HBO Sports to Re-Air Documentary BILLIE JEAN KING: PORTRAIT OF A PIONEER

Billie Jean King

In celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Title IX Statute of the Education Amendments of 1972, the USTA will host the sixth annual Sports Diversity & Inclusion Symposium today during the 2017 US Open. USTA Chairman of the Board, CEO and President, Katrina Adams will be joined by International Tennis Hall of Famer Billie Jean King and “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts for a panel event to discuss the historic impact Title IX has had on women in sports, on and off the playing fields.

The event is the annual conference of the Diversity and Inclusion in Sports Consortium (DISC). The Symposium is presented by the members of DISC, including, MiLB, MLB, MLS, NASCAR, NBA, NCAA, NFL, NHL, PGA of America, PGA Tour, RISE, USOC, USTA and You Can Play, as well as US Open broadcast sponsor ESPN, highlighting D&I best practices in the sports industry. Symposium attendees include Diversity & Inclusion practitioners, leaders of the DISC member organizations, leaders from sports business partners and related companies, as well as New York-based corporate D&I leaders.

Also in conjunction with the Title IX anniversary, HBO is re-airing its 2006 documentary on Billie Jean King. Not coincidentally, I’m sure, I started seeing promos for the upcoming film – BATTLE OF THE SEXES – about the Billie Jean King-Bobby Riggs match during last night’s US Open tv coverage, as well. It seems everyone is paying close attention to this ground-breaking legislation and the woman behind it.

 

Per release from HBO . . .

The HBO Sports presentation BILLIE JEAN KING: PORTRAIT OF A PIONEER explores the personal and professional life of the landmark athlete and activist, whose remarkable career on the tennis court was equaled only by her impact on the struggle for women’s equality during the 1970s. The acclaimed film, which debuted in April of 2006 on HBO, will have an encore play on the network SUNDAY, SEPT. 3 (6:30 p.m. ET/PT). The documentary tells the story of an athlete who revolutionized sports for women, and in the process encouraged women to pursue endeavors outside the traditional realm of the home.

There will be a special encore airing on Wednesday, September 20 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on the HBO2 service, 44 years to the day when Billie Jean King scored her landmark win over Bobby Riggs at the Astrodome in Houston.

Other replays include Monday, September 4 at 11:45 a.m. ET/PT (HBO2) & Friday, Sept. 22 at 4:40 p.m. ET/PT (HBO).

Born Billie Jean Moffitt on Nov. 22, 1943, in Long Beach, Cal., King was the daughter of a stay-at-home mother and a firefighter father. She honed her tennis game on public courts in Long Beach, and won her first noteworthy championship in 1961 in the Wimbledon doubles competition with partner Karen Hantze. King won her first singles championship at Wimbledon in 1966, which led to her number-one world ranking.

BILLIE JEAN KING: PORTRAIT OF A PIONEER takes an in-depth look at King’s rise as an international icon of women’s equality, with the defining moment coming on Sept. 20, 1973. On that day, King battled former 1939 men’s Wimbledon champion Bobby Riggs in a match that King herself said would “ruin the women’s tennis tour and affect all women’s self-esteem” if she was not victorious. In the contest, termed the “Battle of the Sexes,” the 29-year-old King “manhandled” the older and slower Riggs, defeating him 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. An estimated 90 million television viewers worldwide witnessed the victory of the pioneer whose ultimate mark on society far surpassed her 39 Grand Slam titles.

This exclusive presentation features HBO Sports’ acclaimed combination of rare footage, archival photos and revealing interviews, with King herself speaking openly and honestly about her life on and off the court. She discusses the impact of having her private life made public, and her emergence as a leader in the gay community.

Getting your body in peak shape for college with Dave Mullins

peak shape

Dave Mullins comes from an extensive tennis background, both as a player and as a coach. He is originally from Dublin, Ireland, and came to the US to play college tennis. He wound up in the world of college coaching, having a stellar career at the University of Oklahoma as the head women’s coach.

A couple of years ago, Dave retired from coaching and returned with his wife and two children to Dublin where he is now working at the same club where he grew up playing. He is also devoting a good amount of time to helping families navigate through the tennis development process.

In this week’s podcast, Dave and I talk about how rising college freshmen, as well as current college players, should be spending their summers. Should they be playing tournaments? Should they take an internship? Should they have a paying job? Should they take time off and relax?

Of course, there’s not one answer that is best for every player, but Dave backs up his answers with what he’s learned in his years as a player and as a coach. He shares very important information as we move into the summer season.

To find Dave online, visit his website at www.davemullinstennis.com. You can also reach him via email at davemullinstennis@gmail.com.

Entries for the 2nd annual Sol Schwartz #SaveCollegeTennis All-In Tennis Tournament are now open. For the Atlanta tournament (July 17-19) go to http://events.universaltennis.com/tournaments/261/. For the Baltimore tournament (August 12-13) go to http://events.universaltennis.com/tournaments/336/.

Also, registration for the ITA Summer Circuit is now open. Go to http://www.itatennis.com/Events/ITA_Summer_Circuit.htm for information.

Listen to our latest podcast episode here!

When College Coaches Are Watching

stagefright

 

As if competing in a tennis tournament weren’t tough enough, how does a junior player handle the added pressure of playing when he/she knows a college coach is watching?

Now that my son is finishing his sophomore year of high school, he’s going to be facing these situations the remainder of his junior tennis career.  Even if the coach is there to watch his opponent and not necessarily him, my son still needs to be prepared to handle that extra piece of the puzzle.  In hopes of giving him the tools he needs, I spoke with Ross Greenstein of Scholarship for Athletes and asked him to share his wisdom and knowledge about what coaches look for out there.  I also spoke with University of Maryland Baltimore County Head Tennis Coach, Rob Hubbard, to get information straight from the source (if you haven’t yet, be sure to listen to my radio show featuring Coach Hubbard – click here for the link to the podcast).

Ross and Coach Rob both told me that it’s about more than just forehands and backhands.  If a player has been accepted into a tournament where a coach is watching, then the coach already knows that player has the requisite tennis skills to compete at the collegiate level in some way, shape, or form.  Coaches are looking for more than simply whether your child uses a Continental or Semi-Western grip or whether he/she wins or loses a particular junior match.

It all starts before the match is even played.  Is your kid respectful of tournament officials, refs, and desk people?  Is he friendly with the other parents and players?  What is she doing to get ready for her match?  Is she jumping rope and getting focused or is she simply socializing and just hanging out but not really getting physically and mentally ready to compete?

And, parents, coaches are also watching us!  They want to see how involved we are in our kid’s pre- and post-match activities.  Do we get them ice, water, and energy bars or do we instruct our kid to take care of his/her own needs?  Do we carry their bag or water jug for them?  I have heard on several occasions that college coaches do NOT look favorably on these hovering-type behaviors.  Coaches want to see a self-sufficient kid, not one whose parents do everything for him.

Once your child is on the court, the coaches’ focus changes.  They are looking to see presence on the court – is the player having fun, smiling, fighting for every point OR moping, being negative, using negative self-talk, questioning every line call?  Coaches don’t want to see negative behavior or kids who look miserable.  And, according to Ross, kids just don’t seem to get that – that their non-tennis behavior on and off court are so important to coaches.

Coach Rob concurs.  “First and foremost I am watching to make sure the player has a passion for the game.  Win or lose are they willing to compete?  If they are not playing well or struggling with their match are they willing to fight to try and figure out a way to win?  Basically are they a competitor no matter the conditions?  Most coaches are aware that their appearance at a match may create a bit of nerves and look to see how the prospective student athlete responds.”

Other tennis-related things a coach might look for include the upside of the junior’s game and the potential his/her game may or may not have.  Does she have more than one dimension to her game?  That might include playing aggressive tennis, serving and volleying, attacking short balls, and fighting for every point.  Does he have experience in doubles?  If not, can his game transition to doubles?  Is she or he physically fit?

Ross goes on to say that kids need to look and act professional.  They need to “get a sweat on” before each match, stretch before & after the match, stay focused on the task before them.  Then, after a match, the player needs to thank the coach for watching and introduce him/herself – most kids don’t do that.  Either they’re scared or intimidated or their parents do it for them – but, it’s really important for the player to do it.  Kids, introduce yourself, shake the coach’s hand, and, for goodness sake, look them in the eye!

The reality is that the first official signing date is in November of a player’s senior year of high school, 14 months before they will ever play their first college dual match! College coaches have no idea how hard these kids work, they typically don’t know these kids other than via phone calls and emails, so it’s crucial for juniors to keep playing, keep improving, keep working on their game.

Coach Rob shares these words of wisdom:  “The prospective student-athlete has recorded a significant number of results leading up to the competition the coach is there to observe.  Those results usually bring the coach out, and the result that day most times does not affect any decisions.  Coaches are there to get a little better feel for the athlete, his personality, his passion for the game, and other competitive intangibles that can only come from a face to face exposure.”

Ross told me a story about one prospective college player – let’s call her Sarah just for the sake of ease! – he worked with last year.  There was a college coach watching Sarah play at a big event.  During her match, Sarah called her opponent’s ball out and was then immediately asked if she was sure.  Sarah confirmed her call but went on to tell her opponent, “If you think it was good and you’re absolutely sure about it, then take the point.”  The opponent said she was sure and did take the point.  Sarah then moved on, continued to play aggressively, but wound up losing the match.  The college coach who was there told Ross that Sarah had been his #5 recruit but just moved up to #1 on the list after that on-court performance.  The coach said he loved seeing that Sarah was out there for the love of the game, that she didn’t put too much importance on one single point, and that she was able to brush off the set-back and continue competing at a high level until the very last point.  It’s a great lesson for all our juniors to learn.

ADDENDUM (posted May 1, 2013 7:47pm)

Here is some additional information shared by other coaches, parents, and observers . . .

In terms of the player’s on- and off-court behavior at tournaments, this should be part of what the player is learning from the junior coach.  If the coach is not with the player at a tournament, the player should still know exactly what to do before, during, and after a match; and if the player doesn’t know, then she is not ready for match play.  It is the junior coach’s job to get the players ready for tournaments and make sure they know how to behave and prepare for each match.  As parents, we are responsible for teaching our children how to behave in general.  For junior coaches, the expectation is that they will be responsible for teaching our children how to behave tennis-wise.

Another point I neglected to include in the original article is that many of the coaches pay particular attention to the back draw and how a player performs there, sometimes even more than the main draw. It shows the player’s resolve, determination, and fight. How do they handle adversity? How do they bounce back from a defeat and disappointment? Even though back draw matches don’t award as many ranking points, the message a player sends to a coach by sticking with the back draw and performing well there is invaluable.  Ross Greenstein confirmed for me that coaches hate kids defaulting back draws – another match is another opportunity to get better.  Kids who do well in back draws show they are tough and want to get better.  As UGA Head Men’s Coach Manny Diaz told me, “It doesn’t make the main draw results any less important, but it certainly doesn’t give a good impression when you see so many kids walking out of the back draw. I can tell you for sure the kids that see it all the way through, giving it their all, earn some definite points.”  Ross goes on to say that the perception among coaches is that it also shows a complete lack of respect to the parents who pay all that money to go to the event and then the player is a little injured or tired or sore so they go home.  Perception isn’t always reality, but still . . .