AMERICAN NO. 2 CHRISTINA MCHALE FIRST PLAYER TO ENTER NEW HAVEN OPEN AT YALE

Rising American Star Leads 300 New Haven Kids in First Niagara Tennis Play Day;
First Niagara to Donate Tennis Equipment to all Participating Schools

 

NEW HAVEN, Conn., April 26, 2012 – American No. 2 Christina McHale has committed to play the 2012 New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, a WTA event that is part of the Emirates Airline US Open Series to be held August 17-25, 2012 at the Connecticut Tennis Center, it was announced today by Tournament Director Anne Worcester.The teenager from Englewoods Cliffs, New Jersey has had a great start to 2012, recording a win over reigning Wimbledon champion and World No. 3 Petra Kvitova, amassing an undefeated record for the United States in Fed Cup play, and reaching a career-high ranking of No. 32 in the world. Last year as a wildcard at the New Haven Open, McHale beat two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in her run to the quarterfinals. Just two weeks prior, McHale became the lowest-ranked player to defeat world No. 1 and four-time New Haven Open champion Caroline Wozniacki in all of 2011.

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“We are thrilled to have Christina return to play at the New Haven Open,” said Worcester. “She is a rising American star who has climbed more than 70 spots in the WTA rankings over the past year. She is another example of how the stars of tomorrow annually shine at the New Haven Open.”On Thursday, McHale demonstrated what it takes to be a top tennis player to 300 New Haven first and second graders in the 11th annual First Niagara Tennis Play Day (formerly the Free Lesson), introducing many of them to the sport and showing them the importance of fitness in their lives through fun, low pressure play. The kids were also encouraged to continue playing tennis by signing up for affordable summer programs offered by New Haven Parks & Rec.  To date, more than 5,000 New Haven kids have participated in these year-round tennis programs which offer a safe place to play, academic support and mentoring, as well as competitive tennis opportunities to children and youth throughout New Haven.

As an added incentive for the kids to continue playing tennis, First Niagara will be donating tennis equipment including age-appropriate tennis balls and nets to all nine participating elementary schools: Davis, Sheriden, Troup, Barnard, Truman, Martinez, Edgewood, Fairhaven and St. Aedan/St. Brendan.

“First Niagara is pleased to offer tennis equipment to these New Haven elementary schools,” said First Niagara Regional President David Ring. “We are dedicated to the local communities in which we live and work, and giving back to these young members of our community is just one way First Niagara is able to help fulfill its commitment to corporate social responsibility.”

Previous pros leading the First Niagara Tennis Play Day include World No. 11 John Isner, Connecticut native Thomas Blake, former ATP pro Taylor Dent, General Manager of USTA Player Development Patrick McEnroe, former US Olympic coach Zina Garrison and past WTA professionals Mashona Washington and Alexandra Stevenson.

Also, the tournament is offering fans a great gift option for Mother’s Day – between Tuesday, May 1 and Sunday, May 13 fans have early access to individual session Box and Middle Tier seats, which normally are on sale June 1. Anyone purchasing $150 or more in tickets will receive a Molton Brown gift pack featuring Heavenly Gingerlily Bodywash and a $30 Molton Brown gift card ($44 value).

Log on to www.newhavenopen.com or call 1-855-464-8366 for more information. Also, make sure to join New Haven Open on Facebook & Twitter for tournament updates, contests and more.

About New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara

New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara has always been much more than a tennis tournament; it is a leading example of leveraging a large-scale international sporting event to generate $26 million in regional economic impact and to build community pride, spirit and engagement, especially among youth. The 2011 tournament featured World No. 1 and now four-time defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, and three Grand Slam champions Li Na, Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova. The women’s-only WTA event is part of the Olympus US Open Series and will be held August 17-25, 2012 at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale.The New Haven Open is prominently featured domestically on ESPN2 and also broadcast around the world. For more information about the tournament and tickets, visit www.newhavenopen.com or call 1-855-464-8366.

About First Niagara

First Niagara, through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A., is a multi-state community-oriented bank that currently has approximately $33 billion in assets, $19 billion in deposits, more than 330 branches and 5,000 employees providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses across Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.fnfg.com.When First Niagara completes its acquisition of the HSBC branches, expected to occur in the second quarter of 2012, the regional bank will have an enhanced leadership position in the Northeast, with nearly 430 locations, $30 billion in total deposits, $38 billion in assets and more than 6,000 employees serving consumers, businesses and communities across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The transaction will also provide First Niagara with number-one retail market share across Upstate New York, virtually doubling its number of branches in New York State to more than 200, stretching from Buffalo to Albany and down through the Hudson Valley.

About Emirates Airline US Open Series

Now in its ninth season, the Emirates Airline US Open Series continues to serve as a true regular season of hard court tennis, linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open.  Fans follow the action throughout the summer during national broadcast coverage while players battle for $40 million, including a chance for bonus prize money at the US Open.  The Series collectively reached a U.S. television audience of 39 million and drew more than 800,000 on-site fans in 2011.  In 2012, Emirates Airline became the title sponsor of the Series, as well as the official airline of the US Open.  The Emirates Airline US Open Series is also supported by sponsors American Express, Chase, Citizen Watch Company, Esurance, evian and Gatorade.Americans Mardy Fish and Serena Williams swept the 2011 Emirates Airline US Open Series men’s and women’s titles. In 2007, Roger Federer collected the biggest paycheck in tennis history – $2.4 million – for winning the US Open and the Emirates Airline US Open Series. In 2005, Kim Clijsters also captured both the US Open and the Series, winning $2.2 million – the largest purse in women’s sports history – and equaled that amount in 2010, winning the US Open and finishing the Emirates Airline US Open Series in second place.

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