USTA PLAYER DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS WITH COLLEGIATE TENNIS TO FEATURE TOP JUNIOR AND COLLEGIATE PLAYERS AT AUDI NAPA VALLEY TENNIS CLASSIC

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., September 18, 2012 – The USTA announced today that eight of America’s top juniors will play in a unique tournament format, competing against some of the country’s top collegiate players in the Audi Napa Valley Tennis Classic, September 21-23 at Meadowood Napa Valley in St. Helena,Calif.

This will mark the third straight year juniors are incorporated into the 12-year-old event, a round-robin style tournament that rewards its winner with a USTA wild card entry into a USTA Pro Circuit event. The tournament will feature eight ofAmerica’s premier juniors competing against four players from six NCAA Division I schools, includingCalifornia,Berkeley,Georgia,Harvard,Illinois, Stanford andTexas.

 

“We’re excited that another group of our top juniors gets to compete against some very strong collegians in a respected, valuable event,” said Patrick McEnroe, General Manager, USTA Player Development.

 

“Collegiate competition is a significant part of the pathway from junior tennis to professional tennis, and letting our juniors compete with college veterans will only benefit their mental and physical development.”

 

Each school will send four players to compete alongside the eight juniors, and the 32-man field will be split into eight pools featuring three collegians and a junior (See page two for a full list of participants).

 

Following three matches in pool play, the eight pool winners will compete in the PlayBrave USTA Wild Card Shootout, a single-elimination, 10-point tiebreak tournament. The winner of the tournament will receive a USTA-sponsored wild card into a USTA Pro Circuit event that is yet to be determined.

 

The Audi Napa Valley Tennis Classic is the first of three events this fall combining juniors and collegians. Similar tournaments will be held inPortland,Ore., (women’s) and Orlando (men’s) in November, featuring

juniors and collegians yet to be named.

 

The Classic, which was founded 12 years ago by Cal coach Peter Wright and Meadowood Tennis Director Doug King, will feature junior players for the third consecutive year after being held exclusively for collegians from 2001-09. The 2010 Classic included Jack Sock, who reached the third round of the 2012 US Open, whileCalsenior Nick Andrews claimed the 2011 title. This year’s roster of juniors was selected by USTA Player Development based on ATP rankings (if applicable), national junior rankings and results, and a selection of younger players for developmental purposes.

 

“Bringing the elite juniors and college players together inNapaprovides a unique opportunity to help American junior development,” said Wright. “The event was a major success last year and we look forward to another year of high-quality competition.”

 

This will be the 12th consecutive year the event has been held at Meadowood, with Audi returning as the title sponsor.

 

USTA and Collegiate Tennis: For the third straight year this fall, the USTA will serve as title sponsor and host of the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center’s indoor tennis center. The USTA will also serve as the title sponsor of the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships, the USTA/ITA National Collegiate Wheelchair Championships and more than 85 USTA/ITA Regional Tournaments. In all, close to 10,000 players from nearly 600 schools participate annually in the USTA/ITA Regional Championships. The USTA also names its Collegiate Team, an elite training program for top American collegiate tennis players that began in 1996 and is funded by the USTA. It is designed to provide college players with valuable exposure to the USTA Pro Circuit in a team-oriented environment during the year. Current pros who were members of prior USTA Summer Collegiate Teams include: James Blake, Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, John Isner, Amer Delic, Jesse Levine, Mallory Burdette and Irina Falconi.

 

Audi Napa Valley Tennis Classic – Roster of Participants

USTA Juniors

Deiton Baughman (16,Carson,Calif.)

Robbie Bellamy (17, PacificPalisades,Calif.)

Gage Brymer (17,Irvine,Calif.)

Henry Craig (17,Murietta,Calif.)

Joseph DiGiulio (17,Lakewood,Calif.)

TJ Pura (17, PacificPalisades,Calif.)

Jack Murray (17,Beverly Hills,Mich.)

Konrad Zieba (17,Glenview,Ill.)

 

University of California, Berkeley

Mads Engsted (FR,Aarhus,Denmark)

Chris Konigsfeldt (SR,Rungsted Kyst,Denmark)

Ben McLachlan (JR,Queenstown,New Zealand)

Riki McLachlan (SR,Queenstown,New Zealand)

 

Stanford University

Daniel Ho (JR,Rosemead,Calif.)

Matt Kandath (SR,Gansevoort,N.Y.)

John Morrissey (SO,Dublin,Ireland)

Robert Stineman (SO,Winnetka,Ill.)

 

University of Georgia

Garrett Brasseaux (JR,Mandeville,La.)

Eric Diaz (SO,Athens,Ga.)

Nathan Pasha (SO,Atlanta,Ga.)

Ben Wagland (FR,New South Wales,Australia)

 

Harvard University

Shaun Chaudhuri (FR,Pleasanton,Calif.)

Casey MacMaster (FR,Fort Collins,Colo.)

Denis Nguyen (FR,Anaheim,Calif.)

Alex Steinroeder (FR,Concord,Mass.)

 

University of Illinois

Farris Gosea (SO,Cardiff,Wales, United Kingdom)

Stephen Hoh (SR,Eaglemont,Victoria,Australia)

Tim Kopinski (SO,Palos Hills,Ill.)

Brian Page (FR,Wheaton,Ill.)

 

University of Texas

Lloyd Glasspool (SO,Birmingham,England)

Soren Hess-Olesen (SO,Aarhus,Denmark)

Sudanwa Sitaram (JR,Coimbatore,India)

Daniel Whitehead (SR,Sugar Land,Texas)

 

*Participants subject to change.

 

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The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in theU.S. and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level — from local communities to the highest level of the professional game.

A not-for-profit organization with more than 785,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game. It owns and operates the US Open, the highest attended annual sporting event in the world, and launched the Emirates Airline US Open Series linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. In addition, it owns approximately 90 Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S, and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games. The USTA philanthropic entity, USTA Serves, provides grants and scholarships and helps underserved youth and people with disabilities. For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com, “like” the official Facebook page facebook.com/usta or follow @usta on Twitter.

Party Rock Open Debuts in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (Aug. 23, 2012) – Redfoo from the hit music group LMFAO and his Party Rock brand have agreed to title sponsor the Party Rock Open, a Women’s $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament taking place in Las Vegas Sept. 23-30, tournament organizers have announced.

 

The Party Rock Open will make its debut at theDarlingTennisCenter, formerly the host site of the Tennis Channel Open.  The move to Darling, which is owned in part by ATP player andLas Vegasresident Sam Querrey, will accommodate night matches on the 3,000 capacity stadium court, as well as a Party Rock atmosphere featuring regular deejay sets throughout the tournament.

 

Party Rock Open co-tournament director Tyler Weekes, who operates the tennis concession at The Cosmopolitan on the Strip, recently crossed paths with Redfoo, a tennis enthusiast who grew up playing competitively inSouthern California.   While taking a lesson from Weekes at The Cosmopolitan, Redfoo learned of the tournament opportunity and expressed interest in helping promote the event and brand it after his Party Rock line of clothing.

 

Things moved quickly from there, and soon the Party Rock Open concept was born.

 

“I’m so excited to bring Party Rock to the world of tennis, my favorite sport,” Redfoo said. “Where better to do it than my favorite place to play?Las Vegas!”

 

Looking to take an active role inLas Vegas’ only professional tournament, Redfoo plans to participate in Cox Communications Kids’ Day on September 23, host the official Players’ Party at Marquee, and pair with a top pro from the tournament in the Pro-Am doubles event.

 

Now in its fourth year, the tournament has acted as a stepping stone for some of the top talent in women’s professional tennis.  Currently, approximately 10 players who have competed inLas Vegassince 2009 find themselves ranked inside the top100 in the world.

 

Italy’s Romina Oprandi, currently ranked No. 59 in the WTA world rankings, captured the title in 2011, while top 40 player and U.S. Olympian Varvara Lepchenko was the 2010 champion.

 

“There is no doubt that the Party Rock Open will be a showcase for tomorrow’s generation of stars,” said Jordan Butler, co-tournament director along with Weekes.

 

Added Weekes: “It’s time to Party Rock, Vegas pro tennis style.”

 

The tournament’s official website is www.partyrockopen.com. To learn more about Redfoo and Party Rock Clothing, go to www.partyrockclothing.com.

 

The Party Rock Open is presented byNevadaOrthopedic & SpineCenter,Las Vegas’ premier orthopedics group.

 

Follow along on Twitter @partyrockopen and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/partyrockopen.com.

 

USTA Pro Circuit

With approximately 90 tournaments hosted annually throughout the country and 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 players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. The USTA launched its Pro Circuit 33 years ago to provide players with the opportunity to gain professional ranking points, and it has since grown to become the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, offering nearly $3 million in prize money. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed in cities nationwide. Mardy Fish, Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, Caroline Wozniacki, John Isner, Victoria Azarenka and Andy Murray are among today’s top stars who began their careers on the USTA Pro Circuit.

World TeamTennis Finals to air live on NBC Sports Network

NEW YORK (September 10, 2012) – World TeamTennis, the coed professional tennis league co-founded by Billie Jean King, today announced an agreement to air the WTT Eastern Conference Championship and the WTT Finals on NBC Sports Network, Sept. 15-16.

NBC Sports Network will air six hours of coverage from the WTT Finals Weekend presented by GEICO, set for Sept. 14-16 at the Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, S.C.  The network will be the broadcast home for the Eastern Conference Championship on Sept. 15, and the WTT Finals on Sept. 16.  The Western Conference Championship on Sept. 14 and the Eastern Conference Championship on Sept. 15 will both be live streamed on WTT.com.

Leif Shiras will host the WTT broadcasts and will be joined by former WTT veteran Luke Jensen.

The WTT Finals Weekend presented by GEICO kicks off on Friday, Sept. 14, when the Orange County Breakers take on the Sacramento Capitals for the Western Conference title.  Action begins at 6:30 p.m. EDT and the match will be live streamed on WTT.com.

Venus Williams leads the undefeated Washington Kastles into the Eastern Conference Championship match against their rival New York Sportimes featuring Martina Hingis and John McEnroe on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 6:30 p.m. EDT.  The Kastles are riding a 30-match win streak, the second longest in U.S. pro sports team history.  Washington won the 2011 title with the first undefeated 16-0 record in WTT history.  The Eastern Conference final will air on NBC Sports Network at 12:30 a.m. EDT / 9:30 p.m. PDT that evening and will be live streamed on WTT.com.

The two Conference Champions will face off on Sunday, Sept. 16, at 3:30 p.m. EDT, in the WTT Finals which will air live on NBC Sports Network.  All four teams have won at least one WTT title, with the Sacramento Capitals leading the way with a League-record six titles.

Sacramento, Orange County, Washington and New York advanced to the WTT Finals Weekend after capturing the top two spots in their conferences during the 37th regular season of the WTT Pro League presented by GEICO, which ran July 9-28.  For tickets or other information on the WTT Finals Weekend presented by GEICO, visit www.FamilyCircleCup.com/WTT or www.WTT.com/Finals.

GEICO is the presenting sponsor of the WTT Pro League.  Other official WTT Pro League national and regional sponsors for the 2012 season include Cancer Treatment Centers of America, DecoTurf, Kraft, Mylan, Sims Recycling Solutions, UBS and Wilson Racquet Sports.

WTT FINALS WEEKEND  – TV & LIVE STREAM SCHEDULE

Fri., Sept. 14 – Western Conference Championship- 6:30 p.m. EDT – live stream on WTT.com

Sat., Sept. 15 – Eastern Conference Championship – 12:30 a.m. EDT on NBC Sports Network (tape-delay) and live stream on WTT.com (Eastern Conference Championship live stream presented courtesy of the Washington Kastles)

Sun., Sept. 16 – WTT Finals – 3:30 p.m. EDT – LIVE on NBC Sports Network

MEDIA CONTACT:  Rosie Crews, WTT  817.684.0366  rcrews@wtt.com

About WTT Pro League presented by GEICO: 

The World Team Tennis (WTT) Pro League presented by GEICO showcases the best in professional team tennis with the innovative coed team format co-founded by Billie Jean King in the 1970s.  The WTT Pro League has featured virtually every major champion of the Open era over the League’s past 36 seasons.  The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is a minority owner and promotional partner of World TeamTennis.   WTT and the USTA are teaming up on number of initiatives, including development of the youth market through junior team tennis programs.  For more information on the WTT Pro League, visit www.WTT.com.

About NBC Sports Network:

NBC Sports Network is the 24/7 cable platform for NBC Sports’ rich heritage of unmatched storytelling, best-in-class production and utilizing broad promotion to make big events bigger. Now in more than 79 million homes, NBC Sports Network serves sports fans by airing coverage of the Olympic Games and Trials as well as the National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Soccer (MLS), IZOD IndyCar Series, Tour de France, major college football and basketball, and horse racing surrounding the Triple Crown, among other events.  The network’s original programming, such as Costas Tonight, NFL Turning Point and NBC SportsTalk, exemplifies NBC Sports’ ability to tell stories and provide meaningful, relevant content. The network is also home to the best outdoor programming on television. NBC Sports Network, which prides itself on serving sports fans across multiple platforms, is distributed via cable, satellite and telco operators throughout the United States.

Djokovic On Track To Be Next Great

To some he’s the Djoker, the tennis player with a sense of humor. It doesn’t matter to him if his humor offends, as it’s his way of blowing off steam.

But for many years, Novak Djokovic was the best of the rest. The top player in the world not named Federer or Nadal. Now, though that has changed.

After his complete demolition of No. 5 seed Andy Murray, 6-4 6-2 6-3, to win the 2011 Australian Open, Djokovic vaulted himself up into the land of Federer and Nadal with his second OZ Open win and that makes it twice in four years.

“This was a great match,” Djokovic said. “From the start to the last point, I did what I intended of doing tactically, what I talked with my coach, what I prepared for. Physically I was very fit. I had two days between the semifinals and finals match, which was important at this stage of the tournament.

“Because I was aware of the fact that I am going to yeah, bring it to me. That will have long rallies and I will have a player who doesn’t miss a lot, a very talented player who is one of the best returners in the game.

“And, yeah, you know, I had to step in. That was the key. When I had the chance to step in and try to move him around the court, that’s what I did. Probably the turning point was the last game of the first set where we had some incredible exchange from the baseline, long rallies, and some passing shots that turned the match around.”

For all his talent, the knock on Djokovic was that he suffered from some mental mistakes, which would keep him for vaulting over players like Federer and Nadal. But something seemed to click late last year, which made him mentally tougher and kept his emotions in check.

“Something switched in my head, because I am very emotional on and off the court,” he said. “I show my emotions. This is the way I am. Everybody’s different.

“The things off court were not working for me, you know. It reflected on my game, on my professional tennis career. But then, you know, I settled some things in my head. It was all on me. You know, I had to try to find the best possible solution and try to get back on the right track.

“It’s been a big mental struggle, because I was trying to separate my, of course, professional life from my more private life.

“But, you know, if somebody’s emotional we’re all humans. It’s not possible. If something isn’t working off court, then it’s going to reflect on the court. I managed to solve that problems.

“This is all part of life. Of course, everybody’s facing difficult situations in their lives. To overcome the crisis and to stand up and try to still dedicate yourself to the sport was a big success for me as a person.”

With Roger Federer now on the downside of his career and Rafael Nadal taking up the mantle of the world’s best player, Djokovic is gaining ground in becoming the yin to Nadal’s yang. All great champions have one. Nadal was Federer’s Andre Agassi was Pete Sampras, and so forth. And after straight sets wins over Federer and Murray in the Semifinals and Finals, Djokovic is approaching that level.

Yet, according to the 23 year-old, there is still a gap.

“Still Rafa and Roger are the two best players in the world,” Djokovic said. “No question about that. You can’t compare my success and Murray’s success to their success. They’re the two most dominant players in the game for a while. All the credit to them.

“It’s nice to see that there are some new players in the later stages of Grand Slams fighting for a title. That’s all I can say.”

And it’s nice to see the Serbian win this one. Djokovic will be trying to improve his standing on other surfaces as he never got past the Semifinals at Roland Garros or Wimbledon. Yet, the he seems to be ready for the challenge.

“I don’t want to stop here,” he said. Definitely I want to keep my body healthy, fit, and ready for some more challenges to come. I feel that I have a good game for all the surfaces. I have proven that in the past.”

Henin Retires From Tennis

ending elbow injury that has forced the Belgian to hang up her racquet.  One of the WTA’s greatest players and a seven-time Grand Slam champion, Henin retired from the sport for the first time in March 2008 and became the first woman in the history of professional tennis to retire while ranked World No.1.  She made a successful comeback to tennis at the beginning of the 2010 season, reaching the final of the 2010 Australian Open and capturing two titles (the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart and the UNICEF Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch).  During a fourth-round loss to Kim Clijsters at 2010 Wimbledon, Henin suffered a right elbow injury and did not play for the remainder of the 2010 season.

On her official website, Henin said the following: “I turn, and this time, an incredible page of my life … What a wonderful trip, I have experienced during all these years.  Today I am calmer and I can create positive and rewarding look back on this experience in my life…Finally and most importantly, thanks everyone.  Thanks for standing by my side during all these years. I will never forget your support and your loyalty.”

“Justine Henin will go down as one of the greatest female athletes of her era.  She has been an incredible ambassador for women’s tennis on and off the court, and her fighting spirit, tremendous courage and ultimate success has captured the minds and hearts of millions of fans around the world,” said Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the WTA.  “We have all been fortunate to once again have had the opportunity to witness the beauty of her game during these many past months, and no doubt we will miss seeing her on court competing like only Justine can.  In her young career Justine has already done so much to inspire and give back to others, and I am sure this will continue to be a big part of the next chapter of her life.”

Henin is a winner of 43 WTA singles titles – including seven Grand Slam championships – and has been ranked World No.1 for a total of 117 weeks (7th all time).  She has amassed more than $20 million in career prize money and is leaving the sport with a win-loss record of 527-116.

But more importantly than any statistic, 5-foot, 5 ¾-inch (1.67 m) Henin was renowned for her spectacular one-handed backhand, incredible athleticism and unrivalled mental fortitude and work ethic.

Among many accomplishments, Henin achieved the following:

  • Finished three seasons as the WTA World No.1 (2003, 2006, 2007)
  • Won seven Grand Slam singles titles (Roland Garros 2003, 2005-07; Australian Open 2004; US Open 2003, 2007)
  • In 2007-08, set personal best 32-match winning streak, longest streak since Venus Williams in 2000 (35); in 2007, posted a 63-4 (0.94) winning record, the best percentage in women’s tennis since 1989 (Graf 86-2, 0.977)
  • In 2006 became the seventh player in the Open Era to reach all four Grand Slam finals in the same calendar year (Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, and Martina Hingis).
  • Won 43 singles titles, including seven Grand Slams, two season-ending WTA Championships (2006, 2007) and an Olympic gold medal in singles in Athens in 2004
  • Helped lead Belgium to its first Fed Cup title in 2001.

After retiring from tennis in 2008, Henin turned her focus to charitable work, becoming a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and traveling to Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of Congo in that role throughout 2009.  She created the “Justine For Kids” association, the purpose of which is to help develop and fund projects to aid sick children and their families.  Henin founded the “Sixth Sense Academy” in 2007 with coach Carlos Rodriguez which has five locations – three in Belgium, one in Florida and the most recent one in China.

Tennisography John Isner on Tennis Channel Oct. 3

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 30, 2010 – Tennis Channel, the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and tennis lifestyle, will unveil a new player-biography series, Tennisography, Sunday, Oct. 3, at 7:30 p.m. ET.  The half-hour program will profile different players every month, and the unique stories behind their rise to the professional tennis ranks and their tales’ ongoing chapters today.

Sunday’s inaugural edition will highlight American John Isner, who gained international acclaim as one half – and the ultimate winner – of the longest match ever played, during the first round of Wimbledon this summer.  Beyond the three-day, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68 match, Isner discusses his teenage choice between tennis and basketball, the beloved other sport in which the six-foot-nine-inch player excelled.  He also reveals why he elected to develop his tennis skills from home rather than attend a tennis academy and talks about reaching a Washington, D.C., final against top-10 American star Andy Roddick this summer after winning his way into the tournament.  At the same time, Isner’s family recounts his experiences growing up while his childhood coach goes over what made the young player great.

Future editions of Tennisography will feature Americans Melanie Oudin, who stole the show while reaching the US Open quarterfinals as a 17-year-old in 2009, and Sam Querrey, who has steadily made his mark in both singles and doubles (occasionally partnering with Isner) during the past few seasons.  Another episode will showcase Russian Vera Zvonareva, who reached the singles final at both Wimbledon and the US Open this summer, is currently ranked No. 4 in the world and is studying for a second academic degree in her spare time.

Tennis Channel (www.tennischannel.com) is the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and tennis lifestyle.  A hybrid of comprehensive sports, health, fitness, pop culture, entertainment, lifestyle and travel programming, the network is home to every aspect of the wide-ranging, worldwide tennis community.  It also has the most concentrated single-sport coverage in television, with telecast rights to the US Open, Wimbledon, Roland Garros (French Open), Australian Open, Olympus US Open Series, ATP Masters Series, top-tier Sony Ericsson WTA Tour championship competitions, Davis Cup and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, and Hyundai Hopman Cup.  Tennis Channel is carried by eight of the top 10 MSOs and has a national footprint via DIRECTV and DISH Network.

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Marino Crowned Champion At Saguenay National Bank Challenger

Saguenay, QC – Sunday September 26, 2010 – Rebecca Marino (Vancouver, BC) won the biggest title of her blossoming career on Sunday at the $50,000 Saguenay National Bank Challenger.

The top-seeded Canadian put forth an impressive performance against second-seeded American Alison Riske, ranked no. 157 in the world, in a hotly disputed and highly entertaining singles final between the tournament’s top two seeds at the Saguenay Indoor Tennis Club, coming away with a 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(5) victory to capture her first title of the season and second of her career.

Marino, who was playing in her second final of 2010, was almost invincible on serve in the opening set and made the most of a break in the tenth game to take the early lead. The 19-year-old seemed well on her way to a straight sets win in the second set as she held three match points on Riske’s serve at 15-40, but just as the American had done all week, she played her best in the big moments and hit three winners with her back against the wall to ultimately comeback to win the tiebreak.

Riske started the final set just as she had finished the second and secured herself a 3-1 advantage with a break. This time it was Marino’s turn to turn the tables as she quickly broke back and much to the delight of the partisan crowd, the home favourite sent the match into a decisive third set tiebreak. The two players went back and forth in the tiebreak until Marino delivered the final blow and converted on her first match point at 6-5 with Riske serving.

“I’m so happy to have come out the winner today because the match definitely could have gone either way,” Marino said. “We both brought our best game to the court today and I’m glad we were able to give the fans a good show. I love coming here (to Saguenay) it is a great tournament
and I am honoured to be the event’s champion.”

Riske, 20, announced her arrival on the professional tennis scene earlier this year when she reached the semifinals as a qualifier at the WTA Tour grass court Wimbledon tune up event in Birmingham. Sunday’s triumph was Marino’s third over her opponent in as many tries. She is the first Canadian to capture the Saguenay crown in the event’s five year history.

It was also announced during the trophy presentation that the Saguenay National Bank Challenger will be back for a sixth edition in 2011. For all of the latest news and results from the National Bank Circuit, please visit www.circuitbanquenationale.com.

Women’s Professional Tennis Celebrates 40th Anniversary

ST. PETERSBURG, FL, USA – Forty years ago today, women’s professional tennis was born when nine players, called the Original 9 and led by Billie Jean King, signed symbolic $1 contracts with the late Gladys Heldman, publisher of World Tennis publications, to compete in the newly-created Virginia Slims Circuit.  On September 23, 1970, Billie Jean King, joined by Rosemary Casals, Nancy Richey, Kerry Melville, Peaches Bartkowicz, Kristy Pigeon, Judy Dalton, Valerie Ziegenfuss, and Julie Heldman, decided to participate in the inaugural $7,500 Virginia Slims of Houston event that was financially backed by Phillip Morris’ Joe Cullman.  The Virginia Slims of Houston paved the way for other tournaments of its kind and led to the creation of 19 others, offering total prize money of $309,100.  Subsequently, in 1971, King became the first female athlete in history to pass the six-figure mark in single season earnings.

“When the nine of us signed $1 contracts with Gladys, one of our goals was to create opportunities for new generations,” said Billie Jean King.  “We wanted to make sure that any young girl, if she was good enough and if she wanted to, would have the opportunity to make a living playing tennis. Now, 40 years later, we are seeing our dreams come to life.”

“Billie Jean King and her team of pioneers – the Original 9 – will forever serve as inspiration for every woman who has ever had a goal and a dream,” said Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association). “Sports are a microcosm of society and Billie Jean and her fellow players were able to use tennis as a platform for social change, one that’s led to incredible opportunities for millions of women around the world.”

The WTA was founded following a meeting held during the 1973 Wimbledon Championships at the Gloucester Hotel in London, which united all of women’s professional tennis into one Tour.  Billie Jean King was the original president of the Women’s Tennis Association, which in 1974 further increased its financial stature by signing a television broadcast contract with CBS, the first in the history of women’s professional sports.  Also in 1974, the US Open offered women tennis players equal prize money to their male counterparts.

By 1980, there were more than 250 professional women tennis players competing all over the world in the WTA’s 47 events with total prize money of $7.2 million.  During the 1980’s, Martina Navratilova became the first woman to earn more than $1 million in a single season.  She bettered that effort in 1984 by crossing the $2-million mark in single season prize money, earning more than John McEnroe, the men’s World No.1 at the time.

In 2001, overall WTA prize money increased to $50 million with 63 events, including inaugural tournaments in the Middle East’s cities of Doha, Qatar and Dubai, UAE.  In 2005, the WTA struck a landmark 6-year, $88 million deal when Sony Ericsson agreed to become the sport’s worldwide title sponsor, marking the largest and most comprehensive sponsorship in the history of tennis and of women’s professional sport. By 2009, the WTA total prize money had grown to $85 million.

The historic achievement of equal prize money at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2007 meant that following a 37-year campaign that began with Billie Jean King and the Original 9, all four Grand Slams offered parity for the first time.  Six other tournaments have followed in the Grand Slams’ footsteps and now offer equal prize money, including the year-end WTA Championships.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

Cliff Richey To Continue Mental Health Crusade During 2010 Open

NEW YORK – Cliff Richey, the tennis standout who ranked as the No. 1 tennis player in the United States 40 years ago in 1970, will continue his mental health advocacy crusade in New York at the 2010 US Open with several speeches and appearances to raise awareness and help people overcome depression and de-stigmatize the illness.

Richey, along with his sister Nancy Richey, a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, will headline a fund-raiser for the Riverdale Mental Health Association on Tuesday, September 7 at the Riverdale Yacht Club. Richey, a high-school dropout, will also speak at Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry on Friday, September 10. He will also conduct a signing for his new book ACING DEPRESSION: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match on Monday, September 6 at 5 pm at the US Open Bookstore on site at the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center.

In ACING DEPRESSION, Richey calls depression among adult males “the silent tragedy in our culture today” and details his life-long battle with the disease that afflicts approximately 121 million people around the world. Co-written with his oldest daughter, Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, ACING DEPRESSION ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.CliffRicheyBook.com), is a first-hand account of the life and tennis career of Richey, providing readers with his real-life drama – on and off the tennis court. Richey’s depression is a constant theme, from his genetics and family history, to the tensions of his professional tennis career and family life, to his eventual diagnosis and steps to recover from his condition.

Jimmy Connors, the five-time U.S. Open champion and a friend of Richey, penned the Foreword for ACING DEPRESSION. Writes Connors, “What made Cliff Richey what he was on the tennis court has certainly carried over into this book. His story has taken a subject, depression—which has affected him personally—and put it out there for everyone to see. Depression has been a subject that no one really talks about. Few people even admit to having such a condition. But Cliff is not afraid to be bold and reveal what he has gone through and what it takes to get a handle on this disease…Just as Cliff played tennis, he is studying how depression works; what its weaknesses are; and what strategies you can use against it. His hope is that people who read his story can learn—learn about the disease and learn that people who suffer can have a better quality of life. Things can get better. There is hope.”

Richey and his sister Nancy, a former French and Australian singles champion, will hit tennis balls, provide instruction and speak at the fund-raiser for the Riverdale Mental Health Association. The event will be held from 5 pm to 7 pm at the Riverdale Yacht Club, 800 West 254th Street and Palisade Avenue in the Bronx. Tickets are available for $150 per person, $250 per couple and $50 per child and can be purchased by emailing alange@rmha.org or calling 718-796-5300 x106. Preceding the fundraiser, Richey will visit the RMHA offices to tour the facilities and speak with clinicians. For more information on the RMHA, go to www.rmha.org.

Richey was known as the original “Bad Boy” of tennis, before there was John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase. His 26-year career was highlighted by a 1970 season where he led the United States to the Davis Cup title, finished as the first-ever Grand Prix world points champion and won one of the most exciting matches in American tennis history that clinched the year-end No. 1 American ranking. However, his tantrums and boorish behavior simply served as a mask for his internal struggle with clinical depression. During his darkest days, Richey would place black trash bags over the windows of his house, stay in bed all day and cry. With the same determination that earned him the nick-name “The Bull,” Richey fought against his depression that was not diagnosed until just before his 50th birthday during a routine visit to the skin doctor. Since his happenstance diagnosis, Richey has steadily been taking anti-depressant drugs that has greatly improved his quality of life and moved him to become an advocate for mental health, speaking at numerous events and gatherings across the country.

“I have been given so many second chances in my life,” Richey says in the book. “The beautiful thing is that in recovery, almost everything in your life becomes a second chance. Hope is the foundation of our great country of America. Hope is such a driver of the normal human condition. The sum total of my awful disease was “loss of hope.” That’s the truly awesome thing about recovery: once you come back, your whole life after that feels like a second chance.”

The book has also received acclaim and endorsements in the mental health community.

Says Jackie Shannon, the Past President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “Real men do get depression—even champion athletes. Cliff’s story is an inspiration to all those who are battling mental illnesses and a wake-up call to the public.” Says Lynn Lasky Clark, President and CEO of Mental Health America of Texas, “This straight forward, honest and intensely personal account of Cliff Richey’s experiences with tennis and depression is truly inspirational. Cliff Richey approaches his recovery from depression with great passion and determination. He provides hope and understanding through this powerful memoir.” Say Lynn Rutland, the Executive Director of MHMR (Mental Health, Mental Retardation), “The Richey’s inspired a whole generation of kids to believe in themselves and strive for excellence. Cliff’s story gives people hope when life has dealt them darkness. The battle for the mind is one that Cliff will never lose through lack of effort as he offers insight into his own struggles and victories. His story will continue to make a difference for those suffering with depression.”

ACING DEPRESSION is published by New Chapter Press – also the publisher of The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer, The Bud Collins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Education of a Tennis Player by Rod Laver, Tennis Made Easy by Kelly Gunterman, Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli, The Lennon Prophecy by Joe Niezgoda, Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog by Susan Anson, The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle by Stewart Wolpin, People’s Choice Cancun – Travel Survey Guidebook by Eric Rabinowitz and Weekend Warriors: The Men of Professional Lacrosse by Jack McDermott, among others. Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books and part of the Independent Publishers Group. More information can be found at www.NewChapterMedia.com.