Martina Hingis, Michael Stich, Helena Sukova among Nominees for 2013 Induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame

NEWPORT, R.I., USA, September 6, 2012 – Martina Hingis, a former world No. 1 and the winner of five Grand Slam tournament singles titles, the 1991 Wimbledon champion and former world No. 2 Michael Stich, and the great Czech doubles player Helena Sukova, winner of 14 Grand Slam titles in doubles and mixed doubles have all been nominated to receive the highest honor available in the sport of tennis, induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. All three are nominated for the induction Class of 2013 in the Recent Player Category. In the Master Player Category, Thelma Coyne Long of Australia, who captured 19 Grand Slam titles between the 1930s and 1950s, has been nominated. Additionally, three individuals have been nominated in the Contributor Category for their work toward the growth of tennis- ESPN’s longtime tennis broadcaster Cliff Drysdale, tennis promoter and industry leader Charlie Pasarell, and Ion Tiriac, the Romanian tennis player turned influential player manager and tournament promoter.

 

The announcement of the 2013 nominees was made on the air durng the ESPN2 telecast of the US Open, where Drysdale was applauded by his colleagues, Hall of Famers Pam Shriver and John McEnroe, along with Patrick McEnroe and Chris Evert, Mary Joe Fernandez, and Darren Cahill.

 

“Martina Hingis, Michael Stich, and Helena Sukova worked hard to achieve the ultimate prizes in tennis- top world rankings, Grand Slam titles, Fed Cup and Davis Cup success, and Olympic medals. For their dedication to our sport and extraordinary achievements, I’m very pleased to announce that they have been nominated to receive our sport’s highest honor, induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame,” said Stan Smith, who was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1987 and now serves as the International Tennis Hall of Fame President and Chair of the Enshrinee Nominating Committee.

 

 
Smith added, “We are also pleased to honor Australia’s Thelma Coyne Long for her extraordinary success on the court. And of course, from a commitment to effective tennis news coverage to building up some of the world’s best tournaments, Cliff, Charlie, and Ion have all changed the tennis landscape for the better, and it is thanks to their efforts that we are able to enjoy tennis on such a grand, global scale today. I extend my congratulations to the nominees and our gratitude for their many contributions to the sport of tennis.”

 

Voting for the 2013 ballot will take place over the next several months, culminating with an announcement early next year to reveal the Class of 2013 Inductees. The International Media Panel, which is comprised of tennis journalists and authors, will vote on the Recent Player nominee. The International Masters Panel, which consists of Hall of Fame inductees and individuals who are highly knowledgeable of the sport and its history, will vote on the Master Player and Contributor nominees. To be inducted in any of the categories, an affirmative vote of 75% is required.

 

The Class of 2013 Induction Ceremony will be held on Saturday, July 13, 2013 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. The Ceremony will be held in conjunction with the annual Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event.

 

Tickets for the tournament and Induction Ceremony will go on sale later this year with a pre-sale for International Tennis Hall of Fame Members, followed by the General Public ticket sale. Individuals interested in becoming a Hall of Fame Member or purchasing tickets should call 401-849-6053 and/or visit www.tennisfame.com.

 

Since 1955, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has inducted 225 people representing 19 countries. Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of tennis. The Hall of Fame offers an extensive museum that chronicles the history of the sport and honors the game’s greatest legends. Surrounding the museum are 13 historic grass tennis courts that date back to 1880 and are open to the public, which play host to the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour tournament, and the annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in July. The facility hosts numerous additional public events year-round.

 

From winning the biggest titles in tennis to creating some of the sport’s most exciting tournaments, the nominees for induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2013 have all been integral in shaping the history of tennis. Following are detailed biographies of the nominees, grouped by category.

 

Recent Player: Martina Hingis, Michael Stich, Helena Sukova

Eligibility criteria for the Recent Player Category is as follows: active as competitors in the sport within the last 20 years prior to consideration; not a significant factor on the ATP or WTA Tour within five years prior to induction; a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship and character.

 

Martina Hingis, 32, of Switzerland, was the world No. 1 singles player for 209 non-consecutive weeks and the No. 1 doubles player for 35 non-consecutive weeks. She is in the elite company of Martina Navratilova, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Lindsay Davenport, and Kim Clijsters as one of just five players in history to have held both the singles and doubles No. 1 WTA ranking simultaneously. Hingis won three consecutive Australian Open titles (1997, 1998, 1999), as well as the Wimbledon and US Open titles in 1997. In addition to her five Grand Slam singles titles, she also captured nine major doubles titles (three w/ Jana Novotna, two w/ Anna Kournikova, and one each w/Helena Sukova, Natasha Zvereva, Mirjana Lucic, and Mary Pierce) and one mixed doubles title (w/ Mahesh Bhupathi). In 1998, she achieved a Doubles Grand Slam.

 

Hingis won a total of 43 singles titles and 37 doubles titles over the course of her career, and had records of 548-133 in singles and 286-54 in doubles. In 1998, she led the Swiss Fed Cup team to its only Fed Cup final (lost 3-2 to Spain). She captured two WTA Tour Championships in singles (1998 and 2000) and two in doubles (1999 and 2000).

 

In 1997, Hingis was the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year, the WTA Tour Player of the Year, and the ITF Player of the Year.

 

Born into a successful tennis family, Hingis first picked up a racquet at just two years old and entered her first tournament at age four. At 12 years old, she won the French Open junior title, becoming the youngest player ever to win a Grand Slam junior title. She turned pro at age 14 and her career quickly took off, with Hingis setting a number of youngest-ever records along the way, including becoming the youngest ever world No. 1, a feat she achieved on March 31, 1997 at 16 years, 6 months, and 1 day. Hingis’ success was not based on powerful shots, instead she was known for her impeccable technical skill and ability to produce a wide array of shots. In particular, she was a talented net player and was able to place accurate drop shots just when she needed it most.

 

Hingis first retired from tennis in 2003, at the age of 22, due to injury. She made a comeback in 2006, winning two titles that year and closing the season at world No. 7. As a result, she was named the 2006 WTA Tour Comeback Player of the Year. She won her final title in 2007, before officially retiring. Since retirement, she has been active in World TeamTennis, and in 2011, she partnered with Lindsay Davenport to win the Roland Garros Legends title.

 

Michael Stich, 44, of Germany,was the 1991 Wimbledon champion, and in 1992, he partnered with John McEnroe to win the Wimbledon doubles title. In addition to his success at Wimbledon, he was a finalist at both the US Open (1994) and the French Open (1996). At the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, he partnered with Boris Becker to win the Gold Medal in doubles. In 1993, he defeated Pete Sampras to win the year-end ATP World Tour Championships.

 

Stich achieved a career-high ranking of world No. 2, and he was in the year-end top-20 every year from 1991-1996. He won 18 singles titles, and 10 doubles titles. He holds a career singles record of 385-176 and a doubles record of 165-111.

 

Stich was a member of the Germany’s championship Davis Cup team in 1993, and he was a dedicated Davis Cup team member from 1990 – 1996. He compiled a winning record of 21-9 in singles and 14-2 in doubles.

 

A skilled player at both the baseline and the net, Stich was successful on all surfaces throughout his career, and in 1991 and 1993, he won professional tournaments on all four surfaces.

 

Since retirement, Stich has devoted most of his time the Michael Stich Foundation, which he established in 1994 to provide support for children infected with HIV/AIDS. Additionally, he stays involved with tennis by sponsoring tennis camps for junior players in his hometown of Hamburg and by serving as a commentator for Eurosport and for the BBC TV and Radio.

 

Helena Sukova, 47, of the Czech Republic, won an impressive 14 Grand Slam tournament titles in women’s doubles and mixed doubles over the course of her career. She was also a two-time singles finalist at both the Australian Open and the US Open. She held the world No. 1 doubles ranking for 68 weeks and achieved a career high singles ranking of world No. 4.

 

Sukova captured a remarkable 69 doubles titles during the course of her career, and she compiled a doubles record of 752-220. She achieved a career Grand Slam in women’s doubles, winning four titles at Wimbledon, two at the US Open, one at the Australian Open and one at the French Open. In addition, she won two Silver Medals at the Olympic Games, partnered with Jana Novotna. In 1992, she won the doubles title at the WTA Championships with partner Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. She was a doubles finalist at the event four times.

 

In singles competition, she had a winning record of 614-307 and she won 10 singles titles. One of her most memorable singles victories was when she defeated Martina Navratilova in the semifinal round of the 1984 Australian Open, ending Navratilova’s historic 74-match winning streak. In 1985, she as a singles finalist at the WTA Championships.

 

Sukova was an integral part of the Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic Fed Cup teams for 13 years, and she was a playing member of four championship teams (1983, 1984, 1985, 1988). She holds several team records, including Most Total Wins – 57.

 

Sukova is a member of a prominent Czech tennis family. Her mother, Vera Puzejova Sukova was a women’s singles finalist at Wimbledon in 1962, and her father, Cyril Suk II, was president of the Czechoslovakian Tennis Federation. Her brother, Cyril Suk III, is a former professional player as well. The siblings teamed up to win three Grand Slam mixed doubles titles, at the French Open in 1991 and at Wimbledon in 1996 and 1997.

 

Sukova retired in 1998, and in 1999, she helped re-establish the International Lawn Tennis Club of the Czech Republic and became its president. From 2001 until 2008, she served on the executive committee of the Council of the International Clubs. She remains active in tennis, and is a co-founder of the Kids and Junior Tennis Advancement Organization in the Czech Republic. From February 2001 through November 2008 she served on the Presidium of the Czech Olympians’ Club and in June 2007 she was appointed by the Czech Olympic Committee to the Presidium of the Czech Fair Play Club. Additionally, she is a member of the Champions for Peace Club, a group of famous elite athletes committed to serving peace in the world through sport, created by Peace and Sport Organization.

 

Sukova earned a doctoral degree as a psychologist at Palacky University and since February 2011, she has served as vice president of the Association of Sport Psychologists.

 

Master Player Category: Thelma Coyne Long

Eligibility criteria for the Master Player Category is as follows: Competitors in the sport who have been retired for at least 20 years prior to consideration; a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship and character.

 

Thelma Coyne Long, 94, of Sydney, Australia, had a remarkable career of more than 20 years (1935 – 1958), in which she captured a total of 19 Grand Slam tournament titles, including championships in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. In 1952, she achieved a career-best ranking of No. 7. That same year, she completed an Australian triple by sweeping the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles at the Australian Championships.

 

In May 1941, during World War II, Long joined the Red Cross as a transport driver and worked in Melbourne, Australia. In February 1942, she joined the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) and rose to the rank of captain in April 1944. In recognition of her efforts throughout World War II, she was awarded both the Australian War Medal and Australian Service Medal for 1939 – 1945.

 

Upon her retirement, Long began coaching junior players in New South Wales. Long was inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame in 2002.

 

Contributor Category: Cliff Drysdale, Charlie Pasarell, Ion Tiriac

Eligibility criteria for the Contributor Category is as follows: Exceptional contributions that have furthered the growth, reputation and character of the sport, in categories such as administration, media, coaching and officiating. Contributor candidates do not need to be retired from their activities related to the sport to be considered.

 

After a successful playing career in the 1960s and 1970s and a leadership role in the launch of the ATP, Cliff Drysdale turned his attention to tennis broadcasting, and for more than thirty years, he has been one of the most respected and appreciated voices of the sport. Drysdale, 71, has been on the air with ESPN since the network’s very first tennis telecast- a Davis Cup match between the United States and Argentina on September 14, 1979, just one week after ESPN’s debut. In the thirty-plus years since, Drysdale has called all four Grand Slam tournaments and countless important moments in tennis history. Known for his insightful analysis and engaging delivery, Drysdale was named “Best Tennis Announcer” by the readers of Tennis magazine four times. In addition to his television coverage, Drysdale has been regular contributor to Tennis magazine for more than 15 years. He has played an integral role in sharing the greatest stories of tennis, and has been an influential ambassador for the sport.

 

Drysdale was a member of the original “Handsome Eight” of World Championship Tennis, the tour that laid the groundwork for a viable men’s professional tennis tour, and he was one of the world’s top players at the dawn of the Open Era. With his contemporaries, he was a co-founder of the ATP, which was developed to give players a unified voice and in structuring the professional game for the Open Era. Drysdale served as the organization’s first president, in 1972 – 1973.

 

Originally from South Africa, but now a United States citizen, Drysdale was ranked in the year-end world top-10 six times and achieved a career high ranking of world No. 4. Drysdale was a finalist at the U.S. Nationals in 1965, and he won the US Open doubles title in 1975 with Roger Taylor. He won 35 singles titles and 24 doubles titles, and during his career he notched wins against some of the greatest champions of the sport including Rod Laver, Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe, and Ilie Nastase. He was a member of the South African Davis Cup team for eight years.

 

Today, in addition to his media work, Drysdale continues to take an active role in working to grow interest in the sport. Through his tennis management company, Cliff Drysdale Management, he works with tennis clubs and resorts on tennis programming development, operations, and tennis education programs.

 

Charlie Pasarell, 68, is most recently best known as the past tournament director, managing partner, and former owner of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., but his contributions as a tennis industry leader have spanned all levels of the sport and have been a driving force in the growth of the tennis for more than forty years. Before assuming the leadership role of the Indian Wells event in 1981, Pasarell had already launched the National Junior Tennis League, which is dedicated to offering tennis programming to underprivileged children, and with fellow nominee Cliff Drysdale, he was a co-founder of the ATP.

 

Pasarell’s leadership activities were preceded by a successful playing career in which he achieved the No. 1 ranking in the United States in 1967. He was a member of the United States Davis Cup team for five years, including the championship team in 1968. Pasarell won 18 singles titles, including the U.S. National Indoor Championships in 1966 and 1967. Also in 1966, he was the NCAA Singles and Doubles champion, playing for UCLA. Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Pasarell has been a longtime resident of California.

 

A focus of Pasarell’s tennis career has always been finding ways to utilize the game to give back to the community. At the height of his playing career, in 1969, Pasarell partnered with Arthur Ashe and Sheriden Snyder to launch the National Junior Tennis League. The goal of the organization was to have a positive impact on at-risk children by introducing them to tennis to keep them off the streets and to encourage them to stay in school. Today, the program continues to be the largest grassroots tennis program in the United Sates, with more than 950 chapters. Many NJTL students have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, business leaders, and even a few professional tennis players.

 

In 1971, as tennis was in the pivotal transition to the Open Era, Pasarell and a group of his fellow players founded the ATP, with the goal of giving players a voice in the structuring the new professional game. Over the years, Pasarell has remained highly active in the leadership of the organization and the development of men’s pro tennis. He served as an active board member in the critical early years, from 1971 – 1978. When the Men’s International Professional Tennis Circuit became the ruling body of men’s tennis from 1986 – 1990, Pasarell served as a tournament representative on the board. When the new ATP World Tour replaced that organization in 1990, Pasarell was once again elected by the tournaments to serve as their representative, and he was re-elected to the position every year for 20 consecutive years, until he retired in 2010.

 

In 1981, Pasarell took over as tournament director of the ATP World Tour event in the Coachella Valley of California. At the time, the event was struggling and in danger of being removed from the region. Over the past 30 years, under Pasarell’s leadership, the event has grown to be the largest two-week combined ATP and WTA tennis tournament in the world and the most well-attended tennis event after the four Grand Slam events. The tournament has grown from 30,000 fans to attracting more than 370,000 fans, and it has gone from a television broadcast reaching 25 million homes to more than one billion homes worldwide. The growth has necessitated new, state-of-the-art tennis facilities, taking the venue from a 7,500-seat stadium court to a 24-court, 54-acre complex including a 16,100-seat main stadium, seven smaller stadiums, and 44 luxury suites.

 

After more than 30 years working on the event, Pasarell announced his departure from the BNP Paribas Open earlier this year, following another outstanding event that welcomed more than 370,000 fans and broke attendance records for the sixth year in a row.

 

A successful doubles player turned tennis power broker, Ion Tiriac, 73, has been an influential tennis leader in roles ranging from coach to player manager to tournament promoter. Raised in communist Romania, Tiriac explored an array of sports before discovering his greatest potential and opportunity in tennis. Today, he is the promoter of two successful ATP World Tour events and is ranked among the top-1,000 wealthiest people in the world by Forbes magazine.

 

In the 1970s, Tiriac and fellow Romanian Ilie Nastase partnered to form a successful doubles team. Tiriac took on a mentor type role in the partnership, and parlayed that experience into a successful career in tennis administration. Tiriac took a sharp, business-like approach to tennis and he worked tirelessly to promote the players, grow the tournaments, build up television broadcasts, and to grow the sport overall.

 

He went on to manage the careers of top players including Guillermo Vilas, Mary Joe Fernandez, Goran Ivanisevic, and most notably, Boris Becker, who won five Grand Slam titles while working with Tiriac.

 

In addition, Tiriac was a promoter and tournament director for numerous events including the ATP World Tour’s season-ending Masters Grand Prix, and two of the largest Masters 1000 events, the Italian Open and the Madrid Masters. He is still an active leader on the Madrid Masters, and under his leadership the tournament has grown immensely, and is one of the most well attended annual events in Spain. In addition, he continues to promote tennis in his home country of Romania and is the owner/promoter of the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy, an ATP World Tour 250 event held annually in Bucharest.

 

As a player, Tiriac was an instrumental part of Romania’s Davis Cup team, competing for 15 years, and helping the team advance to the finals three times. In 1970, he partnered with Nastase to win the French Open doubles title.

 

Known for his no-nonsense demeanor, beneath Tiriac’s tough shell lies the heart of a philanthropist and the vision and ability to make positive changes. In addition to his tennis work, since the fall of the communist government in Romania in 1989, he has worked to rebuild the country’s economic and social infrastructure, developing business in banking, real estate, and other ventures. In his hometown of Brasov, he built four orphanages. When the orphanages became obsolete years later, he turned them into retirement communities for the elderly. In addition, he has developed numerous scholarship opportunities for young people.

 

Tiriac is an Honorary President of the Romanian National Olympic Committee and a Honorary President of the Romanian Tennis Federation.

 

For additional information about the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, please visit tennisfame.com

 

 

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About the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum

Established in 1954, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide, and enshrining tennis heroes and heroines with the highest honor in the sport of tennis- induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.  In 1986, the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis, officially recognized the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum as the sport’s official Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is located in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on a six-acre property that features an extensive Museum chronicling the history of the sport and honoring the 225 Hall of Famers; 13 grass tennis courts and an indoor tennis facility that are open to the public and to a club membership; a rare Court Tennis facility; and an historic 297-seat theatre. Annually in July, the venue hosts the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships for the Van Alen Cup, an ATP World Tour event. The buildings and grounds, which were constructed in 1880 by McKim, Mead & White to serve as a social club for Newport’s summer residents, are renowned for their incredible architecture and preservation. The facility was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is supported by Official Partners including BNP Paribas, Campbell Soup Company, Chubb Personal Insurance, Kia Motors and Rolex Watch USA. For information on the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and its programs, call 401-849-3990 or visit us online at www.tennisfame.com.

An Interview With Mary Jo Fernandez

Mary Joe Fernandez

TIM CURRY: We have on the call with us live from Australia, U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez. It’s 7:30 in the morning in Melbourne, and she’s preparing again today for ESPN commentary duties once again but is joining us to announce the U.S. Fed Cup team that will take on Belgium February 5th and 6th in Antwerp.
This is Mary Joe’s third year as U.S. Fed Cup Captain and she has successfully led the U.S. to the finals her first two years as captain. After introductory comments from Mary Joe, we will open up the call for Q&A. Mary Joe.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Good morning from Australia. Good afternoon there in the states. Just wanted to let everybody know how excited I am to be starting as Fed Cup captain this year. And it seems like when you end the year and start the year it’s very quick, there’s a big gap between the semis and finals, but there’s a quick turnaround between the finals and the first round. But here we go. Right after Australia we head over to Belgium. And I’m pleased to announce my team.
I have the same core group returning with Bethanie Mattek-Sands playing; Melanie Oudin; Liezel Huber, and Vania King will be joining us again, two-time majors doubles winner last year. She’s been on teams before.
And we’re excited to have her return. So we’re looking forward to it. We have our work cut out for us in Belgium against the top players. But we’re going to go give it our best shot. I have great faith in the team and the capabilities. And we’ll see what happens. So I open it up to questions.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?

Q. You mentioned having your work cut out for you. What sort of intimidation factor might there be with Belgium apparently bringing (Kim) Clijsters and Justine (Henin)?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Well, it’s pretty clear. They’re two of the best players to play the game. And Clijsters is still here playing today in the quarterfinals. Justine went out early.
To me, the Fed Cup is very different than a regular tour tournament. And, again, hopefully I can offer some advice when I’m on the court. And you just — you really approach it as this one unique match. And you try to do all you can to disrupt all the great things that both those players do.
It’s not easy. But it’s been done before. And you go out with a very positive attitude.

Q. And you had expected or hoped that Venus Williams might have been able to play this time and I’m wondering when you found out she wouldn’t be able to play?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Yes, Venus was going to play, and unfortunately she got hurt during the Australian Open and just confirmed with her just a couple of days ago about her injury and she wouldn’t be able to go.

Q. Obviously you’ve been to Australia and you’ve been watching Melanie and Bethanie and Vania and Liezel play. How impressed are you with how they’ve all started their years and how they’re looking now in the year?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Well, Liezel just won last night her doubles. She’s going to be playing in the semifinals later today with Nadia Petrova. And she’s been looking her usual prepared self and playing smart tennis on the doubles courts.
Bethanie had a great run down here in Australia winning the Hopman Cup with John Isner and then getting to the finals in a warm-up tournament before. She had a tough first-round match against actually a qualifier named (Arantxa) Rus. Was down a set in the break and fought really hard and came back and started up the match in the third and had a tough time closing it out.
But in the mixed doubles lost her doubles yesterday. So she’s been playing a lot of tennis, which is good. She’s match tough. She’s prepared.
Melanie had a tougher time down under, not winning any matches, and losing a tough three set match here in her first round here at the Australian Open. She’s not as confident. But Fed Cup seems to bring out the best in Melanie time and time again. And she’s practicing hard again this week. And we’ll be ready for her next week.
And Vania won her first round and then lost to (Caroline) Wozniacki in a tough second round. Wozniacki is still in the tournament. She’s in the semis. That was a tough drop for her. But she’s coming from last year playing two major finals and winning them in doubles, with (Yaroslava) Shvedova. She didn’t win here.
But she as well is back at home and starting to practice and get ready. So overall pretty good. They all have played matches and will be ready.

Q. I know obviously until you actually get down there and you are watching the girls play and everything, you don’t really know how you’re going to do it. But obviously Liezel and Bethanie have had a lot of success the last couple of years for you in doubles, yet obviously Vania has had great success at the Slams last year and everything. Do you have any inkling of what way you stay with the combination that’s been working or you go with Vania, or you just can’t even think about that yet?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: I think about it. The nice thing about having Vania on the team, she’s very versatile, can play both singles and doubles. And I do make my decision sort of towards the end. We’ve changed our double teams a few times right before that fifth match.
Leaning at the start, definitely to go with the team that’s been there before. And that’s played. Having said that, Vania and Liezel have played a couple times at Fed Cup as well. They complement each other very well, too.
We’ll obviously have to play it by ear as it gets to the fifth match. But during the week we’ll have everybody practice doubles with each other, because you really have to be prepared for any situation. But that’s the good news having Vania is she can play many different roles.

Q. You talked about the timing. You also mentioned that. I would imagine having Fed Cup and having to travel on the heels of the Australian Open would not be what most people think is the most ideal timing.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: It depends where you’re playing. It’s a tough flight, obviously, for me because I’m going straight from here. But for the ones that are back at home, it’s not as bad.
And we’re playing on a surface we like. It’s indoor hard. And we went to France last year and played well. So we’re used to it. We’re used to the travel. We’re used to the time changes and getting used to it.

Q. I was wondering if you could talk about Melanie and how have you seen her develop since her run at the U.S. Open a couple of years ago, and how she’s played last year for you at Fed Cup?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Sure. Melanie, not last year but the year before, was the Cinderella story of the US Open and it really started before that when she qualified at Wimbledon beating Jankovic along the way. She has so much determination. She works extremely hard.
In my mind, she’s improving, trying to get better. She’s not as focused on day-to-day results it is about getting better at her game. I think last year was a tough year for her.
I think players figured her game out. She had a little bit more of a target on her back. And I think it was a tough year for her to get used to all the attention, all the publicity and really the expectation of being the next great American.
She handles it well. She has a great head on her shoulders. For Fed Cup, she’s been instrumental, and I couldn’t ask for a better team player because she really puts the team first.
You’ve seen her play. She fights for every single ball from the first ball to the last. That’s what you want to see during team competition.
So she’ll get there again. I think she’s doing the right thing. She’s trying to get, develop a better serve, a little bit more power. She’s trying to become a little more offensive. For me, the important thing is if she can’t get away from her strength, from her movement, from her consistency. I think that’s really what got her the breakthrough and she’s got to have that balance and combination in her game.

Q. Is this going to be the key for her to jump to that top 20 level?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Again, I think her base is how quick she is and how well she can maneuver around the court and defend. For someone that tall, she really packs a pretty big punch with her forehand. She’s trying to learn to use that better and be a little more aggressive. You just can’t come, I think, too much outside your game sometimes and leave the consistency behind. So once she starts figuring out the balance of the two, I think that’s when she’s going to start winning a lot more matches.

TIM CURRY: While we wait for further questions to be queued, I wanted to mention that win or lose, the U.S. Fed Cup team will play their next match the weekend of April 16-17. If the U.S. wins, we will host the winner of the Slovak Repubic/Czech Republic quarterfinal. If we lose, we will be competing the World Group Playoff that weekend, most likely against one of the teams currently in World Group II, to determine our status for the 2012 Fed Cup.

Q. Just curious to get your thoughts on some of the results of some of the young American women, in particular Lauren Davis and Beatrice Capra, Christina (McHale), Coco (Vandeweghe), and if any of them will be coming along as practice partners to Belgium?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Sure. Lauren Davis will be coming along as one of our young players. Won the (USTA) wildcard playoff tournament to the Australian Open and lost to Sam Stosur in the first right here. And playing Juniors and had a tough win yesterday, and I think she’s on court again today. So I’m looking forward to having her there.
She’s won so many matches in the last season winning Juniors and Challengers and everything. So I think it’s something like 35, 36 matches. She’s definitely one to watch.
And we had eight American women in the main draw here that were 21 years old and younger, which was really nice to see, and that included Christina McHale and Coco Vandeweghe. Alison Riske, Jamie Hampton. So it was a nice break-through.
Unfortunately, they didn’t get past the first round. So we still have a lot of work to do. But they’re slowly getting there. I really believe that all these women should be in the top 100. They should be consistently getting into the majors and perhaps going a lot further and breaking the top 50. I think it was a big step to get so many in the main draw, whether it was through qualifying or like Lauren won the (USTA) wildcard tournament and got straight in risk got straight in, and (Irina) Falconi came thru qualifying as well. It’s definitely looking better. And the women are working hard.
I was down in Florida, the USTA Training Center in December, watching a lot of the girls practice and they’re taking it really seriously. And that’s why I really suspect a big jump from a lot of them here in 2011.

TIM CURRY: Many of the top young players that Mary Joe mentioned, including Coco Vandeweghe, Allison Riske and Irina Falconi, will be competing at the $100,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Midland, Mich., the week following Fed Cup as well as some of the young players who have been part of previous U.S. Fed Cup teams such as Sloane Stephens, Alexa Glatch and Christina McHale. Qualifying in Midland actually begins while the Fed Cup matches are being contested.

Q. Did Jim Courier at all stop you or ask for any tips since he’s starting his captaincy and yet you recently did, I was wondering if you guys had any conversation on that?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: We’ve had a few conversations about what a long road it’s been, two South Florida juniors have come through, and he is Davis Cup captain and I’m Fed Cup captain, how nice that is. I’ve known Jim forever. And I think he’s going to do a fantastic job. Tips, no. He jokes around all the time, how do I get to the final my first year. (Laughter)
But, again, he’s a great guy. He’s very smart. He knows his tennis. Strategy. Great camaraderie with all the U.S. men and looking forward to seeing him do great things with the Davis Cup team.

Q. Wondering your opinion on potentially Rafael Nadal can win the Nadal Slam, it won’t be a calendar slam, but it will be a non-calendar slam. Particularly in the men’s game, I know it’s been done in the women’s game, nobody’s done it since 1969. And when Rod did it as a calendar slam, if he does that how do you view that accomplishment?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: I think it would be unbelievable. I mean, for him to get four in a row during a time where the competition is just so high would be outstanding and what I love about Nadal is his improvement, just in the last few years. I mean, every year he’s better. And for someone who just started off as a great clay quarter, you know, now he dominates on every surface. He’s remarkable. So he’s very close. I think he can do it.
And it would be just, it would be great to see because it has been a long time since it’s been done. And I think it would be great for tennis, too.

Q. Wanted to ask how have you treated putting on the different hats or roles of potential coach, friend, mentor, even parent sometimes to these young girls, and if you could talk about a situation where you’ve had to play those different roles?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ: Well, one of the things I really enjoy about Fed Cup and the week of Fed Cup is learning — now I have a sort of base group that I’m getting to know really well. But their personalities. I mean, everybody’s very different. Billie Jean King was my mentor, Fed Cup and Olympic captain.
And she’s always giving me such great advice about how you really have to treat each individual differently and learn what works with each one.
Some like to be talked to more, some less. When to find those moments. And the most important thing for me is to try to get the best out of them, to make them the best they can be. And it’s a challenge. But for me it’s very rewarding. It’s a lot of fun. And I enjoy following all these American women through the year. And at a time now where we’re really trying to develop the next generation of players, it’s fun. It’s been exciting, and I enjoy, when I watch them practice and see what their intentions are, what their goals are.
So you are, you’re coach, you’re friend, you’re trying to help any which way you can. And they become family, the ones that you deal with on a very frequent basis, and it’s been — I’ve said this before, it’s been a great experience. And one of the favorite things that I get to do.
TIM CURRY: Thank you.

Mary Joe Fernandez To Continue as the Coach of the Fed Cup

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., September 9, 2010 — The USTA announced today that it has agreed to a two-year extension with U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez that will run through the 2012 season.  Fernandez took over as captain last year after serving one season as team coach.  She is 4-1 at the helm of the U.S. Fed Cup team and has led the U.S. to consecutive Fed Cup finals appearances in her first two years as captain, becoming the first U.S. captain to accomplish that feat since Marty Riessen in 1986-87.

“Mary Joe has done a tremendous job in her first two years as U.S. Fed Cup captain,” said Lucy S. Garvin, Chairman of the Board and President, USTA.  “She has created a team atmosphere that has paid dividends, and the results are indisputable.  Mary Joe has also been able to involve some of our most promising young players, paving the road for continued success in the years to come.”

Fernandez will attempt to lead the U.S. to its first Fed Cup title since 2000 when the U.S. hosts Italy in San Diego, November 6-7.  The U.S. also faced Italy in last year’s final in Reggio Calabria, Italy, losing 4-0.  World No. 1 Serena Williams and world No. 4 Venus Williams have committed to represent the U.S. in the final, joining the core U.S. Fed Cup group of Melanie Oudin, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and world No. 1 doubles player and 2010 US Open mixed doubles champion Liezel Huber.

This year will mark the first time the Fed Cup Final has been played in the United States since 2000, when the U.S. won its record 17th Fed Cup title.

Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the world’s largest annual international women’s team competition, with 87 countries competing this year.  For more information, including access to U.S. player and historical Fed Cup records, please go to www.usta.com/fedcup.

Wilson is the official tennis ball of the U.S. Fed Cup team.

You Gotta Believe In Oudin

CBS veteran commentator Dick Enberg beckoned:

“Ooo! Oooo! Oudin,” following American Melanie Oudin’s second consecutive upset at Ashe- this time getting the better of former U.S. Open champion Maria Sharapova in a topsy turvy three-hour three setter that had plenty of drama.

The 17 year-old Atlanta, Georgia native showed maturity beyond her years rallying from a set down to pull out a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 win in front of a very supportive packed house. Not surprisingly, with Sharapova still struggling mightily with a new serve since her return from shoulder surgery, the match featured 16 breaks with each fiery competitor getting eight.

Unfortunately for the 22 year-old Russian star, she bent last dropping serve when a focused Oudin hit a return forehand winner smack on the line for a fifth straight break. Neither player could handle holding but this time, the gritty kid maintained her composure by getting more first serves in to serve it out. On match point, she went for an ace up the tee drawing a short Sharapova reply. With Ashe Stadium sensing the end, Oudin didn’t miss rifling a crosscourt forehand winner before dropping her racket in disbelief and screaming in delight as loud cheers followed.

Her opponent greeted her at the net and then came a nice postmatch interview with CBS’ Mary Joe Fernandez who also doubles as her Fed Cup coach. It was a great moment as she emotionally thanked everyone for “<em>cheering for her.</em>”

How could they not? This girl is very easy to root for because of the effort she puts in. Sure. She admitted to benefiting from a few of Sharapova’s nightmarish 21 double faults. But this was still a three-time slam winner who didn’t give up despite the dreadful serve. In the second set, Oudin led 5-1 before Maria made things more interesting forcing the youngster to courageously serve it out.
<blockquote>“<em>I’ve always been so competitive,</em>” Oudin said. “<em>I go out there and fight as hard as I can. I have ‘Believe’ on my shoes. That’s what I did today. I ended up winning and I’m just so happy.</em>“</blockquote>
It was even more unpredictable in the final set where Oudin was so close to a double break lead for 4-1 but a determined Sharapova saved every break point holding before using an injury timeout to treat her right forearm. The tactic worked as her younger opponent slowed down getting broken to level at three all. But every time you thought the more experienced champ had the momentum, her inconsistent serve let her down. When she wasn’t tossing in doubles, it was Oudin who was outhitting her from the baseline. No small feat given how much power Sharapova can generate.

A true testament to Oudin’s will and also her footspeed which was evident all match with some incredible defense played even producing many of her 22 winners. She converted eight of 26 break chances to Sharapova’s eight for 14. But in the end, the emerging American star held her nerves closing out a great champion.

Indeed, it was well earned as was her comeback win over another Russian, No.4 seed Elena Dementieva a round prior. And so, Oudin moves onto a Round of 16 match against one more Russian, No.13 Nadia Petrova, who easily dispatched Jie Zheng 6-4, 6-1.

Can she keep it going? Oudin’s part of the section includes former Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova and 19 year-old No.9 seed Caroline Wozniacki. But first, she’ll have to get past Petrova.

It’s hard not to get excited. There’s so much fight in her. Even though she missed earlier chances to finish off Sharapova earlier, Oudin never got down instead continuing to be positive.

Amazing stuff from the 5-6 girl who won’t turn 18 until later this month. She might be short in stature but not in heart.

“I just kept fighting as hard as I could, tried as hard as I could,” she said. “I just can’t even believe it.”