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Pilots' Blog

Our bloggers check in with the latest news and views from the 2008 Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Oh, say can you see ...

We will be providing periodic updates, speculation, player updates leading up to the 2009 Pilot Pen Tennis tournament and will turn this into an all-things in the world of Connecticut tennis destination.

Starting off, the tournament will be holding auditions for national anthem singers (for contestants age 12 and under) on Wednesday. Here's the release:


Boys And Girls Age 12 And Under Invited To Audition At The Shubert
Theater On June 10;
American R&B And Pop Singer-Songwriter JoJo To Judge on Celebrity Panel

NEW HAVEN, Conn., June 4, 2009 – Pilot Pen Tennis today announced it
will host the second annual Pilot Pen Tennis Casting Call on
Wednesday, June 10 at the historic Shubert Theater in downtown New
Haven to select children to perform “America the Beautiful” at the
2009 Pilot Pen Tennis tournament, to be held August 21-29. Winners
will perform live on stadium court during all evening sessions of this
year’s tournament as well as both men’s and women’s final.

The open auditions, sponsored by Olympus America, are free of charge
and will be held from 4:00-8:00 p.m. Children 12 years of age and
younger (as of August 29, 2009) will be asked to sing “America the
Beautiful” a cappella in front of a panel of celebrity judges,
including American R&B and pop singer-songwriter, dancer, and actress
JoJo, who’s first two albums have debuted at No. 4 and No. 3 on the
Billboard Hot 200. Other celebrity judges include Desiree Fontaine,
co-host of WTNH’s Connecticut Style, and a disc jockey from radio
station KC101 (WKCI-FM).

"This Casting Call brings together some of our City's greatest
treasures: kids, music, the Shubert Theatre and Pilot Pen Tennis,"
said DeStefano. "This program is a great opportunity to showcase the
musical talents of our youth on the national stage of the Pilot Pen."

“Last year’s Pilot Pen Tennis Casting Call and subsequent performances
by the children during the Pilot Pen were a resounding success,” said
Anne Worcester, Tournament Director. “The Pilot Pen is always seeking
to recognize local talent – both on and off the court – and this is
yet another way we can showcase that talent.”

This exciting community collaboration will also serve as the kick-off
for the Shubert Theater’s annual S.N.A.P. (Shubert Night at A
Performance) program. S.N.A.P. is a community outreach initiative
serving New Haven’s inner-city neighborhoods by offering community
organizations the opportunity to experience cultural and entertainment
events at the Shubert Theater. The S.N.A.P. program creates access to
the arts for children, families and senior citizens from New Haven’s
diverse community.

The Pilot Pen will announce the final selections on June 30, 2009. All
contestants will receive tickets to the Pilot Pen. For more
information on the open casting call, including the official rules,
log on to

Now switching to tennis, considering that I saw some familiar names advancing deep in the French Open singles draw, my curiousity got the better of me. I looked up how often the singles quarterfinals on the men's and women's side have played in the Pilot Pen.

On the men's side, while Roger Federer has never been to New Haven, his opponent in the final has. Robin Soderling, who upset Rafael Nadal in the fourth round, reached the second round in 2005 and semifinals in 2006. Semifinalists Fernando Gonzalez and Juan Martin Del Potro played in 2005 and 2007 respectively (Del Potro was supposed to play last year but was a late withdrawal). Tommy Robredo is the only men's quarterfinalist who has committed to the tournament but Nikolay Davydenko has played the Pilot Pen three times (winning in 2006) and Gael Monfils also played in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

For the women, finalists Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova (the 2007 champion) have played here twice but neither were in the event last year. Safina would seem to be a longshot if she remains the No. 1 player but both talented Russians figure to be pursued relentlessly by tournament director Anne Worcester. Semifinalist Dominika Cibulkova has already committed to play in New Haven and the other semifinal loser Sam Stosur played every year from 2004-07. While quarterfinalist Serena Williams has not played at the Pilot Pen (although she did have one well-documented late withdrawal), the other quartefinal losers Victoria Azarenka (who lost in qualifying in 2005 and 2006), Maria Sharapova (a second-round loser in 2004) and Sorana Cirstea (a quarterfinalist last year) have all previously played in the tournament.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Looking ahead

The 2008 Pilot Pen is in the books but with the U.S. Open beginning Monday, there are some intriguing first-day matches with familiar names to New Haven area tennis fans.

Both 2008 Pilot Pen women's singles champion Caroline Wozniacki and runner-up Anna Chakvetadze will be in action on Monday. Chakvetadze will face fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth match on Louis Armstrong Stadium. Wozniacki will play American Ashsa Rolle in the fourth match on Grandstand Court although there is a chance it could be shifted to Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Lindsay Davenport, who played doubles only at the Pilot Pen the last two years, will meet Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak in a pretty intriguing first-round match. It will be up second on Ashe Stadium. Two-time Pilot Pen men's singles champion and former Fairfield resident James Blake will face Donald Young, who won his first career ATP match at the 2007 Pilot Pen, in the second match in the night session at Ashe Stadium.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cilic makes history

Teenager Marin Cilic won his first career title with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win over Mardy Fish in the men's singles final.

Cilic finished off Fish with a 123 mile an hour ace. He raised his arms in celebration and after a couple of seconds he fell to his knees in celebration.

"I was all over the place, my mind was going (everywhere)," Cilic said. "I will know next time how (to celebrate)."

Fish was obviously disappointed after losing in the New Haven final for the second year in a row and dropping to 2-9 in ATP finals.

"It's my 11th final and I have only won twice and it is starting to really sting," said Fish. "I have a lot of runner-up trophies. These are the ones I need to get. To get somebody who certainly has a lot of talent, a lot of up side and will be out here for a long time. I would have liked to have put more pressure on him and showed that I was a little more adapted to the situation.
"I love this tournament, I would love to win this tournament. I have come close both times and I feel like I can do it again. I felt there were some great opportunities to get my third title. There are definitely a lot of what ifs, a lot of finals of tournaments I have played."

Lisa Raymond and Kveta Peschke won the women's doubles title with a 4-6, 7-5, 10-7 win over Sorana Cirstea and Monica Niculescu. It was Raymond's 67th career doubles title and second straight in New Haven.

A tale of two Pens

As if competition on the court isn't enough, now we have the case of the dueling pens at the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament.

As the name would indicate, Pilot Pen is the preferred pen at the tournament. But as fans made their way from Stadium Court and walked across the street to go to the food court, notepads and pens - Bic pens. Pretty ironic, don't you think?

To Denmark, From Poland

If Pilot Pen women's champion Caroline Wozniacki's last name doesn't exactly sound like a Danish -- well, it isn't. Both her parents, Piotr and Anna, are natives of Poland.

So why does Wozniacki sport the Danish flag painted on her thumbnails, rather than Poland? Well, she was born in Denmark. Her father was a professional soccer player in Poland, but he was sold -- first to Germany, then to Denmark, where he eventually settled.

"And he took my mother with him," Wozniacki quipped.

And that's no Polish joke.

Return to the Register's Pilot Pen page

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cilic reaches final

Sixth-seeded Marin Cilic advanced to his first career ATP final with a convincing 6-3, 6-3 win over qualifier Luka Gregorc.
Cilic only lost two points on his serve in the first set and 11 points on serve in the match to advance to Saturday's championship match against Mardy Fish.
Cilic, who is projected to break into the top 25 in the ATP rankings on Monday regardless of the results of the final, had never advanced in four previous trips to the semifinals in his young career.

Chaka Con?

Anna Chakvatadze minces no words -- she wants to be the No. 1 women's tennis player in the world.

"That's my goal," she said on Friday after beating Amelie Mauresmo in a Pilot Pen semifinal match.

If so, Chakvetadze (currently ranked No. 10) will need to improve her concentration and maturity level to get there, according to Mauresmo herself.

"Mentally today, she went down a little bit in the second set. I guess she will have to raise these moments," Mauresmo said. "Her serve, also – there were a few double faults there (nine for the match). But it's very hard to say the way she's going to evolve and grow up a little bit in her game, and mentally. It's difficult to know if she's going to be able to put things together and really focus the way she has to to get to that No. 1 spot. It's going to be hard."

Mauresmo knows a thing or two about being No. 1. She held that spot for most of 2006 while winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Since then, injuries and illness have contributed to her falling out of the top 30, though her strong performance this week at the Pilot Pen has her thinking she can get back to her former perch.

Not to pick on Chakvatadze too much, but she also had probably the most embarassing moment of the tourney on Friday night. Awaiting a high Mauresmo lob return at the net late in the third set, Mauresmo flat-out swung and missed at the ball. Just plain old swung and missed.

She was able to spin around and hit a backhand -- into the net. Chakvatadze was able to laugh at the mistake, both on the court and after the match.

"Oh my God. I just lost the ball in the sky, I don't know how it happened," she said. "It was not that difficult a shot."

I asked her the last time she remembers whiffing at a shot.

"I don't know," she replied. "I just remember the last time, my hair got stuck in the racket."

Return to the Register's Pilot Pen page

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