An Interview with CEO of the WTA, Stacey Allaster: “It’s exciting to note how global tennis has become” - UBITENNIS
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An Interview with CEO of the WTA, Stacey Allaster: “It’s exciting to note how global tennis has become”



TENNIS – On Wednesday the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix was visited by Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the WTA, who found her way to Stuttgart once again this year. Porsche Tennis Grand Prix media spoke to the Canadian about women’s tennis today and in the future, WTA’s responsibility towards the players and the importance of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix for the WTA. From Stuttgart, Simone Kemler


Ms Allaster, the Board of Directors are accompanying you to the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. What’s the importance of the tournament for the WTA?

The Porsche Tennis Grand Prix is very important to the WTA. Each year the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix event exhibits the vision of the WTA “to be the most inspirational and exciting sport entertainment experience on earth”. I’ve been fortunate to attend the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix a number of times over the years, and I think it sets an extremely high standard. Furthermore, and most importantly, this is a tournament the athletes love to play. The tournament’s honor roll features many of the sport’s legends – and they’ve come back year after year. It has always been a pleasure to attend the tournament.”


The WTA represents over 2,500 players from 92 nations. How important is player welfare for you and where in particular do you see the WTA’s responsibility as being?

The health and welfare of our athletes is our number one priority. We have a world class Sports Science and Medicine team that focuses on prevention, triage and rehabilitation in and out of competition. Our Director of Athlete Assistance travels to support the athletes, their coaches and parents. And we have a dedicated team that focuses on professional development programs. These programs include: (i) WTA Rookies that provides services and professional advice to help young players transition from the juniors to professional tennis; and (ii) WTA Transitions that provides professional development for those athletes who are nearing the end of their on-court careers. The type of programs offered include university undergraduate and masters degrees, coaching certification, public speaking, real estate, financial management and media training.”


Women’s tennis has developed rapidly in the past years. What in your opinion were the pivotal strategic changes?

The introduction of Roadmap circuit reform in 2007 was a pivotal moment for the WTA. Our vision was to build a tournament structure that increased the participation rates of the WTA’s top players, while elongating the off-season in order to help cut down on injuries and prolong careers. As of February, we have 15 players aged 30 or older in the Top 100, including our World No.1 Serena Williams, who is still reigning supreme and breaking records at 32-years old.”


Where does women’s tennis stand in 2014 and what are your plans for the near future?

With the tennis markets in Europe and the Americas at a mature stage, it was important to seek to establish women’s tennis in emerging markets, such as China, South East Asia and Brazil. In 2008, in conjunction with the WTA’s 35th anniversary, we opened an office in Beijing, China and upgraded the China Open to a Premier Mandatory event. This year our players could compete in a two-week swing in Brazil, with a tournament in Rio de Janeiro joining the Florianopolis event, which made its debut on the calendar in 2013. We’ll have a record number of tournaments in the Asia-Pacific region in 2014, culminating in our crown jewel event – the season-ending WTA Championships – to be hosted in Singapore for the next five years.”


The expansion in recent years has come above all in Asia. Is the rest of the world maybe getting a bit of raw deal?

Europe and the Americas have been great success stories for women’s tennis. Tennis is very popular there and many of our players come from Europe. It’s exciting to note how global tennis has become and that’s why we’re also identifying growth opportunities for women’s tennis in emerging markets. But don’t worry Europe continues to host 23 tournaments – more than any other region on the 2014 WTA calendar. And when you include Roland Garros and Wimbledon, Europe continues to be a key foundation of the WTA’s global calendar. Additionally, with an extra week between Roland Garros and Wimbledon confirmed for 2015, tennis fans can look forward to an extended European grass court swing.”


Two players in particular are presently inspiring fans all over the world: Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. How important are such superstars for women’s tennis and who do you feel can follow in their footsteps?

There’s no doubt that players such as Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Li Na are global superstars of our sport. They not only continue to inspire us all with their on-court performance, but they transcend the sport: whether it is building schools in Africa like Serena has done; becoming the CEO of a multi-million dollar, international company like Maria has done; or being named as one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people as Li Na has been. These players are standing on the shoulders of the women who came before them and living the dream that resulted in the formation of the WTA.”


Who can replace the superstars in the future?

As for the future, it’s looking bright. We have 10 different nations represented in our Top 10, and a host of young players rising through the ranks and looking to make their mark on the sport. Keep an eye on players such as Eugenie Bouchard (Canada), Madison Keys (USA), Garbine Muguruza (Spain), Laura Robson (UK), Monica Puig (Puerto Rico) and Elina Svitolina (Ukraine), along with Germany’s own Annika Beck, who just turned 20 and already has a career-high of No. 46 in the world.”


What do you think about the rise of women’s tennis in Germany and just how far do you feel the top German players can go?

I think German tennis fans should be immensely proud of the women representing them on the WTA. Outside of the US, Germany has more players ranked in the Top 100 than any other nation. To have seven women ranked inside the Top 100 (as of February) is a fantastic achievement in a global sport such as tennis. Angelique Kerber has become a fixture in the Top 10; we saw Sabine Lisicki reach her first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon last year; and Andrea Petkovic and Julia Görges have broken into the Top 10 and Top 15 respectively over the last few years. These players not only compete hard, but are some of the most popular players on tour too. It is wonderful to see the camaraderie the German girls share, the encouragement and support they give each other, and I think the sky is the limit for what they could achieve in the future.”


Back to the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix: Why do you believe the players have voted it so often as their favourite tournament?

The WTA has 22 premier tournaments and to be named the players’ favourite Premier-level tournament five times is a credit to Porsche, Markus and Anke’s leadership. Like the Porsche brand, Markus and Anke are committed each year to providing the athletes with a world class experience that ultimately enhances their performance. Each year the Tournament Directors and Operating Tournament Director are focused on the fine details that make such a difference and they are always asking themselves, despite the high standards, how they can evolve and improve the players’ experience for next year.”


What makes the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix different to other tournaments?

Many tournaments provide all the important services for the athletes yet what makes the difference is the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix’s commitment to precision in all of these key areas. Along with world class services, each year the tournament staff rolls out the “911” red carpet for all the athletes and their guests. There are never any problems for the tournament team, just solutions to help the athletes, and it is the passion of the fans that really shines through and lifts this event to a high performance level.” (Porsche Tennis Grand Prix)


Miami Open Daily Preview: Elena Rybakina Plays Jessica Pegula in the Semifinals



Elena Rybakina two weeks ago at Indian Wells (

Due to rain on Wednesday, only one WTA semifinal will be played on Thursday.


Elena Rybakina is just two wins away from completing the “Sunshine Double,” which is winning both Indian Wells and Miami.  But in Thursday’s WTA semifinal, American No.1 Jessica Pegula stands in her way.  The other semifinal is still to be determined, and will not be played until Friday, as Petra Kvitova and Ekaterina Alexandrova will contest their rain-delayed quarterfinal on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the ATP quarterfinals will be completed on Thursday.  Indian Wells finalist Daniil Medvedev faces American Chris Eubanks, who has been the breakout story of this tournament thus far.  Also, Karen Khachanov takes on Francisco Cerundolo, who is vying for his second consecutive semifinal in Miami.  And delayed from Wednesday night, Carlos Alcaraz battles Taylor Fritz in another ATP quarterfinal.

You can find a preview of the Alcaraz/Fritz and Kvitova/Alexandrova quarterfinals in yesterday’s daily preview here.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Thursday’s play gets underway at 1:00pm local time.

Chris Eubanks (Q) vs. Daniil Medvedev (4) – 1:00pm on Stadium

Medvedev leads the ATP with 26 wins this season, as well as with three titles.  Daniil has not dropped a set to this stage, though he’s only played two matches thus far due to a walkover earlier this week.

Eubanks has already won six matches this fortnight after coming through qualifying.  And the 26-year-old achieved a career goal of breaking into the top 100 with this quarterfinal run.  Chris became emotional on-court after clinching that feat on Monday, and followed it up with another upset the next day, over Adrian Mannarino.  The American is projected to become ranked 85th in the world on Monday, but a win on Thursday would propel him into the top 60.

In their first career meeting, of course the self-proclaimed “hard court specialist” Medvedev is a strong favorite.  But I’m quite interested to see how Eubanks performs in the biggest match of his career.  During a rain delay on Monday, Frances Tiafoe provided Eubanks with some advice in the locker room, which Chris credited with helping him come back in the second-set tiebreak once play resumed.  He’s played more freely since that comeback, and Eubanks may feel as if he has nothing to lose on Thursday.

Elena Rybakina (10) vs. Jessica Pegula (3) – Not Before 8:30pm on Stadium

Rybakina is 20-4 this season, and is currently on a 10-match win streak.  If her 2,000 points from winning Wimbledon last summer counted, she’d currently be ranked third in the world.  Elena easily dispatched of Martina Trevisan in the last round.

Pegula is 19-5 on the year, and 10-3 in Miami.  This is her second consecutive semifinal at this event, and she’s the No.3 player in the world without Rybakina’s Wimbledon points counting.  She saved multiple match points to come back and defeat Anastasia Potapova during Tuesday’s quarterfinals.

Pegula is 2-0 against Rybakina, with both matches taking place on hard courts during 2022.  A year ago at this same tournament, Jess prevailed in straight sets.  And last fall in Guadalajara, Pegula outlasted Rybakina in a final-set tiebreak, another match in which the American saved multiple match points.  As confident as Elena currently is, with her big serve and groundstrokes dictating play, it’s hard not to favor the reigning Wimbledon champ.  But based on their recent history, as well as Pegula’s rising confidence after saving match points in the last round, I give Jess the slight edge in Thursday’s semifinals on home soil.

Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Francisco Cerundolo (25) vs. Karen Khachanov (14) – Cerundolo was in danger of falling out of the top 40 with an early loss in Miami, defending the best result of his career at this level, but has impressed by returning to the quarterfinals, defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime on the way.  Khachanov upset Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last round, and is looking to reach his first Masters semifinal since 2019.  Last summer in Canada, Karen defeated Francisco in three sets.

Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Miami Open Daily Preview: Indian Wells Champs Carlos Alcaraz and Taylor Fritz Collide



Carlos Alcaraz two Sundays ago at Indian Wells (

On Wednesday in Miami, 2023 Indian Wells champion Carlos Alcaraz faces 2022 champ Taylor Fritz for the first time.


Alcaraz is just three wins away from defending his Miami title, which he needs to do in order to remain World No.1.  Wednesday’s other ATP quarterfinal sees Indian Wells semifinalist Jannik Sinner take on Emil Ruusuvuori, who is the first Finnish quarterfinalist at a Masters 1000 tournament in a decade.

In the WTA singles draw, Aryna Sabalenka and Petra Kvitova are one round away from a big-hitting semifinal.  But first, they must get past Sorana Cirstea and Ekaterina Alexandrova, respectively.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Wednesday’s play gets underway at 1:00pm local time.

Ekaterina Alexandrova (18) vs. Petra Kvitova (15) – Not Before 7:00pm on Stadium

Kvitova is 14-5 this season, and has now reached the quarterfinals of both Indian Wells and Miami this month.  Petra has also now advanced to the fourth round or better of this event for the fifth straight time, and has not dropped a set this fortnight.

Alexandrova had a losing record this year before arriving in Miami.  She defeated Belinda Bencic two rounds ago, and advanced in the last round after Bianca Andreescu’s upsetting ankle injury.  This is Ekaterina’s second WTA 1000 quarterfinal, after first achieving that feat last year in Madrid, when she advanced to the semifinals.

Their only previous encounter occurred three years ago at the Australian Open, when Kvitova comfortably prevailed 6-1, 6-2.  Ekaterina does not possess the same offensive weaponry of Petra, so on a hard court, the two-time Wimbledon champion is a considerable favorite to win again on Wednesday.

Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Taylor Fritz (9) – Not Before 8:30pm on Stadium

Alcaraz is 17-1 on the season, despite missing all of January due to injury.  His only loss came to Cam Norrie in the final of Rio, a match in which Carlitos reaggravated his leg injury.  He’s yet to drop a set during this tournament.

Fritz is 20-5 in 2023, and has now reached the quarterfinals or better at his last five events.  This is Taylor’s first quarterfinal in Miami, and his third consecutive quarterfinal as Masters 1000 events in North America.  Like Alcaraz, he’s also yet to lose a set in Miami, but he’s 1-4 in his last five Masters quarterfinals.

This is the first career meeting between the World No.1 and the American No.1.  Fritz certainly has the firepower to threaten Alcaraz on this day.  But based on Carlitos’ recent sharp form, the 19-year-old is the favorite to advance to the semifinals.

Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Sorana Cirstea vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Sabalenka is now a stellar 20-2 on the year, and has allowed her opponents this past week an average of just 2.5 games per set.  Cirstea is having an excellent March, having advanced to her second consecutive WTA 1000 quarterfinal, a stage she hadn’t reached since 2017.  This is another first-time career meeting.

Emil Ruusuvuori vs. Jannik Sinner (10) – Sinner is vying for his second consecutive Masters semifinal, and has not dropped a set thus far in Miami.  This is Ruuuvuori’s maiden Masters 1000 quarterfinal, at the only Masters event where he had ever previously advanced beyond the third round.  Jannik is 4-0 against Emil, with all of those wins in straight sets, except a match in Miami a year ago that went to a third-set tiebreak, and saw Sinner save three match points.

Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Elena Rybakina Donates Money To The Next Generation Of Kazakh Tennis Players



Photo by Ubitennis

Elena Rybakina says her decision to provide financial support to a group of young players is a way for her to say thank you for the support she has received from the Kazakh Tennis Federation. 


The reigning Wimbledon champion has donated 2.5 million Kazakhstani Tenge (£4500) to 14 players on the junior Tour to help fund their development for the future. She helped pick who would receive the donations after holding talks with the KTF about the country’s rising stars. Rybakina had previously pledged to provide support to young people in Kazakhstan after winning her maiden Grand Slam title last year but she hasn’t been able to finalize her donations until recently due to her commitments on the Tour. 

“We actually talked with the Federation earlier. It just happen now recently because I was travelling a lot and it’s not easy,” Rybakina told reporters following her quarter-final win over Martina Trevisan at the Miami Open. 
“We talked with the Federation as I don’t know the girls that well as I’m travelling all the time.”

The 22-year-old was born in Russia but became a neutralized Kazakh citizen back in 2018. Her decision to do so was aided by the financial support she has received from the Kazakh tennis federation to help her development in the sport. Last year she was asked if she felt Russian or Kazakh and responded by saying ‘tough question.’ 

“It was just a big help for me when I started working professionally, from the Federation, so I was thinking that there is going to be a good way to thank back,” she said of her donation. 
“Also, I think it’s important for young girls to have some kind of support since it’s not easy for everyone. Hopefully, they are gonna be around (on the Tour) soon.”

Rybakina is just two victories away from winning the sunshine double. A term used to describe a player winning events in both Indian Wells and Miami within the same year. She is currently on a 10-match winning streak and has only lost three sets during that period. 

Awaiting the world No.10 in the semi-finals of Miami will be home favourite Jessica Pegula who won her maiden WTA 1000 title last year in Mexico. Pegula saved two match points to defeat Anastasia Potapova 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2), in her latest match. In their head-to-head, Rybakina is yet to defeat the American after losing to her twice in 2022. 

“For sure it’s gonna be a tough one. She’s a really good player and very consistent. I will try just to do my best to try to be fresh for that match.” She commented.

At the Miami Open Rybakina has already served 10 or more aces in four different matches. The last female player to do that at the same tournament was Serena Williams at the 2020 US Open. 

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