by Liz Kobak
Nadal To Play February’s Inaugural Rio Open
EBX Group and IMG Worldwide’s sports and entertainment venture IMX announced on Tuesday that 2013 US Open Champion Rafael Nadal is scheduled to compete in the first annual Rio Open this February.
The World No. 2 plays on South America’s biggest tennis stage Feb. 15-23, 2014. The Open doubles as an ATP World Tour 500 and WTA International event.
“I am looking forward to playing for the first time ever in Rio de Janeiro. It’s very important for South American tennis that we finally have an ATP World Tour 500 event. It’s a great victory for Brazil,” Nadal said. “All around the world, when I play, I can feel the love of the Brazilian people.”
Nadal has won a record eight Roland Garros singles titles and 13 total Grand Slams. Countryman David Ferrer is also competing alongside Beijing Olympics gold medalist Nadal and will seek revenge for his 2013 Roland Garros finals loss.
“Nadal is one of greats of the history of the sport,” said IMX Sports Vice President Marcia Casz. “His commitment to play the Rio Open already states that the event is aiming to be one of the most important of the ATP World Tour and that the Wonderful City of Rio de Janeiro attracts the biggest stars of the planet, especially on the way to the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games.”
Total tournament prize money is $1.5 Million ($1.25 for the ATP and $250,000 for WTA) for the event held on Jockey Club Brasileiro’s eight clay courts, including one stadium. The Rio Open serves fans one food court and village area. Tickets go on sale in November.
US Open Semi-Finalist Ginepri Opens Georgia Tennis Academy
Olde Towne Athletic Club announced on Tuesday that it’s soon home to Ginepri Performance Tennis Academy (GPT).
The tennis performance development academy, located in Marietta, GA, offers tennis and physical training programs that excellent professionals and top level juniors develop. GPT serves to cultivate world class tennis players and teach Atlanta youth who aspire to compete in high school or college. The program comprises high performance group tennis training with individual attention, match play, competitive live-ball drilling and dynamic fitness.
Former US Olympian, Davis Cup Team member and 2005 US Open semi-finalist Robby Ginepri brings 13 years of elite tennis competition experience to GPT.
“I am looking forward to working with our juniors when I am in town and participating in their development and following their progress in the years to come,” said Georgia native and Director of Tennis Programming Robby Ginepri.
IMG Tennis Acquires AAMI Classic
IMG Tennis recently purchased The AAMI Classic, an event that started in 1988 alongside the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club (KLTC) and was formerly owned by Colin Stubs Enterprises.
The Melbourne tennis invitational hosted eight male singles players and celebrated its 25th anniversary this recent January. The AAMI Classic is largely considered the premier warm-up tournament for the calendar year’s first Grand Slam, The Australian Open.
“It is a privilege and honor to follow Colin Stubs as tournament director following his 25 years at the helm,” said IMG Senior Vice President and Australian Tennis Director Brian Cooney. “The KLTC is the most prestigious tennis club in Australia and the perfect location for the tournament. I’m looking forward to putting IMG’s stamp on the event.”
Reigning 2013 champion and former World No.1 Lleyton Hewitt announced that he will defend his crown next year.
Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy Announces 2013 Class
Former World No. 1 and Andy Murray’s coach Ivan Lendl declared his self-entitled International Junior Tennis Academy’s fall 2013 class, including tennis players from seven states and three countries.
The full-time tennis program is based in Hilton Head, SC, where aspiring tennis professionals simultaneously attend Heritage Academy. Lendl’s academy teaching professionals use hands-on coaching that focuses on traditional stroke fundamentals, cutting-edge biomechanics, fitness and mental preparation.
“Our Academy offers an exclusive opportunity to train daily with passionate players from around the world while following a personalized performance plan to reach individual academic and athletic goals,” said Ivan Lendl IJTA Executive Director Rob Castorri.
The new semester began Aug. 19 and includes students from Germany, Mongolia and throughout the United States. For more information about Ivan Lendl IJTA, visit www.LendlTennis.com/info or call 888.936.5327.
Wimbledon Champ Murray Creates Management Company
This year’s Wimbledon champion Andy Murray partnered with his personal tennis manager Simon Fuller to create their new management company.
The London-based company – called 77 – is inspired by the 77-year long drought before a British man won Wimbledon and July 7, 2013, when Murray made it rain. The company will oversee Murray and elder brother Jamie’s on and off court interests.
Murray’s XIX media consultant Matt Gentry is 77’s new managing director. Former World No. 1 Indian doubles player Mahesh Bhupathi will still oversee Murray’s new business and sales while Ugo Colombini manages Murray’s tournament activity.
“The new company will allow me more freedom and the chance to become more involved in my business affairs,” Murray said. “I’ve got a great team of people around me who I trust, both on and off the court, which in turn allows me to completely focus on my tennis.”
2013 US Open Sets New Milestones
The USTA announced this week many new 2013 US Open attendance and viewership records.
The final Open attendance tally was 713,026 people, ranking fourth-highest ever in US Open attendance. The all-time high combined session attendance of 62,794 was set on Sunday, September 1.
Television viewership of Serena Williams defeating Victoria Azarenka on CBS Sports – a rematch of last year’s US Open women’s final – was the highest in 11 years, with 19.3 Million pairs of eyeballs watching. About 11.7 CBS Sports viewers saw Rafael Nadal capture his second US Open title after defeating Novak Djokovic in Monday’s men’s final.
The official US Open digital properties had record setting growth across the board. More than 419 Million page views were tallied, creating another all-time record and surpassing 2012’s total by 29 percent.
Mobile digital growth rose 64 percent from last year. The Official US Open iPhone App recorded more than 811,000 downloads or increased 110 percent and exceeded 109 million Page views. Tablet usage surpassed 41.7 million page views. In its second year, the Official US Open iPad app saw unprecedented growth with more than 16.9 million page views, 118 percent up from 2012.
US Open Live streaming also saw record engagement. More than 2.9 million live streaming footage hours were viewed on USOpen.org, Tablet and mobile devices.
Given technology continually grows, it is safe to say that these numbers will also rise come next US Open.
BNP Paribas’ The Legends Ball Raises Tennis Hall of Fame Big Bucks
On Friday, September 6, during the US Open’s second week, more than 450 tennis enthusiasts and industry leaders celebrated The Legends Ball presented by BNP Paribas at Cipriani’s 42nd Street, an International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum hosted social event commemorating tennis and honoring the sport’s best contributors.
In its first year under BNP Paribas sponsorship, the 2013 The Legends Ball raised more than $330,000 in net proceeds supporting the Hall of Fame’s mission. The event, hosted annually since 1980, honored the Hall of Fame Class of 2013 – former world No. 1 Martina Hingis and Australian tennis great Thelma Coyne Long. The Ball also featured the Eugene L. Scott Award presentation to Rod Laver and the Joseph F. Cullman Award to ESPN for their undying commitment to tennis.
“We were particularly honored to be the presenting sponsor of this fantastic Legends Ball recognizing the 2013 class of Hall of Famers, and we are delighted that the event was such a success for a cause we so greatly support,” said BNP Paribas North America CEO Jean-Yves Fillion.
Liz Kobak won the 2013 USTA National Women’s Open Singles Grass Court Championship. She is a 2010 Columbia University graduate and Northwestern University journalism master’s recipient. She is a former WTA ranked pro and #1 ranked United States junior tennis player who rates her 6-4, 6-1 win on Italian clay over Sara Errani as her best victory.