July 11th, 2014

Friday Tennis Blog: American Hope on Grass; US Open Cha-ching

Friday Blog
Kozlov and rubin wimbledon 2014

From left: Noah Rubin, Old Glory, and Stefan Kozlov

FRIENDSHIP BOYS’ FINAL AT WIMBLEDON — The All-American boy’s final at Wimbledon (the first since 1977) was good news for U.S. tennis, but also a refreshing reminder of friendship trumping competition. Noah Rubin defeated friend and Pembroke Pines, Fla., resident Stefan Kozlov in the final, and both took a victory lap together after the match. Kozlov led 3-2 in the third set before Rubin rattled off four straight games to win the match. When Rubin learned Kozlov had an American flag in his bag (which his dad had given him in case of victory), he told him to pull it out and do a victory lap with him. “I was like, ‘Dig it out,'” Rubin said. “It’s been a long time since an all-American final, so might as well support it. At the end, when we were holding that American flag, I was like, ‘This is pretty special.’…I was like, ‘Stefan, let’s go, let’s do it together.’ Hopefully we’ll keep rising together.” Kozlov also reached the boys’ doubles final, finishing runner-up with partner Andrey Rublev. In other Florida pro news, John Isner wonders why he is being included in beefcake photo shoots, and support is pouring in for Florida teen Vicky Duval after her cancer diagnosis.

florida a&m teamFLORIDA A&M LOSES MEN’S TENNIS — The men’s tennis team at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee was recently announced as a victim of cost-cutting measures and meeting Title IX disparities between men’s and women’s sports opportunities at the school. It remains to be seen whether the suspension of men’s tennis and golf, and the firing of a few other team coaches in various sports, can reduce the reported $7 million athletics deficit at the university. David Benjamin, executive director of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, has sent e-mails and letters to university personnel and local tennis advocates to rally support to keep the tennis program. But other advocates point out that since the ITA refuses to seek a cap on international players, universities see the men’s and women’s tennis programs as an easier target, since many rosters are made up of mostly if not entirely international players. The FAMU 2013-14 men’s roster contained only two U.S. players, Courage Okungbowa of Wesley Chapel, Fla., who will need to find another school to pursue his dream of pro tennis after overcoming some challenges, and Jalen Evans of Kalamazoo, Mich.

US OPEN2US OPEN PRIZE MONEY INCREASE — In 1982 the tennis world marveled when the total tournament prize money for the US Open reached $1 million. In 2014, the men’s and women’s champions will each take home $3 million of a total tournament purse of $38.3 million, a more than 12 percent increase over 2013 and the largest payout in US Open history. Each round of the singles will see double digit percentage increases over last year, and the qualifying payouts will increase 11 percent to more than $1.5 million, supporting those players working toward making the big show. Over the last three years, US Open main draw prize money has increased by approximately 65 percent. “Last year to recognize the importance of the players and the key role they have in building our sport, the USTA shared our vision to reach $50 million in prize money at the US Open by 2017,” said USTA Chairman of the Board and President Dave Haggerty. “This year’s prize money increase continues the commitment to make the US Open one of the most lucrative purses in all of sports.” Most lucrative for players and NYC.

5 Americans Alive Heading Into Friday ATP/WTA Play

Americans are standing their ground this week at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, R.I., the lone grasscourt tournament in the U.S., and also on the WTA
side in Bad Gastein, Austria.

Three Americans are in the Friday quarterfinals at Newport, where No. 1 seed John Isner will meet newly-minted Wimbledon men’s doubles winner Jack Sock, and No. 6 seed
Steve Johnson will take on No. 3 seed, former Wimbledon champion and former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt.

“[Sock] has an incredibly bright future,” said Isner about his friend who is training with him in Tampa. “He’s got a lot of weapons in his game, especially with his
forehand. He’ll only get better.”

Jack Sock after winning the men’s doubles title at Wimbledon

Bad has turned to good for unseeded American women Shelby Rogers and Grace Min, who are into the quarterfinals at the WTA Nurnberger Gastein Ladies event in Bad Gastein,

On Thursday Rogers upset No. 3 seed Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4, 6-0 on the red claycourts, advancing to a quarterfinal meeting with No. 7 seed Camila Giorgi of Italy. Min on
Wednesday beat fellow American Irina Falconi to set up a quarterfinal meeting with No. 8-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova.

It is the first WTA quarterfinal for the 21-year-old Rogers of Charleston, S.C., currently ranked No. 147.

They Said It

Li Na“There is no need to be surprised by this photo. My message to people is clear — whether in sport or in life, you should be healthy and happy.”
— China’s Li Na, who caused a ruckus in her home country after posing topless (with a blurred bar on the photo) for a breast cancer self-checking awareness ad, speaking to the Beijing Times

“When I played on Rod Laver [Arena in the Australian Open boys’ final] it was really quiet. I don’t know why, I don’t think anyone was into the match, I mean it was 3 and love. It was not even half way filled. Today was an unbelievable atmosphere, one of the best I’ve ever played.”
— Pembroke Pines’ Stefan Kozlov after losing in front of a big crowd on Court 1 in the Wimbledon boys’ final to fellow American Noah Rubin.

“These girls, when they play me, it’s like they’re on the ATP tour…I think everyone in general plays the match of their lives against me.”
— World No. 1 Serena Williams after losing to Alize Cornet in the first week at Wimbledon

Tennis on TV This Weekend

TV multi colorFriday
9am-1pm — ATP Bastad (delay), Tennis Channel
1-5pm — ATP Newport (live), Tennis Channel
5-7pm — ATP Stuttgart (delay), Tennis Channel

12:30-1:30pm — Tennis Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (live), Tennis Channel
2-6pm — ATP Newport (live), Tennis Channel
6-8pm — ATP Stuttgart (delay), Tennis Channel
11pm-1am — ATP Bastad (delay), Tennis Channel

8am-2pm — WTA Bad Gastein (delay), Tennis Channel
2-4pm — ATP Newport (live), Tennis Channel
4-6pm — ATP Bastad (delay), Tennis Channel
6-8pm — ATP Stuttgart (delay), Tennis Channel