U.S. to Again Face Italy in Fed Cup
U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez hoped to draw a comfortable home tie when the match-ups for the Fed Cup World Group Playoffs were announced today, but the news was the opposite — a difficult away tie at Italy to determine which team will advance to the upper-echelon World Group I for 2016.
Italy has won the four most recent meetings between the two teams over the last six years, with Fernandez hoping for another commitment from the Williams sisters for the April 18-19 meeting in two months time. The Italians in the coming months will announce the venue and the surface for the encounter.
The Italians most notably beat the U.S. in back-to-back finals in 2009-10. The Italian team is bolstered by veterans Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, who also comprise one of the top doubles teams in the world, and rising star Camila Giorgi.
The U.S. advanced to the World Group Playoffs round after defeating Argentina 4-1, led by Venus and Serena Williams. Italy fell into the World Group Playoff round after losing first round in World Group I play, bowing to France 3-2 after leading the tie 2-0 after day one.
The U.S. leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup championships, but a U.S. win over Italy would end a 16-year winless drought against the Italians.
Academia Sanchez Casal to Host USTA Florida Kids Team Tennis Challenge in March
USTA Florida will kick off the Team Tennis Challenge Spring Series at Academia Sanchez Casal in Naples on March 14-15, 2015 for players between 7-18 years of age.
The event is “BYOT” (bring your own team), and teams do not need to have prior history in a local league to participate. USTA members and non-members are invited to participate, and all players will receive a complimentary lunch on Saturday during the event.
“USTA Florida Team Tennis Challenges offer fewer restrictions, allowing more teams to participate,” said USTA Florida Associate Executive Director Andy McFarland. “They also give players who are not yet USTA members the opportunity to experience our events and programs, while offering a clear value proposition for our junior members.”
The two-day tournament will host divisions that will include 10-under advanced, 11-14, and 14-18, with three skill divisions: novice, intermediate and advanced. All age 11 to 18 intermediate/advanced teams need a minimum of two boys and two girls. 10-under advanced and all novice teams are gender-blind with a minimum of four players and a maximum of eight players.
The 10-under age advanced division teams will play with the green-dot ball on a full-size court. Players ages 10 or younger must play in their natural age division. The green-dot ball will also be used in the older novice age divisions.
Registration is now open for the event and coaches are encouraged to register teams early. The cost for early registration is just $25 for USTA members and $35 for non-members. Prices will increase two weeks prior to the event. Facilities and coaches who bring teams to the event will receive special incentives.
March 14-15, 2015
Academia Sanchez Casal
4995 Airport Pulling Rd N.
Naples, FL 34105
Free Tennis Block Party at Mal Washington Center in Jacksonville; Download the Mal App!
The MaliVai Washington Youth Center in Jacksonville, Fla., will host a FREE Tennis Block Party on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015 from 9-10 a.m. for 4-6 year olds, from 10-11 a.m. for 6-8 year olds, and from 11 a.m.-noon for 8-11 year olds.
All skill levels are welcome, and parents can join in an adult clinic while the kids are playing.
Pre-registration is required by calling (904) 359-5437. The MaliVai Washington Youth Center is located at 1096 West 6th Street, Jacksonville, Fla., 32209.
For more info go to www.MalWashington.com.
Former Tampa Resident, World No. 4 Blake Named USTA Foundation Chairman
Former world No. 4-ranked James Blake, who resided in Tampa during much of his playing days on tour, was announced this week by the USTA national body as the new chairman of the board of directors for the USTA Foundation, the national charitable organization of the United States Tennis Association.
Blake will serve as the Foundation’s spokesperson and ambassador to promote the mission and impact of its national outreach efforts, providing tennis and education opportunities to under-resourced youth and individuals with disabilities. He succeeds former pro, longtime tennis journalist and Naples, Fla., resident Mary Carillo, who served as chairwoman from 2009 to 2014.
“I admire the Foundation’s pursuit to support the combination of tennis and education and the impact it has on so many youth around the country,” Blake said. “I grew up playing tennis at a young age and participated in a National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) program. It was there that I learned the value and influence tennis can add to my life while being encouraged to stay academically focused. It’s through the support of the USTA Foundation where students today are given the same opportunities.”
Blake’s professional career spanned 14 years, in which he won 10 ATP singles titles, seven doubles titles and a Davis Cup championship. He also reached the semifinals of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and climbed to a career-best No. 4 in the world, ranking as the top American during that time. Blake attended Harvard University, where he became the No. 1 player in the nation and acquired numerous accolades including ITA All-American, first team All Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis Association (EITA) honors and EITA/Ivy Rookie of the Year, to name a few.
He began playing tennis at the age of 5, where he attended the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program (HJTEP), an NJTL program in New York City supported by the USTA Foundation. It was there where he heard Arthur Ashe speak to a group of kids that inspired him to pursue the sport of tennis.
A Yonkers, N.Y., native, Blake created the Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Cancer Research Fund at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in 2004. He runs an annual celebrity tennis and entertainment event, Serving for a Cure, to raise funds for cancer research and prevention. He lives in Connecticut with his wife Emily and daughters Riley and Emma.