2014/07/30

Nicolas Almagro Withdraws from the U.S. Open

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(July 18, 2014) Spain’s Nicolas Almagro has withdrawn from the U. S. Open which begins on August 23  in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York.

The world No.  27 Spaniard has not been on the court since retiring from his first round match at the French Open in May due to a left foot injury.

The 28-year-old also missed Wimbledon.

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Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal to Headline U. S. Open

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White Plains, N.Y., July 17, 2014 – The USTA announced that world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and defending champion Rafael Nadal lead the men’s singles field for the 2014 US Open Tennis Championships. The field features six former US Open champions, including Djokovic (2011), two-time champion Nadal (2010, 2013), five-time champion Roger Federer (2004-08), Andy Murray (2012), Juan Martin del Potro (2009) and Lleyton Hewitt (2001).

Each of the world’s top 104 men received direct entry into the US Open, representing 36 countries.

The 2014 US Open will be played August 25 through September 8 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The US Open Men’s Singles Championship is presented by Mercedes-Benz.

Leading the entry list is Djokovic, the Serbian world No. 1 who has reached the US Open final every year since 2010. He won his seventh major title earlier this month at Wimbledon, beating Federer in five sets, after which he reclaimed the world No. 1 ranking from Nadal.

Nadal, the world No. 2, defeated Djokovic in four sets last year to win his second US Open championship, joining Federer (2007) as the only men to win the Emirates Airline US Open Series and US Open titles in the same year. This spring, the Spaniard won his record ninth French Open title, giving him 14 Grand Slam singles championships, tied with Pete Sampras for second all-time.

World No. 3 Federer, of Switzerland, is the all-time leader with 17 major singles titles, and was bidding for his eighth Wimbledon title this month before falling to Djokovic in the five-set final. Federer is competing for his sixth US Open title, which would surpass Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors for the most US Open men’s singles titles in the Open Era.

Stanislas Wawrinka, the Swiss No. 4 and a 2013 US Open semifinalist, won his first major singles championship at the Australian Open this year, joining del Potro (2009 US Open) as the only men outside the “Big Four” of Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray to win a Grand Slam since the 2005 French Open.

Filling out the field’s top 10 are No. 5 Tomas Berdych, of the Czech Republic, a 2012 US Open semifinalist and 2010 Wimbledon finalist; No. 6 Milos Raonic, of Canada, a 2014 Wimbledon semifinalist; No. 7 David Ferrer, of Spain, a French Open finalist (2013) and two-time US Open semifinalist (2007, 2012); No. 8 and 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, of Argentina; No. 9 Grigor Dimitrov, of Bulgaria, a 2014 Wimbledon semifinalist; and No. 10 Andy Murray, the 2012 US Open champion and 2013 Wimbledon champion.

American men who received direct entry are No. 12 John Isner, of Greensboro, N.C., No. 62 Sam Querrey, of Las Vegas, Nevada, No. 64 Steve Johnson, of Orange, Calif., No. 69 Jack Sock, of Lincoln, Neb., No. 70 Donald Young, of Atlanta, and No. 77 Bradley Klahn, of Poway, Calif.

Germany’s Dustin Brown, ranked No. 104, is the last man to receive direct entry into the field of 128. No players used protected or special rankings to gain direct entry. Sixteen more players will gain entry through the US Open Qualifying Tournament, held August 19-22, while the eight remaining spots are wild cards awarded by the USTA.

Among the players competing in the US Open Qualifying Tournament will be the winner of the fifth annual US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship, held during the Emirates Airline US Open Series women’s event in New Haven, Conn., prior to the US Open Qualifying Tournament. The USTA created the US Open National Playoffs in 2010 to allow players 14 and older, regardless of playing ability or nationality, to vie for a spot in the US Open Qualifying Tournament via one of 13 sectional qualifying tournaments.

The July 14 edition of the Emirates ATP World Tour rankings was used to determine the US Open main draw entry list. Seeds will be determined and announced closer to the start of the event.

The 2014 US Open will mark the culmination of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, the North American summer season of eight ATP World Tour and WTA events that begin this Monday, July 21. The US Open is the highest-attended annual sporting event in the world and will again be televised domestically on CBS Sports, ESPN and Tennis Channel, with international coverage reaching more than 180 countries.

The 2014 US Open will be played from Monday, August 25 through Monday, September 8. Tickets can be purchased: at USOpen.org; by calling Ticketmaster at 1-866-OPEN-TIX; at all Ticketmaster outlets; at the box office at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

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Serena Williams Leads U.S. Open Women’s Field

2012 US Open

 

U.S. Tennis Association -White Plains, N.Y., July 16, 2014 – The USTA  announced that world No. 1 and two-time defending champion Serena Williams leads the women’s field for the 2014 US Open Tennis Championships. Williams is joined by 103 of the world’s top 105 women, including reigning French Open and former US Open champion Maria Sharapova, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, two-time US Open champion Venus Williams and former US Open champions Samantha Stosur and Svetlana Kuznetsova.

In total, 36 different countries are represented in the women’s field. Eleven U.S. women received entry into the main draw – the most of any country – with nine Americans ranked in the Top 50.

The 2014 US Open will be played August 25 through September 8 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The US Open Women’s Singles Championship is presented by JPMorgan Chase.

Leading the entry list is world No. 1 Serena Williams, who won her fifth US Open crown in 2013, trying her with Steffi Graf for the second-most US Open women’s singles title in the Open Era, trailing only Chris Evert, with six. Williams has won 17 Grand Slam singles titles overall, which ranks sixth all-time, just one behind Evert and Martina Navratilova (18).

Joining Williams in the field’s top four are world No. 2 Li Na, of China, Asia’s first and only Grand Slam champion, who won her second major singles title at the 2014 Australian Open; No. 3 Simona Halep, of Romania, a 2014 French Open finalist and Wimbledon semifinalist, and No. 4 Kvitova, of the Czech Republic, who won her second Grand Slam and Wimbledon singles title earlier this month.

Following the top four are No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland, the first Polish player to reach a Grand Slam singles final (2012 Wimbledon); No. 6 Sharapova, of Russia, the 2006 US Open champion who won her fifth Grand Slam singles title this year at the French Open; No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard, of Canada, who reached her first Grand Slam singles final this summer at Wimbledon and also advanced to the semifinals of the French Open and Australian Open this year; No. 8 Angelique Kerber, of Germany, a two-time US Open semifinalist (2011-12); No. 9 Jelena Jankovic, of Serbia, a former world No. 1 and US Open finalist (2008), and No. 10 Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, a former world No. 1 and two-time Australian Open champion (2012-13) who has been the US Open runner-up to Williams each of the last two years.

Ten players who have won Grand Slam singles titles in their careers are competing in the US Open this year, including former world No. 1 and 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, of Serbia, and 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, of Italy.

France’s Virginie Razzano, ranked No. 105, is the last player accepted directly into the women’s field of 128. Two players have withdrawn due to injury, No. 82 Alisa Kleybanova, of Russia, and No. 90 Victoria Duval, of the United States, who is undergoing treatment after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. One player is using a special ranking to gain entry into the main draw – No. 40 Romina Oprandi, of Switzerland. Sixteen more players will gain entry through the US Open Qualifying Tournament, August 19-22, while the remaining eight spots are wild cards awarded by the USTA.

In addition to Serena Williams, the other American women who received direct entry into this year’s tournament include No. 22 Sloane Stephens, of Coral Springs, Fla., No. 25 Venus Williams, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., No. 27 Madison Keys, of Rock Island, Ill., No. 41 Coco Vandeweghe, of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., No. 43 Alison Riske, of Pittsburgh, No. 44 Lauren Davis, of Gates Mills, Ohio, No. 49 Varvara Lepchenko, of Allentown, Pa., No. 51 Christina McHale, of Teaneck, N.J., No. 76 Vania King, of Monterey Park, Calif., and No. 104 Shelby Rogers, of Charleston, S.C.

Several of the young Americans listed above have had breakout performances on the WTA tour this year. Keys, 19, and Vandeweghe, 22, each won their first WTA singles titles on the same weekend this June, the first time in 12 years two American women won WTA titles in the same week. Rogers, 21, and McHale, 22, both made their first WTA final appearances, while Davis, 20, advanced to the third round of both Wimbledon and the Australian Open this year.

Among the players competing in the US Open Qualifying Tournament will be the winner of the fifth annual US Open National Playoffs – Women’s Championship, held during the Emirates Airline US Open Series event in New Haven, Conn., prior to the US Open Qualifying Tournament. The USTA created the US Open National Playoffs in 2010 to allow players 14 and older, regardless of playing ability or nationality, to vie for a spot in the US Open Qualifying Tournament via one of 13 sectional qualifying tournaments.

The July 14 edition of the WTA rankings was used to determine the US Open main draw entry list. Seeds will be determined and announced closer to the start of the event.

The 2014 US Open will mark the culmination of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, the North American summer season of eight ATP World Tour and WTA events that begin this Monday, July 21. The US Open is the highest-attended annual spring event in the world and will again be broadcast domestically on CBS Sports, ESPN and Tennis Channel, with international broadcasts reaching 180 countries.

The 2014 US Open will be played form Monday, August 25 through Monday, September 8. Tickets can be purchased: at USOpen.org; by calling Ticketmaster at 1-866-OPEN-TIX; at all Ticketmaster outlets; at the box office at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

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US Open – Time Warner Cable Sweepstakes

TWC_Instagram-US-Open-1

 

(July 11, 2014) NEW YORK, NY– Time Warner Cable and Tennis Channel are giving customers a chance to experience the 2014 US Open Tennis Championships like never before.  Now through July 31st, Time Warner Cable Facebook fans can enter the 2014 US Open VIP Experience presented by Time Warner Cable and Tennis Channel to be one of the two lucky Grand Prize winners to win a five-day trip for two to New York to attend select US Open Tournament matches – scheduled for September 2 through September 6, 2014.

 

Grand Prize winners will receive:

-          Round trip flights for two to New York City

-          Five (5) days/four (4)-night hotel accommodations for two

-          Two tickets to an earlier round US Open match

-          Two tickets to a later round US Open match

-          $500 spending money

-          Tennis Channel Experience for two which includes: a Tennis Channel set tour, visit to Broadcast truck; meet + greet with Tennis Channel talent

-          Access to Time Warner Cable Studios at the US Open

 

To participate, customers must ‘like’ Time Warner Cable on Facebook and complete the registration page (http://on.fb.me/VCCGLk).  Customers must be members of the Time Warner Cable Facebook community before registering.  Entries must be completed and submitted by 11:59 PM/ Eastern Time on July 31, 2014.

 

Winners will be notified via email and/or phone by August 4, 2014.

 

For updates and exclusive offers and extras, customers can like the TWC Facebook page and follow @TWC on Twitter.

*No purchase necessary to enter or win. Open to legal U.S. residents who are Time Warner Cable residential subscribers in good standing, residing in a serviceable area of Time Warner Cable and those living in the same household in the following states/areas: AL, AZ, CA, CO (only in Gunnison), GA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, ME, MA, MI, MO, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA, WV, or WI, and 18 years of age or older as of 6/30/14.

 

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US Open Prize Money to Increase by $4 Million Dollars

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US OPEN PRIZE MONEY TO INCREASE BY FOUR MILLION DOLLARS

$38.3 Million US Open Purse Features Record $3 Million

for Each Singles Champion

USTA, White Plains, N.Y., July 9, 2014 – The USTA today announced that the total purse for the 2014 US Open will increase by $4 million dollars bringing the total purse for the tournament to a record $38.3 million and an 11.7% increase over the 2013 US Open. 

Both the men’s and women’s singles champions will earn $3 million, the largest payout in US Open history.  Each round of the singles competition will see double digit percentage increases over last year’s record payouts.  Total main draw prize money, which includes both the singles, doubles, and mixed doubles competitions, has increased by 12.5% over last year.  Both the men’s and women’s doubles champions will earn $520,000, the highest in US Open history.  The US Open qualifying tournament will now offer more than $1.5 million in prize money ($1,572,000) for the first time, and this represents an 11% increase over 2013.

In the last three years, US Open main draw prize money has increased by 64.6%.

Round-by-round individual prize money for the US Open is as follows:

Singles:                                                               Doubles (each team):

Winner:                   $3,000,000                          Winners:                      $520,000

Runner-Up:               1,450,000                          Runners-Up:                  250,000

Semifinalist:                 730,000                           Semifinalist:                   124,450

Quarterfinalist:             370,250                          Quarterfinalist:                 62,060

Round of 16:                187,300                          Round of 16:                    32,165

Round of 32:                105,090                          Round of 32:                    20,060

Round of 64:                  60,420                          Round of 64:                    13,375

Round of 128:                35,750

“Last year to recognize the importance of the players and the key role they have in building our sport, the USTA shared our vision to reach $50 million in prize money at the US Open by 2017,” said Dave Haggerty, USTA Chairman of the Board and President.  “This year’s prize money increase continues the commitment to make the US Open one of the most lucrative purses in all of sports.”

This year’s US Open is scheduled for August 25 through September 8, with the US Open Qualifying Tournament beginning on August 19.

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Top American Collegians to Compete in Inaugural American Collegiate Invitational

From the USTA:

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., May 20, 2014 – The USTA today announced that the US Open will feature a college tennis competition for the first time ever in 2014, inviting top American college players to compete in the inaugural American Collegiate Invitational September 4-6 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

Eight men and eight women will be invited to play in a singles tournament during the second week of the US Open, with the winners receiving a wild card into a future pro event. The Invitational is open only to American players, using the objective selection criteria listed below.

“College tennis plays such a significant role in the vitality of American tennis, and it’s important that we are able to highlight some of America’s best college players on a worldwide stage at the US Open,” said USTA Chairman, CEO and President Dave Haggerty.

The men’s and women’s fields will include six players who are still in college and two who have exhausted their college eligibility this year, as determined by the following criteria:

  • The six members of the USTA Collegiate Team, who are selected based on results, Intercollegiate Tennis Association honors and pro rankings.
  • The top two graduating seniors or the top two players who turned professional / have exhausted their college eligibility in 2013-14, according to the ITA’s final singles rankings.
  • If the top two players who have exhausted their college eligibility are already on the USTA Collegiate Team, or if the six spots reserved for players still in college have not been filled, invitations will be extended based on the ITA’s final singles rankings.

“We are excited to make college tennis a bigger part of the US Open,” said US Open Tournament Director David Brewer. “Many collegians continue on to successful pro careers, so we look forward to showcasing some very talented players.”

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Upgrade of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Set to Begin in February

 

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(December 4, 2013) Lisa Colangelo of the New York Daily News is reporting that the $500 million upgrade of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center will commence in February. The first part of the upgrade involves the installation of piles to support the new retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“We have to host the Open each year, so we had to work on a construction schedule that’s longer than we would like,” National Tennis Center Chief Operating Officer Danny Zausner told community board officials at Queens Borough Hall on Monday night in the Daily News report.

The roof which will peak at 190 feet, was described as an “umbrella” that can open and close over the stadium.

More on the expansion plan:

USTA Announces Plans for Transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

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2014 Tennis Season, More of the Same for the Men?

Centre Court-001

By James A. Crabtree

 

(November 24, 2013) Of those who can truly challenge for a major, the list is very small. Consider in 2002 when swede Thomas Johansson won the Australian Open as the 16th seed or Gustavo Kuerten won the French Open ranked 66th in the world. Compare that with today’s rankings and we have Fabio Fognini winning in Melbourne and Yen-Hsun Lu in Paris. If you think that either of these results is far fetched for 2014 you are on the money.

 

When fourth seed David Ferrer made the French open final this past year nobody but his mother felt he could win it. Not surprising considering his opposition, Rafael Nadal, has only lost once out of the sixty matches played at Roland Garros. Only a mad man would bet against him over five sets on clay.

 

Add that to the fact the big four have not only dominated the slams but since 2009 only Nikolay Davydenko, Ferrer, Ivan Ljubicic, Andy Roddick and Robin Soderling have been able to add their names to the ATP 1000 champions list. That is only five differing names to the usual four out of 45 tournaments.

 

Although the dominance of the big 4 has been lessened since the 2013 horror campaign of Roger Federer, the collection of contenders hasn’t been increased far beyond those players who have won a slam in the past. When looking at the others within the top ten all have their flaws. Tomas Berdych struggles when playing any final. Richard Gasquet and David Ferrer don’t have the fire power to notch big back-to-back wins. Stan Wawrinka has the firepower and the arrogance but not the physical stamina. Comparatively Jo-Wilfred Tsonga has the arrogance and firepower but not the mental fortitude. That leaves Juan Martin Del Potro, the scariest opponent not named Novak, Rafa, Roger or Andy.

Andy-Murray

Australian Open, Return of the Muzzer

 

Yes, seriously. Andy Murray will be refreshed and hungry and will look for glory at a venue he has been a three time finalist. A fourth consecutive triumph for Novak Djokovic in Melbourne, even on current form, seems a bridge too far.

 

Look for Federer to regain some form and make the semi-finals once more.

 

Rafael Nadal

French Open, As predictable as a Vin Diesel movie

 

Novak Djokovic will have to wait one more year before he can unify the all four career majors belt.

 

Nadal on the ultra-slow clay of Roland Garros is too much for any mortal. It is impossible to argue with a 98.33 winning percentage over nine years. All we can say is shame on you Robin Soderling for ruining slam perfection.

 

Djokovic wins 89

Wimbledon, Novak Vengeance

 

By June Djokovic is going to be mighty mighty angry. Not only that, he is going to make both Andy Murray and the British crowd pay for the previous year. Look for Djokovic to sneak this one in 5 sets.

 

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U.S. Open, The Federer Redemption?

 

This is a really 50-50 call between old man Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro. Del Potro has a good case as he was the best player to not win a slam this past year. Federer has a case because, regardless of form, he is still Federer. On top of that history often likes to repeat itself in certain ways and it would be quite fitting for Federer to snatch a triumph in New York as Pete Sampras did in 2002.

 

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

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Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part Two

 

JudyMurray

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

KP: No secondary tournaments going on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

KP: What have been your proudest moments in tennis?

JM: There’s been absolutely loads.

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

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

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

 

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

Related articles:

Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part One

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Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part One

 

JudyMurray

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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