Martina Hingis added to lineup for WTT Finals Weekend in Charleston, S.C.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (August 29, 2012) — Martina Hingis, the 2012 WTT Female MVP, has been added to the lineup of tennis stars for the WTT Finals Weekend presented by GEICO, Sept. 14-16, at the Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, S.C.

Hingis, a five-time Grand Slam singles champion, confirmed to League officials today that she will be in Charleston to lead her New York Sportimes team for the WTT Finals Weekend.  Hingis, who finished first in WTT women’s singles during the regular season, is expected to face off against Venus Williams in women’s singles during the Eastern Conference championship showdown on Sept. 15 between long-time rivals, the New York Sportimes and Williams’ undefeated Washington Kastles.  Hingis will be joined by Hall of Famer John McEnroe, Jesse Witten, Robert Kendrick, and Ashley Harkleroad for the Sportimes.  Chuck Adams is the coach of the Sportimes.

This will be a rematch of the July 21 contest that featured Williams defeating Hingis to rally the Kastles from six games back in the final set to give Washington a Supertiebreaker win over the Sportimes and keep their win streak intact.

The Western Conference title will be decided on Sept. 14 when the six-time champion Sacramento Capitals battle the Orange County Breakers.  The Breakers will be without the services of WTT veteran Lindsay Davenport who is out of the WTT Finals Weekend with a torn ligament in her left wrist.  Davenport, who is sporting a cast for the next several weeks, tripped at home and injured her wrist.  She will be replaced in the Breakers lineup by her teammate and former collegiate standout Jana Juricova.  Juricova, who played nine matches for Orange County during the regular season, won the 2011 NCAA singles championship while playing for UC-Berkeley and was also named ITA National Player of the Year in 2011.  Trevor Kronemann is the Breakers coach.

The lineup for the Kastles will be Williams, who last month won the Olympic gold medal in doubles with her sister Serena Williams, along with 2012 WTT Male MVP Bobby Reynolds, Leander Paes, Anastasia Rodionova and Arina Rodionova.  Paes is considered one of the sports’ greatest doubles champions, with 50 titles and having completed the career doubles Grand Slam earlier this year with a victory at the Australian Open.

The Kastles are looking to win their second consecutive WTT title and continue their 30-match win streak.  After capturing the 2011 title in Charleston with a 16-0 record, the Kastles won all 14 of their 2012 regular season matches.  The Kastles have not lost a WTT match since July 22, 2010, which gives them the second longest U.S. pro sports team win streak in history with 30 consecutive wins.  The longest U.S. pro sports team win streak is 33 games, held by the NBA’s 1971-72 Lakers.   2012 WTT Coach of the Year Murphy Jensen is at the helm of the Kastles.

The best of the West face off on Friday, Sept. 14, at 6:30 p.m. EDT, when the Orange County Breakers take on the Sacramento Capitals in the Western Conference Championship.   The Breakers are the top seed in the West and their lineup is WTT Male Rookie of the Year John-Patrick Smith, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Jana Juricova and Travis Parrott.  Groenefeld and Parrott are both mixed doubles Grand Slam champions.  Groenefeld teamed with Sacramento’s Mark Knowles to win the 2009 Wimbledon mixed doubles title, while Parrott and Carly Gullickson of the Boston Lobsters won the 2009 US Open mixed championship.

South African Kevin Anderson, currently ranked No. 34 in the world in singles, leads the Sacramento squad that also includes former doubles world No. 1 Mark Knowles, and young Americans Yasmin Schnack and Asia Muhammad.  Wayne Bryan, father of Olympic gold medalists Bob and Mike Bryan, is the longtime coach of the Sacramento Capitals.

The Conference Champions advance to the WTT Finals on Sunday, Sept. 16, at 3:30 p.m. EDT with the winner taking home the King Trophy, named after WTT co-founder Billie Jean King.

Ticket specials for the WTT Finals Weekend are available through the Family Circle Tennis Center box office.  Fans who purchase Terrace Level tickets for Friday and Saturday through the FCTC Box Office will receive a free ticket for Sunday’s Championship Final.  A full weekend Terrace Level pass is $77.00.  Full weekend Box Seat passes are available for $160.50.  Single session tickets are $38.50 for Terrace Level and $53.50 for Box Seats.  All fees are included in ticket prices.  For tickets, travel packages or more information, please contact the Box Office at 1-800-677-2293 or visit www.familycirclecup.com.

For more information on the WTT Finals Weekend presented by GEICO, visit www.WTT.com/Finals.

WTT Finals Weekend presented by GEICO – Schedule

Western Conference Championship –#2 Sacramento Capitals vs. #1 ORANGE COUNTY BREAKERS - Friday, September 14 – 6:30 PM EDT

Eastern Conference Championship –  #2 New York Sportimes vs. #1 WASHINGTON KASTLES - Saturday, September 15 – 6:30 PM EDT

WTT Finals – #2 Western Conference Champion vs. #1 EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPION - Sunday, September 16 – 3:30 PM EDT

Team Rosters(subject to change):

NEW YORK SPORTIMES

Ashley Harkleroad (USA)

Martina Hingis (SUI)

Robert Kendrick (USA)

John McEnroe (USA)

Jesse Witten (USA)

Coach: Chuck Adams

WASHINGTON KASTLES

Leander Paes (IND)

Anastasia Rodionova (AUS)

Arina Rodionova (AUS)

Bobby Reynolds (USA)

Venus Williams (USA)

Coach: Murphy Jensen

ORANGE COUNTY BREAKERS

Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER)

Jana Juricova (SVK)

Travis Parrott (USA)

John-Patrick Smith (AUS)

Coach: Trevor Kronemann

SACRAMENTO CAPITALS

Kevin Anderson (RSA)

Mark Knowles (BAH)

Asia Muhammad (USA)

Yasmin Schnack (USA)

Coach: Wayne Bryan

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 37 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.

The College Conundrum

Professional tennis players and especially American professional tennis players face the decision at some point in their careers. Men and women. To go to college or not go to college?

Players from outside of the United States like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal invariably choose to turn professional at an early age. There is less pressure on young tennis stars to attend college in many foreign countries than there is in the United States. There is also less precedent.

As early as 30 years ago, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors had to make the decision. Mac attended Stanford for two years and won the NCAA’s. He has never regretted his college decision.Same with Jimmy Connors at UCLA. He went for one year and also won the NCAA’s.

Three years ago, John Isner and Sam Querry burst on the scene.Isner went to the University of Georgia for four years and led his team to an NCAA crown.He finished second in singles. He wasn’t ready as a player to turn pro out of high school.Sam Querry, on the other hand turned down a full scholarship at USC. They are both about equally ranked now.

The college scene has changed dramatically over the past decade or so. More foreign players are attending colleges in the States  and that makes the competition better for Americans who continue on with their educations. Benjamin Becker is a prime example. He attended Baylor and is now No. 50 in the world.

The US Open Junior Finals this year pitted Jack Sock against Denis Kudla. Sock won the event and is torn between college and turning pro. Kudla has already turned pro. Sock and his family were approached by countless agents at the Open.

In our opinion, players should take a page from the James Blake playbook. The former Fairfield, Connecticut high school star attended Harvard for two years and then turned pro. He honed his skills at Harvard and picked up many valuable life tools in the process.He rose to as high as no. 6 in the world and was an endorsement guru. College did not hurt him a bit.

Jesse Levine turned pro after one year at the University of Florida. He stated, “You can always go back to school but not to pro tennis.” That is true but Levine has had a somewhat undistinguished pro career and probably wasn’t ready physically to turn pro when he did. Perhaps four years in college would have made Levine a better pro and a more well rounded individual.

Clearly, there is no easy answer to this conundrum facing many young tennis players.

Richard Kent is the autor of Inside the US Open and The Racket.

Carroll: Open For Business

The US Open, which got underway Monday at Flushing Meadows Park, has become like the Super Bowl inasmuch as it has become a business event as much as an athletic one.

Last Wednesday, Nike took over Pier 54 on Manhattan’s West Side for an exhibition that the company labeled “Prime Time Knockout.” Nike called on nearly everyone of its highly-compensated tennis stars/endorsers including, Serena Williams (who were a boot on her injured right foot and will miss the Open this year), Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Douglaston’s own John McEnroe, to take part in some light-hearted doubles matches.

Nike officials announced that they were donating thousands of dollars’ worth of tennis equipment to a number of non-profit youth sports organization including the Woodside-based New York Junior Tennis League. While there was a philanthropic aspect to Primetime Knockout, Nike was sending a clear reminder of its dominance in tennis to such rivals as the upstart Under Armour, and the resurgent Reebok, which just opened a huge company store at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

On a smaller scale of brand promotion, Ralph Lauren Polo had Venus Williams conduct a clinic for kids on Randall’s Island last Thursday while the following day Lacoste dispatched Andy Roddick to the Macy’s at Queens Center for a meet-and-greet.

Speaking of Andy Roddick, he holds the distinction of being the last American to win the men’s championship but that was back in 2003. Two years later Roddick was the focus of American Express’s “Where’s Andy’s mojo?” campaign which embarrassed everyone involved when Roddick was upset by Luxemburg’s Gilles Muller in the first round of the 2005 US Open.

American Express has dropped Roddick this year from its signage along the LIRR-7 train Willets Point boardwalk in favor of hopefully rising American players at John Isner and Sam Querrey.

Panasonic believes that the US Open is perfect place to showcase its latest television technology as it has taken out a booth for spectators to watch matches in 3-D.

Mayor Bloomberg hosted a reception for the United States Tennis Association at Gracie Mansion last Thursday evening and among the attendees was Queens district attorney Richard Brown, former borough president Claire Shulman, former mayor and well-known tennis buff David Dinkins, as well as the 1968 US Open women’s champion, Virginia Wade.

I asked Wade, who was born in England but now lives on the Upper East Side, about the possibility of Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, the site of the ‘68 Open, being torn down to make way for condominiums. “Of course I am saddened by it but the stadium has been in a state of disrepair for a long time so I do understand the thinking of the board of the West Side Tennis Club,” Wade told me.

Sportscaster extra ordinaire, and Forest Hills native, Ian Eagle will be kept busy in his home borough. He is slated to do nine days of studio hosting Open coverage for both the Tennis Channel and CBS.

Bud Collins Releases The Second Edition of “The Bud Collins History of Tennis”

NEW YORK – Bud Collins, the man who many call the walking encyclopedia of tennis, has released a second edition of his famous tennis encyclopedia and record book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS.

The 816-page second-edition volume – the most authoritative compilation of records, biographies and information on the sport of tennis – is dedicated to John Isner, Nicolas Mahut and chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani, the three principles from the record-breaking longest match of all-time at 2010 Wimbledon, won by Isner 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68 in 11 hours, five minutes, featuring a record 113 aces from Isner.

“Has the Isner – Mahut match ended yet? You can find out in this book!” quipped Collins.

Collins, the Hall of Fame tennis journalist, broadcaster and personality, is the longtime columnist for the Boston Globe and a 1994 inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. He is covering the U.S. Championships for a 56th time in 2010. He will be signing books at the US Open Bookstore during the duration of the 2010 US Open.

THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS ($35.95, New Chapter Press) is the ultimate compilation of historical tennis information, including year-by-year recaps of every tennis season, biographical sketches of every major tennis personality, as well as stats, records, and championship rolls for all the major events. The author’s personal relationships with major tennis stars offer insights into the world of professional tennis found nowhere else.

Among those endorsing THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS include the two women who hold the Wimbledon record for most total titles – Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King – who both won 20 Wimbledon titles in their careers. Said Navratilova, “If you know nothing about tennis, this book is for you. And if you know everything about tennis—Hah!—Bud knows more, so this book is for you too!” Said King, “We can’t move forward if we don’t understand and appreciate our past. This book not only provides us with accurate reporting of the rich tennis history, it keeps us current on the progress of the sport today.” Also endorsing the book is author, commentator and Sports Illustrated contributor Frank Deford, who stated,“No tennis encyclopedia could be written by anyone but Bud Collins because Bud Collins is the walking tennis encyclopedia—the game’s barefoot professor. The only thing missing about the sport from his new edition is a section about Bud himself. But everything else is there—and it’s easy to open and use for the whole family.” Said Dick Enberg of CBS Sports and ESPN, “Did you ever see an encyclopedia walking? That’s Bud Collins (who sometimes runs, too). Plunge into his book and swim joyfully through the history of tennis. It’s all here.”

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is also the publisher of “The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection” (www.RogerFedererBook.com) by Rene Stauffer, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey with Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes and Petr Kolar, “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. More information can be found at www.NewChapterMedia.com.