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By Justin Cohen @JustinCohen44

Emirates Airline extends sponsorship of BNP Paribas Open through 2015

Emirates, one of the world’s fastest-growing airlines, announced late last week that it is extending its sponsorship of the BNP Paribas Open until 2015. Emirates has been the Official Airline of the tournament, which has been held in Southern California since 2010. “Emirates’ sponsorship of the BNP Paribas Open demonstrates our long-term commitment to supporting professional tennis and enables us to connect with tennis fans from around the world,” said Sir Maurice Flanagan, Executive Vice Chairman of Emirates Airline & Group. From March 4 – 17, 2013, Emirates Airline will again host the popular Emirates’ Garden Club for guests at the BNP Paribas Open, a premium hospitality area that showcases the best of the airline’s offering including world-class service, fine wines and gourmet regional dishes. On ‘Emirates Day’, Saturday March 9, fans will have the opportunity to win prizes including finals tickets and round-trip flights to Emirates’ home in Dubai. This year tennis fans will also be able to experience a taste of the airline in the Emirates’ Lifestyle Booth. As well as being the Official Airline of the BNP Paribas Open, Emirates is the title sponsor of the Emirates Airline US Open Series and the US Open, the Official Airline of the ATP and title sponsor of the ATP Rankings. Emirates is also the Official Airline of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and the Rogers Cup in Canada, and it is the Official Airline and Premium Partner of the Internazionali BNL D’Italia in Rome.

ASICS introduces line of Tennis Racquets

ASICS America Corporation is excited to expand its commitment to the sport of tennis with the introduction of racquets to the brand’s existing product mix. A first for ASICS, this collection has its sights set firmly on the club player market, with three innovative oversized models designed to provide a great on-court experience. These additions provide ASICS with a complete tennis product line including shoes, racquets, apparel, bags and accessories. The innovative design of all three racquets includes longer main strings, a fan-shaped stringing pattern, and a unique, teardrop-shaped frame. The result is a larger center radius that provides adult recreational and club players both increased power and spin. “We continue to increase our brand beyond running and demonstrate our passion for all sports,” says Kevin Wulff, CEO of ASICS Americas. “We offer a range of products that embrace the authentic spirit of athletes who compete for fun or at a high level of competition. Our new racquets will give the adult players the competitive edge they desire.” Racquets were set to launch starting in January 2013 at specialty tennis and pro shops along with online retailers. The suggested retail price for each of the three racquets is $189.

Nadal confirms agency plan after IMG exit

According to an article written by Matt Cutler for SportsBusiness.com, former World No. 1 and 11-time Grand Slam Champion Rafael Nadal has confirmed long running rumors that he has left IMG Worldwide to establish his own agency with agent Carlos Costa. The news comes last week as he made his long-awaited return to court after a seven-month injury layoff, losing to Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos in Sunday’s final of the VTR Open in Chile. He was previously represented by IMG, for whom Costa also worked, but news of his departure was announced on Saturday. “Together with his manager, Carlos Costa, Rafa Nadal began a new adventure on January 1 in the world of representing athletes of various sports like tennis, golf and football as well as organizing events,” Nadal’s spokesman said in a statement reported by Reuters. The 26-year-old Spaniard has slipped to world No.5 during his injury absence and IMG spokesman Jim Gallagher confirmed his contract with the company had expired at the end of 2012. “We are very happy for Rafa and we wish him the best of luck,” said Gallagher. “We hope to do a lot more business with him in the future.”

Tennis Channel hires new hosts for 2013 season of Court Report

Los Angeles-based Tennis Channel, the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and tennis lifestyle, is ushering in 2013 by introducing three fresh faces for Court Report, its nightly news segment highlighting up-to-the-minute tennis content both on and off the court. Court Report will be anchored in turns by the newest members of the network’s on-air team: Jo Ankier, Jonathan Novack and Jessica Vilchis, all of whom are former competitive athletes. “We’re excited to welcome Jo, Jonathan and Jessica to our Tennis Channel family, and look forward to their work as we head into the new tennis year,” said Laura Hockridge, vice president, original programming, Tennis Channel. “Their athletic backgrounds and on-air skills are a great fit for the Court Report brand.” Once a prominent track and field athlete for her native Britain, Ankier’s broadcast career includes reporting for ESPN International, where she hosts and covers a wide range of sports, and does work for global editions of SportsCenter. Novack, who played junior tennis competitively, has more than 10 years of on-air experience, is an accomplished TV host and news reporter who has worked across multiple media channels throughout the country. A former gymnast and springboard diver, Vilchis’ broadcast career includes work for E! News Now, the NBC4 Los Angeles affiliate, and on-air duties for NBC Universal Sports during the 2012 London Olympic Games. The one-minute reports, which appear at the top of the hour just before 7 p.m., 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET, were first introduced during the 2009 French Open. As with the network’s Grand Slam events, the news segments are produced in the network’s Los Angeles-area studio and bring viewers a brief update on the latest happenings in the sport. Ankier, Novack and Vilchis first made their Tennis Channel debut in December 2012.

Roddick discusses BNP Paribas Open prize money at Palm Desert charity event

During a recent chat in Palm Desert, Calif., during a $1,000 per person charity event, the recently-retired former US Open Champion Andy Roddick touched on the ATP World Tour turning down an $800,000 increase in prize money at the BNP Paribas Open. While approximately 65 people listened at the event including current BNP Paribas Open CEO Raymond Moore and former CEO Charlie Pasarell, Roddick said: “I do understand that when someone gives you a (expletive) load of money, you take that money.” In November, the ATP Board of Directors could not approve the prize money raise as the three tournament representatives voted against the move, while the three player representatives voted for it. Roddick pointed out that California already lost its ATP tournament held at UCLA in Los Angeles and soon the San Jose tournament, leaving the BNP Paribas Open as the only California ATP event. “Someone like Larry Ellison wants to invest into his event and make it the biggest possible, and he gets stopped by the ATP. If you’re a start up, what would make you want to navigate through that and to go through that firing line?” Roddick said. “How can you step into tennis with any confidence? It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.” After turning to look at Moore, Roddick said: “You said something like, ‘OK, you’re not going to improve the prize money? We’re going to take it back to 2011,” Roddick said. “I thought it was a brilliant negotiation ploy.”

Vergeer announces retirement from Wheelchair Tennis; concludes career with 169 titles

Dutchwoman Esther Vergeer announced her retirement from wheelchair tennis on Tuesday after 18 shining years as a professional. Vergeer’s numbers speak for themselves – she won 169 titles in her career, including all 21 Grand Slams she entered and four gold medals at the Paralympic Games. In the last 10 years she won 470 straight matches and 120 straight tournaments – and in all that time she faced just one match point, against Korie Homan in the gold medal match at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. The last time she even lost a match was against Daniela di Toro in Sydney all the way back in January 2003. The Dutchwoman first rose to No.1 on April 6, 1999, and held the spot for over 12 years between October 2, 2000 and January 21, 2013. She spent a total of 668 weeks as the No.1 player in the world. And Vergeer’s success wasn’t limited to the singles court – she also won 158 doubles titles, including 23 of the 26 Grand Slams she entered, and three gold medals at the Paralympic Games. Vergeer started to play wheelchair tennis at age 12 after surgery on her spinal cord went wrong. ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “Esther Vergeer is a tremendous ambassador not only for tennis but also for disability sports. She is an inspiration to many. Wheelchair tennis owes her a huge debt of gratitude for her professionalism and her quality as a player. Everyone at the ITF wishes her well with her foundation and we know that anything she chooses to do in the future will be a success.” “On behalf of the WTA, our players and tournaments, I want to extend our congratulations to Esther for her tremendous accomplishments over the course of her impressive career – more importantly, I need to thank her for the contributions she has made to the sport of tennis,” Stacey Allaster, Chairman & CEO of the WTA, said about the Dutchwoman. “Beyond the statistics, she has served as an inspiration for generations of not just tennis players, but women of all ages. Esther, like the WTA’s founder Billie Jean King, shares the clear vision about the potential that women not only have in sport, but in society. And she delivered this motivating message every time she stepped on the court.”

Win On-Court Porsche Seats for ATP Delray Beach International Tennis Championships

The USTA Florida Section Foundation has teamed up with the Delray Beach ITC to raffle two on-court “Best of the Best” seats in a Porsche Convertible for the evening session on March 1, 2013 during the upcoming ATP Delray Beach International Tennis Championships. To enter, simply make a donation to the USTA Florida Section Foundation before February 19, and choose “ITC Best of the Best Seats” from the drop-down menu. The winner will be drawn at 5 p.m. eastern time on February 19, and tickets will be waiting at the Delray Beach box office. For more info go to http://www.ustafloridafoundation.com/delrayporscheseats/.

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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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