Jennifer Capriati, one of America's most dominant tennis players in the 1990s and early 2000s; Russia's first world number one Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and Brazilian tennis superstar Gustavo "Guga" Kuerten have been nominated to receive the highest honor available in the sport of tennis, induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. All three are nominated for the induction Class of 2012 in the Recent Player Category. Also in the Recent Player Category, Wheelchair Tennis superstar and three-time Paralympic medalist Randy Snow has been nominated posthumously for induction. In the Master Player Category, Thelma Coyne Long of Australia, who captured 19 Grand Slam titles between the 1930s and 1950s, and 1975 US Open champion Manuel Orantes, a Spanish star of the 1970s-1980s have been nominated. Three individuals have been nominated for their immense contributions to the sport. Legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, who has guided 10 ATP and WTA stars to world number one status; influential tennis promoter and administrator Mike Davies; and Eiichi Kawatei, who has played a vital role in the growth of tennis in Asia have all been nominated in the Contributor Category.
Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova, Bill Macatee and Justin Gimelstob welcomed Kuerten and International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum Chairman Christopher E. Clouser to the Tennis Channel Plaza on the grounds at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the US Open to make the announcement live on the Tennis Channel.
"Only a small, elite group of athletes ever achieve the status of being world number one in their sport. Jennifer Capriati, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Guga Kuerten and Randy Snow are among this elite group. For their impressive rankings, along with Grand Slam titles, Olympic medals and other great contributions to the sport of tennis, I'm very pleased to announce that they have been nominated to receive our sport's highest honor, induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame," said Tony Trabert, International Tennis Hall of Fame President and 1970 Hall of Fame Inductee.
Voting for the 2012 ballot will take place over the next several months, culminating with an announcement in early 2012 to reveal the Class of 2012 Inductees. The Class of 2012 Induction Ceremony will be held on Saturday, July 14, 2012 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. The Ceremony will be held in conjunction with the Campbell's Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event.
►Recent Player: Jennifer Capriati, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Gustavo Kuerten
►Recent Player, Wheelchair Tennis: Randy Snow
Eligibility criteria for the Recent Player Category is as follows: Active as competitors in the sport within the last 20 years prior to consideration; not a significant factor on the ATP or WTA Tour within five years prior to induction; a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship and character.
Jennifer Capriati, 35, of New York, New York, turned pro in 1990 at the age of 13, launching a successful career marked by world No.1 status, an Olympic gold medal, three Grand Slam titles and several "youngest-ever" records. Capriati cracked the world top-10 in her first season on tour, and in October 2001, she became the world number one, a position she held for a total of 18 weeks. Capriati was a member of the championship U.S. Fed Cup team in 2000.
In her first season on the WTA Tour, Capriati reached the finals of two of her first three pro events, losing to Hall of Famers Gabriela Sabatini and Martina Navratilova. That same year, she made her Grand Slam debut at the French Open, advancing to the semifinals before falling to eventual champion Monica Seles. She also captured her first career title in her first season on tour, defeating Zina Garrison at Puerto Rico. Throughout the season, she became the youngest player to reach a tour final, the youngest player to reach the semifinals at the French Open, the youngest seed ever at Wimbledon and the youngest player to qualify for the season-ending championships. Over the next few years, Capriati established herself as a consistent top-10 player. In 1991, she reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open and at Wimbledon, where she defeated Navratilova in the quarterfinals-the legend's earliest exit in 14 years. In 1992, Capriati captured the Olympic gold medal at the Barcelona games, defeating both the second-seeded Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario and the top-seeded Stefanie Graf. Capriati took a break from tennis in 1994-1995 and 1997-1998, staging a successful comeback in the 1999, 2000 and 2001 seasons. Capriati stopped playing at the end of the 2004 season, having compiled a career record of 430-176 and having won 14 career singles titles and 1 doubles title.
Yevgeny Kafelnikov, 37, of Sochi, Russia, was the first Russian player to hold thenumber one singles title, a position he held for six weeks. Known as a hard-working player with remarkable talent in both singles and doubles, Kafelnikov is one of just eight players in the Open Era to win at least 25 singles titles and 25 doubles titles. In all, he won 26 singles titles and 27 doubles titles. In 1996, his fourth full year on tour, he became the first person since John McEnroe in 1989 to finish in the world top-5 in both singles and doubles. Kafelnikov captured Grand Slam tournament titles in singles at the 1996 French Open and the 1999 Australian Open. Additionally, he won three French Open doubles titles (1996, 1997, 2002) and one doubles title at the US Open (1997), partnered with Daniel Vacek for all four wins, except the 2002 French Open, which he won with Paul Haarhuis. Kafelnikov is the last man in history to have won both the singles and the doubles titles at the same tournament, which he did at the 1996 French Open. In addition to drawing national pride as a world number one player, Kafelnikov represented Russia well throughout his career. In 2000, he won the Olympic gold medal in singles and in 2002, he helped lead the Russian team to Davis Cup victory. After he stopped competing in tennis, Kafelnikov played golf on the European PGA Tour on several occasions. He has also been a successful poker player, competing at the World Series of Poker.
Gustavo "Guga" Kuerten, 34, of Florianopolis, Brazil, was the world's No. 1 player for 43 weeks. Kuerten is a three-time Grand Slam tournament champion, capturing the French Open titles in 1997, 2000 and 2001. In addition, he reached the quarterfinals at the French Open in 1999 and 2004, and was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon in 1999, at the US Open in 1999 and 2001, and at the Sydney Olympics in 1998. With Kuerten's 1997 win at Roland Garros, he became the first Brazilian to win a Grand Slam singles title since Hall of Famer Maria Bueno's 1966 U.S. Nationals title. En route to the victory he overcame three past champions of the event, and became the second-lowest ranked Grand Slam champion at the time (number 66). In 2000, he became the first South American to finish number one in the history of the ATP Rankings (since 1973). The number one year-end position came down to final match of season for the first time in men's tennis history, which Kuerten won with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Andre Agassi, breaking a eight-year reign of number one finishes by Americans. Inspired by his late brother, Guilherme, who had cerebral palsy, Kuerten opened the Institute Guga Kuerten in 2000 to help disabled people. Since its inception, it has assisted more than 40,000 people in over 168 Brazilian cities. While he was playing, Kuerten donated all of his prize money from one event each year to support people challenged by disabilities. Kuerten was awarded the ATP World Tour's Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award in 2003 and in 2010, he was presented the the Philippe Chatrier Award by the International Tennis Federation.
Thomas "Randy" Snow of Terrell, Texas, was a talented, determined athlete throughout his life. As a teenager, Snow was a ranked tennis player in the state of Texas, but when a farming accident left him a paraplegic at the age of 16, he refused to let the physical challenges fade his competitive spirit and athletic talent. Snow committed himself to wheelchair sports, to inspiring athletes worldwide, and to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities. He earned Paralympic medals in two sports and won 22 Grand Slam tournament titles in Wheelchair Tennis. He was arguably one of the world's greatest athletes and unquestionably the greatest Wheelchair Tennis player of his time. Randy Snow died November 19, 2009 in El Salvador while volunteering at a wheelchair tennis camp. As a student at the University of Texas, Snow formed a wheelchair basketball team under the direction of Jim Hayes, the university's wheelchair sports director. Soon after, he began wheelchair racing and also began training as a wheelchair tennis player, eventually establishing himself as the best wheelchair tennis player in the United States. Off the tennis courts, Snow served as president of a motivational speaking company called NO XQs Inc. ("no excuses"), where he spread the message that people should focus on discovering options and finding new opportunities, and that in order to succeed, people must have a 100 percent able-bodied mind.
►Master Player Category: Thelma Coyne-Long; Manuel Orantes
Eligibility criteria for the Master Player Category is as follows: Competitors in the sport who have been retired for at least 20 years prior to consideration; a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship and character.
Thelma Coyne Long, 92, of Sydney, Australia, had a remarkable career of more than 20 years (1935-1958), in which she captured a total of 19 Grand Slam tournament titles, including championships in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. In 1952, she achieved a career-best ranking of number seven. That same year, she completed an Australian triple by sweeping the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles at the Australian Championships. In May 1941, during World War II, Long joined the Red Cross as a transport driver and worked in Melbourne, Australia. In February 1942, she joined the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS) and rose to the rank of captain in April 1944. In recognition of her efforts throughout World War II, she was awarded both the Australian War Medal and Australian Service Medal for 1939-45. Upon her retirement, Long began coaching junior players in New South Wales. Long was inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame in 2002.
Manuel Orantes, 62, of Granada, Spain, reached world number two ranking in 1973, and he remained in the year-end world top-10 for five consecutive years. Orantes defeated Hall of Famer Jimmy Connors to capture the 1975 U.S. Open title, and he was a finalist at the 1974 French Open. In all, Orantes won 33 titles, and has a career record of 647-247. He has a career doubles record of 298-155 and won 22 titles. Orantes was an integral member of the Spanish Davis Cup team from 1967-1980, and is tied for the most number of years played (14) with Sergio Casal and Manuel Santana. Orantes' Davis Cup career resulted in 60 wins and 27 losses, including 39 singles victories. In 2009, Orantes was presented the Davis Cup Award of Excellence by the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Tennis Federation. He was a member of the victorious Spanish team that won the 1978 World Team Cup.
►Contributor Category: Nick Bollettieri; Mike Davies; Eiichi Kawatei
Eligibility criteria for the Contributor Category is as follows: Exceptional contributions that have furthered the growth, reputation and character of the sport, in categories such as administration, media, coaching and officiating. Contributor candidates do not need to be retired from their activities related to the sport to be considered.
Nick Bollettieri, 80, originally from North Pelham, NY but a long-time Florida resident, is widely regarded as one of the most influential people in the world of tennis. The legendary coach has an unparalleled record of discovering and developing champions of the sport. Bollettieri has coached ten world number one players, including Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Monica Seles, and Boris Becker. In addition, he has worked with the Williams sisters, Maria Sharapova, Tommy Haas and many more. Four of his players have been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame-with more likely to follow. After more than 30 years of coaching, at 80 years old, Bollettieri is still active on the tennis courts for more than 10 hours a day, six days a week. Some of the anticipated next generation stars he has worked with include Ryan Harrison and Kei Nishikori. In 1978, he founded the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy (NBTA), the first full-time tennis boarding school that combined intense training on the court with academic curriculum. In 1987, Bollettieri expanded his vision by partnering with IMG to turn the academy into a multi-sport training facility, now known as the IMG Academies. Today, the facility spans almost 300 acres and it offers several other sports academies in addition to the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. Last week, Bollettieri was inducted to the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame.
Mike Davies, 75, originally from Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom, is a tennis promoter and administrator whose immense contributions include forging some of the first, highly successful television/tennis contracts, paving the way for the future of the sport. From 1968-1981, Davies served as executive director of World Championship Tennis, when he was at the forefront of staging tournaments and selling sponsorships and television rights, thereby creating a platform for professional tennis to expand into large stadiums and major cities. In 1981, Davies moved on to serve as the Marketing Director and then Executive Director for the Association of Tennis Professionals (later known as the ATP). A quiet, but impactful behind-the-scenes personality, Davies is still active in the sport, more than 50 years after launching his tennis career, as he currently serves as CEO of the New Haven Open at Yale, in New Haven, Conn.
Eiichi Kawatei, 78, originally from Ashiya City, Japan, has been nominated for his contributions to tennis as a leader in the development and promotion of the sport in Asia. For more than 25 years, he has supported national associations, players, officials, coaches and many official international events (juniors through the pros). He served as Tournament Director for the Japan Open and Asian Open from 1977-1986. Kawatei has been highly active with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for many years, having served as a member of the Committee of Management, a member of the ITF Board of Directors, Vice President, Olympic Games Technical Director, and as Chairman of the Junior Competitions Committee. He has been officially designated an ITF Honorary Life Vice President. Kawatei served as a member of the Japanese Olympic Committee from 1991-2003. He was President of the Asian Tennis Federation 1989-2003, and Secretary General from 1978-1989. With the Japanese Tennis Association, he served as Executive Board Member (1977-1993), and since 1993 he has been Vice President. As a player, Kawatei was a nationally ranked junior and played for Doshisha University (1954-1955), where he returned as coach (1960-1968, 1990-1994).