With Sugarpova, Maria Sharapova Looks to Sweeten the World of Candy

Throughout her tennis career, the 25-year old Maria Sharapova has not been sweet to her opponents, winning four Grand Slam titles, including the 2012 French Open. But Sharapova is looking to be a lot sweeter to many, as she launches Sugarpova, a premium candy line that reflects her fun, fashionable, sweet side.

I had a chance to ask Maria about Sugarpova and how it began. “I can’t take credit for coming up with the name. I was having a meeting with my manager who had met with Jeff Rubin, who is pretty influential in the candy business, and they had started talking about it. Originally, it was something I was going to be a part of, then I thought…I really want to own this”, Maria said. “I guess I can say it started because I have been part of so many little things in my career, been a part of collaborations and collections. It came to a point where I really wanted to invest my own money into something, make all final decisions” Sharapova continued.

Sugarpova offers a bit of luxury, and aims to interpret classic candies in her own signature style. She hopes to bring a new level of quality to the candy world through fun, unexpected types, shapes and names. Some of the names include Smitten Sour, Flirty, and Cheeky.

Sugarpova is already off to a good start, as Sharapova mentioned that the candies are sold out. What should people expect from the brand in the future? “I do hope it goes into chocolate and caramels and all that, but for my body I really hope not” she said with laughter. Sharapova has enjoyed the sweet taste of success on the court, and, with Sugarpova, off the court as well.

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.”

Andre Agassi To Be Inducted Into Tennis Hall of Fame

NEWPORT, R.I., USA, January 20, 2010 - Andre Agassi, a former world No. 1 and one of the most revered athletes in the world, will receive the highest honor available in the sport of tennis, induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The announcement of Agassi’s induction was made today at Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, the public charter school that Agassi founded in 2001 in Las Vegas’ most at risk community. The students at Agassi Prep, who range from kindergarten through Grade 12, joined Agassi in a pep rally style event to celebrate his induction.

“I’m truly honored to be recognized alongside the greatest players of tennis,” said Agassi. “My tennis career afforded me the opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives and it was truly special to share this exciting moment with the students of Agassi Prep.”

Agassi is the sole 2011 inductee in the Recent Player category. Additional 2011 inductees in other categories will be announced at a later date.

“During his 20-year career Andre Agassi recorded some of the most incredible achievements in tennis, including Grand Slam titles, an Olympic gold medal, and Davis Cup success. The energy and excitement that he personally brought to the game inspired generations of players. Today, he continues to inspire people around the world as a dedicated philanthropist, and, therefore, it was only appropriate that we share this news at the school where so many young people benefit from his generosity,” said Christopher E. Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. “Andre is a true champion of the game, and we are delighted to honor him for his contributions and achievements with induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.”

Agassi’s Induction Ceremony will be held on July 9, 2011 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, R.I. The Ceremony will be held in conjunction with the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event.

Tickets for the Induction Ceremony and its surrounding events are limited. Box seats, custom sponsorship and hospitality packages are available. In addition, the International Tennis Hall of Fame is developing additional events and programs to complement the Induction Ceremony and allow as many fans as possible to be part of the celebration. Individuals looking for additional information should call 866-914-FAME (3263) and/or visit www.tennisfame.com.

Agassi, 40, of Las Vegas, Nevada, held the No. 1 singles ranking for 101 weeks, and is regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, as well as one of the premier athletes of his generation. Agassi achieved a career singles record of 870-274, winning 60 titles, including four at the Australian Open, two at the US Open, and one victory each at the French Open and Wimbledon. Within his 60 tournament wins, he captured 17 Masters 1000 events. In 1990, he won the season-ending ATP World Tour Championships. Agassi earned a Gold Medal at the 1996 Olympics, by taking the Singles title in Atlanta. A member of two winning American Davis Cup teams (1990, 1992), Agassi achieved a career record of 30-6 in Davis Cup play for the United States. Agassi’s passionate performances, non-traditional apparel and style, and extraordinary skill made him one of the most iconic athletes in the history of the game. He is credited for reviving the popularity of the game and inspiring a generation of tennis players.

In 1999, Agassi came back from two sets down against Andrei Medvedev in the final to win the French Open, putting him in the elite company of Rod Laver, Don Budge, Fred Perry and Roy Emerson, as the only five men at that time to have achieved a Career Grand Slam. (Roger Federer later joined them with his victory at the French Open in 2009.) This win also made him the first male player in history to have won all four Grand Slam titles on three different surfaces (clay, grass, and hard courts), a tribute to his adaptability.

Agassi turned professional in 1986 at the age of 16, and made his way into the top-100 in his first professional year, finishing the season ranked No. 91. He won his first Tour-level title in 1987, and closed out his second professional season ranked No. 25 in the world. In 1988 his year-end ranking was No. 3 and he surpassed $2 million (US) in career prize money, after playing in just 43 career tournaments – the fastest anyone in history had reached that mark. Agassi enjoyed a long, successful career through 2006, during which time he earned more than $30 million (US) in prize-money, fourth only to Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Rafael Nadal to date.

In June 2003, at the age of 33, Agassi became the oldest player to hold the No. 1 singles ranking, a position that he held onto for twelve weeks. Agassi retired from professional tennis on September 3, 2006, after losing in the third round of the US Open. He delivered a memorable retirement speech and was honored with an eight-minute standing ovation from the crowd.

During his career and into retirement, Agassi has been a dedicated philanthropist. In 1994, he founded the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education, which is devoted to helping at-risk youth in Las Vegas and its surrounding areas. Since the inception of the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education $150 million dollars has been raised to benefit the mission of the Foundation, including $92 million from the Grand Slam for Children fundraising event. In 1995 and 2001, Agassi was awarded the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award, which is presented annually to one ATP World Tour player in acknowledgement of outstanding humanitarian contributions.

In 1997, he established the Andre Agassi Boys & Girls Club in Las Vegas, which supports 2,000 children throughout the year and boasts a world class junior tennis team and basketball program. Additionally, the club utilizes a rigorous system that encourages a mix of academics and athletics.

In 2001, Agassi opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a tuition-free public charter school in Las Vegas’ most at-risk neighborhood. The school utilizes advanced technology, smaller class sizes and extended school hours, among other tactics, to combat lowered academic expectations and to foster a sense of hope among this community’s most challenged children. In 2009 and 2010, the school graduated a 100% acceptance rate for higher education.

In 2007, Agassi joined forces with Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong, Warrick Dunn, Jeff Gordon, Mia Hamm, Tony Hawk, Andrea Jaeger, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mario Lemieux, Alonzo Mourning and Cal Ripken, Jr. to found Athletes for Hope. The non-profit organization helps professional athletes get involved in charitable causes and aims to inspire the sports community, especially athletes, to make a difference and to inspire others to pass their passion for philanthropy from generation to generation.

Agassi is married to retired professional tennis player and 2004 Hall of Famer Stefanie Graf, and they reside in Las Vegas with their two children.

Induction Process
International Tennis Hall of Fame President and 1970 Hall of Famer Tony Trabert serves as Chair of the Enshrinee Nominating Committee. Election to the Hall of Fame is voted on by a panel of more than 100 tennis media professionals around the world and a 75% favorable vote is required for induction.

Inductees to the International Tennis Hall of Fame are elected in the categories of Recent Player, Master Player and Contributor. To be eligible for Hall of Fame induction in the Recent Player category, the individual must have been active as a competitor in the sport within the last 20 years prior to consideration; must not have been a significant factor on the ATP or WTA Tour within five years prior to induction; and must hold a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level. Consideration is given to integrity, sportsmanship and character.

Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a charitable, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of tennis. Since 1955, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has inducted 218 people representing 19 countries.

To learn more about Andre Agassi’s induction or about the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, please visit tennisfame.com or call 401-849-3990.

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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, enshrining tennis heroes and heroines, and providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum was recognized as the sport’s official Hall of Fame in 1986 by the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis. 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 218 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 Campbell’s 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.

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.