May 16th, 2014
Friday Tennis Blog: Serena Last Standing in Rome; USTA Home in Orlando
Mardy Fish is playing golf. Not the kind of golf you and I play (Putt-putt?), or Pete Sampras, who is rumored to be one of pro tennis’ best golfers for that matter, or any retired pro. But the kind of golf that may soon have him on TV again, but this time not sliding around on a claycourt. Two years removed from the ATP circuit after heart issues and self-described “personal demons,” the Florida-raised former tennis pro is now playing professional golf events, last week shooting a 73 at TPC Valencia outside L.A. in a U.S. Open local qualifier earlier. Now he’s the first alternate for golf’s U.S. Open. “Does anyone know what it means to be a first alternate in US Open local qualifying???” Fish wrote on social meda. “Cause I definitely don’t. Haha.” Finding golf a whole new ball game compared to professional tennis, Fish told the USGA, “I always told myself [in a tennis match], ‘Work hard the next 15, 20 minutes and you’ll be in the locker room with a win.’ You just can’t do that out here.” One thing he could do is become the first player since the modern pro tennis tour was established in 1968 to compete at both tennis’ and golf’s U.S. Open.
Plans for the “New Home of American Tennis” were unveiled on Wednesday in the Lake Nona region of Orlando, where 270,000 square feet of wilderness will be transformed into a 100+ court complex that will serve as the new center for USTA Professional Development, USTA Community Tennis and more. USTA Florida will offer an inside look at the complex and what it will mean for American tennis in an upcoming edition of the “Game Changer” blog, with interviews and insight from the movers and shakers that brought the project to fruition. “The options and the range of things we can do here with having so many courts, the different size [60-foot and 36-foot] courts as well, I think it’s a watershed moment for American tennis,” USTA General Manager, Player Development, Patrick McEnroe told USTA Florida.
Congratulations to the many volunteer heroes who had tennis centers in Pensacola back up and running in the week after hurricane-strength rains and wind ripped through the Florida Panhandle, stripping some clay courts down to the plumbing underneath. Some areas received approximately 30 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. “At Roger Scott Tennis Center we had over 30 volunteers turn out manning brooms, shovels, rakes, pressure washers and wheel barrows,” said USTA Florida Local League Coordinator Terry Thrash. “At first I was looking at suspending USTA League tennis but our tennis community joined together and produced a minor miracle….there will be no cancelled scheduled matches, all will be made up.” Days later, more than 400 youngsters were competing in junior team tennis activities and adults were active on all 18 of the hardcourts. “They just love the game,” Susan Bonsignori, a Roger Scott staffer, told the Pensacola News-Journal. “I don’t know how we did it, but we’re going to be playing matches Monday morning.”
Serena Still Standing Tall in Rome, Ties Active Wins Record
Serena Williams is the last American woman (or man) standing on Friday at the Italian Open in Rome after defeating fellow American Varvara Lepchenko 6-1, 6-2 on Thursday in third-round play.
Serena’s win tied her with sister Venus for most career match wins among active players, as each now have 652 career wins.
Also alive Thursday was American qualifier Chrisina McHale, who lost 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 to China’s Zhang Shuai.
Serena on Friday will face Shuai for a spot in the semifinals.
Also to be played on Friday in the quarterfinals are Li Na vs. Sara Errani, Carla Suarez Navarro vs. Ana Ivanovic, and Jelena Jankovic vs. Agnieszka Radwanska.
They Said It
“Tennis is a family. I try to get along with everyone. I don’t have beef with anyone. In fact, I actually miss people. When I see people in Australia, I’m like, ‘Hi!’ because we haven’t seen each other for a while. It’s a super-small world and it’s awesome.”
— Serena Williams speaking to Sports Illustrated
“It will have an impact on tennis on every level from recreation up to the professional ranks. Virtually every level of tennis can be serviced from this facility.”
— USTA National President and Board Chairman Dave Haggerty on the new $60 million “Home for American Tennis” to be built in Orlando in 2015-16
“I’m overweight, but I’m very comfortable with myself. People have a tendency to act like you don’t know what you’re talking about because of your issues. I’ve done a good job of getting Taylor to understand that she should be comfortable with who she is.”
— Former WTA player Zina Garrison on her prodigy Taylor Townsend, who will this month compete in her first French Open after winning the USTA Har-Tru French Open Wild Card Challenge
Tennis on TV This Weekend
6am-4:30pm — ATP/WTA Rome (live), Tennis Channel
7:30am-12:30pm — ATP/WTA Rome (live), Tennis Channel
Post your thoughts below on the top happenings this week in tennis