Tennis stars hit the court at Public Hall on Thursday
CLEVELAND (October 26, 2011) – Billie Jean King and Sir Elton John have selected their teams for Thursday’s 19th annual World TeamTennis Smash Hits presented by GEICO, held at Cleveland Public Hall. King and John have split the event series so far, 9-9, with King pulling even last year in Washington with a 19-15 victory.
International Tennis Hall Of Famers Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe headline Team Billie Jean. Navratilova makes her ninth Smash Hits appearance, while McEnroe is playing for the fifth time. Boston Lobsters teammates Jan-Michael Gambill and Coco Vandeweghe also feature on King’s team.
Appearing for the seventh time, Andy Roddick leads Team Elton. The American is joined by three players making their event debut: Two-time Grand Slam singles champion Amelie Mauresmo, former doubles world No. 1 Mark Knowles and rising teenager Lauren Davis, who hails from Gate Mills, Ohio.
Tickets for World TeamTennis Smash Hits range from $25-$105 and can be ordered online at www.WTT.com/SmashHits or by calling 866/994-4436. Corner reserved seats are $25, upper reserved seats are $40, and premium reserved are $65. A limited number of courtside seats are available for $105. For group sales of 10 or more tickets, call 212/586-3444. The Public Hall ticket box office opens at 4 p.m. on Thursday.
The event, produced by World TeamTennis (WTT) in association with the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland. Smash Hits has raised more than $10 million for the EJAF and various local AIDS charities since 1993. The funds raised at the pre-match Smash Hits VIP Reception will be specifically targeted for local programs.
Captained by King and John, the players will form two teams and play a match using the WTT coed team format. John will also participate in a celebrity doubles match to open the event.
TEAM BILLIE JEAN:
Jan-Michael Gambill: This Spokane, Wash. native joins Smash Hits for the third time. He achieved career-high rankings of No. 14 in singles (June 2001) and No. 23 in doubles (Nov. 2002), capturing three singles titles and five doubles crowns. Gambill has played seven seasons of WTT, his last four as a member of the Boston Lobsters. He currently coaches fellow Lobsters teammate Coco Vandeweghe on the WTA Tour.
John McEnroe: The 17-time Grand Slam champion (seven singles, nine men’s doubles, one mixed doubles) is making his fifth Smash Hits appearance. A recurring fixture of the WTT Pro League with the New York Sportimes, McEnroe has established himself as a leading tennis commentator and competes on the ATP Champions Tour. He opened the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in 2010 at Sportime Randall’s Island venue.
Martina Navratilova: Navratilova is playing Smash Hits for a ninth time. A 20-season veteran of WTT, the 55-year-old is the winner of 59 Grand Slam titles, which include 18 singles, 31 women’s doubles and 10 mixed doubles. Navratilova underwent treatment for breast cancer in 2010 and has since been declared cancer-free. She works as an analyst for Tennis Channel and serves as an Ambassador of Fitness for AARP.
Coco Vandeweghe: The 19-year-old will make her Smash Hits debut. Vandeweghe played her third WTT season this past summer and has since brought on Boston Lobsters teammate Jan-Michael Gambill as her coach. A resident of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., Vandeweghe is a member of the U.S. Fed Cup team, having played in last year’s final against Italy. She reached a career-best singles ranking of No. 89 in April.
Lauren Davis: At 18 years of age, Davis is the youngest competitor in this year’s Smash Hits field, making her debut. Born in nearby Gate Mills, Ohio, Davis now resides in Boca Raton, Fla. training at the Evert Academy, having turned pro in January. In 2010, she won a USTA Wild Card Playoff to earn a main draw berth at the 2011 Australian Open.
Mark Knowles: A WTT veteran of 10 seasons with the Sacramento Capitals, Knowles is playing Smash Hits for the first time. The Bahamian hoisted his 54th men’s doubles trophy in Los Angeles with Xavier Malisse in July. A former world No. 1 in doubles, Knowles has claimed three Grand Slam men’s doubles titles and one mixed doubles crown. He and wife Dawn welcomed their third child, Presley, in March.
Amelie Mauresmo: The first Frenchwoman to reach No. 1 in singles will play under the WTT format for the first time in her Smash Hits debut. Mauresmo captured two Grand Slam singles titles in 2006 at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, earning WTA Player of the Year honors. Mauresmo represented France at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games, winning the silver medal in Athens, and was an 11-year member of the French Fed Cup team.
Andy Roddick: Roddick comes to Cleveland for his seventh Smash Hits appearance. In 2003, Roddick won the US Open and at 21, became the youngest American to finish the year No. 1 in the ATP rankings. The Austin, Texas resident, winner of 30 singles titles and four doubles trophies, started the Andy Roddick Foundation in 2001. It has raised more than $10 million for deserving charities since its inception.
WTT SMASH HITS RAISES MORE THAN $500,000 FOR CHARITIES
Team Elton defeats Team Billie Jean 19-18
Cleveland (October 27, 2011) — Several of the biggest names in tennis came together at the 19th annual WTT Smash Hits presented by GEICO on Thursday night at Cleveland Public Hall, raising more than $500,000 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland. Team Elton rallied to win the match over Team Billie Jean 19-18 in front of a crowd of 3,477 fans.
Team Elton John bounced from an early 10-3 deficit when local favorite Lauren Davis of Gates Mills, Ohio, ignited a comeback with a 5-1 singles win over Coco Vandeweghe of Team Billie Jean. After Andy Roddick pulled Team Elton even with a 5-3 win in men’s singles, he won the deciding Supertiebreaker 7-1 to give Team Elton the 19-18 overall match victory.
“Lauren Davis pulled out an amazing performance to put us back in it,” John said afterwards. With the win, Team Elton broke a 9-9 tie in the overall series.
In its 19-year history, WTT Smash Hits has raised more than $10.5 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and local charities throughout the U.S. “You have to make sure you can give the money raised to the right people,” said John during a pre-match press conference. “Our challenge now is to get medicine to people who can’t afford it, and get rid of the stigma that’s still associated with AIDS. Some people who get AIDS are ashamed of having it and don’t tell anyone or get tested. You don’t get ashamed if you have cancer. You go get your medicine and treatment.”
Before the on-court action began, the co-hosts and players attended a pre-match reception and live auction. The top auction items of the night were the two popular Billie Jean King hitting sessions, which King served up for $17,000 each. Other auction items were a 2012 Super Bowl Package, two Elton John-signed piano benches, hitting sessions with Andy Roddick and Martina Navratilova, and a French Open package. The live and silent auctions raised more than $155,000 of the evening’s total.
Following the auction, an exciting night of tennis took center stage. Sir Elton John kicked the evening off, partnering Martina Navratilova to a 4-3 (5-4) victory against John McEnroe and Amelie Mauresmo in an entertaining celebrity doubles set. At 1-1, the music legend delighted the crowd, ripping a serve out wide and charging the net to put away an overhead smash for a winner, which received a standing ovation. On a deciding set point for both teams in the nine point tiebreak, John clinched the win with a crosscourt forehand return winner.
Though John triumphed to start the night, it was Team Billie Jean that came out firing in the opening set of men’s doubles. The combination of John McEnroe’s craftiness at the net and Jan-Michael Gambill’s powerful serves led the pair to a 5-2 win over Smash Hits rookie Mark Knowles and seven-time participant Andy Roddick.
Martina Navratilova and Coco Vandeweghe cruised past Lauren Davis and Amelie Mauresmo 5-1 to give Team Billie Jean a commanding 10-3 lead heading into the third set. Navratilova set her teammate up several times, utilizing her years of experience in doubles to open up the court.
Trailing by seven games, Team Elton needed a spark, and they found it in local teenager Lauren Davis. The teenager, who grew up in the Cleveland area and now trains at Evert Tennis Academy, topped Vandeweghe 5-1 in women’s singles to close Team Elton’s deficit to 11-8 at the halfway point. The 18-year-old Davis impressed with her well-struck backhands.
“It’s a great experience playing with Sir Elton John… I love his music,” Davis said. “Growing up watching these players on TV, it’s so cool [to be here].”
In a hard-fought mixed doubles set, Mauresmo and Roddick prevailed 5-4 (4) versus Navratilova and Gambill to move Team Elton within one game heading into the final set. With both teams having set point, Roddick closed it out with a nifty backhand volley winner to give Team Elton its second straight set.
Roddick broke Gambill to take a 3-1 lead in the final set, and held on for a 5-3 win in men’s singles, tying the score at 18-18 to send the event into a deciding Supertiebreaker. From there, Roddick took over, taking it 7-1 to give Team Elton the 19-18 match victory.
GEICO is the presenting sponsor of WTT Smash Hits, which is hosted by Medical Mutual of Ohio. For more information on WTT Smash Hits, visit www.WTT.com/SmashHits.
Celebrity Set (does not count towards final score): Elton John/Martina Navratilova def. John McEnroe/Amelie Mauresmo 4-3 (5-4 in Tiebreak)
Final Results – WTT Smash Hits presented by GEICO at Public Hall in Cleveland, Ohio
Team Elton def. Team Billie Jean 19-18 (7-1 Supertiebreaker)
Men’s Doubles: John McEnroe/Jan-Michael Gambill (Team Billie Jean) def. Andy Roddick/Mark Knowles (Team Elton) 5-2
Women’s Doubles: Martina Navratilova/Coco Vandeweghe (Team Billie Jean) def. Amelie Mauresmo/Lauren Davis (Team Elton) 5-1
Women’s Singles: Lauren Davis (Team Elton) def. Coco Vandeweghe (Team Billie Jean) 5-1
Mixed Doubles: Andy Roddick/Amelie Mauresmo (Team Elton) def. Jan-Michael Gambill/Martina Navratilova (Team Billie Jean) 5-4
Men’s Singles: Andy Roddick (Team Elton) def. Jan-Michael Gambill (Team Billie Jean) 5-3
Supertiebreaker – Men’s Singles: Andy Roddick (Team Elton) def. Jan-Michael Gambill (Team Billie Jean) 1-0 (7-1)
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