By Justin Cohen
Wimbledon huge success on ESPN in 2012
This year’s coverage of Wimbledon on ESPN concluded with the network’s best tennis ratings in history for the Gentlemen’s Singles Championship on Sunday that saw Roger Federer defeat Andy Murray in four close sets to capture his record-equaling seventh Wimbledon title and 17th overall Grand Slam title. According to Nielsen fast national ratings, the Sunday final had a 2.9 coverage rating. It was the best rating ever with the previous being a 2.3 rating during the 1995 Australian Open Men’s final between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras and the 2002 Australian Open Women’s final between Jennifer Capriati and Martina Hingis. The 2.9 rating represents an average of 2,876,000 households and 3,925,000 viewers. The rating for Sunday’s final peaked at a 4.1 rating during the half hour starting at 1 p.m. ET. The Ladies Championship on Saturday – Serena Williams defeating Agnieszka Radwanska in three sets – earned a 2.3 coverage rating for the match and a 1.9 for the five-hour scheduled window (a 1.6 U.S. rating, equal to last year). The household and viewer impressions for the 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. program were also statistically even. The average number of homes viewing was 1,849,000 (1,865,000 a year ago) and the audience was 2,234,000 (P2+; 2,249,000 a year ago). The Top 10 markets that watched the women’s final this year were West Palm Beach (5.7), New York City (5.2), Atlanta (4.8), Richmond (4.2), a three-way tie between Columbus, Greensboro and Washington, D.C. (3.8), Miami (3.4) and another tie between Cincinnati and Hartford (3.2). As play continued, ESPN chose to stay with live tennis for an additional four hours to show the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Doubles finals and the entire nine-hour telecast delivered a 1.4 coverage rating (1.2 U.S. rating).The total U.S. ratings of 2.0 and 2.5 for the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s matches over the weekend represent increases of five percent and 39 percent, respectively, over last year’s broadcasts (1.9 for equivalent three-hour window on Saturday, 1.8 for equivalent five-hour window on Sunday). Despite being schedule to cover just 131.5 hours of live tennis action, ESPN and ESPN2 combined actually televise more than 141 live hours.
Andy Murray and Agnieszka Radwanska most popular players at 2012 Wimbledon
Wimbledon singles finalists Andy Murray and Agnieszka Radwanska were named the most popular players at this year’s Wimbledon according to fans on Twitter, as found by IBM’s Social Sentiment Index. More than 1,270,000 public tweets were posted throughout The Championships and 39 percent of the positive tweets were about Murray, while 34 percent were about Radwanska. Mentions of strawberries hit its peak on July 2, while 87 percent of the UK’s Twitter support for Murray came from outside of Scotland, proving that despite his strictly-Scottish comments in the past, British fans are still firmly behind him.
Babolat signs on as new official tennis shoe brand of The Championships, Wimbledon
Starting January 1, 2013, Babolat will become the official shoe brand of The Championships, Wimbledon. The deal is for five-years and financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Starting at the 2013 tournament, Babolat will equip all ball boys and girls during The Championships. “Wimbledon is an iconic tennis tournament and an international tennis brand. We’re proud to be able to establish a partnership between Wimbledon and our Babolat tennis shoes. With Wimbledon, we share both being at the origin of tennis and being on the cutting edge of the sport. Our high standards for equipment are demonstrated each day, on courts everywhere in the world, and from now on, on the grass at Wimbledon,” said Eric Babolat, Chairman and CEO of Babolat. Mick Desmond, Commercial Director at the All England Club said: “We are delighted to be in partnership with Babolat for the provision of shoes for our ball boys and girls on the grass courts at Wimbledon. Babolat and Wimbledon share many of the same brand values as well as a strong heritage in tennis and we look forward to a long association in the years to come.”
Andy Murray looking for new Agent, according to Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal
According to a Twitter update by Daniel Kaplan (@dkaplanSBJ) of SportsBusiness Journal, Wimbledon finalist and current world No. 4 Andy Murray is looking for a new agent. Kaplan reports that Murray is currently represented by Simon Fuller, but he could sign a new agent by the US Open, possibly a representative from IMG or Lagardere. Kaplan later tweets that “IMG and Lagardere are clearly frontrunners. But IMG been getting out of athlete rep, so not sure how all in they will be.”
United States Tennis Association creates US Open Sportsmanship Award
The USTA announced the creation of the “US Open Sportsmanship Award,” which will be presented to one male and one female professional tennis player who best demonstrate excellence in sportsmanship throughout the Emirates Airline US Open Series and the US Open. The award will be presented to each winner during the 2012 US Open. The US Open Sportsmanship Award winners will be selected by a committee made up of former world No. 4 and two-time Grand Slam finalist Todd Martin (Chair), broadcaster Mary Carillo, tennis journalist Matt Cronin, two-time Grand Slam doubles champion and ESPN broadcaster Mary Joe Fernandez, past USTA president Lars Rosene, former WTA No. 6 Chanda Rubin and Honorary Chair Jon Vegosen. “We believe that great sports make a sport great,” said USTA Chairman of the Board and President Jon Vegosen. “Professional athletes in our sport are viewed as role models by fans across the globe. The US Open is a great opportunity to recognize the positive impact these athletes can make in promoting excellence in sportsmanship through the game of tennis.” Under Vegosen’s leadership, the USTA started a Sportsmanship Committee in 2011. Its charge is to “educate and inspire youngsters and their parents to develop and exhibit a high degree of sportsmanship and an attitude of fair play and mutual respect on and off the tennis court. Underlying the charge is the ethical imperative that fairness is more important than winning.” Todd Martin is the Honorary Chair, and USTA/Middle States Section President George Parnell, is the Chair of the USTA Sportsmanship Committee. Eligibility requirements for potential winners include participating in at least two Series tournaments, as well as the 2012 US Open. In addition to a handsome trophy, each US Open Sportsmanship Award winner will receive a $5,000 donation to the charity of his or her choice. The USTA will promote this new award at all Series tournaments and in advance of the 2012 US Open by creating a “Great Sport” brochure, along with in-stadium messaging for fans and tennis players.
RadioTennis.com to webcast during 2012 Emirates Airline US Open Series
RadioTennis.com will feature live webcasts of select early round tennis action of the 2012 Emirates Airline US Open Series. The Emirates Airlines US Open Series Radio powered by RadioTennis.com will be live on the air from July 7-11 at the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, July 14-18 at the Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad, Calif., and from July 21-25 at the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles on the campus of UCLA. “We are extremely pleased to be able to share early round action of the Emirates Airline US Open Series tournaments with our listeners around the world.” said RadioTennis.com’s CEO Ken Thomas. “RadioTennis.com is committed to providing the global tennis community with unique, entertaining and hard to find competitive tennis experiences. I would like to thank the United States Tennis Association for continuing this partnership and for allowing these matches to be shared with loyal, passionate and knowledgeable tennis fans around the world.”
World TeamTennis releases TV and Live Streaming schedule for 2012 season
More than 200 hours of World TeamTennis Pro League presented by GEICO will be shown this summer, including 80 hours of live coverage. The 37th season of the WTT Pro League presented by GEICO runs July 9-28, with more the 60 of the world’s best tennis players from 13 countries competing during the three-week regular season. The top teams from both the Western and Eastern Conference advance to the WTT Finals Weekend presented by GEICO at the Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, S.C., September 14-16. Television and live streaming plans for the WTT Finals Weekend will be announced in the coming weeks. Comcast Sports Net, Tennis Channel, and Madison Square Garden Network (MSG) will air three matches during July, starting with Mardy Fish leading his Sacramento Capitals at home on July 13 against the Orange County Breakers. Matches two and three will showcase New York Sportimes veterans John McEnroe and Martina Hingis visiting the Philadelphia Freedoms on July 20, and Serena Williams’ final match before heading to the Olympics on July 22 as the defending WTT Champion Washington Kastles host the Kansas City Explorers in the nation’s capital. Former ATP World Tour and Princeton University player Leif Shiras will be the host for all televised WTT matches. Former WTT coach Craig Kardon will join him in the booth for the July 13 match, with Luke Jensen taking over the analyst duties on July 20 and July 22. In addition to the televised matches, the WTT Pro League presented by GEICO will live stream matches each day of the regular season beginning on opening night, July 9. The first match features the Washington Kastles on the road against Lindsay Davenport and the Orange County Breakers, which airs at 10 p.m. ET. The live stream matches can be viewed on WTT.com, as well as other affiliated host sites, including Tennis.com. A full list of WTT matches being streamed can be viewed at WTT.com/LiveSchedule.
ATP Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur adds four new sponsors
The ATP World Tour Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, which will take place for the fourth consecutive year, has added four new sponsors to this year’s tournament. Rado, Corona, 100Plus and DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur will join long-term sponsors Wilson, CNN International and Astro for the prestigious ATP World Tour 500 event, which will take place from September 22-30 at the Putra Stadium. Tournament officials also announced that David Ferrer and world No. 18 Kei Nishikori have signed up to participate in the event. “With David being a French Open semi-finalist, Wimbledon and Australian Open quarter finalist this year and having already won 2012 titles in Auckland on hard court, Buenos Aires, Acapulco on clay and ’s-Hertogenbosch on grass, he will be the highest ranked player ever to play our tournament,” said Tournament Director Nick Freyer, of organizers IMG. David Ferrer is currently the 2012 match win leader on the Tour. He has won more matches than any other player, including Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal. Kei, who launched his rise to the upper echelons of the rankings last year in KL, first played here as a wild card recipient ranked #170 in 2009. Having recovered from a stomach muscle injury that prevented him from playing at Roland Garros, he went on to reach the final 32 at Wimbledon. If his form continues, we hope that he will play the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2012 as a newly minted top 10 player come September.”
Albert Costa named Sporting Director of Royal Spanish Tennis Federation
According to an article on Marca.com, 2002 French Open champion Albert Costa has been named Sporting Director of the Royal Spanish Tennis Federation (RFET). A former world No. 6 and Davis Cup Captain for Spain in 2009 and 2011, Costa will also chair a committee of former players, technicians and other professionals from around the world of tennis to regularly advise the RFET to perform ongoing analysis of Spanish tennis development that serve to meet on a better footing for the near future.
Jankovic, Cibulkova hire new coaches
According to Matt Cronin of TENNIS.com, Jelena Jankovic has hired Diego Ayala as her new coach through the US Open Series. Ayala has coached Jankovic before and was once the coach of former ATP Top 15 player Robby Ginepri. He will be on hand with Jankovic as she competes this week at the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford and next week in Carlsbad, Calif. at the Mercury Insurance Open. World No. 13 Dominika Cibulkova has hired current hitting partner Peter Miklusicak through the end of the 2012 season.
Tennis Channel names America’s Hottest Tennis Coach Finalists
Los Angeles-based Tennis Channel has named the five male and five female finalists for its inaugural America’s Hottest Coach contest. Now it is up to the voters to determine the winner. The male finalists are Otis Sadler of Houston, Pablo Schurig of Lafayette, Calif., Chris Ojakian of Beverly Hills, Andy Fitzell of Santa Ana, Calif., and Jorge Andres Gonzales of Bradenton, Fla. The five female finalists include Tumeka Harris of New York City, MoeMoe Myinttun of Los Angeles, Wendy Caragher of Coronado, Calif., Natasha Pospich Mucci of Westlake Village, Calif., and Angela Leong of Tualatin, Ore. Visitors to Tennis Channel’s Web site (http://www.tennischannel.com/hottest/indexa.aspx) can read about the 10 finalists and vote for the male and female coaches that they think should win this year’s contest. The poll will remain open through Wednesday, July 25, with an instantly updated percentage meter that allows voters to see where their favorite coach stands. One male and one female coach will be announced in August and receive prize packages that include trips to New York and appearances in their own Tennis Channel instructional segments. Tennis Channel launched the America’s Hottest Coach contest in late May, opening it to tennis coaches nationwide who are physically fit, promote healthy lifestyles, and motivate and inspire the players they instruct. A panel of judges, which included USPTA (United States Professional Tennis Association) pro and Tennis View Magazine editorial representatives, selected the finalists from close to 500 essay submissions. The wide-ranging field of nominations was a case study in the sport’s all-encompassing, cradle-to-grave nature, with everyone from young adults to senior citizens of all backgrounds represented.
Professional Tennis returning to Joplin after 2011 tornado
After a one-year absence due to a devastating tornado in the area, professional tennis will return to Joplin, Mo., this month with a USTA Pro Circuit tournament from July 13-22 at the Millennium Tennis & Fitness Club. “For 12 years, the Millennium Club and the people of Joplin have supported the USTA Pro Circuit’s efforts to grow the next generation of tennis stars,” said Brian Earley, Director of the USTA Pro Circuit. “We congratulate them for their incredible recovery from last year’s devastation and also for their commitment to rebuilding the important partnerships that have been so important to the growth of this tournament and to tennis in Joplin.” All the net proceeds from this year’s USTA Pro Circuit event will be donated to the Children’s Miracle Network to assist local Joplin children.