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By Justin Cohen

$300 Million Facelift at US Open

The USTA has approved a $300 million renovation project at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which includes the demolition and reconstruction of Louis Armstrong Stadium as well as the addition of two smaller stadiums around the grounds, according to Dan Kaplan with Sports Business Journal. The process of knocking down Armstrong, the main center court at the US Open from 1978 to 1996, won’t begin for a few years. However, construction on one of the two mini stadiums will begin immediately. The replacement stadium for Louis Armstrong would hold 12,000-14,000 fans. Currently, Armstrong holds 10,200 fans. The new stadium will be roof ready in case a roof is needed in the future. Construction will begin immediately on a 3,000-seat mini stadium, which will be built adjacent to the hospitality building on the property’s less busy southeast corner. That mini-stadium may or may not be ready for the 2011 U.S. Open, but will be ready for 2012. For now the USTA will spend $30 million on the first portion of the overhaul project.

WTT Smash Hits event raises more than $500,000

On Monday night at the Bender Arena on the campus of American University in Washington, D.C., many big name tennis players rallied for charity at the WTT Smash Hits presented by GEICO to help raise more than $500,000 for the Elton John AIDS Foundations and the Washington AIDS Partnership. Team Billie Jean defeated Team Elton 19-15 to tie their overall series at 9-9.  In its 18-year history, WTT Smash Hits has raised more than $10 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and local charities throughout the United States. Before the matches started, a live auction took place, which raised $267,000 of the evening’s total. The top items which sold during the auction were the two popular Billie Jean King Wimbledon Packages, which each sold for $32,000.

Vera Zvonareva

Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs

The USTA recently announced the participants for the upcoming 2010 Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs, sponsored by VocalCloud, which will be held for a second straight year at the Racquet Club of the South, a USTA Certified Regional Training Center in Atlanta, from December 17-19.  Eight men and eight women will compete in the wild card playoffs. The USTA secured the opportunity through a reciprocal agreement with Tennis Australia where the two national tennis federations exchange wild cards for the 2010 US Open and the 2011 Australian Open. On the men’s side, Ryan Harrison, Jordan Cox, Denis Kudla, Tim Smyczek, Jack Sock and Donald Young have been invited to compete. On the women’s side, Jamie Hampton, Christina McHale, Alison Riske and Coco Vandeweghe have been invited to compete. The final fields will be set in the coming weeks. “Our philosophy is based on having our top emerging players improve through competition, and the wild card playoffs allow these players to earn the opportunity to compete at the highest levels of the sport,” said Patrick McEnroe, General Manager of USTA Player Development. “We are also very excited to return to the Racquet Club of the South and the city of Atlanta. The support for the event last year was tremendous.”

Tennis Channel Academy Returns

On Sunday, November 14, Tennis Channel Academy, hosted by Tracy Austin, returned to television sets around the country with a special feature on Roger Federer’s coach, Paul Annacone. The third season of the show brings viewers along the ride for a tennis lesson with one of the world’s top instructors each week. The season will conclude December 26 with a Best of Tennis Channel Academy episode with highlights from the six weekly lessons. The following instructors will be featured: Lynne Rolley (November 20), Rick Macci (November 28), Brad Stine (December 5), Gigi Fernandez (December 12), Brian Teacher (December 19), Eliot Teltscher (December 26).

Bryan Bros. returning to Houston in 2011

World No. 1 doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan, who are a perfect 11-0 in ATP World Tour finals in 2010, have committed to participate in the 2011 US Men’s Clay Court Championships at the River Oaks Country Club from April 4-10, 2011 in Houston, Texas. The twins from Camarillo, Calif., will be looking to win their third straight title in Houston. “The Bryans have enjoyed a tremendous season, and we’re thrilled to have been a part of it when they won here at River Oaks earlier this year,” said Van Barry, Tournament Director. “The twins are champions on and off the court, and we are very excited that they will return to Houston in April for the US Men’s Clay Court Championship.” Season tickets for the 2011 tournament are on sale now. Information on tickets can be found at www.mensclaycourt.com or by calling 713-874-6294.

Russian Players of the Year

Wimbledon and US Open singles finalist Vera Zvonareva and Mikhail Youzhny were named by the Russian Tennis Federation as the Female and Male Russian Tennis Players of the Year.

Goodbye Bondarenko Sisters

The Ukrainian Fed Cup team will compete without sisters Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko after the duo announced that they have made a “mutual decision” to not participate for their country, allowing younger players to take part in the yearly competition. However, Kateryna said a return to the team remains a possibility.

London Pairings

Round robin groups for the ATP World Tour Finals in London:

Group A
Rafael Nadal (Spain)
Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic)
Andy Roddick (United States)

Group B

Roger Federer (Switzerland)
Robin Soderling (Sweden)

Andy Murray (Great Britain)

David Ferrer (Spain)

Hanging Up the Racquets

Former World No. 1 and 1998 French Open champion Carlos Moya is expected to announce his retirement for the ATP World Tour in a press conference on Wednesday. Throughout his career, the Spaniard won 573 singles matches, 20 singles titles and more than $13 million in tournament prize money. He currently resides in Geneva, Switzerland with his girlfriend and their three-month-old daughter, Carla.

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