May 27, 2017

Simona Halep Heads for New York on a Roll

By Jack Cunniff

(August 24, 2013) NEW HAVEN – For Simona Halep, it all came together in Rome. Ranked 64th at the time, she defeated three players ranked in the Top Twenty en route to the semifinals, where she lost to Serena Williams.  Her strong form continued with tournament victories in Nurnberg, s’Hertogenbosch, and Budapest. And on the eve of the U.S. Open, she has now won her fourth title of 2013, and largest of her career, taking the New Haven Open title over Petra Kvitova.

It is Halep’s first Premier title on the WTA Tour, and it will vault her into the world’s Top Twenty; she is expected to be No. 19 on Monday.  How will she feel as one of the top women’s players?  Based on an 11-4 record vs. the Top Twenty since Rome, she certainly belongs.

Four thousand fans arrived at Yale today to watch the New Haven Open final, probably expecting   the defending champion, Kvitova, to repeat. The 23-year-old is a former Wimbledon champion, a former world No. 2, and the third seed. But as the players warmed up, emcee Wayne Bryan listed the recent achievements of the unseeded Halep; she was deserving of her spot in the final.

In the first few games, Kvitova began the way she finished her semifinal match, when she crushed Klara Zakopalova 6-0, 6-1. She held serve easily, and had a 15-40 advantage in each of Halep’s first two service games. Halep successfully fought her way through her service games, then broke Kvitova’s service for a 3-2 lead. That lead to a flurry of unforced errors from Kvitova that continued for the remainder of the match.  The 21-year-old from Romania went on a streak of nine straight games, to lead 6-2, 4-0.  While Kvitova managed to salvage her final two service games, Halep sealed the title with an ace, 6-2, 6-2.

Halep becomes only the second unseeded player to win the title in New Haven; her semifinal victim, Caroline Wozniacki, was the first in 2008. She becomes the tenth different player to capture the title in New Haven since the event has been played at Yale University in 1998. Seven of the previous nine champions also have Grand Sam Singles titles on their résumé.

In Doubles action, Sania Mirza and Zheng Jie took the title in straight sets over Anabel Medina Garrigues and Katarina Srebotnik, 6-3, 6-4.  Mirza and Zheng were playing in their third hard court event this summer as a duo, and had struggled in their earlier events. Those struggles continued in the first two rounds in New Haven, as the pair had to battle through 10-8 third set scores in both of those matches to stay alive. But they’ve started to gel as a team, and won in straight sets in the semifinals and final to take the trophy. As Mirza noted afterwards, “I think that you got to win, so to say, a couple ugly matches.” They played their best today against the veteran duo of Srebotnik and Medina Garrigues, who are playing together for the first time in eight years.


Reversal of Fortune in New Haven

Wozniacki frustrated

By Jack Cunniff

(August 23, 2013) Yesterday,  Caroline Wozniacki was asked about her high quality play in the quarterfinals of the New Haven Open against Sloane Stephens. “You never know,” she replied, “Every match is different.  Sometimes you feel really great out there.  Sometimes it’s a struggle, but you need to find a way to win.  Sometimes it’s a little up and down.”  Sure enough, today’s semifinal action at Yale proved to be a complete reversal from the form the competitors displayed in their quarterfinals.
Defending champion Petra Kvitova entered the semifinals today having been extended to three sets in each of her last six matches, including all three matches she played in New Haven.  In fact, 12 of her last 15 matches, dating back to the Eastbourne event in June, have gone the distance.  Kvitova had played a WTA Tour-leading 30 three set  matches.  But today she cruised through her semifinal against Klara Zakopalova.  Kvitova was a model of efficiency against her friend and Czech countrywoman Zakopalova.  Despite serving three double faults in the match, Kvitova’s serve was a huge weapon; she won 23 of 26 first serve points, and never faced a break point in the match.  The crowd cheered enthusiastically for Zakopalova when she finally held serve in the twelfth game, but the end result was no longer in doubt, and Kvitova advanced 6-0, 6-1.
The evening match saw 4-time New Haven champion Caroline Wozniacki square off against Simona Halep, the 21-year-old Romanian who has won three events over the summer.  Wozniacki, so sharp in the quarterfinals against Stephens, could not recapture that form today.  She made too many errors and seemed easily flustered in the first set.  Halep, with the experience she’s gained this year, took advantage.  After Wozniacki lost the opening set 6-2, she tried to change tactics. She hit a higher ball with little pace, and mixed in some drop shots. The strategy partially worked, as it forced Halep into more errors, but Halep still had full control of the match. She broke Wozniacki at 5-5 in the second set, and held her nerve to serve out the match, 6-2, 7-5.
Halep will face Kvitova for the first time in her career in tomorrow’s Championship match.
Around the Grounds… Kvitova is hoping to defend a title successfully for the first time tomorrow. “I have one more new motivation then,” she said when reminded she’s never defended a title…. Wozniacki was asked about Halep’s sudden improvement, and spoke of how quickly intangibles like confidence can turn around someone’s game. “You know, the thing is, it can switch so quickly.  It can be one match that changes completely.  All of a sudden you feel like you’re playing great, you’re on a roll. Yeah, it’s so little, and it can do so much to your game.”… Defending doubles champion Liezel Huber and partner Nuria Llagostera Vives were eliminated in the Doubles semifinals by Anabel Medina Garrigues and Katarina Srebotnik.  Huber won the 2012 New Haven Open title with Lisa Raymond; Huber/Llagostera Vives had elimanted Raymond and current partner Flavia Pennetta in the opening round. Medina Garrigues and Srebotnik, the second seeds, take on The No. 3 seeds Sania Mirza and Jie Zheng in Sunday’s championship match.
Jack Cunniff is covering the New Haven Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.
New Haven, CT, USA
August 18-24, 2013

Results – Friday, August 23, 2013
Singles – Semifinals
(3) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Klara Zakopalova (CZE) 60 61
Simona Halep (ROU) d. (4) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 62 75

Doubles – Semifinals
(2) Medina Garrigues/Srebotnik (ESP/SLO) d. (4) Huber/Llagostera Vives (USA/ESP) 46 75 101 (Match TB)

Order Of Play – Saturday, August 24, 2013
Stadium (from 12.25hrs)
1. Doubles Final: Mirza/Zheng vs. Medina Garrigues/Srebotnik
2. Singles Final: Simona Halep vs. Petra Kvitova (NB 15.00hrs)


Dear Guillermo Vilas, My Father Thanks You and I Thank You


By Karen Pestaina

(AUGUST 23, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – It is rare that I write anything personal on this website. I’ve been working in media since I was in High School and as primarily a broadcast journalist, being objective in reporting is my job. I’ve worked in places from ballparks to war zones so I take being media very seriously. I see my role of that of a journalist as that of a public servant in which I report facts and not opinion. I always tell people to read as much as they can from all types of sources to form their own truths. As they say – don’t believe everything you read.

This is one day I can’t be objective. Last Saturday, I was about to make my way out the door to cover the New Haven Open. About two blocks later, my mother called me to tell me that my father had died twenty minutes earlier. My father had been ill for a long time, almost two years, I’d been expecting it. But even though I expected that the day when the horrible news would come, I was still in shock when it actually happened.

I’ve been a tennis fan all of my life and the love of the sport was instilled in me by my father – a physician who would never play golf, but tennis on Wednesdays. My father hated golf and turned on golf if he wanted to take a nap. I must confess, I have done the same thing. My love for tennis came in earnest when as a child my father took me to the Men’s Finals of the 1977 US Open which was the last one played at Forest Hills. It was my first live tennis match.

Argentina’s Guillermo Vilas upset American Jimmy Connors in four sets. The one thing I remember from that match was Vilas being picked up and carried around by fans on the court as though he were some sort of hero. I remember thinking, if this happens at the end of every match this is some exciting sport. I did not know what the significance of this match was, I just know that it was exciting to watch. Needless to say that after this match I became a huge tennis fan. My father was a huge Vilas fan before this, not so much about his tennis or his work ethic but about his personality. How many players today write books of poetry as he did.

Let me tell you about my father, all of his life he was a loyal subject of the British Empire, despite becoming a citizen of the United States a few years after I was born. I was the first American in my family. He always said to others that he spoke “the King’s English” and not the Queen’s because when he was born a King was on the throne. My father kept his British accent until the day he died despite having lived in the US for 50 years.

Being the American Brit as he was, he rarely showed any emotion. The only time I ever saw him come close to crying was when my oldest brother died as a teenager. He ruled our household like a monarchy, sometimes like a benevolent dictator, but he was always up for a debate on any subject in the book. He had an IQ higher than Marion Bartoli, but he rarely ever spoke about it. It was not his way to brag or boast – about anything. He was a firm believer in Judeo-Christian values which meant being humble.

Having grown up in a British territory my father loved three sports – Cricket, football (soccer) and tennis. He came to love baseball, basketball and football when he emigrated to the US but that never altered his love for the big three – Cricket, football and tennis.

After my first visit to the US Open, it became a family ritual to attend the US Open every year. We always would attend the first few days of the tournament in order to see all of the players. Back then in the late 70’s and early 80’s not as many people attended the early rounds, so more times than not, we would sit in the sponsor’s seats to watch some of the matches. In those days those seats were left unfilled in the early rounds of the tournament.

In those days my father would take myself, my second brother and a sister to the matches, and one thing we were forced to do was to watch at least one match which featured a British player. I remember one time that a match with a British player was taking place at the same time as a Bjorn Borg match! My sister, who was a huge Borg fan was furious, but there was nothing she could do, we all had to be together as a family – end of discussion.

One year when one of my Aunts came to visit for the US Open, we went up to the ticket booth to buy “day of” tickets. A British player that made it into the main draw (I don’t remember the name of the player) heard my Aunt speaking in her British accent and asked us if we would like his extra tickets. Of course she took them and we sat in what was the equivalent of the player friend’s box then and cheered him on, sadly he lost that day.

My father and his family were seriously tennis fanatics – I was too young to remember this but my mother told me when Arthur Ashe took out Jimmy Connors to win the Wimbledon title, my father was on the phone with one of my uncles in London for the entire match! A two-hour plus phone call from New York to London must have cost a fortune. So why did my father do this? Wimbledon was not shown live in 1975 in the US back then. He wanted to witness history in “real time,” even though it meant “watching it” with one of his brothers through the telephone.

My father often discussed his favorite players in tennis history. Above all for him was Rod Laver. My father said that if someone else can win two real grand slams, then they’ll be my favorite player. His second favorite male player or as he would have said, his favorite player of the “modern age,” was Pete Sampras. My father loved the serve and volleyers. In fact although he enjoyed watching Roger Federer play, he felt that the Swiss should come into net more. He also would speak so enthusiastically about Pancho Gonzalez, how when he played it was though he was “fighting to save his life.”

As for the women, my father admired Althea Gibson for her spirit and drive in a world which did not want to accept a black woman playing tennis. He also enjoyed watching Billie Jean King and Chris Evert and had a crush on Evonne Goolagong. Serena Williams may have the most major championships in her family, but Venus won my father’s heart. My Dad used to tell me that she reminded him of Althea Gibson and wished that Venus would come to net as much as Gibson did.

As Wimbledon has many traditions, we had a Wimbledon tradition in our household. Our family would all sit and watch the men’s final on TV. When I was little, the men’s final took place on a Saturday. Due to the power of television contracts over the years, the final was switched to Sunday. With the Sunday men’s finals this would mean that we would have to miss church – and we would never miss church. ONLY for the Wimbledon men’s final would we ever miss church on Sunday.

As we were blessed to have a major in our backyard, the US Open, it meant no family events could be planned during those two weekends within the tournament. Our family friends and extended family knew that none of us would be attending barbeques or parties if it was scheduled during the US Open.

As much as my father loved the game, he did not want it to become anyone’s profession – especially his children’s. At one point I was a decent player as a child and played a few tournaments, not that I wanted to become a pro someday. This was not what my dad wanted. He had higher aspirations for his children and that was the end of my days of competition as a junior. I forgave my father about this years later when I came to understand why he was that way.

Since the late 70’s with the exception of one year when I was beginning graduate school, I’ve attended the US Open. Needless to say I’ve kept up with news of Guillermo Vilas through the years and had the chance to actually meet him and speak with him about 10 years ago at the US Open. When I told my father about it, he was absolutely thrilled.

Although he is old enough to be my father, I’ve had a crush on him ever since I saw him win the US Open. Just ask my husband – it must drive him crazy when I talk about the man who should have been No. 1 in 1977, but he never lets on.

Today when I think of Vilas I think about my  happy childhood and my father teaching me to love the game of tennis. Indirectly I have Vilas to thank for my love of this sport.

I have taught that love of tennis that my father taught me to both my husband and my son and they both are as almost obsessed with the sport as I am. Now my husband and I fight over which one of us will attend the next Davis Cup tie as our son begs us to take him with us.

I guess it is fitting that my father should pass on during the week before the US Open as it was “our time” of year.

As my father had Alzheimer’s for almost the past two years, he “missed” Andy Murray win the Olympic Gold medal for singles, the US Open and more importantly Wimbledon. Despite now being an American, my father, a former British subject who never lost his “Britishness,” would have been so proud of him.

During my father’s wake, I spent hours talking to tennis-obsessed relatives about today’s game. My uncles are also major Venus Williams fans and don’t want to see her retire. Despite my dad’s body in full view being there in his coffin right in front of the room of the funeral home, I held back my emotions like the daughter of a good citizen of the British Empire – stiff upper lip and all that.

During the funeral on Friday, I began to give my testimonial about my dad. My dad was so proud of being able to live his dream of becoming a doctor that I had to speak about his pure love and joy of his profession. He knew he wanted to be a doctor since he was eight years old. It was then that my tears finally flowed for my father. He taught me and my siblings to stand on our own, to fight for what we want in this world, and the importance of social responsibility, regardless of our professions.

How fitting that after the funeral on Friday, my father was buried in a cemetery less than a mile from where I learned to play tennis.

Incidentally, the day that my father died last weekend was Guillermo Vilas’ birthday. My tweet wishing Vilas a happy birthday on the Tennis Panorama News’ twitter account came at the exact time my father was declared dead at 5:37 a.m. Eastern Time.


A tennis journalist friend relayed this to me after he heard about my dad’s passing on Vilas’ birthday: “….truly one of those coincidences that leads us to contemplate providence.”

As I prepare to cover the US Open as media next week, I do so with a heavy heart, but I never would have been here in the first place if it were not for love of the game my Dad taught me and of course Guillermo Vilas.


(I want to personally thank those who ran the site, the twitter and covered tournaments and events for me in my absence, while I had to deal with my father’s passing – Josh Meiseles, Vito Ellison, Jack Cunniff and especially Junior Williams.)


Quarterfinal Action – and Hurricanes, Fires, Cats and Dogs in New Haven

Caroline Wozniacki

By Jack Cunniff

(August 22, 2013) NEW HAVEN – The previous two New Haven Open champions, Caroline Wozniacki (2008-2011) and Petra Kvitova (2012) continued on course for a potential final round clash, each earning quarterfinal victories today.  But the similarities ended there. Kvitova once again battled through a three set match, her third here at New Haven, and sixth consecutive overall.  In contrast, Wozniacki looked sharp in dispatching a very dangerous Sloane Stephens in straight sets. Kvitova, the third seed here, had a scratchy start against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. She served two double faults in her opening game, and managed to hold serve only once in the opening set. Her Russian opponent didn’t help the situation; Pavlyuchenkova played extremely well, striking 10 winners against only 4 unforced errors to take the opening set 6-2. Kvitova began to find her range in the second set, and waited out a rain delay to take the second set by the same 6-2 score. Kvitova suffered another bad patch early in the third set, dropping nine points in a row during one stretch. But she steadied herself, and capitalized on two Pavlyuchenkova double faults to break serve in the final game and take the match, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5. Wozniacki fell behind early as well, but that was due to the fine play of Stephens during the evening match. As the number four seed said after the match, “Sloane just, bam, hammered winners right and left.” Stephens served for the opening set at 5-4, but Wozniacki stayed aggressive. She mixed her solid baseline play with several forays to net to break back and capture the opening set in a tiebreak, 8-6. The second set featured a very focused Wozniacki vs. an increasingly frustrated Stephens, who managed only seven points in the Dane’s four service games. Wozniacki advances to the semifinals, 7-6(6), 6-2.

Around the Grounds: Kvitova and Wozniacki have more work to do before potentially facing off in Saturday’s final. Their semifinal opponents will be Klara Zakopalova and Simona Halep, respectively. Zakopalova came from behind in her quarterfinal vs. 2009 New Haven finalist Elena Vesnina 4-6, 6-0, 6-4; while Halep eliminated Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets, 6-1 7-6(6). Both winners will be playing in their first New Haven Open semifinal… A fire alarm went off yesterday as a result of someone cooking food in the player’s lounge, which made for an eventful afternoon. “We were actually laughing because the outside was raining cats and dogs, and then was fire alarm,” Kvitova remarked, “I wasn’t cooking, so that’s good.”… Wozniacki, asked to look back over her years in New Haven: “Thank you for making me feel old.  I’m really not.” She reflected on the variety of matches she’s had to play at Yale. “I’ve played a lot of good matches, a lot of tough matches.  I’ve had rain delays.  I’ve played indoors [2009 semifinals], outdoors in the heat, night sessions.  I’ve played with some wind, with a hurricane coming in [2011 final]. You know, I played with a bit of everything.”

Qualified Success in New Haven

garcia 08.17.2013

Caroline Garcia

By Jack Cunniff

(August 17, 2013) NEW HAVEN – The Women’s Singles Qualifying draw of the New Haven Open is always an interesting mix.  The strength of the Women’s Singles draw translates to several Top 50 players placed in qualifying to earn their way to the main draw.  And there are some more obscure players, ranked outside of the WTA Top 200.  But because qualifying for the U.S. Open is held the same week as New Haven, the bulk of players ranked between 100 and 200 are missing from action.

(Of course, an enterprising player could always attempt to play both U.S. Open qualifying and a tour event, as John Ross did in 1987. Ross, an American, alternated between the U.S. Open qualifying at The National Tennis Center, and the ATP stop in Rye, NY.  He was successful, too, defeating Thomas Muster and Jaime Yzaga en route to the finals at Rye, and qualifying for the U.S. Open.)

Most of the qualifying draw is comprised of players ranked in the 40-100 range, which means that qualifiers often find success in the New Haven main draw.  In 2011, Petra Cetkovska was ranked No. 40, successfully played her way to the main draw, then defeated three of the top five seeds (Agnieszka Radwanska, Marion Bartoli, and Li Na) en route to the finals.  Cetkovska wasn’t the first qualifier in recent memory to reach the finals; in 2007, Agnes Szavay qualified then reached the final as well.

So which 2013 qualifier might be destined for success?

The list of candidates featured a former Wimbledon semifinalist (Tsvetana Pironkova, 2010), a former U.S. Open semifinalist (Yanina Wickmayer, 2009), and a former top-ten player who reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals on three occasions (Flavia Pennetta, 2008-09, 2011).  But two of those players were ushered out in the second round of qualifying.

Pennetta, the 31-year-old Italian veteran still on the comeback trail from wrist surgery a year ago, was facing a player more than a decade younger, 19-year-old Annika Beck.  Pennetta showed her old form in taking the first set, but midway through the second set she called the trainer for a lower back injury.  Once Beck closed out the second set, Pennetta was forced to retire the match.

Pironkova is better known for her grass court success, but showed solid hard court play early in the match against her teenage opponent, Caroline Garcia from France.  But Pironkova could only convert one of twenty break points in the first two sets.  Strong serving from Garcia in the third set troubled Pironkova, and Garcia prevailed, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3.

Wickmayer had more success today, battling from a set down to eliminate Olga Puchkova.  Other players in the qualifying draw who hope to make an impression in the main draw of New Haven include Monica Puig, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last month; Elina Svitolina, an 18-year-old Ukranian who has won her last two events; Yaroslava Shvedova, the former Top Thirty player and Grand Slam Doubles champion best known for winning a “Golden Set” at 2012 Wimbledon; and Alison Riske, an American whose ranking has jumped from No. 171 in June to her current rank of No.98.

Jack Cunniff is covering the New Haven Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.

$ 690,000.00
AUGUST 16 – AUGUST 24, 2013


Qualifying Singles – Second Round

Qualifying – E Svitolina (UKR) d J Cepelova (SVK) 63 63
Qualifying – A Beck (GER) d F Pennetta (ITA) 36 62 00 Retired
Qualifying – S Voegele (SUI) d A Cadantu (ROU) 62 60
Qualifying – M Puig (PUR) d S Arvidsson (SWE) 62 52 Retired
Qualifying – A Morita (JPN) d A Medina Garrigues (ESP) 63 62
Qualifying – Y Wickmayer (BEL) d O Puchkova (RUS) 36 61 63
Qualifying – K Knapp (ITA) d [WC] A Mueller (USA) 36 76(0) 62
Qualifying – C Garcia (FRA) d T Pironkova (BUL) 67(5) 76(2) 63
Qualifying – A Riske (USA) d I Begu (ROU) 26 76(2) 62
Qualifying – M Duque-Marino (COL) d A Hlavackova (CZE) 75 75
Qualifying – A Schmiedlova (SVK) d S Zhang (CHN) 64 63
Qualifying – Y Shvedova (KAZ) d Y Duan (CHN) 76(6) 64

Championship – Quarterfinals

[1] J Dadamo (USA) d D Gooch (RSA) 62 64
M Pecotic (CRO) d [3] P Daciek (USA) 63 62
[4] C Boyce (USA) d E Orkin (USA) 63 62
T Larson (USA) d A Ball (USA) 62 63

Championship – Quarterfinals

[1] M Hibi (JPN) d M Okruashvili (GEO) 62 61
[2] N Melichar (USA) d K Mckenna (USA) 64 63
L Graff (USA) d [3] N Kukharchuk (RUS) 67(3) 64 61
[4] P Porter (USA) d M Kelley (USA) 62 64

STADIUM start 11:00 am
Qualifying – A Beck (GER) vs K Knapp (ITA) – WTA
Qualifying – M Puig (PUR) vs C Garcia (FRA) – WTA

Not Before 2:00 PM
[7] S Lisicki (GER) vs K Mladenovic (FRA) – WTA
N Grandin (RSA) / D Jurak (CRO) vs [2] A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / K Srebotnik (SLO) – WTA

GRANDSTAND start 12:30 pm
Qualifying – M Duque-Marino (COL) vs A Morita (JPN) – WTA
Qualifying – A Riske (USA) vs Y Wickmayer (BEL) – WTA
S Aoyama (JPN) / A Klepac (SLO) vs I Begu (ROU) / O Govortsova (BLR) – WTA

COURT 1 start 11:00 am
Qualifying – E Svitolina (UKR) vs A Schmiedlova (SVK) – WTA
Qualifying – S Voegele (SUI) vs Y Shvedova (KAZ) – WTA

Not Before 2:00 PM
H Chan (TPE) / J Husarova (SVK) vs L Hradecka (CZE) / K Zakopalova (CZE) – WTA

COURT 3 start 12:00 noon
L Graff (USA) vs [2] N Melichar (USA) – USONP
[4] C Boyce (USA) vs M Pecotic (CRO) – USONP
[1] M Hibi (JPN) vs [4] P Porter (USA) – USONP
[1] J Dadamo (USA) vs T Larson (USA) – USONP


Melanie Oudin – Looking backward, yet looking forward

NEW HAVEN – Almost three years have passed since her surprise surge to the quarterfinals in the 2009 US Open, but Melanie Oudin is still looking onward and upward despite her inconsistency on the court since that magical run in Flushing Meadow which saw her knock out Elena Dementieva and Maria Sharapova along the way. Oudin’s ranking plummeted to No. 370 back in April – a far cry from her career high ranking of 31 achieved back in late April of 2010, but she’s made strides since then to move back up to 106 in the world this week, thanks to capturing her first career WTA title in Birmingham back in June. She’s also moved her training base to the United States Tennis Association’s training center at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow.
I asked the Marietta, Georgia native on Saturday, ‘What would 2012 Melanie Oudin tell 2009 Melanie Oudin after all that has happened?’
She replied:  “I would probably tell myself that I cannot believe everything that I’ve been through in the past three years and I’m only twenty years-old. I’ve already been through the highs and the lows of a tennis career, in about a three-year period.
“So that’s probably the craziest thing ever but really I think that.. there were always things that helped about that run in ’09 and there are things that didn’t help me in the run 09. I’ve never regretted it though. Of course not.
“Everyone says that it’s the best I’ve ever played, but I really, really think that I can still play better tennis than I played in ’09 and I have a feeling that I am going to be a better player through everything. You know, I’m getting smarter. As I get a little bit older I think that it’s just not quite here yet. I feel that it’s just going to take a little bit more time for me. But I do think I’m going to be a better player even when I did well in ’09.”
Oudin is looking forward to the upcoming US Open where she and Jack Sock are defending Mixed Doubles champions.
“We are going to play again,” said an excited Oudin. She said that people seemed to be surprised that she and Sock are playing together again. “We are undefeated- I mean our first time playing we win the tournament! So we are definitely looking to defend the title. It should be really, really fun.”
Oudin will participate in all three events at the US Open- singles, doubles and mixed doubles. “I’m looking forward to going deeper in singles and in Women’s Doubles as well,” Oudin said gleefully.
“Last year all I had to focus on were the Mixed Doubles, but this year I’m hoping to do well in all three events.”
Oudin reached the main draw of the New Haven Open as a “Lucky Loser” and lost in the first round on Monday to Sofia Arvidsson. Oudin will play in the US Open beginning next week.
Karen Pestaina is the editor and founder of Tennis Panorama News.

Nicole Gibbs on Proposed NCAA changes “I think it would be a huge problem for college tennis”

Nicole Gibbs photo courtesy of the WTA and Getty Images

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut – Reigning NCAA singles and doubles champion, Stanford’s Nicole Gibbs advanced to the finals of qualifying at the New Haven Open on Saturday with a 6-3, 6–3 win over Lourdes Dominguez Lino.

Gibbs is upset about the NCAA’s recent proposals for Division I college tennis which include 10-point tiebreaks to be played in place of a third set, doubles matches shortened to a six game set, no warm ups with opponents before singles matches, breaks between doubles matches being reduced from 10 minutes to five minutes and changeover breaks being shrunk from 90 seconds to 60 seconds.

“I’m incredibly disappointed to hear that that’s even it is a proposal to be honest,” Gibbs told Tennis Panorama News and the Hartford Courant,  “and I’m kind of praying along with the rest of my fellow college tennis players that that  doesn’t come to pass.

“I think we have a lot of support going up against that proposal and I know, I’ve signed the petition and a lot of other players have signed a petition online to you know end the proposed changes…and  you know everyone from players to coaches are really involved and very serious about making sure those things don’t happen because I think it would be a huge problem for college tennis.”

Gibbs first learned about the proposed changes from a tweet from Junior and College tennis journalist Colette Lewis of ZooTennis.

This is all with the intent to shorten the matches, allegedly increase viewership which I really don’t see happening given that tennis is a very niche sport,” Gibbs added.

“ The people that come to our matches are people who are going to be there regardless of what the format is. Perhaps we could get a few more fans based on a shorter match link but I think more importantly we’re going to lose a huge fan base, a huge support base for college tennis because it won’t be legitimate grounds for development anymore.

Asked if more college players will turn pro if the proposals take place, Gibbs said: “Absolutely! I mean If I had been looking to four-years of 10-point tiebreaks in the third set, I don’t think I would have gone to college in the first place.”

“There are a lot of players really on the bubble about whether to go college to use those years to develop or to go straight on the tour because there’s an argument that college isn’t a good enough development program as is. And this is especially frustrating for players like me and specifically Mallory Burdette my teammate who have been out here on the tour all summer trying to prove to people that you know, this is a legitimate grounds for development and encouraging people to get their education so they have you know, something to fall back on after their tennis careers. We think that’s really important and that what’s we’re representing and I think the NCAA proposal would be a huge set back to that.”

Gibbs, broken when serving for the match admitted to be nervous in closing the match. “I definitely got a little tight at the end there, started thinking about the broader scope of what it means to beat a top-100 player,” Gibbs said. “She played tough points and made me earn it, so credit to her on that front, but I was very tight.

Gibbs goes for a spot in the main draw on Sunday when she takes on Garbiñe Muguruza.

Karen Pestaina is covering the New Haven Open this weekend for Tennis Panorama News. follow her updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

Nicole Gibbs talks about NCAA proposed changes at  New Haven Open – 08182012

At the 3:50 mark to the 6:30 mark, Gibbs discusses the NCAA.


New Haven Open Approach Shots with Great Britain’s Heather Watson

Heather Watson

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut – Saturday was an off-day for Great Britain’s Heather Watson. Watson fell in the qualifying of the New Haven Open to Czech Republic’s Petra Cetovska6-1, 6-1. “Yesterday I felt, a bit flat, I wasn’t moving and it just showed a bit more today,” explained Watson.


Despite the loss Watson reflected on her rise in the rankings and a breakthrough year. What has enabled her to move up – “gaining more experience and being really determined and really fighting and also I just really enjoy tennis,” said Watson. Watson has moved up from 588 in 2009 to 103 in the world as of last week.

Watson is ranked No. 3 among British women. “It’s good to have Anne (Anne Keothavong) and Bally (Elena Baltatcha) around to keep pushing me. When I see them do well, I want to do well as well. We’re all very competitive and that’s nice.”


Watson names one of her biggest achievements in her young career as winning the 2009 Girls Championship at US Open. “best day of my life, I was so happy,” noted Watson. She also lists winning the gold in the Commonwealth Youth Games for Guernsey and qualifying and winning a round at the French Open. “The week before I had an absolute disaster, I had match points and lost a match and I thought everything is going wrong with my life and then I had a really good week there (French Open).”


Watson also talked about her experience as a part of the WTA Xperia Hotshots – “we’ve gotten to experience so many cool things. It’s just helped build our fan base and I’ve had a lot of fun doing.”


So what are Watson’s goals for the year, “for the end of this year my goal, I set my goal at top 99, but my agent set it at top 75. I’m really trying to get to that top 75, I still believe I can get there.”


“I started very late on the WTA tour. Lots of girls start very young so I’m just going to keep working hard and be patient I can’t rush anything and hoping that the results take care of themselves.”


Watson will go back to Florida to train before heading to New York to play in the US Open.


Listen to the full Heather Watson Interview with Tennis Panorama News (MP3 file)

Karen Pestaina is the woman behind Tennis Panorama News. She freelances  for media outlets in and out of tennis and has worked for many a broadcast news entity. She’s a member of AFTRA, NABET, NABJ, WGA and the US Tennis Writers’  Association. She witnessed her first live tennis match as a young child at Forest Hills when Guillermo Vilas upset Jimmy Connors to win the 1977 US Open. This branded her as a Vilas fan for life. She’s covering the New Haven Open this week. Follow her on  the site’s twitter @GVTennisNews.