Stellar French International Club Cocktail Reception - UBITENNIS
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Stellar French International Club Cocktail Reception

The first Tuesday of Roland Garros annually features a morning cloud burst which soaks Paris, and in the evening the French International Club’s Cocktail Reception. Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta, and Mark Winters and his wife Cheryl Jones, who are Ubitennis contributors, regularly attend the affair. Winters provides his impressions of this year’s May 28 th gathering.

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Photo taken by ubitennis

There is another consistency at Roland Garros, beside Rafael Nadal winning the Coupe des Mousquetaires on the final Sunday. (The Spaniard has now won twelve titles.) The first Tuesday of the tournament usually is replete with rain clouds that never seem to dampen the spirit of those in attendance at the French International Club’s Cocktail Reception. The morning weather on May 28th, sported puffy rain clouds. But this year’s downpour began with a blast of hail that softened to intermittent showers throughout the day.

 

Following the script of recent years, the storm actually abated before the 7:00 pm soirée, which is an annual activity supported by the Fédération Française de Tennis (FFT). Last year there was record setting attendance of near 300. Though an official account was not given for the 2019 gathering, it seemed to be nearly as large.

Thierry Pham is so polished that he would clearly be comfortable hosting the Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars. As President of the French IC and a member of the Executive Council of the International Clubs, he welcomed those in attendance. After his introductory remarks he turned the podium over to Bernard Giudicelli, President of the Fédération Française de Tennis and the Chairman of the French Davis Cup.

Bernard Giudicelli and Thierry Pham

Giudicelli pointed out the changes that had been made at Stade Roland Garros, calling attention to the refurbishing of Court Philippe Chatrier and the addition of a new venue,  Court Simonne Mathieu, which is truly an architectural marvel. He added that next year, lights will be added to those two courts, along with Court Suzanne Lenglen, and Court No. 4. But, the pièce de résistance came with his revelation that in 2020, Court Philippe Chatrier would have a retractable roof.

There was an all-star cast on hand. There were so many “Who’s Who” tennis names that it would be impossible to mention everyone. Frew McMillian and his wife, Sally, were part of the mix. So, was Ubaldo Scanagatta, the effervescent Italian who plays an important role in his country’s IC.

Bernard Giudicelli and Thierry Pham – photo by Jean-Charles Caslot

Having first met Gail Beneditti, when she was coaching the elite French junior girls, including Amelie Mauresmo, the first question I ask when I see her at the affair is – Are you still undefeated in ITF senior competition? Year after year, her record has been unblemished. But much to my surprise she had finally lost a match. In the middle of May, Heidi Eisterlehner of Germany had downed the former Australian player, who is now a French citizen, in the Women’s 70 final at Cervia, Italy.

Among the Americans, who joined me, to enjoy the festivities were USIC President J. Donald Tansey and his wife, Marie, Jim Lowenstein, Carol McCracken and Mark Lindblom.

Marie and J. Donald Tansey, Jim Lowenstein, Carol McCracken and Mark Lindblom, and Mark Winters

The always affable Francoise Dürr (Browning) lived for ten years in Phoenix, Arizona. Over twenty-five years ago, she returned to France and is now residing near Paris. Admitting that it had been a while since she had spoken English, the 1967 Roland Garros singles’ titlist shared wonderful insights regarding today’s “game.” She went on to offer recollections about the slams she had played, along with the special place in her heart that she has for Roland Garros. She extolled the tournament’s panache, along with the wonders of Paris, while chatting with “The Two Marks” (Lindblom and Winters).

While waiting to enter restaurant “Le Roland-Garros”, where the cocktail reception was held, I met Etienne Lecoeur of the French IC. We talked a little bit about our backgrounds. Then he mentioned his current focus – Cambodia. It seems as if Lecouer, the founder and CEO of DoubleSlash, a company that among other things provides assistance to needy communities around the world, has borrowed a page from Jean Borotra, who began the French IC in 1929. Borotra was known for his spirit, as well as his concern about the game and those who played it.

Lecoeur is attempting to bring tennis to the disadvantaged in Cambodia. His project is far reaching and insightful. Any USIC members interested in learning more about his plans should contact him at etienne@doubleslash.com

Frew and Sally McMillan Photo Mark Winters

During his speech, Giudicelli noted, “The Fédération Française de Tennis has invested in the future. We have faced some difficulties, but there is a lot of support and passion in the organization (FFT).”

He concluded saying that he hoped everyone enjoyed Roland Garros this year and that they should plan on returning next year to see the new and improved Stade Roland Garros.

As everyone present agreed, 2020 will be memorable for the tournament as well as the French IC.

Hail The French IC Photo Cheryl Jones

Grand Slam

$100,000 For Winning A Match: US Open Reveals Historic Prize Money Pool

The record-breaking prize money break down for the 2019 tournament has been revealed.

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The upcoming US Open will have the biggest prize money pool in the history of grand slam tennis after officials confirmed an eight percent increase in compensation compared to 2018.

 

A total of more than $57 million will be made available at the major, which is played at Flushing Meadows in New York. The men’s and women ‘s singles champion will each take home $3,850,000. An increase of $50,000 compared to last year. Runners-up will each receive $1,900,000.

Even more substantial is the money available for those participating in the early rounds. Players who lose in the second round will be rewarded with $100,000 in prize money. To put that into perspective, the champion of this week’s Hall Of Fame Championships in Newport will earn $100,600. The Newport event is categorised as an ATP 250 event.

Besides the player payouts, the US Open has also confirmed that they will provide half a million to both the ATP and WTA. The money will be used for the transition program for players, which helps those entering into retirement. Including providing pensions to players.

“The US Open prides itself on offering the best tennis players in the world the richest total prize money in our sport,” USTA Chairman of the Board and President Patrick Galbraith said in a statement. “We strive to be innovative, and feel that our new contribution of $500,000 to both the ATP’s pension plan and the WTA Tour’s transition programs for players will go a long way toward the long-term financial well-being of all of our sport’s athletes.”

The qualifying draw will also receive a boost with a year-on-year increase of 20 percent. Bringing the total amount of money available to a record $3.5 million. Meanwhile, the winners of the men’s and women’s doubles trophy will receive $740,000. More than $200,000 less than what singles players receive for reaching the semi-finals.

The US Open will get underway on August 26th. Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka are the reigning champions.

Prize money break down

ROUND

2019 PRIZE MONEY

2018 PRIZE MONEY

INCREASE

Round 1

$58,000

$54,000

+$4000

Round 2

$100,000

$93,000

+$7000

Round 3

$163,000

$156,000

+$7000

Round 4

$280,000

$266,000

+$14,000

Quarter-finals

$500,000

$475,000

+$25,000

Semi-Finals

$960,000

$925,000

+$35,000

Runner-up

$1,900,000

$1,850,000

+$50,000

Champion

$3,850,000

$3,800,000

+$50,000

2019 DOUBLES PRIZE MONEY

(each team):
Winner: $740,000
Runner-Up: $370,000
Semifinalist: $175,000
Quarterfinalist: $91,000
Round of 16: $50,000
Round of 32: $30,000
Round of 64: $17,000

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Grand Slam

US Open Set To Bypass Age Eligibility Policy To Hand Cori Gauff Wildcard

The New York Grand Slam has confirmed that they will likely bend the rules in order for the teenage star to play in the main draw.

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Cori Gauff was the talk of Wimbledon and now the US Open have said they are willing to make an exception to their own policy in order for the teenager to play in the main draw of their tournament.

 

The 15-year-old American stunned the women’s tour with her run at the All England Club. Becoming the youngest player in the Open Era to successfully come through three rounds of qualifying. Then in the main draw Gauff knocked-out five-time champion Venus Williams in the first round. She also scored wins over Polona Hercog and Magdalena Rabrikova to reach the fourth round. Becoming the youngest player to reach the second week of a major since Jennifer Capriati at the 1991 Wimbledon championships. Gauff’s run was eventually ended by Simona Halep, who went on to win the title.

Now ranked 141st in the world, the rising star is currently limited to how many tournaments she can play in accordance with the WTA’s age-eligibility rule. A policy put in place to prevent early burnout for players. It is a rule that is also followed by the United States Tennis Association, who runs the US Open.

At present Gauff isn’t eligible for any more wild cards in 2019 after already using her three allotted ones. Doing so in the Miami Open, French Open qualifiers and Wimbledon qualifiers. Chris Widmaier, who is the director of communications for the USTA, has told The New York Post that he expects Gauff to receive a pass for the upcoming grand slam. Confirming that it is likely that she will be given a special exemption from the policy.

“We would expect to see Coco in the main draw of the US Open,’’ said Widmaier. “She certainly won the hearts of tennis fans in our country with her Wimbledon performance. It’s not every day an athlete of her age becomes water-cooler talk.‘’

The WTA has also said that they will not stand in the way of the USTA if they wish to bend the rules. Under the Rule Gauff is allowed to play a maximum of 10 tournaments between her 15th and 16th birthdays. Plus one of the two year-end tournaments if she qualifies and the Fed Cup.

“The US Open, as a Grand Slam, reserves the right to not align with the Age Eligibility Rule and offer a player a Wild Card in excess of her limit per the Age Eligibility Rule,’’ a WTA spokesperson told the NY Post.

A series of players have urged the WTA to make changes to their policy regarding young players in light of Gauff’s rapid rise. One of the most notable is Roger Federer, who is the co-founder of the Team8 management company that represents Gauff.

“I understand the rule completely that they want the young players not to play too much,” he said. “I’ve told the WTA they should loosen up the rules. I loved seeing [Martina] Hingis doing what she did at a young age.”

It is unclear if the WTA will be making any changes in the near future.

The US Open will get underway on August 26th.

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ATP

Novak Djokovic Conquers Federer In Wimbledon Classic To Win 16th Major Title

The world No.1 extends his winning head-to-head record against the Swiss player to 26-22 as he defends his title at the grass-court major.

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WIMBLEDON: Novak Djokovic has clinched his fifth Wimbledon title after maneuvering his way past Swiss nemesis Roger Federer 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 13-12(7-3), in a pulsating five-set classic. 

 

 

Djokovic, who has now won four out of the past five grand slam tournaments, overcame some patchy play to prevail at The All England Club. Saving two championship points he faced during a marathon final set. He claims his 16th grand slam title in what is the third highest tally in the history of men’s tennis. The thrilling clash saw Djokovic withstand 25 Federer aces as he hit 54 winners to 52 unforced errors.

“I think this was one of the most exciting and thrilling finals I have ever been a part of.” Said Djokovic.
“The top two or three in my career against one of the greatest players of all time who I respect a lot.”
“Unfortunately in these circumstances one of us had to lose.”

Taking to the court for their 48th clash on the tour, there was little to distinguish between the two tennis titans early on. Federer’s elegant movement around the court was matched by Djokovic’s sublime defensive skills. 12 games went by with only one break point opportunity occurring. That took place during the fourth game when Federer saw his chance come and go due to a loose error from the Swiss maestro.

Federer’s inability to convert went on to haunt him during the opener. A Series of mini breaks during the first tiebreak saw continuous changes of momentum. A four-point streak for Djokovic saw him fight back from behind to nudge ahead 5-3. Holding his nerve, the top seed clinched the first set after almost an hour at the expense of another mistake from across the court.

After the tense start came a dramatic lapse in Djokovic’s form and intensity on the court. The fierce fighting spirit of the Serbian banished in the second frame. Paving was for Federer to seal a double break with ease on route to a 4-0 lead. The nightmare set, in which he only won 12 points, stunned the crowd as Djokovic then double-faulted to enable his rival to draw level in the match.

After the puzzling display, Djokovic managed to regain his footing in the match. Much to the relief of coach Marian Vajda and his team watching in the crowd. Weathering the storm, he saved a set point on the route to triumphing in the second tiebreak. Ironically during the tiebreak, it was Federer’s turn to fall apart. Four errors from the eight-time champion guided Djokovic to a 4-1 advantage. Enough of a margin for him to go on and retain his lead.

Still, it was not enough to halt Federer, who electrified the crowd by dismantling the Djokovic serve twice in another resurgence during the fourth set. Making the top seed once again visibly frustrated on the court as he made mistake after mistake. Despite reclaiming one of those breaks, the damage was already done as a Federer serve and volley took the final into a decider.

In the history of Wimbledon, only one man has ever managed to defeat Djokovic in five sets. That was Mario Ancic back in 2006. Bidding to continue that record, the decider turned out to be one of the most dramatic in the history of grand slam tennis. Lasting just over two hours.

Crowd favorite Federer position himself to be within striking distance of the title after serving for the match at 8-7 (40-15). However, he failed to shake off Djokovic who came roaring back to draw back level. With little to separate the two tennis icons, it was only fitting that another tiebreaker would decide their fate. A Federer forehand shot landing out rewarded the world No.1 the 2-1 advantage as he moved to championship points of his own. Then at his first chance of prevailing, Djokovic claimed victory with the help of a Federer shank. Bringing an end to one of the most memorable clashes in the 48-match history between the two.

“I will try to forget,” Federer said after his loss.
“It was a great match. It was long, I had my chances, so did he. We played some great tennis.”

Whilst a disappointed Federer waits another year to see if he can match Martina Navratilova and win a ninth Wimbledon title, his rival Djokovic has paid tribute to him.

“We both had chances. It’s quite unreal to be two match points down and come back. It is strange to play a tiebreaker in the final set at 12-12.” Djokovic reflected.
“Roger said he hopes that he can give people inspiration to play at 37 and I am one of them. He inspires me.”

Djokovic in the fourth man in the open Era to win a fifth Wimbledon title. He exits the tournament with 2000 rankings point to boost his world No.1 ranking, as well as £2,350,000 in prize money.

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