September 29th, 2017

Friday Tennis Blog: Blake Assault Case | New USTA National Campus Events | More

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James Blake, the black former world No. 4-ranked American tennis player, was looking at his cell phone on the sidewalk outside the official tournament hotel during the US Open when a white police officer with a history of excessive violence complaints grabbed him and slammed him to the ground in a case of mistaken identity.

The event took place approximately two years ago, and this week after a public disciplinary hearing, the officer could be punished with…a loss of 10 vacation days. The final verdict will be kept from the public.

The officer, James Frascatore, was a defendant in two federal lawsuits filed earlier that alleged excessive force in separate incidents. The officers involved never identified themselves as police during the incident, and never reported the incident to their superiors. Police initially denied Blake was roughed-up or thrown to the ground, then changed their story once video of the incident was released. Police attorney Stephen Worth said his client was being charged only “because James Blake is a celebrity.” Blake afterwards called the ruling laughable, and told reporters the whole incident would have been swept under the rug without evidence. “I don’t think we’d be here if we didn’t have video,” he said. “Something needs to change.”



The USTA National Campus in Orlando will be rocking on the weekend of Oct. 28 when it features the rescheduled USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Doubles Championships, the USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Orange Ball Team Tennis Sectional Championships, and in the evening of Oct. 28 the USTA Florida Halloween Spooktacular featuring XGLOsive blacklight night tennis.

The “Bobby Curtis” tournament is annually a launching pad for future college stars and pros. Former “Bobby Doubles” winners include two-time NCAA champ Danielle Collins (Girls’ 18s-2010, Mixed 12s-2005), former WTA doubles world No. 1-ranked and Wimbledon winner Corina Morariu (Girls’ 16s-1992, Girls’ 14s-1991) and former ATP player Wayne Odesnik (Boys’ 14s-1999).

The Halloween Spooktacular is free to attend, so grab a racquet and your costume. In addition to all of the free Halloween fun from 6-8 p.m., XGLOsive Blacklight tennis will be offered from 8-10 p.m. for only $10 per person, and includes a glow t-shirt. For more info click here.


Serena Williams offers a September selfie

According to her pal Caroline Wozniacki, Serena Williams is laser-focused on her January 2018 comeback, while sharing lots of baby pictures…18-24 year-olds’ interest in watching sports on TV is down 45 percent according to a new study of TV viewership, tied to a lack of PE in schools and the expense of sports…US Open finalist Madison Keys is experiencing issues with her surgically-repaired wrist again, losing first round this week at the Wuhan Open in China…Bobby Riggs had a rich history in South Florida…The directing team behind Battle of the Sexes practiced the same effort at equality in producing the movie…Gold Badge ATP Chair Umpire Ali Nili of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., was at this year’s US Open presented with the USTA’s 2017 John T. McGovern Award, honoring an umpire with at least 10 years of service who has had the most outstanding contribution to tennis officiating…Novak Djokovic, off the tour since Wimbledon with an elbow injury and expected to return in January 2018, says Andre Agassi will remain on his coaching team next year…Andrea Jaeger, whose Little Star Foundation has an office in Florida, spoke about her path from pro tennis to running a full-time charity…WTA player Monica Puig is nearing her $100K goal for helping Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria…Tennis Channel commentator Mary Carillo was injured while cleaning-up hurricane damage at her Naples home and hospitalized after suffering a punctured lung…Florida’s own Vince Spadea was Bobby Riggs’ stand-in and a choreographer for the Battle of the Sexes movie…Did You Know? If Bobby Riggs had beaten Billie Jean King, there were plans in the making for him to next face the 22-year-old Chris Evert, who would two years later become the No. 1 player in the world.

U.S.  Men Enter Weekend Play at ATP China Stops

Taylor Fritz

Three American men remain in play entering the weekend at two ATP events in China.

Qualifier Taylor Fritz was a winner on Thursday, upsetting Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

“The match was really physical and we were both hitting the ball really big,” the 19-year-old Fritz said. “I’ve definitely found the best tennis I’ve ever played at the end of this year. I started the year still recovering from a knee injury and that’s what hurt me a lot at the end of last year.”

Fritz will on Friday face unseeded Argentine Guido Pella. Also into the quarterfinals is unseeded American Jared Donaldson, who will match-up against unseeded Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan. Donaldson on Wednesday upset No. 8 seed Kyle Edmund.

Donald Young remains alive at the Shenzhen Open, where the American No. 8 seed in the Friday quarterfinals will face No. 2-seeded David Goffin of Belgium.


They Said It

“Don’t sweat it guys, Bobby Riggs will beat Mrs. Billie Jean King Thursday night at the Astrodome in Houston. Easily.”
— Tennis journalist Neil Amdur writing for the New York Times in 1973

“I don’t think Emma [Stone] had played any tennis at all before this project. I wasn’t going to turn her into a competitive player, a real-life Billie Jean King, overnight.”
— Former ATP pro and Floridian Vince Spadea, the tennis choreographer/advisor and Steve Carell’s stunt double for the Battle of the Sexes movie

“You know how much I’ve made in public appearances [after playing Margaret Court and Billie Jean King]? Since the two sex matches, I’ve made over $1.5 million. I’m doing pretty good.”
— The late Bobby Riggs speaking to the Palm Beach Post after the “Battle of the Sexes” match


Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

5:30am — WTA Wuhan (live), beIN Sports
11am — ATP Shenzhen (delay), Tennis Channel

12:30am — ATP/WTA Beijing (live), beIN Sports
11am — ATP Shenzhen (delay), Tennis Channel

12:30am — ATP/WTA Beijing (live), beIN Sports
11am — ATP Shenzhen (delay), Tennis Channel
10pm — ATP Tokyo/Beijing (live), Tennis Channel