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Helfant to step down as ATP World Tour Executive Chairman and President at year’s end

Adam Helfant will step down at the end of 2011 from his post as ATP Executive Chairman and President without seeking a new contract, the ATP World Tour announced. Joining the ATP after signing a three-year deal in January 2009, Helfant was unable to come to terms on a new contract after negotiating with the tour’s Board of Directors for the past few months. Some sources believe the MIT and Harvard law graduate is stepping down because he didn’t receive the $3 million in compensation he wanted, but Helfant has denied that report. “Recently, erroneous news reports, citing unnamed sources, inaccurately characterized the tenor of my conversations with the ATP Board,” said Helfant. “I made no demands, monetary or otherwise, of the Board. I did not ask for more money, or threaten to resign, despite what has been alleged and reported by others. These facts are clear to those with direct knowledge of my conversations with the Board; I was made an offer to stay longer-term with the ATP, which I declined for professional reasons. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished.” During his time at the ATP, Helfant was the key player in bringing in two new, major sponsors, Corona Extra and FedEx. Corona signed a five-and-a-half-year deal in February 2010 that is believed to be worth in the range of $13 million per year, around the same amount previous ATP sponsor, Mercedes-Benz, paid near the end of its agreement. Helfant has said publicly that by the end of the year, ATP commercial revenues will increase by roughly 65 percent and its net assets will increase by more than 110 percent. The former Nike executive also successfully put together two highly triumphant year-end Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, as well as reducing the calendar for the ATP. In the near future, ATP officials will begin the search process for a replacement.

Adam Helfant

Fish and Lisicki named tennis Maui Jim tennis ambassadors

ATP world No. 9 Mardy Fish and rising German WTA star Sabine Lisicki, who just won the AEGON Classic grass court tournament in Birmingham last week, have signed on to become tennis ambassadors for Maui Jim, the fastest growing brand of polarized sunglasses in the world. The team of tennis ambassadors already includes world No. 8 Gael Monfils of France and his well-known international tennis coach Roger Rasheed. Off court, Fish will sport Maui Jim’s Stingray, Ho’ Okipa and Big Beach sunglasses. Lisicki will wear Maui Jim’s newest MauiGradient sunglasses, called Gani, for their fashion forward style. She will also carry a pair of Ho’ Okipa and Kulas in her bag. “Mardy is not only a great tennis player, but also a terrific person who lives the Aloha Spirit that Maui Jim is all about,” said Linda Glassel, Vice President of Marketing for Maui Jim. “Sabine is passionate, with a capital ‘P,’ about tennis. We’re looking forward to a long relationship with her. For more information on Maui Jim, visit www.MauiJim.com.

Clijsters re-hires Belgian coach Carl Maes

World No. 2 and four-time Grand Slam singles champion Kim Clijsters has re-hired Belgian coach Carl Maes, who coached her from 1995-2002. Maes will work with her current coach, Wim Fissette, who was once her hitting partner. Maes is a former Belgian Fed Cup Captain, Head of Women’s Tennis in the United Kingdom and private coach for Kristen Flipkens, a good friend of Clijsters. “From the experience and expertise that Maes has built up, he probably can teach me things that can make a difference,” said Clijsters.

Agassi to play exhibition match in Newport during Hall of Fame weekend in July

Andre Agassi, a former world No. 1 and eight-time Grand Slam singles champion who will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on July 9 in Newport, R.I., will participate in an exhibition tennis match on July 10 at 10 a.m. at the famous grass tennis courts at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. The Hall of Fame Classic Exhibition will showcase Agassi, as well as former Top-10 American player Todd Martin. Additional players for the exhibition match will be announced soon. Ticket prices are $35, $40 and $45. Tickets for the Hall of Fame weekend can be purchased on www.TennisFame.com or by calling (866) 914-3263. Tickets will go on sale on Wednesday, June 15 at 10 a.m.

Ivanovic tells reporters in Birmingham that she is looking for full-time coach

Former world No. 1 and 2008 French Open singles champion told reporters at the AEGON Classic in Birmingham that she is actively searching for a new full-time coach. Ivanovic, who currently employs a hitting partner and receives coaching tips from adidas Players Development coach Darren Cahill, previously, said she was satisfied with part-time coaching. “It’s been a bit of a struggle and a little up and down—and that’s been happening for the last couple of years in my career,” said Ivanovic. “I want something more stable. I know it’s not easy to find a good coach, but it’s something I should consider again…I have names of people I would like to talk to, but that’s hard to do during competition. Still, I’m thinking about it and talking to people about how to approach it. First I have to find a good one. Then, someone who will commit. And someone willing to travel. And someone with whom to get along, because you do spend a lot of time together.” Ivanovic said it is unlikely she will find someone to become her coach before Wimbledon.

Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati to hold Casting Call presented by Skyline Chili on June 24

On June 24 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the famous Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati, the Western & Southern Open will be holding a Casting Call presented by Skyline Chili for children ages 7 to 12 years old. All children must sing one verse of either “America the Beautiful” or “God Bless America.” All children who will be participating must register on www.CincyTennis.com. You will also be asked to download a waiver that you are expected to bring with you to the audition, as well as a valid form of identification. Official rules and lyrics to the songs are listed on the official website of the tournament. If you are selected by the judges, you will have the opportunity to perform in front of thousands of tennis fans during the tournament at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio, which will be held from August 13-21. Free Skyline Chili will be served to everyone in attendance at the Casting Call.

Agassi to New York Times: Murray needs full-time coach to win major title

Former world No. 1 and eight-time Grand Slam singles champion Andre Agassi recently told the New York Times that if Andy Murray wants to win a major title, he needs to hire a full-time coach. Currently, the fourth-ranked ATP player is using the adidas Player Development program coaches for part-time help including Sven Groeneveld and Agassi’s former coach Darren Cahill, who is also an ESPN analyst. “I chose Darren because I saw what he did with Lleyton Hewitt,” said Agassi. “Lleyton Hewitt was a guy who never made a bad decision on the court. Lleyton Hewitt was a guy who maximized his offense the second he had a chance. He didn’t have a lot of firepower but he maximized it, and I see the same issue with Andy Murray. Here’s a guy who has so much he can rely on that I think he keeps himself from actually realizing what he can do to impose himself. He doesn’t know what it’s like to play against him. I think Darren is the kind of person who can help him understand that feeling so he plays with a bit more urgency, not just rely on the great defensive skills he has. Because he can snap the ball off both sides. He has one of the best returns the game has ever seen. His movement is at the top of the sport. He just waits a little too long to impose himself and you don’t win these Slams without doing that.”

Tennis Ventures partners with world class coach Craig Kardon for 2011 Wimbledon Championships

Tennis Ventures, the Phoenix-based tour operator of the international Grand Slam tennis tournaments has partnered with world class tennis coach, Craig Kardon, to bring his professional talents back to Wimbledon. Tennis Ventures CEO, Chadwick Byrd, announced: “Craig Kardon, former coach of Martina Navratilova, Lindsay Davenport, and Ana Ivanovic, among others, will be the touring pro on our 2011 Wimbledon program, traveling June 17 to 26.” Byrd went on to say that the adult players on the sold out program will have the opportunity to learn from Coach Kardon and other international tennis pros, plus experience the same surface as the slams – playing on the red brick clay courts in Paris and grass courts in London. “No other tennis program offers the same combination of tournament viewing, player participation and first class amenities. Craig now brings the added dimension of world class instruction.” “After years of coaching professional athletes, I am excited to experience Wimbledon and tennis from a different perspective,” Coach Kardon said. “With Tennis Ventures, we’ll focus on providing the same level of tennis instruction on the same court surfaces but in first class venues and with a bit of a more relaxed atmosphere. This has got to be the ultimate vacation for a tennis player.” Byrd commented, “Knowing Craig, his passion for the game won’t stop when we leave the courts. Each evening our players and coaches will get a once in a lifetime chance to hear some great stories from Coach Kardon over drinks and dinner.” Craig Kardon has spent a lifetime involved in competitive tennis as a player, coach and television commentator. Winner of numerous professional coaching awards, including being named twice USPTA Touring Coach of the Year, Kardon has coached top level tennis professionals, including Navratilova during her Wimbledon win in 1990, Davenport, Ivanovic, Jennifer Capriati, Xavier Malisse and Shahar Peer. In addition to individual players, Kardon coached four World Team Tennis teams. Kardon is currently the Touring Professional with The Four Seasons Resort and Club in Irving, Texas. Craig also is a commentator for the US Open and Washington ATP event. When not on the road coaching, Kardon makes his home in Dallas.

Centre Court sells out for Monday title match at AEGON Championships at Queen’s Club in London

All 6,858 seats were filled for the revised Monday finals match at the AEGON Championships at Queen’s Club in London that saw Andy Murray defeat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in three sets. Thousands of tickets were sold within an hour of going on sale on Sunday evening, while 2,000 seats were sold at the gate during the morning of the match. The first person in queue took her place at 2 a.m. and made sure to bring her own strawberries, so she could guarantee a good seat for the championship match. More than 1,000 fans who queued were not so lucky in getting a seat on Centre Court, as they had to watch the match on a big screen television in the public area of the grounds.

Security issues delay India-Pakistan tennis peace match

Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq-Qureshi and India’s Rohan Bopanna, who won last weekend’s ATP Gerry Weber Open doubles title in Halle, have been unsuccessful in getting security clearance for their proposed “Peace Match” at the Wagah Border. “We have failed to get clearance from the government and were only conveyed that there is no security clearance for this event, which forced us to cancel the match,” said Irshad Bhatti, Pakistan Tennis Federation spokesman. “We have blocked all the efforts relating to this event after the failure to get security clearance from the government. But if we get the clearance, we will go for the match.” Last summer, Qureshi and Bopanna made a magical run together at the U.S. Open in New York where they reached the championship match before falling to top-ranked Americans Bob and Mike Bryan.

Rezai’s sour relationship with father takes another turn for the worst

Le Point is reporting that World No. 56 Aravane Rezai of France went to a Paris police station on June 1 near Roland Garros because her father allegedly stole tens of thousands of dollars from her. This is just another sign of disaster in the unpleasant relationship of Rezai and her father. The Frenchwoman’s father, who claims he has no money, was banned from the Australian Open after having am altercation with her in Melbourne. The father, Arsalan, said he is not abusive to his daughter. Police have not decided if they will make an arrest in this case.

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About Justin Cohen
Justin Cohen is a graduate of Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Specialization in Journalism and was a member of the varsity tennis team, where he and his teammates finished as the runner-up at the 2006 NCAA Division II Men’s Tennis Championships. Justin began writing his weekly column, “This Week in Tennis Business with Justin Cohen” in July 2009. The following month, he covered the ATP/WTA Western & Southern Financial Group Masters and Women’s Open in Cincinnati, Ohio interviewing most of the top ranked players in the world. A lifelong tennis enthusiast who has enjoyed traveling to many professional tennis tournaments, Justin has much experience in the tennis industry. Previously, he worked at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association in Princeton, New Jersey, and also completed summer internships in ticket sales at the ATP/WTA Tour Western & Southern Financial Group Masters and Women’s Open in Cincinnati and in marketing at the Tennis Channel in Los Angeles.

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