May 20th, 2016

Friday Tennis Blog: Miraculous USTA League Story; French Draws; More

Adult Leagues Friday Blog Adult Tennis News Wheelchair Tennis


Paul-KneuerPaul Kneuer of Jensen Beach, Fla., won his local league championship and competed in the USTA Florida 40 & Over League Sectional Championships last weekend. Not that unusual, until you learn he was years earlier stabbed 11 times and left for dead in a horrifying home invasion. Partially paralyzed, he took to tennis as rehabilitation after watching his wife compete. “My injuries left me unstable with my balance, but getting out on the courts three times a week helped me to see improvement,” the 55-year-old Jensen said. “It enabled me to meet wonderful and supportive people on the courts.” Kneuer has one word for what tennis has come to mean. “Salvation!” he says. “Always being athletically inclined, my only regret was not picking up the sport at an earlier age.” His wife, Yolande “Yo” Kneuer, played tennis in college and marvels that her husband has advanced to two league sectionals championships while she is still striving to reach her first. “Paul’s special journey is a testimony to having tennis as a lifetime and life-giving sport, considering his 30 percent paralysis,” she says. “He has very quick hands at the net and an ever-so-famous slice. His never-ending desire and efforts to improve his game constantly impresses everyone of all levels.”


Bryans romeWhatever it takes to win, the Bryan brothers have found that spark again after a slow start to the season. In Rome last week they lifted their third title of the year in their last five events, beating fellow American Jack Sock and Canada’s Vasek Pospisil in a third-set super-tiebreak in the final. The twins attributed the win to rooming together, coffee, and some choice words from their coach. “The rain delay definitely helped us,” Mike Bryan said. “Our coach (David Macpherson) was back in the locker room, where we had about 15 minutes, and he said, ‘Fire it up!’ We were kind of flat in the first set and weren’t playing with a lot of energy.” Bob Bryan had finally gotten to sleep around 3 a.m. that morning after a late-night match. “We were kind of dazed and confused,” Mike said of their sluggishness on court. Bob said that Mike contributed to the problem with some snoring. “We’re sharing a room this week,” Bob said. “I fell asleep around 2:45 a.m., because Mike started snoring. We drank so much coffee last night that I was wired. It was a 12-hour turnaround. Our bodies don’t turn around quickly anymore.” Now with one week rest they will concentrate on turning around again for a potential third career French Open title and first since 2013.


US Open selfieApproximately 85 percent of the entire USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center grounds have been upgraded as part of the transformation for the 2016 US OpenNona Vibe magazine showed some updated aerial shots of the USTA National Campus build in the Lake Nona area of Orlando…More Qs and more As about the USTA National Campus…While there has been no decision yet from Maria Sharapova’s doping hearing, Russian officials are speculating she may retire…Want to help fix some tennis courts in Eatonville, an in-need suburb of Orlando?…A New York teen is the first wheelchair player to make a high school tennis team in the state…Barnstormers, narrated by Robert Redford, will be an inside look at the birth of professional tennis from its rough-and-tumble beginnings…Donald Young can’t string a racquet, but he can make you a breakfast burrito…From Masters Tennis to POP Tennis to Pickleball, there’s lots of games for all ages…The Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe movie is a go, and Shia LaBeouf will play McEnroe in the movie documenting their monumental 1980 Wimbledon final…Serena Williams wouldn’t crack the Top 500 on the men’s tour (??), and Maria Sharapova is the biggest “diva,” according to an ESPN player poll…If Novak Djokovic can win his first French Open title it would be his fourth straight Slam win, something only Rod Laver has accomplished on the men’s side…Roger Federer will miss the French Open, ending the record streak of 65 straight Grand Slam tournaments played. Can Rafa control his anxiety to win another French?

Lepchenko Last American Standing on Tour This Week

Varvara Lepchenko

Varvara Lepchenko

Unseeded American Varvara Lepchenko is the last American remaining entering the weekend at the Nurnberber Versicherungs Cup 2016 in Nurnberg, Germany.

On Thursday her match with unseeded Colombian Mariana Duque-Marino was postponed due to darkness, so if she is victorious in her rain-delayed quarterfinal on Friday morning, she will turn around in the afternoon and face No. 3-seeded German Annika Beck.

The other semifinal in Nurnberg will feature Dutch qualifier Kiki Bertens, who beat Irina Falconi when the American retired with an ankle sprain, against unseeded German Julia Goerges.

American Men’s, Women’s Draws at the French Open

The men’s and women’s draws were released this morning at Roland Garros, here are the first-round match-ups for the American men and women:



John Isner

(15) John Isner (USA) vs. John Millman (AUS)
(23) Jack Sock (USA) vs. Robin Haase (NED)
Brian Baker (USA) vs. (20) Bernard Tomic (AUS)
Steve Johnson (USA) vs. (21) Feliciano Lopez (ESP)
Taylor Fritz (USA) vs. Borna Coric (CRO)
Rajeev Ram (USA) vs. Jiri Vesely (CZE)
Denis Kudla (USA) vs. Dusa Lajovic (SRB)
Donald Young (USA) vs. Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS)
Sam Querrey (USA) vs. Bjorn Fratangelo (USA)


(1) Serena Williams (USA) vs. Magdalena Rybarikova (SLO)
(9) Venus Williams (USA) vs. Anett Kontaveit (EST)
(15) Madison Keys (USA) vs. Donna Vekic (CRO)
(19) Sloane Stephens (USA) vs. Margarita Gasparyan (RUS)
Samantha Crawford (USA) vs. Timea Babos (HUN)
Lauren Davis (USA) vs. Qualifier
Irina Falconi (USA) vs. Mona Barthel (GER)
CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) vs. Naomi Broady (GBR)
Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) vs. (25) Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU)
Shelby Rogers (USA) vs. (17) Karolina Pliskova (CZE)
Madison Brengle (USA) vs. Elina Vesnina (RUS)
Nicole Gibbs (USA) vs. Heather Watson (GBR)
Varvara Lepchenko (USA) vs. (27) Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)
Christina McHale (USA) vs. (WC) Myrtille Georges (FRA)
Alison Riske (USA) vs. Qualifier
(WC) Taylor Townsend (USA) vs. (WC) Amandine Hesse (FRA)

They Said It

Keys on clay

Madison Keys

“He’s won junior French, and he’s obsessed with red clay. He’s a weirdo.”
Madison Keys on fellow American Bjorn Fratangelo

“Maybe you have to pay the top four [women], from the semifinal and final, as much as the men. But maybe the rest are not so interesting, to pay them the same kind of money.”
— ATP/WTA Madrid tournament owner Ion Tiriac sharing his view on (un)equal pay to the New York Times

“People are celebrating Olympic champion winners, but we are sitting crazy and replacing their urine. Can you imagine how Olympic sport is organized?”
Grigory Rodchenkov, who ran the Russian anti-doping sports lab, on the state-run effort to replace tainted urine samples of Russian athletes during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, speaking to the New York Times

Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

Featured_TV graphicFriday
1-8pm — French Open qualifying rounds (delay), Tennis Channel

1-11am — French Open qualifying rounds (delay), Tennis Channel

5am-3pm — French Open (live), Tennis Channel