The “Home of American Tennis” in the Lake Nona area of Orlando received a new name and a cleared plot of land on Wednesday when the groundbreaking took place for what will become the 103-court USTA National Campus. “We will have some of our league championships come here,” said national USTA President Katrina Adams, who was on hand with U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier and local dignitaries. “We hope to have maybe a Fed Cup or Davis Cup competition here in the future.” Next to Lake Nona’s Medical City, the USTA National Campus will be the anchor for other sports organizations and what will develop into innovative cutting-edge sports science research to benefit U.S. tennis and other sports. “We’re going to build you an entire sports and innovation cluster,” said Rasesh Thakkar, senior managing director of Tavistock Group which developed Lake Nona. “Together with the families of the USTA, we are launching what we think is the perfect partner to our Medical City.”
Caroline Wozniacki doesn’t need “bestie” Serena Williams to paint the town — or the U.S. On Monday the Dane featured at the White House Easter Egg Roll with President Barack Obama other other WTA and ATP players, then hopped a plane to Indianapolis where she watched Duke beat Wisconsin in the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship game with NFL star JJ Watt (a Wisconsin alum). The former No. 1 came from the Miami Open the previous week, during which on April Fools Day she tweeted how she was retiring from tennis to pursue modeling — so convincingly that media outlets such as E! News forgot it was April 1 and contacted her agent for confirmation. As her former beau Rory McIlroy tees off at the Masters, Wozniacki can’t be missed in the U.S. news. It was one year ago that Wozniacki dyed her hair pink while caddying for McIlroy at Augusta.
U.S. tennis prodigy Frances (not Francis) Tiafoe turned pro this week, signing a representational contract with the Roc Nation agency, owned by rapper Jay-Z. The 17-year-old, the first tennis player on the Roc Nation sports roster, last month won his first minor-league pro title on the USTA Pro Circuit, and currently sits at a career-high No. 520 on the ATP Rankings. Tiafoe spent Monday at the White House Easter Egg Roll, and will next week compete in the Sarasota Open. “Tiafoe’s personal charisma and the improbable circumstances of his success make his marketing potential obvious,” wrote Grantland. Jay-Z personally courted the 6-foot Tiafoe, and Roc Nation after the signing changed his first-name spelling to “Frances,” his given birth name. Apparently his name was misspelled on a tournament entry form early in his career and never corrected, according to the Washington Post.
Keys vs. Davis at Family Circle Cup; Isner Upset in Houston
Florida’s Madison Keys and Lauren Davis are the two Americans remaining in the quarterfinals of the Family Circle Cup, and they will face each other on Friday in Charleston.
The No. 7-seeded Keys on Thursday eased past unseeded Romanian Andreea Mitu 6-2, 6-0, while Davis received a break when her No. 15-seeded opponent Mona Barthel retired trailing 6-4, 3-0.
Davis in the second round recorded her biggest win of the year when she upended No. 1 seed Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-1.
“I love this tournament,” said Davis, who is appearing in her second Premier-level quarterfinal after Eastbourne last year. “It’s an amazing tournament. I love the support. And I feel really comfortable on the clay — I feel like I’m sliding well and that my game really suits it well.”
Keys and Davis are tied in their career head-to-head 2-2.
“We know each other really well,” Davis said. “For about a year and a half we shared the same coach, and then she ended up going with Lindsay [Davenport], so I’m still with the same coach. But I think we know each other’s games like the back of our hands, so it will all come down to who’s more competitive.”
At the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston on Thursday, unseeded Jack Sock joined fellow American Sam Querrey in the quarterfinals, while No. 4 John Isner was upset by Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-2, 7-6(2).
Sock upset No. 2 seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4, to set up a Friday quarterfinal meeting with No. 5 seed Santiago Giraldo.
“I was able to dictate play with my forehand,” Sock said. “There were tricky conditions today, wind and sun, but I was able to get through some tricky service games. To not get broken against a guy like that is good confidence for me.”
The No. 8-seeded Querrey on Friday will face top-seeded Feliciano Lopez.
They Said It
“I sound like I’m talking about a girlfriend.”
— Jack Sock in the midst of trying to explain his winning doubles chemistry with Canadian Vasek Pospisil
“I really, really feel sorry and I regret that he was there. There was absolutely no intention whatsoever to hurt him or scare him in any kind of way, and I sincerely hope that he forgives me.”
— Novak Djokovic, apologizing on his website to a ball boy who got caught in the middle of his tantrum aimed at his coach’s box during the Miami Open final
“Obviously, anyone that wins the Australian Open wants to win a Grand Slam. I’ve won the Australian Open six times, and I have not done that yet. I’m not saying this is the year or not the year. Who knows?”
— Serena Williams on her chances of winning all four Slams in 2015
Tennis on TV This Weekend
(times subject to change)
1-3pm — WTA Charleston (live), ESPN2
2-6pm — ATP Houston (live), Tennis Channel
6:30-8pm — ATP Houston (live), Tennis Channel
7-10:30am — WTA Katowice (delay), Tennis Channel
1-3pm — WTA Charleston (live), ESPN2
3-5pm — ATP Houston (live), Tennis Channel