April 22nd, 2016
Friday Tennis Blog: Mommy and Me; Serena, Novak Voted Tops in All Sports
‘MOMMY AND ME’ IS RALLYING THE FAMILY
The tennis industry is banding together this year to “Rally the Family” to the courts in a number of ways. One of the most interesting is happening at the USTA’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open. Organizers at the national tennis center say there are tennis programs for anyone old enough to walk, including the extremely popular “Mommy and Me” that runs for about two months. Parents and children together explore tennis fundamentals with exercises, stretching, games and activities using the 10 and Under tennis format and equipment. “One big thing is that we’ve sized tennis to kids and that’s really exciting,” the program manager told the Queens Chronicle. “They’re so cute, they have the greatest time.” Director of Tennis Whitney Kraft says, “It brings tears to our eyes when we come in on the weekends and we see the courts set up, where there’s 15 different pairs of a guardian and a youngster.” The courts are set up with lower-compression red and orange tennis balls, shorter courts, and shorter racquets that are bringing in kids and adults of all ages. To learn more about using Rally the Family at clubs or facilities, or to find programs or resources, go to www.rallythefamily.com.
SERENA, NOVAK NO. 1 IN ALL OF SPORTS
Tops in all of the world of sport went to tennis this week when Serena Williams was named Sportwoman of the Year and Novak Djokovic was named Sportsman of the Year for 2015 at the Laureus Awards. Williams is the first woman to win three Laureus Sportswoman nods since the inception of the award in 2000. Last year Djokovic won three Grand Slam titles and lost in the final of the fourth, while Williams won another “Serena Slam” (four Slam titles in a row over a two-year span) and came within two matches of winning a calendar-year Grand Slam at the US Open. Djokovic has also won the award three times, tying Roger Federer with the most honors. “I think it’s probably the most prestigious award we have in sports worldwide, considering the fact you’re nominated by worldwide media representatives, academy members and former champions,” Djokovic said.
Players at the Sarasota Challenger received a “welcome to Florida” moment when the tournament experienced a “snake delay”…How to get Millennials playing tennis? Check out the Sip ‘n Serve Series…A ball boy at Barcelona did a face-plant on TV but recovered nicely…John Isner will forego competing for the U.S. at the Rio Olympics to play the ATP Atlanta event…Maria Sharapova will get her doping hearing in June, possibly clearing her to play by Wimbledon…At the Laureus Awards, Britain’s Mirror noted Boris Becker’s towering son Noah but slagged the former No. 1s wardrobe: “For some reason Becker elected to pair his tuxedo with black trainers but his wife Lily, 39, looked stunning in a long gown.”…What to do when world No. 2 Andy Murray says doping in tennis is a problem, but world No. 1 Novak Djokovic says it is not?…Serena Williams is going out of her way to support school sports funding with some help from Dick’s Sporting Goods…RIP Prince, who was also a fan of tennis.
Exotic Locale Pro Tour Clay Cavalcade Continues
American players generally took this week off for the WTA events in Stuttgart and Istanbul, and the ATP stops in Barcelona and Bucharest, but many will return to the European clay next week with five tournament opportunities in exotic locales.
The men will be at the BMW Open by FWU AG (Munich, Germany), the Millennium Estoril Open (Portugal), and the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open (Turkey). The women will play at the GP SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem (Rabat, Morocco), and the J&T Banka Prague Open (Czech Republic).
Florida’s Falconi Wins WTA Bogota
Missed in this space last week was American Irini Falconi making a deep run at the Claro Open Colsanitas in Bogota, Colombia, then over the weekend becoming the first American to win the title.
For the 25-year-old West Palm Beach resident, who was born in Ecuador and attended Georgia Tech for two years, it was a career-first WTA title run, beating Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 in the final.
“I’m so happy, and I even started to cry a little bit,” said Falconi, who rose from 92 to No. 67 on the WTA rankings. “I was very overwhelmed with emotions. Just trying to take in every moment and enjoy it…This morning I felt nervous, but nerves are always nerves. I was talking to my boyfriend about it and what we kept saying was, ‘It’s just another match’…that’s how I lived it, and that mentality helped me a lot.”
They Said It
“I think it’ll be surreal, so long as I have the opportunity to go — and it’s looking good, so far — I think it’ll be very emotional for me this time.”
— Venus Williams on playing the Olympics this year
“His serve is, I think, consistently faster than [John] Isner’s or Ivo Karlovic’s.”
— Sam Querrey after facing Palm Coast’s Reilly Opelka
“My dream was to play Roland Garros — not to win it, not to reach the finals. To me, the players that did that were mutants.”
— Defending French Open champion Stan Wawrinka
Tennis on TV This Weekend
(EST, times subject to change)
7am-4:30pm — ATP Barcelona, WTA Stuttgart (live), Tennis Channel
8am-2pm — ATP Barcelona, WTA Stuttgart (live), Tennis Channel
8am-1:30pm — ATP Barcelona, WTA Stuttgart (live), Tennis Channel