By Justin Cohen
French Open Television Ratings for 2012
Despite a rain-interrupted men’s French Open final between Rafael Nadal and current world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, NBC earned a 2.4 overall rating on Sunday morning, down eight percent (2.6) from the 2011 final between Roger Federer and Nadal. It was up 50 percent from the Robin Soderling versus Nadal final in 2010, which had a 1.6 rating. The complete telecast window on NBC earned a 2.0 overnight rating. The 2.4 rating from this year is now tied as the second highest rating for a French Open final since the Andre Agassi versus Andrei Medvedev match in 1999, which was a 4.0 rating. The women’s final on Saturday, which saw Russian Maria Sharapova defeat Italian Sara Errani in straight sets to capture her first title in Paris and complete the career Grand Slam, drew an overnight rating of 1.7, equaling last year’s match between Na Li and Francesca Schiavone (1.7) and Schiavone’s victory over Samantha Stosur in the 2010 title match (1.7). From the period of Sunday, May 27 through Saturday, June 2, Tennis Channel’s live coverage of the French Open averaged a 0.67 rating according to Nielsen Media Research, or 319,738 homes, up 17 percent from last year’s 0.52 rating. The daily premiere of prime-time news, interview and analysis show French Open Tonight also established new highs, exceeding 2011’s performance by 51 percent every day, and is averaging a 0.52 rating vs. last year’s 0.35 for the first seven days, equal to 272,563 homes. Serena Williams’ historic first round loss to hometown French hero Virginie Razzano, which was televised live on Tennis Channel, reached a 1.02 rating. It was rated first place among all cable networks in Tennis Channel’s household coverage area and averaged 533,170 homes during the time period. Peaking at a 1.60 rating, the match generated more than one million viewers at its height, and is the highest-rated early round tournament play in network history.
ESPN to announce Wimbledon coverage plans today
According to an article by Michael Hiestand of USA Today, ESPN will announce a Wimbledon coverage plan today which includes a decades-old NBC tradition of “Breakfast at Wimbledon.” The article mentions that ESPN will become the sole United States television outlet for grass court Grand Slam tennis this month when the tournament kicks off June 25. ESPN will use the “Breakfast at Wimbledon” title for its new hour long pre-show that will air at either 7 or 8 a.m. ET, depending on action, during the tournament’s middle Saturday and last four days. “Throughout the (TV) negotiations with the All-England Club, they asked us to look at bringing back the moniker,” said ESPN programmer Jason Bernstein. Today’s announcement will also see ESPN name Mike Tirico as host. ESPN already announced that John McEnroe has joined the broadcast team as lead analyst. However, the biggest change this year will be in scheduling. On second-week coverage in past years, NBC and ESPN juggled time slots, with NBC sometimes picking matches and airing them on tape-delay rather than pre-empting its Today show. This year, ESPN Vice President Jamie Reynolds said everything will be aired live and “multi-plexed rather than patchwork” as the station will focus on Centre Court action and ESPN2 on everything else. Coverage this year will be up to 820 hours, compared to just 650 in 2011.
John McEnroe Tennis Academy to hold Open Tryouts on July 21 for Fall 2012 Scholarships
The John McEnroe Tennis Academy announced this week that they will hold open tryouts at Sportime Randall’s Island on July 21 for junior players ages 8 to 14 for a chance to earn full and partial scholarships to the academy. McEnroe will be on hand that day to observe and evaluate the players, and winners will be offered an opportunity to receive scholarships for a year of training at the JMTA. The tryout day will begin with registration at 8 a.m., and is scheduled to conclude by 3 p.m. All scholarship recipients will formally be recognized at halftime of the July 25 World TeamTennis match at Sportime Stadium on Randall’s Island between the NY Sportimes, featuring McEnroe and fellow Hall of Famer Martina Hingis, and the defending WTT champions Washington Kastles. This is the second opportunity for young players to participate in open tryouts for spots in the JMTA. In July 2010, over 300 young people participated in try-outs, with five boys and seven girls awarded full or partial scholarships to the JMTA. “The Academy is all about giving young people, some of whom may not have had a chance to excel at tennis, an opportunity to do so, in an environment that encourages a balanced lifestyle, and we are proud to be able to offer talented players the chance to join us,” said McEnroe. “The New York area has some of the greatest young people in the world playing a whole myriad of sports, and we aim to give some of those young athletes the chance to embrace tennis and to help us grow the game. It is very exciting to be able to provide the opportunity. I look forward to being there and helping in the process.” All interested players will need to pre-register in order to attend the tryout day on July 21. For more information and to get a registration application, email the Academy at Tryout@SportimeNY.com or call (212) 427-6150 and ask for Tennis Central. For further details on the Academy and on the July 21st tryout day, visit www.sportimeny.com/JohnMcEnroeTennisAcademy.com.
Todd Martin to serve as Spokesman for USTA Florida 10 and Under Tennis
Former world No. 4 and long-time Florida resident Todd Martin has been announced as the new spokesman for USTA Florida 10 and Under Tennis. 10 and Under Tennis starts very young players on smaller courts (compared to an adult 78-foot court) with age-appropriate, lighter racquets and low-bounce balls. 10 and Under Tennis is designed to provide children the optimal conditions for learning proper strokes, accelerated swing speed, and the development of a variety of tennis shots that are difficult for children to master with high-bouncing heavy regular balls and large adult racquets on full-size adult tennis courts. “I made the mistake of teaching my first son with regular yellow tennis balls,” said Martin. “Once I learned about the orange balls, and got him playing the right way, it was so much fun to watch him play, and be on the court with him. Now he plays the game the right way.” Commercials featuring Todd Martin discussing 10 and Under Tennis will be aired in select Florida media markets throughout 2012, as well as on the Internet and in select schools. USTA Florida was one of the first sections in the United States to fully integrate 10 and Under Tennis. “10 and Under Tennis makes great sense from the physical standpoint for children, but it also makes good sense from an emotional and developmental standpoint,” said Martin. “It’s a great way to get kids involved, and keep them involved in the great sport of tennis.”
USTA Serves to grant more than $410,000 in College Scholarships
USTA Serves, the National Charitable Foundation of the United States Tennis Association, announced they will be granting 59 high school students with a variety of college scholarships, totaling more than $410,000. An objective of USTA Serves is to encourage children to pursue their goals and highest dreams by succeeding in school and becoming responsible citizens. Each year, USTA Serves awards scholarships to deserving youth who have participated in USTA and other organized youth tennis programs, have demonstrated high academic achievement, and require financial assistance for college matriculation. “It is with great pleasure that USTA Serves is awarding more than $410,000 in scholarships to assist such exemplary students as they prepare to embark on their college journey,” said Deborah Slaner Larkin, Executive Director, USTA Serves. “These young men and women have not only excelled on the tennis court, but have served as role models for others in their schools and communities. It is our hope that as they enter the next chapter of their lives, that they continue to aspire to greatness for themselves and for the betterment of society.” Scholarships that were made available to high school students included the Marian Wood Baird Scholarship Award (Student receives $15,000 award), Dwight F. Davis Memorial Scholarship (Students each receive $10,000 award), Dwight Mosley Scholarship Award (Students each receive $10,000 award), Rosalind Walter Scholarship Award (Students each receive $10,000 award), Eve Kraft Education & College Scholarship (Students each receive $2,500 award), USTA Serves College Education Scholarship (Students each receive $8,000 award), USTA Serves College Textbook Scholarship (Student each receive $1,000).
45th Annual Easter Bowl USTA Junior Spring Nationals Documentary to run on Tennis Channel
According to a press release, the annual Easter Bowl USTA Junior Spring Nationals one-hour documentary special will appear on Tennis Channel for the first time this year, tournament chairman Bryan Fineberg has announced. The Easter Bowl has long prided itself as being the only national junior tennis tournament with its own television show. The documentary has traditionally been aired on regional sports networks such as Fox Sports Network in Los Angeles and the Midwest, Sun Sports in South Florida and the Madison Square Garden Network in New York. “We are proud and honored this year to have our show appear on Tennis Channel,” said Fineberg, who serves as the show’s executive producer. “The show has always focused on issues and trends surrounding junior tennis, as well presenting highlights from all our finals in the boys’ and girls’ 18s, 16s and 14s.” The documentary will be shown on Tennis Channel on Monday, June 11 at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT, Saturday, June 16 at 6 a.m. ET/3 a.m. PT, and Tuesday, June 19 at 12 a.m. midnight ET/9 p.m. PT. For the fourth consecutive year, Mercury Film and Television has produced and edited the show led by Mercury President James Salisbury (director) and Vice President Pam Hudgens (producer). Former ATP Touring pro Zack Fleishman is the host of the show. This year’s 45th annual Easter Bowl was one of the best ever with world No. 1-ranked Taylor Townsend winning the ITF girls’ 18s division.
Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport to Host Military Appreciation Day
Friday, July 13 will serve as Military Appreciation Day at the 2012 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, R.I. The tournament, which will be played at the historic site of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, is the only ATP World Tour grass court event held in North or South America. Tickets for Military Appreciation Day will be half-price for all active military, veterans, and their families, and the tournament will host a Center Court Salute to the Armed Forces between all matches. “The Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships is truly a treat of the summer for Newport, and with a great player field, this year is shaping up to be one of our best tournaments ever. We are very pleased to welcome our neighbors from Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island National Guard, and the many other service men and women and veterans in the region to be part of the festivities,” said Mark L. Stenning, Tournament Director. “We intend to make Military Appreciation Day an enjoyable experience for all the fans who come out. The celebration is just a small token of appreciation for all that these men and women do for us and our country every day.” During Military Appreciate Day, the tournament will welcome representatives from all branches of military to participate in the Center Court Salute to the Armed Services. Local service men and women will be honored, a Navy vocalist will perform the Star-Spangled Banner, and a joint service Color Guard with representatives from all branches of the service will present the colors. Presentations in honor of the military will take place before all four Center Court matches to be played that day, which will be the quarterfinal round of the tournament. Additionally, South Stand tickets will be just $17.50, rather than the normal $35, for active military, veterans, and their families. Tickets for the tournament, which will be held from July 9-15, are on sale now and can be purchased by calling (401) 849-6053. Additional tournament information can be found on www.TennisFame.com.
Hewitt, Haas, Shvedova, Razzano awarded Wimbledon Main Draw Wild Cards
Wimbledon officials announced that past singles champion Lleyton Hewitt, former Top 10 Tommy Haas of Germany and surprise French Open fourth rounder David Goffin of Belgium lead a list of men who were awarded Wimbledon main draw wild cards for this year’s tournament. Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova, who made a surprise run to the quarterfinals at this year’s French Open, and France’s Virginie Razzano, who beat Serena Williams in the first round two weeks ago in Paris, each received a wild card on the women’s side.