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Volume 24 No. 112
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Expanded TV Coverage, Top Players Highlight Family Circle Cup WTA Event

WTA Tour Family Circle Cup GM Bob Moran and Tournament Manager Eleanor Adams are working the “phones and relationships with equal fervor to maintain a top-notch field” at the Daniel Island, S.C.-based tournament, according to Jeff Hartsell of the Charleston POST & COURIER. No. 1-ranked Serena Williams and eight other top 25 players on the WTA Tour “are at the Family Circle Cup this week." That is “no mean feat, given the awkward spot the Family Circle Cup has on the WTA calendar -- just after” the BNP Paribas Open and Sony Open, which are “both two-week events that leave road-weary players ready to head for home.” Moran said, “We’re in a tough spot as the last event in the U.S. before they head to Europe. A lot of the players have been on the road for seven or eight weeks, and they are ready to head for home.” The recruiting battle for players “got tougher this year with the move of a tournament in Mexico, the Monterrey Open, to a spot opposite the Family Circle Cup on the WTA Tour schedule.” However, the “year-round effort at building relationships paid off in a couple of ways this year.” Tenth-ranked Caroline Wozniacki “suddenly had a free week” and will play, following her boyfriend Rory McIlroy’s decision to play the PGA Tour Valero Texas Open this week. Moran was in “constant touch with her agent, and the Family Circle Cup was able to capitalize” (Charleston POST & COURIER, 4/2).

GOING GLOBAL: Hartsell noted the tournament "will go global this week, as an unprecedented total of 52 matches and more than 100 hours of coverage are slated to be available" on int'l TV and online streaming. It is a 300% “increase over the nine matches and 14 hours of tennis carried on TV last year.” Moran: “It’s a big deal for us. It means bringing Charleston and this event to an international audience, and that impacts our sponsors, Daniel Island, our city and our entire state.” He added, “And since we’re doing two courts instead of one, we have to build a lot more facilities and do a lot more wiring. It really starts our process a lot earlier.” The process is part of a deal for int’l rights that the WTA Tour “announced late last year, with more [than] 400 matches broadcast in 2013 across the MCS TV Group network of channels.” ESPN retains U.S. rights and will “carry its normal allotment of Thursday-Sunday Family Circle Cup coverage,” including Sunday’s 1:00pm ET championship match, with Cliff Drysdale and Pam Shriver in the booth (Charleston POST & COURIER, 4/1).

MO' MONEY, LESS PROBLEMS: In New Jersey, Ann LoPrinzi noted the USTA has been talking with the ATP and WTA for the past year and feels that the new agreement to increase U.S. Open prize money “will allow them to focus on other important things, like transforming the tennis center and getting more kids playing tennis.” Officials made it “clear that the pressure to increase prize money is not just about the top players.” It is “apparently difficult for lower-ranked players to make a living on the tour; therefore, players at both ends of the spectrum will benefit” (TRENTON TIMES, 3/31).

GRASS IS GREENER: The ATP Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart will become a grass court tournament from '15. Formerly played on a clay court, the tournament’s request to move to a grass court event taking place the week following the French Open in the lead up to Wimbledon was approved by the ATP BOD at its recent meetings in Miami. With Wimbledon a week later in the calendar from '15, a three-week gap will be incorporated in the ATP calendar following the French Open. That means an additional week of tournaments in the lead up to Wimbledon (ATP).