UCLA Countrywide Tennis Classic at UCLA + Night at the Net MusiCares Foundation (7/24-30/06)

 

The 80th annual Countrywide Classic (taking over for Mercedes Benz as the head sponsor for the first time) honoring former

player Dennis Ralston (See Below) turned out well for eventual champion Tommy Haas of Germany at the UCLA Tennis Center.  He also won here in LA in 2004.  He was seeded

6th and kept up his great play this year defeating the tough Russian, Dmitry Tursunov, in the finals in 3 sets.  Haas came from

the bottom half of the draw which seemed to be a bit less difficult especially after 29 year old American Paul Goldstein upset

2nd seeded Lleyton Hewitt in the first round for his biggest career victory to date.  Goldstein advanced to the 3rd round getting

past young Russian Igor Kunitsyn before succumbing to Haas in the quarterfinals. The other quarterfinal pitted struggling American

Robby Ginepri vs. the Dominator, Dominik Hrbaty, from Slovakia. Ginepri has had an off year after his career year last year and

semi final appearance at the US Open.  Hrbaty took out Ginepri in 2 sets before losing to Haas in the semis 6-2, 7-5.  Haas seemed

pretty confident this tournament with his fluid strokes and nice serving.  Tursunov also looked good and is moving up in the rankings.

He beat the predicted next up and coming American (Sam Querrey from Thousand Oaks) in the second round and is on the Russian Davis

Cup team that plays the USA in the semi finals in later September.

     The top half of the draw featured #1 seed Andy Roddick (a last minute entry after losing the finals of the Indianapolis

Tournament to James Blake on Sunday). So his first match was on Wednesday here in LA where he took out South African Rik De Voest.

His second round match vs. young American and wild card entry, Scott Oudsema.  Roddick seemed a bit surprised at the youngsters

play and serve and lost the first set in a tie-breaker. After taking the second set 6-3, it got really interesting in the 3rd

set.  Roddick was leading 4 games to 1 when he strained his back on a shot.  He kept playing in obvious pain and got treatment

at the break. His lead was so substantial that he continued and eventually won 6-2 but his condition seemed in jeopardy for the

rest of the tournament.  He had to withdraw from his quarterfinal match vs. eventual finalist Tursunov which bummed him and the

crowd out but was the best for him to not risk further injury.  Fernando Gonzalez seeded 3rd, destroyed inconsistent Marat Safin

in the second round before taking on crowd favorite Andre Agassi in the quarterfinals. The best match of the tournament came down

to a close 3rd set where Gonzo (his nickname) broke Agassi late to pull it out. Agassi had won 4 LA tournaments in the past and looked good

with his wife Steffi Graf, watching on.  In the end, Gonzalez (probably the hardest hitter on tour) came through on the big shots.

It was 4-4 in the 3rd set with Agassi holding 2 break points at 15-40 before Gonzo hit some big winners and held and continued

while breaking in the next game to take the match.  Agassi was given a huge applause in his last tournament here.  He announced

he is retiring after the US Open coming up in a few weeks.

     On the doubles side, The #1 seed and team in the world (Bryan Brothers- Mike and Bob), won the championship without losing

a set beating Jamie Murray (Andrew’s younger brother) and another American Eric Butorac in the finals.

     This US Open Series Event is one of 6 for the men and 10 overall including women’s tournaments before the US Open.  Points

are awarded for all these tournaments and they turn into big bucks the farther they advance into the US Open in New York from

August 28- September 10th.

     Instant replay was installed for the first time here and proved well with overturned calls. Each player gets 2 challenges

per set and one extra if it goes to a tie breaker.  A player can carry over any unused challenges into the same tie breaker in

a set but they are wiped out afterwards and start with 2 challenges again in the next set.  This is where strategy becomes a

part of the game and when to use the challenges.  Besides turning wrong calls around, one of the other big reasons for this new

system was to allow a player to focus more on the rest of the match without letting a bad call reflect his/her play as the match

continues.  I really like this replay system on the hard courts with Hawkeye/Shot Spot cameras giving the player a chance for

a reverse call and the fans to look and cheer which adds more excitement to the game.

     California born Dennis Ralston was a standout in college at USC and Countrywide Champion in 1965. He also reached the finals

at Wimbledon; was an American Davis Cup hero; coached Chris Evert to quite a few Grand Slam victories and became the youngest

duo ever to win the Wimbledon doubles with Rafael Osuna in 1960.  Because of all of this and his giving to the tennis world,

the Countrywide Classic has him as the honoree for his lifelong achievements.

    The opening night featured a Night at the Net Fundraiser with more info below on the press release.

    Next up for the men is the Legg Mason in Washington DC; Toronto, Cincinnati, & New Haven before the US Open.  More info at

www.usopenseries.com

For more info on this tournament or tickets for next year when it gets closer, please call 310-824-1010 or go to www.countywideclassic.com

The night at the Net raised more money for the MusiCares Foundation and the highlight was Jon Lovitz and Andre Agassi pairing off with the Bryan Brothers.  The Bryans did use one handicap of holding hands while playing to make it more fair.  In the end, Agassi and Lovitz prevailed with a little assist from Jeremy Piven playing before he had to leave.

Many celebrities came to enjoy the festivities on July 24, 06 with the pre-reception at Drake Stadium before the music and tennis.   The sound system and organization could have been a bit better as there were many interruptions and timing issues.   All in all, it turned out to be a great night.  Some of the peeps that attended:

WENDI McLENDON-COVEY (star of Reno 911! and Lovespring International)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                July 19, 2006 

FOUR-TIME CHAMPION AGASSI, 2004 WINNER HAAS

JOIN HEWITT, SAFIN, GINEPRI, FISH

IN 80th COUNTRYWIDE CLASSIC, JULY 24-30, AT UCLA

Bryans head doubles draw for historic tournament

LOS ANGELES – Defending champion and four-time tournament champion and eight-time Grand Slam winner Andre Agassi heads the draw for the 80th Countrywide Classic, July 24-30, at the Los Angeles Tennis Center-UCLA. 

Joining Agassi are former world No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin of Russia, 2004 Countrywide Classic champion Tommy Haas of Germany, Robby Ginepri, Mardy Fish, Wimbledon quarterfinalist Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic, Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty, Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand, and Chilean Davis Cup star Fernando Gonzalez. The doubles draw is headed by the record-setting Bryan twins, Bob and Mike, of Somis, who have won three of the last four Grand Slam doubles titles.   

Three wild cards will be issued, including one to the winner of the July 21 All-American Shootout. Four qualifiers complete the 32-player draw.

Agassi; Hewitt, Safin, the Bryans and tennis great Pam Shriver (joining in as chair umpire) are scheduled to be part of the high-profile, star-studded fifth annual “Gibson Baldwin Night at the Net,” Monday, July 24. Celebrity participants include actor/comedian Jon Lovitz, and Jack and Stench from “the Jamie, Jack and Stench Show” on STAR 98.7 FM as ball boys for the event.  The evening’s musical performer will be GRAMMY® Award winner Brian McKnight, and Verve Recording artist Mindi Abair will sing the National Anthem.

Dennis Ralston, a Bakersfield native and USC alum whose career included winning the 1965 Los Angeles title over Arthur Ashe and the rare double of winning the Davis Cup as both a player and captain, will be the tournament honoree.

The Countrywide Classic features a 32-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles competition. The landmark Southern California ATP tournament is the longest running annual professional sporting event in Los Angeles, and offers total player compensation in excess of $1 million.

With 64 tournaments in 31 countries, the ATP showcases the finest athletes competing in the world’s most exciting venues.

For the third consecutive year, the Countrywide Classic will also be a part of the U.S. Open Series, the eight-week summer tennis season linking 10 major ATP and WTA Tour tournaments to the U.S. Open. Television viewership for the 2005 U.S. Open Series generated significant increases, attracting more than 40 million viewers.   

(more)

2-2-2

AGASSI, HAAS, HEWITT, SAFIN, BRYANS HEAD COUNTRYWIDE CLASSIC AT UCLA 

Previous winners of the Countrywide Classic, whose history dates to 1927, include Agassi, Michael Chang, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Michael Stich, Boris Becker, Richard Krajicek, Stefan Edberg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe, Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Pancho Gonzalez, Jack Kramer, Bobby Riggs, Don Budge, Ellsworth Vines, Fred Perry and Bill Tilden. Agassi became a four-time winner of the event last year.

Proceeds from the Countrywide Classic, held in conjunction with UCLA, benefit the grassroots programs of the non-profit Southern California Tennis Association (SCTA) and UCLA.  The SCTA offers programs, leagues, and tournaments involving 300,000 juniors and 50,000 adults and seniors. Inquiries regarding tickets and information may be directed to the Countrywide Classic tournament office on the UCLA campus. For information, please call 310-824-1010 or visit www.countrywideclassic.com.

About Countrywide Financial Corporation

Founded in 1969, Countrywide Financial Corporation (NYSE: CFC) – America’s #1 home loan lender as ranked for 2005 by Inside Mortgage Finance (Jan. 27, 2006), Copyright 2006 – is a member of the S&P 500 and Fortune 500. Countrywide, through its subsidiaries, provides mortgage banking and diversified financial services in domestic and international markets. Mortgage banking businesses include loan production and servicing principally through Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., which originates, purchases, securitizes, sells, and services residential loans. The company is headquartered in Calabasas, California and has a workforce of more than 55,000 individuals and over 800 offices worldwide. For more information about the company, visit Countrywide’s Web site at www.countrywide.com. 

Contact:   Toby Zwikel, Brener Zwikel & Associates, Inc., 818/344-6195, ext. 104

                  Ken Preston, Countrywide, 818/…

                  Bob Kramer, Countrywide Classic, 310/824-1010, ext. 230 

 

ACTOR JEREMY PIVEN TO JOIN ANDRE AGASSI, AND THE BRYAN BROS.; PAM SHRIVER; ACTOR/COMEDIAN JON LOVITZ; MUSICAL GUESTS BRIAN MCKNIGHT AND MINDI ABAIR; AND HOST COMEDIAN

FRED WILLARD

Pro-Celebrity Event — Sponsored By Gibson Guitar And Baldwin Piano —

Benefits The MusiCares® Foundation and Takes Place July 24 During The

80th Countrywide Classic Tennis Tournament At UCLA

WHO:            Players: Four-time and defending champion Andre Agassi; two-time Grand Slam

          Champion; twins Bob and Mike Bryan, the world’s No. 1 doubles team two out of the last three years; and tennis great Pam Shriver (joining in as chair umpire) will be part of this high-profile, star-studded event along with celebrity players actor and current Emmy® nominee Jeremy Piven and actor/comedian Jon Lovitz. Additional participants include host comedian Fred Willard and Jack and Stench from the "Jamie, Jack and Stench Show" on STAR 98.7 FM as ball boys for the tournament. This event is especially significant because Agassi has recently announced his retirement from professional tennis after the 2006 U.S. Open.

          COUNTRYWIDE CLASSIC TENNIS PROS CELEBRATE GIBSON/BALDWIN NIGHT AT THE NETSM

                       
                        Performers: Multi-GRAMMY® Award nominee Brian McKnight, and Verve recording
                        artist Mindi Abair.

          Attendees: MusiCares® Foundation Board Chairman Les Bider, and Recording Academy and MusiCares Foundation President Neil Portnow. In addition, a host of A-list celebrities and prominent music industry executives are scheduled to attend.

WHAT:   For the fifth consecutive year, Gibson Guitar and Baldwin Piano are the title sponsors of

          the Gibson/Baldwin Night at the NetSM annual pro-celebrity tennis event that opens the prestigious 80th Annual Countrywide Classic tennis tournament. Proceeds from the event will benefit the MusiCares Foundation, a charity founded by The Recording Academy® that focuses on health and human services for the music community. Ticket packages for Gibson/Baldwin Night at the Net are offered at Benefactor ($2,500) and Patron ($1,500) levels and include a range of benefits. Individual tickets are also available and are priced at $250, $150, $100 and $40. For tickets and information, contact Dorit Kalev at MusiCares: 310.392.3777 or doritk@grammy.com. Event sponsors include: adidas, Cabo Wabo Tequila, Coca-Cola, Chalone Vineyard, Champagne Lanson, Empire/CLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services, Evian, Heineken, Jewels and Pinstripes, Shari’s Berries, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, Raymond Weil and Westwood One.

WHERE:  Los Angeles Tennis Center @ UCLA

      Westwood, Calif.

        WHEN:   Monday, July 24, 2006

"Love Goddess" JUDY TENUTA
MALCOLM DANARE (CSI Miami)  For photos of the celebs and popular people that showed up, go to: www.wireimage.com or www.celebrityphoto.com