Monthly Archives: April 2012

Roland-Garros…A Look Back

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How did Roland-Garros come to be? Why is it named after an aviator? In what year was the tournament first held? Who are the legends of the game to have inscribed their name on the Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy? We take a fond look back at the long and glorious history of the world’s greatest clay-court championship.

Way back when…

The stadium that stages one of the world’s four major tennis tournaments was built in 1928, but the French men’s singles championship goes back much further than that. Originally reserved for members of French clubs, it was first held on the courts of Stade Français club in Paris in 1891. The women’s singles were added six years later, it was not until 1925 that the French Tennis Federation decided to open the event to the best foreign players. Thus, the French Internationals were born, and staged alternately at Stade Français and Racing Club de France until the Roland-Garros stadium came into being in 1928.

These Musketeers need a stadium!

1927 was a milestone for French tennis, the year the celebrated French Musketeers (Jacques “Toto” Brugnon, Jean Borotra, Henri Cochet and René Lacoste) pulled off one of the biggest shocks in 20th century sport. The famous foursome upset all the odds by winning the Davis Cup on American soil, and in doing so set up a rematch in 1928, in Paris. Obviously, such a major sporting occasion required a stadium worthy of its stature, and so it was that the Stade Français handed over three hectares of land near Porte d’Auteuil to the French Tennis Federation. The only condition to the offer of land was that the new stadium should bear the name of one of Stade Français’ most renowned former members, Roland-Garros, who had died some ten years earlier. Roland-Garros was an aviation pioneer who, on 23 September 1913, had become the first man to fly a plane over the Mediterranean. The 1928 French Internationals were the first event to be held in the new stadium, just before the Musketeers took centre-stage to beat the Americans in their long-awaited rematch.

The post-war period: a golden era beckons

The Musketeers held on to the Davis Cup for another five years, only giving up the famous silver salad bowl in 1933, by which time the French Internationals at Roland-Garros had well and truly established themselves as a major international tournament. Cancelled from 1940 to 1945 due to the Second World War, Roland-Garros went from strength to strength in the post-war period, reflecting tennis’ growth into a hugely popular sport-for-all. Another significant turning point came in 1968 when the French Internationals became the first Grand Slam tournament to join the “Open” era. Professionalism brought with it yet more expansion and excitement.

Borg and Evert take up residence at “Roland”

The late 1970s and early 1980s were a magical era for tennis in general, and Roland-Garros in particular. Centre court delighted in a succession of breathtaking displays by the peerless Björn Borg (who won the title a record six times). Other greats of the men’s game to have graced the courts of Roland-Garros have included Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander and more recently Gustavo Kuerten, all of whom have contributed to the legendary reputation of the French Open Championships.

The women’s singles has had its great champions too: Chris Evert, who had the upper hand in a series of magnificent battles with Martina Navratilova over the years, Steffi Graf, who captured the hearts of the French fans in the twelve years between her first and sixth (and last) title in 1999 and Monica Seles, who was unstoppable in 1990, 91, and 92.

Who will be the next Noah?

Today, the tournament is fully deserving of its reputation as the world’s premier clay court event. It is furiously competitive each year, to such an extent that French successes have been few and far between. Since the war, only Nelly Landry (1948), Françoise Durr (1967) and Mary Pierce (2000) among the women, together with Marcel Bernard (1946) and Yannick Noah (1983) in the men’s event, have lifted the supreme title. Will a Frenchman be able to re-write the history books? To win at Roland Garros, it almost seems to be a prerequisite for a player to speak Spanish. Most of the current clay court specialists are Spanish, including of course the current holder, Majorcan left-hander Rafael Nadal, who has won five times in six appereances.

http://www.rolandgarros.com

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U.S. Junior Teams Announced

Recently, the USTA announced the top American juniors who will represent the United States in the Junior Davis Cup (16-and-under) and Junior Fed Cup (16-and-under) by BNP Paribas and the World Junior Tennis Competition (14-and-under) North/Central American and Caribbean Championships. Each event features a four-team round robin competition April 26-28 in Merida, Mexico. Other nations participating include: Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

The top two teams from each division in the North/Central American and Caribbean Championships in Mexico will advance to the 16-nation World Final. The World Junior Tennis World Final will be held August 13-18 in Prostejov, Czech Republic, while the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup World Finals will be held September 25-30 in Barcelona, Spain.

Junior Davis Cup & Fed Cup

Jared Donaldson, Cumberland, R.I. ; Gabrielle Andrews, Pomona, Calif. ; Ernesto Escobedo, West Covina, Calif.

Brooke Austin, Indianapolis; Stefan Kozlov, Pembroke Pines, Fla. ; Taylor Townsend, Stockbridge, Ga.

Coach: Nicolas Todero

 Coach: Kathy Rinaldi 

World Junior Tennis – Boys & Girls

William Blumberg, Greenwich, Conn. ; Jada Hart, Colton, Calif. ; Michael Mmoh, Temple Hills, Md.

Emma Higuchi, Los Angeles Frances Tiafoe, College Park, Md.

Raquel Pedraza-Simpson, Claremont, Calif. Coach: Ricardo Acuna

 Coach: Sylvain Guichard 

Kozlov and Townsend train full-time at the USTA Training Center Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., while Blumberg trains at the USTA Training Center-East in Flushing, N.Y., and all three members of the girls’ World Junior Tennis team train at the USTA Training Center-West in Carson, Calif.

The three members of this year’s Junior Fed Cup team comprised the 2011 Junior Fed Cup team which qualified for the World Final but did not compete due to security concerns, and also made up the 2010 World Junior Tennis girls’ team that won a fourth consecutive title for the U.S.

In 2008, the U.S. became the first country to sweep all four titles in the same year. In addition to 2008, the U.S. boys’ World Junior Tennis team won back-to-back titles in 2002-03, and the Junior Davis Cup team won the title in 1999. The 2008 title was the first for the Junior Fed Cup team.

Former U.S. junior international team members include Jim Courier, Michael Chang, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Christina McHale, Sloane Stephens, Lindsay Davenport, Denis Kudla, Jennifer Capriati, Mardy Fish, Robby Ginepri, and Lisa Raymond.

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Hall of Fame Rings Presented to Nastase, Durr, Pietrangeli, and Clerici in Monaco

Last weekend, during one of the tennis world’s grandest annual celebrations, European royals gathered with tennis legends to celebrate the sport and honor some of its most elite players at a Hall of Fame ring presentation that was hosted during La Grande Nuit du Tennis, the gala event of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Longtime tennis aficionado His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco presented Hall of Fame rings to four great tennis champions and contributors to the sport. The honored recipients were former world No. 1, Ilie Nastase of Romania; France’s beloved player Françoise “Frankie” Durr; the man heralded as the greatest Italian player of all time, Nicola Pietrangeli; and Italian tennis journalist Gianni Clerici. All four tennis legends have already been honored for their achievements and great contributions to the sport with induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. During this ceremony, their official Hall of Fame rings were presented as a symbol of their Hall of Fame induction and their remarkable tennis careers.

In addition to his personal interests as a player and fan, Prince Albert has a long history with the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. In 1954, his mother, Princess Grace, participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island in the United States. In 2004, Prince Albert traveled to Newport to serve as Master of Ceremony for the 50th anniversary celebration, which featured the Hall of Fame induction of Stefanie Graf and Stefan Edberg, and a gathering of all of the living Hall of Famers, including tennis luminaries such as Rod Laver, Virginia Wade, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, and John McEnroe, among others. Prince Albert has served on the Board of Directors for the Hall of Fame, a non-profit institution dedicated to honoring the greatest legends of tennis and preserving the history of the sport.

 Also participating in the ring presentation was International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum Chairman Christopher E. Clouser and CEO Mark L. Stenning, and Zeljko Franulovic, Director of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.

 “We are grateful to His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco and our colleagues at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters for partnering with us on this special occasion,” said Clouser. “It was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary careers of these Hall of Famers in Europe, where they have so many fans and have left such a positive impact on the sport. As Hall of Famers, Ilie, Frankie, Nicola, and Gianni are already among an elite group of athletes. We are pleased to be able to recognize their achievements once more with this special ring, which only the most successful and influential individuals in tennis will have the honor of wearing.”

 With 102 titles to his name, former world No. 1 Ilie Nastase of Romania is one of just five players in tennis history to have won more than 100 titles (57 in singles and 45 in doubles). Nastase was a world top-10 player from 1973-1978 and held the world No. 1 ranking from August 1973-June 1974. He captured seven major titles, including both singles and doubles titles at the French and US Opens, as well as a doubles title and two mixed doubles titles at Wimbledon. Nastase had a remarkable record at the year-end championships as well, winning four Masters Grand Prix year-end championship titles and seven Championship Series titles (1970-73), the precursors to the current Masters 1000. Nastase represented Romania in Davis Cup from the 1960s-1980s, leading the team to the finals three times. Widely regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Nastase was inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1991.

 As a competitor heralded for her remarkable tactical ability and ball control, Françoise Durr of France captured 26 career singles titles and 60 career doubles titles. For more than a decade in the 1960s and 1970s, she was ranked among the top-ten in the world. Durr reached a total of 27 major finals in singles, doubles and mixed and won 12 major titles. She was the 1967 Roland Garros champion, and earned all her other major titles in doubles and mixed doubles. Durr was a long-time Fed Cup player for France, representing the team for 14 years (1963-67, 1970, 1972-79) and compiling a record of 31-17. She was the captain of the French Fed Cup team from 1993 through 1996 and the co-captain of the team with fellow French tennis great Yannick Noah in 1997, when they won the competition. Durr received the WTA Tour’s Honorary Membership Award in 1988 for her contributions to the founding, development, and direction of women’s professional tennis. In April 2010, she received the medal and title of Officer of the National Order of Merit, a national honor in recognition of her contribution to sport and the advancement of women in sport. Durr was inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2003.

 Heralded as Italy’s best tennis player, Nicola Pietrangeli had a lengthy career, highlighted by capturing two Roland Garros titles (1959, 1960) and proudly representing Italy for eighteen years in Davis Cup play (1954-1969, 1971-72). During Pietrangeli’s Davis Cup career, he played a record 164 rubbers, winning 120. To this day, he holds the records for the most rubbers played and the most rubbers won. Pietrangeli helped to lead the team to the finals twice during his career (1960, 1961), both times being overcome by Australia for the title. Upon retirement, Pietrangeli became Davis Cup captain, and in 1976, under his leadership, Italy won their first ever Davis Cup title. In addition to his singles victories, Pietrangeli was a finalist at Roland Garros two other times, and he captured the doubles title at Roland Garros in 1959 and the mixed doubles title in 1958. Pietrangeli was inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1986.

 Acclaimed tennis author, columnist, and broadcaster, Gianni Clerici has covered the sport for more than 40 years. As a sports reporter, he has written over 6,000 articles, mostly about tennis. Clerici was honored as the Best Italian Sports Columnist in 1992, and Italian Playwright of the Year in 1987. His premier book is 500 Anni di Tennis, which has been translated into French, German, Japanese, Spanish, and English (as The Ultimate Tennis Book). In addition, he wrote a biography about Hall of Famer Suzanne Lenglen, which is the considered the definitive biography of the French tennis star’s life. In recognition of his immense contributions to the sport, Clerici was inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2006.

 Since 1955, 220 of the greatest champions and contributors to the sport have been inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Induction to the Hall of Fame is based on the sum of one’s achievements in tennis, and is the highest honor available in the sport. Presently, there are 85 Hall of Famers living in 16 different countries, a testament to the global reach of the game. Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis and honoring the game’s greatest heroes. In addition, the Hall of Fame provides a landmark for tennis enthusiasts, offering an extensive museum that chronicles the history of the sport and its stars, historic grass tennis courts that date back to 1880 and are open to the public, an ATP World Tour tournament and the annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in July, and numerous public events year-round. To learn more, visit tennisfame.com.

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Toast to a Tennis Player on Titanic

Imagine one of the world’s best tennis players getting caught in one of history’s great disasters. Think it would be big news?

It wasn’t 100 years ago Sunday morning. That’s when Richard Williams clung to a lifeboat in the dark waters of the North Atlantic.

 
The Titanic departed Southampton on April 10, 1912, with Richard WIlliams and his father, Charles, on board. (F.G.O. Stuart)
 

People were dying all around him. His legs were literally freezing to death.

Two years later, Williams was crowned the best tennis player in America.

Researchers have excavated a century’s worth of first-class stories about the night the Titanic hit the iceberg. The one about a 21-year-old in a raccoon coat pretty much got lost in steerage.

That was just fine with Williams, who’d be embarrassed at the publicity the 100th anniversary has brought.

“He didn’t like talking about himself,” said his grandson, Quincy Williams. “And he didn’t like other people talking about themselves.”

Where have you gone, Richard Williams? A tweeting world turns its overexposed eyes to you.

If a Titanic sank today, agents would have been lining up on the New York docks to sign the young hero. He’d instantly have a million Twitter followers wanting to know what he had for breakfast.

It’s not 1912 any more. For every humble soul who wouldn’t get in a lifeboat with a Kardashian, there’s a ship of fools that can’t get enough attention.

Williams deserved that. He was a World War I hero. France awarded him the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, its highest decoration.

He became a successful Philadelphia investment banker and philanthropist. He was president of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Oh yeah, after refusing to have his legs amputated, he won two U.S. singles championships. He won a Wimbledon doubles title, an Olympic gold medal and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

“If you talk to my husband, you’d never even know he played tennis,” his wife used to say.

That’s a big reason Williams’ tale was familiar mainly to Titanic buffs until recently. The man who held ticket No. 17597 knew what happened on the maiden voyage would make a pretty good movie. But instead of selling his story, he put it down on about 25 typed, double-spaced pages.

The memoirs were just for his family. His grandson said they echo what researchers have pieced together about the disaster.

Richard Norris Williams was traveling from Geneva with his father, Charles. Richard planned on playing the lawn tennis circuit that summer and enrolling in Harvard for fall classes.

They were asleep in their stateroom when the ship hit the iceberg at 11:40 p.m. The jolt didn’t trigger much panic. After all, the Titanic was considered unsinkable.

Richard put on his big fur coat and headed out with his father. They came upon a steward trying to pry open a door to another cabin.

Richard lowered his shoulder and rammed the door in. The stranded passenger may have thanked him, but the steward said he would report Williams for destroying White Star Line property.

Probably wanting a stiff drink after that, they went to a smoking room. Charles got out his silver flask and gave it to his son, telling him it might come in handy on such a cold night. Richard asked the steward to fill it.

“The bar closes at midnight,” he was told.

If only the White Star Line has been such a stickler about lifeboat safety. Richard stuck the empty flask in his pocket.

He and his father mostly wandered the decks for the next couple of hours. In a letter he wrote to historian Walter Lord in 1962, Richard recalled that his father was convinced the ship would not go down.

Charles maintained that opinion even as the Titanic began to list toward its port side. The men walked uphill toward the gym, where they rode stationary bikes to try to stay warm.

The situation worsened in a hurry. As the letters of the ship’s name were about to go underwater, Richard turned to his father.

“I’m not much for symbolism,” he quipped. “But when the Captain forgets which ship he is on, it cannot bode well for the future.”

Not long afterward, there was a thunderous cracking sound and the forward smokestack crashed down. It narrowly missed Richard, and he was washed into the sea.

He started swimming and felt he’d gone about a mile. It was actually about 100 feet. He turned around was astonished to find the Titanic towering above him.

“Despite the horror and peril,” he wrote to Lord, “can’t help feeling it’s a majestic sight.”

The great ship went into its death throes, rising and settling then rising again and plunging straight down. It would not be seen again for 73 years, when explorers found it 1,200 feet below the water’s surface.

Williams kicked off his shoes and coat and swam toward a damaged lifeboat. Its canvas sides had collapsed, but at least it floated.

About 30 people held on. They prayed and sang and yelled in unison for help. One man asked Williams if he could put his arm around his neck for support.

Williams obliged. He felt the man’s grip tighten and then relax. It tightened again, then he felt it loosen as the man slid to his grave.

By the time a lifeboat found them near dawn, only 11 passengers were alive.

They were lifted onto the RMS Carpathia, which had responded to the distress call. Williams stayed on deck to watch the last boats come in, hoping to find his father. Charles Williams never came.

His son went below and tried to warm himself between an oven and a galley way. A doctor looked at his legs. He feared gangrene would set in and advised him to have both legs amputated.

“I refuse to give you permission,” Williams said. “I’m going to need these legs.”

He trudged around the decks for the next three days, hoping to restore circulation. Williams walked off the ship on April 18.

That July, he played a match in Boston against Karl Behr, a Davis Cup veteran. Behr had also been on the Titanic, though he escaped on a lifeboat.

Talk about a made-for-TV spectacular. Of course, there was no TV and essentially no mention anywhere of the voyage the players shared. Behr won in five sets, but the dashing newcomer impressed all.

Williams wore long pants, which was the style of the day. It also allowed him to hide his legs, which were permanently discolored from spending five hours in 28-degree water.

The next time you hear about an athlete overcoming adversity, think about the guy who had a ticket No 17597.

“It’s a different world today,” Quincy Williams said, who was born in 1959.

He was eight when his grandfather died. Quincy was old enough to know about the Titanic, but he never heard a word about it from the ultimate source.

“It don’t think it was ever discussed,” Quincy said.

He did get one thing from his grandfather. The silver flask he stuck in his pocket the night of April 15, 1912.

So here’s to you, Richard Williams.

It’s an honor to toast an athlete who showed true heroism and humility. And it’s sad that 100 years later, such traits seem forever lost at sea.

The preceding was reblogged from AOL Sporting News.

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Jennifer Capriati Elected to International Tennis Hall of Fame

 International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum
 
 
Jennifer Capriati, a former world No. 1, won three Grand Slam tournament titles and an Olympic gold medal during her career.

 

NEWPORT, R.I., USA, April 13, 2012 – American tennis star and former world No. 1 Jennifer Capriati has been elected to receive the highest honor in the sport of tennis- induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In addition to her world No. 1 status, Capriati’s successful career featured an Olympic gold medal, three Grand Slam titles, a Fed Cup title with the United States team, and an ability to stage remarkable comebacks. Capriati cracked the world top-10 in 1990, her first season on tour, and in October 2001, she became the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) World No. 1, a position she held for a total of 18 weeks. 

Jennifer Capriati“I am thrilled to learn that I have been elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. This is a dream come true and an extraordinary tribute. I love this game and am incredibly honored by the Hall of Fame’s vote. Tennis has been my passion and dedication for my entire life, and to be acknowledged for this passion and dedication is truly icing on the cake,” said Capriati. “Finally, to all of my fans: You mean so much to me. I am, and have always been, blessed beyond words by your support both during and after my playing days. You unquestionably made this game so memorable for me and I miss you all so much. I can’t wait to go to Newport to express my sincere appreciation to my fans, and celebrate with them, my family, my coaches, and everyone else in the tennis community. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I truly feel humbled to be a part of history and am honored to be considered among the greatest of all time.”

 Capriati has been elected to the Hall of Fame in the Recent Player Category, and she is the final member of the Hall of Fame Class of 2012 to be announced. The previously announced members of the Class of 2012 are former world No. 1, Brazilian tennis star Guga Kuerten; Spanish tennis legend Manuel Orantes; tennis administrator and promoter Mike Davies; and wheelchair tennis star Randy Snow, who will be honored posthumously. The Class of 2012 Induction Ceremony will be held on July 14, 2012 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.

 “Jennifer Capriati had one of the most accomplished and exciting tennis careers in recent years, and she is most deserving of the honor of Hall of Fame election. We look forward to celebrating this achievement with her and her fans,” said Christopher E. Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

 Capriati, 36, is originally from New York, N.Y., but she has been a long-time resident of Tampa and West Palm Beach, Fla.

 In her first season on the WTA, 1990, Capriati reached the finals of two of her first three pro events, losing to Hall of Famers Gabriela Sabatini and Martina Navratilova, and she advanced to the semifinals of the French Open before falling to eventual champion Monica Seles. She also captured her first career title in her first season on tour, defeating Zina Garrison at Puerto Rico.

 In 1992, Capriati won the Olympic gold medal at the Barcelona games, defeating both the second-seeded Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario and the top-seeded Stefanie Graf. She was a member of the championship United States Fed Cup team in 2000.

 Capriati took a break from tennis in 1994-95 and 1997-98, staging a successful comeback in the 1999, 2000, and 2001 seasons.

 At the Australian Open in 2001, Capriati defeated top seed and world No. 1 Martina Hingis in straight sets to win her first Grand Slam title. Having entered the tournament seeded No. 12, she was the lowest seed to ever win the title, a record that still stands today. She then entered the French Open seeded No. 4, and defeated No.1 seed Hingis in the semifinals and No. 12 seed Kim Clijsters in the final to win her second consecutive Grand Slam title. She was the only player that year to reach at least the semifinals of all four of the Grand Slam tournaments.

 In 2002, Capriati advanced to her second consecutive Australian Open final, this time as No. 1 seed. Once again facing Hingis, Capriati fought back from 6-4, 4-0 down and saved four championship points, in brutally hot weather, to eventually prevail 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-2, to claim her third Grand Slam title. The match was widely regarded as one of the greatest comebacks in tennis history, and it was named one of the ten best matches of the decade by Tennis magazine. The dramatic match earned Capriati the 2002 ESPY Award for Comeback Player of the Year, for which the other nominees were Hockey Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux and Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.

Capriati stopped playing at the end of the 2004 season, having compiled a career record of 430-176 and having won 14 career singles titles and 1 doubles title.

 Eligibility & Voting

The International Tennis Hall of Fame elects people in three categories- Recent Player, Master Player, and Contributor. Capriati has been elected in the Recent Player Category. Eligibility criteria for this category is as follows: active as competitors in the sport within the last 20 years prior to consideration; not a significant factor on the ATP World Tour or WTA within five years prior to induction; a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship, and character. A panel of International Tennis Media vote on the Recent Player nominee. A 75% favorable vote is required for election.

 Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of tennis and honoring its greatest champions and contributors. 

# # #

 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, providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide, and enshrining tennis heroes and heroines with the highest honor in the sport of tennis- induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In 1986, the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis, officially recognized the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum as the sport’s official Hall of Fame. 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 220 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.

Contact: Anne Marie McLaughlin, International Tennis Hall of Fame, Office: 401-324-6033

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Titanic Survivors Remembered in Tennis and the Titanic

New exhibit at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, R.I. will pay tribute to two Hall of Famers who survived the Titanic sinking, Karl Howell Behr and Richard Norris Williams II.

 The exhibit opening will be held on Thursday, April 12 at 5 p.m. In addition to the first showing of the exhibit, the opening will feature a discussion with Behr and Williams’ family members and a special screening of the film “A Night to Remember.” The opening is open to the public.

NEWPORT, R.I., U.S.A., April 5, 2012 – Like many of the R.M.S. Titanic’s approximately 2,200 passengers, Americans Karl Howell Behr and Richard Norris Williams II climbed aboard the ill-fated ship in search of their dreams- Behr was chasing love, and Williams striving for an Ivy League education and a successful tennis career. When the grand, “unsinkable” ship struck an iceberg late on April 14, 1912, the two were among the small, fortunate group of just 700 or so survivors. After meeting for the first time aboard the rescue ship R.M.S. Carpathia, neither man took their good fortune for granted, and they achieved great success as two of the best players in the history of tennis. Williams remarkably won the U.S. Nationals Mixed Doubles title just months after the Titanic disaster, and went on to capture several other major titles, and he was honored for his achievements with Hall of Fame induction in 1957. Behr, who was already an established player before the ship’s voyage, was ranked within the top-5 in the nation, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1969.

 As the world commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, R.I. will pay tribute to these two remarkable survivors with a special exhibit in their honor, opening next week. Tennis and the Titanic will officially open at the museum on Thursday, April 12 with an exhibit opening at 5 p.m., a discussion with Behr and Williams’ family members at 6 p.m., and a special film screening of “A Night to Remember,” a 1958 film that chronicles the sinking, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The exhibit opening is open to the public, refreshments will be served, and reservations are recommended. Admission is free for Hall of Fame Members and $12 for Non-Members. Reservations may be made on tennisfame.com or by calling 401-324-4074 or emailing programs@tennisfame.com

Tennis and the Titanic“This has been a fascinating exhibit to develop. Our goal was to shed light on the interesting lives of two remarkable men who survived one of the most infamous catastrophes in modern history, but were able to go on to have elite careers as athletes and success in other areas of life,” said Doug Stark, museum director at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. “We are grateful to the Behr and Williams families for their support in developing this exhibit. We look forward to welcoming them to the exhibit opening, which will offer a unique opportunity to hear more about Titanic survivors and Hall of Fame tennis players Richard Norris Williams II and Karl Howell Behr from the people who knew them best.”

Tennis and the Titanic will feature dynamic imagery and narratives detailing Williams’ and Behr’s lives before, during, and after the ship’s sinking. In addition, it will feature various personal mementos as well as artifacts from their tennis careers. Highlights of the exhibit include personal letters that were in the pocket of Williams’ fur coat when he jumped overboard and rare photos of the two tennis greats together. Tennis memorabilia featured includes Williams 1914 U.S. Nationals Men’s Singles Championship trophy, which he won at Newport, where the event was played before moving to New York and becoming the US Open. In addition, his 1920 Wimbledon Men’s Doubles Championship trophy and an old-fashion racquet press that he used to carry his gear to tournaments worldwide, will be displayed. 

American Richard Norris Williams II had been living in Europe and preparing for a collegiate tennis career at Harvard when he boarded the Titanic with his father. When they felt the collision with the iceberg, they believed there was some trouble but did not imagine the situation to be as dire as it turned out. The pair helped people board lifeboats, and worked out in the gym to pass time and stay warm. When they realized the ship was close to sinking, the men readied themselves to jump in the water. It was, however, too late, and at that moment the four massive funnels came crashing down and one crushed Williams’ father.

 With no time to mourn his father, Williams jumped into the icy water and clung to a lifeboat for hours in frigid water. After he was saved, Williams realized that he had no feeling in his legs, and when he tried to stand or walk, the pain was unbearable. Doctors aboard Carpathia recommended his legs be amputated. Williams, however, was not willing to give up his dreams for a successful tennis career. To avoid amputation, he spent hours walking the decks to get the feeling back and save his legs.

 Williams’ perseverance served him well. He went on to play at Harvard, and ultimately achieved a world ranking of No. 4 and a U.S. ranking of No. 1. Remarkably, Williams won the U.S. Nationals Mixed Doubles with Mary Browne just months after the disaster, and later won an Olympic Gold in mixed doubles with Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman. In all, he won a total of six major championships and was a member of five triumphant Davis Cup teams.

 In a real life story that could be the basis for a movie, Karl Howell Behr, a dashing, successful businessman and established tennis player claimed it was a business trip to Europe that required him to be on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. In reality, he boarded Titanic to follow Helen Newsom, the woman he loved, but whose parents did not approve of him. After the ship struck the iceberg, Helen and her parents were hastily put into one of the first life boats. While the call was for “women and children only,” Behr was convinced to climb aboard to help row the boat.

 Aside from the survivor’s guilt that plagued him all his life, Behr came away unscathed. Once aboard the rescue ship Carpathia, Behr became part of the Survivor Committee, helping to organize and assist the survivors. His role was appreciated by the survivors, and through the catastrophe, he also inadvertently proved himself worthy to Helen’s parents; the two were married in March 1913.

 Prior to the Titanic disaster, Behr had a thriving tennis career, having been a doubles finalist at Wimbledon and a finalist at the U.S. Nationals, as well as playing on the U.S. Davis Cup. After surviving the ship, he continued to play competitively, achieving a career high ranking of No. 3 in the United States.

 Williams’ and Behr’s first meeting was aboard the Carpathia. Prior to their encounter, Williams was an aspiring tennis player who had closely followed Behr’s tennis accomplishments. Two years after the Titanic disaster, in 1914, Williams was en route to his first U.S. National Championship in singles, when he came across a familiar face on the other side of the net at the tournament, which was hosted at the Newport Casino, now home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. Williams’ quarterfinal opponent was Karl Behr, whom he beat in straight sets 6-2, 6-2, 7-5. The men played against each other a few others times in their careers and remained friendly, bound forever by their harrowing experience and their love of the game.

 Tennis and the Titanic will be on display for approximately one-year in the Woolard Family Enshrinement Gallery at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, R.I. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of tennis and honoring its greatest champions and contributors. Induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame is based on the sum of one’s achievements and accomplishments in tennis and is the highest honor a player or leader in the sport can receive. Since 1955, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has inducted 220 people from 19 countries.

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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, providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide, and enshrining tennis heroes and heroines with the highest honor in the sport of tennis- induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In 1986, the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis, officially recognized the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum as the sport’s official Hall of Fame. 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 220 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.

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Lleyton Hewitt to Play Newport this Summer

 
 
 Campbell's Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, July 9-15, 2012    ATP World Tour
Contact:
Anne Marie McLaughlin
International Tennis Hall of Fame
Office: 401-324-6033

Australian tennis great and former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt joins an exciting and growing field for the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships- the only ATP World Tour event on grass courts outside of Europe. In addition to Hewitt, committed players include defending champion and world No. 11 John Isner, world No. 1 doubles team The Bryan Brothers, and rising star Milos Raonic.

 

NEWPORT, R.I., April 3, 2012 – Former world No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam tournament champion Lleyton Hewitt has committed to play in the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, to be hosted July 9 – 15, 2012 on the historic grass courts of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. After more than a decade on the pro tour, Hewitt’s feisty playing style has kept him as one of the most exciting players to follow. Hewitt was ranked world No. 1 for a total of 80 weeks, and he has finished the season in the top-25 ten times in eleven years (1999 – 2009). In addition to his two major titles, Hewitt won two Tennis Masters Cup titles (2001, 2002), and he captured at least one title each season from 1998 – 2010, with the exception of 2008, for a total of 28 singles titles and two doubles titles to date.
“With his tenacity on court and aggressive playing style, Lleyton always brings a great energy to a tournament. We look forward to welcoming him back to Newport for what is sure to be a great week,” said Tournament Director Mark L. Stenning. 
Lleyton HewittThis will be Hewitt’s second appearance in Newport, where he made it to the second round in 1998- after one of his earliest match wins on the ATP World Tour. Hewitt joins a dynamic and growing field for Newport, which is the only tournament on grass courts in North or South America, and offers the only opportunity to see men’s pro tennis in the Northeast before the US Open. The event is hosted immediately after Wimbledon and precedes the summer Olympics, which will also be played on grass courts. In addition to Hewitt, players slated to compete in Newport include the tournament’s defending champion John Isner, currently ranked world No. 11; the record-setting, world No. 1 doubles team, the Bryan Brothers; and rising star Milos Raonic, currently ranked world No. 26.  Tickets for the tournament are on sale now on tennisfame.com or by calling 866-914-FAME (3263). 
After playing Australian Rules football for most of his childhood, Hewitt began to focus on tennis at the age of 13. Just two years later, he became the youngest qualifier in the history of the Australian Open in 1997 at age 15. He won the first of his 28 ATP World Tour singles titles the following year at Adelaide at 16 years, 10 months old, making him the youngest winner on Tour since Michael Chang in 1988.
In 2001, at the age of 20 years, 8 months Hewitt became the youngest player in the history of the ATP World Tour rankings to finish world No. 1, and he was the first Australian to do so. En route to this feat, he won a career-best six titles that season, including the Tennis Master Cup and the US Open, where he defeated Pete Sampras. The following year, Hewitt held the No. 1 ranking every week of the season, and defeated Tim Henman to capture the Wimbledon title. 
Hewitt has been an integral part of Australia’s Davis Cup team throughout his career, having been part of the team that won the title in 1999 and 2003 and the teams that reached the final in 2000 and 2001. By the age of 22, he had recorded more wins in Davis Cup singles than any other Australian player, and he currently has a 49/14 record in singles and doubles. Although injured this week, Hewitt will play a mentoring role for the Australian team as they face South Korea in Davis Cup play. 
For additional information and to order tickets, please call the Tournament Office at 401-849-6053 or 866-914-FAME (3263) or visit http://www.tennisfame.com.
 
 

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About the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships
The Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event, will be held July 9 – 15, 2012 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, Rhode Island. The tournament draws 32 top male players to Newport direct from Wimbledon to compete for the Van Alen Cup and nearly $400,000 in prize money. Hosted on the legendary grass courts of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships is the only ATP World Tour event played on grass in the Americas. In addition to exciting pro tennis, the week features numerous special events ranging from tennis clinics and family activities to the Angela Moore Fashion Show. A highlight of the week will be the Class of 2012 Induction Ceremony on July 14. For additional information, visit http://www.tennisfame.com.    

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