2017 Hall Of Fame Induction - Captivating & Memorable - UBITENNIS
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2017 Hall Of Fame Induction – Captivating & Memorable



A special report from Newport By Mark Winters and Cheryl Jones



Visiting Newport, Rhode Island has a way of fascinating anyone who is even slightly interested in tennis. The town is quaint, and in its own way, stately. Majestic may be a better word to use because the picturesque resort means a great deal to tennis. It is the home of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum.

Annually on the Saturday of the Dell Technology Hall of Fame Open, which is the ATP grass court tournament played at the facility, the Hall of Fame induction ceremony takes place. It honors players and contributors. The Class of 2017 included – Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters, Monique Kalkman van den Bosch, Vic Braden and Steve Flink. They were a stellar group of individuals who have definitely left an indelible mark on the game.

Each of the inductees was introduced by an individual who played important part in each of their lives. Chris Evert, who became a member of the Hall of Fame in 1995, kicked off the day by providing an entertaining Steve Flink introduction.

“I’ve known Steve since he interviewed me at the 1973 French Open,” she recalled. “He was just getting started as a reporter back then. His interview with me in Paris was to be his first published piece. It was the day that I reached my first Grand Slam final. Honestly, I cannot tell a lie, but I don’t remember meeting the guy, but he later reminded me.” (She said this giggling as she must have done those forty plus years ago.)

“So, in a sense, we started our careers together. He has earned the respect of both the players and his fellow writers for not only the high quality of his writing but also his great passion for the game.

“Steve has been involved in the game in so many ways. In 1974, to give you a few of his stats, he went to work for World Tennis Magazine. From 1992 until 2007, Steve wrote for nearly every issue of Tennis Week magazine. Since 2007, he has been a great weekly columnist for the Tennis Channel website.”

She went on to note, “I remember a press conference at Wimbledon when I was asked one question after another about my career. Steve must have jumped in at least a dozen times to stop me and set my recollection of the record straight. It got to a point where I was almost afraid to open my mouth.”

She added, “Steve Flink is a tennis historian, following in the footsteps of the great Bud Collins. But he has made his own legacy.”

In typical Flink fashion, when the honoree had the floor, he was wonderfully candid saying, “It was incumbent upon me to interrupt on a regular basis to just set the record straight whenever she fielded questions about her career. Someone had to clarify those facts. It was up to me.

“The reason I think her memory was clouded was that she was a champion who was focused on the future. She didn’t dwell on her achievements. Or, how many titles she’d won, when she last played a particular opponent, or actually any individual accomplishment. That was understandable. I was the historian, but she was a great player, and she knew what her priorities were, and that was to always think of the next major.”

Moving on, he said, “I would not be at this podium right now without the unflagging support of four men who took me graciously under their wings. Three of these individuals, Herbert Warren Wind, Ted Tinling and Jack Kramer, are no longer with us.”

He praised the influence of Tony Trabert, along with that of fellow journalists Scott Price of Sport Illustrated and Brad Faulkner, formerly of the Tennis Channel. “They often believed in me more than I believed in myself,” he said.

The fourth individual Flink acknowledged was his father, Stanley Flink. “I’ve had someone in my corner for all 65 years of my life, who used his profound communicative skills to give me the best possible chance to succeed.

“I very seldom get the chance to publicly praise my father for the vital role he played in enhancing my career, but I very happily do so right now.”

It would be fair to claim that everything said, on such a great day, was richly meaningful. Marc Kalkman raised the standard to a new level when he spoke of his wife, Monique Kalkman van den Bosch, a player he formerly coached. “I was asked to introduce one of the greatest wheelchair tennis players of all times, Monique Kalkman, (Mo Mo as she is known). Each and every day has a story. Each and everybody has a dream. Some people chase their dreams, and some chase their dreams even if they are disrupted by unexpected events.”

At the age of six, van den Bosch first picked up a tennis racquet, but when she was 16 years old, cancer robbed her of the ability to race after tennis balls. With wheelchair tennis, still in its infancy in the Netherlands, she focused on table tennis and became a world champion. In 1992, she began working with Kalkman. He explained, “One needs a lot of dedication, long days, 7:30 training, 10:30 work for the employer, 6:00 back on the court, then the fitness room. Determination, even in a time of change, along with the belief and courage to stick to a plan make a full schedule for a life. Along with that, devotion, and never a dull day on court, often met with a smile and hard work are building blocks. Discipline, always; that start with a thousand forehands, a thousand backhands, a thousand volleys, a thousand serves, a thousand returns, and then it’s time for lunch.

“Mo Mo used all those ingredients. As a friend once told us, if you are a world champion in one thing you’re probably going to be a world champion in many things.”

Kalkman, who was emotional during his address, talked about her “goal setting and planning”, along with her willingness to compete. “(This is) one event you never planned, because you probably never anticipated the possibility of becoming a Hall of Famer.

“Well, Mo Mo, today will be that day. A well-deserved recognition of your part in the history of the sport we all love so much. Congratulations. I’m proud to be part of your dream.”

Van den Bosch explained, “I wasn’t aware of wheelchair tennis until Peter Seegers, my first Dutch coach, introduced me to my new heroes Brad Parks and Randy Snow. They brought the game to Europe (from the United States), and I was so impressed with how they raced around the court, when I was still sitting in my hospital chair, just getting out of it. I was so inspired by these guys driving their own chairs rather than being pushed around.”

She finished her comments in a way that those on hand will never forget. “When I met Todd (Martin, Tennis Hall of Fame CEO) in Australia in the beginning of the year, he told me this induction is going to feel like a wedding.” And she added, “I think you’re right, Todd.

“So, Marc, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, yes, I do want to play mixed doubles with you for the rest of my life.”

Next up was Carl Maes, who began coaching Kim Clijsters at the age of 12. He said of his protégé, “In 2012, this Hall of Famer organized her own ‘Thank You Games’. In no time, she was able to fill a stadium with 15,000 people in order to say thank you to her fans. Today, I think it is our turn to say thank you to Kim.”

In summary, Maes stressed, “As you get older in life, you start doing things for a different reason. Kim has reached a point where giving is more important than taking; where values are more important than victories; where making people better is more important than beating them; where you don’t count your trophies, but you do count the people that you love and trust.
“So, on behalf of myself, but I’m sure on behalf of all the people that have ever come across you, Kim, a profound thank you for the collateral beauty that you have given us during your career, and especially after your career, for who you are and how you are.”

When it was her turn to speak, Clijsters, was so typically Kim, calling attention to the talents and personalities of the other inductees. “Tennis has been so great to me,” she said. “It has given me so many opportunities, and it’s taught me so many lessons, lessons that are applicable both on and off the court, lessons I often talk of with the students at my academy. I would like to describe them in eight words: dedication, caring, optimism, patience, respect, sacrifice, tolerance, and passion. Of those eight words, there are really three that are the most important to me and to all that’s happened, and that has brought me to this special place here today.

“The first is optimism. That is having the right attitude. As you deal with adversity and negative moments, it’s important to stay positive. I’m not just talking about tennis, but in life overall.
“The second is dedication, taking the time to really devote yourself to whatever you want to accomplish, fitness, mentally being ready, (along with) all the extra effort that it takes to succeed. That has been very important to me as well.

“Finally, but most importantly, comes passion. You can be optimistic, you can be dedicated, but most of all you have to bring that special energy and desire to anything that you do. Everyone that has stood on this stage before me and will stand here after me has had a passion for the sport of tennis. I found mine when I was five years old, and I (have been) dedicated to – and I’m dedicated to pass it on to the next generation.

“Those three words are so meaningful. I’ve learned them through my upbringing, my experiences, from the many matches I’ve played, the many people I’ve known and met through tennis.”

Vic Braden, an inventive tennis coach, who was a long-time associate of Jack Kramer’s, passed away on October 6, 2014 at the age of 85. Ray Benton represented him for decades. He was also his business partner for 15 years. “Vic would frankly be awed to be sharing the stage with Monique, Steve, Andy and Kim,” Benton confessed. “He’d want to learn something about each one of you. Why do you like tennis? What makes your game effective? What frustrates you? How can we help you get better?

“Vic would ask these questions because he was a teacher, a researcher, an innovator, a scientist, and a cinematographer, using high-speed film to see what the human eye can’t. He was a historian committed to preserving the rich history of the game in his work.”

Braden was an expressive and clever instructor. Benton told a classic tale about his friend saying, “I remember when a 60-year-old player told him about a National 90 & Over championship. Vic replied, ‘Terrific. You have 30 years to practice and get ready’.”

Benton added, “Vic wanted everyone to learn, to improve, to be happy, and to laugh. Only Vic could explain the physics of topspin in a way that’s both informative and entertaining. That was his gift to all of us.”

Doug Spreen was an ATP trainer before taking on the responsibility of keeping Andy Roddick in top form. “I first met Andy in 2000 in Key Biscayne,” he said. “I was working as an athletic trainer for the ATP. Andy was kind of playing his first big-time pro tournament. I had heard a lot about this Roddick kid, so I ventured out for a second-round match to check him out, courtside.
“Now, in that match, he was playing a guy by the last name of Agassi. Needless to say, it did not go well for Andy. He lost in straight sets. But, as advertised, Andy was pretty good. He had a really, really big serve, and a really good forehand. The backhand was a little shaky.”

Roddick’s career statistics have been well documented, but Spreen called attention to an overlooked fact. “Twelve times Andy played a Davis Cup match that would give the United States the third win of the weekend, and send the team on to the next round,” he said. “Andy won those matches 12 times; 12 for 12 in some of the highest-pressure situations – not too bad for the team closer.”

Tennis has always had “big personalities”, and Roddick’s was one of the most captivating. “Andy was entertaining,” Spreen said. “You knew when he was happy and excited on the court. And, yes, you knew when he was upset and frustrated. You could often tell if he was upset or frustrated because there might just be a couple of broken racquets by the chair on the side of the court. You knew when he was fighting hard on the court. And, yes, you knew when he was not happy with the chair umpire.

“I do miss this part. Andy’s exchanges with chair umpires were far better than any political debate I have heard in a long, long time (laughter). And I knew, and I think most people knew, that every time Andy walked on the court, you would get his best effort.

“Andy also showed us how to handle the good along with the bad. He would fight on the court and never give his opponent an inch, but he always won with humility and was gracious in defeat. No matter the emotional high or low, Andy always showed respect to his opponents. And after some of the toughest defeats, Andy showed unbelievable character and true sportsmanship.”

There was much more to Roddick than a point-winning serve and a forehand that could knock down walls. In interviews, he was verbally adept and could be direct, even sarcastic when asked the same question repeatedly. But, there was also much more, as those at the Hall of Fame ceremony discovered.

Some of Roddick’s insightful and delightful thoughts of the day included:

“For the better part of a year since Todd and I met in the office up here, he would let me know that I was going to be nominated for the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I’ve been trying to connect the pieces. I’ve asked myself how the seven, eight, nine-year-old version of myself, who was this insane tennis fanatic, and the people inside of those walls are super heroes to me, have become my reality.

“It’s an extraordinary honor. It fills my heart to be standing in front of you. To be a Hall of Famer is a dream come true. I know I’m here. I know they’ve given me the jacket. It’s too late to take it back. But I’m not sure it will ever be real in my mind.

“When I knew that Kim Clijsters was the other person being voted on, and obviously she was going to get in, it really made me want to get in this year to share this weekend with Kim. I have a very simple way of putting it. If you have a problem with Kim Clijsters, I blame you (laughter).

“I don’t miss traveling. I don’t miss a lot of things about the tour. This is kind of the weird psychosis of me. I drive by a track at 7:30 in the morning, and I miss that. I miss the structure and I miss our days together. I appreciate you.

“The lessons keep being taught. I’ve been around Rod Laver a couple times this year, in the vacuum of the Hall of Fame process, and I dare you to find a humbler icon in any industry. He’s just a great representation of everything that tennis is. It’s been real fun to get to spend time with him.

“Andre Agassi’s practice sessions when I was 17 years old. Unbelievable ability to put complex issues into very short sentences. I was complaining about the heat one time in Australia. He was like, ‘You’ve only got to feel cooler than one guy’.

“My good friend Jim Courier. He’s probably the player I most identified with because we both had horrible backhands. He agreed with my logic that it’s not wrong if you’re correct. We were up against the Mt. Rushmore of our sport. We were grinders, we worked hard and we tried hard to figure it all out. I consider myself lucky to lean on him for very, very, very frank advice. Thank you, Jim.

“I’m not the best of all time. I’m not going to win Wimbledon. I’m not the best of my generation. I’m not the most well-behaved. I’m not the most polished. I’m also never going to take this honor for granted. I’m never going to forget those who paved the way before us. I’m never going to forget the innocent parts of this game we all love.”

Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters, Monique Kalkman van den Bosch, Vic Braden and Steve Flink made a difference. They all played major roles in helping the sport become better and even more special. As van den Bosch said, “How magic and powerful is tennis? I think the answer can be found right here at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.”


‘Super happy’ Holger Rune Reacts To Winning First Match Since Wimbledon In Beijing



Holger Rune says he is pain-free and has gained confidence since reuniting with his former coach after ending his seven-match losing streak at the China Open. 


Rune, who is the third seed in Beijing this week, beat former top 10 player Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-4, in his opening match on Friday. The Dane fired 15 winners compared to only three unforced errors during the 85-minute encounter. It is the first time he has won a match on the Tour since Wimbledon in July.

“It feels very good. I had a tough period both with my body and with matches,” said Rune. “I’m happy to be back feeling good and feeling mentally well off the court. I’m super happy with my level today.”

The 20-year-old is experiencing a roller-coaster season where he reached the final of two Masters 1000 events and won a title in Germany during the first six months. However, recently he has struggled for wins on the Tour and ended his collaboration with Patrick Mouratoglou. 

On top of that, Rune has also been hampered by a back injury which he recently underwent treatment on before coming to China. He previously told Danish TV that he had a pinched nerve in the fifth lumbar vertebra in his spine since the clay-court season. As a result, he has had to make adjustments to his service motion to overcome this problem. 

“I didn’t feel any pain in my body,” he stated following his latest match. 
“I’m feeling healthy and taking care of my body. Mostly I’m happy to play without pain and enjoy myself.”

Guiding the world No.4 now is Lars Christensen who he has previously worked with since childhood. 

“It has helped my confidence. After some tough periods, he knows me so well,” Rune commented. “He knows when I’m back at my best level so it is easy for us to communicate and find the best version of Holger. That we did today.”

Rune will next play Grigor Dimitrov who staged an epic comeback to defeat Mackenzie McDonald. The Bulgarian was a set and 5-2 down before fighting back to prevail 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-1, over the American who was experiencing problems with his shoulder. 

Medvedev, Sinner though in contrasting matches

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In other matches at the tournament, second seed Daniil Medvedev stormed to a 6-2, 6-1, win over Tommy Paul. He has now recorded 39 hardcourt wins on the Tour so far this season which is more than any other player. 

“It’s not easy for both of us. Both of us a little jet lagged. Him maybe more, coming from Vancouver,” Medvedev said afterward. “Maybe that made the difference, but if I think only about myself, I’m happy with my level. 
“I played great. The start of the match was not easy, but it’s never easy first round, especially in another part of the world. Then I was playing better and better during the match, so I’m happy about my level.”

This week is the first time Medvedev has played since losing to Novak Djokovic in the US Open final. He is seeking to win his fifth title of 2023. 

Also through to the next round is Italy’s Jannik Sinner who struggled at times with his fitness during his troublesome 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-3, win over Dan Evans. The world No.7 served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but failed to capitalize on the opportunity, lost a 3-0 lead in the decider and then started limping on the court. During the closing stages, he also fell when trying to return a ball and appeared to hurt himself. Despite all the drama, Sinner still managed to seal the win. 

Sinner is now 16-1 in opening matches this season. He is bidding to reach his 12th tournament quarter-final in Beijing. 

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Roger Federer Targets Djokovic And Alcaraz For Laver Cup 2024 After Team World Thrashes Europe



Image via https://twitter.com/LaverCup/

Roger Federer says he would love to see the two highest-ranked players on the men’s Tour play in the next Laver Cup after this year’s tie ended in a crushing defeat for Europe. 


Team World, which is captained by John McEnroe, dominated the clash in Vancouver after surging to a 10-2 lead heading into the final day of competition. On Sunday they were required to win only one match to claim the overall title which they did in the opening doubles match. Ben Shelton and Frances Tiafoe ousted the European duo of Andrey Rublev and Hubert hurkacz 7-6(4), 7-6(5). 

“I am proud of these guys. We brought together a great group of some youth and experience, guys that have been here before. Everybody played well,” McEnroe said of his team’s 13-2 victory.
“It was an awesome week. We kicked some ass.”
“Winning is a whole lot better than losing. We struggled the first couple of years, and now we have tasted winning and it feels good.”

In contrast, Europe didn’t have much joy at the event with their only victory being from Casper Ruud who defeated Tommy Paul on the second day of the tie. Since the start of the competition in 2017, Europe won four consecutive titles but 2023 is the second year in a row that they have been defeated. 

Hoping that this losing streak will come to an end next year when the event is held in Berlin, Federer says he wishes Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz will play. Djokovic has played in the Laver Cup twice before but Alcaraz is yet to make his debut.

“They destroyed Team Europe. Team World played fantastic, they really brought the energy. Everybody brought a point, they were stronger in the doubles. In the singles too, they were moving fast, they were ready to go. They thoroughly deserved victory,” said Federer.
“I would like to see Novak again, Alcaraz and Novak on the same team. Sascha Zverev would be great for the German market. Someone like [Holger] Rune, that really hurt Team Europe. Rune and [Stefanos] Tsitsipas pulling out. [Daniil] Medvedev would be great. I like watching [Andrey] Rublev, and maybe someone will come through,” he added.

Federer is a co-founder of the Laver Cup with his management company Team 8 partnering up with Tennis Australia and Jorge Paulo Lemann to create the event. In 2019 the team competition was awarded ATP Tour status with a spot on the official calendar and access to marketing facilities under an agreement. However, ranking points are not awarded to players. 

Due to the nature of the format, only one match was played on Sunday with fans not getting the chance of watching any singles. Something two-time French Open champion Ruud admits is a problem. 

“Two of the times that I have played was maybe in a way a little bit unfortunate with only one deciding doubles (match) on Sunday,” Ruud commented.
“The crowd didn’t get to see a singles (match) after or whatever. That’s not in my hands to decide what the format looks like.’
“But last year in London was great in many ways because you had so many great players and it came down to almost the last match. When I watched on TV the first series, it was so exciting because Roger played a couple of times, the final match of the Sunday and clutched it for Team Europe. It’s been a couple of years without playing that last singles match. But it’s a great initiative. Me, as a golf fan, watching the Ryder Cup all my life in my childhood, it’s great for tennis to have this event.”

The 2024 Laver Cup will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin between September 20-22. 

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India’s Sumit Nagal Receives Sponsorship Boost After Revelling Financial Struggles



Image via https://twitter.com/nagalsumit/

A leading food and drink company has pledged to support India’s highest-ranked men’s player who was unable to train at his usual facility in Germany earlier this year due to a lack of money. 


Earlier this week world No.159 Sumit Nagal made a public plea for financial support to help him continue his career as a tennis player. In recent years he has been based at the Nansel Tennis Academy in Germany but was unable to train there during the first three months of the 2023 season due to a lack of funds. During this period he relied on his friends, including former player Somdev Devvarman, to help maintain his fitness. 

“If I look at my bank balance, I have what I had at the beginning of the year. It is 900 euros. I did get a bit of help. Mr Prashant Sutar is helping me with MAHA Tennis Foundation and I also get monthly (salary) from IOCL but I don’t have any big sponsor,” Nagal told the Press Trust of India.
“I am investing whatever I am making. The yearly cost where I travel with one coach is costing me around Rs 8 million to Rs 10 million (90,000-113,000 euros) and that is just with one travelling coach (no physio). Whatever I have made I have already invested,” he added.

Nagal, who is 26 years old, has reached the semi-finals of better at five tournaments on the lower-level Challenger Tour so far this season. His only Grand Slam result was at the US Open where he lost in the first round of qualifying to Taro Daniel. It was at the US Open where he took a set off Roger Federer before losing in 2019. 

Despite being the only player from his country to be ranked in the top 400, Nagal is currently not part of the Target Olympics Podium Scheme. An initiative set up by the Indian government to provide support to their top athletes.

After learning about Nagal’s ongoing struggles on the Tour, a leading company has decided to support the tennis player by signing a three-year deal with him. Gatorade specializes in sports drinks and is manufactured by PepsiCo. Under the deal, Nagal will receive support with his recovery and nutrition from experts at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI).  

“I am deeply moved and grateful to join hands with Gatorade. This association comes to me at a pivotal time, and I am thankful my hard work and passion is getting recognized and appreciated. With Gatorade by my side, I am sure I will reach new heights and give it my all both on and off the court,” the Indo-Asian News Service quoted Nagal as saying on Thursday. 

Speaking about the new partnership, Ankit Agarwal from PepsiCo India has hailed the collaboration. Agarwal is the company’s Associate Director of Energy & Hydration. 

“Sumit is a role model for the new-gen athletes of India with his career being a true example of hard work and sweat that makes talent shine,” he said.
“As a brand that is dedicated to supporting athletes in removing barriers to sporting success, we are delighted to welcome Sumit to the Gatorade squad.”

Nagal has been ranked as high as No.122 in the world. So far in his career, he has won four Challenger titles with two of those occurring this year in Italy and Finland. 

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