DANIEL ISLAND, S.C. – Ben Navarro, the CEO of Charleston-based Sherman Financial Group and the founder of education non-profit Meeting Street Schools, has acquired the sanction of the WTA Volvo Car Open along with the operations of the Family Circle Tennis Center and Volvo Car Stadium. With this change, Charleston Tennis LLC will now become a locally-owned and operated organization.
“I look forward to building on the current tournament tradition that is already 47 years in the making with the Volvo Car Open,” said Navarro. “Bob Moran and his team have created a tennis legacy in Charleston with the event and its facilities. Our goal is to continue to grow the tournament’s impact, promote junior tennis in Charleston, and make the sport more accessible for all. Personally, Charleston Tennis LLC’s mission of giving back and making a positive influence on our community align with my family’s values and beliefs.”
“I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Ben over the last year through his commitment to growing tennis here in Charleston. His club LTP Tennis has hosted numerous ITF and junior tournaments culminating with the US Girls Clay Court National Championship, held this past July,” said Bob Moran, President of Charleston Tennis LLC. “I’m blown away with not only Ben’s commitment to tennis, but his love for this community. His work with Meeting Street Schools is truly inspiring. Our team is excited to get started building towards the 2019 Volvo Car Open and working with Ben and his team to create an even bigger and better experience for our players, fans and partners. With this commitment and investment to build world-class experiences by our new owner, and the support of our title sponsor, Volvo Car USA, we will continue to remain a vibrant part of the Charleston community for years to come.”
The Volvo Car Open is the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America. The international event attracts players and fans from across the globe and reaches more than 20 million fans worldwide via The Tennis Channel and international broadcast partners. The Family Circle Tennis Center is a public tennis facility with 20 championship courts and a 10,200-seat stadium. The center is a year-round facility with daily adult and junior tennis programing, including an on-site, full-time tennis academy. In addition, the stadium hosts an annual concert series and a broad range of programs and events.
The Volvo Car Open contributes a direct impact of 30 million dollars into the local economy each year through visitors, hotels, restaurants, travel and tourism. Indirectly, the tournament generates billions of impressions through its international broadcast, press coverage and ad campaign, all collectively promoting the Lowcountry domestically and abroad. The tournament is responsible for housing all players, officials, out-of-town staff and domestic and international TV production crews. More than 2,500 room nights the week of the Volvo Car Open are booked for staffing alone. This does not account for the tournament’s average of 90,000 attendees, in which 50 percent are from out of town and who will shop, dine and take in attractions while attending the event.
Steve Simon, WTA CEO and Chairman stated, “Rooted in the WTA’s rich history as one of the very first tournaments in 1973, it is a pleasure to see both the tradition and growth of this event continue. We are delighted to welcome Ben’s ownership to the Volvo Car Open and look forward to the positive impact this will have on the continued success of one of the premier women’s tennis events in the world.”
In conjunction with Tennis Channel and WTA Media, the Volvo Car Open is showcased from the first ball struck in main draw competition to the last ball played in finals, throughout the U.S. and 174 international partners. The tournament receives more than 100 hours of tennis; live from Charleston, broadcast across the globe to millions of fans.
Navarro is also the owner of LTP Tennis Club in Mount Pleasant, S.C. He and his wife are avid tennis fans and their four children play the sport.
“The opportunity to partner with someone so passionate about tennis and our community is a perfect fit,” said Moran.
The 2019 Volvo Car Open will take place March 30 – April 7. The tournament will continue to be operated by Charleston Tennis, LLC. Daily procedures and current staff will not be affected by the acquisition.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (Sept. 19, 2018) – A maiden WTA title winner in Aryna Sabalenka, four of the top 10 players in the world, a spectacular launch at Yale’s Sterling Library and a week-long festival of events and charity initiatives combined to help the 2018 Connecticut Open become the third-best attended WTA-only event in the world this year.
One of the strongest player fields in recent history, plus an Invesco Series QQQ Men’s Legends event featuring John McEnroe and won by Connecticut’s own James Blake and the return to New Haven of former World No.1 and Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport, added up to attendance topping 50,000 for the fourth consecutive year.
“This summer’s tournament created a buzz that we haven’t felt around the site in a number of years,” said Tournament Director Anne Worcester. “We witnessed the birth of a new star for women’s tennis in Sabalenka and we were treated to matches worthy of the latter stages of a Grand Slam right from our first round. We expanded the off-court festival experience, this year with the help of new and returning sponsors staging more fan-friendly activities such as the Avangrid Power Zone which included selfies with players, the Yale Street Fair and our inaugural Beer Fest at the Connecticut Open on finals Saturday.”
While the tournament demonstrated growth with the addition of new sponsors, most notably in Avangrid and Hearst CT Media Group, Worcester confirmed it had once again fulfilled its non-profit mission by giving back to the communities it serves. “Many of our fans, sponsors and partners share our vision and commitment to benefitting the local community,” Worcester added. “We our delighted to confirm that we set several records this year in terms of our fundraising efforts.”
Coming off a successful 2018 event, and in order to build on more than two decades of success, the tournament will spend the next few months evaluating options on how to build for the future, delivering the best value to the community, fans and sponsors, with future developments including a potential summer date change.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich wants you to know that reaching the third round of the US Open is not her biggest win yet. “I don’t think so,” the 24-year-old from Belarus said today after her match. “I have a lot of good matches. This is one of them but it’s not my biggest and I think my biggest is in front of me.” Sasnovich was speaking about her win over Daria Kasatkina of Russia, 6-2, 7-6(3) win on the Grandstand.
And it didn’t feel as easy as the score suggests. “It was 1:34 but it feels like we played three hours,” she said, “because a lot of points, a lot of you have to move, and Dasha’s a really good player. She’s 11 in the world. It was difficult for my mentality so I’m really happy with this win. It was difficult conditions for both. Probably I want to win more today. ”
She credited a change in her style for causing havoc to Kasatkina today.
“I started not to play 2-3 shots, I started to play 5, 6, 7, 8 or more (shots),” she said. “I have to play, you know, not just ‘boom boom’. I have a good tactic against her because we’ve played a lot of matches and I know what I need to know.”
“My concentration was very good today.”
She won’t dwell on the victory for a minute.
“It feels really good, but I’m moving forward,” Sasnovich said. “I have the next match. #31 is not a goal for me, you know? I have to improve like all the players who want a better ranking. I improved some part of my game, for example to compare with last year and this year, I think I’m totally another player…better forehand, better serve. I think I’m a better player than last year. I don’t want to compare with someone else, I want to compare with myself.”
What is it about Belarus and three third rounders at the US Open?
“Of course, three girls top 32, so I’m really proud of the girls for our country, but I think after Fed Cup, when they played the finals, quarterfinals, and semifinals in Minsk, a lot of people were coming to see our match and some of them, they didn’t know what is tennis, and when they saw tennis in life, they’d probably seen it on TV, in life, it was good popularization and they took their child on the court and they wanted to play them professional. They want my country to be more improving in tennis, and they think we can have more good players.”
“I wish luck on all the other Belarusian players that we can go on to the next round for popularization of tennis in our country.”
Next up is Naomi Osaka, another tough ask for any player on the tour and one that can’t be forgotten for coming back from a 0-5 deficit in the second set.
“Yeah, it was a good match, it was good conditions (Tokyo 2016), I remember we played inside. It was very humid. I lost 6-3 the first set, and I was 5-0 up in the second set and I lost the set, but it was two years ago. It was so, so long time ago. She was different, I was different.”
And here’s a twist: She’s a fondue junkie who wants a Melting Pot in Minsk.
“I really love the Melting Pot, in America. Fondue. I want to open one and it’s no joke. I really wanted to open the fondue in my country, but it was a small secret. Now it’s not secret anymore. But I want to open the cheese fondue and chocolate fondue, with milk chocolate and white chocolate with strawberry, banana, fruits, some marshmallows.”
She’ll have a day to relax before preparing for Osaka. In the downtime, she’ll eat and be a tourist.
“So I really like to eat. Probably I will go to Central Park today or the Empire State Building. My coach will give me one or two hours. I will probably go to cinema to see a movie. To relax, to be out of the tennis for evening and night.”
She’s happy to hear that the scorching conditions are about to let up.
“It’s better for us, for all the players. because it’s better to play when it’s 25 or 26, degrees than when it’s 35. It feels like 41. So I’m happy for all the girls who are going to play in that condition.”
She’s one win away from tying her best grand slam result at Wimbledon this year. It’s been a pleasure to watch this player progress through the years and now I’ve got to take care of my Fondue craving as soon as I get out of Queens.
—Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
Early play at the US Open in New York on Thursday found one upset, as Aliaksandra Sasnovich, a perennial qualifier in Premier tournaments and slams, upset the Russian, 6-2, 7-6. For Sasnovich, whose high water mark was this year’s fourth round at Wimbledon, she will try to keep her US Open magic alive when she meets Naomi Osaka on Saturday.
Osaka was efficient in the morning heat, needing just 50 minutes on court to dismantle an injured Julia Glushko. In press, she talked about the fine line of deciding to go aggressive or play it safe with each shot.
“You win more if you play safe,” she said. “I would say it’s fun to take the chances when you’re feeling good, like, when you know it’s not 50/50, more like 70/30. So I sort of have to hold myself back on the days I don’t feel good. That’s a little bit hard for me.”
Aryna Sabalenka has been called out for dead–“hit the wall”–by the commentators on US Open Radio in both matches she’s played here. The first time was when she lost the second set to Danielle Collins and today they were at it again in the second set when the Belarusian made a couple of unforced errors. The commies were wrong both times. Sabalenka beat 2010 Flushing Meadows finalist Vera Zvonareva, 6-2, 7-6 to earn a date with Petra Kvitova, and probably her first distinguished court assignment.
It’s funny, because I thought this was going to be a tournament of upsets on the women’s side after Simona Halep went out in the first 90 minutes of the tournament on Monday. Since then, other than Kasatkina today and Muguruza last night, things are shaping up nicely with many marquee players into the weekend. Kerber’s currently in a battle with Johanna Larsson, but there’s plenty of stars left to produce a great second week of women’s tennis.
Sloane Stephens didn’t look happy when she took the court on Arthur Ashe Stadium at noon today for her second round US Open match in New York. That look got worse as she dropped four of the first five games to Anhelina Kalinina. After a bathroom break to start the second set, Stephens play improved somewhat, and she tenuously won the second set 7-5. In the third, Kalinina’s play fell flat and Stephens was clearly in the groove for the 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 match that lasted two hours and forty five minutes on the blazing courts.
Stephens plays Vika Azarenka in the third round on Friday.
Meanwhile, Venus Williams was battling Camila Giorgi and was able to finish off the Italian in two sets to get off of Armstrong so she can prepare for her third round match ton Friday, likely against little sister Serena. The final was 6-4, 7-5.
After the match, Venus waxed poetic about playing on the new stadium. “It’s great to play out here on Louis Armstrong, the court is named after a legend,” she said. “I’m really pumped to win here today against an inspired opponent.”
She doesn’t check the draw, but she didn’t have to, since it’s all the buzz in New York.
“I don’t know, you gotta play who you have to play. When you’re in the draw, all you think about is winning your match.”
That said, she recalled her last meeting with Serena at the 2017 Australian Open. “Last time, it was two on one, so at least this time it’ll be fair,” she said.
NY/FL/Japan’s @Naomi_Osaka_ Sizzles in @USOpen First Round
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
Long Island-born Naomi Osaka had an easy time in scorching conditions in her opening round match on Grandstand at the US Open today, beating German Laura Siegemund 6-3, 6-2. Osaka jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first set and though Siegemund looked more composed to start the second set, Osaka quickly broke her again and held on to serve out the match in just one hour and eighteen minutes.
For Osaka, she’s now 3-0 in first round matches in New York. She also keeps her streak alive trying to reach the third round or better in a sixth straight grand slam. Coming into last year’s US Open, the then-unseeded Japanese player made it to the third round where she became a victim of dangerous floater Kaia Kanepi. This year, she’s seeded 20th, and she’s expected to make the third round or better at this year’s event. Today’s win also saw Osaka pass the $2 million earnings mark at the age of 20.
As to the idea that she plays better in larger tournaments, Osaka said, “I mean, I have sort of already accepted the fact that I probably play better during the big stages. I think that’s just something that I grew up watching, like, people on the bigger stages. And I have always wanted to play on Arthur Ashe and stuff, so when the chance comes, of course I’m going to play my best.”
While happy that she won, she admitted that “I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I didn’t play as well as I wanted to. But I’m really happy with how I fought. I didn’t let her sort of — like, towards the end of the first set, I think I dropped two games in a row, and I managed to stop her from coming back.”
Osaka will look to reach another third round on Thursday against qualifier Julia Glushko.