-3, 6-2

At 18, Keys is the youngest of the American women in the main draw. She is No. 58 in the world.

 

First round: Jana Cepelova (SVK) def. Christina McHale (USA) 7-6(3) 2-6 6-4

McHale who was struck with glandular fever last year is ranked 53rd in the world.

 

First round: Albert Montanes(ESP)  def. Steve Johnson (USA) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1

The former NCAA champion Johnson extended the recent Nice Open titlist to five sets.

 

First round: Ryan Harrison (USA) def. Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4)

Harrison will play fellow American and Davis Cup teammate John Isner in the second round.

 

First round: Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) def. Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP) 6-4, 6-1

With 15 women in the main draw of the French Open at the beginning of the tournament, Mattek is proud of so many U. S. women moving up in the rankings. “It’s a great group of girls coming up. They’re talented. They’re all pretty fun to be around. They got good personalities.”

She commented that just a few years ago, people kept asking her about the state of U.S. women’s tennis.

 

First round: Vania King (USA) def. Alexandra Cadantu (ROU) 7-6(3), 6-1

King made it through to the main draw by going through the qualifying tournament.

 

First round: Michal Przysiezny (POL) def. (LL) Rhyne Williams (USA) 6-3, 6-7, 7-5, 7-5

Williams who came into the tournament as a lucky loser, lost to the same person who defeated him in the final round of the Qualifying tournament.

 

First round: Melanie Oudin (USA) def. Tamira Paszek (28) (AUT) 6-4, 6-3

Almost four years ago Oudin made it to the quarterfinals of the U. S. Open as 17-year-old. She spoke about pressure on her then as an American player.

“I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself after everything, “she said to media. “It’s a totally different story now. There’s so many Americans now coming up, and so many in the top 100. It is nice to not have it all on me….I mean, it really was all on me at that time. Like, besides the Williams sisters, everyone was like, `Oh, who’s going to be the next upcoming American?’ And it’s like, `OK, it’s going to be Melanie, because you got to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open.’ It was a lot. And I was young.”

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Jankovic Survives Oudin in Charleston

JelenaJankovicCharelston

By Stephanie Neppl

(April 2, 2013) CHARLESTON, SC – Former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic survived a tough three-set battle with American Melanie Oudin in the first round of the Family Circle Cup on Tuesday.

The Serbian had lost her two previous match ups with the American, and admitted Oudin’s style of play gives her issues.

After her 4-6, 7-5, 4-6 win, Jankovic said, “She has this game that I don’t really like and doesn’t really suit me, I always have trouble with her. I mean, it’s just her style of play is just difficult for me to play against.”

Coming off a semifinal result in Miami last week, Jankovic said she felt it was a good match despite it being her first clay match of the season. “I just came from Miami so I was playing a long tournament and took a lot out of me physically, mentally. I’m grateful that I was able to pull this out.”

The crowd was vocally behind Oudin, who has failed to find much success after her run to the 2009 US Open quarterfinals although she’s still only 21 years old. After taking the second set, Oudin fought back from 2-5 down in the third but Jankovic served it out on her second attempt to advance to the second round.

In her post-match news conference, Jankovic said she gained confidence from her run in Miami but struggled to move on the green clay. “I love playing on clay, but today I wasn’t happy with the way I was moving so I have got to improve.”

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Later on Tuesday, Jankovic joined Andrea Petkovic in ladies’ doubles, and a large crowd enjoyed the duo’s entertaining match against Lucie Safarova and Kristina Mladenovic. The Czech/French team won 6-4 6-2.

Jankovic, who won the Family Circle Cup in 2007, is in Charleston without a coach, something she says is suiting her well. “I’m here with my brother and a hitting partner, so I don’t have a coach. It’s great. My brother knows me better than anyone.”

The Serbian lost here in the first round last year to Venus Williams so each win will help her ranking, something Jankovic is focused on.

“I’m working hard every day just trying to get to another level and just overall become a better player,” she said. “My goal is to get back to the top rank where I was before.”

Next up for Jankovic is Caroline Garcia of France.

Stephanie Neppl is in Charleston covering the Family Circle Cup for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. She has worked as Social Media Manager for Tennis Auckland’s ATP and WTA tournaments. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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BNP Paribas Open Names Wildcards – Includes Nalbandian, Blake and Date-Krumm

(February 27, 2013) INDIAN WELLS, Calif., – Former top-five players David Nalbandian, Tommy Robredo, James Blake and Kimiko Date-Krumm; Americans Tim Smyczek, Steve Johnson, Madison Keys, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Maria Sanchez, Melanie Oudin and Taylor Townsend; and Shahar Peer and Kristina Mladenovic were granted wildcards into the main draws of the BNP Paribas Open, to be held March 4 – 17 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, it was announced today by Steve Simon, tournament director.

David Nalbandian has won 11 ATP World Tour titles since turning professional in 2000 and reached the 2002 Wimbledon finals in his first appearance at the event. The Argentine and former World No. 3 will be making his tenth appearance at the BNP Paribas Open. Last year in Indian Wells, Nalbandian equaled his best result, reaching the quarterfinals for the second time in his career.

Former World No. 5 Tommy Robredo is continuing his comeback to the ATP World Tour after an injury derailed much of his 2012 season. The Spaniard has won 10 career titles and has reached five Grand Slam quarterfinals. American James Blake, former World No. 4, also has 10 career titles and defeated then-World No. 2 Rafael Nadal to reach the 2006 BNP Paribas Open finals. Kimiko Date-Krumm turned pro in 1989 and is currently the oldest player in the top 100 at 43 years old. The former World No. 4 has eight career singles titles and four doubles titles, including one in 2013 at Pattaya City.

In addition to Blake, seven other Americans have been granted wildcards into the main draws including two-time NCAA Champion from USC Steve Johnson, who reached the third round of the 2012 US Open; Milwaukee native Tim Smyczek, who is at a career-high ranking just outside the top 100 and pushed World No. 4 David Ferrer to four sets at the 2013 Australian Open; 19-year-old breakout star Madison Keys, who has already defeated five top-50 players in 2013 and cracked the top 80 earlier this month; WTA veteran Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who won the 2012 Australian Open Mixed Doubles title; another USC standout – Maria Sanchez, who is at a career-high ranking after jumping 560 ranking places in 2012 – more than any other player in the WTA; Georgia native Melanie Oudin captured her first WTA title last year in Birmingham (UK); and 17-year-old Taylor Townsend, who turned professional in 2012 after reaching the top of the junior rankings earlier that year.

Two other international players receiving main draw wildcards are Israeli Shahar Peer, who was a BNP Paribas Open quarterfinalist in 2007 and 2011 and reached a career-high ranking of No. 11 and French teenager Kristina Mladenovic, who is at a career-high ranking after defeating three top-25 players to reach the Paris semifinals earlier this year.

“This year’s main draw wildcards span from seasoned veterans, to rising American and international stars to those returning from injury,” said Simon. “Awarding wildcards to players like David Nalbandian, James Blake, Madison Keys and Taylor Townsend add to the allure of early-round matches for fans and provide the potential for these deserving athletes to break through and make a move up their respective Tour’s rankings.

Qualifying wildcards were given to Americans Christian Harrison, Jack Sock, Rhyne Williams, Dennis Novikov, Grace Min, Jessica Pegula and Irina Falconi, German Andrea Petkovic and Croatian Ajla Tomljanovic.

Harrison, the 18-year-old younger brother of American No. 6 Ryan Harrison, reached the quarterfinals in doubles with his brother at the 2012 US Open and is making his debut to the BNP Paribas Open. Sock is at a career-high ranking after reaching his first ATP World Tour quarterfinal in Memphis earlier this month. Williams, a former University of Tennessee standout, is also at a career-high ranking after capturing the ATP Challenger tour title in Dallas. Novikov, who won the 2012 BNP Paribas Open pre-qualifying tournament, is now a sophomore playing at UCLA and won the 2012 USTA Boys Championships in Kalamazoo. Min won the 2011 US Open Junior Championship and three ITF titles in 2012. Pegula won two matches in the qualifying tournament to reach the 2012 BNP Paribas Open main draw. Falconi cracked the WTA top 100 in 2011 and has won 4 ITF singles titles.

Petkovic is a former World No. 9 and has reached the quarterfinals in every Grand Slam. She is returning to tennis after a series of injuries kept her from competing consistently for more than a year. Tomljanovic has three ITF singles and 3 ITF doubles titles.

In addition to the aforementioned qualifying wildcards, the winners of each pre-qualifying tournament, which takes place February 25 – March 2, will also be granted a berth into the 2013 BNP Paribas Open qualifying draw. Women’s qualifying starts March 4 and men’s qualifying begins March 5 at 10:00am.

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Italy Rallies Past US to Move into Fed Cup Semis

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Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci

(February 10, 2013) Italy came back from 1-2 down to defeat the United States in Fed Cup 3-2 on Sunday in the first round of the World Group in Rimini, Italy.

 

World No. 1 doubles team Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci sealed the win for Italy in the fifth rubber with a victory over Varvara Lepchenko and Liezel Huber 6-2, 6-2.

 

“Errani and Vinci are the weapon,” said Huber. They are like sisters. They are like best friends. They can almost see each other’s body language and predict something before it has happened. They have a different style than what we are used to and stick to their style. They are great singles players and don’t discount doubles. I enjoy watching them play, just not against me!”

 

The United States led 2-1 after Lepchenko beat world No, 7 Errani 7-5, 6-2 in the first of reverse singles on Sunday.

 

“In the first set, I had to get my body started,“ said Lepchenko. “I had a long match yesterday, so I was a bit up and down in the beginning. Once my body warmed up, I was playing better and better in the second set and got pumped and got going.”

 

Vinci rallied for Italy topping Jamie Hampton 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 to send the tie into a fifth rubber.

“I had a tough match yesterday, so I had to regroup and do my best for the team,” Hampton. ”First set, I made a lot of errors and started off like yesterday. I got back together in the second set and thought I had a hold of the match, but I made a lot of errors.”

 

 

Italy will next host defending champion Czech Republic in the Fed Cup semifinals, a rematch of last year’s semifinal. The other semifinal has Slovakia at Russia.

 

Next the United States will play in the World Group Playoff, April 20-21, to remain in contention for the Fed Cup World Group l in 2014 and to try and stave off relegation to World Group II next year. The United States’ opponent will be drawn on Wednesday, February 13, at 10 a.m. GMT at the ITF offices in London.

 

The U.S., who will be seeded will play one of the four winners of the World Group II First Round (Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, or Germany). The host site for Switzerland or Sweden will be determined by a coin toss on Wednesday. The U.S. would host Spain or Germany.

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Fed Cup Rookie Lepchenko Keeps Team USA’s Hopes Alive in Fed Cup

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(February 9, 2013) United States Fed Cup rookie world No. No. 21 Varvara Lepchenko kept US hopes alive against Italy by defeating.  No. 16 Roberta Vinci  2-6, 6-4, 7-5 in the second singles rubber on Saturday to even the first round tie at 1-1. The match, which lasted for two hours and 17 minutes marked the first time the two women had ever faced off against each other.

Italy’s Sara Errani ranked No. 7 defeated Jamie Hampton 6-2, 6-1 in the first rubber.

“Even though this was my first Fed Cup match, I wasn’t that nervous because I had the experience in the Olympics,” said Lepchenko. “I was very nervous there, so I didn’t want to let my emotions get to me here in Fed Cup. I thought of this as a first match in a tournament and I just needed to get into it. In the second set, I was in it.”

 

“I was really proud of the way Varvara approached the match and how disciplined she was,” said US Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez. “Even when she was down, she competed really well. In Fed Cup, things get complicated and there is always tension. It probably wasn’t easy for her playing for the first time in Fed Cup without a home crowd, but she did a great job blocking it out. She kept fighting and kept believing. Varvara has a great game and can play anyone. She can make anyone feel uncomfortable and she did that today. She played her heart out.”

 

 

“It has been amazing to be a part of a team this week,” Lepchenko added.” I have so much support from all of them. I feel like I can’t let them down. I played more for them today than for myself.”

 

Lepchenko led 5-1 in the third set, but the momentum shifted, and the third set was even at 5-5. Lepchenko then broke Vinci and held serve to win the final set, 7-5 on her third try serving for the match. This was Lepchenko’s best career win since beating then-world No. 13 Dominika Cibulkova in the second round of the WTA event in Montreal last year. This was also her best win on clay since upsetting then-world No. 12 Francesca Schiavone en route to the fourth round of the 2012 French Open.

 

 

“I am really proud of the way I handled myself today,” Lepchenko said. “I have had many people cheering against me in many tournaments throughout the year, so this time, I was happy to see my team cheering for me. They really helped me.”

 

The US is 1-1 against Italy going into day 2 play on Sunday. Since the Fed Cup World Group format was instituted in 1995, the U.S. is 8-4 when tied 1-1 with the opposing country. The U.S. is 8-10 when playing on the road and 4-13 when losing the first singles rubber.

Sunday’s schedule – in the first singles match of the day, Varvara Lepchenko and Sara Errani, the No. 1 players from each team, will square off in the third singles rubber followed by Jamie Hampton versus Roberta Vinci. The doubles rubber will close the tie it will feature Melanie Oudin and Liezel Huber for the US against Karin Knapp and Fed Cup rookie Nastassja Burnett for Italy.

 

“We are still in this tie and it is fantastic,“ said Fernandez. “I told the girls that the goal was to win any three matches any which way. We have one, so we are looking for two tomorrow. Varvara will play Sara, who won today, so that will be very tough. Sara has great clay-court variety and is a strong Top 10 player. Jamie will go out there against Vinci and give it her all. I’m excited.”

 

Tennis Channel will provide television coverage of the second day of play beginning at 7:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.

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US Fed Cup Team Takes on Italy This Weekend in Rimini

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(February 8, 2013) The United States will take on Italy in the Fed Cup World Group First Round this weekend. Play begins Saturday at 3:00 p.m. local time on an indoor clay court at the 105 Stadium in Rimini, Italy.

The US team goes into the tie with the pressure of being huge underdogs. “There is always pressure,” said said US Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez. “This comes with the sport and team competition, you aren’t just out there for yourself. The Italians are the favorites and they have a wonderful record, but we have been in this situation many times before. All of the players have different styles on both teams and we have to make the adjustments as they come.

“I am expecting to do well. If we win, it won’t be a surprise. We are going in with a very positive attitude and will take each match as it comes and fight our hearts out to do our best. We know the capabilities of both sides and this will bring out the best in both teams. It will be an interesting tie.”

 

World No. 64 Jamie Hampton, who will be making her live Fed Cup singles debut will open the tie against world No. 7 Sara Errani. Hampton and Errani have met once on the WTA Tour—in the first round of the US Open Series event in Cincinnati in 2010, where Errani won the meeting 6-4, 6-2. Hampton enters Fed Cup with an appearance in the third round of the 2013 Australian Open and a semifinal showing at the WTA event in Auckland, New Zealand, the week prior. Errani will be playing in her eleventh Fed Cup singles match (6-4 record), but just her fifth live singles rubber. She is 1-3 in live singles rubbers.

 

“I am excited to make my Fed Cup debut in a live singles match,” said Hampton. “Errani is a great clay court player and is having a lot of success. The match will start off level, so I’ll go out there and give it my all. It should be a good start.”

 

“Errani, as we all know, plays the best on clay and moves very well,“ said US Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez. “Through the years, the Americans have really developed on clay and like playing on clay. Everyone on my team has enjoyed practicing on it this week. They have had good results on it, as well. Unlike ten years ago, where everyone was very apprehensive about clay, we are looking forward to it and we like the challenge.”

 

The second singles rubber will see world No. 21 Varvara Lepchenko face off against world No. 16 Roberta Vinci. Like Hampton, Lepchenko will also be making her Fed Cup debut. Lepchenko reached the fourth round of the French Open last year, her career-best Grand Slam singles result, and reached the doubles semifinals at the 2013 Australian Open. Lepchenko has been living in the U.S. since 2001 after receiving political asylum. She officially changed her nationality in 2007 to play for the U.S and became an official U.S. citizen in September 2011. Vinci holds a 1-3 record in Fed Cup singles matches and has never won a live singles match (0-3 record). Vinci is also a doubles specialist and currently ranked No. 1 in doubles after winning the 2013 Australian Open doubles title with Errani, who is currently ranked No. 2 in doubles. Lepchenko and Vinci have never faced each other on the WTA Tour.

In this tie, the United States makes its return to the World Group after starting its 2012 Fed Cup campaign in World Group II for the first time ever. The match will mark the 12th matchup between the U.S. and Italy in Fed Cup competition. The two countries last met in the 2010 Fed Cup final in San Diego and also faced each other in the 2009 final in Reggio Calabria, Italy, both won by the Italians. The U.S., however, leads the overall series, 9-2. The U.S. last won against Italy in the 2003 World Group quarterfinal in Washington D.C. The winner of this tie will advance to the semifinals, held April 20-21.

 

This will be the fifth year as U.S. captain for Mary Joe Fernandez. Fernandez led the U.S. to consecutive Fed Cup finals appearances in her first two years as captain (2009 and 2010), where the team faced Italy both times. She was the first U.S. captain to accomplish that feat since Marty Riessen in 1986-87. Fernandez holds a 6-4 record as U.S. Fed Cup captain.

The order of play for the weekend:

DAY/LOCAL TIME MATCH PAIRING

Saturday, 3:00 p.m. Singles A: Jamie Hampton (USA) vs. Sara Errani (ITA)

Singles B: Varvara Lepchenko (USA) vs. Roberta Vinci (ITA)

Sunday, 1:30 p.m. Singles C: Varvara Lepchenko (USA) vs. Sara Errani (ITA)

Singles D: Jamie Hampton (USA) vs. Roberta Vinci (ITA)

Doubles: Liezel Huber/Melanie Oudin (USA) vs. Karin Knapp/ Nastassja Burnett (ITA)

Television viewers in the United States will be able to watch the tie live on Tennis Channel beginning at 9:00 a.m. ET on Saturday and 7:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.

 

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