WTA & Octagon announce naming of Micky Lawler as WTA president - UBITENNIS
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WTA & Octagon announce naming of Micky Lawler as WTA president

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TENNIS WTA – Highly respected Octagon tennis executive Micky Lawler to join WTA to drive continued growth of world’s leading sport for women under leadership of WTA Chairman & CEO Stacey Allaster. International expansion and business development, and creation of leading-edge fan friendly product innovations to feature in new WTA strategy for growth.

 

ST. PETERSBURG, FL, USA – The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), the world’s leading sport for women, and Octagon, global leader in sports and entertainment management and marketing, jointly announced today the appointment of Micky Lawler as President of the WTA. One of the most respected senior executives in professional tennis and sport with close to 30 years of experience at Octagon, Lawler will report to WTA Chairman & CEO Stacey Allaster and be responsible for driving the WTA’s international growth strategy, business development, marketing and new fan engagement programs, and member and industry relations. Lawler will begin in her new role on January 1, 2015 and be based out of the WTA’s global headquarters in Saint Petersburg, Florida.

“Micky Lawler has been at the center of the growth of professional tennis for nearly three decades, driving innovation and business across athlete representation, events, international expansion, governance and sponsorship,” said WTA Chairman & CEO Stacey Allaster. “In her 11 years as a WTA Board Member and 27 years as a leader of tennis at Octagon, she has been instrumental in shaping and contributing to our strategy for growth, importantly including opening new markets for the sport. As we embark on a new strategic business plan to support our members’ business and increase our fan base, I cannot think of a better executive to join our senior leadership team.”

“I am honored to have the opportunity to work even more closely with Stacey and her team at the WTA at this fantastic moment for women’s professional tennis,” said Micky Lawler. “The sport has reached new levels of popularity, social and digital interconnectivity, and globalization, while the next generation of exciting champions is now emerging alongside the game’s current iconic superstars. I am excited to help lead women’s tennis to even greater success through continued international growth, enhancement of the fan experience across multi-media channels and in-stadium, and the development of new products and assets to support the business of women’s tennis. As this evolution in my professional career is set to begin, I want to thank Phil de Picciotto and all of my friends and colleagues at Octagon, who have given me so much both personally and professionally for the past many years and who continue to do so. Their ongoing support was an essential consideration in my decision to accept this position.”

“Micky’s longstanding leadership role on WTA matters for both Octagon and the broader constituency she serves on the WTA Board has resulted in many valuable contributions to the growth of the business,” said Phil de Picciotto, Founder and President of Octagon. “In the complex global landscape of professional tennis, Micky’s fairness, commitment to collaboration, ability to find creative solutions, spirit of innovation and unwavering passion for her clients and colleagues suit her ideally for this role. The opportunity to serve as President of the WTA is a testament to her talent and personal qualities. As a major stakeholder in the game, Octagon relies on and benefits from a strong and well managed WTA. We consider today’s appointment very important for the continued growth of Octagon, the WTA and the sport of women’s tennis.”

Lawler brings close to three decades of sports and entertainment expertise to the role, during which time she played an important role in expanding the geographic footprint of women’s tennis, including the development of important initiatives in China. She has driven growth in all aspects of the tennis business across athletes, events, sponsorship sales and consultancy. In addition, she has provided strong strategic leadership during her 11 years as a WTA Board member, a role to which she dedicated an enormous amount of time in recent years. Prior to joining Octagon, Lawler began her sports career in communications at the Men’s International Professional Tennis Council, the predecessor to the ATP World Tour.

Born in Holland, Lawler earned a BA in Political Science from The American University of Paris and Masters in Applied Linguistics from the University of Delaware. She was named a “Game Changer: Women in Sports Business” by the Sports Business Journal in 2012, recognized by the Washington Business Journal as one of their “Women Who Mean Business” honorees in 2009 and recipient of the Warsaw-Thurston Award by the University of Oregon College of Business in 2012. Having lived in nine different countries across South America, Central America, Europe, Africa and the United States, Lawler is fluent in Dutch, Spanish, French, German and English. She is the mother of three children, Charlotte, Trevor and Juliette.

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Naomi Osaka Overcomes Second Set Scare To Reach Last 32 At Australian Open

Naomi Osaka is into the last 32 of the Australian Open where Amanda Anisimova awaits.

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Naomi Osaka (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Two-time champion Naomi Osaka overcame a second set scare to defeat Madison Brengle 6-0 6-4 to reach the third round of the Australian Open.

 

Osaka overcame a second set scare as she produced another dominant display of power to reach the last 32 against the unconventional American.

The world number 14 is looking for her fourth grand slam title in Melbourne.

Next for Osaka is Amanda Anisimova who beat a physically compromised Belinda Bencic 6-2 7-5.

It was a lightening quick start from Osaka who took the opening set in 20 minutes.

A display of power, accuracy and pace saw Brengle struggling to gain points on her service games.

The American isn’t a player who is going to hit you off the court and her shots were way too conservative against a player like Osaka who hits the ball so cleanly from the baseline.

https://twitter.com/andy_murray/status/1483721476461240322

Brengle came close but no reward as Osaka reeled off seven games in a row to take a 6-0 1-0 lead.

However Brengle eventually settled into her rhythm and to her obvious delight was ecstatic to win her first game of the match.

This relaxation allowed her to play with complete freedom as she started to use a lot of depth, angles and topspin to disrupt Osaka’s rhythm, who’s level dropped slightly.

Brengle created nine break points which Osaka saved with aggression and precison but on the tenth one, the American eventually broke to go a break up in the second set.

The American’s smile said it all as she was now in command of the second set but that didn’t last long.

That’s as Osaka used her champion’s skills to grind the break back and then went on a run of eight consecutive points to seal victory and a spot in the third round.

After the match Osaka spoke about her return game and the prospects of facing Amanda Anisimova in the next round, “I honestly want to say I returned pretty well,” Osaka admitted in her on-court interview.

“Been really working on it in the off-season. I’m trying not to [rate my level] if I compare myself to the past I will never be satisfied. I’m trying to take it one day at a time.

“I think we’re both going to take our chances. It’s very interesting to play against the younger players because I remember being a younger player myself and having nothing to lose.”

Friday’s meeting between the two players will be the first time they have faced each other.

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Aryna Sabalenka Survives Sanders Scare At Australian Open

The Belarussian was made to work hard during her opening match at Melbourne Park.

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Aryna Sabalenka (Darren Carroll/USTA)

World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka came back from the brink of defeat to seal her spot in the second round of the Australian Open.

 

The two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist struggled with her consistency throughout her 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, win over wild card Storm Saunders, who is yet to win a Grand Slam main draw match in her career. At one stage Sabalenka looked to be on the verge of suffering a third consecutive Tour defeat after trailing by a set and a break to the underdog before staging an emphatic fight back. Doing so with the help of her rival who started to unravel as the match progressed.

“She played well, she’s a tough opponent and I’m happy I won today,” Sabalenka said of Sanders during her on-court interview.

Sabalenka’s roller-coaster victory is best illustrated by the match statistics. Dealing with inconsistencies in her serve, she produced a total of 12 double faults and won 43% of her second service points. Furthermore, she hit a total of 29 winners against 37 unforced errors en route to the victory.

Playing a top 10 player for only the second time in her career, 27-year-old Sanders started the match in clinical fashion as she produced a level of tennis which exceeded that of her current ranking. Three consecutive times she managed to dismantle the Sabalenka serve to open up a swift 4-1 lead. However, the second seed briefly managed to find her footing in the match to claw her way back and level the set at 5-5. Not to be disheartened, Sanders continued pressing her opponent who faltered at the worst possible moment. Granting the underdog another break before she closed out the set.

On the verge of suffering an upset, Sabalenka’s woes continued in the second set when she got broken once again three games in. Trailing 5-7, 1-3, she managed to turn her fortunes around with the help of a six-game winning streak. Exposing the inexperienced her opponent has of playing on the biggest stages of the game. Serving to level up, she triumphed on her third set point with the help of a serve down the center of the court which Sanders returned out.

Into her stride, Sabalenka charged towards the finish line by winning a further four games in the decider before Sanders managed to register another game of her own. Serving for the win, a blistering serve down the center of the court secured the victory.

“I was already (mentally) in the locker room. Maybe that was the key because I stopped thinking too much and started playing tennis. I tried to put the ball (on the court) as much as I could and I think I did it well. That’s why I came back (in the match),” Sabalenka commented on how she turned the match around.
“Now I will recover and then tomorrow I will speak with my team about my next opponent.”

Sabalenka will play China’s Wang Xinyu in the next round. She could claim the world No.1 ranking in Melbourne if one of two scenarios occur over the coming days. She reaches the final and Ash Barty loses before the quarter-finals or Barty reaches the Quarter-finals and Sabalenka goes on to win the title.

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Garbine Muguruza Reaches New Milestone As Swiatek Finds Her Groove At Australian Open

The two title contenders were in impressive form during their opening matches.

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Garbine Muguruza - image via https://twitter.com/usopen

Third seed Garbine Muguruza extended her perfect run of first round wins at the Australian Open to 10 with a straightforward victory over France’s Clara Burel.

 

The former world No.1, who is yet to lose an opening match played at Melbourne Park in her career, required just under 90 minutes to see off Burel 6-3, 6-4. Muguruza broke her rival three consecutive times during the first set to win the opener in just over half an hour. Then in the second she eased to a 5-3 lead but failed to convert three match points. Muguruza was then broken in the following game before breaking back again to seal victory.

“It felt very good. I didn’t know really who I was facing. We’ve never played before,” Muguruza told reporters afterwards. “Very tricky. You’re always nervous going out there on Rod Laver, which I love, and starting a Grand Slam campaign.’
“I’m very happy the way I played and, of course, controlling the nerves.”

On what is the ninth anniversary of her Melbourne Park debut. Muguruza is hoping to go one step further than she did back in 2020 and win the title. She has now won 27 matches at the Australian Open which makes it her second most successful Grand Slam in terms of wins. Her best is the French Open where she has recorded 29 victories.

Muguruza will next take on another French player in the shape of Alize Cornet. During her on-court interview on Tuesday she was asked about her net play which the Spaniard said is a reflection of her on-court personality.

It’s just a journey of adapting to your character,” she said. “I’m an aggressive player on the court and I like to dominate. I train like that. I’m not like that outside but inside the court I’m aggressive.”

Swiatek and her new coach

Another winner on day two was former French Open champion Iga Swiatek who swept aside Britain’s Harriet Dart 6-3, 6-0. At the start of the match she was trailing 1-3 before fighting back by winning 11 games in a row. The Pole is playing in her 12th Grand Slam main draw and is hoping to go beyond the fourth round in Australia for the first time in her career.

“You could see that first few games were pretty tricky for me. With the sun, I know I got broken in my second service game,” said Swiatek.
“I’m pretty happy that I was patient, I found the rhythm throughout the match. That’s pretty positive.”

Swiatek is in Melbourne with her new coach Tomasz Wiktorowski who is known for his previous work with Agnieszka Radwanska. She admits the new collaboration is very much a work in progress but believes she is heading in the right direction with her new mentor.

“He didn’t change a lot at the beginning because he was good to continue the process that I’ve had. Too many changes would be really confusing,” she said of Wiktorowski.
“We’re focusing on different stuff. We’re working on my strengths, which is great, because it’s going to give me confidence. I’m going to be able to be more, like, proactive on court. We were working on some attack formations and offensive game.’
“But we also didn’t have time to work on everything that we wanted to because there is a lot to improve in terms of my volleys and maybe slice.”

Swiatek will play Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson in the second round.

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