PLAYER FIELD IS SET FOR PARTY ROCK OPEN

LAS VEGAS (Sept. 15, 2012) – A strong contingent of young American players heads up a talented international field set to play in the inaugural Party Rock Open being hosted by Redfoo from the hit music group LMFAO Sept. 23-30 at Darling Tennis Center.

Fresh off the US Open where he was a guest in Victoria Azarenka’s box for the ladies’ final, Redfoo and the Party Rock Open will welcome a slew of rising American talent, including teenager Lauren Davis, NCAA Champion Nicole Gibbs, and Pan-Am Games Gold Medalist Irina Falconi.

The women’s USTA Pro Circuit tournament will kick off with singles qualifying on Sunday, Sept. 23, where Redfoo plans to participate in free kids’ tennis clinics as part Cox Kids’ Day from noon to 3 p.m.

Romania’s Edina Gallovits-Hall is the highest ranked played and will likely be top-seeded coming in at No. 114 in the world. She is followed by Portugal’s Michelle Larcher De Brito (No. 120 in the world) and Davis who is currently No. 129. Australia’s
Anastasia Rodionova (No. 130), Falconi (No. 147), and fellow American Alison Riske (No. 150) will all be seeded. Gallovits-Hall and Rodionova both reached the second round of the U.S. Open.

Former USC All-American Maria Sanchez, who has climbed over 500 spots in the world rankings (from 687 to 186) in her rookie season on tour in 2012, will also be featured.

Another notable entry in the main draw is Elena Bovina from Russia. The former WTA World No. 14 ranked player was also a 2002 US Open quarterfinalist

Gibbs, who captured the NCAA women’s singles title in June, is joined by her Stanford teammate, Mallory Burdette. Burdette reached the third round of this year’s U.S. Open as a wild card.

“We are excited about this year’s player field,” tournament co-director Jordan Butler said. “There are a number of up-and-coming players who are going to have bright careers, and many who have already been ranked inside the top 100, so it should be interesting. The field is wide open and it’s a big opportunity for someone to break through.”

Now in its fourth year, the tournament has acted as a stepping stone for some of the top talent in women’s professional tennis. Several players who have competed in Las Vegas since the event was founded in 2009 now find themselves amongst the world’s best, such as current Top 25 player and U.S. Olympian Varvara Lepchenko, the 2010 champion.

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 by Nevada Orthopedic & Spine Center, Las Vegas’ premier orthopedics group.

Other sponsors include: USTA-Nevada, CourtThink, LLC, Agent Atleta, Ltd., WG Communications Group, Cox Communications, ESPN 1110 AM, The Point 97.1, 98.5 KLUC, Marty Hennessey Foundation, Solinco strings, Western Cab Company, the law firm of Marquis, Aurbach, and Coffing, www.10sBalls.com, and Perrier water.

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

Tournament Co-Directors: Tyler Weekes tyler@CourtThink.com
Jordan J. Butler, Esq. jordan@agentatleta.com

Tournament Press Contact: Steve Pratt 310.408.4555, Sprattt@aol.com

Tournament Marketing/Sponsorship: Terri Weisbord 702.806.9760 terriwgcommgroup@aol.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.

Sportsbeat – 9/3/12

No matter who wins the 2012 US Open on the men’s and women’s side, the biggest story of the tournament was Andy Roddick’s surprise announcement that he would be calling it a career at a hastily called press conference at Arthur Ashe Stadium last Thursday.

Roddick kept his composure as he explained that he no longer felt that he had the energy and desire to compete on the pro tour any longer. He will now use the time to concentrate running his foundation and youth tennis center in Austin, Texas where he now makes his home.

When asked what he will miss the most about competing, Andy quickly replied, “All of you!” The media quickly laughed at the joke because it’s no secret that he has never been fond of the fourth estate. More often than not, he has acted peevish when asked legitimate questions that he would have preferred not been raised.

I remember asking him after he won his first round match in 2008 if he felt any regrets about taking part in American Express’s bizarre “Who stole Andy’s mojo?”ad campaign three years earlier. In 2005 Roddick lost his first match at the Open to the little-known Gilles Muller of Luxembourg in straight sets creating instant embarrassment for both himself and AmEx. “I never think about that!” snapped Roddick. I doubted the veracity of that statement then and my opinion hasn’t changed now.

It was hard not feel a bit sorry for France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who got bounced after losing his second round match despite being seeded fifth on the men’s side. I asked him if there is a big talent gap between the top four male players (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray) and himself. “I would have to be say that there is,” Tsonga candidly replied. He then gave a variation on the late Rodney Dangerfield’s “I get no respect” line by saying that no matter how hard he works on the court, “he never gets rewarded” at the Grand Slam tournaments.

I asked James Blake, who made it to the third round at this year’s Open before being eliminated, if it was good for his sport that one per cent of the male tennis players win 99% of the big tournaments. “Actually, it is. When I first became a professional, the prize and endorsement money for golf and tennis was pretty much the same. Then Tiger came along and the interest in golf skyrocketed at our expense. “Novak, Roger, and Rafa do a great job of marketing our sport to everyone,” he said.

Starwood Hotels, whose lodging portfolio includes Sheraton, Westin, Le Meridien Four Points and W Hotels, made fans at the Open by offering complimentary pedicab rides along the boardwalk between the Willets Point #7 train stop and the Billie Jean King Tennis Center.

Bravo to the Queens Economic Development Corporation for having a kiosk at the Open promoting all that our borough has to offer.

Tennis players are always aware of their corporate benefactors and they love it when the press queries them about their endorsement deals. Up and coming American tennis star Sloane Stephens was gushing over the fact that her likeness was plastered all over the boardwalk linking the #7 train and Flushing Meadows Park. James Blake, who normally, wears a Mets cap to his press conferences, sported instead a short and hat that read “Travis Mathew.” Blake informed us that Travis Mathew is an L.A.-based sportswear company that has signed him and golfer Bubba Watson to be their spokesmen.

Roger Federer has long been one of the more accessible superstars. When I passed him in the back hallways of Arthur Ashe Stadium last week I told him that I enjoyed his television commercial for Mercedes-Benz. The money shot has one of his young twin daughters throwing a stuffed toy at him right after he fastens his seat belt in the ad. Of course not a hair ever gets out of place and the smile is perfect since this is, after all,  suave and debonair Roger. He beamed and thanked me for saying that I thought that it was worthy of Clio consideration. (The Clios are advertising’s answer to the Oscars.)

Every year American Express hires MSG sports anchor Al Trautwig to interview current and former players at the Open. The nice part is that patrons get a chance to ask questions. Last Friday Al was talking with the recently retired Taylor Dent. The handsome and articulate Dent has always looked as if he came from Hollywood central casting. It’s a shame that he, like his good friend Robby Ginepri who is still playing, could always be counted on to lose at Flushing Meadows by  the fourth day of the Open. Of course back then nobody around here cared if Dent was eliminated early since we could always depend on either Andre Agassi or Pete Sampras, both Americans of course, to win the big trophy.

I asked Dent whether tennis will be in trouble if an American doesn’t start winning a US Open sometime soon. “That’s a good question. My feeling is that it’s not as crucial as it might have been a few years ago,” he stated.

The Tennis Channel, which is available on Time Warner Cable only as part of an extra-costing sports tier package, once again missed a golden opportunity at the US Open. As per their nickel-and-dime tradition, they neither took out a kiosk to promote their outlet to the general public, nor did they have a press event to let media get to know either their executives or broadcasters such as witty former player Justin Gimelstob.

The Golf Channel, which has obviously a similar niche appeal as the Tennis Channel, is available as part of basic packages on most cable and satellite providers. What separates the two is that the Golf Channel is owned by Philadelphia-based media behemoth, Comcast. The Tennis Channel is independently owned and thus lacks muscle with television operators which is why they should promote themselves where they can such as at American tennis’s marquee event.

The United States Tennis Association held a kick-off event for National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month this past Saturday. Fighting childhood obesity has been a pet project of First Lady Michelle Obama. Coming out to the Billie Jean King Tennis Center to lend their support were gold medal-winning Olympic swimmers Dara Torres and Cullen Bryant, personal trainer and consultant to NBC’s popular reality series, “The Biggest Loser,” Bob Harper, and actress Christine Taylor (who is perhaps better known for being married to Ben Stiller.)

It’s hard to believe that the Baltimore Orioles have emerged to be the Yankees’ biggest threat in the American League. I had to check the box score in the papers to make sure that Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray weren’t still playing for them. OK, call me Rip Van Winkle.

After watching the Mets win five out of six against the Phillies and the Marlins on the road last week, it’s clear that our Flushing heroes are, to use a favorite term from team owner Fred Wilpon, playing meaning September games. Our guys are going all out to finish in third place in the National League East.

I was saddened to learn of the passing of veteran character actor and Forest Hills High School alumnus Stephen Franken. He was best known for succeeding Warren Beatty in the role of the foppish and wealthy high school rival of Dwayne Hickman’s Dobie Gillis on television’s “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” in the early 1960s.

 

Family Comes First For Kim

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Cross Sports Journalist off the list of potential careers for Kim Clijsters. When asked tonight, she gave a very quick, no.

“I definitely read the press in my first few years that I was on tour, and then I completely ignored the press,” Clijsters said.  Also because positive, negative, I didn’t want it to get to me.  It did when I was younger whether there was negative press, positive press.”

Well she will have plenty of time to decide after her second round loss to Brittan’s Laura Robson, 7-6 7-6, because that’s it for the three-time US Open Champion as she calls it a career.

“Now that I’m almost completely finished, you think about when I first stepped on tour, you know and met Steffi Graf and Monica Seles,” she said.  “First in Belgium when I was able to practice in a tennis center against Sabine Appelmans and Dominique Monami.

“It’s been an incredible journey, and a lot of dreams for me have come true because of tennis.  As a little girl, I got tennis racquets under the tree and outfits of Steffi Graf and Monica Seles and I would want to wear them to bed I was so excited.

“So for me to have been able to have been a part of women’s tennis, and on top of women’s tennis for so many years, now that I think back ‑‑ you know, you don’t think about it when you’re in it.  You’re kind of on automatic pilot.  You don’t think about those things anyway.

“Now that I think about it, it’s been a crazy rollercoaster at times, as well.  All of a sudden when you’re 15, you kind of get thrown in the spotlight, you go through puberty in the spotlight, you have your first boyfriend in the spotlight, you know, everything.

“It’s not just the tennis side of things that you think about now, it’s about life.  We’ve had a lot of things happen in these last 15 years that I’ve been on tour.  I’m able to look back at them, and I’m very happy with the progress that I’ve made.”

And what a career it has been. Three US Open Champions (2005, 2009, 2010), one Australian Open Championship (2011) and two French Open Finals (2001, 2003) and add to that two doubles majors at the French and Wimbledon in 2003. She, of course retied once and came back looking better than ever.

More importantly, though she goes out on her terms, as she retires for the second and final (we think) time.

She is obviously an all-time great up there with her contemporaries like the Williams sisters and Justine Henin, and and even can be compared with  her idols like Graf and Seles, who inspired her to become a tennis player.

“I hate to lose,” she said. “ My husband and I, we play ping‑pong in our garage and I don’t even want to give him a point.  I hate to lose, but I’m very aware or I understand and appreciate when you have an opponent who’s playing really well and plays good tennis.

“I always try to be better than my opponent.  I always try to find a solution to try and win a match, but I was also aware or understood that, you know, players can be better than you on the day.

“Losses have always motivated me more to go back.  I have a little gym in my basement downstairs.  Even when I was supposed to take a few days off, I would go into the gym and just run and do intervals and workouts to try and be better next time after a loss.”

But not this time. With her daughter Jada getting older and going to school, the travelling is just too much. Clijsters wants to be a good mother and there for her child while growing up. It makes it difficult to do that and go out on tour.

That’s may be her greatest legacy. The wins are one thing, but to balance being a mother, staying in shape after giving birth and coming back even stronger puts her in the echelon of Margaret Court.

“When I hear it, it is special, and I feel proud that I was able to win a slam as a mother, just because I know how much work it took after I had Jada to get back physically, tennis‑wise, and mentally to get back into the sport,” she mused.

“On the other hand, I never thought about that when I was playing.  You know, there were moments that it was hard.  Especially when I first started coming on tour it was hard to find the balance between figuring out ‑‑ when I was home, I was still working out, practicing hard, but I was 100% mom.

“If Jada was sick, I would call up and say, I need to be home now.  During a tournament, I can’t call the tournament director and say, Hey, can you move my match because I need to be home for Jada or something.

“Again, you know, you have a team that you work with.  Nicole, our nanny, has been maybe the most important member of our team because she’s given me so much comfort knowing that my daughter was with somebody I trust.

“When I want Brian to watch me play, Jada is with her.  Whether they’re in the hotel or sitting somewhere in the stadium, it’s so comforting knowing that she’s okay.  Knowing that, that’s when I’m able to play tennis and go to practice.  It got a little bit easier for me to leave home when she started going to school because I didn’t have to feel that guilty of leaving her behind when I had to go to practice.

“It’s been tough at times, too.  As a mother, you feel guilty if something happens that you can’t be there, good things or bad things.  Unfortunately, those kind of things have been there.

“On the other hand, I know with our lifestyle I’m maybe more with her than parents who work hard and who work from 9:00 to 5:00.

“But, yeah, I think as a parent you always feel like you miss out on things or feel a little bit guilty and you want to do better and be the perfect parent.”

That’s why she is leaving. She was smart enough to know the window was closing to play professional tennis and now her life becomes her family.

At the age of 29, she made the smartest decision of them all, to be a full time mother.

She will be missed at the Open.

 

 

 

 

Open National Tennis Championships comes to Las Vegas

Over 300 open-level players from across the country will be competing for 3 National Team Championships this Friday through Sunday at the Darling Tennis Center starting at 7am each day. Up for grabs are the Men’s National Team Championship (Open-Level), the Women’s National Team Championship (Open-Level) and the Men’s National Team Championship (5.5)

All procceds from the event go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Saturday the Lance Armstrong Foundation will be at the Darling Tennis Center to honor the tournament organizers, including Cancer survivor Rob Kinas, whose firm Snell and Wilmer has sponsored the event for years.
Las Vegas teams qualified at the 6 state sectional level in each of these 3 divisions. The Las Vegas community is welcome to join in the fun and to cheer on their pros. Admission is free. The format is one singles and two doubles per match.

Last year, the Vegas Men’s squad captured the National Championship with the passionate efforts of Brian Wilson, Adam Carey, Henner Nehles, Tim Blenkiron and Misha Yevitch. This group is anxious to defend its title.

Las Vegas’ Women’s squad also expects to make a statement this weekend. The Women’s roster is loaded with power – Sabrina Capannolo, Elena Gantcheva, Kristina Nedeltcheva, Blakeley Griffith, Sarah Porter, Maggie Yahner, Janes Hack and Amanda Parson.

Community Services Premiere Monday on the Tennis Channel

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 10, 2010 – Tennis Channel, the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and tennis lifestyle, chronicles the renovation of Centennial Tennis Center in Nashville, Tenn., on its new program, Community Surface, which premieres Monday, Sept. 13, at 7:30 p.m. ET – the day after the 2010 US Open.

The half-hour Community Surface built by SportMaster takes viewers behind the scenes as Tennis Channel, court-resurfacing company and presenting sponsor SportMaster, and the United States Tennis Association (USTA), renovate the public tennis facility that was badly damaged in Nashville’s May floods.  During the national headline-grabbing storms, 36 inches of rain destroyed many of the 19 courts at Centennial Tennis Center which, due to insufficient repair funds, had left them unplayable and closed this summer.  Following a week of repairs in August, members of the Nashville tennis community were able to enjoy these courts again for the first time since the spring catastrophe.

“By showcasing how the makeover of just one public center can rejuvenate an entire tennis community, we hope Tennis Channel can inspire others to work together to improve their local facilities or help with other tennis needs,” said Laura Hockridge, vice president, original programming, Tennis Channel.  “Three-fourths of our viewers also play tennis recreationally, and this program is a natural reflection of the grass-roots connections that exist all over our country.”

Hosted by writer and television personality Touré, who also hosts Fuse TV’s Hiphop Show and On the Record, the program was taped in Nashville August 10-18.  Centennial Tennis Center’s courts were sealed off with privacy screens during the renovation, with the grand revelation on August 18.

Upon its completion the Centennial Tennis Center now features eight new 36′ kids tennis courts in addition to the 13 existing regulation 78′ courts.  The USTA’s QuickStart play format will be taught on the kids tennis courts.  The QuickStart play format is designed to bring kids into the game with specialized equipment, shorter court dimensions and modified scoring, all tailored to age and size.  Beyond the youth-oriented program, each year the USTA helps numerous communities repair and maintain their tennis facilities through public grants.

“The USTA is proud to be partnering with SportMaster and Tennis Channel to make this happen,” said Kurt Kamperman, chief executive, community tennis, USTA.  “To be able to return these courts back to playing condition allows us to continue our mission of growing the game at all age levels, especially to kids ten and under.”

“The floods caused so much damage throughout the area that we had no idea how we were ever going to get these courts back into playing condition,” said Blain Smith, manager, Centennial Tennis Center.  “We can’t thank Tennis Channel, SportMaster and the USTA enough for helping our tennis community back and hopefully inspiring others to take up the game.”

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.

This Talk of a Roof is Just Lip Service

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – So here we are another day looking to be a washout. Already the doubles matches have been canceled and the women may be coming soon.

Yet, today the USTA addressed the situation and, of course, some reporters asked about a roof.

“Well, look, would I love to have a roof? Absolutely,” said tournament director Jim Curley. “But it is certainly one of those situations where you have to really look at the practical aspects. In ’07 we didn’t have a single session rained out. In ’08 we had one, and thus far, knock on wood, hopefully we’ll only have one rained out in ’09.

So you weigh that against the potential costs of a roof on Ashe of $100 million or more, and it’s a tough decision. We’re trying to figure out the best ways to utilize the revenues to promote our sport. That’s a tough decision for us to make that, you know, nine-figure investment in a roof.”

Of course when it rains everyone wants to have a roof and Currey and USTA Chairman Gordon Smith also said they were looking into what it would take to cover Ashe.

Yet, the same problem will remain: No matter what material you use, the ground that the Tennis Center is built upon is very soft from the original landfill.

If you read the Great Gatzby, you will know that Flushing Meadows – Corona Park was once called the Valley of the Ashes. It was a garbage dump that the city plowed over for the 1939 World’s Fair. The lands that Shea Stadium, and now Citi Field, stands on also was part of the same landfill.

Back in the 1980s, the city looked into putting a dome on Shea, which was part of the original plan. Yet the feasibility study said that the weight of the roof would collapse the stadium because of the land it stood upon.

Now they want to do it with Ashe, which may have the same problems. Of course, the Tennis Center is newer, but Ashe sits on a water pool, that’s below ground. That’s why there’s always a drainage problem there. If you look at the pictures of the United States Pavilion – which was on the Ashe footprint in 1964 – from the World’s Fair, you will see the pool under the structure.

So it’s going to be difficult and expensive. The media is all for it though. It’s not their money and by pushing the Open back a day, the out of town members are forced to push their fights back and get night in the hotel. That’s an extra expense that none of the newspapers want to endure and why this is getting so much service.

And that especially comes from the British media. Because a roof was placed on Wimbledon, they think every other venue needs one too. Five years ago if this wad mentioned by anyone, all the royal subjects of the Queen would pelt you with their strawberries and cream.

Yet, what’s good for the Brits – and the Aussies for that matter, who need their roof because of the heat – may not good for the USTA. Remember that money that they will save will go elsewhere, such as promoting the sport in this country.

“We’re nonprofit,” Smith said. “Our mission is to grow and develop the game of tennis. We spend the money we make on the Open on grassroots tennis. The money we make here goes out into grassroots all around the country, including building this tennis center, which 11 months of the year is the nicest public tennis center in New York for New York citizens to use without having spent a penny of taxpayer money. Our money goes out and does that.

“So the question is, are you going to spend $100 million or more, we don’t know exactly, on a roof that you might use once a year, which would be the average? Or is the money better spent promoting the game that we have been promoting so successfully? Because over the last five years, grassroots tennis has grown tremendously. Tennis is growing more than any of the traditional sports in our country. So it’s a very difficult balance to make.”

No it’s not. The USTA has done a very good job upgrading Flushing Meadows over the past 20 years. It’s the best tennis center in the world. But to have roof insurance for the cost of over $100 million is a just too much of a price to pay.