LOS ANGELES, January 21, 2004 —
The Tennis Channel, a 24-hour cable television network devoted to tennis and other racquet sports, is providing live coverage of nine top-level men's and women's tennis events as part of its winter tournament schedule this year, including exclusive U.S. coverage of first and second-round competition in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas. Additionally, the channel will provide its audiences with live telecasts from three ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) and five WTA Tour (Women's Tennis Association) tournaments from February to the first weekend of April.
The network's 2004 winter tournament schedule was unveiled today by Steve Bellamy, president and founder, The Tennis Channel.
"The Tennis Channel's winter tournament schedule this year is going to provide access to events that simply weren't available on American television before," said Bellamy. "We're extremely proud to be the television home of these top-tier tournaments, and this depth of coverage facilitates our mission to grow tennis and its fan-base as much as we can. These athletes are the best of the best, playing in incredible domestic places and exotic ports of call."
The Tennis Channel kicks off a busy February with live telecasts of first-round Davis Cup competition Feb. 5-8. Defending champion Australia hosts Sweden in Adelaide, Australia, Feb. 5-7, while Spain, which lost to Australia in last year's final, visits Brno in the Czech Republic, Feb. 6-8, for its first challenge of the 2004 Davis Cup season. The Tennis Channel will carry each of these three-day ties live in its entirety. Australia and Sweden coverage begins 7:30 p.m. ET, each night Feb. 5-7. Matches between Spain and the Czech Republic are set for 8 a.m. ET, Feb. 6-7, and 7 a.m. ET, Feb. 8.
Several top players are scheduled to compete in these two Davis Cup ties covered by The Tennis Channel, including Juan Carlos Ferrero (No. 3) and Carlos Moya (No. 7) for Spain, 2003 Davis Cup heroes Mark Philippoussis (No. 10) and Lleyton Hewitt (No. 15) for Australia, Jiri Novak (No. 14) for the Czech Republic, and Jonas Bjorkman (No. 25) for Sweden.
The Tennis Channel holds the exclusive U.S. telecast rights to all non-U.S. Davis Cup matches. Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is the largest annual international team competition in sports. The world's top-ranked male tennis players compete for their countries in a season-long tournament that begins with first-round matches in February, followed by quarterfinals in April, semifinals in September and the two remaining nations battling for the championship in December.
"The Cup season is the best of the best on the annual tennis calendar," said Bruce Rider, executive vice president, programming and marketing, The Tennis Channel. "The emotion that goes with it is captivating, and it's held in the highest regard by the players, many of whom consider winning it one of the greatest accomplishments in their careers."
The Tennis Channel follows its opening-round Davis Cup coverage with five February tournaments on either the ATP circuit or WTA Tour: the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo; Seibel Open in San Jose, Calif.; Kroger St. Jude in Memphis, Tenn.; Proximus Diamond Games in Antwerp, Belgium; and Dubai Duty Free Open in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This will be followed by a pair of tournaments in March: the Arizona Men's Tennis Championships in Scottsdale, Ariz., and the Qatar Total Open in Doha, Qatar. The Tennis Channel closes its winter tournament schedule with Davis Cup quarterfinals during the first week of April.
On Sunday, Feb. 8, the network will telecast the championship match of the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. Scheduled to compete this year are seven of the top-12 tennis players on the WTA Tour: Lindsay Davenport (No. 5 as of Jan. 12), Jennifer Capriati (No. 6), Elena Dementieva (No. 8), Ai Sugiyama (No. 9), Chanda Rubin (No. 10), Venus Williams (No. 11) and Nadia Petrova (No. 12). Last year's tournament was won by Davenport, who defeated Monica Seles in the final.
From Feb. 11-15, The Tennis Channel will carry live coverage of the men's Seibel Open in San Jose, Calif. Andre Agassi (No. 4) returns to defend the championship he won for a fifth time in 2003, facing a field of competitors that includes world No. 1 Andy Roddick and Paradorn Srichaphan (No. 13), and U.S. stars Mardy Fish (No. 21), Taylor Dent (No. 27), Vincent Spadea (No. 29) and James Blake (No. 39).
The Tennis Channel's live coverage of the Kroger St. Jude in Memphis, Tenn., runs from Feb. 16-20. On the ATP side of the tournament top seeds include Roddick (No. 1), Tommy Haas (protected ATP Entry Ranking of No. 11), Fish (No. 21), Blake (No. 39), and Bob and Mike Bryan, the world's top-ranked doubles combination. The WTA Tour's tournament competitors include Vera Zvonareva (No. 13), Meghann Shaughnessy (No. 20), Maria Sharapova (No. 31) and doubles star Lisa Raymond (No. 5 doubles ranking).
On Feb. 21 and 22 The Tennis Channel is telecasting the WTA Tour's Proximus Diamond Games semifinals and finals matches live from Antwerp, Belgium. The star-studded tournament field includes the two top-ranked women singles players in the world: Justine Henin-Hardenne (No. 1) and Kim Clijsters (No. 2), both of whom hail from and reside in Belgium. Playing against each other since their teens, there is more that divides the fierce competitors than on-court ambition: Henin-Hardenne lives in the country's southern region and speaks French, while Clijsters is from the north and speaks Flemish. They are joined by four others ranked in the top dozen: Amelie Mauresmo (No. 4), Capriati (No. 6), Sugiyama (No. 9) and Venus Williams (No. 11). This year's tournament has all the promise for a final match similar to last year's clash of the titans, where Williams defeated Clijsters for the championship.
The Tennis Channel's February tournament coverage closes at the Dubai Duty Free Open in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Live semifinals and finals telecasts take place Feb. 26-27. Last year top-ranked Henin-Hardenne won the title in her first run at Dubai, while in the doubles competition sixth-ranked doubles player Martina Navratilova won the crown beside seventh-ranked doubles player Svetlana Kuznetsova.
In March The Tennis Channel will be in Scottsdale, Ariz., at the Arizona Men's Tennis Championships. The network's live telecasts are set for March 3-5, and the field already includes two of the top-five male tennis players in the world: Roddick (No. 1) and Agassi (No. 4). Joining them will be fellow American stars Dent (No. 27) and Blake (No. 39). In 2003 the tournament in Scottsdale was won by Hewitt (No. 15), who defeated (No. 10) Philippoussis.
Following The Tennis Channel's Scottsdale coverage, the network heads for the Qatar Total Open in Doha, Qatar, for live telecasts of the semifinal and final matches March 6-7. Last year Anastasia Myskina (No. 7) beat Elena Likhovtseva (No. 38) to win the tournament.
The Tennis Channel's winter tournament schedule concludes with the second round of Davis Cup play during the first week in April. April 2-4 the network is telecasting live quarterfinal matches.
In addition to its comprehensive live winter tournament schedule, in March The Tennis Channel is providing tape-delayed telecasts of the 2003 Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-Star team in Tokyo, and the 2004 Commonwealth Bank International tournament in Melbourne, Australia.
The Tennis Channel's 2004 Winter Tournament Schedule:
(All times EST)
Feb. 5-8 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Opening Round
Complete live coverage, Sweden at Australia Feb. 5 - 7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
Feb. 6 - 7:30 p.m.-10 p.m.
Feb. 7 - 7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
Complete live coverage, Spain at the Czech Republic Feb. 6 - 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
Feb. 7 - 8 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
Feb. 8 - 7 a.m.-noon
Feb. 8 Toray Pan Pacific Open, Tokyo
Championship final coverage Feb. 8 - 8 p.m.
Feb. 11-15 Seibel Open, San Jose, Calif.
Doubles Championship and live singles coverage throughout the week Feb. 11 - 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m., 10 p.m.
Feb. 12 - 12 a.m.-2 a.m., 5 p.m.-9 p.m., 10 p.m.
Feb. 13 - 12 a.m.-2 a.m., 5 p.m.-9 p.m., 10 p.m.
Feb. 14 - 12 a.m.-2 a.m., 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 15 - 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 16-20 Kroger St. Jude, Memphis, Tenn.
Live coverage starts Monday Feb. 16-20 - 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., 8 p.m.
Feb. 21-22 Proximus Diamond Games, Antwerp, Belgium
Live semifinal and championship final coverage Feb. 21 - 7 a.m.-8:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m.
Feb. 22 - 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m.
Feb. 26-27 Dubai Duty Free Open, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Live semifinal and championship final coverage Feb. 26 - 4 a.m.-5:30 a.m.
Feb. 27 - 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m., 4 a.m.
March 3-5 Arizona Men's Tennis Championships, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Live quarterfinal coverage, other matches throughout the week Times to be announced
March 6-7 Qatar Total Open, Doha, Qatar
Live semifinal and championship final coverage Times to be announced
April 2-4 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Second Round
Live quarterfinal coverage Times to be announced
The Tennis Channel ( www.thetennischannel.com ) is the 24-hour cable television network devoted to tennis and other racquet sports that provides unparalleled coverage of the game, its elite championships and superstar athletes. The network features comprehensive coverage of top-level tournaments including ATP, WTA Tour, World TeamTennis, Fed Cup, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and Hyundai Hopman Cup competition, and the European tournaments of the Tennis Masters Series. The network also showcases instruction from the finest teachers, legendary matches, in-depth profiles of the greatest players, analysis and news, the latest on equipment and tennis getaways.