January 18th, 2019

Friday Blog: Tennis Channel Boom | American Upsets in Oz [Spoiler Alert] | More

General News Friday Blog Blogs

TENNIS CHANNEL BOOM

Buoyed by the WTA tour’s return after a one-year experiment with European broadcaster beIN Sports, Tennis Channel is now the fastest-growing pay-TV cable network in the U.S.

Tennis Channel now reaches more than 61 million subscribers, with 18 million coming over the last two years alone. In December alone the network added 5.1 million subscribers prior to the run-up to this month’s beginning of the tennis season in Australia and the Australian Open.

“This increase during the past two years goes against the grain of a media landscape with many programmers fighting to combat subscriber loss,’ said industry analyst Nielsen in a report. Read More

 

MONDESSA SWIFT, 70s FLORIDA TENNIS DESIGNER TO THE STARS, DIES AT AGE 95

The tennis world lost a fashion queen-maker, USTA League player, and charitable philanthropist when Ft. Lauderdale native Mondessa Swift died on Dec. 31, 2018, at the age of 95. On par with fellow tennis designer Ted Tinling, Swift in the 1970s was credited with introducing color, bright trims and vibrant designs to the then-plain-white dresses typical in women’s pro tennis.

Chris Evert wore them in the juniors,” Swift told the Miami Herald in 1996. “When she went to Forest Hills and Wimbledon, she wore my dresses. When she became really famous, she got big-time contracts from other companies. But all the juniors knew my dresses. They wanted to dress like Chris.”

She designed a dress with a bright red apple for Evert that made the cover of Harper’s Bazaar magazine in 1972, and one of her dresses is on display in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. The dress she designed for Evert for Wimbledon in 1972 was the first to feature a colored trim at the traditionally all-white event.

She moved to Florida in 1971 and immersed herself not only in tennis design but also in recreational and international competitive tennis.

“Mondessa took her Florida USTA League team to the national championships in the 4.5 [NTRP level] and came in second in the 1970s,” said friend and fellow player Chrissy Shuffield. “Mondessa was ranked No. 1 in the Open division and in 25 & Over. She organized trips to play the International Challenge Cup against Mexico from 1970-1995. When Mondessa took us to Washington, D.C., to play against Mexico, she knew someone at the White House and invited four ladies to play there. We got to see the Oval Office, press room, and played on the White House tennis court. President Clinton was in office at the time — very exciting. Mondessa organized tennis and golf tournaments to raise money for charities with celebrities Brad Gilbert, Barry Williams, Dick Van Patten, Vince Van Patten, Frank Nero, Barbara McNair and many more. A beautiful lady and a lot of fun to be with. She will be missed a lot.”

Her husband Benjamin Swift, a former car dealer and marketing director for the Florida Tennis Association (now known as USTA Florida), died in 2014. She is survived by her daughter, Deanna Cushing, and brother Victor Connor and their families.  

 

 

MISCELLANEOUS

Former USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Championships winner Danielle Collins is winning at the Australian Open and winning Instagram…Aussie Bernard Tomic lost first round at the Australian Open then delivered a number of controversial comments, including that Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt needs to step down. Today Hewitt fired back, accusing Tomic of verbal and physical threats against him and his family. Tomic told the Herald Sun newspaper, “I have never threatened his family. Nice, Lleyton. To think how low of a person you actually and (it’s) why the Australian public never liked you. I got nothing to do with your family and I don’t care what’s wrong with you, you liar.”…Former French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko says an ongoing wrist issue is to blame for her 0-3 start to 2019…The Australian Open is breaking ground on the player stats front, introducing metrics such as “time pressure” and “clutch,” or how players perform in big-point situations…Former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and 2012-13 Aussie Open champion wept throughout her press conference after a first-round loss this week in Melbourne, discussing coming back to pro tennis after the birth of her first child, and the child custody battle that resulted in her playing only one Grand Slam in 2017. “In matches I think I’m underestimating for not really playing for almost three years on a high level,” she said, “it’s not easy to continue just out of nowhere to start playing well.”…The match-fixing crackdown continues at the lower level of pro tennis as four French players have been taken into custodyRafael Nadal says he loves Australia, and Australian Open fans have shown their love for the former No. 1 — despite the Spaniard thus far beating three Aussie players to reach the round of 16 in Melbourne. “My feeling is people here understands the sport. People here love the sport. I really enjoy atmosphere here. People go to see the sport in a good way. They respect the opponents. I think Australians don’t see me like an opponent.”

 

Unseeded Tiafoe, Anisimova Into 4th Round
at Australian Open

Frances Tiafoe

Florida teenager Amanda Anisimova and USTA National Campus-based Frances Tiafoe made waves Down Under on Friday as both players advanced into the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Tiafoe is the last American man standing after defeating Italian veteran Andreas Seppi in a marathon five-set match 6-7(3), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, following-up an upset of No. 5 Kevin Anderson in the previous round.

“Quite a lot of fun for me. Definitely hurts, very tired right now. But, yeah, it’s unbelievable,” Tiafoe said after the victory. “I’m taking the game to the guys. I’m playing very aggressive, trying to put things in my terms. Also I’m competing really well, staying in the rallies. Not bailing out. Going point in, point out.”

No. 3 Roger Federer saw off American Taylor Fritz 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 on Friday to leave Tiafoe the lone American men’s flag-waver.

Anisimova stunned No. 11 seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 6-2, while fellow Floridian and former USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Championships winner Danielle Collins upset No. 19 Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-2 to set up a meeting with world No. 2 Angelique Kerber.

Here are the remaining Americans entering the first weekend of the Australian Open:

Women’s 3rd Round:

(16) Serena Williams (USA) vs. Dayana Yastremska (UKR)
(17) Madison Keys (USA) vs. (12) Elise Mertens (BEL)
Venus Williams (USA) vs. (1) Simona Halep (ROM)

Women’s 4th Round:

(5) Sloane Stephens (USA) vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
Amanda Anisimova (USA) vs. (8) Petra Kvitova (CZE)

Men’s 4th Round:

Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs. (20) Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)

 

They Said It

“I can still play to a level — not a level I’m happy playing at. But also, it’s not just that. The pain is too much really…I said to my team, ‘I think I can get through to Wimbledon,’ that’s where I would like to stop playing. But I’m also not certain I’m able to do that.”
Andy Murray, who lost in the first round and is battling a hip injury, prior to the start of the Australian Open

“He’s been watching me like a hawk, asking me how I’m feeling after matches, after practices, where I’m at. He’s just trying to gauge how long it would take him, if this procedure is an option.”
— 40-year-old Bob Bryan, after returning from hip surgery at the Australian Open, on Andy Murray

“I went to a different place. I dug insanely deep. It’s all about competing. Guys are so good. It’s just about how badly you want it. I want it real bad.”
— American Frances Tiafoe after upsetting No. 5 seed Kevin Anderson at the Australian Open

 

Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

Friday
6pm — Australian Open (live), Tennis Channel
7pm — Australian Open (live), ESPN2

Saturday
6pm — Australian Open (live), Tennis Channel
7pm — Australian Open (live), ESPN2

Sunday
6pm — Australian Open (live), Tennis Channel
7pm — Australian Open (live), ESPN2

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