Archive for April, 2007
OK, so being the official photographer of the Family Circle Cup isn’t ALL work…we DO play a little. Mike Saia, the Communications Manager at the cup, organized a really fun Media Tennis Tournament. We had writers, photographers, TV crews, and other media staff participating. It was a TON of fun! I was lucky enough to get paired with Leslie Billman, who was photographing the cup for Wire Image. Oddly enough, a few months ago Leslie had sponsored me to become a member of SportsShooter. So it was great to finally meet her and THEN to be able to win the Media Tournament with her. That’s right, she and I actually WON the tournament! Anyway, we had a great time and took home some nice trophies.
After a week of intense competition, a new queen has been crowned the Family Circle Cup Champion! Overcoming gail force winds as a storm front passed through Charleston on the day of the finals, Jelena Jankovic (SRB) defeated Dinara Safina (RUS) 62, 62. “It was really windy and tough circumstances,” Jelena said. “But I gave my best, and I’m the champion. I’m so happy I won this title. It’s my first Tier I title. It’s a really amazing feeling.” Only a year ago, Jelena was struggling and in a bit of a slump. “Some things are meant to happen for a reason. Maybe if those things didn’t happen I wouldn’t be here. That period made me a lot stronger and now I realize some things and values. Now, I appreciate my results a little more; I appreciate things a lot more than before.” This win puts an exclamation mark on her climb back to the Top 10 over the past year. It gives her an all-time highest ranking of #7 in the world. She says her goal is to crack the Top 5! A gracious winner, Jelena agreed to pose in front of the live oaks on the beautiful Family Circle Cup campus for one last photo before heading out to celebrate her victory!
In a THRILLING three-set semi-final match against Jelena Jankovic (SRB), there was only a difference of TWO POINTS in the total number won by each player. Now THAT’s close! The match was also filled with long rallies, jaw-dropping winners, and several hotly disputed line calls. Here’s one of Venus Williams (USA) stretching for a backhand. Here’s a write-up of the match and some more of my photos from the day on the Family Circle Cup website. And don’t forget to also check out the FCC Daily Photo Gallery while you’re there!
I think the Charleston fans have found a new sweetheart to support. Michaella Krajicek finally lost to Vera Zvonareva today…but not without putting up a fight in the second set! As an underdog, she defeated top players like Sybille Bammer and the tournament’s number one seed, Nicole Vaidissova. But it was her big heart and gleeful smile that made it so hard not to cheer for her. Always looking for a unique angle, I caught this ball-toss during her final service game of the tournament. For those of you who follow men’s tennis, Michaella is the younger sister of Richard Krajicek.
I get so many GREAT action images on the courts each day that I feel like I should be posting more of those each night. But when I get a truly special opportunity, like photographing Martina Hingis at a private Awards Banquet, it’s REALLY HARD not to select it as my shot of the day! The banquet was hosted by the AMAZING Virginia Wade, and those in attendance included former tour champions like Leslie Allen. Plus of course I got to rub elbows with Martina Hingis all night! Martina is a former world’s #1 player, has won just about EVERY title there is, and is the comeback queen of the year after her incredible rise back to the top of the rankings after several years off the tour for medical reasons. At the end of the night, as Martina was preparing to leave, I scooted outside the historic Riviera Theater to wait for her. I had already scouted out this location under the famous Marquee and had envisioned this image. The questions was…would she be willing to do it? The minute she stepped out those doors I smiled and mischievously asked “So have you had a little Campaign, Martina?” She laughed and said “yes…a little”. The minute she laughed, I knew I had her. So I quickly followed up with “How about one last FUN photo before you go?”. As you can see, she was kind enough to go for it!!! Thanks, Martina!
WOW, what a day! I photographed a lot of stars today. But imagine my surprise when I step on court to photograph the match between Patty Schnyder and Shuai Peng…and notice Michael Chang sitting RIGHT behind me! A former tennis star himself, and French Open champion, he was one of my idols as a tennis player in college. So that was a THRILL! One new change to tennis rules this year is that players are allowed to request their coach for on-court advice. This shot shows the young Chinese phenom getting advice from Chang after the first set before turning the match around and upsetting the sixth seed and local favorite, Patty Schnyder of Switzerland, in three sets.
Since I’m normally a doubles PLAYER, I thought tonight I’d post an image of some doubles action. Here’s Vera Zvonareva returning a serve while her doubles partner, Nathalie Dechy, protects the net. Interestingly, earlier in the tournament Vera beat Nathalie in the singles draw! How awkward is THAT???
This morning I had the privilege of photographing something VERY special! A few of the BEST tennis players in the world including (left to right) Patty Schnyder (SUI), Nicole Vaidisova (CZE), and Corinna Morariu (USA) lent a helping hand to cheer up some brave young cancer patients at the Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital. Here they are with one of their girls, showing off their colorful palms all covered in wet paint after doing some palm imprints together. It was really neat to see how these top athletes with perfectly tuned bodies were willing to help encourage and lift the spirits of a few young people who’s bodies were broken and hurting. I special significance is that Corinna is a cancer survivor herself, having won her battle against Leukemia!
I had a really FUN day photographing the last round of qualifying matches at the Family Circle Cup today! The main draw begins tomorrow. Aside from some AWESOME tennis, one of today’s highlights included meeting the Easter Bunny. :0) Believe it or not, the guy inside the outfit is none other than Murphy Jensen!!! Murphy and his brother, Luke, are former winners of the French Open doubles championships. Murphy also had a cameo in the movie Wimbledon, starring Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany. Anyway, here he is hanging out in the stands with one of the player’s coaching staff. Check out the photo gallery on the Family Circle Cup website for more of my images from today’s excitement. HAPPY EASTER everyone!!!