May 12th, 2017

Friday Tennis Blog: Serena Gets Disney Sneak Peek; Sandgren Won’t Cut Lucky Locks

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Broward County, last year’s USTA Florida League Championship Cup winner, gave a not-so-subtle reminder to rival counties by brandishing the Cup as last week’s USTA Florida 55 & Over 3.0/4.0 League Sectional Championships at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.

“We love the USTA Florida League Championship Cup, this is something that really motivates the clubs and the captains and the players,” said Midtown Athletic Club (Weston, Fla.) Director of Adult Tennis Ismael Rosales earlier this year.

The Cup intimidation seemed to do its job as a Broward County team (Tennis Center at Quigley Park, Parkland) walked away with the Adult 55 & Over Men’s 4.0 sectional title, advancing to USTA League Nationals. To see the latest 2017 USTA Florida League Championship Cup Standings click here.



“Depending on which sport a high school athlete plays, it can be them against the world for a college athletic scholarship.” Division I college tennis has by far the most international players on rosters compared to any other sport, according to a just-released story, and stats from

Many in the undustry are of the belief that even these numbers are underrepresented. “If you look across the board, the best [tennis] teams in the nation — Oklahoma, TCU, Baylor — 99 percent of the players are not from America,” University of Texas-Arlington coach Diego Benitez told the school’s newspaper. “They’re Europeans or foreigners.”

“Every member of the No. 9 [ranked] University of Miami team [in 2015 was] an international,” noted the University of Georgia’s school paper a couple years ago. A number of other Florida schools have had all-international starting rosters over the last few years. The National Junior College Athletic Association’s board of directors got it right, voting to limit international player scholarships to no more than one-fourth of a team’s allotment. Until that happens at the Div. I-III levels, American juniors players will continue to be at a disadvantage vs. The World, and American colleges and universities will continue to shutter men’s and women’s tennis programs, asking themselves why they’re funding a sports program for an ever-increasing number of international students.



Serena Williams got a sneak peek at Pandora — The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom this week. The pregnant still-No. 1 player explored the newest-themed land, which won’t open until May 27. Serena, who hasn’t played since January, will finally lose the No. 1 ranking to Angelique Kerber come Monday…Team USA and fans have Steve Johnson in their thoughts after the sudden death of his father…Florida’s Brittany Tagliareni was 9 when she was diagnosed with autism. Now she’s beating men in tennis tournaments, and tennis is helping her sociability skills…You have Davis Cup, the International Premier Tennis League, the new Laver Cup — now players and organizers want to add yet another new international team event to the crowded tennis schedule…USTA Florida lost two staunch volunteers when Rollie Shea and Hugh Waters III recently passed. Shea was a past USTA Florida president and award-winning official, and Waters was a tennis director and teaching pro in Central Florida. Waters’ wife, Paddi Valentine, said “He wanted to help everyone play tennis and wanted to have all Americans playing tennis. His solution to the southern border was that we should put up tennis courts all across the border and have seniors playing — from America and from Mexico and Honduras, etc. He thought any bad guys would get mesmerized and stop and play, making the world a better place!”


Last American Exits Thursday at Madrid

Coco Vandeweghe

No. 3-seeded Simona Halep looked every bit the defending champion on Thursday in Madrid where she defeated CoCo Vandeweghe, the last American standing in the women’s or men’s draw, 6-1, 6-1 to move into the semifinals at the Mutua Madrid Open.

“I was a little bit nervous, to be honest, before the match, because she has a big serve,” Halep said of Vandeweghe. “It’s always tough to play with someone who has a big serve…I knew that I have to play fast, to make her move, to hit from distance. I tried also to be more aggressive from her second serve.”

The American men and women next move on to the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. Jim Courier and Pete Sampras combined for three straight Rome titles from 1992-94, and the American men will look to raise their first trophy on the Italian red clay since Andre Agassi in 2002. Serena Williams will miss Rome this year due to the impending birth of her first child. She beat Madison Keys in last year’s final, and has raised the trophy in three of the last five years in Rome.


They Said It

Tennys Sandgren 

“It’s been over three years since my last haircut for length, and I am keeping it going because you never know how long you got until you start losing it. The mustache has kind of been my good luck charm this year. It’s been working for me, so I’m going to keep it going.”
— USTA Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge winner Tennys Sandgren

“I was actually quite inspired before the match because I had a lot of players coming up to me privately wishing me good luck, players I don’t normally speak to…It showed me that most people have my opinion, and they were just maybe scared to speak out.”
Genie Bouchard after defeating Maria Sharapova, recently returned from a doping suspension, at the WTA event in Madrid

“Most things weren’t working particularly well.”
— World No. 1 Andy Murray, upset yesterday in Madrid by No. 59-ranked Borna Coric


Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

6am — ATP Madrid (live), Tennis Channel
8am — WTA Madrid (live), beIN Sports

10am — ATP Madrid (live), Tennis Channel
1pm — WTA Madrid final (live), beIN Sports
3:30pm — ATP Madrid (live), Tennis Channel

8am — ATP Rome (live), Tennis Channel
noon — ATP Madrid (live), Tennis Channel