NEW YORK — On Friday night, ESPN was honored by the International Tennis Hall of Fame with the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Award, given annually to a company in recognition of longstanding commitment to the sport. Executive Chairman George Bodenheimer accepted the honor, saying, “We take very seriously the trust of tennis fans who want and deserve coverage that is creative. . . thorough. . . and compelling. You have our commitment to continue to deliver on our 34-year track record doing just that.”
Christopher E. Clouser, chairman of the ITFHOF, cited “ESPN’s dedicated coverage and innovative tennis programming has been integral in keeping fans engaged in tennis and helping to grow the sport around the world. With each passing tennis season, ESPN has displayed its steadfast commitment to the sport, developing an astute on-air team, constantly adding more hours of coverage, creating innovative digital platforms, and celebrating tennis’ rich history through fascinating special programming.” continue reading…
NEW YORK — Watching ESPN’s comprehensive coverage of the US Open is the next best thing to being at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. There are aspects of the US Open that are unique to the event — many of which are incorporated into ESPN’s coverage — and we’ve captured a few in the pictures below.
1. Arthur Ashe Stadium
The largest tennis facility in the world, Arthur Ashe Stadium will have a retractable roof in a few years, the USTA recently announced.
(Allen Kee/ESPN Images)
The iconic symbol of the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, the unisphere is just outside the US Open grounds. It is the largest global structure in the world.
LONDON — In the fall, host Chris Fowler sits alongside his College GameDay partners Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso every Saturday — as he has for 17 and 23 years, respectively — and now Desmond Howard has been a regular on the set since 2005. Each week in the Monday Night Football booth, play-by-play veteran Mike Tirico teams with Jon Gruden for cable’s most-watched series. On the NBA, it’s Tirico and analyst Hubie Brown on TV and then on ESPN Radio for the playoffs. At golf’s U.S. Open and the upcoming Open Championship in Scotland, Tirico is based at the 18th hole with analyst Paul Azinger.
With such familiarity comes comfort. A knowledge and trust of what to expect, and what is expected. You know each other’s habits, thoughts and foibles. Sort of like marriage. continue reading…
Today, ESPN and the USTA announced that ESPN will be the exclusive home of the US Open starting in 2015. With this 11-year agreement, ESPN will televise the championships of three of tennis’ four majors.
Tennis has been part of ESPN since the network debuted Sept. 7, 1979. The first tennis telecast was exactly one week later, Sept. 14, a Davis Cup tie, Argentina vs. USA from Memphis, Tenn. Current ESPN tennis commentator Cliff Drysdale was on the call and John McEnroe was playing.
Today, the company’s commitment to the sport is as strong as it’s ever been with all four major events and top ATP and WTA events on ESPN platforms, including the US Open Series and the season-ending championship of both tours.
On July 11, 1982, ESPN viewers saw John McEnroe outlast Mats Wilander in an historic Davis Cup quarterfinal-clinching victory. In addition, the network posted a record with the marathon telecast.
In the weekend tie (as the best-of-five matchups are called in Davis Cup parlance), the U.S. and Sweden were even at 2-2 when McEnroe and Wilander — who would go on to win seven Majors — took to the court in St. Louis’ Checkerdome.
Six hours and 32 minutes later, the match was over.
The American had prevailed 9-7, 6-2, 15-17, 3-6, 8-6. The gallery above reflects some aspects of the event, including ESPN’s coverage.
“I remember at the end I fell into [U.S. Captain] Arthur Ashe’s arms,” McEnroe recalled while commentating for ESPN at Wimbledon last week.
“I had just lost to Jimmy Connors in the Final at Wimbledon, so this was a nice way to get over that disappointing result.”
The match proved too long for the fans, if not the combatants.
“I remember thinking near the end ‘If this match is so great, why are most of the people gone?,’ he says.
The venerable Cliff Drysdale, then and now the familiar voice on ESPN’s tennis productions, thinks he knows where the people went. continue reading…
Earlier this week, two of sports’ most recognizable trophies left their home across The Pond and made an historic trip to the east coast. Front Row’s Dave Nagle was the lone U.S. reporter allowed — and quite frankly, able — to speak to the tandem. Here, in an exclusive, is what Nagle insists the Wimbledon trophies were saying after their first-ever trip out of London.
Men’s Challenge Cup: Blimey, it sure was nice to get out of town after over 100 years, and I’m glad we got to see the major sites in the States — New York City and Bristol, Conn.
Venus Rosewater Dish: Yes, and maybe they’ll take us on more trips. Our escort from home said he’s never gone through Customs so quickly!
MCC: I was flattered when they asked him our value, and he said “priceless.” Considering the Club told him not to return without us, I guess that’s true.
VRD: I enjoyed the Beach Boys concert in Central Park when we appeared on Good Morning America. A nice bit of Yankee culture. And that Robin Roberts seemed awfully nice.
MCC: And it was good to catch up with our old friends Chris Evert and John McEnroe. I always did like that bloke and they never seem to age!
VRD: I thought the best part was the white-glove treatment from ESPN security guards Amedeo Carta and Paul Daly. They protected us and handled us gently all weekend. I’m sure they enjoyed the change of pace. continue reading…