Congratulations to our mentor, Mike Davies

ImageThis past weekend was a very exciting one for us here at The New Haven Open at Yale, and it wasn’t just because the tournament is only 4 weeks away. Our very own CEO, Mike Davies, was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Many gathered in Newport to recognize the outstanding accomplishments and contributions that Mike has made to the sport which we all love so much.

In a time when tennis was relatively unknown, there was a man who believed in the sport and was able to see the bigger picture. This man was Mike Davies. In 1970, he suggested the bold idea for a tennis tour of 20 tournaments with a year-end final and $1 million in prize money.

It’s obvious to us now that this was a success—but he didn’t just suggest an idea for a tour. He not only convinced NBC to broadcast 8 WCT events in addition to the Final, but also raised $1 million in advertising to complete the deal. While this would seem like more than enough to earn a spot in the Hall of Fame, Mike continued to innovate.

Within the next several years tennis exploded on the sports scene. Participation rose from 11 million to 33 million. And everything tennis related from indoor courts to clothing sales took off. He kept improving the game with the introduction of colored clothing for players, the yellow tennis ball which could be seen better on television and rules like 30 seconds between points. He even instituted the tie-break.

To say that Mike Davies made contributions to the game of tennis would be an understatement. From being ranked as Britain’s #1 player, to being the driving force behind taking tennis to network television, to overseeing the New Haven Open for 15 years as CEO, Mike has truly seen every side of tennis.

We are so proud that our leader and mentor is getting the accolades he deserves after 50 years of game-changing contributions and accomplishments. We know that we are so lucky to have such an honorable member of the tennis community with us here at The New Haven Open at Yale, and we can’t wait to see what else Mike has in store for the sport!

Watch Mike receive his official International Tennis Hall of Fame jacket here>

Advertisements

US Olympian Varvara Lepchenko Helps Launch 2012 New Haven Open Breast Cancer Initiatives

World No. 44 and US Olympic Team member Varvara Lepchenko lost a grandmother to breast cancer before she even got to meet her. New Haven Open Tournament Director Anne Worcester won her battle with the disease just last year.

Breast cancer affects millions of people every year, either directly or through friends and family members. The 2012 New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara has placed the battle against breast cancer among its top priorities.

Worcester joined Lepchenko on the CYBEX Pink Treadmill in front of First Niagara Bank in New Haven on Wednesday to announce the brand new “15-Love” ticket promotion as well as the return of the CYBEX Pink Ribbon Run sponsored by Healthtrax to the New Haven Open.

The “15-Love” promotion celebrates 15 years of women’s tennis in New Haven, and for 15 days only, all middle-tier tickets will be on sale for $15 (which is up to a 66 percent discount for fans). Additionally, $2 of each ticket sold will be donated directly to Smilow Cancer Hospital Breast Center at Yale New Haven. First Niagara will also make a matching donation of $1 per ticket sold (up to $5,000) to Smilow Cancer Hospital Breast Center. This “15-Love” promotion will run for a limited time, July 11-26.

The CYBEX Pink Ribbon Run sponsored by Healthtrax returns to the New Haven Open this year and offers players, fans, sponsors and media the opportunity to walk or run on a special pink treadmill to raise funds for breast cancer. For every mile logged, donations will be made to Smilow Cancer Hospital Breast Center at Yale-New Haven. In addition, the pink treadmill, which will be signed by the WTA players and celebrities, will be auctioned off after the New Haven Open and all proceeds will be donated to the Breast Center at Smilow.

Wednesday’s event celebrated the fighting spirit of the New Haven Open and its partners, players and fans. The event launched initiatives that are helping the fight against breast cancer and helped tell Varvara Lepchenko’s incredible story about her fight to get to the top of the women’s game and onto the U.S. Olympic Team.

Lepchenko was born in Uzbekistan, but due to cultural bias within the community, immigrated to the Unites States in her mid-teens. While applying for a visa, she was not allowed out of the country, so she would sit at home in Allentown, PA and watch as other of the world’s top players would compete in the Grand Slams. Thus, she battled through smaller ITF tournaments throughout the country, staying with various host families and winning her first title in Allentown in 2005. Varvara then went on to win 10 more ITF titles from 2005 to 2011, all of which came on American soil.

She was finally able to switch nationalities in 2007 and became a U.S. citizen in September of 2011 Since then, she has seen a meteoric rise in her ranking. From having to qualify for nearly every event she entered at the beginning of 2012 to breaking into the top 50 after a fourth round appearance at the French Open, Lepchenko has demonstrated her fighting spirit and willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed.

This American dream story will reach a pinnacle this Summer, when Varvara will become one of only six women to represent the United States on its tennis team at the Olympics.

2012 Player Field Announced!

The player field for the 2012 New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara is composed of four of the top 10 players in the world, 18 2012 Olympians, perennial fan favorites and Grand Slam Champions.

Radwanska, world No. 8 and four-time tournament defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, world No. 9 and French Open finalist Sara Errani and world No. 10 Marion Bartoli headline the 2012 field as the four players ranked in the WTA Top 10. Joining them are top-25 players Maria Kirilenko, Dominika Cibulkova, Kaia Kanepi, Flavia Pennetta, Andrea Petkovic, Nadia Petrova, Francesca Schiavone, Lucie Safarova and Zheng Jie as well as two-time Grand Slam Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Rising star Christina McHale will also be competing to be the first American since Lindsay Davenport in 2005 to lift the New Haven Open trophy. Rounding out the field are former world No. 5 and fan favorite Daniela Hantuchova, defending New Haven Open finalist Petra Cetkovska, 2012 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Tamira Paszek, Anabel Medina Garrigues, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Ekaterina Makarova and Mona Barthel.

All but two of the competitors of the 2012 New Haven Open have won a WTA title in their careers and boast an impressive 121 between them, an average of more than five per player. Leading the way is Wozniacki, with 18 titles to her name, followed by Kuznetsova with 13 and Petrova and Medina Garrigues with 11 apiece.

The former Grand Slam Champions in the field are Schiavove (2010 French Open) and Kuznetsova (2009 French Open, 2004 U.S. Open). Two 2012 Grand Slam finalists will also compete: Errani, who reached the final of this year’s French Open, and Radwanska, who is fresh off a final appearance at Wimbledon.

Making her comeback after a tough injury-filled season is the charismatic Petkovic, whose “Petko-dance” is a sight to behold after she wins a match. Other fan favorites returning to New Haven include Kirilenko, who is fresh off a quarterfinal appearance at Wimbledon (cheered on by boyfriend and NHL star Alex Ovechkin), Hantuchova, who was forced to withdraw out of last year’s event with an injury and Cibulkova, who is looking for a breakthrough season after winning her first title in Moscow less than a year ago.

McHale will definitely be one to watch in New Haven this year. As the only American in the current field, the 20-year-old from Englewood Cliffs, NJ should have massive hometown support from fans. Although she is at a career-high ranking of world No. 28 and has reached the third round of the last three Majors, she is looking for her first tournament win. New Haven might be just the place for her to jump that hurdle, as she holds wins over many of the marquee names in the field including Wozniacki, Bartoli and Kuznetsova.

To celebrate 15 years of women’s tennis in New Haven, and for 15 days only, all middle-tier tickets will be on sale for $15 (which is up to a 66 percent discount for fans). Additionally, $2 of each ticket sold will be donated directly to Smilow Cancer Hospital Breast Center at Yale New Haven. First Niagara will also make a matching donation of $1 per ticket sold (up to $5,000) to Smilow Cancer Hospital Breast Center. This “15-Love” promotion will run for a limited time, July 11-26.

The depth of this year’s player field means anything can happen at the 2012 New Haven Open, so take advantage of this wonderful “15-Love” promotion and get tickets today!

WORLD NO. 3 AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA REACHES NEW HEIGHTS AT WIMBLEDON

Polish star and world No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-4 in the Wimbledon semifinals to reach her first career Grand Slam final. She is the first Polish woman to reach a Major final since 1939.

It’s been an impressive Wimbledon for Radwanska, and the New Haven Open has been there the whole time! Tournament Director Anne Worcester spent last week on a mission to bring back players for the New Haven Open, which will be headlined by four-time defending champion Caroline Wozniacki and Radwanska.

After an impressive first week in SW19, Aga continued her stride on Tuesday by defeating the No. 17 seeded Maria Kirilenko to earn a berth into her first career Grand Slam semifinal. With her straight-sets win over Kerber, Radwanska guarantees a spot in the top two in the world when the WTA rankings come out on Monday. If she defeats Serena Williams in the final, she will become No. 1 in the world for the first time in her career.

Image

We could not be happier to have this superstar attending the New Haven Open in just a few short weeks. It has been a great year for Aga, collecting three titles and reaching a career-high ranking of No. 3 in the world.

We wish Aga the best in Saturday’s Championship match and look forward to seeing her in New Haven!