Monthly Archives: August 2011

A Tennis Auction You Don’t Want to Miss!

 

NEWPORT, R.I., August 31, 2011- On the eve of the US Open women’s final, tennis legends, industry leaders, and dedicated fans of the sport will gather at Cipriani Wall Street for an exciting celebration of tennis to honor the greatest champions of the sport, particularly the newest inductees to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Andre Agassi and Peachy Kellmeyer. A highlight of the event will be a live and silent auction featuring incredible packages ranging from Centre Court tickets for the 2012 Wimbledon finals and autographed racquets from Hall of Famers Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl to an exciting Canadian Heli-Skiing Adventure and exclusive tennis training vacations.All proceeds of the event will benefit the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring junior tennis development, and providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide.In addition to honoring the Hall of Fame Class of 2011, a number of tennis legends are scheduled to attend, including Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, Martina Navratilova, Pam Shriver, Bud Collins, Tony Trabert and many more. The event will also salute two great contributors and long time supporters of tennis, Dick Enberg and the Campbell Soup Company. Former WTA star Mary Carillo will serve as emcee.

More than 60 unique items will be offered in the live and silent auctions at The Legends Ball. Auction items may be previewed online, and advance bids may be submitted at: http://www.biddingforgood.com/tennisfameauction

Absentee bids are now being accepted and may be submitted via the website, or by contacting Gibby Harnett at gharnett@tennisfame.com or 401-324-3061.

Hugh Hildesley, Executive Vice President of Client Relations for Sotheby’s, will serve as auctioneer during the Live Auction. The following packages will be up for bid in this “Tribute to the Slams.”

  • Two coveted Centre Court tickets to the 2012 Wimbledon Ladies Final and Gentlemen’s Finalplus a three-night stay in a posh apartment in the Mayfair section of London.
  • An extraordinary Australian Open package including two seats in the President’s Suite for the 2012 Australian Open Men’s and Women’s Finalsand four nights accommodations at the Hilton on the Park in Melbourne.
  • Two great seats in Philippe Chatrier Stadium for both the Men’s and Women’s finals at the 2012 French Open.
  • Two tickets, with hospitality, to view the Men’s and Women’s Finals of the 2012 US Open from the President’s Box.

Topping of the Live Auction of Grand Slam tickets, an incredible five-day heli-skiing adventure in British Columbia will be up for bid. The package includes accommodations and skiing at the winning bidder’s choice of three spectacular destinations and is valued at more than $11,000.

A diverse selection of event tickets, luxury vacations, exclusive experiences, and unique collectible memorabilia will be offered in the silent auction. Highlights include a week-long stay in a six-bedroom villa in Jamaica, an exotic cruise on the luxe Azamara Cruise Line with ports ranging from Mumbai to Singapore to Buenos Aires; tickets to tennis events around the world including the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters Series in Monaco and the 2012 WTA Championships in Istanbul; autographed memorabilia from Hall of Fame tennis stars and other athletes including NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire and NHL star Brandon Dubinsky; golf at exclusive courses; tennis industry internships and much more.

A highlight of the silent auction will be a one-of-a-kind piece showcasing Andre Agassi’s career and Hall of Fame induction created by renowned sports and entertainment painter Malcolm Farley.

Additional highlights of the silent auction will include:
 
Exclusive Experiences: Tennis hit session and a round of golf with tennis great Todd Martin in Florida; a round of golf with Hall of Famer Stan Smith at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey;  internships with Tennis.com and the WTA; and the opportunity to be a racquet tester for Tennis.com.

Luxury Vacation Packages: Several dream vacations for tennis fans including an escape to the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club; a five-night stay with tennis and spa services at the luxurious Four Seasons Resort in Nevis, West Indies; and a four-day getaway to Longboat Key Club & Resort; a one-week stay in a downtown Paris apartment; a one-week stay at a luxe resort in Tortola or Antigua; family ski trips to Park City, Utah and Aspen, Colorado; and multiple getaways packed with amenities in Vermont, Delaware, and Memphis.
 
Unforgettable Events: Access to September and February Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weeks in New York; VIP experiences at the Rolex 24 at Daytona; 2012 Taste of Tennis tickets; concert tickets for an upcoming Dave Matthews Band concert, with an autographed poster from the band; New York Yankees tickets; 2012 US Open golf week-long grounds pass; and a Boston sports fan super package including tickets to home games for the Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics, and Patriots.

Autographed Memorabilia: Tennis racquets signed by Hall of Famers Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl; an autographed photo collection highlighting the great rivals of tennis, Agassi and Sampras, McEnroe and Borg, and Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal; and jerseys singed by New York Knicks star Amar’e Stoudemire and New York Ranger Brandon Dubinsky.
 
Tennis Tournament Ticket Packages: 2012 ATP World Tour Finals in London; 2012 WTA Championships in Istanbul, Turkey; Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters; 2011 Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic; WTT Smash Hits Celebrity Event in Ohio; Opening Day at the 2011 French Open; 2012 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells; 2012 Sony Ericsson Championship in Miami; and Opening Day at the 2012 US Open.

Tennis Camps & Academies: One week session for a junior player at the Chris Evert Academy; one week session for a junior player at the Mark Weil Tennis Academy; plus a weekend for adults at the nearby Ojai Valley Inn & Spa; one week for a junior at the IMG Academy of choice, including tennis, golf, football, baseball and more; and a one week at Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, along with an autographed racquet bag from doubles superstars Mike and Bob Bryan and a Prince EXO3 racquet.

Much More! Including apparel packages from Fila, Reebok, and Loriet Sports Apparel and membership at CityView Racquet Club.
 
For tickets, sponsorship opportunities, or to learn more about The Legends Ball, contact Meredith Forts at 401-849-3990 or mforts@tennisfame.com.

A preview of all auction items, and advance bidding, is available now on  http://www.biddingforgood.com/tennisfameauction 

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“Maintain a winning attitude”

Nothing can hurt your game more than a negative attitude and a lack of enthusiasm for what you are doing. Ask your self a question. Who is responsible for your attitude? Well, I’m here to tell you that it is you and you alone. Strive to form positive thoughts in your head and in your heart whenever you walk on the court.

 The fiercest opponent you’ll probably ever face in tennis is a “bad attitude”. Tremendous abilities can be wasted when a bad attitude sets in. It can block out your desire to learn, destroy your ability to concentrate, and slowly break down your self-control. You could even say that your tennis future hangs in the balance when a poor attitude creeps into the picture. Think discouraging thoughts and you’ll be a discouraging player. Think encouraging thoughts and you will be an encouraged and motivated player. What you think about most often will form your attitude. So control what you let yourselfthink in order to develop and maintain a positive attitude.

 A winning attitude doesn’t mean you should become obsessed with “winning”. It is striving for your best effort and regularly playing up to your best potential. It is channeling all of your energies into the determination to be the best you can be. Many of the top players try to raise the level of their games with a little fist pump after winning an important point. It can work for you too.

 

 http://www.kirkhouse.com/Books/Bring-Your-Racquet

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Five Greatest Matches in US Open History

Sports writer and tennis enthusiast Paul Fein says that a classic tennis match is an event so momentous that the world almost stands still and watches, an episode so fascinating that we remember, even savor, it for years. The U.S. Open has treated us to several such dynamic and often career-changing duels. Let’s take a walk down Memory Lane and revisit these legendary matches.

1980 Final – John McEnroe def. Bjorn Borg 7-6, 6-1, 6-7, 5-7, 6-4

“I want to be remembered as the greatest champion ever,” declared Bjorn Borg after he out-dueled John McEnroe in the thrilling 1980 Wimbledon final. Many experts considered the 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7, 8-6 smorgasbord of scintillating shot-making the greatest match ever. With his fifth straight Wimbledon crown seized soon after his fifth French Open title, the stoical Swede needed two more majors, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open (then played in December), to achieve a rare Grand Slam and his “greatest ever” ambition.

 

Borg and McEnroe have been forever linked after their two 1980 epic battles at Wimbledon and the US Open.

On the opening day of the U.S. Open, defending champion McEnroe said, “I just want to win the tournament, but if I knew beforehand that I’d win, I’d rather play Borg in the final. Say 22-20 in the fifth set.” Perhaps the irascible New Yorker should have been careful what he wished for since the tireless Borg had won his last 13 five-set matches. But pundits could also favor the sinistral McEnroe because lefthanders had captured the previous six men’s singles titles, and Borg had been frustrated in his previous eight tries to win the Open, losing six times to lefties.

This time, after a disastrous second set, Borg gamely fought back by whacking five clean winners in the third set tiebreaker and then grabbing the fourth set. Could McEnroe, who had outlasted Jimmy Connors in a grueling five-set, four-hour marathon the night before, finish off the fresher Borg and avenge his Wimbledon loss?

 Neither combatant matched their sublime Wimbledon performances. But Mac attacked relentlessly and intelligently to notch the crucial service break for 4-3 with a crosscourt backhand, and then served and volleyed with near perfection to finish a stretch in which he took 17 of 20 service points. Afterward, the exhausted McEnroe confided, “I felt my body would fall off.”

With his dream of a 1980 Grand Slam dashed, Borg skipped the Australian Open, which like the U.S. Open, he would never win.

1995 Final – Steffi Graf def. Monica Seles 7-6, 0-6, 6-3

Classic matches feature a riveting rivalry, star appeal, a premier event, contrasting playing styles and personalities, competitive balance and brilliant tennis. The 1995 U.S. Open women’s final offered these dynamic elements and even more drama because of the highly unusual circumstances.

Click photo to view on website: Monica Seles had dominated the women’s game before a deranged fan stabbed her in the back during a changeover at a Hamburg tournament and kept her off the tour
for 27 months.

In May 1993, Monica Seles had won seven of the previous nine Grand Slam events and dethroned arch-rival Steffi Graf before a deranged Graf fan stabbed her in the back during a changeover at a Hamburg tournament. The once-innocent and exuberant Seles underwent 120 sessions with a psychotherapist and left the pro tour for 27 months. While Seles had finally escaped her traumatic past, star-crossed Graf was trying to forget her troubled present, namely the imprisonment of her father on tax evasion charges.

In August 1995, the hyper-competitive Seles came back with a vengeance. She routed five opponents to capture the Canadian Open, and then at the U.S. Open blitzed No. 10-ranked Anke Huber, No. 4 Jana Novotna and No. 3 Conchita Martinez. That set up the most eagerly anticipated women’s showdown since the flamboyant Suzanne Lenglen, an idol of Seles, beat Helen Wills in 1926.

The “dream final” more than lived up to those great expectations. Powered by passion and pride, the two queens fought ferociously. Graf, renowned for her potent forehand and athleticism, staved off a set point to grab the sensationally played opening set, but Seles’ double-handed groundstrokes steamrolled Graf in the second set. Graf then outplayed her exhausted archrival to finish the 7-6, 0-6, 6-3 masterpiece that Graf called “the biggest win I’ve ever achieved.” After her victory Graf burst into tears, and the tournament’s most emotional moment came when the two champions embraced at the net.

Graf’s 18th career Grand Slam singles title tied her with Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert and made her the first player—male or female—to win four singles titles at each of the four Slam tournaments, an extraordinary achievement. For Seles, simply being back, rather than winning, meant everything. She had exorcised the demons that had so long beset her and declared she was “ecstatical.”

2001 Quarters – Pete Sampras def. Andre Agassi 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6

The best men’s rivalry of the 1990s ironically showcased its best match in 2001 when all-time greats Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were in their 30s. Before their epic, Sampras said, “Andre brings out the best in me.” Indeed, Agassi often did, especially at the U.S. Open where Sampras whipped him in the 1990, 1995 and 2002 finals.

 

Pete Sampras raises up in celebration after beating arch rival Andre Agassi in perhaps the greatest match in US Open history.

In their 32nd clash, an astonishing array of thunderous serves, dazzling returns, pinpoint passing shots, and athletic volleying, as well as fierce battling for every point, elicited roars of appreciation and several standing ovations from the electrified Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd of 22,911. All told, Sampras and Agassi belted an amazing 178 winners (out of 338 points) against only 59 unforced errors.

In the first of four tiebreakers, Sampras built a 6-3 lead but couldn’t convert three set points–thanks to an Agassi winner and two Sampras unforced errors–and eventually succumbed 9-7. Agassi, a supreme frontrunner, had amassed a 49-1 Open record after winning the first set, but Sampras regained his composure quickly.

Incredibly, neither player lost his serve during the 3-hour, 33-minute duel, so the outcome hinged on tiebreakers. Serve-volleyer Sampras constantly pressured baseliner Agassi with 137 net approaches (versus only 21 for Agassi) and captured the next two tiebreakers 7-2.

Before the fourth set tiebreaker, the crowd gave both valiant warriors a standing ovation, which Agassi later called “chilling … I’ve never experienced that.” Down 2-3 in the breaker, Sampras whacked 116 and 128 mph aces to lead 4-3, but Agassi lost the most crucial point when he blew an easy backhand to fall behind 6-3. Even though Agassi survived two championship points on Sampras’ serve, the end came at 12:14 a.m. when he netted a forehand.

“The atmosphere was phenomenal. Awesome. I thought going into the match, this could be a classic. And I think tonight it was,” Sampras said afterward. CBS analyst John McEnroe, a four-time U.S. Open titlist, raved, “It was one of the most phenomenal matches I’ve been a part of in all my years of broadcasting this great game.”

1977 Final – Guillermo Vilas def. Jimmy Connors 2-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-0

The last U.S. Open staged at the historic West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills and on clay was the most bizarre because of all the firsts. The point penalty system and a 42-year-old transsexual, Renee Richards, made Open debuts along with an anti-apartheid demonstration and the notorious double-strung “spaghetti” racket that was soon banned. A spectator was mysteriously shot by an unknown sniper, another slashed his wrists, the women’s locker room had a bomb scare, and fans, angered by a program change, threw rubbish on the court.

 

In the last US Open played at the historic West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hill (and the last one played on clay), Guillermo Vilas defeated Jimmy Connors for his only US Open win.

Jimmy Connors, the brash rebel from the wrong side of the tracks in Belleville, Illinois, usually relished controversy and chaos. But it would prove his undoing at this Open. Guillermo Vilas ignored the distractions by talking only to his coach, Ion Tiriac, saying, “I must concentrate completely or I go crazy.”

While both were 25-year-old lefthanders, the similarity ended there. Defending champion Connors blasted flat groundstrokes, especially with his deadly two-handed backhand, contrasting sharply with the handsome Argentine’s heavy topspin style. Vilas, the introspective French Open champion who wrote poetry, had beaten 41 straight clay-court opponents, but Connors hit through the gusting winds and overpowered him 6-2 in the opening set.

After Vilas overcame 0-30 and 0-40 deficits to save his serve in the first and third games of the second set, he relaxed and began turning the match around. He shrewdly sliced backhands to exploit Connors’ vulnerability on low forehands. Showing mental toughness again in the third set, Vilas rebounded from 1-4, 30-40 and saved two set points serving at 4-5, 15-40.

When Vilas, buoyed by hundreds of boisterous Latin American supporters, took the pivotal third-set tiebreaker, Connors looked demoralized and tired. Then the muscular Vilas, renowned for his eight-hour training sessions, stepped up his attack—highlighted by dazzling backhand passing shots—and routed Connors 6-0 in the final set.

The fourth championship point ended the final controversially. The noise of the crowd drowned out the call of a linesman who seemed to hesitate at first. A confused Connors thought his forehand had been good. It wasn’t. Vilas verified the call. Infuriated, Connors skipped the awards ceremony and quickly tried to escape a berserk crowd overrunning the court. While some of Vilas’ overjoyed fans carried him on their shoulders around the arena, an angry Connors punched out a fan during his ignominious getaway.

2010 Semifinals – Novak Djokovic def. Roger Federer 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5

Many observers believe Novak Djokovic’s Davis Cup Final heroics last December became the springboard for his phenomenal 2011. But the more likely turning point in his career can be traced to the 2010 U.S. Open. After Djokovic demolished Gael Monfils in the quarterfinals, ESPN analyst Darren Cahill commented: “Djokovic and Murray have been the two Robins to the two Batmans, Nadal and Federer. So it’s about time Novak put on his own cape and came through and won it [the Open]. He can do it. He’s playing much better. He has the belief now.”

Click photo to view on website: At last years Open, Djokovic was not afraid to trade forehands with the mighty Fed.

Djokovic would need that belief because he hadn’t beaten a top 10 player all year and The Mighty Fed had easily ousted him the past three years at Flushing Meadows. He would also need to play aggressively, particularly on crucial points, and pressure Federer’s second serve and vulnerable backhand. The 23-year-old Serb did all of that plus served better than he had all season and played superb defense. He also executed a smart but potentially dangerous tactic.

In the spectacular deciding set, Djokovic frequently traded powerful forehands mano a mano with Federer, like two heavyweight boxers, even though the 29-year-old Swiss boasts the most formidable forehand in tennis history. The highly partisan crowd cheered loudly for Federer, and it looked like the five-time U.S. and 16-time Grand Slam champion would come through for them yet again.

But Djokovic, trailing 4-5, 15-40, courageously staved off two championship points with winners—a swinging forehand volley and a rocket forehand. Then he smacked two more forehand winners to hold for 5-all. Ironically, Djokovic forced Federer into seven forehand errors in the last two games to pull off the upset.

Afterward, an ecstatic Djokovic said, “It’s one of those matches that you will remember for the rest of your life, not just because you won against one of the best players that ever played this game, but coming back from match points down and playing good tennis to win in the end. I am very proud of myself.”

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What’s 10 and under tennis?

It’s a chance for kids to learn real tennis and have real fun doing it. 10 and Under Tennis follows almost every other youth sport and uses racquets, balls and courts that are sized right for kids so that they enjoy the game right from the start.

Why “10 and Under Tennis” instead of “QuickStart Tennis”?

When the USTA launched the QuickStart Tennis Play Format in 2008, the name QuickStart was chosen to convey that this new play format was a quick and easy way for kids to start playing tennis. After a few years of experience and feedback, we’ve discovered the following:

For parents with young kids who already play tennis, the “QuickStart” name could have a negative connotation – that it’s not “real” tennis or refers to just beginner tennis.

 Whether a 10 and under player is a beginner or an advanced player, they should be playing on smaller courts with lower-bouncing, slower-moving balls and lighter, shorter racquets. These specifications will help kids at all levels improve their skill development.

QuickStart Tennis refers to a play format that can be used by anyone at any age to learn tennis more quickly – whether they are 6 years old, 12 years old or 70 years old. QuickStart Tennis is not a brand name that denotes “tennis for kids”.

With the 2012 rule change for kids 10 and under requiring tournament play on smaller courts with lower-bouncing, slower-moving balls and lighter, shorter racquets, it was an opportune time to change the name for this audience. Listening to your feedback, we decided on the name “10 and Under Tennis” to leverage the promotion of the rule change and to position this as “real tennis” for all kids under 10, whether they are beginners or advanced players.

What?

10 and Under Tennis using the QuickStart Tennis play format takes a new and better approach to introducing kids to the game. Balls are lower in compression; they bounce lower and don’t move as fast so they are easier to hit. This allows kids time to get to the ball and helps them develop optimal swing patterns. Racquets are sized for small hands, and the courts are smaller and easier to cover. All that equals more fun and less frustration. Full sized courts can be reconfigured to accommodate up to six 36-foot courts, so instead of waiting in line, kids can spend their time playing.

Why?

Kids learn to play baseball by first playing t-ball; they use shorter, lighter bats and larger, softer balls. Kids learning basketball shoot baskets with kid-sized balls and lowered backboards; they play soccer on smaller fields with smaller goals. But when it comes to learning tennis, we still make children play on adult-sized courts with yellow balls and adult-sized racquets. This is asking a lot of a kid who could be 2/3 the size of an adult.

But tennis has finally caught up.

10 and Under Tennis follows the same logic as other youth sports like baseball or soccer: kid-sized courts and kid-sized equipment. The benefits are immediate. Within an hour kids are rallying, having fun and psyched for more. They’re playing real tennis and having real fun. And isn’t that the point?

How?

There are many ways to get your kids involved in a 10 and Under Tennis program. By clicking on the Parents link on the right you can find valuable tips and information in our Parents’ Guide, learn about Community Programs near you, find organizers and facilities teaching 10 and Under Tennis, find programs and leagues – even information on becoming a coach yourself. 

Where?

The basic philosophy behind 10 and Under Tennis, using the QuickStart Tennis play format, is for kids to have fun learning and playing tennis. Besides being introduced to the sport through tennis programs, there are three ways for kids to get into and enjoy the game.

The first is spontaneous play. This can be as simple as hitting off a wall outside, and practicing hand-eye coordination and getting a feel for the ball and racquet. Courts can be set up at home in driveways or backyards – no different than the way kids play catch or shoot baskets.

Second is some kind of supervised play with parents or organizers getting a group of young players at local courts just as they would any other youth sport.

Lastly is structured play within an organized 10 and Under Tennis program.

The common theme with each of these types of play? Play. Get kids playing with the right racquets and low compression balls, and let them have fun.

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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“Cut back on your errors”

Most of the points in a tennis match are over after only three or four hits. At every level, the majority of points are lost and not won. This means that most of the points are won due to errors rather than winners.

 The best way to understand errors is to learn the four mistakes in tennis. They are:

  • hitting the ball into the net
  • hitting the ball over the baseline
  • hitting the ball wide to the left
  • hitting the ball wide to the right

 Once you’ve made contact with the ball, these are the only four errors you can make playing the game. The object is to avoid making one of these four mistakes by learning to keep the ball in play.

Even though this is a very basic premise, it is one that is easily forgotten.

The net is where the majority of the errors are made in tennis. The best tactic to use to avoid making this error is simply to aim two nets high when making shots. By swinging low-to-high, the ball will clear the net with a greater safety margin, allowing fewer errors to be made into the net. This “lifting” of the ball on your strokes will help to insure success over the net – often the number one obstacle in tennis.

 http://www.kirkhouse.com/books/bring-your-racquet

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Five Greatest Matches in US Open History

Sports writer and tennis enthusiast Paul Fein says that a classic tennis match is an event so momentous that the world almost stands still and watches, an episode so fascinating that we remember, even savor, it for years. The U.S. Open has treated us to several such dynamic and often career-changing duels. Let’s take a walk down Memory Lane and revisit these legendary matches.

1980 Final – John McEnroe def. Bjorn Borg 7-6, 6-1, 6-7, 5-7, 6-4

“I want to be remembered as the greatest champion ever,” declared Bjorn Borg after he out-dueled John McEnroe in the thrilling 1980 Wimbledon final. Many experts considered the 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7, 8-6 smorgasbord of scintillating shot-making the greatest match ever. With his fifth straight Wimbledon crown seized soon after his fifth French Open title, the stoical Swede needed two more majors, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open (then played in December), to achieve a rare Grand Slam and his “greatest ever” ambition.

Borg and McEnroe have been forever linked after their two 1980 epic battles at Wimbledon and the US Open.

On the opening day of the U.S. Open, defending champion McEnroe said, “I just want to win the tournament, but if I knew beforehand that I’d win, I’d rather play Borg in the final. Say 22-20 in the fifth set.” Perhaps the irascible New Yorker should have been careful what he wished for since the tireless Borg had won his last 13 five-set matches. But pundits could also favor the sinistral McEnroe because lefthanders had captured the previous six men’s singles titles, and Borg had been frustrated in his previous eight tries to win the Open, losing six times to lefties.

This time, after a disastrous second set, Borg gamely fought back by whacking five clean winners in the third set tiebreaker and then grabbing the fourth set. Could McEnroe, who had outlasted Jimmy Connors in a grueling five-set, four-hour marathon the night before, finish off the fresher Borg and avenge his Wimbledon loss?

 Neither combatant matched their sublime Wimbledon performances. But Mac attacked relentlessly and intelligently to notch the crucial service break for 4-3 with a crosscourt backhand, and then served and volleyed with near perfection to finish a stretch in which he took 17 of 20 service points. Afterward, the exhausted McEnroe confided, “I felt my body would fall off.”

With his dream of a 1980 Grand Slam dashed, Borg skipped the Australian Open, which like the U.S. Open, he would never win.

1995 Final – Steffi Graf def. Monica Seles 7-6, 0-6, 6-3

Classic matches feature a riveting rivalry, star appeal, a premier event, contrasting playing styles and personalities, competitive balance and brilliant tennis. The 1995 U.S. Open women’s final offered these dynamic elements and even more drama because of the highly unusual circumstances.

Click photo to view on website: Monica Seles had dominated the women’s game before a deranged fan stabbed her in the back during a changeover at a Hamburg tournament and kept her off the tour
for 27 months.

In May 1993, Monica Seles had won seven of the previous nine Grand Slam events and dethroned arch-rival Steffi Graf before a deranged Graf fan stabbed her in the back during a changeover at a Hamburg tournament. The once-innocent and exuberant Seles underwent 120 sessions with a psychotherapist and left the pro tour for 27 months. While Seles had finally escaped her traumatic past, star-crossed Graf was trying to forget her troubled present, namely the imprisonment of her father on tax evasion charges.

In August 1995, the hyper-competitive Seles came back with a vengeance. She routed five opponents to capture the Canadian Open, and then at the U.S. Open blitzed No. 10-ranked Anke Huber, No. 4 Jana Novotna and No. 3 Conchita Martinez. That set up the most eagerly anticipated women’s showdown since the flamboyant Suzanne Lenglen, an idol of Seles, beat Helen Wills in 1926.

The “dream final” more than lived up to those great expectations. Powered by passion and pride, the two queens fought ferociously. Graf, renowned for her potent forehand and athleticism, staved off a set point to grab the sensationally played opening set, but Seles’ double-handed groundstrokes steamrolled Graf in the second set. Graf then outplayed her exhausted archrival to finish the 7-6, 0-6, 6-3 masterpiece that Graf called “the biggest win I’ve ever achieved.” After her victory Graf burst into tears, and the tournament’s most emotional moment came when the two champions embraced at the net.

Graf’s 18th career Grand Slam singles title tied her with Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert and made her the first player—male or female—to win four singles titles at each of the four Slam tournaments, an extraordinary achievement. For Seles, simply being back, rather than winning, meant everything. She had exorcised the demons that had so long beset her and declared she was “ecstatical.”

2001 Quarters – Pete Sampras def. Andre Agassi 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6

The best men’s rivalry of the 1990s ironically showcased its best match in 2001 when all-time greats Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were in their 30s. Before their epic, Sampras said, “Andre brings out the best in me.” Indeed, Agassi often did, especially at the U.S. Open where Sampras whipped him in the 1990, 1995 and 2002 finals.

Pete Sampras raises up in celebration after beating arch rival Andre Agassi in perhaps the greatest match in US Open history.

In their 32nd clash, an astonishing array of thunderous serves, dazzling returns, pinpoint passing shots, and athletic volleying, as well as fierce battling for every point, elicited roars of appreciation and several standing ovations from the electrified Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd of 22,911. All told, Sampras and Agassi belted an amazing 178 winners (out of 338 points) against only 59 unforced errors.

In the first of four tiebreakers, Sampras built a 6-3 lead but couldn’t convert three set points–thanks to an Agassi winner and two Sampras unforced errors–and eventually succumbed 9-7. Agassi, a supreme frontrunner, had amassed a 49-1 Open record after winning the first set, but Sampras regained his composure quickly.

Incredibly, neither player lost his serve during the 3-hour, 33-minute duel, so the outcome hinged on tiebreakers. Serve-volleyer Sampras constantly pressured baseliner Agassi with 137 net approaches (versus only 21 for Agassi) and captured the next two tiebreakers 7-2.

Before the fourth set tiebreaker, the crowd gave both valiant warriors a standing ovation, which Agassi later called “chilling … I’ve never experienced that.” Down 2-3 in the breaker, Sampras whacked 116 and 128 mph aces to lead 4-3, but Agassi lost the most crucial point when he blew an easy backhand to fall behind 6-3. Even though Agassi survived two championship points on Sampras’ serve, the end came at 12:14 a.m. when he netted a forehand.

“The atmosphere was phenomenal. Awesome. I thought going into the match, this could be a classic. And I think tonight it was,” Sampras said afterward. CBS analyst John McEnroe, a four-time U.S. Open titlist, raved, “It was one of the most phenomenal matches I’ve been a part of in all my years of broadcasting this great game.”

1977 Final – Guillermo Vilas def. Jimmy Connors 2-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-0

The last U.S. Open staged at the historic West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills and on clay was the most bizarre because of all the firsts. The point penalty system and a 42-year-old transsexual, Renee Richards, made Open debuts along with an anti-apartheid demonstration and the notorious double-strung “spaghetti” racket that was soon banned. A spectator was mysteriously shot by an unknown sniper, another slashed his wrists, the women’s locker room had a bomb scare, and fans, angered by a program change, threw rubbish on the court.

In the last US Open played at the historic West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hill (and the last one played on clay), Guillermo Vilas defeated Jimmy Connors for his only US Open win.

Jimmy Connors, the brash rebel from the wrong side of the tracks in Belleville, Illinois, usually relished controversy and chaos. But it would prove his undoing at this Open. Guillermo Vilas ignored the distractions by talking only to his coach, Ion Tiriac, saying, “I must concentrate completely or I go crazy.”

While both were 25-year-old lefthanders, the similarity ended there. Defending champion Connors blasted flat groundstrokes, especially with his deadly two-handed backhand, contrasting sharply with the handsome Argentine’s heavy topspin style. Vilas, the introspective French Open champion who wrote poetry, had beaten 41 straight clay-court opponents, but Connors hit through the gusting winds and overpowered him 6-2 in the opening set.

After Vilas overcame 0-30 and 0-40 deficits to save his serve in the first and third games of the second set, he relaxed and began turning the match around. He shrewdly sliced backhands to exploit Connors’ vulnerability on low forehands. Showing mental toughness again in the third set, Vilas rebounded from 1-4, 30-40 and saved two set points serving at 4-5, 15-40.

When Vilas, buoyed by hundreds of boisterous Latin American supporters, took the pivotal third-set tiebreaker, Connors looked demoralized and tired. Then the muscular Vilas, renowned for his eight-hour training sessions, stepped up his attack—highlighted by dazzling backhand passing shots—and routed Connors 6-0 in the final set.

The fourth championship point ended the final controversially. The noise of the crowd drowned out the call of a linesman who seemed to hesitate at first. A confused Connors thought his forehand had been good. It wasn’t. Vilas verified the call. Infuriated, Connors skipped the awards ceremony and quickly tried to escape a berserk crowd overrunning the court. While some of Vilas’ overjoyed fans carried him on their shoulders around the arena, an angry Connors punched out a fan during his ignominious getaway.

2010 Semifinals – Novak Djokovic def. Roger Federer 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5

Many observers believe Novak Djokovic’s Davis Cup Final heroics last December became the springboard for his phenomenal 2011. But the more likely turning point in his career can be traced to the 2010 U.S. Open. After Djokovic demolished Gael Monfils in the quarterfinals, ESPN analyst Darren Cahill commented: “Djokovic and Murray have been the two Robins to the two Batmans, Nadal and Federer. So it’s about time Novak put on his own cape and came through and won it [the Open]. He can do it. He’s playing much better. He has the belief now.”

Click photo to view on website: At last years Open, Djokovic was not afraid to trade forehands with the mighty Fed.

Djokovic would need that belief because he hadn’t beaten a top 10 player all year and The Mighty Fed had easily ousted him the past three years at Flushing Meadows. He would also need to play aggressively, particularly on crucial points, and pressure Federer’s second serve and vulnerable backhand. The 23-year-old Serb did all of that plus served better than he had all season and played superb defense. He also executed a smart but potentially dangerous tactic.

In the spectacular deciding set, Djokovic frequently traded powerful forehands mano a mano with Federer, like two heavyweight boxers, even though the 29-year-old Swiss boasts the most formidable forehand in tennis history. The highly partisan crowd cheered loudly for Federer, and it looked like the five-time U.S. and 16-time Grand Slam champion would come through for them yet again.

But Djokovic, trailing 4-5, 15-40, courageously staved off two championship points with winners—a swinging forehand volley and a rocket forehand. Then he smacked two more forehand winners to hold for 5-all. Ironically, Djokovic forced Federer into seven forehand errors in the last two games to pull off the upset.

Afterward, an ecstatic Djokovic said, “It’s one of those matches that you will remember for the rest of your life, not just because you won against one of the best players that ever played this game, but coming back from match points down and playing good tennis to win in the end. I am very proud of myself.”

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“Bring Your Racquet” by Steven White on Approach Shots

Steven White is a professional tennis instructor and former satellite tour player who has been teaching tennis for almost twenty-five years. He is certified with the Professional Tennis Registry, the worlds’ largest international organization of tennis teachers and coaches. White has written four books on tennis, his latest – Bring Your Racquet: Tennis Basics for Kids for which he is both author and illustrator.

The latest work  is geared towards teaching the fundamentals of the game  to children, from basic strokes to tennis vocabulary.

Tennis Panorama News: What led you to write the book?

Steven White: First of all, I’d like to say that I have always been a lover of tennis books and magazines. As a teenager in the seventies, beginning with World Tennis and Tennis Magazine, I practically taught myself to play using these fine publications. In a nutshell, I used them to mold my strokes and develop a game style that suited my capabilities. I remember staring at the photos of the world’s best players of that time, Borg and Connors, and then imagining myself in those positions and hitting stances. But I was a late bloomer and had always wished I had started playing at an earlier age. So, as an author, I wanted to explain the basics of the game in terms the average young or inexperienced player can easily follow — in conjunction with fun and interesting illustrations.

TPN: What makes your book different from other instructional books?

SW: Too much written tennis instruction is overly detailed and unnecessarily complicated for young readers. “Bring Your Racquet” allows intermediate readers to learn the basics of the game from easy-to-follow instruction with simple sentences and word repetition to more sophisticated sentence structure, and new vocabulary. Simply put, it’s a fun and easy read. But what really makes this instructional guidebook fun is the blend of instruction with Manga characters. “Manga” is a Japanese art form loved by children and young adults all over the world. And truly, with the accompaniment of  these fresh illustrations, each lesson piques the reader’s interest in learning not only the strokes themselves, but it also promotes their reading skills and drives them to understand what they are reading – the instruction relative to a game they wish to learn.

TPN: What advice would you give to parents trying to get their children to learn tennis?

SW: During the many months that I worked on this project, I came to the inescapable conclusion that the young readers of this book will want to make their own simplifications of the game and personalize their own approaches to improvement. In a nutshell, they will begin to take responsibility for their own games – and that’s a good thing.

And finally, as you read and apply the tips I’ve provided, I hope you realize that this book is not meant to replace the teaching of your local certified professional. It is extremely difficult for anyone to teach himself tennis. There is simply too much to learn about the game. In fact, your teaching pro may even disagree with some of the ideas presented here, but that is nothing to worry about because, literally, there is no one way to play the game. You may even experience some difficulties in executing the strokes properly at first, but that shouldn’t concern you either. Allow yourself some time to gain confidence in your new strokes. You may even drop a match or two as you learn your new techniques. But if you are not willing to accept this, you will not improve. Above all, the one thing I hope to teach you, is that improvement comes only with hard work and patience, as I know all too well.

TPN: You’ve written other books on tennis, could you tell us about them.

SW: Yes, I’m also the author of “Teaching Tennis: Protocol for Instructors”. It was released in 2008 by Equilibrium Books, a division of Wish Publishing. As we all know, tennis is a difficult sport to play, but it can be an even more difficult sport to teach. Helping other players to develop their skills can be more difficult than developing your own. Teaching Tennis is a guide for both established instructors who want to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their teaching abilities and for players who want to become teachers.

TPN: Are there any future books or projects in the works?

SW: Funny you should ask. I’m almost finished with the follow-up to Bring Your Racquet. Haven’t titled it yet and I have a few more illustrations to create, but when it’s finished, Tennis Panorama will be the one of the first to receive a review copy.

Bring Your Racquet is a good primer for children learning the basics of the game. More importantly, it’s written in a way that both parents and children will understand. It’s straightforward in its approach,  yet very detailed in descriptions and instruction.

The book may be purchased online at Kirk House publishers’ website,   Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Borders.

To follow Steven White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tennisauthor

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