February 12th, 2016

Friday Tennis Blog: Keeping Up with Serena; USTA P.D. Keeps It ‘100’

Friday Blog


Serena Mimi USAWorld No. 1 Serena Williams is like the old Visa slogan, “She’s Everywhere You Want to Be.” The day before the Super Bowl, Serena participated in the event’s first NFL Women’s Summit. Following NFL chief Roger Goodell’s announcement that the league will institute a “Rooney Rule” that requires teams interview women for NFL executive positions, Serena joined guest speakers Condoleezza Rice and Billie Jean King, and was interviewed by Robin Roberts on a host of topics. “I don’t play tennis for recognition, being recognized is not important,” Serena said. “What matters is how I can help people.” The Palm Beach Gardens native was even in the spotlight during the Super Bowl commercials, appearing in the MINI USA car spot highlighting diversity and defying labels. Where in the world is Serena Williams this week? In Jamaica helping build the Salt Marsh Primary School, funded by her foundation and Helping Hands Jamaica.


USTAPlayerDevelopment_4cReaching the Top 100 on the ATP or WTA tour rankings is the gateway to regularly getting into the main draws at slams and lower-level tour events. Now the USTA national body has launched a new venture — “Team USA – Pro,” a department within USTA Professional Development focused on providing the coaching assistance, training and financial resources to make the jump happen for American players ranked between 100-500. USTA Lead National Coaches Tom Gullikson and Kathy Rinaldi will lead the effort, with Geoff Russell assuming the department’s administrative operations as senior manager. “When players move quickly into the Top 100, they have a much better chance of achieving rankings in the Top 50, Top 20 or Top 10,” said USTA Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman. USTA Player Development has also reorganized its structure of USTA National Coaches, creating teams of coaches which will focus on distinct groups of players: juniors, collegiate and pro. To read more on the effort click here.


murray ice cream

Andy Murray in one of his public disguises

Florida’s Madison Keys‘ slow start to the season is due to an off-court slip and fall that injured her elbow…How to boost U.S. pro tennis? How about a USTA Pro Circuit wild card event for Americans only, as the Osprey, Fla., stop is experimenting with this year…Aussie teen Ashleigh Barty was doubles runner-up at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open in 2013, then burnt out and signed a contract to play professional cricket. Now the 19-year-old is back on the court planning a tennis comebackChris Evert says Madison Keys will win Wimbledon in the next five years…Andy Murray is a new dad…Florida’s Vicky Duval has hit an injury bump on her comeback road…Mike Tyson’s daughter is a good boxer and a better tennis player…British culture secretary John Whittingdale and fellow government anti-corruption champion Sir Eric Pickles have had enough of tennis’ match-fixing problems, which this week included some low-level chair umpires being banned from the sport…Boca Raton 14 year old Tyra Hurricane Black will be featured in the junior showcase at the March 8 BNP Paribas Showdown in NYC, squaring off against 15-year-old Californian Carson Branstine…Here is the shot of the year courtesy of Dustin Brown.

American Fritz Breaks Out in Memphis; 4 U.S. Players Enter Weekend Play Around the World

Fritz US OpenFormer world No. 1 junior Taylor Fritz recorded the biggest win of his career on Thursday at the Memphis Open, defeating No. 2 seed Steve Johnson 7-6(5), 7-6(7) to move into the quarterfinals.

The 18-year-old Fritz recovered after being broken in the first game of the all-American affair.

“It’s funny because we practice with each other all the time, and he always breaks me in the first game,” Fritz said. “I guess we had to get that out of the way. Usually when I practice with him, I don’t do so well. I usually don’t win.”

On Friday the American teen will face unseeded German Benjamin Becker.

No. 3-seeded Donald Young was also a winner on Thursday in Memphis, topping Spain’s Marcel Granollers 6-1, 7-6(2). Young on Friday with meet Lithuania’s unseeded Ricardas Berankis, while No. 4 seed Sam Querrey will face Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishoka.

Venus Williams is the lone American remaining at the Taiwan Open, on Friday moving into the semifinals after a 7-5, 6-2 win over unseeded Latvian Anastasija Sevastova.

“I didn’t think about the set points, I just tried to not lose the set,” said Williams who was down 2-5 in the first set. “But she was playing really well and was very determined so it wasn’t easy to play her. From there, I think the experience really helped me and there was a lot of pressure on her. I just tried to do whatever was winning! If it’s not working you change it — so that’s the strategy.”

In the Saturday semis she will meet No. 3 seed Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.

They Said It

Madison-Keys-dress2“I tried to play it off. Then I was crying.”
Madison Keys on an off-court slip and fall that delayed the start of her 2016 season, speaking to TENNIS magazine

“Before I just let people kind of float the ball back and then I’d restart the point. You have to come in to finish a lot of points at the net. I’m getting better at it.”
— American and former world No. 1 Taylor Fritz on tweaking his game to compete at the pro level after winning his first round this week at the ATP Memphis event

“Well I have this inspiration called Serena Williams! So that helps a lot.”
Venus Williams on what she attributes her enduring success to

Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

4am-8pm — ATP Rotterdam, WTA St. Pete (live/delay), Tennis Channel
8:30pm-12am — ATP Memphis (live), Tennis Channel

6am-7pm — ATP Rotterdam, WTA St. Pete (live/delay), Tennis Channel
7-8:30pm — WTA St. Pete (delay), Tennis Channel
8:30-10:30pm — ATP Memphis (live), Tennis Channel

8:30am-2pm — ATP Rotterdam, WTA St. Pete (live/delay), Tennis Channel
2:30-4pm — WTA St. Pete (delay), Tennis Channel
4-6pm — ATP Memphis (live), Tennis Channel