Got Tennis
  | By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff
Photo Credit: Fred and Susan Mullane

Tennis Channel’s second year of U.S. Open coverage will provide viewers with 73 hours of live matches as the tennis world descends upon New York, and will also introduce a new team member who knows a thing (or two) about on-court glory in the Big Apple. This year two-time U.S. Open singles titlist Tracy Austin joins the network’s returning on-air roster of tennis champions, with a lineup that includes lead analysts Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova and U.S. Open Tonight/Breakfast at the Open host Lindsay Davenport. In all the network will offer 234 hours of U.S. Open telecasts, with nearly 24-hour, “Grounds Pass” level of coverage during the two-week competition.

When live matches are not taking place in Flushing Meadow, Tennis Channel’s signature U.S. Open Tonight and Breakfast at the Open will recap all the excitement of that day’s play, and lead into the following morning’s contests. Again hosted by 1998 U.S. Open champion Lindsay Davenport and Kevin Frazier of Entertainment Tonight fame, the news, interview and highlight shows will air alongside encore matches throughout the night during the tournament, giving viewers a close to 24-hour daily U.S. Open experience.

Beginning with its opening-match coverage on Arthur Ashe Stadium or Louis Armstrong Stadium the first day of play Monday, Aug. 30, Tennis Channel’s typical U.S. Open schedule features live matches daily from 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. (all times ET). U.S. Open Tonight immediately follows the conclusion of the final U.S. Open match of the evening, and airs with encore matches until Breakfast at the Open premieres at 6 a.m. and runs next to encore matches until the start of that day’s play at 11:00 a.m. During Labor Day weekend Tennis Channel’s live-match window moves to prime time, from 7:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. As with the other three Grand Slams, Tennis Channel will combine with ESPN2 to bring fans virtually round-the-clock coverage during the U.S. Open, each network utilizing its own commentators.

On-air talent
Though new to the network’s Grand Slam team, Austin has been a Tennis Channel regular via Tennis Channel Academy, the coaches-and-clinics series she has hosted since 2008. She has also done commentary and analysis work for the channel’s coverage of top events like the women’s year-end championships. During the US Open she will serve as Tennis Channel’s afternoon and late-match analyst, appear in short features and interact with fans on the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center grounds.

A tennis prodigy, Austin is best known for dethroning four-time U.S. Open champion Chris Evert in 1979 at the mere age of 16, making her the youngest U.S. Open champion in history. She was the number one-ranked women’s singles player in 1980 and boasts an impressive collection of 30 singles titles, including two U.S. Open championships along with a Wimbledon mixed doubles title. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1992.

“Tennis Channel tries to put as much of the U.S. Open on fans’ television screens as is humanly possible, and I’m thrilled to join them this year,” said Austin. “This is an exciting time of the tennis season and this tournament has such special memories for me.”

Tennis icons Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova are back as Tennis Channel’s lead US Open analysts, again putting the all-time men’s and women’s singles titlists in the same booth. They will be joined once more by veteran sportscaster Bill Macatee, a mainstay of the network’s Grand Slam coverage since its first effort in Paris in 2007. Lead commentators Ted Robinson and Ian Eagle are also back on Tennis Channel’s on-air roster, as are former players Leif Shiras, Katrina Adams, Jimmy Arias, Justin Gimelstob and Corina Morariu. Year-round Court Report anchor Cari Champion will also be on the tournament grounds for special news and feature segments. U.S. Open Tonight and Breakfast at the Open are hosted by Davenport and Frazier from Tennis Channel’s Los Angeles studio, with nightly Court Report segments from reporters Arlene Santana and Angela Sun.

“Grounds Pass”
After bringing its “Grounds Pass” Grand Slam coverage approach to the US Open last year for the first time, Tennis Channel is doing even more to give audiences the feel of spending a late-summer afternoon at the tournament. New in 2010 is the “Tennis Channel Plaza,” a fixed interview and fan-interaction site centered just outside Arthur Ashe Stadium. Throughout each day’s coverage Gimelstob, Champion and others will conduct interviews while surrounded by tournament ticket holders, routinely carrying on public address conversations with the crowd in the interim. The network’s main set has been moved from the top of Louis Armstrong Stadium and brought outside to the second level of Arthur Ashe Stadium, in full view of the public. Usually featuring Robinson and Eagle, this set will be the center point of Tennis Channel’s coverage, from here taking viewers to center court with Macatee, Connors and Navratilova; off to the outer grounds with roving reporters; and on-air analysts or anywhere between.

Broadband and digital coverage
What the network cannot squeeze into viewers’ television sets over the Flushing Meadow fortnight is likely to be found on Tennis Channel’s Web site, www.tennischannel.com. Beyond real-time scoring, schedules, draws and order of play, the site will include on-court video highlights, behind-the-scenes features, interviews and Court Report news segments. Exclusive US Open photo gallery scenes capture the raucous energy of the event, while reporter Steve Flink and humorist James LaRosa have become Tennis Channel digital favorites who will again offer their online opinions as the competition unfolds. At the same time, Web visitors can sign up for network sweepstakes and play its “Racquet Bracket” prediction game. Tennis Channel’s YouTube, Twitter and Facebook pages offer additional opportunities for fans to stay digitally engaged.

For more information, visit www.tennischannel.com.