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By Justin Cohen

Gael Monfils for ASICS

ASICS signs Monfils as latest Tennis Ambassador

ASICS just announced it has signed French tennis star, Gaël Monfils, as its latest worldwide tennis ambassador. Monfils, a former world No. 7 and four-time ATP tournament winner, has signed a multi-year contract and will begin wearing ASICS footwear and apparel from the beginning of the 2013 tennis season. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The French star will also feature in ASICS’ 2013 brand advertising campaign. Monfils will be seen in print ads, in-store material and an online film, which has just been released, in which he discusses his personal journey of improvement and the importance of staying positive. The video can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/ASICSvideo/. As part of his role, Monfils will be involved in the development of future ASICS tennis collections providing input on the requirements of top-level players and giving feedback to the design teams. “2013 is going to be a fresh start in my tennis career and I am looking forward to beginning the season wearing ASICS footwear and apparel. With the help and support of a world class brand like ASICS, I am confident I will make it back to the top of the game and be challenging for titles this year,” said Monfils.

2013 Australian Open on ESPN2 to feature over 100 live hours of coverage

The 2013 Australian Open presented by Franklin Templeton Investments begins this Sunday with more than 100 live hours during the two-week tournament on ESPN2 HD and 600+ on ESPN3. The action gets underway Sunday, January 13, at 6:30 p.m. ET with a 12.5-hour telecast. ESPN’s 29th consecutive Australian Open represents the company’s longest uninterrupted professional sports programming relationship. Daily action continues each night with afternoon re-airs totaling more than 50 additional hours through the women’s championship Saturday, January 26, and the men’s championship Sunday, January 27, both at 3 a.m. with re-airs later each day at 9 a.m. and in prime time. The telecasts are also available through WatchESPN online at WatchESPN.com and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app. Expanded digital coverage includes 600 hours on ESPN3, all live, with users choosing between ESPN2 or action on up to other seven courts with all matches available on-demand after completion. ESPN3’s coverage starts at 7 p.m. over the first 11 days of the tournament with the first ball each day of all TV court matches. Additionally, ESPN3 will offer live matches not airing on ESPN2, including the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles championships and the finals of the boys and girls divisions. The best tennis team in television returns for 2013, led by Cliff Drysdale – who has been with ESPN since its first tennis telecast in 1979. Darren Cahill, Chris Evert, Mary Joe Fernandez, Brad Gilbert, Patrick McEnroe and Pam Shriver return with hosts Chris Fowler, who also calls matches including the finals, and Chris McKendry. Tom Rinaldi will contribute features, news and interviews during event coverage and on SportsCenter.

Tennis Channel announces 2013 Australian Open broadcast schedule

Tennis Channel’s sixth year of televising the Australian Open, the first major tournament of the annual tennis season, will begin Monday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m. ET. The network plans for more than 30 hours of live match telecasts during the two-week competition again this year, with more than 180 hours of dedicated tournament coverage overall. In addition to 10 consecutive nights of live prime-time matches running into the middle of the second week (complete schedule follows), Tennis Channel viewers will again be able to tune in throughout the competition for encore match coverage and a sense of where things stand as the tournament progresses. New for 2013 is a retooled format for daily highlight and encore-match show Australian Open Today. Previously a single programming block that ran once in the morning and again each afternoon, this year’s version will feature two daily editions, one dedicated to the tournament’s most recent day session and one to the most recent night session. This nearly doubles the amount of first-run Australian Open Today programming, from 41 hours in 2012 to an estimated 72 hours in 2013. This year’s Tennis Channel on-air team includes Bill Macatee, Martina Navratilova, Brett Haber, Lindsay Davenport, Justin Gimelstob and Renee Stubbs.

McGarryBown, DDB to handle marketing for USTA

According to an article written by Maureen Morrsion on AdAge.com, McGarryBowen’s Chicago office and DDB’s New York office have been hired by the United States Tennis Association to handle marketing after a review. Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Martin Agency had the account since 2009, but chose not to defend the business when it went into review. There was no consultant overseeing the process. “We enjoyed our three-year relationship as USTA’s agency of record. It’s been a great partnership and we wish them the best,” said Chris Mumford, executive VP-director of account management at Martin. McGarryBowen will work on promoting the U.S. Open series of tournaments, while DDB will handle the USTA brand, focusing on marketing efforts towards recreational play, rebranding USTA and “branding what the USTA means, brand promise and launching a tagline,” said Sue Hunt, CMO of USTA. As for why the USTA awarded the assignments to two separate agencies, Ms. Hunt said that “we consider these brands to be very, very different.” The shift to McGarryBowen — which is owned by Dentsu and is in the process of building a global network to expand the U.S. agency brand further into Europe and into Asia — comes as the USTA wants to find new fans, and to do so, it might need to increasingly look abroad. A recent NPR report noted that the sport has been losing fans at its live tournaments in the U.S. in part because of the recession, while players are being lured by the prospects of making more money in global markets. In addition to promoting the U.S. open, Dentsu-owned McGarryBowen will be charged with promoting the Emirates Airlines U.S. Open Series of tournaments, as well as increasing the fan base. In recent years, the USTA had moved more marketing dollars into a campaign that was geared toward recruiting kids under 10 to tennis. In 2011, when the campaign launched, the spending on it accounted for nearly half of the USTA ad budget, nearly all of which had typically been used to the U.S. Open and the then-named Olympus U.S. Open series. According to people familiar with the matter, the budget is between $15 million and $20 million annually.

Isner becomes next Brand Ambassador for Anatabloc®

Star Scientific, Inc. (STSI), today announced that John Isner, the top-ranked American player on the ATP World Tour, will be the next brand ambassador for the Company’s Anatabloc® dietary supplement for anti‐inflammatory support. Isner is the second brand ambassador for Anatabloc®, joining PGA Tour champion Fred Couples. Isner recently learned about the benefits of Anatabloc® and started using the supplement to help provide anti-inflammatory support naturally. “Anatabloc has allowed me to stay on the court longer and in the gym longer, while at the same time helping with the recovery process. I simply do not feel as sore and fatigued as I have in the past,” Isner stated. “We are extremely proud to have John teaming up with Anatabloc®, a product that is becoming increasingly popular in the world of professional athletics,” said Isner’s manager, Sam Duvall, Vice President at Lagardere Unlimited Tennis. “John is a phenomenal athlete who has become a giant in the world of tennis,” stated David Dean, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Star Scientific, Inc. “He will be a tremendous partner for Star Scientific as he helps spread the word about Anatabloc®, and the difference it is making in his game. We are excited to have him as an Anatabloc® brand ambassador. Sales continue to grow and we are looking forward to a great year ahead.”

Djokovic’s Serbia Open dropped from ATP schedule

The ATP World Tour announced that the Serbia Open, which is owned by World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and run by his family, has been dropped from the ATP tournament calendar effective immediately. The ATP World Tour 250 event had been held during the clay court season prior to the start of the French Open. The inaugural event drew sell-out crowds as local hero Djokovic triumphed in 2009. However, its fortunes have faded since then and the ATP has now purchased back its Tour membership.

U.S. National Indoor tickets on sale

Individual tickets for the 2013 U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships went on sale through all Ticketmaster outlets on Monday, January 7th at 10:00 a.m. Tickets start at $15 and may be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling (800) 745-3000 or visiting ticketmaster.com. Tickets may also be purchased by contacting the tournament box office at (901) 765-4401 or by stopping by The Racquet Club of Memphis box office (M-F 9am-5pm CST, Sat. 9am-12pm CST). The U.S. National Indoor, which will take place February 16-24 at The Racquet Club of Memphis will feature both legends of the game as well as some of best players on the current ATP and WTA World Tour. Players committed to Memphis as of January 5, 2013 include: Milos Raonic, John Isner, Alex Dolgopolov, Kei Nishikori, Sam Querrey, Fernando Verdasco, Mardy Fish, Lleyton Hewitt, Bob and Mike Bryan, Vicki Duval and Shahar Peer.

West Clinic to sponsor Hawk-Eye during 2013 U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships in Memphis

The Racquet Club of Memphis is pleased to announce that The West Clinic, one of the nation’s premier cancer clinics, will be the official title sponsor of the Hawk-Eye instant replay system during the 2013 U.S. National Indoor Championships to be held February 16-24, 2013. Hawk-Eye has transformed the game of tennis for the past seven years as the most successful instant replay system in sports. The network of cameras and computers accurately calculates the bounce mark made by the ball on the court and reliably determines whether a shot is in or out. Hawk-Eye assures players, officials, and fans that the correct call is made with each point.

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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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