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Kiki Bertens lifts the trophy that represents her biggest career title. Her record in finals improves to 5-1, as a result of her victory over Julia Goerges 6-2, 6-1. 
Photo credit Leslie Billman

April 10, 2018 — The Volvo Car Open, staged at the Family Circle Cup Stadium and site, has come and gone. However, as at all of the 45 years this prestigious tournament has operated, history was made. Kiki Bertens became the first woman from the Netherlands to win the women’s singles title. She was far and away the stronger player, both mentally and game-wise, the entire week. Her love of clay, red and green, buoyed her performance as if it intuitively guided her to the title. She played through injury, cool weather, and the uncommon demand on players to compete in more than one match in a day — especially the most difficult: semifinal and final. To read all the stories from the week at Daniel Island, please click here.   

The Miami Open ends a 34-year-run at Crandon Park Tennis Center, Key Biscayne, Fla., this year. In 2019 the tournament relocates to Dolphins’ Stadium about an hour north of Miami. More courts. More player and fan amenities. More parking. Seems appropriate, then, that for its last year at the tropical site there was an all-American sweep: John Isner won his first ATP Masters 1000 singles title; Sloane Stephens also won her first Miami title; Bob and Mike Bryan won their fifth Miami doubles crown and 37th ATP Masters 1000; and, finally the women’s doubles team of American CoCo Vandeweghe and Aussie Ashleigh Barty won their first Miami title. 

To read all the coverage from the 2019 Miami Open, please click here. Scroll down to enjoy some photos — from

John Isner can’t quite believe he’s done it, won his first ATP Masters 1000 singles title by defeating number-four seed Alexander Zverev 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4. The German was the highest seed remaining in the draw. 
Photo credit Karla Kinne 

Americans Bob and Mike Bryan won the men’s doubles competition Saturday, defeating the Russian duo of Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev 4-6, 7-6(5), 10-4. The 39-year-old twins captured their fifth Miami Open title, 37th ATP Masters 1000 title and their 115th career title overall. Photo credit Karla Kinne 

Sloane Stephens shows off her shiny new trophy, after winning her first Miami Open today at Crandon Park Tennis Center, Key Biscayne, Fla. The American defeated Jelena Ostapenko 7-6(5), 6-1. Stephens is now an impressive 6-0 in finals and is the current U.S. Open singles champion. Ostapenko is the reigning French Open singles champion. The men’s singles final is tomorrow. American John Isner faces Alexander Zverev, the number-four seed and highest remaining in the men’s singles draw.  
Photo credit Karla Kinne

The BNP Paribas Open has come and gone in California’s Coachella Valley, as players move on to The Miami Open in Key Biscayne, Fla. 

To catch up on all the stories from Indian Wells, please click here. Top photos are below.

Juan Martin del Potro won his first ATP Masters 1000 on Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open, defeating top-seeded Roger Federer 6-4, 6-7(8), 7-6(3). Federer had three championship points, which Del Potro batted away late in the third. 
Photo credit Mal Taam

Naomi Osaka won her first career title Saturday, defeating fellow 20-year-old Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-2, at the BNP Paribas Open. Ranked number 49 at the start of the tournament, Osaka rose to No. 22 on Monday. 
Photo credit Mal Taam

Feliciano Lopez (No. 28) zeros in on a slice backhand, during his loss to American Sam Querrey (No. 18) in the fourth round, 6-3, 6-3. 
Photo credit Mal Taam 

Former top-ten player Milos Raonic squeaked a seed into the men’s singles draw at the BNP Paribas Open: N0. 32. The Canadian left the game in the fall  and struggled to perform earlier this year. However, the Canadian finds himself in the quarterfinals, after Marcos Baghdatis withdrew with an unspecified illness today. Raonic meets American Sam Querrey (No. 18) tomorrow. Photo credit Mal Taam 

The Williams’ sisters meet at the net last night after Venus defeated her younger sister Serena 6-3, 6-4, in a third-round clash at the BNP Paribas Open. This was Venus’s first win against the 23-time Grand Slam champion since 2014. “I’m just lucky that I’ve played more matches than her right now,” Venus said afterward, an obvious nod to the love and devotion she holds for her sister. “I definitely know her well, but she definitely played a little bit better than she normally does,” Serena confessed. “She just did everything great.” 
Photo credit Mal Taam 

Top-seeded Simona Halep dug deep to dismiss wildcard and 19-year-old American Caroline Dolehide yesterday at the BNP Parisbas Open, 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-2. Halep won this title last in 2015. She plays Qiang Wang in the fourth round. Photo credit Mal Taam

Always entertaining Gael Monfils knocked out John Isner (No. 15) yesterday in a 3-set tussle, 6-7(5), 7-6(3), 7-5. The Frenchman is not seeded in Indian Wells, making him a dangerous floater. He’ll meet Taro Daniel in the round of sixteen. Daniel scored his biggest win yesterday, upsetting 5-time Indian Wells champion Novak Djokovic. Photo credit Mal Taam

Federer’s "Match For Africa" Raises $2.5 Million

Roger Federer and Bill Gates enter the stadium in San Jose for “The Match For Africa 5,” held yesterday. Photo credit Mal Taam 

March 6, 2018 — Roger Federer knows how to make money for people other than himself. He proved it last night during the “Match for Africa” exhibition and fundraiser held in San Jose, Calif. Bill Gates, in his second appearance for Federer’s foundation, played alongside the current number-one in a doubles match against opponents Jack Sock and Savannah Guthrie of NBC’s “Today" show. The event sold 15,000 tickets and raised another $2.5 million. The Roger Federer Foundation supports education for children in Africa. Federer’s mother, Lynette, was born and raised in South Africa. The family’s frequent trips back to her home elevated Roger’s awareness of and love for the children there. 

Savanah Guthrie and Jack Sock join Federer and Gates in the exhibition match yesterday in San Jose, Calif. Photo credit Mal Taam

Martina Hingis Retires From Tennis, Again

By Jane Voigt

Chan Yung-Jan (left) and Martina Hingis during the 2017 U.S. Open. They won the title, defeating Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova. Photo credit Leslie Billman

October 26, 2017 — Martina Hingis announced today she would retire from tennis at the conclusion of the WTAFinals in Singapore, October 29. 

Her career was marked with two other 'retirements'. The first was due to a heel injury Hingis blamed on her Adidas tennis shoes. The second was a two-year suspension by the International Tennis Federation, after testing positive for cocaine in 2007. 

“I think now it’s definite,” Hingis said, according to The New York Times. “It’s different now. I walked away [before], thinking I might come back. I think it’s the right thing to do."

Nonetheless, the 37-year-old always bounced back and will end her career with a total of 43 WTA singles titles and 64 WTA doubles titles. She holds the honor of being the youngest Grand Slam champion in history, having won women's doubles at Wimbledon when she was 15. She won a silver medal in doubles at the 2016 Olympics, as well. 

“Looking back now,” Hingis wrote on her Facebook page, “it’s hard to believe that almost exactly 23 years ago I made my professional debut."

Hingis was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2013, then reentered the game as an exclusive doubles player. Over the last four years, she's won 10 Grand Slam titles in that category. Most recently, she won five consecutive doubles titles over four months alongside Chan Yung-Jan. The duo is in action in Singapore, having been one of eight teams with the best performance record for 2017. They are seeded number one and have progressed to the semifinals. 

Most remarkably, Hingis will retire having reached the number-one ranking in singles 20 years ago and the number one ranking in doubles today. 

“I’m definitely not going to miss that day-in, day-out grind, practicing, waking up,” she said, according to The New York Times. "And the traveling, it’s also one thing at the start I definitely won’t miss anymore. Octagon, Hingis's sports and entertainment agency, wrote in a publicity release that she will "use her free time to pursue her passions including horseback riding and skiing." 

February 16, 2018 — Roger Federer has become the sport’s oldest new top dog, after having defeated Robin Haase during the quarterfinals of Rotterdam today, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1. 

Roger Federer ascends to number one in the ATP rankings on Monday, becoming the oldest player to reach that spot in the history of the game. He is pictured here, after winning in Indian Wells, Calif., last year. Photo credit

“This one means the most to me, 36 almost 37. I can’t believe it,” Federer told fans.

Federer first reached number over 18 years ago in 2004. He also has held the top ranking for a non-consecutive 303 weeks, a record. Andre Agassi had been the oldest man, at 31, to hold the top ranking. 

With his ascension, Rafael Nadal falls to number-two in world by an ever-so-slight margin: 9785 (Federer), 9760 (Nadal).

“That’s a pretty close margin between these two great players,” Lindsey Davenport said, calling the match on Tennis Channel. 

“Thank you for being the great guy you are,” Richard Krajicek, tournament director, said on court. Krajicek won Wimbledon in 1996.

With Roger Federer Out for Year, DownTheTee Readers React

By Jane Voigt

July 31, 2016 — Roger Federer won’t play tennis for the rest of the year. For die-hard fans, the loss hit hard. 

“I was planning to go to the U. S. Open and now [I] won’t,” one reader wrote in her response to an open-end survey composed by and emailed to regular readers. 

For tennis, though, the tours march on with an eye on the sideline and any news about the 17-time Grand Slam Champion.

Roger Federer defeated Richard Gasquet of France in straight sets at the U. S. Open, 2015. Federer’s ability to watch the ball until it hits the racquet strings has inspired millions of tennis players to do the same. Photo credit Leslie Billman

Most of the readers’ responses to the questionnaire believe Federer will return, as he confirmed on his Facebook page, “I am as motivated as ever and plan to put all my energy towards coming back strong, healthy and in shape to play attacking tennis in 2017.”

“I do believe that Roger will return,” Bob Morris wrote. “He is so passionate about tennis and I think leaving the game now would be a major emotional letdown. If singles becomes too much physically, I could see him doing more doubles for the next five years.”

“I’m 100% certain he will come back for at least another year,” one reader, who wanted to remain anonymous, agreed. “He will want to retire with a flourish.”

Federer probably will never win an Olympic Gold Medal in singles, given his age — he’ll be 35 on August 8 — and the 4-year span between Olympic Games. He won a Gold medal in men’s doubles alongside Stan Wawrinka in Beijing, 2008. In London, Federer won a Silver medal in singles.  

Even though his hopes of Olympic gold are most certainly behind him, he could win another Grand Slam? He has not won a major singles title in four years. 

“I think in many ways it’s still possible, but the odds are getting greater,” Morris added. “However Ken Rosewall won [one] at 39 and Jimmy Connors came close. So, why is it impossible?

“I can’t stand it when people doubt him,” a reader said, preferring to remain anonymous. “There are some that have played for many years and not broken the top 20. He’s 34 and hasn’t dropped out of the top 5!”

“The stars and the moon will have to align for him to win one more,” Daniel R. wrote.

Jean Kirshenbaum doesn’t think Federer will win an 18th major, either, “but I would certainly like to see him do it. He has had his chances in the past two years, but he will not have anymore.”

Kirshenbaum also raised the issue some in sports would rather avoid — Federer’s retirement. 

“As fit as he has been for all of his career, at 34 it is unlikely his recovery will allow him to remain in top form,” Kirshenbaum wrote. “I just hope that we do not have to watch a slow decline or witness a career-ending injury. He could end up like Kim Clijsters, Jutine Henin, and Marion Bartoli. They couldn’t go on because the pain from injuries did not permit them to continue.”

Although readers are fond of Federer — he has 14,559,188 likes on his Facebook page — their tennis-watching schedule won’t change due to his absence. 

“It’s sad, but it won’t change the amount of tennis I view,” Daniel R. wrote. “He is no longer my favorite player to watch.”

Given the speed of men’s tennis today, Federer’s ball tracking has to be something of a mystery to club players. Photo credit Leslie Billman

“Believe you me Federer’s set back will have a huge impact on how I watch tennis,” another reader, who wished to remain anonymous, wrote. “I believe his absence will all the younger hopefuls to make their way into the rankings. It will give them more visibility, more opportunities to reveal their talents and skills, more input and feedback from commentators, spectators and potential endorsers. Move aside old pros. Make way for the new.”

“I was sorry to read about what has happened,” Morris added. “[But there’s] no change in my ‘tennis schedule.’”

Respect for Federer and what he’s brought to the game came through in respondents’ answers to this question — What has his impact been on tennis, for you personally? 

“His contribution has been immense,” one reader wrote. “He is the greatest ambassador the game has known in the modern era.”

“He always reminds us that tennis was a ‘gentleman’s sport,’ no just that it’s for men. But his grace, sportsmanship, and civilized behavior has always been stellar. It sets an example for all those behind him,” wrote one respondent, wishing to remain anonymous. “He never blames others for losses. He never ties to game opponents by calling time outs when he’s down. He is a true sportsman in every way. And, he’s magnificent to watch both in movement and in the way he strikes to ball.”

Federer also reminded some of yesteryear tennis. That he evoked an age of softer, gentler court action. Not the power baseline game of today.

“I must say that when Federer is on court among the power players, his agile movement, his impromptu strategic attacks and his racquet finesse reminds me of the earlier days of Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert,” wrote one woman. 

One way Federer has kept his health in check is an insistence on sleeping 10-hours a night. He says that’s what he needs to recover and prepare for the next day on court. 
Photo credit Leslie Billman

“I think Roger was the reincarnation of Rod Laver when he came on the tennis scene,” Morris wrote. “I loved Pete [Sampras], Andre [Agassi], Jim [Courier], and Stefan [Edberg]. But Roger not only was good he brought an elegance and style that was exceptional. He brought a voice that was thoughtful, confident and insightful. He ushered in today’s game in every way.”

Federer’s achievements in tennis are long and will stand the test of tennis history partially due to his lack of injuries throughout his pro career, which began in 1999. He doesn’t bully the ball, but uses leverage, confidence and athleticism to compete. When he practices he hits all the balls, which give him a keen advantage in matches … he’s prepared for the unexpected. But it’s his footwork and speed of recovery from one strike of the ball to the next that truly set him apart. He can change direction as well or better than a footballer. And, after all, tennis is a running game.  

Sharapova’s Appeal Postponed. Will Not Play Rio Olympics.

July 14, 2016 — The Court of Arbitration, along with the International Tennis Federation, announced three days ago that Maria Sharapova’s 2-year doping ban appeal has been postponed until September 19. This decision rules out the former number one from competition in the Olympics, being held in August in Rio de Janeiro. The ruling was supposed to have been released Monday, July 17.

Sharapova wants to overturn or reduce the ban, which was levied by the ITF. She would have been eligible for the Olympics if the ban was nullified.

The three Russian players that will compete in Rio are: Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Daria Kasatkina. Sharapova’s replacement will most likely be Ekaterina Makarova, who is ranked number five in that country.

Maria Sharapova Suspended from Tennis for Two Years 

June 8, 2016 — On Sunday tennis reached a pinnacle. Novak Djokovic won Roland Garros, and thus held all four Grand Slams simultaneously. It was a feat last achieved in 1969 by Rod Laver. But today the dizzying heights of accomplishment vanished as news revealed the sport's dark underbelly. Five-time Grand Slam Champion Maria Sharapova had been suspended for two years by an International Tennis Federation tribunal for an unintentional doping violation. 

Maria Sharapova is shown here during the 2015 French Open. The Russian will be eligible to play at the 2018 Roland Garros, the first Grand Slam available for her after the completion of the suspension: January 25, 2018. Photo credit Leslie Billman

Sharapova’s fateful decision to take yet another 500 milligrams of Meldonium, commercially sold as Mildronate, came on January 26 at The Australian Open. For five days and in advance of five matches she’d swallowed that dosage. 

The results of the blood sample following her loss that day against Serena Williams were only revealed by the Russian in an impromptu press conference in early March. She then waited until May 18 and 19 to sit alongside her lawyers in front of the three-man tribunal, which was selected by the ITF. The two-year suspension handed down is retroactive to the date of the test, which means she would be ineligible to play before January 25, 2018, too late to enter that Australian Open. If the tribunal had found that she intentionally used Meldonium, the suspension would have been 4 years.

“I cannot accept an unduly harsh two year suspension,” Sharapova wrote on her Facebook page. 

She will appeal the ruling to The Court of Arbitration in Sport in July, with a quick and binding resolution to come, reports The New York Times

Meldonium was officially banned by the World Anti-Doping Association on January 1, 2016. However its list of prohibited substances, which included Meldonium, had been originally published and circulated on September 26, 2015. 

In addition to the negative test from late January the tribunal reported that WADA detected the drug in her system in another test taken February 2 in Moscow where Sharapova played in a non-WTA event.  

Today around noon the shocking news began trending on Twitter. Close to 20,000 posts rolled on about the ruling, whether she deserved it or not, and expectations about her future in tennis, if indeed she has one. The lovers and haters piped in, as usual. Later in the afternoon over 80,000 posts accumulated. 

Minutes later Sharapova posted her response on her Facebook page … 

Today with their decision of a two year suspension, the ITF tribunal unanimously concluded that what I did was not intentional. The tribunal found that I did not seek treatment from my doctor for the purpose of obtaining a performance enhancing substance. The ITF spent tremendous amounts of time and resources trying to prove I intentionally violated the anti-doping rules and the tribunal concluded I did not. You need to know that the ITF asked the tribunal to suspend me for four years – the required suspension for an intentional violation -- and the tribunal rejected the ITF’s position. 

While the tribunal concluded correctly that I did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension. The tribunal, whose members were selected by the ITF, agreed that I did not do anything intentionally wrong, yet they seek to keep me from playing tennis for two years. I will immediately appeal the suspension portion of this ruling to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

I have missed playing tennis and I have missed my amazing fans, who are the best and most loyal fans in the world. I have read your letters. I have read your social media posts and your love and support has gotten me through these tough days. I intend to stand for what I believe is right and that’s why I will fight to be back on the tennis court as soon as possible.

Love, Maria

P.S. My lawyer prepared a short summary of how the ITF process works so I thought I would pass it along to my fans so you too can be aware of what the ITF rules call for.

John Haggerty, Sharapova’s lawyer, posted a document on her Facebook page, as well. It suggested one avenue of their defense, that a “four year suspension would effectively end her career.” If she serves the 2-year suspension, her ranking would be unprotected. 

Sharapova had been taking Meldonium since 2006. The medication was prescribed by her doctor in Russian - the drug is not available in the U. S. - to help the athlete counter frequent illnesses, although the drug is primarily considered a heart medication. 

Her list of prescribed medications plus vitamin and mineral supplementals skyrocketed over the years, reaching to 30 a day. The report says she was overwhelmed by that amount. 

Beginning in 2013, she decided to only take three of those medications: Magneto, Riboxin, and Meldonium. (Magneto and Riboxin are not prohibited by WADA.) Yet she only disclosed this change to her father, Yuri, and her agent, Max Eisenbud, neither of whom are medical experts. And, she did not consult with doctors about the reduction. Finally, she had not listed Meldonium on "doping control forms” since 2014 because she, “only thought it was necessary for substance she took daily,” The New York Times reported. 

These missteps by Sharapova did not bode well with the tribunal. 

Yet the report was not strictly a report, either. Some passages sounded parental, as if they were reprimanding the 29-year-old. In the conclusion of the 33-page document the panel wrote, “She is the sole author of her own misfortune.” This is true, but it does not factor in the mishandling of tests run by WADA prior to the substance’s ban that pertain to the amount of time Meldonium remains in the blood. 

Nike extended its provisional suspension of Sharapova. No holiday or Spring 2017 clothes will be offered from her line. Other sponsoring companies such as Tag Hauer, Porsche, and Cole Hahn, have not announced an extension of their decisions to suspend contractual arrangements announced in early March. 

Justine Henin and Marat Safin to be inducted into International Tennis Hall of Fame

March 29, 2016 — Former WTA Tour world No. 1 Justine Henin, who won seven Grand Slam singles titles, and Marat Safin, a two-time major champion and former ATP World Tour world No. 1 have been elected to receive tennis' highest honor - induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2016 inductees were announced March 8 at a press conference in New York City in conjunction with World Tennis Day and the BNP Paribas Showdown.

Henin and Safin have been elected in the Recent Player Category for induction in the Class of 2016. In addition, Yvon Petra, a notable French tennis player of the 1940s, and Margaret "Peggy" Scriven, British tennis champion of the 1930s, will be inducted posthumously in the Master Player Category. 

Henin is the first Belgian inductee to the Hall of Fame; and, Safin is the first Russian player to be inducted. Since 1955, the honor of Hall of Fame induction has been awarded to 243 tennis champions and leaders representing 21 nations. 


"It is a pleasure to announce the induction of Justine Henin and Marat Safin into the International Tennis Hall of Fame,” Stan Smith, International Tennis Hall of Fame President, said. Justine and Marat committed themselves to the sport and worked relentlessly at being champions of the highest caliber. As a result, they achieved extraordinary careers with world No. 1 rankings and Grand Slam tournament victories. They led their nations to victories in Fed Cup and Davis Cup. They are rightfully a source of national pride in Belgium and Russia, and we are looking forward to welcoming them as the very first Hall of Fame inductees from those nations." 

"Also this year, we remember and recognize the achievements of two of tennis' great early champions, Yvon Petra, who claimed a Wimbledon title after five years as a prisoner-of-war, and Margaret Scriven who won two back-to-back singles titles at the French Championships. Their success is part of the sport's storied history, and we're glad to recognize their accomplishments. We look forward to celebrating all of the inductees in Newport in July."

The Class of 2016 Induction Ceremony will be held on Saturday July 16, 2016, during Rolex Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The weekend will feature museum tribute exhibits for the new Hall of Famers and celebratory parties and special events. The ceremony and festivities will be held in conjunction with the annual Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour 250 event. 

About Safin and Henin

Justine Henin, 33, of Belgium, was the world No. 1 player for 117 weeks. She was the year-end No. 1 three times, clinching the top spot in 2003, 2006, and 2007.

Powered by an explosive one-handed backhand, Henin won seven Grand Slam singles titles, including four French Open titles, three of which were consecutive. In addition to her French Open titles, Henin won two US Open titles and an Australian Open title. Henin won 43 singles titles in all, including 10 WTA Tour Tier I / Premier Mandatory & Premier 5 titles. She compiled an extraordinary career record of 525-115.

While smaller in stature than many of her competitors, Henin was applauded for her mental toughness and an outstanding all-around game. She was known for a powerful forehand, superior volley skills and court coverage, and her famous one-handed backhand. 

In 2004, Henin won the Olympic Gold Medal in Athens. She was a dedicated Belgian Fed Cup team member, leading the team to their first Fed Cup title in 2001 and into the finals again in 2006.

Since retirement, Henin's ventures have included running a tennis academy in Belgium, as well as a foundation dedicated to medical needs of children. 

Marat Safin, 36, of Russia, is a two-time Grand Slam tournament champion. He held the world No. 1 ranking for nine weeks, and was in the world top-five for 119 weeks. Safin was regarded as a power player with strong groundstrokes and a particularly dangerous backhand.

Safin won his first major title at the 2000 US Open, when he defeated Pete Sampras. He is the first and only Russian man to have won the title. Safin went on to win the 2005 Australian Open with a victory over Lleyton Hewitt, defeating then world No. 1 Roger Federer in a five-set battle en route to the final. 

Safin won 15 singles titles. In addition to his Grand Slam tournament titles, he won five ATP Masters 1000 tournaments. He compiled a career record of 422-267. 

Safin was an integral member of the Russian Davis Cup team for 11 years. In 2002, he was instrumental in leading Russia to defeat France for their first Davis Cup victory. In 2006, he won the deciding rubber against Argentina to claim the title for Russia again. 

Since retiring from the ATP World Tour, Safin has served on the Russian Olympic Committee and has worked with the Russian Tennis Federation. In 2011, he was elected to serve in the Russian Federal Parliament.And Away We Go

January 12, 2016 — Roger Federer is recovering from some unannounced brand of the flu, which, he says, he got from one of his four kids. The press blamed the illness on his loss to Milos Raonic in the final of Brisbane, Australia, last weekend.

Serena Williams pulled out of Hopman Cup with a knee injury, way out yonder on the west coast of Australia. It was her first match of the new year.

Novak Djokovic at the 2015 U. S. Open. Photo credit Leslie Billman

And the reigning king on the men’s tour, Novak Djokovic, kicked off 2016 in Doha, Qatar, defeating Rafael Nadal, 6-1 6-2. Djokovic impressed the Spaniard so much he told the press that he’d never played someone as good as Novak. It was his 60th title.

Thus begins another year on the men’s and women’s pro tennis tours. 

Beginning Monday, January 18, when the first slam of the year gets underway — The Australian Open — Serena better hope her annoying left knee is ship shape while Federer’s rest this week better bring him around to a level of fitness that will stand up under the hot summer temperatures of Melbourne.

Serena Williams at The U. S. Open, 2015. Photo credit Leslie Billman

Both, at 34, are aging icons. Both have lots of points to defend in 2016. Serena’s climb is a bit steeper than Federer’s, having won 3 major titles in 2015 while Federer finished as the runner-up at Wimbledon and The U. S. Open. 

Meanwhile, Djokovic hasn’t missed a beat. He ended 2015 at number one for the fourth consecutive year. His win-loss record was considered better than Serena’s. The Serb also won three majors, losing the fourth in the final of Paris to an inspired Stan Wawrinka; whereas, Serena lost in the semifinal in New York. The argument of who’s 2015 was better pursued as Sports Illustrated contemplated who it would select for the illustrious cover and title of Sportsperson of the year last fall. Serena won out, we know, while Djokovic was honored as the best in tennis. At least they weren’t displaced by a horse — American Pharoah.  

The insipid argument about who is the greatest player of all time hasn’t included Djokovic, for the most part. However, his case is in front of the jury. His record alone of wins over top-10 players last year is enough to propel him to the head of the class — 14-1. After winning The Australian Open, he went on to claim titles at all four Master 1000 events that lead up to The French Open. And, he ended the year with more ranking points than two additional GOAT contenders combined — Federer and Nadal. 

When the Australian Open draw comes out Friday, the two same names will head the list of most likely to win it all: Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic. Yet age and the impact of decades on court will make Williams’ run more alluring. Who knows if this year will be her last? Or Federer’s last? They both will be motivated to make another appearance at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. It could signal a shift in their attitudes about whether to continue their lengthy careers. 

While many will spotlight Federer and Serena, as the first major rolls out and the year marches on, keep your eyes on Mr. Djokovic. If Nadal’s assessment is anywhere near accurate — he could have had a bad afternoon in the Doha final — then Novak could become the inspiration for a shift in attitudes about who history will preserve as the one who stole the bluster from an ever-favorite fan favorite, Federer, and a black woman who by all measures cannot be beaten when healthy and focused. 

Serena Wins Cincinnati For Second Time

Serena Williams won the Western & Southern Open yesterday in Mason, Ohio, defeating Simone Halep, 6-3 7-6(5). Photo credit Leslie Billman

August 24, 2015 — Serena Williams won back-to-back titles at the Western & Southern Open yesterday, defeating a fan favorite Simone Halep of Romania, 6-3 7-6(5). 

The American now has her sights set on New York and the U.S. Open. She will try to become the first player since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win all four Majors in a calendar year. 

“I’m ready,” Serena told ESPN. “I don’t care if I win or lose or break even. I’m ready to start it, get it over with and be done and go on to the next event. But I’m so ready for New York.”

The U. S. Open begins Monday, August 31, at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York. 

For more coverage from the Western & Southern Open, please click on this link

June 24, 2015 — Wimbledon has announced the men's and women's singles seedings for the 2015 edition of the Championships at the All England Club. For the 4th year in a row, Novak Djokovic will take the top spot, followed by Roger Federer (No. 2), Andy Murray (No. 3) and Stan Wawrinka (No. 4). Two-time champion Rafael Nadal has dropped to No. 10, his lowest seeding in 9 years. Serena Williams, 5-time champion, will be seeded No. 1, followed by defending champion and 2-time titlest, Petra Kvitova. Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova round out the top four. Main draw competition begins Monday, June 29. 

For complete lists of seedings, please click on this link:

The Championships Wimbledon begin next Monday, June 29. So dust off your dimpled grass-court shoes and set your calendars now to enjoy all you can from the All England Club. 

News Notes … May 19, 2015

Grand Re-opening of the                                International Tennis Hall of Fame


May 19, 2015 — After years of planning and a $3 million renovation, the International Tennis Hall of Fame is set to cut the ribbons and show off its new facility in Newport, Rhode Island, tomorrow. The museum collection, ‘has been completely reinterpreted, the galleries have been redesigned, and more than 1,900 tennis artifacts are displayed,’ Anne Marie McLaughlin of the Hall of Fame reported. 

One of the most highly anticipated exhibitions will be The Roger Federer Experience, a hologram of the 17-time Grand Slam champion going through his memorable strokes. 


‘Yesterday, I took the time to walk through the almost-complete museum and was blown away,” Marguerite Marano, Director of Membership & Annual Giving, said. “I truly looks like an entirely new space. The stories, told through the eyes of our celebrated Hall of Famers, quite literally jump right off the walls and convince you to stay for hours.’

Also being introduce is the International Hall of Fame’s redesigned logo. It is more streamlined, to match the changing course and fast feel of this tennis era. 


 The museum renovation was funded through the Hall of Fame’s capital campaign, which was the first of its type in fourteen years. In addition to the museum’s overhauling, the site will also build a new indoor tennis courts, new offices and retail space, new grandstands for Bill Talbert Center Court, plus other improvements around the property in downtown Newport. These improvements will roll out over the course of 2015-2016.

Li Na’s Story to Become Movie

May 19, 2015 — Peter Chan said earlier this month that he will produce and direct a documentary on the life of recently-retired Chinese tennis star, Li Na. The production will be based on her autobiography, Li Na: My Life, the Wall Street Journal wrote.

“‘I am very humbled by the fact that a director of Peter Chan’s talent is going to direct it,’” Li Na said, according to the same article. “Some of the best movies in China that have come out in the last couple years have been made by Peter.” Li will be a consultant for the film.

Li Na retired from tennis last year, at the age of 32, due to recurring knee problems. She returned to the Australian Open in January, announcing she and her husband, Jiang Shah, were expecting their first child. 

The documentary intends to show “how different she is, not just in the sports world but in many parts of Chinese culture,” Mr. Chan said. No person has been cast for her role. 

Li is famous for being the first person from Asia to win a Major tennis championship. She won the French Open in 2011 and the Australian Open in 2014. 

In addition to the movie, Li will open a tennis academy in China. “‘We want to create almost a Li Na-land,’” Max Eisenbud, Li’s agent from IMG, said. “There won’t be another academy like it in that part of the world.”

JTCC Hosts U. S. Open National Playoffs for U.S.T.A. Mid-Atlantic Sectional Qualifying Tournament

May 19, 2015 — The Junior Championships Tennis Center (JTCC) announced earlier this week that it would host the 2015 U. S. Open National Playoffs for the U.S.T.A. Mid-Atlantic Sectional Qualifying Tournament from May 30 through June 2 at its facility located in College Park, Md. 

"Most tennis players dream about playing in a Grand Slam tournament and this event make dreams a possible reality,” Lindsey Keeler, Director of Adult Tennis at the JTCC, said in a press release. "Players look forward to the chance to make their way to the U.S. Open. We get players of all ages and ability levels who enter with the hope to compete for the ultimate title.

The Qualifying Tournament includes competition in men’s and women’s singles plus men’s and women’s doubles, two new categories. All players 14 years and older can register, and play to win a wild card berth in the U. S. Open Qualification Tournament. Players that have entered in the past include some that were formerly ranked in the top 50 during their careers, current and former college players, plus recreational players. 

"The U.S. Open National Playoffs are all about connecting people to the U.S. Open," Katrina Adams, USTA Chairman of the Board, CEO and President, said. "This year, by adding men's and women's doubles, the National Playoffs are giving competitors the opportunity to earn their way into the U.S. Open in every possible way. We look forward to another year of great tennis and watching top juniors, collegians, aspiring pros, and weekend warriors compete for the chance to play on tennis' grandest stage." 

Over 1,200 players participated in these playoffs in 2014, which was the largest increase in player entries since the program began five years ago.

For more information, please click on this link:

Tennis Canada Announces New Brand                       and National Campaign

March 2, 2015 — Tennis Canada announced that it has launched an, 'organizational re-brand that includes a new logo, web site — Tennis Canada — national campaign and wider-ranging content,’ in a press release today. 


Tennis Canada, the national organizing body for the sport, will celebrate its 125th anniversary this year. The rebranding hopes to temper how tennis is viewed, giving it ‘a much more human take’ on the sport.

“Tennis in Canada is in such a positive place right now and the ceiling for growth is immensely high,” said Kelly Murumets, president and CEO, Tennis Canada. “With the sport ever-evolving across the nation, we felt the time was right to significantly update our identity and introduce a stronger Tennis Canada to the world. The future is bright and we want to ensure we are at our best so we can do our part in helping usher tennis to new heights.”

Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ontario, is currently ranked No. 6 on the ATP Tour. Eugenie Bouchard of Montreal, Quebec, is currently ranked No. 7 on the WTA Tour. 

Tennis Canada identifies several fundamental values and principles that are associated ‘with how tennis is played in Canada: grace, honor, passion, discipline, multigenerational, respect, perseverance, and family, among others.” These ideals were identified in the association’s recent campaign, “Tennis Is.” 

Tennis Canada is a non-profit national sport association founded in 1890. It owns and operates the WTA Premier Mandatory and ATP Masters 1000 tournament, Rogers Cup, plus 15 other professional tournaments in Canada. It is a member of the International Tennis Federation, the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, and the International Wheelchair Tennis Association. 

Serena Williams To Return To Indian Wells

By Jane Voigt

February 5, 2015 — Serena Williams won her first title in Indian Wells, Calif., 14 years ago. She hasn’t been back since, a mixture of joy and sorrow steering the 19-major winner away from this desert tournament. 

Now it seems the aversion has come to a halt. 

On Wednesday, she announced plans to play what now is called the BNP Paribas Open, a combined men’s and women’s event that has risen in stature since Oracle owner, Larry Ellison, bought the entire tournament in 2010. 

Williams’s crafted publicity circled the globe with speed and precision. An online video showed a relaxed, matured and willing champion explaining her perspective on past and present decisions.

“Indian Wells holds a special place in my heart,” she said in the video. “It’s where I won my first professional match, but it’s also where I lost a piece of myself.”

Williams was referring to the 2010 incidents, which lead her and her family to erase the event from future playing schedules. Minutes before the semifinal between Serena and her elder sister, Venus, their father and coach Richard Williams pulled Venus out of the match due to an injury. Many booed, having expected a unique type of tennis entertainment between the rising sister stars. Angry comments of match fixing spearheaded the dissonance. 

"The false allegations that our matches were fixed hurt, cut and ripped into us deeply,” she said, Time magazine reported. 

The sense of not being welcomed to a tournament that held such a high point for the family, drove the dagger deeper setting off feelings of loneliness and fear, Williams expressed in her Time article. 

Catrina Adams, the first Afro-American president of the U.S.T.A., sees the move as part of a maturing process for Serena. “Serena’s decision to return is another sign of her maturity in understanding that although many people show signs of ignorance, not all are,” Adams said, The New York Times reported. 

Venus Williams has not announced her intentions to play.

The BNP Paribas Open runs March 9 - 22 at Indian Wells Garden, Calif. The event has become a showcase for tennis, many naming it the ‘Fifth Grand Slam.’ All of its show courts use Hawkeye technology to track balls; and, Court 2 has a mezzanine of tony restaurants that circle the stadium, allowing patrons to enjoy gourmet meals as they watch the world’s best tennis players vie for millions in prize money. 

Angelique Kerber, world No. 9, and Ekaterina Makarova, World No. 10, Will Play Family Circle Cup in April

January 13, 2015, DANIEL ISLAND, S.C. – Angelique Kerber, World No. 9, and Ekaterina Makarova, Word No. 10, have joined current champion Andrea Petkovic in the 2015 Family Circle Cup player field. The Family Circle Cup takes place April 4 – 12 in Charleston, S.C.

“We are excited to bring these powerful and talented players to Charleston to join our 43rd tournament player field,” said Eleanor Adams, Family Circle Cup Tournament Manager.  “Kerber and Makarova are fierce competitors to be reckoned with, and we are happy our fans will have the opportunity to watch them play live in Charleston.” 

The 2014 season marks the third year in a row that Kerber has finished with a year-end ranking within the top 10. The left-handed, German tennis player reached the finals in four WTA tournaments this year, and made at least the third-round in all four Grand Slams.

The 2015 Family Circle Cup will welcome Kerber’s second appearance in Charleston, her first in five years. In 2010, she made the third-round of the tournament before losing to Daniela Hantuchova in three sets.

“I’m very much looking forward to my return to Charleston for the Family Circle Cup this spring,” said Kerber. “Charleston is a beautiful city with great tennis fans.” 

Russia’s Makarova is currently the only WTA player in both the singles and doubles top 10.

She broke into the WTA singles top 10 for the first time in her career in January 2015, stemming from a standout 2014 season that included a singles quarterfinals appearance at Wimbledon, and her first Grand Slam singles semifinal at the US Open. Makarova also took home a Grand Slam doubles win at the US Open, and appeared in the doubles final at both the Australian Open and in Miami.

The 2015 Family Circle Cup will be Makarova’s first time competing in the Charleston tennis tournament.

“It’s a great feeling to be ranked within the top 10 for my first time,” said Makarova. “I’m looking forward to building on my momentum from the 2014 season and playing in Charleston.”

Tickets to the 2015 Family Circle Cup are on sale at or by calling the box office at (800) 677-2293.  Patrons can purchase single session tickets, or choose from a variety of ticket and travel packages. 

About the Family Circle Cup

The Family Circle Cup is the largest women’s only tennis tournament in the world, and Family Circle is the longest running title sponsor of a sporting event in the United States, as well as in all of professional tennis, worldwide. The Family Circle Cup receives four days of live broadcast domestically on ESPN2, and is viewed internationally in more than 143 countries, featuring more than 200 hours of live and delayed global broadcast time, reaching 9+ million viewers worldwide.

For more information on the Family Circle Cup, call (800) 677-2293, email, visit, Facebook (Family Circle Cup), Twitter (@FamilyCircleCup) or Instagram (@FamilyCircleCup). Dorothy “Dodo” Cheney Dies at 98

By Jane Voigt

November 26, 2014 — American sport icon Dorothy “Dodo” Cheney, winner of 391 tennis championships in the United States, died Tuesday at her home in Escondido, Calif., announced The International Tennis Hall of Fame Tuesday. She was 98. 


Dorothy “Dodo” Cheney in 1946, the year she was No. 6 in the world. Photo provided by 
The International
Tennis Hall of Fame. 

Cheney was born into a tennis family and started to play at a young age. However, her competitive nature did not surface until much later. Over her more than 70 years on the courts of the world, Cheney became the first American to win The Australian Championships (now called The Australian Open), in 1938. She also reached four semifinals at the U. S. Championships and one semifinal each at Wimbledon and The French Championships, the Hall of Fame reported. 

Her career high ranking was No. 6 in the world in 1946. Her opponents included Helen Wills Moody, Alice Marble, Sarah Palfrey Cook and Pauline Betz Addie. All are inductees into the Tennis Hall of Fame.

Cheney was enshrined in 2004 and selected John McEnroe as her presenter. The two legends tapped a few tennis balls after the celebration, as well. She was 84 at the time. 

Her mother, the former May Sutton, won the U.S. Championships in 1904. The next year Sutton became the first American to win Wimbledon. Sutton married Thomas Bundy, who won the U. S. Nationals Doubles titles in 1912 and 1914. 

“Dodo” was known for her no-man-land tennis. She could fend off the best while standing in the middle of a tennis court, a position usually snubbed by tennis teaching professionals. However, at five-foot-one she did whatever was necessary to win points. 

“She’s very cagey,” Patricia Yeomans, a frequent opponent, said, The New York Times reported.

Cheney was conscious of her position in the world of tennis and kept a humble perspective. At 73 she played a 10-year-old in Los Angeles, who Cheney admitted, “blitzed me.” That youngster was Venus Williams, The Times reported.

Show at Little Respect! Slower Courts May be Popular and Profitable, But What about the Players?

By Jane Voigt

November 10, 2014 — Everybody knows that grass in faster than clay. It’s supposed to be anyway. But as the years bounce along, the distinctions in playing surfaces have flattened. 

Instead of variations on spin and bounce as players move from tournament to tournament, courts now seem to be melting into one pot of mediocre, medium-speed surfaces, as if what’s under players’ feet doesn’t matter. This repetitive quality is making tennis somewhat mundane.

Gone are the fast hard courts, slick grass courts, and slow red clay courts that brought variety to tennis entertainment. They’ve been replaced with slower hard courts, red clay that plays like a hard court, and grass courts that can withstand the pounding of millions of steps along a baseline that at the end of a tournament looks more like a baseball mound — rubbed clean of green. 

“The courts of Roland Garros play like a hard court,” Daniela Hantuchova said at Family Circle Cup this spring in Charleston, S.C. Andy Murray said courts at Indian Wells, “are very slow,” as they are in Miami, “They’re also very slow here,” Tennis X reported in March.

Take, for example, the last big tournament of the year — the BNP Paribas Masters 1000.

The courts in Bercy, which is outside Paris, were lightning fast not too many years ago. The tournament took on a flavor of its own because of that distinction. Fast-court aficionados shined. 

But the courts in Bercy are now, as characterized by Rob Koenig on Tennis Channel, “gritty.” That means slow. The ball catches on the surface and grabs it. After a few games, the balls fluff up like a 60s bouffant hair style. Players couldn’t wait for a ball change, Koenig observed. 

Ask players about court speed in their mandatory press conferences and they will tell you: It’s medium. It’s a little faster than last week. Something like that. Then, they will add, “but all of us have to adapt.” 

But what’s the effect of slower courts on players? 

If a court is slower, rallies last longer. If rallies last longer, then match times increase. If match times increase the stress and strain on players’ bodies increase, as well. 

Although players are extremely fit, overuse injuries are the bane of maintaining a healthy body that can fulfill scheduled obligations to appear at tournaments.

Couple longer times on court with the powerful baseline game and overuse injuries expand to include wrists, hips, and backs, not just knees and shoulders, two of the most common seen on tour.

Dr. Robert Nirschl, founder of the Nirschl Orthopaedic Center in Arlington, Virginia, has conducted studies that show when muscles are weakened from overuse, “microscopic tears form in the tendon where it attaches to the epicondyle (bone).” This leads to inflammation if not treated and can lead to a chronic tendinosis. Thus, we see kinesio tape laced on players, the way spider webs clutter unkept corners.

Tennis is not on the verge of a trend of injuries that would compare to those in ‘violent’ sports, such as American football. However, the trend to slow court surfaces in order to extend rallies and increase the entertainment value to ticket holders reveals an undercurrent of decisions that could be interpreted as disrespectful toward those men and women tennis fans count on at their favorite tournaments. 

Federer vs. Murray Western & Southern Open 2014 08 15 LB 0100-2

Roger Federer picks up a low bouncing ball at the Western & Southern Financial Open this August in Mason, Ohio.
Photo credit

Roger Federer at 33 is ranked No. 2, with a chance to be No. 1 when the year closes. Having turned pro in 1998, Federer has maintained a level of fitness that’s most accurately reflected in his 82 career titles, which is third following Jimmy Connors (109) and Ivan Lendl (94). 

“I used to not enjoy it when I was younger,” Federer told Daily Motion. “I didn’t understand what I was trying to do. But, it’s part of the grind. I think it’s become a game of movement. And it’s taken a big step into fitness over the last 10 years. I truly believe I don’t lose matches because of fitness.” Pierre Paganini has trained Federer since 2000.

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) has just begun to collect data on player injuries, according to Todd Ellenbecker, vice president of medical services for the player organization. 

“We started our current documentation in 2011,” Ellenbecker wrote in an email. “We are indeed looking at this [injury] variable with grass, clay, and hard court, but have nothing to share right now. Many other variables make this challenging. But, we are very happy to have a method in place to monitor tennis injuries.”

Fans may favor longer rallies. And tournaments might make more money because the entertainment value has skyrocketed. Perhaps, though, players should be considered first and foremost. 

Marin Cilic, Champion, U.S. Open, 2014


Marin Cilic Wins First Major in
New York

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 — Marin Cilic smiles for the cameras as he holds his first-ever U.S. Open trophy. It symbolizes his career’s biggest achievement: a Major title, his first. Cilic also became one of three men who has loosened the grip held on slam titles by the so-called big four — Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Murray. They have won all Grand Slams since the Australian Open in 2005, with the exception of the U.S. Open’s new champion, Marin Cilic; the 2014 Australian Open champion, Stan Wawrinka; and the 2009 U.S. Open champion, Juan Martin del Potro. With two of the four biggest awards of the year ending up in the hands of players outside the sacred quartet, Cilic’s words inspire, “If you’re working hard, things are going to pay off.” Cilic climbed 7 spots to number 5 in the world, a career high, on the ATP Rankings Tuesday. Down The Tee congratulates Cilic on his historic run at The 2014 U. S. Open. 

Stanislas Wawrinka 'claps' fans at the Monte Carlo Country Club, after winning the tournament and defeating friend and countryman, Roger Federer, in the final. This was Wawrinka's first ATP Masters 1000 title. Photo credit Gillian Elliott


Closing Shop In U. S. and Off to European Red Clay

By Jane Voigt

April 8, 2014 -- When the U. S. Clay Court Championships come to a close this weekend in Houston, the men will bid adieu to America. The women left the country early this week after Family Circle Cup, or before. We won't see them this side of the Atlantic until the second bout of hard court tennis leads them to the final Grand Slam of the year, the U. S. Open. 

So where does that leave tennis?

We know Novak Djokovic is on a tear, having won Indian Wells and Miami. He wouldn't commit to a prediction about a repeat of his 2011 performance, but stands at the front of the pack. He is confident and poised to perhaps thrill us with another record-breaking season. 

Serena Williams won an unprecedented 7th Sony Open title, but couldn't quite pull off another back-to-back triumph in Charleston. Too tired to come through one round, she bowed out to the eventual runner-up, Jana Cepelova, and thus swung the draw door wide open. 

Although Indian Wells and Miami are combined events, and more important in the pecking order of ranking points, Charleston was the breath of fresh air. You can't visit another tournament and hear women players praise with such sincerity the volunteers, food, and atmosphere. They keep coming back because it's a break from the bigness of Miami and the celebrity of Indian Wells' California groove.

Yaroslava Shvedova came to life when she talked about the family she stayed with on Isle of Palms, a community about 15 minutes from the Daniel Island site. She told of family dinners and the beach right out in front of the house. You could sense her fondness and passion. "It's really Family Circle Cup," she said. Shvedova and Anabel Medina Garrigues won the doubles title.

Wildcards Andrea Petkovic and Jelena Jankovic packed Court 3, a small side court, as they challenged veterans Lisa Raymond and Liezel Huber in an evening match that ended close to midnight. Fans didn't want it to end, as Petkovic and Jankovic laughed their way to victory. Fun on court is possible!

Petkovic's title in women's singles represented a crowning point. Thirteen months prior she had been ranked outside the top 175; she is now No. 28. She recalled her second-round loss in qualifications at the French Open last year, calling it the lowest point of her career. She wanted to quick. She wanted to quick again after her loss to Camila Giorgi early at Indian Wells, too. 

"But I kept wanting it," she said, showing off her Petko shuffle to fans. (Photo credit "I didn't believe it at all, but wanted it. That's why I kept working. I'm very thankful that it paid off in the end."


Family Circle Cup turned the tables on predictions. After Serena lost, Jankovic and Sara Errani went out, too, the second and third seeds. As the draw narrowed new young women poked their noses out, the way spring flowers bloom. A entire new field of possible champions presented themselves as if veterans.  

Belinda Bencic, at 17, lost the first set against Errani because it was their first meeting she said. But once she caught on to Errani's spin, Bencic ran away with the match. The simplicity of her awareness and execution of her strategy belied her years. 

Cepelova, the runner up and 'Serena Killer,' amazed everyone. Her tennis was well-rounded. However, her humility and fortitude left people speechless. Alone and away from her home in Slovakia she pushed on, ordering room service and wearing mismatched brands of clothes. "I have a contract with Babolat," she said. "But nothing else." Not yet. She moved from No. 78 to No. 51 in the world. 

Spotlights and limousines and a packed public relations schedule can exhaust players. Don't worry they were called to the front by the press and fulfilled sponsor demands in Charleston; however, the city's pace along with heaps of charming southern hospitality gave players an optimistic perspectives and cheerful attitudes to tackle their on-court jobs. 

Red clay is upon us. But let's not forget the comfy Charleston stop that broke attendance records set in 2008. Plop down on your favorite couch, like the players relaxed into on Billie Jean King stadium last week. Close your eyes. Hear the tennis balls?


One of the two famed couches on Billie Jean King stadium court at Family Circle Cup. Photo credit Leslie Billman


A happy Serena Williams shows off the crystal spoils of her victory at Sony Open Tennis, March 29. She won the title for an unprecedented seventh time,
defeating Li Na 75 61. 

Lindsay Davenport and Nick Bollettieri Elected for Enshrinement into International Tennis Hall of Fame

March 3, 2014 -- In an announcement today from the International Tennis Hall of Fame, former world number one and three-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport has been elected to receive "the highest honor in the sport" -- enshrinement into The International Tennis Hall of Fame.

"'Growing up playing tennis, getting to the Hall of Fame was never even in my dreams,'" Davenport said, reported the AP. "'It seemed a little too big for me.'"

Chantal Vandierendonck, 5-time Paralympic medalist, will join Davenport in the Class of 2014 induction. She is the first wheelchair tennis player to be enshrined.

Nick Bollettieri, Jane Brown Grimes, and John Barrett will also receive this life-time recognition. Their contributions toward the growth of tennis and its development reach heights unestablished in the history of tennis. 

At 82, Bollettieri is considered the father of tennis academies having started The Bollettieri in 1978, the first full-time tennis boarding schools, reported the AP. Nick sold his venture seven years later to IMG, the giant sports marketing agency. Bollettieri is well-recognized for having coached ten players to the No. 1 spot in WTA and ATP rankings, including Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Monica Seles, and Boris Becker. 

Normally a fountain of insight and opinion, Bollettieri was said to be at a lack for words. "'To be standing aside some of the players I've helped achieve what they are is a dream that even Nick Bollettieri can't comprehend.'" 

Jane Brown Grimes has held many of the highest positions in the business world of tennis. She was the former managing director of the Women's Professional Tennis Counsel, which is now known as the WTA Tour Board. She has also been the president of the USTA and president of the International Hall of Fame.  

Englishman John Barrett is a former tennis broadcaster, tournament director and equipment representative for Slazenger. According to the press release from the Hall of Fame, Barrett "is one of the game's premier historians and authors."

The induction ceremony will be held at The Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., on Saturday, July 12, 2014. It will be held in conjunction with the annual Hall of Fame Tennis Championships.

International Tennis Hall of Fame Names 
Todd Martin 

February 19, 2014 -- The International Tennis Hall of Fame announced yesterday that Todd Martin, formerly No. 4 in the world, has been named CEO-designate of The International Tennis Hall of Fame. Martin will succeed Mark L. Stenning, who has been at The Hall of Fame for 35 years and the last 14 years as CEO. 

Martin begins his new position in early April while Stenning remains on the job until September 5. He will not retire, though. Stenning will continue to work on expansion plans for the Newport, Rhode Island, non-profit organization which dedicates itself to preserving the history of tennis. 

Since leaving tennis Todd Martin has been very busy contributing to the game. He currently is in his second term as a Director at Large on the USTA Board of Directors. In 2012, Martin launched Todd Martin Tennis. It concentrates on the development of junior tennis. In 1994, he founded the Todd Martin Development Fund. It provides tennis, education, and leadership programs for at-risk youth in mid-Michigan. Although Martin was born in suburban of Chicago, his parents relocated to Michigan where he grew up.

As the CEO, Martin will become Tournament Director for the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, which runs immediately following Wimbledon. This ATP 250-level event is the only grass court tournament held in the United States. He will also be in charge of adjunct events such as the annual Hall of Fame enshrinement and the Legends Ball, which is held during The U. S. Open. 

On the business side of his new position, Martin will manage a $7 million annual budget and a full-time staff of 35 people.

Nadal Wins in Doha, Federer Loses in Brisbane

By Jane Voigt

January 5, 2014 -- While Rafael Nadal notched his first title of the New Year in Doha Roger Federer lost in Brisbane. The contrast in outcomes from two of the Big Four may be an omen for the year and, more clearly, the Australian Open which beings next Monday, January 13.  

Roger Federer's loss to Lleyton Hewitt 61 46 63 could be viewed as a head-scratcher from a purely head-to-head perspective, which is 18-9 today with Federer as dominator. Fans expectations were certainly leaning toward a Federer win because they always do,  even though Australians packed the stands of Pat Rafter Arena. Hewitt had not won a title since 2010 Halle (pronounced hal-a) where he beat none other than Federer in this run-up to Wimbledon grass court tournament. 

Yet the reality is Federer won only one title in 2013, his worst year in ten, and it was Halle, while Nadal had a brilliant year highlighted by one of the best comebacks in sports history. He won two Grand Slams -- his 8th Roland Garros and 2nd U. S. Open -- plus ten ATP Tour titles. Federer may have had a back injury, which gained shallow coverage in the press; however, Nadal spent seven months rehabbing his knees then burst on the scene, scrambled for glory and now seems pointed in the same direction.

So who are we to expect great things from Roger Federer when he has proven shaky, no matter his health and the grace he has served up throughout his illustrious career? 

For one thing we want to see him maintain his strength, ranking, and prestigious performances pure and simple. The world of tennis, and sport, does not want to read the headline, "Federer To Retire," any sooner than necessary. Thus when we read Stefan Edberg had been hired for a 10-week trial many figured Federer was poised for glory, like right away with a title in Brisbane. 

But just the mere mention of a shift in coaching certainly means nothing during the heat of a match that goes sour in the first set as 22 unforced errors mangle any hope of getting off to a good start. 

Perhaps Federer intends to revert to more serve-and-volley tactics, which he relied on early in his career. He began to cling to the baseline as strings, racquets, and fitness usurped his working strategy. 

At 32, though, Federer has to shift once again. He has to be smarter on court. He cannot beat Nadal, Novak DjokovicAndy MurrayJuan Martin del Potro -- the top echelon of grand slam contenders -- from the baseline. He may not be able to beat them chipping and charging either, with or without Stefan Edberg, with or without a new 98-square-inch Wilson stick. However, Federer has to do something to stem the tide. 

One thing in his corner … his serve. He pulled himself out of trouble during his semifinal win over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy and steadied himself against Hewitt through strong games anchored by good serving. 

Nonetheless the word is out; he can be beaten. And all comers will strive their best to do just that. 

This is not to suggest we should back off our support for Federer. As Down The Tee has mentioned, Federer should continue to play as long as he wants to play. Federer fandom, on the other side of the net, needs to tweak its hopes. Head-to-head comparisons and fan expectations should not be trusted between two elder statesmen of tennis lore, in the same way they are not reliable lenses through which we view matches between any other champions.

Therefore Federer and Hewitt, two 32-year-olds, were tested in exactly the same manner as Nadal against Gael Monfils in Doha (61 67(5) 62), and Stanislaus Wawrinka against Edouard Roger-Vasselin in Chennai (75 62), the three 250-level tournaments from the week. 

The searing facts are: Nadal won his first tournament of 2014 and his 61st overall career title; and, Wawrinka won his first tournament of 2014 and second Chennai title, and 5th overall. Additionally, Nadal's and Wawrinka's performances in 2013 were associated with our best match memories. Wawrinka thrashed Djokovic in Melbourne's fourth round, losing 12-10 in the fifth. Nadal squeaked past Djokovic in the semifinal of Roland Garros in another of their five-set epics. These matches made every tennis pundit's top-five list. 

Most players will take off the week of January 6, as they prepare for The Australian Open. Predictions for the first major will include Roger Federer; they have to. But they should be tempered with a hint of realism. The draw will wield a mighty influence, as it always does, but more so now as Federer will be seeded sixth and exposed to earlier round encounters of the spirited kind from those wishing to shove past the man who taught them how to keep their eyes on the ball.

Now news … from Jane Voigt Tennis                 
December 29, 2013

Coming to the End and Beyond

By Jane Voigt

December 29, 2013 -- You haven't heard much from Down The Tee, since major tournaments came to a close mid November. It was time for us to take a break. We put down our notebooks and closed the laptops. Chances were high that something would be missed, something would go unreported. However, the break was necessary and, we think, will be beneficial. Our outlook is clear, revived, and ready to step into 2014. 

Over the later part of 2013 bits and pieces floated to the surface. Here are a few of our favorites.

Roger Federer will travel with his childhood tennis idol, Stefan Edberg, for 10 weeks next year. Federer clearly said that Stefan would be part of the team, but that Severin Luthi would remain his head coach. Edberg's first tournament will be the Australian Open, which begins January 13. The Swede won six slam titles between 1985 and 1992: two Australian Opens (1985, 1987); two Wimbledon titles (1988, 1990); and two U. S. Opens (1991, 1992). From this record, we can gather that Edberg had his trials at the same major as Federer - Roland Garros - which Federer won only once.

Federer begins his year before the bells toll on the 31st at the Brisbane International. He has never played at this spot. He's seeded No. 1. 

Federer continues to be nagged by questions on his ability to compete for the highest prize -- Grand Slam titles. He told The Courier Mail that 'critics of his ability to challenge for future grand slam titles will not drive him out of the game.' 

Here are bits and pieces of other news to rise from the 2013 break, and beyond.

Paul Annacone will coach American Sloane Stephens. After parting ways with Roger Federer, Annacone commentated for Tennis Channel. Stephens has also struck up another type of relationship with fellow American tennis upstart, Jack Sock. This one has little to do with tennis, unless the two plan to hit around a bit between texting and cramming in a movie together as their seasons begin to take off. 

Maria Sharapova hired Sven Groeneveld as her new coach in late November, after leaving Thomas Hogstedt after two years. Sharapova's year came to an end, on practical terms, after a spill on the slippery courts of Wimbledon that fateful Wednesday when 7 seeds lost. She returned to the tour briefly in Cincinnati, but pulled out with right shoulder problems. However, Sharapova wrote in November on her Facebook page, "It has been a very seamless transition and I have had a lot of fun with the hard work we have put in so far." Groeneveld has had a long-time coaching relationship with Adidas, and has worked alongside Ana Ivanovic and Andy Murray in the past. 

Hogstedt might not have been the perfect fit for Sharapova, but will attempt to cozy up to the Wozniacki family, as he was hired by Caroline soon after leaving the Sharapova camp. In the initial announcement, Papa Piotr Wozniacki, Caroline's coach her entire career, said he would not coach his daughter in 2014. However, more recent reports contradict his intention. Poor Thomas. However, he has coached Tommy Haas who can be just as prickly as Papa Piotr can be with his daughter and tournament officials. Hopefully, Hogstedt's experience will stave off any future soap opera scenes and allow Caroline to work toward her year's goal -- winning her first Grand Slam.

Novak Djokovic shocked Down The Tee, and a majority of the tennis world, when he announced Boris Becker would be his new head coach. Marian Vajda, Novak’s long-time coach, will remain on the team but in a role not as prominent. Djokovic’s move points to his desire to win more major titles and return to the number one spot, which Rafael Nadal snatched away from the Serbian at the end of the year.

David Ferrer has also hired a new coach, Jose Francisco Altur. He displaces Javier Pilar, who stood by Ferrer throughout most of his 13-year career. Ferrer played in his first grand slam final last year against Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros. He lost in straight sets, giving Nadal his 8th and an unprecedented French Open crown. Ferrer is considered one of the most conscientious contenders never to have won a major. However, with Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic winning all but one of the last 35 slams, a monumental effort would be necessary for any of the few who could possibly break through the established barrier. One is certainly Ferrer; however, Juan Martin del Potro put a dent in the domination when he defeated Federer at the U. S Open in 2009 to win his only major thus far in his career.

World No. 2 Victoria Azarenka has made some significant changes to her team following her dissapointing conclusion to 2013. The Belarusian struggled with her conditioning on court late in the year, losing in the opening rounds in Tokyo and Beijing before concluding her season with a first round exit from the WTA championships in Istanbul. To address her performance slump she hired a new fitness trainer, Christa Pryor, and two new physiotherapists: Stephanie Turpin, who is with her this week at the Brisbane International, and Fabrice Gautier, who will begin at the Australian Open.

A couple additional notes … Rafael Nadal lost his first match back since losing to Novak Djokovic in the finals of the World Tour Champions in London, this November. David Ferrer was the victor in their semi-final round of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition in Abu Dhabi. Nadal took the loss seriously, as expected, mentioning in his press conference that Ferrer had been playing for a month and had played a match the day before on what Nadal characterized as a 'very fast court.'

Andy Murray also returned to match play in Abu Dhabi, after back surgery in September. He defeated Stanislaus Wawrinka and finished fifth at the exhibition. 

Overall for 2013 -- Down The Tee viewed hundreds of matches throughout the year. Many were nail biters, and most were well worth the watch. However, three stood out. They stretched our concept of tennis, had fans on their feet, and probably will be viewed over and over without boring a sole.

The three top matches, according to Down The Tee, are:
1. Novak Djokovic's defeat of Juan Martin del Potro, Wimbledon Men's Semifinal
2. Novak Djokovic's defeat of Stanislaus Wawrinka, Australian Open Fourth Round
3. Andy Murray's defeat of Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon Men's Singles Final

What we your favorite matches of 2013? If you'd like to share, please start up a conversation below. 

Now news … from Jane Voigt Tennis                 
November 16, 2013

U.S. Tennis Association's Lawsuit Over 'Venus and Serena' Doc Will Play On

Posted by, 10:20 AM PST 11/11/2013 by Eriq Gardner -- A New York judge says that the USTA has plausibly alleged a filmmaker's broken promise to gain access to the U.S. Open.

This past summer, the United States Tennis Association brought a lawsuit against filmmakers of the documentaryVenus and Serena, which premiered in theaters in May and was showcased on Showtime in the weeks headed up to the U.S. Open.

The lawsuit was widely reported to concern unlicensed clips ofVenus and Serena Williamsfrom the tennis championship, but as we pointed out in our original report about the litigation, the copyright claims weren't as interesting as some of the lawsuit's other claims that had the potential of impacting news access to live sporting competitions. Indeed, in the months after the USTA filed its lawsuit in New York federal court against Maiken Baird and Michelle Major, the plaintiff backed off on demanding statutory damages for copyright infringement, leaving the core issue in the lawsuit the promises that the filmmakers made in attaining access to film at the 2011 event.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Nelson Roman addressed the USTA's lawsuit, dismissing the tennis association's unjust enrichment claim but allowing a claim for promissory estoppel to survive.

To get there, the judge looked at what the USTA was alleging.

Baird, Major and VSW Productions approached the USTA in July of 2011. They were in the midst of filming their documentary on the two tennis superstars and wished to include in their film both archival footage as well as off-court, behind-the-scenes footage at the 2011 event.

Major sought accreditation for a "small film crew of three or four, plus two producers" and also stated in an e-mail, "We are entirely willing to agree to film only where and what your organization will allow."

The USTA responded it was willing to work with the filmmakers and advised them that in accordance with its policies, footage would have to be recorded by a third-party film crew and that footage from the event would be subject to a "standard footage licensing agreement and then applicable 'rate card.'"

The filmmakers agreed to the arrangement, but prior to that year's US Open, the USTA's videographer became unavailable, and as a concession, the tennis association allowed the defendants' film crew access to film behind-the-scenes footage. Following the competition, the two sides continued to negotiate the terms of a license. Ultimately, no agreement was reached, the filmmakers used footage anyway, the USTA filed a lawsuit, and the filmmakers began making noise in the press that the USTA was more concerned about a 2009 Serena tirade and intent on censoring the film.

But as an organization enjoying billion-dollar TV rights deals, the USTA contended that there was more at stake.

"It cannot be disputed that the USTA, as the organizer of the US Open, enjoys the right to license to others -- for a fee -- the ability to record and broadcast US Open footage," said the plaintiff in legal papers. "The USTA has the right to determine who may be permitted access to the [National Tennis Center] for the purposes of filming there. Thus, the USTA has every right to charge Defendants a fee in connection with both their access to the NTC and their subsequent use of the NTC Footage, regardless of Defendants' copyrights."

The filmmakers responded by accusing the USTA of "attempting to change its theory of liability" from one of money over footage to one of money over access -- and doubted that the plaintiff could get there.

Judge Roman agrees in part, disagrees in part.

In a ruling last week (read in full here), the judge says that the USTA's claim that the filmmakers were unjustly enriched from their unauthorized use of footage is equivalent to and thus preempted by federal copyright law. "Indeed, the rights Plaintiff seems intent on protecting in the unjust enrichment count involve the reproduction and adaptation of its copyrighted broadcasts," writes the judge.

On the other hand, Judge Roman won't toss a claim of promissory estoppel.

The judge says that "Plaintiff has alleged plausibly that Defendants made a clear and unambiguous promise: (1) that, at the beginning of the parties’ discussions, Defendants stated they were 'willing to film only where and what your organization will allow' and that (2) at some point during their negotiations before the 2011 US Open began, Defendants thought they would need to seek a license for footage of 'Venus and Serena playing their matches with on court sound (which we understand we will have to license).'”

Thus the lawsuit continues and will likely be focused on the USTA's alleged injury. The plaintiff is represented by Jeffrey Carton at Denlea & Carton. The defendants are represented by Toby Butterfield at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.

Now news … from Jane Voigt Tennis                 
November 4, 2013

With the Paris Masters tournament ending yesterday and the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals beginning today, the two weeks has the feel of a Grand Slam. In reality, though, it's not. Every match at the O2 Arena is a killer. There is no buildup, no getting used to the surface. Every time one of these eight men walk on court they will face the best, as if a reflection of themselves stood across the net. The Tour Finals are not as prestigious as a slam. However, to play in the final showcase tournament you must receive an invitation. No one gets an invitation to The Australian Open, or any of the other majors. You are required to play all four. Names are submitted by the respective player organizations -- the ATP and the WTA. 

To kick off day one, please read London Called.

Now news … from Jane Voigt Tennis                 
November 2, 2013

Tunisia is suspended for one year in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas

ITF Press Release, November 2 -- At its regularly scheduled meeting in Cagliari, Italy, the ITF Board of Directors found that the Tunisian Tennis Federation was in breach of the ITF Constitution by interfering with international sporting practice and ordering Tunisian player Malek Jaziri not to compete against Israeli player Amir Weintraub at the 2013 Tashkent Challenger in October. The Board was not satisfied with the case put forward by the Tunisian Tennis Federation and voted to suspend Tunisia from the 2014 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas competition. The decision of the ITF Board was unanimous although ITF Board Member from Tunisia, Tarak Cherif, recused himself from the discussion and the vote.

The 2013 ITF Constitution states the ITF and its members must preserve the integrity and independence of Tennis as a sport and must carry out their objects and purposes without unfair discrimination on grounds of colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origin, age, sex or religion. At the 2013 ITF Annual General Meeting in Paris in July, the 2014 Constitution was amended to add gender, sexual orientation and disability as other categories for which unfair discrimination is forbidden.

“There is no room for prejudice of any kind in sport or in society,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti. “The ITF Board decided to send a strong message to the Tunisian Tennis Federation that this kind of action will not be tolerated by any of our members. The Board felt that suspension from Davis Cup, a competition that was founded 113 years ago to encourage better understanding through sport, would provide a good lesson for the Federation and a fitting penalty for their unfortunate action.”

The decision of the ITF Board of Directors is final.


Now news … from Jane Voigt Tennis                 
October 23, 2013

Some think tennis sinks below the horizon like a fat sun in autumn, after the U. S. Open closes its gates. If you take a look at the WTA and ATP calendars, though, their thought is far from realistic. On the WTA tour, this week is a celebration its end-of-the year championships in Istanbul. The top 8 women in singles and the top 4 doubles teams are on hand battling it out. Down The Tee is covering this event at WTA Year-ending Championships. Two 500-level ATP stops, one in Valencia and the other in Basil, are in gear, as well, as the last few spots for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals remain up for grabs. Today, Tomas Berdych qualified, leaving two berths open. Since Richard Gasquet and Stanislaus Wawrinka lost in their initial matches in Basil, they are out of contention. If Roger Federer can win his hometown Basil tournament, he will qualify for London. 

Now news … from Jane Voigt Tennis                 
October 12, 2013

With his 62 64 semifinal victory over Rafael Nadal today in the ATP Masters 1000 Shanghai tournament, Juan Martin del Potro qualifies for the year-ending championships scheduled to begin at London's O2 Arena on November 4. To read DownTheTee's semifinal match wrap-up, click here

Now news … from Jane Voigt Tennis                 
October 9, 2013

Family Circle Cup announced that Serena Williams, the 2013 women's singles champion, will return to Daniel Island next March. Williams is a two-time defending champion, having won the crown in 2012 and 2013. The tournament runs from March 2 through April 6. Family Circle Cup celebrated its 40-year anniversary this year. 

Andy Murray has officially pulled out of the Barclay's ATP World Tour Championships scheduled at London's O2 Arena from November 4 through November 11. Murray recently had back surgery and cannot prepare adequately for the event. 

Maria Sharapova has withdrawn from the WTA Championships in Istanbul due to a continuing problem with her shoulder. 

Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC) and FILA have announced a multi-year agreement to promote its tennis apparel, footwear, and accessories at one of the nation's top USTA Regional Training programs, the JTCC reported. Ray Benton, CEO of JTCC, said that its junior players and coaches have responded well to the fit and style of the brand. FILA hopes to 'connect with junior players' through the relationship. The players, which are nationally ranked in the top 50, will wear-test footwear and apparel, too, as feedback for FILA's research and development of its brand. 

Now news … from Jane Voigt Tennis                 
September 7, 2013

Here are more responses from Down The Tee's survey about the loss from Roger Federer in the fourth round of the U. S. Open, and where his career stands. 

Allan G. -- Like millions of others round the world I have had the privilege of watching one of the all time greats for a decade or more. Time catches up with all athletes and Roger is no exception. With nothing to prove, why play on? I don't see him winning another major and as his ranking goes down, he will have to fight through more clutter. He doesn't hit as hard, score as many aces and is no doubt a step slower. Now is the time to exit while still near his prime. 

Joe H. -- He still has the skills, but at this stage of his life and family he can't devote 100 percent to winning tennis at the highest level with the level of talent in the men's game today.

Too bad, since I'd love to see him playing at his best for a few more years, but I also don't think he should shrink from his obligation to be a good father and husband. It's not easy to raise two girls, even with the help that his resources can buy. It takes personal time and effort to raise children well, and to keep a spouse happy - time and effort that could be devoted to preparing for the likes of the outstanding opposition in men's tennis.

And what does he have to prove? He is already a consensus of one of the greatest and maybe even the greatest of all time.

Having said this, it is not impossible that he may surprise us yet and pull off one more Slam win, most likely Wimbledon.

That was so amazing what Kim Cliijters was able to pull off as a Mom and tennis player for a few years. Federer's experience should make us appreciate what she did even more.

Sophia B. -- it was horrible to watch…I was pretty upset but after watching his press conference. It’s very basic – he had a bad day – and everyone – even Federer – goes through a rut. I think that’s the problem. Because he is highly regarded as one of the best of all time, almost perfect, no one can understand when his forehand happens to be off…and Robredo happened to be having a great day and was able to capitalize on that.

I have to mute McEnroe when he starts talking about ‘it’s the inevitable decline in game due to his age." I mean he was playing a 31 year old, and he JUST turned 32. Yes, old in tennis years but not dead!!!  Everyone is ready to toss him to the side of the road into graveyard tennis. I believe he still has more in him – and he’s still in the top 10.  Does this mean everyone that never gets higher than 10 should leave the game???!!  Of course not – there are youngsters that never see the top 10, but they continue to end up actively in the quarters of majors and still make the game interesting.

Is Tennis Any Different?

By Charlynn Throckmorton,
Contributing Writer

'Sports Do Not Build Character...They Reveal It,' John Wooden 

Basketball players do it, so do football players. Hockey players are probably the worst perpetrators, and soccer players aren’t far behind. What am I referring to? I’m talking about players and athletes who flagrantly violate the rules of their game and don’t own their actions, believing that what happens on the field, stays on the field. If the referee didn’t see a rule infraction, it didn’t happen. 

So is tennis any different than other sports? 

It is. Or at least it should be. In a recent Roger’s Cup Round of Sixteen match, Milos Raonic earned the ire of many when he slid into the net chasing down a del Potro shot on a critical point. Everyone but the chair umpire, who was apparently following the trajectory of Raonic’s shot, saw the rule infraction, yet Raonic did not make the call on himself. Del Potro complained to the chair umpire, but to no avail. The point stood, and Raonic not only won the match, he made it to the finals, breaking through the ATP top ten. At the post-match press conference, when asked about the collision with the net, Raonic said he was “lucky” that the chair umpire was looking the other way.

Raonic’s actions and subsequent comment are unfortunate, some say appalling, because more than any other sport except perhaps golf, tennis is steeped in tradition and is considered a sport of honor and integrity.  It, along with golf, are the only sports where honesty and self-regulation are the main cornerstones.

But it’s not just at the professional level that honesty is at issue. USTA league matches are especially vulnerable when it comes to self regulation because officials are never present at regular season league play. Anyone who has played USTA leagues knows that there are players who want to win no matter what, and who will dispense bad calls like candy on Halloween and not think twice. But when we see professional players such as Roanic failing to call a rule violation, it only serves to legitimize this kind of behavior. If the pros do it, I can too. 

Twitter was a-flutter with widely, and surprisingly, diverse opinions on the Raonic kerfluffle. Canadian fans were jubilant that their local hero had broken into the ATP top ten, and largely tweeted that everyone should get over the incident. Brad Gilbert, though, wondered how Raonic could have not called the violation on himself, and Lindsey Davenport said she would have. 

Ten-and-Under Tennis is huge these days, and it is difficult to imagine any tennis professional who works with kids telling them to get away with as much as they can on the court, especially when the chair umpire or the line judge isn’t looking. Tennis is a different sport, and we should expect those who walk onto a tennis court to have honor and integrity. Professional players not only represent tennis, the sport we all love, but they represent each and every one of us as tennis players. We need to expect more from them.

From Charlynn Throckkmorton … "Thanks to William Higgins (Higgins Tennis, Mill Valley, Calif.) and Thomas White, USPTR (Youth Tennis Advantage, San Francisco, Calif.) for contributing their thoughts."

Now News … from Jane Voigt Tennis                             
August 17, 2013

Roger Federer left court in a hurry last night. It was uncharacteristic. He remembered to wave, if just briefly, before ducking out of sight. Clearly his mind was elsewhere. He had just lost, once again, to Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Open. Their head-to-head now: 21-10. 


Roger Federer walks off the Linder Family Tennis Center's main court after another loss to Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Open, Mason, Ohio. Nadal won their 31st match, 57 64 63. Photo credit tennisclix

Federer's touchy mood was clearly justified. At least from his perspective, if one can be so bold to stand in his Nike Vapor Tour 9s and assume such personal interpretations. Yet it can be corroborated.  

Asked in his press conference if he knew Nadal's 'winning' shot was proven out by Hawkeye although Federer had not challenged, he shrugged. Like … yeah, what about it. 

His gesture said it all. I'm here to win matches not practice to get better, he reminded the media. 

The Federer law lifted the veil under which journalists, ESPN2 commentators, and Tweeters sat throughout the match. 

Set one startled millions online and off. Fan appreciation escalated audibly. Everyone knew what they were witnessing, and might not have around much longer. Nadal and Federer cracked the ball with alacrity. Nadal's forehand and Federer's serve grooved. Ten games in, they remained on serve. Then Roger broke.

At 6-5 the expectation was not bright for Federer. The stadium calmed. The ESPN2 talking heads were respectfully muffled. The tennis world held its collective breath. 

"I didn't see that coming," one person tweeted, after witnessing the break and first set go to Federer. The 17-time grand slam champ who had looked like a club chump one round earlier against Tommy Haas had just broken Nadal to go up a set. The Spaniard had not lost a match on hard courts yet this year. Expectations shifted, if only slightly, the way a big pine falling deep in the woods might sound … as if nothing had happened at all. 

Federer did not win; Nadal won 57 64 63. The second set hooked opinion makers, as Nadal broke early. 

The group-think was -- well, if Federer loses to Nadal at least the slumping champion had shouted his reality: don't bury me yet. 

Their match became a throwback to their 2008-type-of-tennis. Federer initially had one-upped the Spaniard. And Nadal stepped up his winning ways. Federer, though, saved five match points -- before his quick exit. He just should have challenged Nadal's 'winning' shot. 

Good work from Federer, a demure Patrick McEnroe elicited. In a year that has been characterized as dismal for a man of Federer's caliber, he had certainly elevated his chances of entering the conversation mix for the U. S. Open. Unlikely he would win it -- let's get that straight -- but at least he had shown himself as alive and competitive. 

This spectator reaction is not without merit. 

Federer lost to Sergei Stakhovsky in the second round of Wimbledon and Federico Delbonis in the semifinals at Hamburg, both ranked outside the top 100. Federer followed up those performances with a loss to Daniel Brands, ranked No. 55, in his first match at Gstaad. Basically, the great Roger Federer did not win a set at this peaceful Swiss tournament remembered as his first ATP Tour tournament in 1998, the year he went pro.

What a blow to the gut.

No one was sure, at the time, if the trial big-headed Wilson racquet Federer used in Hamburg and Gstaad had caused his demise. Or, if his back was at the crux. He told ESPN2, after defeating Haas earlier this week, that his back was the issue and that he would, from this day forth, use his old, reliable Wilson. No trial racquets with the U. S. Open on the horizon.

Federer was not 'totally disappointed about the match.' 

"It's Rafa," he said. "I don't see his type of game very often. He was able to step it up. My quality of serving went down a little bit. That was the match maker. I put it more on my serve." 


Rafael Nadal reaches for a backhand stab return from Roger Federer in their quarterfinal match at the Western & Southern Open, Mason, Ohio, August 16, 2013. The match brought back clear memories of these two greats long history of fine tennis.
Photo credit tennisclix

Nonetheless, these are tricky times when conversing about Roger Federer. At 32 the likelihood is slime he will win another Major. Only Andre Agassi has done that at the 2003 Australian Open. Yet with some 25% of players over 30 in the top 200, the likelihood's probability just went up. 

Now News … from Jane Voigt Tennis                             
August 12, 2013
For millions of Roger Federer fans, wait no longer. The 17-time Grand Slam winner is primed for a debut at this week's Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio. Seeded No. 5, Federer says he is mentally prepared for a tournament he has won five times and returns to this year as the defending champion. After losing three consecutive tournaments this summer and smoothing out problems with is back, Federer answered pre-tournament questions from the press. Follow this link at to read his answers. 

Now news … from Jane Voigt Tennis                 
August 10, 2013
Darren Cahill and Sorana Cirstea are an item. Not that kind of item, but a coaching-relationship item. 

Cahill, former player, tennis analyst, and active coach for team adidas, was called to the court today in Toronto a half-dozen time by the Romanian, Cirstea. She needed guidance in her semifinal match against Na Li. 

Cahill and Cirstea have known each other for several years. He referred to her today on ESPN2 as a 'second daughter,' which was endearing and a awkward characterization when you examine many a coaching relationship. Nonetheless, each visit from Cahill procured dramatic results in Cirstea's game. 

She whipped off the first set 6-1 before Na Li could settle down enough to find the court. However, in the second the Chinese seed pressed, after having a conversation with her husband, which ESPN2 commentators Pam Shriver and Cliff Drysdale call 'Dennis.' 

Na Li went up a break and served to stay in the match at 5-3, but forgot how to play tennis. Cirstea had stepped back in the limelight. 

As the match see-sawed, coaches were recalled to court. In response, the Twitter universe lit up with lively dialog about on-court coaching. It had flickered after Cahill's comments with Renee Stubbs, before the match started, and grew to a heated exchange as Shriver and Drysdale leaned on Cahill's coaching to relate the match to viewers. 

On-court coaching, seemingly, is a divisive subject. Tweeters either liked it or hated it, something akin to the under shorts attached to women's tennis skirts. 

A few women were adamantly set against coaching, calling it 'hand holding.' They thought, in pretty strong terms, that women pros should be beyond that. They shouldn't need it, which is a conditional view eliminating any association with emotions that can so overwhelm a professional player, no matter the ranking or accomplishments. It is a mental game, right?

Other tweeters cheered on Cahill, Cirstea and the ESPN2 endorsement of that relationship. Of course, Cahill is closely associated with Shriver and Drysdale, sharing the booth at many tournaments. Perhaps their assessments were a bit biased, but had a chunk of the dialog going in their favor.

There is no coaching on the men's side. The ATP has not endorsed it nor made it policy. The guidelines for on-court coaching from the WTA are massive in scope. Cross a hairline of a rule and you are not going to take a set at changeovers. 

Does it help? The answer has to be yes, according to Cirstea. She defeated Na Li, after being down 1-4 in the second. 

Li Na v-1. Goerges GE AO 002

Li Na connects with a backhand at this year's Australian Open. Her go-to asset did not work as well today in her semifinal loss to Sorana Cirstea, 61 76(5).
Photo by tennisclix

Renee Stubbs caught up with the unseeded Romanian on court. "We are an amazing team," Cirstea said, with tears in her eyes and a shaky voice. "Everything is now coming in to play. At four-one he made me relax. He told me 'don't think about the score, just be aggressive.'"

Whatever side of the conversation you come down on, 23-year-old Sorana Cirstea landed on the favorable side. She advanced to her first final in five years after her 61 76(5) win over No. 4-seed Na Li. Cirstea will play either Serena Williams or Agnieszka Radwanska in tomorrow's final at The Rexall Centre in Toronto. 

Now News … from Jane Voigt Tennis
August 7, 2013
John Isner had just collected his runner-up trophy at Citi Open, Washington D. C. on Sunday. He'd fought hard against Juan Martin del Potro, who had no sense of most anything tennis in the first set. Once he 'got' the rhythm of Isner's giant serve, the Argentine and now three-time Citi Open champion, was on his way to the finish line. 

The fallout from Isner's loss goes beyond the minor disappointment of losing an ATP 500 tournament, although Isner denied it was a 'bad loss,' adding every time you lose it's a setback but this final was, all things considered, not a 'bad loss.' 

Had he been asked the same question on Monday, Isner may have sung a different tune. That's the day his ranking fell outside the top 20. And with his disappearance from that leading echelon, appeared a blotch on American tennis history it would rather have not witnessed. For the first time since 1973, when the ATP started its rankings, no American male sits inside the top 20. Forty years ago, there were six. 

It's the first time ever that no American man sits inside the ATP's top 20. 

Isner is now ranked at No. 20. Here are other Americans inside the top 100: Sam Querrey (No. 26), Mardy Fish (No. 78), Jack Sock (No. 90), Michael Russell (No. 94), James Blake (No. 99), and Steve Johnson (No. 100).

In contrast, here is the list of American women inside the top 100 for the WTA: Serena Williams (No. 1), Sloane Stephens (No. 17), Jamie Hampton (No. 25), Varvara Lepchenko (No. 37), Venus Williams (No. 38), Madison Keys (No. 40), Bethanie Mattek-Sands, (No. 54), Lauren Davis (No. 83), Christina McHale (No. 91), Alison Riske (No. 93), Mallory Burdette (No. 95).

To make light of the comparison, saying that women's tennis is not the same as men's. That the men work harder, have to play five-set matches in Majors, and are physically stronger, can be viewed as moot points. The fact is the ranking's roller coaster can move in opposing directions. Men do well when women don't do well. Or, as it stand now, American women do well and men don't. 

Women mature at a younger age, thus more and better younger women have hit the scene and are doing well: Madison Keys, Lauren Davis, Christina Mc Hale, Sloane Stephens, and Jamie Hampton. These women are a team and support each other on and off court. The Spanish armada that captivated draws over the last decade had that same characteristic. They worked and played together. 

Jack Sock, Ryan Harrison, Steve Johnson, and Denis Kudla are a team. They are about the same age and face many of the same obstacles. The young American women's squad, though, live near each other when they are not on the road. 

Make no mistake. The life of a young and inspired tennis player, male or female, is tough. The hill is steep and many fall short of its pinnacle. 

American men will return to the top of the list. With this being Andy Roddick's first year off tour, the blemishes are more stark. He anchored the team, ranking in the top 10 for nine years straight. The only other man to do that -- Roger Federer. 

July 25, 2013 -- The Citi OpenSM will kick off an exciting week of world-class tennis in downtown D.C. on Friday, July 26, with an exposition near the United States Capitol and the National Mall featuring American tennis stars Sloane Stephens and Taylor Townsend, according to a press release from the tournament

Stephens and Townsend will play with children from the Department of Parks and Recreation tennis programs, with the the U.S. Capitol as a fitting backdrop.

Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray will then host the tournament draws at City Hall. Accompanying VIP guests will be Taylor Townsend, 2012 International Tennis Federation Junior World Champion, plus Marcos Baghdatis from the ATP Tour. 

The men's singles draw features 48 players while the women's features 32 player. 

If you are in the area and would like to attend the exposition, it runs from 3-5 p.m. in front of the National Museum of the American Indian, Maryland Ave. SW and 3rd Street SW. 

The Citi Open is one of only 11 elite ATP World Tour 500-level events worldwide and the only one held in the United States, so says the press release. The event is also part of the prestigious Emirates Airline US Open Series, the six-week summer tennis season that links nine North American hard-court tournaments to the final major of the year, the US Open.

July 24, 2013 -- Welcome to the hard court season of tennis most generously represented by The U. S. Open Series. Tournaments across America got underway this week at the ATP's BB&T Atlanta Open, and at the WTA's Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California. Over the next six weeks players will visit, in addition to Atlanta and Stanford, Carlsbad, Washington D.C., Toronto and Montreal, Cincinnati, New Haven, and Winston-Salem. These build-up tournaments culminate at Flushing Meadows for the 2013 U. S. Open, the fourth and final slam of the year. 

Here is a TV listing for all the tournaments. 

Citi Open, which starts Monday, July 29 in Washington D.C., announced today that Angelique Kerber, world No. 9, has agreed to play. The top-ranked German has reached two Major semifinals -- 2011 U. S. Open and the 2012 Wimbledon Championships. She has two career titles and has notched wins over Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Venus Williams, and Li Na. All have Major titles. July 21, 2013 -- Fabio Fognini stopped the Frederico Delbonis express 46 76(8) 62 this afternoon in Hamburg to win his second consecutive tournament and his first ATP 500 tournament at the bet-at home Championships. Tomorrow the Italian will crack the top 20, which tops his highest ranking of No. 24 in late April. Fognini saved 3 championship points in the second set, to stretch the match to three. In the third, Delbonis appeared tired, but more than likely his mind was caught on missed opportunities. He had trouble on big points, and his reliable serve was diminished. "Was amazing day by day," he told the crowds at the awards' presentation. His ranking will leap to No. 60 tomorrow, up from No. 114. 

During the week, Delbonis defeated Tommy Robredo, Dimitri Tursunov, Fernando Verdasco - saving two match points - and Roger Federer, the biggest feather in the 22-year-olds hat.

Last November, Jerzy Janowicz showed similar composure and resolve to Delbonis', plus great tennis skills, to make the finals at the Paris Masters in Bercy. The Polish had qualified and worked his way to the final where he lost to a determined David Ferrer. Delbonis' week could portend a similar trajectory, but time will only tell. 

July 20, 2013 -- Qualifier Frederico Delbonis upset No. 1 seed and 17-time Grand Slam Champion Roger Federer 76(7) 76(4) in the semifinals at the bet-at home Championships, Hamburg, Germany. This is the second time in a row that Federer has been defeated by a player outside the top 100. Delbonis is ranked #114; and, Sergiy Stakhovsky was ranked No. 116 when he ousted Federer in the second round of Wimbledon. 

The Argentine lefty will meet Fabio Fognini in tomorrow's final, which will be broadcast on Tennis Chanel at 9 a.m., EST. 

Federer used a 98-inch Wilson racquet this week, a move from his 90-inch Wilson BLX Pro Staff 90, but cannot blame anything or anyone for his poor court movement today and throughout the week. “I think the conditions were totally different to last night. It was wet and heavy last night, under the lights,” the ATP reported. “It’s a quick turnaround to quick conditions today and a totally different opponent. But that’s no excuse.” He plays next at the Credit Agricole Suisse Open Gstaad, July 20-28. 

Delbonis showed extraordinary concentration in his break-out match against Federer. "My key was to enjoy the match and enjoy playing this kind of player, because he is the best of all time," reported 

This will be Delbonis' first ATP 500 final.

Fabio Fognini also moved into his first ATP 500 final in Hamburg, Germany, today, in Hamburg. He defeated the No. 3 seed, Nicolas Almagro in straight sets 64 75. Fognini is on a 9-match winning streak, having won his first ATP career title in Stuttgart earlier this month. Yesterday, the Italian 12-seed upset home-favorite Tommy Haas 62 64. In Stuttgart, Fognini defeated Hass by the same score in the quarterfinals. Fognini's surge on tour comes after years of fits and starts, some compounded by emotional antics and the inconsistencies that can result. 

Please click here -- Draw -- for the draw. And, click here -- Schedule -- for the order of play. The final is scheduled for Sunday, July 21, at 9 a.m. EST on Tennis Channel. You can also watch it on or on your iPhone or iPad with the app Watch ESPN. 

July 18, 2013 -- The quarterfinal match ups are ready to go at the German Tennis Championships. Bright sun and warmer temperatures welcomed a fan-filled Center Court, which is quite a beautiful venue, especially with the roof open. Earlier in the week the audience and players were greeted with hail and snow. 


The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds remain on course -- Roger Federer and Tommy Haas -- as does Juan Monaco, the defending titlest. One person's name you might not recognize is Qualifier Federico Delbonis of Argentina. He's made quite an impact in his section by first eliminating Tommy Robredo, No. 10 seed, and then Dimitri Tursunov, who had defeated No. 8 seed Jeremy Chardy. Delbonis will have his hands full with Fernando Verdasco, the Wimbledon quarterfinalist, though. 


Currently ranked #114, Delbonis turned pro in 2007. He is 22 and has earned just over $400,000 in prize money. The match against Verdasco will an interesting one. Both are lefties. Please click here -- Draw -- for the draw. And, click here -- Schedule -- for the order of play.

Roger Federer only needed two sets today instead of three of yesterday. Seems like the Suisse is becoming accustomed to his new 98-inch racquet. Federer said he had been close to changing racquets several times, but needed a chunk of time to become familiar with one. When he lost early at Wimbledon, a door opened. "Wilson flew to Switzerland and we went through the whole process and I was very happy how things went over there," the ATP Tour staff reported. 

"I'm pleased how it's playing," he said. "I'm very happy that under match conditions I was feeling comfortable with it."

Photo credit and

July 17, 2013 -- Roger Federer began his campaign to regain ground, and ranking points, in Hamburg, Germany, at the German Tennis Championships, also known as the bet-at-home Open, today. Federer played with a new Wilson racquet, which was spray-painted black to hide its brand-name. He had used a Wilson BLX Pro Staff 90, meaning the racquet's head was 90 square inches. The new stick provides him with 98 square inches, which many pundits have advocated for. A large percentage of players use racquets with a similar hitting area, or ones that range between 95-100 square inches. The larger surface will give him a bit more power, but many other variables exist, too. 

Although his match against Daniel Brands, who turned 26 today, started slow, Federer caught up and won the match 36 63 62. How was the racquet? In his first game, Federer hit three aces. He still shanked several backhands, a sine qua non for the wildcard No. 1 seed. 

Federer won his first Masters 1000 shield in Hamburg 11 years ago. Today, he has 21 titles and has been a finalist 13 times. Rafael Nadal holds the most with 24 titles. He has been a finalists 11 times. 

Federer has won the title in Hamburg 4 times: 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2007.

July 15, 2013 -- Nicolas Mahut became the first player on the ATP Tour to win both singles and doubles titles at the same event this season, announced the Hall of Fame Championships this afternoon in a press release. Yesterday he came from behind to cinch the singles crown. Today, he teamed with Edouard Roger-Vasselin to win the doubles title, their fourth overall. The French pair defeated Americans Tim Smyczek and Rhyne Williams 67(4) 62 10-5. 

"To win both in the same week, singles and doubles, it's amazing," Mahut said. "When I look back a month ago, I was ranked 240, then I played the French Open final in doubles, won two titles, won another one in doubles. It's just a great achievement. I just don't think I even realize it all yet."

Nicolas Mahut's name first became the center of attention at Wimbledon in 2010. He and American John Isner played the longest match in the history of a Major over the course of three days and five sets with Isner finally bringing the marathon to a close in the fifth: 70-68.

July 14, 2013 -- Congratulations to Nicolas Mahut on his first-ever title at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships. He defeated 2-time finalist, Lleyton Hewitt, late this afternoon, 57 75 63, at Newport, Rhode Island. Entered as a wildcard, Mahut gave thanks for that opportunity after gathering a week's check for $78,000. This is Mahut's second title on grass this summer, and his second career title overall. He is 31. Six weeks ago, Mahut was ranked No. 240. Tomorrow he is expected to be ranked No. 75. 

July 13, 2013 -- Maria Sharapova announced two days ago (July 11) on her official website that she has split from Coach Tomas Hogstedt. "After almost 3 years of working together, Thomas Hogstedt and I decided to part ways. Due to personal issues, he was not able to travel in the near future and we both agreed it was the right time to move our separate ways.

"I am very thankful for all his work, and wish him much success in the future.

"I will be announcing my new coach in a few days. Very excited!"

Today, July 13, Sharapova announced that Jimmy Connors will be her new coach. 

As pundits pipe in on the choice, opinions vary. Many are curiously optimistic and some are stunned at Sharapova's choice. One thing is sure, though. She has not defeated Serena Williams in nine years. Having come so very close in Miami this spring certainly could have accelerated the transition. But her early loss at Wimbledon to a qualifier ranked outside the top 100 could have been the final blow to an otherwise prosperous relationship. 

After Hogstedt became her full-time coach, Maria "made the French Open semifinals and Wimbledon final and won two WTA Premier titles," reported.

For more, please read this post on

July 13, 2013 -- Rogers Cup announced on July 11 that world No. 3, Victoria Azarenka, and Wimbledon Champion Marion Bartoli have been added to the player list for this year's Roger Cup. Neither woman had entered the tournament by the cut-off date. Therefore, they come in as wildcard entries. With their addition, the tournament boasts all top-20 women. The dates for the women's Rogers Cup are August 3-11 at the Rexall Centre, York University Campus in Toronto, Ontario. The men play Rogers Cup at Uniprix Stadium, Montreal, Quebec, during the same time frame, August 2-11. 

Rogers Cup is the third-oldest title in tennis, behind only Wimbledon and The U. S. Open. 

This year, Rogers Cup celebrates its 133rd anniversary of the men's event, which is now an ATP Masters 1000 tournament. The Premier WTA event will celebrate its 121st anniversary. 

For more information, please visit the website for Rogers Cup.

© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013