March 2nd, 2018

Friday Tennis Blog: Althea Honored; Davis Cup Re-do; More

General News Friday Blog Blogs

ALTHEA GIBSON STATUE FOR US OPEN

The USTA national body this week announced the association will commission a statue to commemorate tennis legend and American pioneer Althea Gibson on the grounds of the US Open.

Gibson was the first African-American to win the US Open in 1957 (then called the U.S. Nationals), breaking the color barrier on both the pro tennis and golf circuits at a time when racism and prejudice were widespread in the U.S. Born and raised in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, Gibson played collegiately for Florida A&M, and over her pro career won five Grand Slam singles and six doubles titles. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971.

“It’s simple. She’s the Jackie Robinson of tennis; she deserves it,” said USTA Chairman of the Board and President Katrina Adams. “She made it possible for every person of color after her to have a chance to achieve their goals in the sport.” The USTA is in the process of crafting a request for proposal to identify and select an artist/sculptor. To read more go to www.usta.com/news.

 

RADICAL CHANGE PROPOSED FOR DAVIS CUP

Many have long-argued for change in the Davis Cup competition. Now change has come for the 118-year-old competition, and they’re still arguing.

The International Tennis Federation this week announced plans, still seeking final approval, to transform the event beginning in 2019 to a 18-nation (16 qualifying countries and two wild card countries) week-long tournament. “It’s politically tricky and no sure thing that this gets rubber-stamped,” U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier told the New York Times. ESPN agrees it could be a hard sell.

Currently 16 teams compete in the Davis Cup World Group, the top tier of the competition, throughout the season. Former USTA president and current ITF President David Haggerty has been behind the effort to inject new energy into the competition that is one of many team events on the tennis landscape, and one which many of the top players in the world now bypass.  Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have voiced their support. “The players are very supportive of this idea,” Haggerty said. “Davis Cup is such a fantastic property and we think with 18 teams in one place for the final will really resonate.”

 

MISCELLANEOUS

Serena Williams will play her first WTA event of the year in the coming weeks at Indian Wells, so her husband Alexis Ohanian bought some billboards in Palm Springs along the drive to Indian Wells to welcome her back…Roger Federer won World Sportsman of the Year and Comeback of the Year, while Serena Williams, who won the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant, was named the World Sportswoman of the Year at the 2018 Laureus World Sports Awards at the Salle des Etoiles in Monte Carlo on Tuesday…The 2018 Delray Beach Open set a new tournament record with 65,997 fans attending the 17 sessions of the 10-day event…Simona Halep returned to No. 1 on the WTA rankings this week, overtaking Caroline Wozniacki…France will put the U.S. Fed Cup team on clay when it hosts their semifinal meeting on April 21-22 in Aix-en-Provence…College MatchDay at the USTA National Campus on Saturday features the UCF Knights men’s and women’s teams against the University of Michigan, airing live on Tennis Channel (see TV schedule below)…Purchase a personalized brick or paver on the US Open Avenue of Aces at the BJKNTC for 50 percent off in time for installation at the 2018 US Open and support the USTA Foundation…Is human line-calling in pro tennis on the way out?…On Monday Roger Federer will play his annual Match for Africa fundraiser, to be shown live on Tennis Channel…The USTA Florida Section Foundation 2018 grant cycle is open. Since 2010 the foundation has provided more than $280,000 in grants to schools, more than $95,000 in grants to adaptive programs, and more than $40,000 to various YMCAs.

 

Career-best Week for Donaldson, Stephens Upset in Acapulco

American Jared Donaldson is into his first ATP semifinal after Thursday defeating Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-1 at the ATP stop in Acapulco, Mexico.

The 21-year-old won 100 percent of the first-serve points he landed (20 for 20) during the match, and 86 percent of his second-serve points.

“I feel like I’ve played really well throughout the week, and I think it has showed a great maturity to my game and how much I’ve improved,” Donaldson said afterwards.

In the semis he will face the No. 5-seeded Kevin Anderson.

On the women’s side in Acapulco on Thursday the last American standing, top-seeded American Sloane Stephens, was stunned in the quarterfinals by No. 183-ranked Stefanie Voegele 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 at the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL presentado por HSBC.

The 27-year-old Swiss recorded her first Top 20 win in five years over the reigning US Open champion. Voegele improved to 3-1 career against Stephens, who in her previous round had saved match points against unseeded Arantxa Rus, coming from a set down to win 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-0.

The Donaldson-Anderson match will be live on Tennis Channel tonight at 7 p.m.

 

They Said It

“Obviously a lot of young black people are playing football or basketball. I would love for them to play tennis. That’s one of my biggest motivations — to get more black people playing tennis.”
— American Frances Tiafoe after winning his first ATP title last Sunday at Delray Beach

“If Althea Gibson represents a challenge to the present crop of players, then it’s only fair that they meet this challenge on the courts.”
— Four-time US Open champion Alice Marble lobbying for Althea Gibson’s inclusion in the tournament, writing in American Lawn Tennis magazine in 1950

“We were taken by surprise by the announcement. As one of the founding nations of Davis Cup, we have a lot of unanswered questions.”
Craig Tiley, chief executive of Tennis Australia, on the ITF’s Davis Cup announcement, speaking to the New York Times

 

Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

Friday
8am — ATP Dubai (live), Tennis Channel
7pm — ATP Acapulco (live), Tennis Channel
11pm — ATP Acapulco (live), Tennis Channel

Saturday
10am — ATP Dubai final (live), Tennis Channel
12:30pm — College: UCF vs. Michigan (live), Tennis Channel
3pm — ATP/WTA Oracle Challenger Series: Indian Wells (live), Tennis Channel
10pm — ATP Acapulco final (live), Tennis Channel

Sunday
1pm — ATP/WTA Oracle Challenger Series: Indian Wells finals (live), Tennis Channel
5pm — ATP Sao Paulo final (delay), Tennis Channel

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