Monthly Archives: January 2013

Viva Vika!

Immediately after (and in fact during) the player introductions, it was clear to the world that the Australian fans were backing Li Na for the Australian Open Women’s Final.

In a somewhat theatrical final comprised of 16 service breaks, a nearby fireworks display, two injury timeouts (one of which was a nasty fall by Li, slamming the back of her head into the court), and despite the hostile pro-Li fans, Victoria Azarenka captured her second Aussie championship with a thrilling 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over her “girl-on-fire” opponent.

Before the match began, I too was hoping for a Li Na win. But that changed quickly as the capacity crowd began to cheer everytime Azarenka made a mistake. One spectator even mocked the loud shrieking sound she makes when she hits her shots. As a former college player and lower tier pro, I have always been irritated by such behavior. The sport of tennis demands more respect from its fans…but that’s a whole new subject for an entirely different article.

Getting back to the crux of the story, the crowd’s frigidity was remincient of Azarenka’s semifinal win over American player-on-the-rise Sloane Stephens, when Azeranka was heavily criticized for taking a questionable 10-minute visit from the WTA trainer at a precarious point in time of the match.

All of that being said, I’m happy to report that by the end of the match, Azarenka appeared to have won at least some of the fans back. Azarenka’s biggest fan, Redfoo, yelled down to her from the player box “You deserve it,” and she later blew kisses to the crowd. Someone else in the crowd shouted “Victoria, we love you.”

In closing, I am equally happy to testify that even with world #2 Serena Williams hot on her trail vying for the top spot on the WTA Tour, Azarenka managed to hold on to the #1 ranking while making a bold and absolute statement to the tennis world – she truely is the best player in the world. Viva Vika!

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Tennis Hall of Fame Honors Eleven Aussie Legends at the Australian Open

International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport, RI 

MELBOURNE, January 23, 2013 – From Margaret Smith Court’s extraordinary 62 Grand Slam titles to John Newcombe and Tony Roche’s incredible run as a doubles team to the incomparable Rod Laver, Australia has undoubtedly produced some of the greatest tennis players in the history of the sport. In recognition of their great achievements, 28 Australian tennis greats have been presented the highest honor in the sport of tennis- induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In a special luncheon and ceremony on Wednesday at the Australian Open, this important achievement was celebrated once again with the presentation of official Hall of Fame rings to 11 of Australia’s great tennis legends.

The ring presentation drew together an incredible collection of tennis greats. Receiving their rings at the event were Hall of Famers Lesley Turner Bowrey, Ashley Cooper, Margaret Smith Court, Neale Fraser, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, John Newcombe, Frank Sedgman, Patrick Rafter, Tony Roche, Ken Rosewall, and Brian Tobin. Also participating in the celebration was Hall of Famer Rod Laver, who received his ring last year in a presentation at the BNP Paribas Open near his home in California. Hall of Famers Owen Davidson, Roy Emerson, and Mark Woodforde have also received their rings in prior ceremonies.

Australian tennis legends with Hall of Fame rings.
Frank Sedgman, John Newcombe, Rod Laver, Margaret Smith Court,
Ashley Cooper, Pat Rafter, Ken Rosewall, Tony Roche,
Lesley Turner Bowrey, Brian Tobin, Evonne Goolagong Cawley,
Neale Fraser. Photo by Fiona Hamilton.

Hall of Fame Ring

The personalized rings were introduced in 2011 and are being presented to Hall of Famers at tennis events around the world over the next few years as a special symbol of their Hall of Fame induction. The rings bear a green stone set in gold, to complement the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s brand colors. In addition, the rings are etched with each honoree’s name and the Hall of Fame logo crest. The rings have been generously underwritten by The Bruce T. Halle Family of Scottsdale, Arizona.

The rings were presented by International Tennis Hall of Fame Chairman Christopher Clouser, Hall of Famer Stan Smith, who also serves as president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and President Emerita Jane Brown Grimes.

“From record-setting Grand Slam champions to unstoppable Davis Cup teams, Australia boasts a tennis history that is among the most dynamic and storied in the world, and it is the goal of the International Tennis Hall of Fame to preserve and celebrate that history. These great Australian tennis legends have given so much to our sport over the years, and we are so 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, ” said Christopher Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. “We are grateful to Tennis Australia for welcoming the International Tennis Hall of Fame in today to honor these great Australian tennis champions and leaders.”

Often heralded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, The Reverend Doctor Margaret Smith Court remains the record-holder for Grand Slam titles, having won an extraordinary 62 titles in singles, doubles, and mixed- more than any other woman or man to ever play the game. In 1970, she became the first woman in the Open Era to win a singles Grand Slam. In recognition of her tremendous career, Court was honored with induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1979.

Achieving great success around the same time period as Court, Lesley Turner Bowrey, Hall of Fame Class of 1997, was the winner of two singles titles at the French Championships, and eleven additional major titles in doubles and mixed doubles. Bowrey was a member of two championship Fed Cup teams, and she later went on to serve as captain for Australia.

Also honored at the luncheon was another of Australia’s great female players, Evonne Goolagong Cawley. From 1973 to 1978, Cawley reached the final of every Grand Slam singles event she entered, except for just one. She won the Australian Open an incredible four times in a row, and was also a singles champion at the French Open and Wimbledon, in addition to winning six major doubles titles and one in mixed. Cawley entered the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1988.

Together, John Newcombe and Tony Roche formed one of the most successful doubles partnerships in tennis history, winning 12 Grand Slam doubles titles. As a result, they were inducted to the Hall of Fame together in 1986. In addition to their doubles success and to being integral members of the Australian Davis Cup teams, Newcombe and Roche had highly successful individual careers as well. Newcombe captured seven major singles titles, and went on to serve as an inspiring Davis Cup captain in the 1990s. Roche was a French Open singles champion, and he has been one of the game’s most successful coaches, guiding the careers of world No. 1’s including Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt, and Pat Rafter.

Winning three of the four major titles over the course of a single season is a rare feat, but Ashley Cooper accomplished just that in 1958 when he swept the three grass court majors of that era- the Australian Championships, Wimbledon, and U.S. Nationals. In the prior year, Cooper was a member of Australia’s victorious Davis Cup team. He was inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1991.

A name synonymous with Australian Davis Cup accomplishments, Neale Fraser was a member of four championship teams himself, and he became Davis Cup Captain for the Australian team in 1970, holding the position for a record 24 years and leading the team to four championships in the 1970s and 1980s. In his own career, Fraser, a Class of 1984 Hall of Famer, won a remarkable 19 major titles, including a pair of U.S. singles crowns and a Wimbledon singles title.

A five-time singles champion at the Grand Slam events, Frank Sedgman was also a champion in both doubles and mixed at all four majors, for a total of 22 Grand Slam titles. In addition, Sedgman was integral in leading the Australians to Davis Cup triumph for three consecutive years at the start of the 1950s. Sedgman was honored with Hall of Fame induction in 1979.

In a lengthy career that spanned more than two decades, Ken Rosewall won an incredible 23 majors including eight singles titles. He captured major titles in his teens, his twenties, and his thirties, a feat matched only by Pete Sampras in the men’s game. With his famous backhand, Rosewall stayed at the top of the game, and he was ranked among the top 20 players, every year for 25 years, from 1952 through 1977. In 1980, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Also receiving his Hall of Fame ring at the luncheon was Australia’s current Davis Cup captain and a former world No. 1, Pat Rafter, who was inducted in 2006. Rafter captured 11 singles titles and 10 doubles titles over the span of his career. In 1997 and 1998, he became the first Australian man in the Open Era to win back-to-back US Open titles, and in 2000 and 2001, he was the Wimbledon finalist.

Tennis in Australia and around the world is better off for having had Brian Tobin’s support. As a player, he was ranked among the Australian top-10 in the 1950s and 60s, but his most impactful contributions to tennis have been in his leadership work off the court. Tobin served as president of Tennis Australia between 1977 and 1989, during which time he presided over the Australian Open’s move from Kooyong to its current state-of-the-art facility. From 1991 to 1999, Tobin served as President of the International Tennis Federation, helping to grow the game around the world. In recognition of his contributions to grow the sport, Tobin was honored with Hall of Fame induction in 2003.

Since 1955, 224 of the greatest champions and contributors to the sport have been inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, including 28 from Australia. Hall of Famers hail from 19 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.

Source: International Tennis Hall Of Fame www.tennisfame.com

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Members Only: Finding the Right Tennis Club

The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, also known as the All-England Club, London, England, is a private members club. It’s best known as the venue for the Wimbledon Championships, the only Grand Slam tennis event still held on grass. Initially an amateur event that occupied club members and their friends for a few days each summer, the championships have become far more prominent than the club itself. However, it still operates as a members tennis club, with many courts in use all year round.

The club has 375 full members, about 100 temporary playing members, and a number of honorary members, including past Wimbledon singles champions and people who have rendered distinguished service to the game. In order to become a full or temporary member, an applicant must obtain letters of support from four existing full members, two of whom must have known the applicant for at least three years. The name is then added to the Candidates’ List. Honorary Members are elected from time to time by the club’s Committee. Membership carries with it the right to purchase two tickets for each day of the Wimbledon Championships.

Lets face it, with Her Majesty the Queen as the Club Patron, and Prince Edward (the Duke of Kent) as its President, very few of us will ever have a chance to claim membership to this illustrious club. Not to worry though, I’m sure there’s a tennis club out there that’s just right for you. Here’s a few tips to consider before you join.

Court Surfaces

It’s one thing if you play tennis for sport and for exercise, but quite another if you plan to compete. Competition venues have different types of courts that affect your game, so if you want to get into competitive tennis, you’ll want a club that at least has the two main types of courts: hard and clay. Hard courts allow the ball to move faster, while clay slows the ball down and makes it bounce higher. If you want to be competition-ready, you should have your game down on both surfaces.

Who’s the Pro?

Most tennis pros are skilled tennis players, but not all are certified teachers, which is a big part of a good pro’s job. Before signing up for pricy lessons, you should find out if they’re certified by a tennis teaching organization like the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR), and then find out what their association and level is. You’ll also want to find out how long they have been teaching, the ages and levels of play of their students and what kind of clubs they’ve worked for. Teaching at summer camp is quite different than working for a year-round tennis club.

Children’s Programs?

If you have kids and want to make the club a family activity, then you’ll want to make sure the club you choose has a well-developed children’s program. Lessons should range from beginner to advanced and in case your kid turns out to be the next Steffi Graf, there are also programs to get competition-ready. Even if there aren’t ambitions to go pro, tennis camps are great summer activities for kids who have shown that they have some racquet skills. Not only will this get your kids active but it will give you uninterrupted time to concentrate on your game.

What else do they offer?

Specialty clubs are nice if you’re only interested in playing tennis, but a club with more choices may be a better family-friendly pick. As I mentioned before, many community tennis clubs are paired with a swimming pool, which is always great for kids in the summer. Or, if you and your spouse enjoy spending time on the links, there are golf and tennis clubs, too. Most clubs these days have informative Web sites, so you can get good information before setting up an appointment to visit.

Cash is King

As with any membership purchase, price is always a factor. Fortunately, prices for tennis clubs run the gamut. You have your community clubs that consist of private tennis courts, a tennis pro and sometimes a swimming pool that are more on the affordable side. Add more services like golf and restaurants and the price tag will climb some. Prices can skyrocket when you get to the big country clubs that come with a pro shop, all of the amenities and even spa services.

By Steven White, author and illustrator of Bring Your Racquet: Tennis Basics for Kids http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933794240

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