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By Justin Cohen

ATP CEO Brad Drewett

ATP Executive Chairman and President Brad Drewett to step down

ATP Executive Chairman and President Brad Drewett will step down from his current position after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Drewett took over his current position in January 2012, having previously been a player on the ATP World Tour, as well as the CEO of the international region and tournament director of the ATP World Tour Finals. Drewett, 54, will continue the job on an ‘interim basis’ until the ATP board of directors appoint his successor. “It has been a privilege to serve as executive chairman and president of the ATP, an organization that I’ve been a part of for more than 35 years since I became a professional tennis player,” said Drewett. “I hold the ATP very close to my heart, and it’s with sadness that I make the decision to enter this transition period due to my ill-health.” Lou Gehrig’s disease, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), affects voluntary muscle activity, including speaking, walking, breathing, swallowing and general movement of the body. It usually causes progressive disability.

Australian Open attendance already soaring through day two of action

The first Grand Slam of the year at the Australian Open in Melbourne has already produced many exciting matches and the fans are turning up in herds to see them. The first day combined attendance was 61,955; while Tuesday’s day and night combined attendance was 68,055.

Azarenka teams up with Red Bull for multi-year endorsement deal

According to a report by Kristi Dosh of ESPN, world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka has signed a multi-year endorsement deal with beverage giant Red Bull. Azarenka’s management team, Lagardère Unlimited confirmed the report. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Azarenka joins Red Bull’s growing stable of athletes outside of the action sports world. Other Red Bull athletes in U.S. professional sports include NBA players Blake Griffin, Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams, MLB players Tim Lincecum and Jimmy Rollins, and NFL players Reggie Bush and DeMarcus Ware.

Raonic signs endorsement deal with New Balance

World No. 15 Milos Raonic of Canada has signed a footwear and apparel endorsement deal with New Balance. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Raonic won his opening round match at the Australian Open on Monday afternoon while sporting his New Balance gear. It marked the first time the organization has ever sponsored a Top 50 tennis player. Raonic previously wore Lacoste. New Balance announced that they are working with Raonic to launch a new tennis themed collection of footwear and apparel just in time for the 2013 US Open.

Kia Motors extends major sponsorship deal with Australian Open as Rolex strikes ATP partnership

According to an article written by Matt Cutler for SportsBusiness.com, Kia Motors has penned a five-year extension to its major sponsorship of the Australian Open while the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) has announced a new multi-year commercial partnership with Rolex. Korean automotive company Kia will remain as the Open’s top commercial partner through to 2018. Along with supplying vehicles to the event, the company will once again support the popular Kia Open Drive initiative, in which players are transported to certain places – their hotel, a training session or special event – in a Kia vehicle set up with cameras, microphones and an iPad. The iPad generates questions for the player to answer regarding their hobbies, thoughts and stories from the tour. “This will make Kia, with 17 years of support for the Australian Open, the longest-running major sponsor in the 108-year history of this iconic Grand Slam event,” said Kia Motors Australia CEO Charlie Kim. “We believe the excitement and enthusiasm and passion displayed on the court (by players) here in Melbourne… is the perfect embodiment of what the Kia brand stands for.” Rolex will become the official timekeeper of the ATP World Tour, while the agreement also sees the luxury Swiss watch brand extend its existing sponsorship of the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals at The O2 in London. Rolex has a long-standing relationship with tennis, sponsoring the sport’s leading tournaments, and counts 17-time grand slam champion Roger Federer among its family of testimonies.

Boise bids for Davis Cup quarterfinal

According to the Idaho Statesman, legendary Boise State University tennis coach Greg Patton is working with Idaho Tennis Association Executive Director Steve Bickham and local businesses to bid to the United States Tennis Association to host the U.S. Davis Cup quarterfinal from April 5-7 at the Taco Bell Arena. The group submitted the bid January 6, and Patton expects the USTA to make its decision within the next 10 days. Tacoma is among the cities in the running, Bickham said. Jim Courier’s U.S. squad opens up Davis Cup play this year against Brazil in Jacksonville from February 1-3. If the United States wins, they will face either Serbia or Belgium.

WTA players Konta, Gajdosova named first brand ambassadors of EleVen by Venus Williams

Active lifestyle apparel brand EleVen By Venus Williams announced that world No. 153 Johanna Konta and No. 167 Jarmila Gajdosova will be the first official brand ambassadors to wear the line in a major tournament. Johanna and Jarmila will both be wearing styles from the Spring 2013 collection at this week’s Australian Open in Melbourne. In the qualifying singles at the Australian Open, Konta will wear the Break Point Dress in white, cream, and aqua. Competing in the main draw, Gajdosova will wear the Oh and Oh Love Tank and Flutter skirt in peach and white. Additionally, Williams will be wearing the Cross Court Floral dress described as a floral watercolor design in aqua, peach, cream, and white with thin black contrast binding at the bust, waistline, and sleeves giving it special detailing. The Spring 2013 collection of EleVen By Venus Williams launches January 16, 2013 and will be added to the current collection available at local retailers, tennis shops, and online at EleVenByVenus.com.

WTA Tour adding new events in 2013 while increasing prize money

The WTA Tour recently announced new tournaments in Brazil and Poland in 2013, while the season prize money will see a 10 percent increase overall to $58.7 million. This year, the overall prize money on the WTA Tour excluding Grand Slams will increase from $53.3 million in 2012 to $58.7 million. It is a 69 percent rise since the organization’s Road Map charter was put in place in 2009. The new events on the WTA Tour in 2013 will be in Katowice, Poland in April and in the Brazilian city of Florianopolis. In addition to the event in Bogota, Colombia, and Florianopolis, an International event will be relocated from Memphis in the United States to Rio de Janeiro. The 2014 calendar will also feature events relocating to China and Hong Kong. Wuhan, the hometown of current World No. 6 and 2011 French Open champion Li Na, will host a Premier 5 event the week prior to the China Open in Beijing. The tournament will feature at least seven of the year-end top 10-ranked players competing for more than $2 million in prize money and will replace the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. Coupled with the relocation of an International event from Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong in 2014, China will host five of the 18 events in the Asia-Pacific region. “We are excited by the growth of women’s professional tennis, particularly in key markets like China and Brazil,” said Stacey Allaster, WTA chairman and CEO. “Development in the BRIC markets, led by China, has been a strategic priority for the past several years. We look forward to continue strengthening of our global brand, developing our sport, and building our fan base worldwide.”

Park advocates disagree with USTA expansion plan

According to an article written by Clare Trapasso of the New York Daily News, Park advocates aren’t showing much love to a plan for a $500 million expansion of a premiere tennis center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which plays host each summer to the US Open. Activists slammed a proposal last week that would allow the U.S. Tennis Association to use .68 acres of park land for the project and not replace it elsewhere. “Any time that we’re going to be taking away park land, park land replacement must be a priority,” said City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst). “Green space is so limited in our community.” But USTA officials said the city Parks Department asked the association to pay for improvements in the park instead of replacing the small sliver of property. The city will choose the projects. The USTA submitted a proposal to the city last Monday to expand the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where the U.S. Open is held annually. It must undergo a city and public review process before the City Council can vote on whether to approve it.

Wilson launches new clay court tennis balls

Continuing its leadership in the tennis ball category, Wilson Tennis (www.wilsontennis.com) expands its premium tennis ball position with new Tour Clay Red and Tour Clay Green tennis balls that feature Element Guard technology, developed to maximize performance and durability specific to red and green clay court surfaces. Wilson is already positioned as the leader in premium hard court tennis balls used at more than 45 professional events around the world, as well as the Official Ball at the US Open and the upcoming Australian Open Grand Slam. The ITF also utilizes Wilson as the Official Ball of Davis Cup and Fed Cup, along with the WTA recognizing Wilson as its Official Tennis Ball. In the US market, Wilson is also the Official Ball of the NCAA and is utilized at all USTA circuit events. “We are very proud of our ongoing focus to produce the most consistent quality tennis ball utilized on hard courts around the world and are now excited that we will stand behind this same focus for premium performance on clay courts globally,” said Jon Muir, general manager of Wilson Racquet Sports. “It may be taken for granted by many consumers, but Wilson continues to ensure all levels of players who want the most consistent and best performing tennis ball can play Wilson with confidence on all court surfaces.” Launching this month, the Wilson Tour Clay Red and Tour Clay Green balls provide a surface-specific performance for red and green court characteristics in different countries. The Tour Clay Red is constructed specifically for use on red clay courts and is ideal for courts in Europe and South America. The Tour Clay Green, also endorsed by Har Tru Sports, was developed specifically for use on Har Tru (green clay) courts typically located in North America. Both Tour Clay balls have Element Guard technology that prevents moisture and sediment pick up and offers a more consistent playing ball.

Seats still available for United States vs. Brazil Davis Cup first round tie in Jacksonville

Single-day tickets for the United States vs. Brazil Davis Cup first round tie at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., are now available for public sale. The matches will take place from February 1-3. Tickets for the Friday, Saturday or Sunday session will be sold with prices from as low as $40 and up to $180. Tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com and www.usta.com/daviscup or by calling (888) 484-USTA (8782). Tickets can also be purchased in-person at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena Box Office from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday. Three-day ticket packages remain available for sale starting at $30 a session ($90 for the three-day package).

Former U.S. No. 1 and Davis Cup hero Cliff Richey to make appearance in Estero, Florida on January 19

Former No. 1 US player, U.S. Davis Cup team hero and the “Original Bad Boy of Tennis” CLIFF RICHEY will be making an appearance at the at The Net at West Bay Beach and Golf Club in Estero, Fla., on Saturday, January 19 from 8:45am to 12pm. The public is welcome. The entry fee is $40 which includes breakfast, tennis clinic and a signed copy of Cliff’s book ACING DEPRESSION: A TENNIS CHAMPION’S TOUGHEST MATCH (www.CliffRicheyBook.com) Call the Director of Tennis, Joe Snailum at (239) 444-2305 or email at jsnailum@westbayclub.com to reserve your place or if you have any questions. Come on out for a fun morning of tennis with one of the Legends of Tennis!

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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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