February 6th, 2015

Friday Tennis Blog: USTA PD Search; Serena, Fish at Indian Wells

Friday Blog

mcenroe patrickUSTA PD SEARCH CONTINUES — The USTA national body is in no hurry to replace outgoing head of professional development Patrick McEnroe, and that’s a good thing according to a lengthy story in USA Today regarding the importance of the position moving forward. Reportedly more than 20 candidates have applied for the position, with popular names such as James Blake, current U.S Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez, and former USTA coach Martin Blackman being bandied about. Working closer with the private sector remains a hot topic. “The concept of inclusiveness and building a better relationship with the private sector is so important,” the USTA’s Chris Widmaier said. “That’s what our goal is and has been Patrick’s goal.” McEnroe shared the story of meeting with the USTA Board around the 2013 French Open, being told he needed to better reach out to private coaches. “I got my ass kicked in that meeting,” McEnroe said. “I went back to my team and said that we have to step up. It was a reality check.” McEnroe leaves his post with fewer overall American pros in the Top 100, but with more U.S. juniors in the international Top 100 rankings than when he started in the position. At the Aussie Open the U.S. men struggled with only five players making the main draw, but U.S. women thrived with 16 in the draw, Madison Keys reaching the semifinals, and Serena Williams taking the title.

Mardy Fish (left) and Andy Roddick cutting it up in their Davis Cup playing days

Mardy Fish (left) and Andy Roddick cutting it up in their Davis Cup playing days

Mardy Fish
, who left pro tennis in 2013 to pursue a golf career, announced he will return to the ATP World Tour in March, taking a wildcard at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. The 33-year-old, who reached No. 7 in the rankings in 2011, stopped playing due to a combination of physical and psychological issues related to a heart condition. To warm-up for his return, the Florida native is playing doubles with former coach Mark Knowles this week at the Dallas Challenger. Last year Fish competed in golf qualifying events for both the U.S. Open golf tournament and on the Web.com Tour. In June of last year he underwent a cardiac catheter ablation to address misfiring electrical pulses in his heart, describing his ailment as “a daily struggle and a daily battle” that could now be behind him. Fish tried to make a doubles comeback at the US Open last year with pal Andy Roddick but the two could not meet the tournament’s drug-testing window. There will be a slew of new American faces in the desert as Serena Williams also announced she will return to Indian Wells in a column in Time magazine after a 13-year absence.

FSU girl
The Florida State women’s tennis team is one of the top teams in the state, but perhaps No. 1 when it comes to promotion and public relations. In January the team announced their newest recruit — 11-year-old Tallahassee player Grace Kerwin, who suffers from Juvenile Dermatomyositis. Kerwin received FSU team gear and sat in front of cameras and microphones for her own “signing day” experience. “My reaction was that I was so happy that my face was smiling without my brain telling it to do that,” said the wheelchair-bound Kerwin said. This month the team announced it will this weekend host a Military Appreciation Clinic for current military members or veterans and their families at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center. “Our whole team and staff will be out to hit,” said head coach Jennifer Hyde of the community outreach. “We are looking forward to having a laid back and lazy evening with some of the people that protect our country and support our tennis program.” FSU has a long history of community service from the women’s team, including hosting Special Olympics Tennis events and community building projects.

U.S. Fed Cup Weekend; ATP Memphis Next Week

Two team wins, and the U.S. is back in the World Group I of Fed Cup for 2016.

It starts this weekend when Serena Williams and sister Venus, CoCo Vandeweghe and former world No. 1 junior Taylor Townsend face Argentina in World Group II play in Buenos Aires. The winner will advance to the World Group Playoffs on April 18-19 and a chance to regain a place in the top World Group I for 2016.

Vandeweghe replaced Madison Keys (leg injury sustained at the Australian Open) on the team, while Townsend replaced Varvara Lepchenko (recovering from illness). The U.S. will compete in World Group II in 2015 for just the second time since the World Group format was instituted in 1995.

Nations in World Group I first-round play competing for the 2015 Fed Cup title are:

Czech Republic at Canada (without Eugenie Bouchard)
France (Alize Cornet, Caroline Garcia) at Italy (Sara Errani, Camila Giorgi)
Russia (Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova) at Poland (the Radwanska sisters)
Australia (Sam Stosur, Casey Dellacqua) at Germany (Angie Kerber, Sabine Lisicki)

Next week begins the indoor season on the ATP World Tour, with the Memphis Open and the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and a claycourt event in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Memphis will feature Kei Nishikori and Americans John Isner and Steve Johnson among the seeded players, with Florida’s Stefan Kozlov and fellow American Jared Donaldson receiving wildcards.

Next week’s events on the WTA circuit will be the BNP Paribas Fortis Diamond Games in Belgium, and the PTT Thailand Open in Pattaya City.

They Said It

Madison Keys (photo: Jose Medina)

Madison Keys (photo: Jose Medina)

“I just threw up, and I had to run back on the court, and I thought, ‘I’ve got to hit an ace.’ For me there’s no other option. That’s my game.”
Serena Williams on the rain delay and feeling sick during the Australian Open final

“Madison doesn’t do well with yellers. She shuts down, so I thought Lindsay would be soft-spoken and everything.”
Madison Keys’ agent Max Eisenbud on setting her up with coach Lindsay Davenport

“Somebody like Martina Navratilova or Chris Evert — and Martina likes to criticize a lot of the players today, I don’t understand why — but I watched the documentary about them. And they are very nice to each other now. But back then? Ooh, there was some stuff going on.”
Victoria Azarenka on how WTA players nowadays are more civil to each other, speaking to the New York Times


Tennis on TV This Weekend

TV multi colorFriday
1-4pm — ATP Montpellier (delay), Tennis Channel
4-8pm — ATP Zagreb (delay), Tennis Channel

6-8:30am — Fed Cup, Russia v Poland (live), Tennis Channel
8pm-midnight — Fed Cup, U.S. v Argentina (delay), Tennis Channel

6-8:30am — Fed Cup, Russia v Poland (live), Tennis Channel
3-8pm — Fed Cup, Russia v Poland (delay), Tennis Channel
8pm-midnight — Fed Cup, U.S. v Argentina (delay), Tennis Channel