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CT Post: No Retirement Party Yet For Former Pilot Pen Champ Blake

Sunday, August 22, 2010




NEW HAVEN -- Fairfield's James Blake has seen better days. Once ranked in the top five in the world, he now finds himself 107th, with injuries and inconsistent play being the main reason.

However, Blake is hoping the Pilot Pen again can be an all-purpose fix to his career. Not just to get his confidence back up, or move him up in the world rankings, but more importantly, to make the game fun again.

"It's a fact that I miss being on the court," said Blake. "That isn't fun (not playing), but being on the court and being able to play in front of my hometown fans is always a good time. I have so much fun playing in front of these guys."

The fun for Blake begins today as he is holding a tennis clinic and Q and A from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at the Grandstand at Yale as a part of Kids Day at the Pilot Pen. Tickets are $8 for those 14 and under and $16 for adults.

His mom, Betty, is even getting in on the action. She recently wrote a book titled "Mix it Up, Make it Nice: Secrets of a tennis mom." She will be signing her book at 12:30 today in front of the pro shop at the tennis center, and James will be right by her side assisting.

Blake will be facing off against Pere Riba on Monday at a time to be announced. Blake won the Pilot Pen in 2005 and 2007.

Injuries to his knee and hamstring and poor finishes at Wimbledon, where he was eliminated in straight sets to the 151st-ranked player in the world, Robin Hasse, and recently the Legg Mason, where he was bounced out in the first round, have kept Blake down in the rankings. However, he said he does not look at the rankings. They only cross his mind on one occasion.

"The only time I think about it is when I need a wild card or what I am going do for my schedule in the fall," Blake said. "Or will tournament directors give me wild cards, you know; not all tournament directors are as nice as Anne Worcester."

However, the injuries have taken a toll on the former Pilot Pen champion's outlook for the future. Blake mentioned retirement as a possibility after Wimbledon, but Saturday said he has not seriously contemplated it. In spite of that, he is aware that the end could come at any time.

"I don't look at a definite timeline," Blake said. "Since '04 when I was sick (with the shingles), I always thought that I have a finite career. ... I've always thought there would be a life after tennis, whether it's in tennis or out, or back in school. I've always thought about that. But I haven't set a time when we're going to plan a retirement party."


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Posted by Shelia

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U.S. Open National Playoffs Winner Blake Strode Will Play Qualifying Tournament

Saturday, August 21, 2010

2010 Inaugural U.S. Open National Playoffs Winner Blake Strode
(Photo by Susan Mullane)


The USTA announced that the US Open Qualifying Tournament will be held August 24-27 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the site of the 2010 US Open. The tournament, which offers $1 million in prize money, is free and open to the public with play beginning daily at 11 a.m. It will feature a men's and women's draw of 128 players each, with 16 men and 16 women advancing to the main draw of the US Open, held August 30-September 12.

Players scheduled to compete in this year's qualifying run the gamut from former Grand Slam doubles champions to an Olympic gold medal winner to mothers to rising juniors looking for a chance on one of tennis' biggest stages.

The field is also expected to include the winners of the inaugural US Open National Playoffs, which gave anyone age 14 and over the opportunity to receive a wild card into the 2010 US Open Qualifying Tournament. Blake Strode, 23, of St. Louis, who won the Men's Championship, deferred Harvard Law School in 2009 to pursue a professional tennis career and competed in the 2009 US Open Qualifying Tournament, where he lost in the first round. He grew into tennis as a member of his local National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapter in Ferguson, Mo., and developed into an All-American for the University of Arkansas, where he was also a two-time SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Source: usopen.org


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Posted by Shelia

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Americans James Blake And Donald Young Among U.S.Open Wild Card Recipients

Two-time US Open quarterfinalist James Blake (Tampa, Fla.) and a talented group of Americans consisting of Bradley Klahn (Poway, Calif.), Jack Sock (Lincoln, Neb.), Ryan Sweeting (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), and Donald Young (Atlanta), along with two international players -- Australian Carsten Ball and Guillaume Rufin of France -- have been awarded men's singles main-draw wild-card entries into the 2010 US Open Tennis Championships. One additional wild card will be given to the winner of the 2010 US Open Wild Card Playoffs, held August 18-20 at the USTA Player Development Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla. The 2010 US Open will be played August 30 - September 12 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

Both the men's and women's US Open singles champions will earn $1.7 million, with the ability to earn an additional $1 million in bonus prize money (for a total potential payout of $2.7 million) based on their performance in the 2010 Olympus US Open Series. The US Open Men's Singles Championship is presented by Mercedes-Benz USA. Blake, 30, of Tampa, Fla., has won 10 career singles titles on the ATP World Tour and reached a career-high of No. 4 in 2006. He reached consecutive quarterfinals at the US Open in 2005-06, and in 2008 he upset Roger Federer en route to a fourth place finish at the Beijing Olympics. A long-time Davis Cup stalwart, Blake helped lead the U.S. to the 2007 Davis Cup title. Blake, who grew up in nearby Fairfield, Conn., has been hampered by injuries in 2010 and is currently No. 107. Blake last received a US Open wild card in 2005, when he was also ranked No. 107 at the time of the entry deadline. His quarterfinal finish that year ranks second all-time for best US Open finish by a wild card.

Young, 21, of Atlanta is ranked No. 101 and has bounced back in 2010 to approach the Top 100 for the first time since 2008, reaching the semifinals or better at six USTA Pro Circuit Challengers and advancing to the second round at the Australian Open. He first broke into the Top 100 in 2007 by reaching the third round at the US Open. As a junior standout, Young was a two-time junior Grand Slam tournament champion (2005 Australian Open, 2007 Wimbledon) and in 2005 became the youngest-ever year-end world junior No. 1.

Source: usopen.org


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Posted by Shelia

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U.S. Open Draw Hit Hard: Serena Williams Pulls Out

Friday, August 20, 2010

Associated Press - Serena Williams pulled out of the U.S. Open on Friday, saying she still is recovering from surgery to repair cuts on her right foot.

The top-ranked Williams has won three titles at Flushing Meadows, part of her 13 Grand Slam singles championships, the most among active women. Last year, she lost in the U.S. Open semifinals after a tirade at a line judge over a foot-fault call, an outburst that drew a record fine.

"It is with much frustration and deep sadness that I am having to pull out of the U.S. Open," Williams said in a statement released by her publicist.

Williams went on to add: "My doctors have advised against my playing so that my foot can heal."

She called missing the tournament "one of the most devastating moments of my career."

The 28-year-old American reportedly was hurt by a broken glass at a restaurant while she was in Munich last month — shortly after winning her fourth Wimbledon singles title on July 3, and before playing in an exhibition match against Kim Clijsters that drew a tennis-record crowd of 35,681 in Brussels on July 8.

Williams had surgery in Los Angeles on July 15. She already had pulled out of three hard-court tournaments she was scheduled to enter in preparation for the U.S. Open and also skipped playing World TeamTennis.

Williams has participated in the last 16 major tournaments; the last one she missed was Wimbledon in 2006.

She won her first Grand Slam singles championship at the 1999 U.S. Open, and also took home the trophy from New York in 2002 and 2008.

Both of Williams' titles this season came at major championships: the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

If healthy, she would have been considered the favorite at the U.S. Open, where play starts Aug. 30.

"We regret that Serena Williams is unable to play the U.S. Open and wish her a speedy recovery," Curley said Friday in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press. "She will be missed, but the tournament is about the competition and the players on the court."


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Posted by Shelia

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