Prince Extends Partnership with World’s No. 2 and Top-Ranked Russian Tennis Player Vera Zvonareva

January 26, 2011 – Bordentown, NJ – Prince, global tennis equipment leader and master of the physics and design of tennis weaponry, is proud to officially announce the extended equipment partnership with the current No. 2 ranked woman in the world, and top-ranked Russian player, Vera Zvonareva.

Zvonareva made the switch to her current weapon of choice, the Prince EXO3 Black, early last year and subsequently enjoyed the best year of her career. After picking up the racquet, she went on to reach her first-ever Grand Slam finals (Wimbledon and US Open) and shot up the rankings from No.7 to No. 2 – a career high.

As Zvonareva heads into the semifinals of her third straight Grand Slam quarterfinal this week at the Australian Open, she is well aware that EXO3 technology has played an integral role in her improved play.

“I picked up the EXO3 Black early last year and immediately knew it was something special. Hi-speed video shows that pros frequently hit the ball out of the direct center of the string bed, as do players at other levels. The sport at our level is played at such a fast pace and along the smallest margins and with less reaction time that it is unavoidable,” said Zvonareva. “For me, EXO3 technology allows me to do more with every ball, even those that I hit on the run or at full stretch – and those few shots can often be the difference between winning and losing. I have a lot more wins since picking up this technology.”

What is EXO3 Racquet Technology?

EXO3 is a high-tech, patented racquet design, which utilizes large holes and String Suspension Inserts to deliver a superior, effective hitting area compared to competitor racquets with the same head size. The strings in an EXO3 racquet are completely liberated
from restrictive, response-strangling grommets, allowing the strings to respond more freely – even at the outer edges of the string plane for balls hit off-center. This technology delivers a larger, more consistent hitting area – at ANY head size – giving players at all levels the advantage of hitting better shots, more often because even balls hit off center feel and respond more as though they were hit in the center of the string bed.

Vera Zvonareva Qualifies For WTA Championships-Doha 2010

ST. PETERSBURG, FL, USA – Today, Russia’s Vera Zvonareva became the second singles player to qualify for the season-ending WTA Championships–Doha 2010, set to take place for the third year in a row at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex in Doha, Qatar, from October 26-31.  In Doha, Zvonareva will join Caroline Wozniacki and the doubles teams of Flavia Pennetta/Gisela Dulko and Kveta Peschke/Katarina Srebotnik who qualified earlier.  The world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams will compete for the coveted WTA Championships title and a share of the $4.5 million in prize money.

“I’m thrilled to be going back to Doha.  I’ve been at the year-end WTA Championships for the past couple of years and I am very happy that I have been able to compete there for three years in a row now,” said World No.4 Zvonareva.

“Vera has had the best season of her career, highlighted by reaching back-to-back Grand Slam finals in addition to a career-high ranking of World No.4,” said Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the WTA.  “After last season plagued by injuries, Vera’s worked incredibly hard to recover and get back to the top of the sport and it’s fantastic that she will finish a great year at the WTA season finale in Doha.”

Zvonareva will make her fourth appearance at the prestigious year-end WTA Championships, having debuted in Los Angeles in 2004, in addition to her three consecutive trips to Doha, where she finished as a runner-up to Venus Williams in 2008.

Zvonareva has enjoyed a breakthrough 2010, highlighted by back-to-back Grand Slam final appearances at Wimbledon (l. to S. Williams) and the US Open (l. to Clijsters).  Zvonareva is currently ranked a career-high World No.4.  Zvonareva also won her 10th career title at the PTT Pattaya Open (Pattaya), and reached the final at the Family Circle Cup (Charleston, l. to Stosur) and the Rogers Cup (Montreal, l. to Wozniacki), making her one of three players this season to reach five finals (Sharapova, Wozniacki).

Zvonareva’s interests outside of tennis include involvement in numerous charitable organizations in addition to currently studying for a degree in International Relations and Economics at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  She enrolled in this program in 2007 while being sidelined from tennis with an injury.  Earlier this year, Zvonareva became a supporter of the International Rett Syndrome Foundation, an organization fighting the debilitating disease affecting young girls.

RACE TO THE WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS – DOHA 2010 (as of the week of September 27, 2010)

SINGLES DOUBLES
PLAYER POINTS RACE STANDING TEAM POINTS RACE STANDING
Caroline Wozniacki** 5615 1 Gisela Dulko/Flavia Pennetta** 7186 1
Serena Williams 5355 2 Kveta Peschke/Katarina Srebotnik** 5921 2
Kim Clijsters 5295 3 Serena Williams/Venus Williams 5500 3
Vera Zvonareva** 5173 4 Lisa Raymond/Rennae Stubbs 4704 4
Venus Williams 4985 5 Vania King/Yaroslava Shvedova 4527 5
Samantha Stosur 4567 6 Nuria Llagostera Vives/Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 3676 6
Jelena Jankovic 4033 7
Francesca Schiavone 3952 8
Justine Henin 3415 9
Elena Dementieva 3327 10
Victoria Azarenka 3196 11
Li Na 3091 12
Shahar Peer 2965 13
Agnieszka Radwanska 2831 14

** Denotes player/team has already qualified

Safina Ousted Early In China

Dinara Safina’s struggles continued. A week following an early exit at The Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, the No.1 ranked Russian fell this time in the second round at The China Open to hometown wildcard Zhang Shuai 7-5, 7-6.

Last week, she fell in the second round after a bye in three tight sets to 132 ranked Kai-Chen Chang. At least the enigmatic younger sister of Marat Safin could take solace knowing Pan Pacific was marred by many upsets including Venus Williams, Elena Dementieva and Caroline Wozniacki, who got sick.

This time, Safina lost to No.226 in the world by committing 20 unforced errors and a dozen double faults which were her undoing. It probably spells the end of her reign as No.1 with second ranked American Serena Williams needing only a Round Two win over Ekaterina Makarova to take over the top spot. Perhaps the recent disappointments that also included a third round Open exit to Czech Petra Kvitova have finally taken their toll on the emotional Russian who was reduced to tears and cancelled her post match press conference.

“I’m just having some bad losses right now,” she said in a statement.

“So many matches that are very close, ones that I should win, having set points or match points every time. It’s very disappointing. I would like to take a break now, and I’m very upset with myself.”

Who could blame her? It’s been an emotional roller coaster that included her rise to No.1 getting to two grand slam finals before wilting, plus a Wimbledon semifinal appearance. Perhaps that’s what she needs.

“I wasn’t thinking about the result, I was just thinking about learning as much as I could from her,” a more pleased 20 year-old Zhang said. “She was not on her best form, she was impatient and made lots of mistakes.”

Staying with the upset theme, Venus was eliminated by Russian teen Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. Ironically, it was the second consecutive week Pavlyuchenkova sent the seven-time slam winner out of a tournament.

The prior week, the No.3 ranked player fell in two tightly played straights. However, this time she came out firing capturing the opening set.

“She started way aggressive today. She wanted to kill me, I guess,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “I had nothing to lose. I just tried to move her around as much as I could, just hit as hard as I could in the court and just enjoy the match.”

It was the younger Russian who controlled the final two sets by playing cleaner tennis while Venus went off. In particular, her serve unraveled with the 29 year-old American finishing with an uncharacteristic 14 doubles.

“She played really well, unfortunately sometimes I made errors too soon in the play,” Williams lamented.

For Pavlyuchenkova who’s highly thought of, it was another step in the right direction as she prepares for a big 2010.

“I want to win a Grand Slam really so much,” she expressed after advancing to a third round encounter against Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak, who bested Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 7-5, 6-4. “[Maria] Sharapova won it when she was 17, really quite young also. And others before. So, why not? I can do this.”

Another first round upset victim was Wozniacki, who fell in three sets to Spaniard Maria Jose Sanchez Martinez, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2), 6-0. Perhaps the U.S. Open runner-up wasn’t fully recovered from her sickness that forced her to retire last week in a loss to Wozniak. Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer fared no better dropping a three set decision to Russian Alisa Kleybanova 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.

Daniela Hantuchova advanced to a second round meeting against Nadia Petrova by posting a straight sets win over Carla Suarez Navarro. Meanwhile, advancing to the third round were two-time slam champ Svetlana Kuznetsova and China’s Li Na as did Alona Bondarenko.

One player not participating is Ana Ivanovic, who’s had a forgetful season. She pulled out with an upper respiratory problem. It’s just as well.

An Excerpt From “American Doubles”

“The Bryans Rule”

An excerpt, printed with permission, from AMERICAN DOUBLES …the Trials …the Triumphs …the Domination by Marcia Frost. The book, published by Mansion Grove House, is available on Amazon.com, BN.com, and AmericanDoublesBook.net.

Kathy Bryan was playing a doubles match on her due date so her boys were literally born to play tennis when they made their appearance on April 29, 1978. Bob and Mike Bryan grew up in Camarillo, California, a small farm town that is known more for raising lemons and strawberries than tennis players. But Kathy and Wayne Bryan changed all that and instead reared the most famous twins in the tennis world.

In 2007, the Bryan Brothers earned the No. 1 place in the world for three consecutive years and for the fourth time in the past five years. The ITF, which bases the honor on a combination of performance and international competition (i.e. Davis Cup), named them their ITF World Doubles Champions for the fifth straight year. They earned 11 ATP titles in 2007 and, with a total of 44, they are getting close to breaking the all-time record by Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde (“the Woodies”) of 61 titles.

From January of 2005 to July of 2007, the “Boys,” as they are often known, made seven consecutive Grand Slam finals, the first team in the Open era to accomplish that. They completed the Career Grand Slam, becoming only the third doubles team — and first American team — to have won all four major titles in the Open Era (Jacco Eltingh & Paul Haarhuis and the Woodies are the other two).

While Wayne Bryan may have been coach to his boys when they were growing up, he is clear on who had the dreams, “It was not about my goals, it was really just about their goals. Kathy (their mother) and I did everything we could to help them along the path to their goals.” The boys did not watch television and they were not allowed to play against each other in a junior tournament. It was typical to see a “default” as the score when it was a Bryan-Bryan final. The junior tennis world just accepted that was the way it was.

Bob and Mike knew early on what it was they wanted to do. They wrote down their goals and they kept going back to them:

To be No. 1 in the U.S. in Doubles every year in the Juniors
They were No. 1 in the 12s, 14s and 18s (twice);

To get a full ride to Stanford and win the NCAA Team, Doubles and Singles Championship;
They played for Stanford from 1996-98. They led Stanford to the team championship both seasons and won the NCAA Doubles Championship in 1998. Bob also won the singles that year.

To be No. 1 in the World in Doubles;
They accomplished this for the first time in 2003.

To win all the Grand Slam Doubles titles;
They have won two Australian Opens, two French Opens, two Wimbledons and one U.S. Open Championship.

To be the Davis Cup Doubles Team for the U.S. and win the Davis Cup for the U.S.
They clinched the United State’s first Davis Cup final in 12 years on December 1, 2007.

Writing down the goals was an important part of the process, says Wayne, “We (their mother and I) feel you must see it before you can dream it and you must be passionate about it before you can achieve it. We felt it was very important that they knew the ‘real deal’ and all the thousands of steps it took to get up to the top of the mountain, and at the same time we always wanted them to have a smile on their face and learn the great lessons of life along the way and help other people on their journey…And we wanted to leave the tennis campsite cleaner than we found it.”

It is the bond between the two brothers that led them to both choose a doubles career even after Bob, who won the 1998 NCAA Singles Championship, had a good shot at a career in that event.

James Blake spoke a bit about the talent of the Twins at that [the 2007 Davis Cup final in Portland, Ore.], “We have so much fun watching them because we’re constantly in awe of how good their hands are, how well they move together, how great Mike’s returning, how close Bob gets to the net, how well they’re doing everything.”

It was a long road to Portland from when Mike and Bob went to the Davis Cup match in La Costa, California, when they were just 11 years old. As juniors they won 10 national junior doubles titles, including an unmatched five USTA National Clay Court Championships. They were also the first team to win backto- back USTA National Boys’ 18 titles at Kalamazoo in 50 years. Along the way, Bob managed to pick up six national junior singles trophies, while Mike got five. They were the last brothers (in 1996) to be ranked in the Top 10 of the Boys’ 18 division of the USTA National Junior Rankings at the same time.

To those watching The Twins off the court, there are still other subtle ways to tell the guys apart. Bob has always worn a shell beaded necklace. He is also taller — 6’4” to Mike’s 6’31/2”.

The final goal on Bob and Mike’s list was achieved in when they clinched that Davis Cup for the United States, but that doesn’t mean the twins are done playing. “Doubles is a game that you develop into your early, mid 30s,” says Bob. “See guys in their 30s getting better. I think we’ll still improve.”

April 29, 2008 marked the 30th birthday of Bob and Mike Bryan. As they head into their 30s they decided to just add to the list the goal of chasing some records. The “Woodies” currently hold the record for the most year end number one finishes (5), however, it looks like that record will not last for much longer if Bob and Mike have their way.