Stars headline WTT Smash Hits
September 16, 2010
Longtime friends Sir Elton John and Billie Jean King are bringing their annual WTT Smash Hits charity night of tennis to the nation’s capital for the first time in the event’s 18-year history.
Tennis greats Andre Agassi, Stefanie Graf, Anna Kournikova and James Blake will join other top players for WTT Smash Hits presented by GEICO on Monday, Nov. 15, at Bender Arena on the campus of American University in Washington, D.C. Tickets for the one-night event are now on sale.
Smash Hits has raised more than $9.6 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and various local AIDS charities since 1993. This year’s event will benefit EJAF and the Washington AIDS Partnership. The funds raised at the pre-match Smash Hits VIP Reception and Auction will be specifically targeted for local programs. The District of Columbia now suffers the highest rate of new AIDS cases in the United States and an HIV infection rate 12 times the national average.
Captained by King and John, the players will form two teams and play five sets of World TeamTennis (WTT). The music legend will also participate in a celebrity doubles match to open the event. Additional participants will be announced in the upcoming weeks.
“We are so thrilled to bring Smash Hits to our nation’s capital this year,” said WTT co-founder Billie Jean King. “This is the perfect venue for us to raise the awareness of HIV and AIDS and we are excited to build upon the growing support in the community for WTT.” Washington D.C. is also home to the Washington Kastles, one of the 10 teams in the WTT Pro League presented by GEICO.
Tickets, which range from $40-$120, are currently on sale. General admission seats are $40. Reserved bleacher seats are $60, and reserved court side seats range from $100 to $120. Order tickets through the American University online box office ataueagles.com/tickets or visitWTT.com/SmashHits for more information. For group sales of 10 or more tickets, call 202/552-5999.
Special VIP ticket packages, including VIP courtside seating and admission to the Smash Hits VIP Reception and Auction, will also be available for $500. John, King and all players will participate in the pre-match live auction, which will include an Elton John signed piano bench and King’s Wimbledon tickets among other items. To buy VIP ticket packages or for more information, call 202/552-5999.
Although this will be Agassi’s 11th Smash Hits, it’s his first appearance at the event since 2004. The 8-time Grand Slam singles champion and former world No. 1 is well-known for his philanthropy, including founding the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas.
This is the first Smash Hits appearance for Stefanie Graf, considered one of the greatest players in tennis history. The Hall of Famer won 107 singles titles before retiring in 1999, including 22 Grand Slam singles championships and an Olympic gold medal. Graf and her husband Andre Agassi have two children, daughter Jaz and son Jaden.
Kournikova, a longtime supporter of Smash Hits, is returning for her 8th consecutive event. The former world No. 1 in doubles recently completed her 8th WTT Pro League season, playing for the St. Louis Aces.
This is the 2nd Smash Hits event for Blake, who has been ranked as high as No. 4 in the world in singles and has won 10 career singles titles on the ATP Tour. Blake, who played for the Boston Lobsters this summer, helped lead the U.S. to the 2007 Davis Cup title.
For more information on WTT Smash Hits, visitWTT.com/SmashHits.
WTT at the US Open
It was another great US Open for many of World TeamTennis’ best. WTT players won four of the five major titles at the 2010 US Open.Kim Clijsters (New York Sportimes) with her daughter Jada after winning the 2010 US Open.
The New York Sportimes’ Kim Clijsters defended her singles title with a 6-2, 6-1 thrashing of Vera Zvonareva. Clijsters defeated Venus Williams (Washington Kastles) in a semifinal thriller 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.
In mixed doubles, Bob Bryan of the Kansas City Explorers teamed with WTT veteran Liezel Huber to defeat fellow Explorers’ teammate Kveta Peschke and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan 6-4, 6-4 to win the title.
Bob teamed with his brother (and fellow Explorer) Mike for a thrilling 7-6(5), 7-6(4) victory in the men’s doubles final over the “Indo-Pak Express” – Quereshi and Rohan Bopanna of India.
Vania King (Sacramento Capitals) celebrates with Yaroslava Shvedova after they won the 2010 US Open Women’s Doubles title.
Vania King of the Sacramento Capitals won her second consecutive doubles Grand Slam title, partnering again with 2008 WTT Rookie of the Year Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan for a 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) rain-delayed win that was finally completed on Monday afternoon.
Some of tennis’ greatest champions were showcased in week 2 of the US Open in the 2010 US Open Champions Invitational. The event, which used a modified World TeamTennis format featured a lineup of big names competing on four teams including Martina Navratilova, Michael Chang, Tracy Austin, Todd Martin, The Woodies, Gigi Fernandez, Natasha Zvereva and Mary Joe Fernandez.
Team Connolly (Gigi Fernandez, Todd Woodbridge, Mark Woodforde and Natasha Zvereva) captured the title with a 14-9 victory over Team Kramer (Martina Navratilova, Chanda Rubin, Michael Chang and Pat Cash).
WTT’s US OPEN CHAMPIONS
The United States International Club (USIC) presented World TeamTennis CEO/Commissioner Ilana Kloss with the 2010 Sarah Palfrey Danzig Award at the Hall of Fame Legends Ball on Friday, Sept. 10. The Danzig Award is given in recognition of contributions both as a player and a contributor to the sport over the past several decades.
Tennis great Pam Shriver and USIC President Dan Waldman made the presentation to Kloss.
Rec teams from Kansas City, Raleigh and Houston qualify for WTT Finals in Indian Wells
Team Impact of Anderson, S.C., won the 4.0 Division at the Raleigh qualifier.
Only two more opportunities to qualify for the 2010 WTT Nationals at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif. WTT Rec League National Qualifiers are scheduled for Sept. 24-26 in Irvine, Calif., and Oct. 1-3 in Lancaster, Pa.
Teams from throughout the U.S. competed in three summer qualifying events. South Carolina and Virginia teams captured titles at the WTT National Qualifier in Raleigh, N.C., while Houston area teams dominated the most recent qualifying event in Houston, Texas. Teams from Missouri, Texas and Kansas won titles at the National Qualifier in Kansas City, Mo.
The first National Qualifier for the 2011 season will be held Feb. 18-20 in Houston.
Southern Smashers win WTT Junior Nationals in San Diego
The Southern Smashers (pictured to the left with Billie Jean King) won the WTT Junior Nationals for the fourth time in the past six years, defeating Texas TNT 37-35 in Overtime at the Southern Smashers won the 2010 WTT Junior Nationalshosted by Billie Jean King.
George E. Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, Calif. last month.
The WTT Junior Nationals, which is hosted by WTT co-founder Billie Jean King, is an invitational national junior event featuring 16 coed teams from throughout the U.S. The teams use the World TeamTennis format during their three days of non-elimination draw competition. The 2010 event marks the 15th anniversary of the tournament.
The Smashers, representing the USTA Southern Section, jumped out to an early 12-6 lead after the first two sets of doubles. Clare Mendell of Canton, Ga., and Ashley Kitchen of Hilton Head Island, S.C., outlasted Farris Cunningham of Houston and Casey Sutton of Austin, Texas, 6-4 in girls doubles. Roberto Hennis of Raleigh, N.C., and Chase Baker of Suwannee, Ga., built on the lead with a 6-2 victory in boys doubles.
In girls singles Mendell overpowered Emily Olivier of Spring, Texas, 6-2, while teammates Abigail Owens of Duluth, Ga., topped Cunningham 6-3.
Texas TNT started to turn the tide in boys singles as Robin Chou of Austin, Texas, edged Hennis 6-5, while Eliot Blatt of Austin, Texas, beat Parker Chang of Winston Salem, N.C., 6-4.
Trailing by 10 games heading into mixed doubles, Texas rallied with Greg Haugen of Austin, Texas, and Olivier defeating Chang and Kitchen 6-1. Blatt and Sutton won the designated mixed doubles match over Owens and Baker 6-2. Baker and Owens won the first game in overtime to win the title for the Southern Smashers. USTA Southern teams also won the event in 2005, 2007, and 2008.
Smooth Strokes lauded for good sportsmanship at WTT Junior Nationals
The WTT Junior Nationals is about much more than just the results on the court. Each year the 16 teams and coaches vote on the Maureen Connolly Brinker Team Spirit Award, which recognizes a team’s outstanding sportsmanship and camaraderie.
This year’s recipient of their competitors’ respect and a $1,000 check was Smooth Strokes. Led by coach Alyce Meadors, the Smooth Strokes squad stood out throughout the event with their enthusiasm and spirit and signature chant of “Smooth Strokes, stroke smooth!” The team even taught their cheer to event host Billie Jean King (pictured at right).
Team members of Smooth Strokes are Kyle Burton, Madison, Tenn.; Jordan Harrell, Lithonia, Ga.; Anthony LaRue, Louisville, Ky.; Brandi Nelson, Jonesboro, Ga.; Ja’Haun Freeman-Clark, Atlanta, Ga.; and Rankin Anderson, Stone Mountain, Ga. Alyce Meadors is the coach of Smooth Strokes.
WILSON: WTT stars play with Wilson in 2010
Many of the top players in the WTT Pro League presented by GEICO are also Wilson players. Lindsay Davenport used her Wilson Tour BLX racket en route to earning the Female MVP honors. Jarmila “Jarka” Groth of the Kansas City Explorers used the Wilson Pro Open BLX racket to lead her team to their first WTT title and earn WTT Finals MVP honors.
WTT players who played with Wilson rackets this season were:
KANSAS CITY EXPLORERS
NEW YORK SPORTIMES
NEWPORT BEACH BREAKERS
ST. LOUIS ACES
Access: Behind the Scenes
World TeamTennis is known for access, from pre-match hospitality to post-match autograph sessions for kids. Sean Beardsley, general manager of Power Acura South Bay in Torrance, Calif., got to meet Billie Jean King and WTT Female MVP Lindsay Davenport before a Newport Beach Breakers match this July.
“This was the most fun I have had at a sporting event in a long time,” said Beardsley (pictured with King). “The talent and the intensity of the players was outstanding! Getting to meet Billie Jean King and Lindsay Davenport in the VIP area before the match was a real treat. First-class all the way.”
Acura is the official automobile of the World TeamTennis Pro League.
Watch WTT on CNN’s Open Court
Pat Cast and the crew of CNN’s Open Court spent some time at a WTT match this summer. Watch their take on the rise of World TeamTennis and go behind the scenes.
GO ONLINE WITH WTT
Connect with World TeamTennis online to keep up with the latest WTT news and announcements. Check out our Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2010 WTT CHAMPIONS
KANSAS CITY EXPLORERS
Sam Groth, Jarka Groth, Kveta Peschke, Ricardo Mello
Coach: Brent Haygarth
Owners: Mel and Jeff Launius
2010 WTT CALENDAR
Rec League National Qualifier, Heritage Park – Irvine, Calif.
Rec League National Qualifier, Hempfield Sports Complex – Lancaster, Pa. (registration due by 9/17)
WTT Rec League Finals, Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Indian Wells, Calif.
WTT Smash Hits presented by GEICO, Bender Arena at American Univ., Washington, D.C.