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THE TENNIS CHANNEL CELEBRATES SECOND ANNIVERSARY SAME DAY MARIA SHARAPOVA COULD BECOME WORLD NO. 1

LOS ANGELES, May 12, 2005

ATP Masters Series Hamburg Championship, Roddick’s Model Display of Sportsmanship also on Tap as Network Rings in Third Year of Action

The Tennis Channel, the only cable television network devoted to tennis and other racquet sports, will celebrate its second anniversary this weekend by showcasing the game’s greatest players as they compete at tennis’ championship levels – the same way it has been operating since launching with a Venus Williams Fed Cup ace two years ago.

Teen sensation Maria Sharapova has the chance to ring in the network’s third year with a groundbreaking milestone of her own. On Sunday, May 15, its second anniversary, The Tennis Channel will televise the championship match of the Telecom Italia Masters Roma at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT. Should Sharapova, the tournament’s top seed, win that match to claim this year’s women’s title in Rome, she will surpass top-ranked Lindsay Davenport to become the fourth-youngest World No. 1 singles player of all time, and the first ever from Russia.

Today one of the toughest competitors in the game, Sharapova has been a tournament regular on The Tennis Channel since its launch May 15, 2003. At that time the future Wimbledon and WTA Tour Championships winner had just turned 16 and was ranked a distant No. 162. If Sharapova claim’s the world’s top spot Sunday, she will have to go through the semifinals Saturday, which will also be carried on the network, beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT

The network’s other championship coverage this weekend takes place in Germany, with the singles semifinals and final at the ATP Masters Series Hamburg. The World No. 1 in men’s tennis, Roger Federer, is the top seed and back to defend the clay-court title he captured last year. The Tennis Channel’s coverage of Saturday’s semifinals and Sunday’s championship begins at 7 a.m. ET/4 a.m. PT, both days.

Also as part of its second anniversary celebration, the network is replaying a select set of championship finals and other matches of note, beginning with Andy Roddick’s round-of-16 battle against Fernando Verdasco at last week’s Telecom Italia Masters in Rome. Up 5-3 in the second set and at triple match point, Roddick overturned the line judge’s call on Verdasco’s second serve, which appeared just wide. Instead of advancing to the quarterfinals, Roddick checked the mark left in the clay and told the judge the ball was actually in, awarding Verdasco with an ace. This refreshing display of athletic sportsmanship in an era so commonly tainted with scandal and selfishness was made all the more memorable when Roddick later lost the match – and the significant potential prize money and prestige that comes with ATP Masters Series success – 6-7 (1), 7-6 (3), 6-4.

During the week The Tennis Channel will also replay last weekend’s thrilling men’s championship from Rome, Rafael Nadal’s five-hour, five-set victory over Guillermo Coria (Tuesday, May 17, 8 p.m. ET); and Sunday’s exciting women’s championship at Berlin’s German Open, where clay-court master Justine Henin-Hardenne extended her win streak to 17 matches with a grueling, three-set win over Nadia Petrova (Thursday, May 19, 8 p.m. ET).

The Tennis Channel (www.thetennischannel.com) is the cable television network devoted to tennis and other racquet sports, and provides unparalleled coverage of the game, its elite championships and its superstar athletes. The network’s comprehensive coverage includes telecasts of the US Open Series, ATP Masters Series, top-tier WTA Tour championship competitions, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, Fed Cup and Hyundai Hopman Cup. The Tennis Channel 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. 

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For Further information:
Eric Abner, Tennis Channel, 310-314-9445 or eabner@tennischannel.com