Match Madness begins this week
March 9, 2015
LOS ANGELES — With multi-tiered tournament brackets, daylong competition, stunning upsets, favorite stars, pedigreed previous champions, a captivated fan base and the game’s most exciting athletes chasing the same prize, the month of March means Match Madness to Tennis Channel viewers. As the network begins its three-and-a-half week journey through the prestigious BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open events on Wednesday, March 11, it plans more than 185 hours of live coverage that includes 15 days of morning-to-evening competition. With additional live coverage and late-night encores, Tennis Channel will devote more than 510 combined hours and 25 days to the Southern California and Miami competitions, often referred to as the sport’s “Fifth Slams” given tournament fields eclipsed only by tennis’ four major “Grand Slam” events.
In 2015, Tennis Channel is adding the first day of play at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., expanding to eight consecutive days of 12-hour, live-match blocks – and 10 days of live matches overall at the 12-day event (complete schedules for both tournaments follow). More than 100 live hours are planned this year, with 162 overall via encore telecasts. Already one of the most important events on the professional circuit, this year’s competition has generated exceptional interest given World No. 1 Serena Williams’ return to the field for the first time since 2001, when she won the championship.
As the television home of one of the players’ favorite venues, the network will cover live action from Opening Day Wednesday, March 11, up to the men’s quarterfinal and women’s semifinal rounds. Tennis Channel will carry the men’s doubles final live on championship weekend, and offer same-day encore replays of all men’s and women’s singles quarterfinal, semifinal and championship matches. With all-night encores throughout the tournament, viewers will be able to leave their televisions tuned into Tennis Channel from March 11-March 22 and see the entire breadth of Indian Wells on-air competition.
Also new for the network in 2015 is the addition of a second broadcast booth in the tournament’s new state-of-the art Stadium 2, unveiled last year. This gives Tennis Channel an event presence in three distinct locations: a booth in Stadium 2, a booth on the main court at Stadium 1 and a studio desk on the tournament grounds, the hub of the network’s on-air activity. With a handful of exceptions, on most days coverage begins with half-hour lead-in show Live at the BNP Paribas Open at 1:30 p.m. ET. Based at the tournament desk, Emmy Award-winning host Brett Haber (@BrettHaber) will appear with Hall of Famers Tracy Austin (@thetracyaustin) and Jim Courier, along with Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim. In addition to news and analysis, the quartet will offer special segments, interviews and an overall diary of the tournament’s progression.
“It’s so much fun to have our Tennis Channel set outside with the fans at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden,” said Austin. “March is such a huge month for tennis, with great matchups every day, and even more so this year with the return of Serena Williams to the BNP Paribas Open.”
Immediately following the BNP Paribas Open is March’s other high-profile competition: the Miami Open, from March 26-April 5. As with Southern California, Tennis Channel’s coverage gets underway on Opening Day and features daylong live matches most days, with round-the-clock encores filling out the late-night and early morning schedules. The network plans 85 live hours and close to 250 overall with encore replays. Most live coverage runs from 10:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m., from the first ball of play through the women’s quarterfinals, with same-day encores of the men’s and women’s singles quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.
This is Austin’s fifth time as part of Tennis Channel’s on-air team at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, and the second for Courier. During his career, the American star won singles titles at the Southern California competition in 1991 and 1993, and a doubles crown in 1991. Fellow Hall of Famer Lindsay Davenport (@LDavenport76) is back as an analyst in her fifth year with Tennis Channel, and took numerous championships in the desert in her playing days, with singles in 1997 and 2000, and an impressive six doubles in 1994-95, 1997-98, 2000 and 2003.
Haber is a decorated sportscaster who returns to Indian Wells with Tennis Channel for the sixth time in 2015. He will be joined by Mary Carillo, in her second Southern California tour with the network, and newcomer Ted Robinson (@tedjrobinson), who is making his Tennis Channel BNP Paribas debut after having done multiple stints with the channel at the US Open, French Open, Davis Cup and other top-caliber competitions.
Former player Justin Gimelstob (@justingimelstob) has been with the network since its infancy, and is one of the most respected, most connected young voices in tennis broadcasting today. In addition to his duties with the network in Indian Wells, Gimelstob is currently the coach of the top-ranked men’s tennis player in America, John Isner, a role he has in common with Davenport, who also coaches young American Madison Keyes. No stranger to coaching is Paul Annacone (@paul_annacone), who has guided two of the best players of all time, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer, to major titles. After joining the network in 2014 and appearing on multiple Grand Slam and Davis Cup broadcasts since, he joins Tennis Channel’s Indian Wells team for the first time in 2015.
Jon Wertheim is in his first year as part of Tennis Channel’s BNP Paribas Open team, and adds a sharp tennis reporter’s eye to major network coverage. An executive editor and senior writer of Sports Illustrated¸ he writes weekly tennis columns and has authored numerous books on the sport and its players.
Davenport will continue her analyst’s duties for Tennis Channel’s coverage of the Miami Open in late March. As part of the network’s Tennis Channel Live and Center Court coverage team, she will be joined by former players Leif Shiras (@LShirock) and Mark Knowles.
Users have more mobile options with network app Tennis Channel Everywhere, which is available to all Apple and Android users and includes much of the content available online. Select distribution partners allow authenticated Tennis Channel subscribers to access the network on the go through Tennis Channel Everywhere, and the network’s digital subscription service, Tennis Channel Plus, offers exclusive live and archived tennis to anyone in the United States, regardless of whether or not they subscribe to Tennis Channel.
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