New Haven Register Blogs: Pilots' Blog: Oh, say can you see ...

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.


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