US Men’s Clay Court Championship Announces Entry List


(February 26, 2014) HOUSTON – Four former champions are on the initial entry list of 21 players for the 2014 Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men’s Clay Court Championship that will be held April 7-13. It will mark the 80th tournament that River Oaks Country Club has hosted.

Defending champion John Isner of the United States will be joined by former champions Juan Monaco (2012), Lleyton Hewitt (2009) and Ivo Karlovic (2007) in the tournament.

Isner, at No. 13, is the top ranked of all entrants, and is one of three Top 20 players in the field, joined by Spaniards Tommy Robredo (No. 16) and Nicolas Almagro (No. 17). Robredo and Almagro, the 2013 runner-up, are two of only four active players on the ATP with more than 200 career match wins on clay.

“We are very pleased to see the caliber of players on our initial entry list,” said Tournament Director Van Barry. “This field really has everything we could ask for – an international flavor, players with high rankings, players who have had success here and players who are well-liked by our fans. We are very excited to have all these guys come to River Oaks and are looking forward to a great week with them as we celebrate the 80th tournament in the Club’s history.”

The initial entry list of 21 includes players from 13 countries. Three more players will be granted wild cards into the field, while four will be added through a qualifying tournament held April 5-7. Below is the initial entry list (Feb. 24 ranking in parentheses):

Nicolas Almagro – Spain (17)
Benjamin Becker – Germany (90)
Alex Bogomolov, Jr. – Russia (93)
Pablo Cuevas – Uruguay (197*)
Somdev Devvarman – India (78)
Matthew Ebden – Australia (62)
Alejandro Falla – Colombia (79)
Daniel Gimeno-Traver – Spain (85)
Santiago Giraldo – Colombia (58)
Alejandro Gonzalez – Colombia (76)
Lleyton Hewitt – Australia (42)
John Isner – United States (13)
Ivo Karlovic – Croatia (55)
Bradley Klahn – United States (65)
Feliciano Lopez – Spain (37)
Juan Monaco – Argentina (43)
Sam Querrey – United States (56)
Tommy Robredo – Spain (16)
Janko Tipsarevic – Serbia (70)
Fernando Verdasco – Spain (32)
Donald Young – United States (91)
*Entry based on injury protected ranking

Two of the top doubles teams on the ATP World Tour have also committed to play the 2014 tournament. Bob and Mike Bryan, the twin-brother tandem that has won four titles at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship, and the Spanish duo of Fernando Verdasco and David Marrero, champions at the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals, have both been entered into the doubles draw.

In 2014, River Oaks Country Club will celebrate hosting a tournament for the 80th time since its inauguration in 1931. The upcoming tournament will also mark the 104th staging of the US Men’s Clay Court Championship.


Sam Querrey and Kei Nishikori Commit to play US Men’s Clay Court Championship


HOUSTON – Sam Querrey and Kei Nishikori have committed to play the 2014 Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men’s Clay Court Championship at River Oaks Country Club.

Querrey, the tournament runner-up in 2010, and Nishikori, the runner-up in 2011, join 2013 champion John Isner, 2013 runner-up Nicolas Almagro and 2012 semifinalist Feliciano Lopez as early commitments to play the tournament that will be held April 7-13.

“It’s great to be able to make this announcement and start thinking about spring and the tennis tournament after the winter blast we had this week,” said Tournament Director Van Barry. “Sam has always been very loyal to the tournament and is a fan favorite. Kei is a rising star in tennis, and certainly adds to the international flavor of our tournament. We look forward to welcoming them back to River Oaks and adding to the already strong field we’re assembling for the 2014 tournament.”

Querrey will be playing at River Oaks for the fifth time in his career. He reached the final in 2010, falling to Juan Ignacio Chela in the title match. He’s twice reached the doubles final at River Oaks, finishing as runner-up with Isner in 2011 before winning the title with James Blake in 2012. Querrey, the No. 2 ranked American, has reached 12 career ATP finals and won seven titles.

Nishikori, 24, reached a career high ranking of No. 11 last summer, which is the highest-ever for a Japanese player on the ATP World Tour. When he was 14-years-old, he moved from his home in Japan to the Bollettieri Academy in Florida to train. As a professional, he has won three titles while appearing in a total of five career finals, including the 2011 River Oaks final in which he fell to American Ryan Sweeting. So far in 2014, Nishikori has reached the semifinals in Brisbane and the fourth round at the Australian Open

Isner will attempt to be the first player to successfully defend his US Men’s Clay Court Championship title since Andy Roddick won the 2001 and 2002 titles. Isner is the No. 1 ranked American, and will be making his sixth appearance at the tournament. Almagro has led the ATP in clay-court match wins three times in the past six seasons. With a career record of 229-108 on clay courts, he joins Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo as the only active players with more than 200 wins on clay. Lopez recorded his 300th career match win during the 2013 season and also reached his eighth career ATP World Tour final.  He has been a member of four Davis Cup championship teams.

In 2014, River Oaks Country Club will celebrate hosting a tournament for the 80th time since its inauguration in 1931. The upcoming tournament will also mark the 104th staging of the US Men’s Clay Court Championship.


Peter Gojowczyk wins Talheim Challenger

 Gojowczyk photo by Thomas Schulte

Peter Gojowczyk photo by Thomas Schulte

By Florian Heer

(January 26, 2014) TALHEIM, Germany – Traditionally one of the first stops on the ATP Challenger Tour every year are the Intersport Heilbronn Open at the Tennis Centre in Talheim. The tournament has always been able to present a strong field of players. Former champions are Carl-Uwe Steeb (1986), Michael Stich (1989), Michael Llodra (2001) and Robin Söderling (2006). This year’s edition has  prize money of US-$ 125.000 and is one of only ten tournaments in the highest category on ATP Challenger level.

The first semifinal on Saturday was a quick affair. The match between the two Dutchmen, top-seed Igor Sijsling and sixth-seed Jesse Huta Galung only lasted 23 minutes. The latter was forced to retire after the fourth game. “I felt some problems in the left groin,” Huta Galung explained afterwards. “I had a similar injury last year, so I recognised immediately what had happened on court. I couldn’t run and so it didn’t make any sense to play on,” the world number 100 continued. “Last time it took about one week to recover, so it’s not a big injury but if you’re not able to run it is pointless to play tennis,” the Dutch said.

In second semi Jiri Vesely faced the tournament’s last remaining German in person of Peter Gojowczyk. The only 20-year-old Czech represents a new generation of players, who is tall with good movement on the court. Last year the Czech received the ATP “Star of tomorrow award”, reached the quarterfinal in Chennai two weeks ago but wasn’t able to qualify for the main draw of the Australian Open. Same happened to his opponent in Melbourne. Nonetheless, Gojowczyk had a great start into the season by reaching the semis in Doha, where he lost to Rafael Nadal in three sets. Both players had faced each other before on clay in Prostejov last year with the better ending for Vesely. In the encounter in Heilbronn, the German was the better player right from the beginning with solid baseline shots and good return games winning in 72 minutes 6-4, 6-3. “Before the match my coach and I analysed Jiri’s game very well, which helped me a lot today. I tried to go for his forehand as often as possible, what he doesn’t like,” Gojowczyk said afterwards. “The final here will be very special for me as in case of a victory I’ll be within the top 100 for the very first time,” the German was looking forward to his encounter against Igor Sijsling.

Peter Gojowczyk won the last meeting between the two in first round of the US Open last year and in Heilbronn both players have reached the final without dropping a set. On Sunday, it was again the German, who took command of the match. In front of 1400 spectators, Gojowczyk was the more solid player, overpowered his opponent from the baseline and gained the decisive break in the third game of the opening set to eventually take the frame after 28 minutes. The German served big and handled Sijsling’s service pretty well. After 71 minutes Gojowczyk closed the match out by an ace winning 6-4, 7-5. “In the beginning I was quite nervous but I was able to handle it,” the world number 135 said afterwards. “It helped that I could read his service quite well, in particular in the first set. Later the encounter became more even but I think I was mentally very strong today,” Gojowcyzk told us. “Tomorrow I will have a break and relax a bit. It is great to break into the top 100 for the very first time,” the German was happy. “Maybe I am going to play in Montpellier next week, as long as I make into the main draw,” Gojowcyzk stated about his further plans.


The doubles competition was won by Tomasz Bednarek and Henri Kontinen, who managed to save match points in the 10th game of the second set to finally gain victory against Ken and Neil Skupski winning 3-6, 7-6, 12-10 after one hour and 28 minutes. It was the first title for the unseeded team. “We were a bit luck today. Our opponents were better at the beginning of the match,” Bednarek analysed afterwards. “We were sleeping during the first set,” Kontinen added. “Maybe it was a bit too early for us, as this was the first match of the week we didn’t play in the evening. Nonetheless they played very well but we managed to pick it up,” the Finn explained.

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


Catching up with David Ferrer and John Isner

Catching up with David Ferrer and John Isner by James A. Crabtree

John Isner and David Ferrer meet fans at the Prince Hub at the Crown Entertainment Complex in Melbourne

John Isner (L) and David Ferrer (R) meet fans at the Prince Hub at the Crown Entertainment Complex in Melbourne

(January 12, 2014) MELBOURNE – During a hectic schedule prior to their 2014 Australian Open campaigns I had the chance to catch up with world No. 3 David Ferrer and American No. 1 John Isner for an informal Q & A at the Prince Hub Tennis Live Site, with a focus away from the court.


Who do you travel with?

David Ferrer: I travel with my team and coach and girlfriend. I spend the time waiting for planes watching movies and reading.

John Isner: I travel with my team, my brother also. He can be tough to travel with, he can cause some trouble. I’d like to travel with my dog Miguel I don’t see him often but I can’t live without him, he’s a cocker spaniel.


Name your favorite Actor, Actress and Movie

DF: My best Actress would be Julia Roberts and actor would be Robert De Niro. And I would not see ever myself acting after my career (laughs).

JI: Favorite movie has gotta be Saving Private Ryan. Favourite actress would be Megan Fox although she is a little out of the scene at the moment now, isn’t she?


Favorite place to play?

DF: Of course I love being in Spain but I love the grand slams because they are special.

JI:The tournaments which are close to home and close to where I went to school are great for the support but I do love the grand slams also.


Which family members have been most important to you during your journey?

DF: My whole family.  Everyone.

JI: Gotta be my mom.


You are both pretty good at tennis, but what are you bad at?

DF: Playing at other sports like football. I play but I am not good. The best out of the tennis players is Rafael Nadal. Feliciano Lopez is the most funny guy.

JI: I suck at soccer. I’ve got confidence with basketball.


What would you be doing if you were not playing tennis, and where do you see yourself in ten years?

DF: Still something about tennis I believe. Everything is tennis, tennis is everything.

JI: I don’t think I will be involved too much in tennis in ten years. One of my biggest achievements was starting my own charity, raising money for the cancer hospital that treated my mother. I would like to do more with that.

James Crabtree is a journalist living in Melbourne. Follow him on twitter @JamesACrabtree


Australian Open Hub David Ferrer 1 Australian Open Hub Final 1 Australian Open Hub Final 2 Australian Open Hub John Isner & David Ferrer 1 Australian Open Hub John Isner & David Ferrer 2 Australian Open Hub John Isner 1


Roger Federer Announces that Wife Mirka is Pregnant

Federer 3

(December 24, 2013) World No. 6 and 17-time major champion Roger Federer announced on his website and twitter account that wife Mirka is pregnant.

Federer shared the following message on his website and twitter.

“Mirka and I are very happy to share the news that Myla & Charlene will be big sisters in 2014! Happy Holidays.”

The Federers first became parents back in July 2009 when Mirka gave birth to twin daughters, Myla Rose and Charlene Riva.


Tennis News & Net Notes




David Ferrer

Reem Abulleil of Sport360 reports that No. 3 David Ferrer has split with his coach of 15 years – Javier Piles and will be working with Jose Altur beginning the 2014 season.

“I broke my relation with Javier, it was okay, we didn’t have any personal problems. We worked together for many years and we decided to end the coaching relationship,” Ferrer said.



Spanish player Guillermo Olaso has been banned from tennis for five years and fined $25,000 for match-fixing by the Tennis Integrity Unit.

The No. 236th-ranked Olaso was found guilty of three corruption offenses in 2010. The TIU says will not have to serve the final 18 months of his suspension if he repays the $25,000 fine and attends anti-corruption and rehabilitation programs.


Latest Australian Open Withdrawals – Urszula Radwanska has withdrawn due to injury. While Nadia Petrova has pulled out as she lost her mother in a car accident earlier in the month.


Viña del Mar will have three Top 20 players in 2014 with Nicolas Almagro, Fabio Fognini and Tommy Robredo entered in the first tournament of the Latin American Golden Swing.


The ITF announced that the 2014 BNP Paribas World Team Cup, the ITF’s flagship wheelchair tennis team event, will be held in Alphen, Netherlands. The event will be hosted by the Dutch Tennis Federation (KNLTB) at the Nieuwe Sloot Tennis Centre in Alphen from 26 May until 1 June.

The full list of dates and venues is as follows:

27 Feb – 2 Mar  Africa Qualification       Nairobi Club, Nairobi, Kenya
11-14 March      Americas Qualification  Complejo Deportivo de Caguas, Caguas, Puerto Rico

16-19 March      Asia Qualification         Sri Lankan Tennis Association, Colombo, Sri Lanka

29 Mar – 2 Apr  Europe Qualification     Kaya Belek Resport Hotel, Antalya, Turkey
26 May – 1 Jun  Finals                          Nieuwe Sloot Tennis Centre, Alphen, Netherlands


Andy Roddick, James Blake and John Isner Team Up to Particpate in Justin Gimelstob Children’s Fund Tennis Exhibition

Justin Gimelstob Children’s Fund Tennis Exhibition

By Josh Meiseles, Special to Tennis Panorama News

(December 7, 2013) CHATHAM, NJ – Centercourt Athletic Club in Chatham, New Jersey played host to the Justin Gimelstob Children’s Fund Tennis Exhibition for the sixth time on Friday, as the star-studded event raised money for the former ATP pro’s foundation. The fundraiser amassed over $300,000 in support of comprehensive healthcare services for children with cancer and blood disorders. In conjunction with The Valerie Fund, a New Jersey-based non-profit organization, the event also included a free 10 & under tennis clinic.


“When we started this event and my foundation fifteen years ago, I could never have imagined it would have grown into what it is today,” said Gimelstob in a press release. “It brings me so much pleasure to come back home and bring world-class tennis with me…all for a great cause.”


A day after James Blake held his ninth annual Serving for a Cure event in New York City, the former ATP World No. 4 accompanied Gimelstob, Andy Roddick and John Isner for a few singles and doubles exhibition matches. Celebrities in attendance included David Duchovny, Anne V., Brooklyn Decker, ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell, New York Mets star pitcher Matt Harvey and former New Jersey Nets guard Kerry Kittles.


“It means a lot to us, to all of us,” said Isner. “All of us support each other and our causes as well and that’s really what we’re doing here. We did it last night with James, tonight with Justin and these guys are coming down with me to North Carolina. We’re all very good friends and through that friendship and our tennis we’re able to give back to some unbelievable causes. You really get a lot of satisfaction out of this time of year.”
The evening included plenty of comedic moments, especially from the witty Roddick. With no shortage of banter, the former World No. 1 razzed on Isner’s net game and jumped on Duchovny for overcooking a volley: “You know, I hated the X-Files before that shot.” The shot of the day came when Blake ripped a massive forehand winner off a Roddick serve to which the US Open champ replied, “You realize I’m going right for your forehand next time.”


Roddick also reflected on his first full season away from the tour. “I guess every retired guy has that kick in the gut moment where you miss it. Mine was Wimbledon and the grass season. I don’t know if that was because I didn’t quite get there. That’s what I wanted most. It didn’t help that all the guys lost in the first couple rounds and I’m thinking ‘what did I do?’ The cumulative six-week process of getting to the point of competing in Australia is what I couldn’t get to anymore. Obviously being at the [US] Open was great, seeing it again. I was sitting up top watching the final and I was just amazed at how the guys play.”


Almagro and Lopez Join Isner in US Men’s Clay Court Championship Field


(December 2, 2013) Nicolas Almagro, the 2013 finalist, and Feliciano Lopez, a 2012 semifinalist, have committed to play the 2014 Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men’s Clay Court Championship at River Oaks Country Club. These two Spanish players will join defending champion John Isner in the field for the tournament April 7-13.

“It’s wonderful to be able to announce that Nicolas and Feliciano are joining our field the same week we have the individual session and Champs Pass tickets going on sale,” said Tournament Director Van Barry. “Both of these guys proved very popular when they have played at River Oaks in the past, and there’s definitely excitement that they joining John Isner in returning to play in 2014.”

Almagro was runner-up at the 2013 US Men’s Clay Court Championship, falling to Isner in the final. He has led the ATP in clay-court match wins three times in the past six seasons. With a career record of 229-108 on clay courts, he joins Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo as the only active players with more than 200 wins on clay. He’s second behind only Nadal (36) for career clay court finals with 20, and has won 12 titles on the surface.

Lopez will be making his second appearance at River Oaks. He made the semifinals of the 2012 event before losing to Isner in three sets. Lopez recorded his 300th career match win during the 2013 season and also reached his eighth career ATP World Tour final.  Lopez has been a member of four Davis Cup championship teams.

These two Spaniards join Isner, who will attempt to be the first player to successfully defend his US Men’s Clay Court Championship title since Andy Roddick won the 2001 and 2002 titles. Isner is the No. 1 ranked American, and will be making his sixth appearance at the tournament. His title at River Oaks was one of two tournaments he won in 2013, giving him seven for his career.

In 2014, River Oaks Country Club will celebrate hosting a tournament for the 80th time since its inauguration in 1931. The upcoming tournament will also mark the 105th staging of the US Men’s Clay Court Championship.


Sam Querrey and Andrea Jaeger Fighting Cancer in Ventura County

Kevin Feinbloom and Sam Querrey

Kevin Feinbloom and Sam Querrey

(November 8, 2013) Andrea Jaeger had never met Thousand Oaks resident Kevin Feinbloom before she received an email from him recently, a short time removed from some devastating news Feinbloom had received from his doctors: a diagnosis of Stage 4 Esophageal cancer that came “totally out of the blue.”

Feinbloom, a lifelong tennis player and fan, asked the former WTA world-ranked No. 2-player Jaeger if he could help raise awareness for Jaeger’s Little Star Foundation by putting on a special fundraiser that would also raise funds for children in the Ventura County area with cancer to attend Jaeger’s Colorado camp and facility to receive both short and long-term cancer treatment and care.

The idea for the innaugural Fans In the Stands Foundation Tennis Festival – which is set for Sunday, Nov. 24 from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the North Ranch Country Club in Thousand Oaks – actually came about days before Feinbloom reached out to Jaeger after he and his children and some friends had a festive two-hour hit with Thousand Oaks-raised ATP star Sam Querrey.

“I had this dream to go out and play with Sam Querrey so I got ahold of him through a mutual friend and he played and sat with us for two hours,” Feinbloom recalled recently. “And it was the coolest thing ever.”

Feinbloom told Querrey he wanted to do something to help local children with cancer and mentioned the idea about a tennis fundraiser. “He said he’d do whatever and whenever we needed him to do it,” Feinbloom said. “We settled on a date and he said he would bring (former two-time NCAA singles champion) Steve Johnson to play in an exhibition.”

Through another friend, the former Calabasas High tennis player Feinbloom, who grew up playing on the Woodland Hills Warner Center courts under coaches Bob Benton and Bob Hochstadter, was able to reach Jon Lovitz who said he would come and emcee the event. Then he reached out to Jaeger, who said she was able to move some things around in her schedule and wouldn’t miss the event for anything.

“His story and wanting to do something like this really touched me,” Jaeger said over the phone from Colorado. “When I first saw his email, I just sat down and said ‘wow.’ The only thing that’s worse than what Kevin is experiencing is having a kid go through cancer.”

Jaeger’s Little Star Foundation has been helping children deal with the effects of cancer since it was formed in 1990. “The money we raise on Nov. 24 will benefit children from Kevin’s area,” Jaeger said. “To know that you are able to help someone in your own community, from your own neighborhood, it means a lot to us.”

Feinbloom initially thought he would try and raise between $25,000 to $50,000. In a short few weeks, $40,000 has already been raised, and they’re just getting started.

“After a few days of my head spinning around and thinking how I can’t believe what the hell I’m going through, I figured out that instead of sitting back and letting it kick my butt, I better do something,” said Feinbloom, who is married and has two children, son Cole who is 17 and a daughter Julia who is 14. “I’ve been around sports my entire life and coaching my kids and I thought I wanted to do something to help kids with cancer.”

A kids’ clinic (ages 5 to 15) will precede the singles and doubles exhibitions and an opportunity prize pool where you can purchase squares similar to a football pool will raise more funds for the cause. Pete Sampras has already donated an hour-long hitting session, according to Feinbloom.

“The tennis community is a wonderful thing,” he said.

Jaeger said she’s never received an email like the one she received from Feinbloom. “Never in my life,” she said. “I mean, the father has been diagnosed with Stage 4, the same year his wife has had breast cancer treatments, and they have children. And the entire family is involved and the kids are as excited as the parents and they are all saying, ‘We have got to do something here. And there are children who are going through something just like or worse than my family. So let’s do something.’ That has never happened.

“And they love tennis. This is something that has been prominent in their lives. And he didn’t know me. He just knew I loved tennis and I was dedicated to these kids so he reached out to me. Whether I went or not was irrelevant to them so of course I have to be there. He said he was determined this was where the money was going regardless if I came or not.

“Kevin is determined to make a difference, and that’s why we are all gathering together this way.”

You can buy tickets and donate items to the event at www.FansInTheStands.org. The major corporate sponsor is Jaguar Thousand Oaks and Championship-level sponsors include the Melissa Kravetz Memorial Foundation and Steve and Amparo Davis.




Players React to James Blake’s Retirement

James Blake

James Blake

(August 26, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY -  On Monday some players were asked in press about James Blake’s announcement about his retirement after the US Open. Here are a few reactions:


VENUS WILLIAMS:  You know, James, obviously the US Open was a special place for him.  I understand how he would want to end here.  You know, I think he still has, you know, a lot of great tennis in him, but he’s decided that now is the time for him.

He has a family now, so those are important priorities from what I hear.  He’s ready, so all we can do is support him.  Hopefully he will be able to contribute to tennis outside of the game, outside of playing pro tennis, in whichever way he chooses.

What I admired period about him was how he gave back, you know, obviously using his tennis career and celebrity to give back, especially to cancer because his dad passed.

And also the excitement he brought to the game.  I think he brought a lot of people into tennis.  It’s always great and also sad to lose someone who helps grow the game.  People are always interested in James, so that’s what I’m going to miss.


SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, just pure heart.  I mean, the guy has been really just a great person with a great heart.  He’s been through so much.  Being even able to be a professional player with his back, and then doing so well.  We won together at Hopman Cup.  He was such a great partner and a great friend.

It’s just sad to see.  Sad to see another good friend of mine that I’m not going


RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, James was one of the more charismatic players on tour.  His style of game was spectacular a lot of days.  He was able to play winners on the return with great first serves, and his forehand was one of the best on tour, no?  Without no one doubt, he was able to hit very hard.  His image was great.

He’s a good example for the kids and a good example for the tour.  He’s a really good person.


RYAN HARRISON:  James has been a good friend in the locker room to everybody.  I mean, it’s funny.  Whenever you ask anyone about James, he’s left a great impression and just a great impact on everybody that he’s known in the game.

His career is one thing.  He obviously has his results.  I think something far more important that he’s leaving behind is the fact he left a really positive impact on tennis and the people he was around, which is what you are ultimately looking forward to doing after having a long, successful career like he’s had.

He’s one of the greatest guys out here on tour.  He’s into the next stage of his life, which is being the family man, having the baby, having his wife and kid, just going that route.

I’m extremely happy for him.  I congratulated him when I saw him.  You know, I look forward to keeping in touch with him throughout his life after tennis.