LOS ANGELES, July 10, 2003 —
The Tennis Channel will make tennis history this summer by telecasting all four quarterfinal ties of the ITF's 2003 Fed Cup, in their entirety, beginning with two live telecasts July 19-20.
The Tennis Channel's groundbreaking coverage of the ITF's premier annual international team competition in women's tennis is scheduled to showcase many of the biggest names in the sport, including Americans Chanda Rubin and Meghann Shaughnessy, Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne, France's Amelie Mauresmo, and Russia's Elena Dementieva, among others.
From first serve to final point, The Tennis Channel's exclusive and complete Fed Cup coverage is highlighted by the live USA vs. Italy telecast from the William H.G. Fitzgerald Tennis Centre in Washington, D.C. Beginning at 4 p.m. ET each day, the best-of-five match USA-Italy encounter opens with the first two singles matches Saturday, July 19, and concludes with the reverse singles and doubles matches on Sunday, July 20.
Veteran sportscaster Barry Tompkins will handle all the play-by-play duties from the nation's capital, while former touring professional Katrina Adams will provide analysis.
The Tennis Channel's Fed Cup coverage July 19-20 also includes defending champion Slovakia vs. Belgium, live from Charleroi, Belgium, starting at 9 a.m. ET each day. The two additional quarterfinal ties will be telecast from start to finish on a delayed basis beginning Saturday, Aug. 16, with the Slovenia vs. Russia match-up from Portoro, Slovenia, followed on Sunday, Aug. 17, by France vs. Spain from Oviedo, Spain.
Additionally, The Tennis Channel will telecast an exclusive "Fed Cup Preview" beginning Saturday, July 12, at 7 p.m. ET, and repeating throughout the week leading up to the competition. The 30-minute special will feature Adams breaking down all upcoming quarterfinal ties.
"Tennis fans will be enthralled with the intense competition of the Fed Cup, and should enjoy the way we plan to show it," says The Tennis Channel President and Founder Steve Bellamy. "I am always blown away by the power, finesse and artistry in professional tennis today. On television, the game is often done an injustice by the camera's living up in the nosebleed sections. We're focusing our efforts on placing cameras so the viewer feels like he or she bought a front row ticket. Since tennis is our primary focus, we have to constantly push the bar on our broadcasts higher and higher."
"Having the Fed Cup quarterfinals telecast in their entirety to a nationwide audience is a tremendous boost to women's tennis and the sport as a whole," says U.S. team captain and Hall of Fame tennis legend Billie Jean King. "I'm thrilled that The Tennis Channel has made a commitment to providing great tennis from wherever it is being played, whether it's in Washington, D.C. or Slovenia."
The Tennis Channel's complete 2003 Fed Cup schedule is as follows:
July 19-20 Fed Cup quarterfinals, Charleroi, Belgium
Slovakia vs. Belgium (live) 9 a.m. ET
July 19-20 Fed Cup quarterfinals, Washington, D.C.
Italy vs. United States (live) 4 p.m. ET
Aug. 16 Fed Cup quarterfinals, Portoro, Slovenia
Russia vs. Slovenia (complete tape delayed coverage) 4 p.m. ET
Aug. 17 Fed Cup quarterfinals, Oviedo, Spain
France vs. Spain (complete tape delayed coverage) 4 p.m. ET
"Telecasting the entire Fed Cup quarterfinals is consistent with how the Tennis Channel likes to cover tennis, because it's comprehensive coverage that really tells the story," adds Bruce Rider, The Tennis Channel executive vice president of programming and marketing and executive producer. "Bringing matches of this high caliber to viewers fulfills one of the most important goals of the network, and having complete wire-to-wire coverage will allow fans to experience the entire story as the tournament unfolds."
In the first match-up, Slovakia has its hands full as it tries to defend its first Fed Cup title against the 2001 champs from Belgium. Slovakia, paced by Janette Hursarova and Ludmila Cervanova, must travel to Belgium to take on the likes of Belgian star and Fed Cup veteran Justine Henin-Hardenne, ranked No. 3 in the world.
King's U.S. squad, which swept the Czech Republic 5-0 in the opening round, is 8-0 all-time against Italy in Fed Cup competition. Its lineup of world No. 8 Chanda Rubin, No. 18 Meghann Shaughnessy, No. 26 Lisa Raymond and No. 30 Alexandra Stevenson hopes to keep the USA on track for its record 18th Fed Cup title and first since 2000. The Italians will come to Washington, D.C., with an entirely different foursome than the one that edged Sweden, 3-2, in the first round. Silvia Farina-Elia, a recent quarterfinalist at Wimbledon, seven-time Fed Cup veteran Rita Grande, No. 37 ranked Francesca Schiavone and doubles specialist Tathiana Garbin will represent Italy, which is looking for its first title since it helped to found the Fed Cup 40 years ago.
The Cinderella story of the 2003 Fed Cup thus far is Slovenia, which has only been competing in Fed Cup competition since 1992 and had to win a 16-team tournament just to qualify for the World Group final round of 16. Maja Matzevic, ranked No. 40 in the world, and surprising 22-year-old Katarina Srebotnik starred in Slovenia's opening-round 3-2 win over Argentina and will try to make the most of its homecourt advantage to derail the favored Russians, who were 3-2 winners over Croatia. Led by Anastasia Myskina and Elena Dementieva, Russia is contending for its first Fed Cup crown on the strength of a deep squad featuring four of the world's top 35 players.
France captain Guy Forget has compiled a young and talented lineup headed by sixth-ranked Amelie Mauresmo and No. 23 Nathalie Dechy, who spearheaded a 5-0 sweep of Colombia to advance to the quarterfinals against host Spain. The French will match-up against a Spanish squad which edged Australia, 3-2, in the opening round behind the play of clay-court standouts Conchita Martinez, ranked No. 14 in the world, and No. 29 Magui Serna.
Beginning with the 2003 Fed Cup, The Tennis Channel is in the first of a three-year deal with the ITF that gives the new 24-hour network exclusive U.S. telecast rights for all Fed Cup matches from around the world, all non-U.S. matches in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, plus all matches in the Hyundai Hopman Cup, the ITF's Official Mixed Team championships.
Telecasts of Fed Cup competition are part of The Tennis Channel's power-packed, seven-week "Summer Title Wave," which serves unprecedented coverage of 12 events from July 8 through Aug. 23. The program schedule features more hours of televised action for these competitions than ever before, beginning with first-round live coverage of many of the events.
The Tennis Channel ( www.thetennischannel.com ) is a 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 major tournaments including ATP Tour, WTA Tour, 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.