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by Kevin Craig



Sponsors Shuffle Amidst Sharpova’s Failed Drug Test

Just days after Maria Sharapova’s announcement of her failed drug test, her sponsors have begun making their voices heard in regards to the event. Long-time clothing sponsor Nike has suspended its partnership with the Russian tennis star, while Tag Heuer has decided to not renew its contract with Sharapova and Porsche will be suspending future activities with her as well. On the other end of the spectrum, racquet manufacturer Head has decided to extend their contract with Sharapova, stating that she “made an honest mistake, it was with no intent,” according to BBC. In a press release, Head praised Sharapova for the “honesty and courage she displayed in announcing and acknowledging her mistake,” while also describing her as “a role model and woman of integrity who has inspired millions of fans around the world to play and watch tennis.” The failed drug test has attracted attention from many players who decided to let their opinions on the matter known. Andy Murray, another player who is sponsored by Head, claims that Sharapova deserved the potential ban that is coming while also criticizing Head for making their decision without more information being released that could help make a better decision, according to The Guardian. “I personally wouldn’t have responded like that,” stated Murray in a press conference at the BNP Paribas Open.

Jack Sock Signs with Nike, Helps Debut New Shoe

American tennis star Jack Sock has switched clothing sponsorships from Adidas to Nike and will be helping debut the NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly at the BNP Paribas Open. Sock, along with Eugenie Bouchard, will be debuting the shoe that was designed by Nike with the insight of professional athletes over the course of the last three years, according to Sports Illustrated. Michael Hui, Nike’s tennis footwear senior designer, claims the shoe is a combination of a tennis shoe and a track shoe, made with the intention to increase on court speed for the players who wear the shoe. Sock claims that when he “got in the shoe, [he] felt like [his] quickness improved, which was a big confidence booster for” him, in an interview with Sports Illustrated. The show has an asymmetrical design that allows players to easily move quickly from side to side as it provides “maximum contact when you’re on the corners” of the shoe. Sock, who states that he likes to be a trendsetter, enjoys wearing the Ultrafly as it is a new look for tennis shoes. “It’s definitely something we’ve never seen before in tennis…People are definitely going to look at it and be doing double takes,” says the American in an interview with Sports Illustrated.

McEnroe Challenge Fundraises $80K

The first event of this year’s BNP Paribas Open, the McEnroe Challenge for Charity, raised $80,000. The event has become an annual fixture for the tournament in Indian Wells, attracting stars of the tennis world to play in front of packed crowds on Stadium 2. This year’s event saw Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Tracy Austin, Pat Cash, and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario joined by current players Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe. The players were assigned to teams and played four sets, with each player and doubles team representing a local charity, according to The Desert Sun. The winners of each set earned $15,000 for their charity while the losers earned $5,000. This was the first time that Sampras had played an exhibition event at Indian Wells since 2010 when he played in the “Hit for Haiti” that helped raise over $1 million for the relief efforts in Haiti.

Great Britain Gives Leon Smith Extension as Davis Cup Captain

Great Britain’s Davis Cup captain Leon Smith has been rewarded with a contract extension after his recent success in the international competition. According to Telegraph, the contract will extend through the 2018 season. Smith’s impressive record of 13-2 in his first 15 ties has secured his position in charge of the current Davis Cup holders. Andy and Jamie Murray, the two stars of British tennis, have been working with Smith since they were children and have been a vital part to Smith’s success. In a press release, Smith claimed “it is a huge honor and privilege to continue captaining our Davis Cup team” and acknowledged the Davis Cup title as the highlight of his career. Smith and Great Britain are set to face Serbia in the quarterfinals of the World Group in July, with the Murray brothers already committed to play. They will be eagerly awaiting Novak Djokovic’s decision of whether or not he will participate in the tie.

Chris Kermode Appointed for Second Term

ATP President and Executive Chairman Chris Kermode has been appointed to a second term by the ATP Board of Directors that will see him in the position until 2019, according to the ATP. Kermode took the job in January of 2014 and has seen significant progress made by the ATP, including an all-time record of attendance at ATP events and having over one billion television viewers in 2015. Other successes for Kermode in his first term include his capturing long-term prize money agreements, stabilizing the ATP schedule, and commercial sponsorship. Prize money on the ATP will reach a record of $135 million by 2018, while the ATP was able to garner $160 million in sponsorship revenue over the course of the next five years. Kermode hopes to see similar success on the ATP Challenger Tour, as he sets to increase prize money on that level and improve investments, tournament scheduling, player services, and marketing, according to the ATP. Roger Federer and Justin Gimelstob have praised Kermode for the work that he has been able to do over the span of his first term, both citing the current great state that the tour is in. In a press release, Kermode stated “I’ve taken great pleasure in leading the ATP since 2014, and I’m delighted to continue in my role as Executive Chairman and President.”

Tiriac to Sell Tournament

Ion Tiriac has announced that he will be selling his ATP event in Bucharest. According to local media in Romania, Tiriac claimed he “can’t make a fool out of [his] name.” Tiriac has been struggling with the Romanian government while he has been searching for either a new stadium to host his tournament or funding to help renovate the current stadium. The main court at the complex in which the tournament has been held in the past is not allowed to host matches anymore “because it doesn’t have a permit from the Emergency Situations Inspectorate,” according to Romania Insider. Because of this, all of the matches will be played in front of limited crowds on the side courts of the complex.

Citi to be Presenting Sponsor for New York Empire

The newest team in World Team Tennis, the New York Empire, announced that Citi will be the presenting sponsor for the Empire’s home matches, which will be taking place at the historic West Side Tennis Club. In a press release, Empire General Manager Colleen Hopkins stated “we are proud to have the power of Citi join us to bring back professional tennis for our inaugural season in Forest Hills.” Hopkins went on to praise Citi as one of the most influential brands in New York and having “their participation speaks volumes about where we all think the Empire will be going.” Jennifer Breithaupt, Managing Director of Media and Advertising for Citi, claims Citi will be “able to provide additional opportunities for fans to get closer to their favorite athletes.”

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

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About Admin
Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the books ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and THE DAYS OF ROGER FEDERER

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