Roger Anderson, Anibal Aranda and Stephen Amritraj Join USTA Development Program as National Coaches
From the USTA: WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., January 6, 2014 – The USTA announced that the 35th season of the USTA Pro Circuit begins today with two clay-court events in Florida—the $10,000 men’s Futures in Plantation, Fla., and the $25,000 women’s event in Vero Beach, Fla. The USTA Pro Circuit, the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, is scheduled to feature 87 events this year—including eight $100,000 events and a record 36 tournaments on clay—and will award nearly $3 million in total prize money.
The Plantation tournament begins a string of seven clay-court men’s Futures events, and the Vero Beach tournament is the first of three consecutive $25,000 women’s events to be played on clay. This is the first of two clay-court seasons on the USTA Pro Circuit calendar; the other begins in the spring prior to the French Open. In conjunction with USTA Player Development, the USTA Pro Circuit continues to emphasize the importance of increased training for younger players on clay, particularly at the $10,000/$25,000 level for women and $10,000/$15,000 level for men.
“For 35 years, the USTA Pro Circuit has developed hundreds of American players and brought world-class tennis to local communities nationwide,” said Brian Earley, Director of the USTA Pro Circuit. “We are excited to begin 2014 with strong playing fields and look forward to what the year will bring—from high-quality live streaming for fans, coaches and players to the chance for players to compete in Grand Slam events through their results on the Pro Circuit. We also have many new events this year that will contribute to the USTA’s mission to promote and develop the growth of tennis throughout the country.”
Following its success in 2013, live streaming will continue this year for all 16 USTA Pro Circuit men’s Challengers (prize money of $50,000 and higher). Live streaming will begin on Jan. 20 at the $50,000 Royal Lahaina Challenger in Maui, Hawaii. The stream can be viewed at www.procircuit.usta.com. Live streaming will be offered for select women’s events this year as well. Live scoring will also be available for all men’s and women’s events at all levels at www.procircuit.usta.com.
In addition, this year USTA Player Development will again award wild cards into the main draws of the French Open and US Open based on players’ results on the USTA Pro Circuit. In April, a series of three men’s events (the $100,000 Challenger in Sarasota, Fla., and $50,000 events in Savannah, Ga., and Tallahassee, Fla.) and three women’s events ($50,000 events in Dothan, Ala., Charlottesville, Va., and Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.) will comprise of the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge, with Har-Tru signing on for another year as the sponsor of the wild card events. In July and August, a series of hard-court men’s and women’s events will decide the men’s and women’s wild card into the 2014 US Open. Wild cards will be determined by the American man and woman who amass the greatest number of ATP and WTA ranking points at the selected events.
The opening weeks of competition for the 2014 season feature both up-and-coming players and veterans looking to rebuild or develop their games. Those scheduled to begin their seasons in the coming weeks include:
– Ryan Sweeting, who has not played in an ATP or USTA Pro Circuit tournament since March 2013 due to injury. Sweeting, who married “Big Bang Theory” actress Kaley Cuoco on New Year’s Eve, peaked at No. 64 in the world in 2011, winning the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston that year. Sweeting holds three singles titles and three doubles titles on the USTA Pro Circuit.
– World No. 95 Bradley Klahn, two-time NCAA singles champion Steve Johnson and top young Americans Ryan Harrison, Donald Young and Denis Kudla are also entered in Maui (during the second week of the Australian Open).
– Up-and-coming American women such as Tornado Alicia Black, the 15-year-old who reached the girls’ singles final at the 2013 US Open and won the first pro singles title of her career at the $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Amelia Island, Fla., in September 2013; newly minted pro Allie Kiick, the daughter of Jim Kiick, a running back on the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins, who was a finalist in 2013 at the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships singles event and won the doubles title with Sachia Vickery; 2012 US Open girls’ champion Samantha Crawford, who is coming back from injury, and Top 10 junior Louisa Chirico.
With prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis professionals, and a frequent battleground for established players. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries played on the USTA Pro Circuit, competing for valuable ATP and WTA ranking points. Administered on the local level, the USTA Pro Circuit brings world-class tennis to local courts nationwide as part of the fabric of communities—an opportunity for current and new fans to experience the excitement and intensity of the professional game in their neighborhood.
Since 1979, 17 USTA Pro Circuit alums (including five Americans) have achieved the No. 1 world singles rankings. Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, Lindsay Davenport, Pete Sampras, Justine Henin, Jim Courier and Andre Agassi are among the game’s top stars who began their career on the USTA Pro Circuit. The past few years have seen breakout performances by a number of USTA Pro Circuit players, including John Isner, Sloane Stephens, Jack Sock, and Madison Keys.
(December 22, 2013) NORCROSS, Ga. – Steve Johnson and Sachia Vickery each earned main draw wild cards into January’s Australian Open by winning a tournament they almost didn’t play.
Vickery, 18, defeated fellow 18-year old Victoria Duval, 6-2, 6-3, while Johnson, 23, defeated 22-year old Tennys Sandgren, 4-6, 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(5), 6-1, in Sunday’s finals of the Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs at Life Time Athletic at Peachtree Corners in Norcross, Ga.
Johnson and Vickery are now into the singles main draw in Melbourne – Vickery’s first appearance there, Johnson’s second – after winning three matches in three days against some of their up-and-coming American contemporaries in the yearly indoor, hard-court event that easily could have featured neither of them.
Johnson contemplated pulling out of it while recovering from a leg injury, while Vickery entered the field as an alternate after Melanie Oudin withdrew.
“I was getting ready to go to Auckland, and my coach was like, ‘Well you might get in,’” said Vickery, who called both her mother, Paula Liverpool, and her coach, USTA National Coach Kathy Rinaldi, after the match. “So, I was like, ‘Yeah, we’ll see what happens. If it happens, great. If not, I have qualies.’ … I’m very religious, and my mom always says God puts things in situations for a reason.”
Vickery, ranked No. 195, earned her second straight wild card into a Grand Slam. She won the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championship this summer to gain entry into the US Open, where she advanced to the second round in her Grand Slam debut.
Saying she fought nerves the whole match, Vickery bothered the rangier Duval, ranked No. 168, by mixing up her serve placement, being aggressive and hitting a few down-the-line winners.
Last year, Madison Keys won the Australian Open Wild Card Playoff, using it as a launching pad for her breakout 2013 season. Keys advanced to the third round in Melbourne and is now the youngest player in the WTA Top 40 at No. 38.
Vickery said she didn’t feel any challenge to live up to her predecessor.
“I don’t feel pressure right this second because I haven’t even processed the fact that I won. I’m sure once the start of the tournament comes around I’ll start feeling it a little bit,” Vickery said. “I’m just so happy to be in the tournament. I wasn’t even supposed to be in this tournament. I barely got in. So, I can’t ask for anything else. I’m just happy to be there.”
Johnson, ranked No. 156, could say the same thing. The former Southern California star, who injured his left ankle midway through the fourth set and came back with it heavily taped, faced a match point while serving at 4-5 to the 183rd-ranked Sandgren.
Johnson, who won consecutive NCAA singles titles in 2011-12, hit an ace on match point, came back to win the fourth set in a tiebreak and cruised in the fifth.
“I just kind of ran the best play I could. Luckily, it worked, and here we are,” Johnson said. “That’s just tennis. He’s one point away from winning, and 20 minutes later I’m up a break and trying to squeeze him for another one.”
Johnson lost in the first round of every Grand Slam in 2013. At the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, he lost in five sets.
“I’m excited to finally win a five-set match,” he said. “I’m 0-for-4 in life, 0-for-3 this year, so I’m glad to get one.”
(December 21, 2013) NORCROSS, Ga. – A pair of 18-year olds in Sachia Vickery and Vicky Duval will play each other Sunday for a main draw wild card into January’s Australian Open. Each advanced to the final of the Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs at Life Time Athletic at Peachtree Corners. Vickery defeated Grace Min, 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-4, and Duval took out Shelby Rogers, 6-4, 7-5. The women’s final begins at 1 p.m.
The men’s final between Steve Johnson, who beat Chase Buchanan, 6-0, 6-4, and Tennys Sandgren, who overcame Denis Kudla, 6-3, 7-6(5), will immediately follow. Both matches will be streamed live at www.australianwildcard.com.
Duval made her mark thanks to her first-round upset of 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur at Flushing Meadows this past August.
Vickery, meanwhile, quietly advanced to the US Open’s second round, beating Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in straight sets. She’s now ranked No. 195, compared to Duval’s No. 168, but the two have a long history against one another in junior play, and Vickery won their only pro meeting – at the USTA Pro Circuit $100,000 event last February in Midland, Mich. – 6-0, 6-4.
“I think I’m always flying under the radar, which, I think, I prefer it that way. I’m a pretty humble person. Being in the spotlight doesn’t bother me that much, but whatever happens happens,” Vickery said. “She’s playing well, and I’m playing well. She’s had an unbelievable summer, and we’re good friends. I just hope we can have a good match tomorrow.”
The women’s final between Duval and Vickery is a match-up between the last two USTA Girls’ 18s National Champions. Vickery won it this summer, earning the accompanying wild card into the US Open. Duval won it in 2012, and she went on to play Kim Clijsters in the first round in what was Clijsters’ final tournament before retiring (Duval qualified for the US Open this year).
Duval, who said she played a “smart” match to get by Rogers, the top seed, figures to have the majority of the crowd behind her in Sunday’s final, having trained at this very club as recently as three years ago.
“They were behind Sachia today, too,” Duval said. “I think it’ll be split up.”
Sunday’s men’s final between two former collegians will be a long one, at least if Sandgren has his way.
The men’s final will be played in the same format as an Australian Open main draw match – best of five sets, no fifth-set tiebreak. Sandgren, who was an all-American at Tennessee before turning pro after the 2011 season, hasn’t ever played a five-set match.
“I really want to. I hope it goes five,” Sandgren said. “I kind of want to see how I stack up in a long match like that.”
Conditioning won’t be a problem for Sandgren, or so said Johnson, the former Southern California star who has played Sandgren twice on the pro tour – most recently in Savannah, Ga., in April – and lost both matches in three sets.
“He’s in shape,” said Johnson, the two-time NCAA singles champion whose serve and forehand have played well on Life Time’s indoor courts. “That guy can run for days, and I’ve seen it. So, it’s going to be a battle and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Johnson, when asked if he’d rather the conditions at this tournament more closely resemble those typical of Australia in January:
“Australia can get pretty hot, so unless they put a nice big heater in here … I think that would be quite uncomfortable for the spectators,” he said. “I like these courts. I don’t mind playing indoors. My serve and forehand, the game style I play, it suits me pretty well.”
Sandgren, 22, is currently ranked at a career-high No. 183 thanks to winning the USTA Pro Circuit Challenger in Champaign, Ill, in November and reaching the semifinals of the Challenger in Knoxville, Tenn., a week earlier.
Those are the best results of Sandgren’s pro career. His run of success has carried on through the offseason, thanks in large part to simply winning a few matchs against higher profile opponents – perhaps against Ryan Harrison in Knoxville and Jack Sock in Champaign.
“Maybe staying calmer, maybe a little bit better belief in myself,” Sandgren said when asked if he knew the reason for his timely surge. “You get a good win, and that can kind of create an avalanche effect that gets you a few more wins. Playing a little closer to the baseline, being a little bit more aggressive, serving pretty well. Those are things I think I’m doing better than I have been.”
(December 20, 2013) NORCROSS, Ga. – Denis Kudla and Steve Johnson are still on the outside looking in, hoping 2014 is a year their perspectives change for good.
Kudla and Johnson, both of whom spent time in the Top 100 this summer, each won their opening matches in the 2013 Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs, pocketing the first of three victories needed here to earn a wild card entry into January’s Australian Open and bypass the qualifying rounds that must be achingly familiar to both players.
Kudla, the tournament’s top seed, beat former No. 1 collegian Jarmere Jenkins, 6-4, 6-1, while No. 3 Johnson overcame 2011 French Open boys’ champion Bjorn Fratangelo, 6-3, 7-6(2). Afterwards, each player spoke on last year’s successes they’d like to repeat and the letdowns they hope to avoid.
Johnson, for instance, logged his first full season on tour in 2013 after leaving USC as one of the most decorated college tennis players ever, winning two straight NCAA singles titles and four consecutive team titles, and promptly reaching the third round of the 2012 US Open.
Last year, he qualified for the French Open then won a Challenger in Great Britain, after which he was awarded a wild card into Wimbledon. He peaked at No. 97 in early July. Following a first-round loss at this summer’s US Open, though, Johnson lost six of seven matches to end the season. His ranking has fallen to No. 156.
“I try to forget about after the Open,” Johnson laughed. “It was a tough couple-month stretch for me. I didn’t win too many matches, but, you know, that’s life. I don’t think I handled the end of the year very well. Especially it being my first year on tour, I think I let the little things really get to me, and I think that’s what led to the bad stretch up north and then to the indoor Challengers.
“That’s all behind me,” he added, “and I hope to learn from that and in this upcoming year just get to the end and really know what to do.”
Kudla, meanwhile, spent 11 weeks in the Top 100 in 2013, ascending as high as No. 90 after qualifying for both the French Open and Wimbledon – reaching the second round there – and making a quarterfinal appearance at the ATP Queen’s Club event in London.
According to the 21-year old from Arlington, Va., it was a “couple of off weeks” that he could have handled better last year to avoid sliding back to No. 114, outside the cut-off ranking for direct acceptances into Grand Slams, where he believes he belongs.
That was perhaps most evident when Kudla elected to not defend his points at the USTA Pro Circuit Challenger in Charlottesville, Va., in November — a tournament he won in 2012 — but instead played in qualifying at the ATP Masters in Paris, where he lost his first match.
“You get to a certain ranking and you get into Masters, you gotta play up. That’s how I look at it, at least,” Kudla said. “You gotta play the Masters and get to the next level. I’m not trying to be the best Challenger player. I’m trying to be the best Masters player, Grand Slam player.
“I could have had a little better consistency, for sure,” he added. “I thought I had a bad start to the year. I thought last year’s offseason I could have done a lot better, and the U.S. swing I thought should have been way better. And at the end of the year I got hurt, so I kind of just said to myself, ‘Stay healthy.’ Then I really just focused on what I did, and it was kind of a couple of off-weeks I thought I could have handled a little bit better. Hopefully I can repeat the year and do it better.”
Jenkins, who grew up a short distance away in College Park, Ga., drew comparisons to Gael Monfils from Kudla, who scrapped the strategy he employed against Jenkins when they were kids.
“I played him when I was younger, and I would just try to hit winners,” Kudla said of Jenkins, who nearly won the NCAA “triple crown” last spring at Virginia, winning the NCAA team and doubles titles and reaching the singles final. “But he’s like Monfils, he’s so fast. It’s insane. He’s an incredible athlete. So, I tried to just wear him down, tried to move him left and right. I kind of executed my game plan really well, served really well, was just able to stay on him and came out with a bit easier victory maybe than planned.”
Chase Buchanan, the 2012 NCAA doubles champion at Ohio State, fought off Rhyne Williams to earn a comeback victory, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2, over the 2011 NCAA singles finalist from Tennessee.
Williams, ranked No. 130, served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but was broken by the No. 307-ranked Buchanan, who then won a second-set tiebreak and hit, by his estimation, five aces over the final two games of the match to close out Williams, who won last year’s Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs.
Through the fall, Buchanan has played largely outside of the United States – winning Futures titles in Bolivia and Ecuador — and playing in tournaments through South America, Japan and Thailand.
“I think it’s really good to get away from playing the same people every single week in the same places,” he said. “I think it’s good to get away, change things up. It gives you a new perspective on kind of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”
Vicky Duval, several months removed from becoming an international star at the US Open by defeating 2011 champion Samantha Stosur in the first round, fell behind to Maria Sanchez in the first set at 4-1 and 5-2, crediting nerves for her slow start and her improving serve for powering her 7-5, 7-5 victory.
“My serve was never my weapon,” Duval said. “I’ve worked really hard to turn it into that, so I was happy that I could really count on it in the tough times.”
When asked if he thought was an “unknown commodity” internationally, Tennys Sandgren answered by saying, “I don’t feel like I really should be known.”
Sandgren is currently at his career-high ranking of No. 183, after finishing 2013 with his first USTA Pro Circuit Challenger title, at Champaign, Ill. On Friday, he credited his movement on court in his 6-3, 6-0 victory over Austin Krajicek.
2013 Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs
Day 1 results
No. 1 Denis Kudla d. Jarmere Jenkins, 6-4, 6-1
Chase Buchanan d. No. 2 Rhyne Williams, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2
No. 3 Steve Johnson d. Bjorn Fratangelo, 6-3, 7-6(2)
No. 4 Tennys Sandgren d. Austin Krajicek, 6-3, 6-0
No. 1 Shelby Rogers d. Sanaz Marand, 6-4, 6-2
Sachia Vickery d. No. 2 Madison Brengle, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
No. 3 Grace Min d. Nicole Gibbs, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5
No. 4 Victoria Duval d. Maria Sanchez, 7-5, 7-5
Order of play for December 21, 2013
DUVAL, Victoria (4) vs. ROGERS, Shelby (1)
Kudla, Denis (1) vs. SANDGREN, Tennys (4)
MIN, Grace (3) vs Vickery, Sachia (7)
JOHNSON, Steve (3) vs. BUCHANAN, Chase (7)
For updated draws, each day’s order of play and match live streaming, visit the official tournament site at www.australianwildcard.com.
At 15 Francis Tiafoe Becomes Youngest Boys’ Singles Winner at Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships
(December 15, 2013) College Park, Maryland’s Francis Tiafoe became the youngest boys’ singles champion in the history of the Orange Bowl International, defeating fellow 15-year-old American Stefan Kozlov in the final. 7-6 (3), 0-6, 6-3.
The final which was the first all-America Orange Bowl boys’ final since 2004 also marked the first time two 15-year-olds faced each other in the singles final in the tournament’s history.
Serving for the match, Tiafoe boomed an ace down the middle, tossed his racket and roared.
“Before serving, I was like, ‘I’m just going to hit it as hard as I can down the T. It doesn’t matter where it goes.’ I hit it as hard as I can, and it was probably the best serve I hit the whole match. It was unbelievable,” Tiafoe said. “I didn’t know what to do. I was too excited. I, like, slammed it. I never slammed a racket from excitement before.”
Tiafoe, seeded 13th, defeated three of the tournament’s top five seeds en route to joining the likes of John McEnroe, Roger Federer, Ivan Lendl, Bjorn Borg and Andy Roddick as Orange Bowl champions. The only other 15-year old to win the Boys’ 18s title is Sweden’s Kent Carlsson, who was 16 days older than Tiafoe when he won it in 1983.
On Sunday, Tiafoe battled from being down, 4-1, in the first set to claim it in a tiebreak. The pivotal moment came in the sixth game, on a fortunate mishit from Tiafoe that ballooned up to the sky and fell in. Shortly after, he won the rally, won the game then broke the fourth-seeded Kozlov to get back on serve.
“I came out really slow,” said Tiafoe, who trains out of the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md. “I was really tight. I was over-thinking the moment. He’s played a Grade A final before. He was looking pretty comfortable there. Even if I went down the first set, I kind of knew I would eventually get myself into it. He coughed up a couple of errors, and I felt pretty confident and ended up squeezing out that tiebreak.”
As Tiafoe put it, he “went cold” in the second set, and Kozlov took advantage. In the third, though, Tiafoe’s superior conditioning wore down Kozlov, the top-ranked American junior, who will end the year at No. 5 in the world junior rankings, two spots ahead of Tiafoe, who projects to jump from No. 35 to No. 7.
“I’ve had a really tough week, played some long matches. My body’s obviously not fully grown yet, and that’s going to be a huge role the next time you guys see me. I’m going to be a lot stronger, and this won’t happen again,” said Kozlov, of nearby Pembroke Pines, Fla. “He’s in really good shape. I think if I played someone else, we would have been both dying.
“I don’t mind losing to him, because he’s a great player,” said Kozlov, who beat Tiafoe in their only previous meeting this year, in April’s International Spring Championships. “But I’ll get some revenge later.”
Russia’s Varvara Flink won the girls’ final by taking out Serbia’s Ivana Jorovic 6-1, 2-6, 6-4. With Jorovic serving at match-point down, Flink hit her return into the net but pointed out to the chair umpire that the ball had torn open. By rule, the point was replayed, and Flink won the do-over.
“I was lucky with it, but that’s why I missed the ball, because I felt that it was broken. If the rally is done but the ball is broken, you replay the point,” said Flink, who will finish the year ranked No. 3 in the world among juniors. “It’s an unbelievable feeling, because I was really fighting for this match. My opponent was great and congrats to her for the final.”
Tornado Alicia Black, from Boca Raton, Fla., and Naiktha Bains, of Australia, won the Girls’ 18s doubles title, beating Sofia Kenin, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., and Kaitlyn McCarthy, of Cary, N.C., 6-0, 6-1.
Black projects to jump to No. 5 in the world junior rankings to become the top-ranked American junior girl with the doubles title, won with a partner she’d never before played doubles with.
“It feels amazing to win an Orange Bowl title,” Black said. “We get along really well.”
“Yeah, we do,” Bains said. “And that really helps on the court. We have good teamwork, and we work together really well.”
In the Boys’ 18s doubles championship, No. 2 Filippo Baldi, of Italy, and Lucas Miedler, of Austria, beat the top-seeded pair of Alexander Zverev, of Germany, and Andrey Rublev, of Russia, 6-3, 6-7(6) [10-8]. The pair also won the Eddie Herr International Championships last week.
“Of course it feels good,” Miedler said. “We also won last week. We won this here. I think we won half of the matches in the match tiebreak, so I think it also feels good to win the close matches. It’s a great moment.”
“It feels sensational,” Baldi said. “We played a good tournament, and we won.”
(November 19, 2013) Victoria Duval will headline the field at the 2013 USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs, being held December 20-22 at Life Time Athletic at Peachtree Corners in Norcross, Ga.
The 17-year old American upset the 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur in the first round of the 2013 US Open. She’s currently the youngest member of the WTA top 200, ranked at 168.
Other players joining Duval in the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs include, Atlanta native and 2011 US Open junior champion Grace Min (No. 153), Shelby Rogers (No. 126) and Madison Brengle (No. 150), who won USTA wild cards into the 2007 and 2008 Australian Opens, as players competing for a singles wild card entry into the 2014 Australian Open. The annual Wild Card Playoffs, will feature eight men and eight women, with the remaining players to be announced at a later date. The USTA secured the opportunity through a reciprocal agreement with Tennis Australia, where the two national federations exchanged wild cards for the 2013 US Open and 2014 Australian Open.
For more information www.australianwildcard.com.
By Kevin Ware
(November 12, 2013) SAN FRANCISCO – Rarely has the word ‘legacy’ seemed so inadequate when used to describe the life of a legend like tennis great Arthur Ashe. But such was the case last week at the USTA Northern California’s “Beyond the Baseline: USTA Honors the Legacy of Arthur Ashe and Community Tennis” event in San Francisco.
The word legacy often implies a lingering and often benign effect from past actions. If last week was any indication, however, Arthur’s legacy is alive and well with an active impact on youths in communities across the country.
Most know of Arthur’s notable on-court achievements; like the fact that he was the first African-American US Open champion in the Open Era, or that he was also the first (and as of yet, only) African-American gentlemen’s champion at both Wimbledon and the Australian Open.
What many may not realize is that Arthur was also a visionary who believed in bringing change to the world through sports and education. Through programs like National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL), Arthur used tennis as a means to teach kids about sport and much more.
Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Arthur’s widow, put it best: “The purpose of the NJTL wasn’t in teaching kids how to play tennis. It was about getting them to come out and play sports. And then after you got them playing sports you could teach them about life, and life lessons. That was the important lesson of NJTL.”
Since Arthur’s death in 1993, Jeanne has expanded upon the work begun by her late husband with the Arthur Ashe Learning Center (AALC). As stated on their website, the AALC focuses on education, health and wellness, citizenship and self-reliance. By doing so, the AALC attempts to foster “empowerment and leadership in the individual and the community, elevating their sense of purpose and quality of life.”
For her tireless efforts in pursuit of Arthur’s vision, Jeanne was presented the “Beyond the Baseline Icon Award”. Jeanne graciously made it a point to take pictures with all of the honorees as well as the many young people and fans in attendance. It’s clear to anyone who sees her in action that she finds great purpose in the AALC’s work, and does whatever she can to spread Arthur’s philosophy of sports, education, and empowerment.
When asked how it felt to see the positive effects of Arthur’s work on so many lives over the years, including myself, she stated, “It’s amazing. Simply amazing.” Truer words were never spoken on an evening where many of the local honorees spoke of their beginnings in the NJTL, with some going on to run programs. For a program that was started in 1969, the impact of Ashe many within the tennis community is far-reaching.
Likewise, Jeanne was quick to remind us that Arthur was just a man, not a deity, and that his message of personal empowerment through sports was one that could be spread by all of us. She also reminded us that even though Arthur was the first African-American man to achieve Slam success, the most important aspect of his wins was the fact that he was, first and foremost, an American.
“It wasn’t an Australian that won (the US Open), nor a Spaniard, or German, or Englishman. It was an American. Arthur was an American.” Though his presence understandably inspired many African-Americans, Arthur’s legacy goes well beyond race. His aim was global, and his intent was to help as many as possible.
Thankfully for us all, Jeanne is here to make sure that we all continue to do our part in carrying that message forward.
In addition to Moutoussamy-Ashe’s Icon Award, USTA NorCal presented awards to ten Bay Area “Beyond the Baseline” Honorees. The local recipients included Michael Applegate, David Van Brunt, Cassandra Borjon, Henry and Connie Chang, Christine Costamagna, Don Johnson, Barbara Lewis, Michael London, and Susan Pretel.
All were honored for their efforts and commitment on behalf of tennis in their own communities. The evening was hosted by Ted Robinson, “The Voice of the 49ers” and frequent tennis announcer.
(November 10, 2013) CAPTIVA, FLORIDA – In Sunday’s Singles Finals at the Women’s Pro Classic at South Seas Island Resort, No. 2 seed Mandy Minella of Luxembourg defeated Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski in straight sets 6-3, 6-3 to capture the inaugural event of the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Women’s Event on Captiva. With professional tennis making its debut on Captiva this week, it was the final opportunity for players to obtain WTA Tour points in the U.S. to qualify for the 2014 Australian Open and exactly what Minella accomplished this week.
”This tournament was really important for me to win because now I am going to get directly into the Singles Main Draw of the Australian Open in January,” said Mandy Minella. “The Women’s Pro Classic at South Seas was a perfect place to play a Pro Circuit event with all of the amenities and activities, I felt like I was on holiday half of the time I was here.”
Sunday’s Singles Finalist Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada was also the Doubles Champion in Saturday’s Doubles Finals with partner Allie Will as the top seeds and beat American duo Julia Boserup and Alexandra Mueller 6-1, 6-2 to claim the title.
Also making a special appearance at the Women’s Pro Classic Singles Final on Sunday was US Open Tournament Director, Brian Earley, who joined Captiva’s Tournament Director, Nick Blackwood, in the awards presentation ceremony.
“I was very excited about how well the Women’s Pro Classic went for our first year and all of the community support and involvement we had, I am already looking forward to next year’s event,” said Tournament Director, Nick Blackwood. “It was great to see so many of the top ranked WTA Tour players come to a first year event at South Seas Island Resort and also see that our event made a major impact on one of the players who will now get directly into the Australian Open Main Draw in January.”
(November 9, 2013) CAPTIVA, FLORIDA – Saturday’s Semifinal Showdown turned out to be a highly entertaining day of tennis at the Women’s Pro Classic on Captiva at the South Seas Island Resort with No. 6 seed American Julia Cohen and Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada getting things started in the morning. After Cohen won the opening set 6-1, Dabrowski rallied and fought back to take the second set 7-6 (2) and win the final set 6-4 in their semifinal match that lasted over three-and-a-half hours to earn a spot in Sunday’s Singles Final.
Following the the second Singles Semifinal match, No. 2 seed Mandy Minella of Luxemburg ddemolished American Allie Kiick in straight sets 6-0, 6-0 in less than hour.
“I felt really good out there today and I am really happy that I won because it was an important match for me,” said No. 2 seed Mandy Minella. “After today, I have now earned enough points to get directly into the Main Draw of the Australian Open, today was a big win.”
In the Doubles Finals action at the Women’s Pro Classic on Saturday, top seeds Allie Will and Gabriela Dabrowski topped American duo Julia Boserup and Alexandra Mueller 6-1, 6-2 to claim the first Doubles Title for the Women’s Pro Classic inaugural $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event on Captiva this year.
On Sunday, the Singles Final between Gabriela Dabrowski and Mandy Minella is set to get underway at 12:00 p.m. on Stadium Court with the awards presentation to follow immediately after. Also on-site on Sunday for the Women’s Pro Classic Singles Final will be special guest and local NBC2 News Anchor Sara Miles who will do the player introductions and present the trophies in the awards ceremony.
The Women’s Pro Classic is a $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Women’s Event and the final opportunity for players to obtain WTA Tour points in the U.S. to qualify for the 2014 Australian Open.
Women’s Singles Semifinals:
Gabriela DABROWSKI (CAN) def Julia COHEN (USA)  1-6 7-6(2) 6-4
Mandy MINELLA (LUX)  def Allie KIICK (USA) 6-0 6-0
Gabriela DABROWSKI (CAN) / Allie WILL (USA)  def Julia BOSERUP (USA) / Alexandra MUELLER 6-2, 6-1
Sunday, November 10th
Singles Finals: 12:00 p.m. Start Time