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USTA FL Friday Blog: Tennis-filled Weekend, Davis Cup on TV

November 15, 2013 09:33 AM
Former No. 1 and Florida resident Maria Sharapova will serve as a correspondent for NBC's U.S. coverage of the Sochi Olympics in February 2014, drawing on her experience of living in Sochi until age 6. "Maria transcends sports as one of the world's most recognizable stars," said Jim Bell, executive producer of NBC Olympics. "Growing up in Sochi until she was six years old and with family and friends still living in the area, Maria will offer a unique and personal perspective on a place she knows so well." -- I personally can't remember if I was able to function without a diaper when I was 6, much less draw on the experience of the community I was living in. Sharapova also told E!, "The Olympic experience is unlike anything else, and as a past Olympian it means even more to me for the games to be hosted in such a remarkable place."

It was roughly one year ago when current Tigers Woods flame Lindsey Vonn requested to ski against the men at the Alpine World Cup. Billie Jean King loved the idea, and says we need to see more girls against the boys. "When [Annika Sorenstam] played on the PGA, I watched that weekend," King said. "She was in every single frame for two days. She never gets that. We never get that kind of attention in women's sports. Because 95 percent of the media is controlled by men, if we get into their arena, then we finally get some attention. Otherwise, on our own, we don't get the attention. But if she would go up against the men, I guarantee you she would get 20, 30, 40 times the attention. Just with the attention, with all the branding that's going on today, you have to ask yourself a lot of different questions. When I played [Bobby] Riggs, I didn't have to deal with all that."

USTA Florida staff and volunteers will be at the Miami Dolphins game this Sunday, with mini-courts outside the stadium for youth and adult players, and spreading the word of new parent resources for raising "principle-centered athletes who win at life, not just at sports." The short-court tennis is part of USTA Florida's "Tenis para Todos" initiative to increase participation of South Florida's Hispanic community members in the "sport of a lifetime." The parent info is through a partnership with David Benzel and the "Growing Champions for Life" web content, since parents need positive strategies just like athletes do.

No word on whether Florida's Mardy Fish will be able to return to the tour in 2013 after a heart condition and its effect on his psyche sidelined him for most of this year, but he is playing golf -- professionally. This fall he trained for three weeks before playing two events on the lower-level All-American Gateway Tour developmental circuit, where he came up short of making the cut at the two events. For the time being he remains mum on returning to tennis, and about pursuing golf full-time...USA Today is reporting that the ATP London Queen's Club Tournament Director Chris Kermode will be named the new ATP CEO. Unhappy with the choice are Brits who noted the LTA (British Lawn Tennis Association) wouldn't event give Kermode a sniff, saying he is now the one that got away...Andy Murray is sidelined after back surgery, but took some shots this week at fellow players Marin Cilic and Viktor Troicki, calling them "unprofessional" in running afoul of tennis' drug testing with their doping suspensions. Murray told the BBC there "almost has to be zero tolerance," adding "Whether either player was intentionally cheating or not -- we don't know that, and I don't think either of them are like that -- but both of them were unprofessional."...Richard Gasquet had one of his best season in years, finishing in the Top 8 and contesting the ATP year-end championships, but apparently it didn't impress his coach. After losing his first two round robin matches and failing to qualify for the semifinals in London, his coach Riccardo Piatti ended their 2 years relationship. Gasquet would not elaborate on Piatti's reasons or the exit...Lindsey Vonn also thinks she can beat Roger Federer...at golf.

Tennis_Magazine_CoverTENNIS Magazine's 'The Heroes Issue' Highlights Floridians

TENNIS magazine's special edition "Heroes of Tennis" November/December 2013 issue showcases a number of Florida organizations and individuals.

Under "Making a Difference," highlighting "organizations throughout the nation that are impacting lives," the Lee County Community Tennis Association was noted for its contributions to youth. The Southwest Florida volunteer organization was established in 1955 by local tennis professionals to offer safe after-school tennis programs for latch-key kids in Lee County. TENNIS writes, "It has since expanded its services to include numerous tennis programs for kids of all ages and ability levels. The LCCTA and Lee County Parks and Recreation continue a successful partnership that develops and manages tennis programs to all Lee County Public courts, with a mission to promote the growth of tennis. Boasting a membership of more than 1,000, the LCCTA has a detailed plan of action in place to ultimately become a tennis destination for residents and visitors, as well as state and nationally-ranked players."

Also highlighted was Jacksonville's MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation (recently renamed the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation), with TENNIS noting it "promotes academic achievement and positive life skills to Jacksonville youth through the game of tennis. By correlating success on the court with success in life, the organization helps foster leadership, sportsmanship, self-esteem, confidence, discipline, accountability and the value of hard work, teamwork and individual effort. Founded in 1994 by former Wimbledon finalist MaliVai Washington, the foundation programs have touched the lives of more than 14,000 youth. Services range from after-school programs to partner programs with other youth-serving agencies to introductory clinics for the general public. The organization reaches about 2,000 kids each year at six sites. All programs are provided free of charge."

The Tampa-based Tennis for Fun program was also noted as a Heroe of Tennis. A free weekly tennis clinic available to athletes with special needs, it is a volunteer organization that provides opportunities to have fun playing tennis while learning basic life skills and socializing. Tennis for Fun was founded in September 2000 by Nathan Moore, a high school student. Moore's goal was to create a positive and fun activity for athletes with special needs in the greater Tampa area. Since its inception, the program has grown substantially, spreading to three additional locations (Brandon, Fla., Belfast, Me., and Camden, Me.) providing tennis instruction to more than 100 athletes. Participants in the program range in age from 8 to 55, with some choosing to compete in Special Olympics competitions.

The Heroes issue also recognized Florida individuals:

Former Floridian Jim Courier was recognized for his Courier's Kids charitable organization based in the inner city of St. Petersburg. The non-profit organization provides tennis instruction, tournament and other match play to those that lack the funds to participate. For children age 5-10, the programs provides a social environment where they can have fun and hang out with others after school.

Florida's Chris Evert was featured for her Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic which began in 1989. TENNIS wrote, "Hosted at the Delray Beach Tennis Center and the Boca Raton Resort & Club, the multi-day event takes place in November and features two days of pro-celebrity tennis, the Classic Cocktail Party, and Tennis with Chrissie and Friends at the Pro-Am. It also features the Pro-Celebrity Gala, an elegant, first-class event that includes entertainment, dining and dancing in addition to a live auction with one-of-a-kind items."

Long-time Florida resident Maria Sharapova was cited for becoming a goodwill ambassador for the United National Development Programme, donating to the Chernobyl disaster, advertising for "Team Up Against Poverty," and making financial contributions to youth-oriented programs in rural communities in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, among other endeavors.

Palm Beach Gardens resident Serena Williams was noted for her work with the Serena Williams Foundation, providing assistance to youth who families and been affected by violent crime, and providing underprivileged youth with high-quality education. The foundation also provides grants and scholarships to high school children around the world. Two schools in Kenya have been built through the activities of the foundation.

They Said It

Djoko-Santa is ready for the holiday season

"It's been a very long season for me and I'm exhausted in every way. But God knows if as a country we are going to have another opportunity, another generation like this, to win a Davis Cup title at home...As soon as I've played the Davis Cup final, I go for a week of exhibition events in South America, first in Chile with Rafa [Nadal], then in Buenos Aires. One of them for sure is with Rafa again. We'll be seeing each other quite often. I see him more than my mum actually!"
-- Novak Djokovic

"I find that to be so sexist. Men don't have it, but the women are allowed to say, 'Daddy, she's breaking my serve'? Are you kidding me? This is the biggest women's sport in the world. We've had decades of mental toughness. It was always, 'Give me the ball, I'm going to figure a way to walk off winning this. I refuse to lose.' That's the whole beautiful point of it. Here's a sport with a chance to show young girls what a strong and independent woman can do, yet you get this -- basically saying, 'I can't figure this out by myself, I'm just a woman.' That galls me."
-- Mary Carillo speaking to Inside Tennis magazine on the WTA's rule allowing coaches on court

"I did play very well in Australia. I don't know where you were. Were you under a rock?"
-- A smiling Roger Federer speaking to the media at the ATP World Tour Finals

"Thank you. Thanks for the respect."
-- An unsmiling Tomas Berdych speaking to a reporter who said it was strange to see him leading Rafael Nadal 5-0 on the scoreboard in the second set of their round robin match at the ATP World Tour Finals


10am-4:30pm -- Davis Cup Final (live), Tennis Channel

9:30am-1:30pm -- Davis Cup Final (live), Tennis Channel

8am-2:30pm -- Davis Cup Final (live), Tennis Channel

The USTA Florida Friday blog is written by USTA Florida Communications Coordinator Rick Vach, former publications editor for the ATP World Tour, editor/publisher of International Tennis and Play Tennis Florida magazine, and award-winning contributor to Tennis Week magazine. Got feedback, want a USTA or tennis-related question answered in the blog, or want to express your opinion? E-mail HERE.






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