kimberly yee to receive national award at International Tennis Hall of Fame

With Hall of Fame inductees Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport and famed coach Nick Bollettieri looking on, Las Vegas’ Kimberly Yee will accept the nation’s highest junior tennis award this weekend at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.

The 17-year-old Odyssey Charter High School senior has been named a recipient of the prestigious Bill Talbert Junior Sportsmanship Award, which is presented each year by the Board of Directors of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

The award began in 1987 and is given to a “junior player who exemplifies the finest qualities of sportsmanship in tournament play and the finest traditions of the great sportspersons of tennis past and present.” Past winners include current WTA and ATP American players Alexa Glatch, Alison Riske and Las Vegas’ Sam Querrey.

“The credit for this award is really for the team that helped me: my parents, my USTA friends from NJTL and the USTA Serves Foundation and all my teammates at NO QUIT Tennis Academy,” Yee said. “Since I was 9 the USTA has been helping my family and made much of what I do possible.”

Yee has been No. 1 in the USTA national rankings in the girls’ 12s, 14s, 16s and Top 10 in the 18s. She came through the local Las Vegas NJTL chapter called the Marty Hennessey Jr. Tennis Foundation. She is also part of Team Bryan, a USTA NJTL Excellence Team in partnership with the Marty Hennessy Jr. Foundation where she mentors and tutors children 3-4 times per week and teaches the next generation of players on how to be a polite, kind and respectful champion. She is coached by her father Adam Yee and Tim Blenkiron from the NO QUIT Tennis Academy.

Bob and Mike Bryan have been Kimberly’s heroes since she was young,” said Ryan Wolfington, who started the Foundation 10 years ago as a volunteer. “Like Bob and Mike, Kimberly has always had all A’s, incredible sportsmanship and an amazing desire to help other people.”

Yee’s efforts will be honored at the Friday night awards dinner that will be attended by all of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees. On Saturday, Yee will attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies of Lindsay Davenport (former No. 1 player); Chantal Vandierendonck (wheel-chair great); Nick Bollettieri (coach); Jane Brown Grimes (industry leader); and John Barrett (tennis historian/journalist).

“Kimberly’s desire to help others is so significant that I was afraid it would interfere with her training,” Blenkiron said. “But then she explained that giving back is what motivates her. I think she wants to do for other children what the Bryan brothers did for her.”

Bob Bryan commented in a video done on Yee that, “One of the best things you can do in tennis is win an award for sportsmanship and character,” he said. “She is a great role model and we really look up to her. We thank her for leading Team Bryan.”

Wolfington concluded, “I’ve been involved in tennis for the past 15 years, and I’ve never come across a student like Kimberly Yee. “She’s No. 1 in the country; the top tennis recruit. She gets good grades and continually sets an amazing example to others in the Foundation by volunteering and mentoring children.”

meet plane jumper, nick bollettieri

By Benjamin Snyder

Ripped. Because we know how much you want us to tag this post as “shirtless.”
(Photo by Art Seitz)

Nick Bollettieri 
coaches tennis just about better than anyone else. That, however, isn’t quite enough for the soon-to-be 80-year-old.The former paratrooper needs a little more excitement in his life, planning to jump off a plane the day after he hits octogenarian status this summer. It’ll be the first time for the New York-native since 1975. He’ll do the deed (jumping from a plane, that is… ) with the Army Black Knights at West Point. Now that’s quite a divvy way to spend a birthday, isn’t it, Nick?

Bradenton.com shares the juicy deets: “He lives a whirlwind life that never stops. One of his biggest moments will come when he jumps out of a plane this summer with the Army Black Knights at West Point. It has been 36 years since the then-first lieutenant did his last jump. But as it is in his life, fear does not hamper him.” The article comes just as Bollettieri accepted recognition for fending off cancer at the annual Dick Vitale Gala, an event that raises money for cancer research.Dickie V, an American basketball sportscaster, also had some choice words to say about Bollettieri’s inclusion into tennis history (or, rather, lack thereof), according to Alan Dell’s piece. He’s quoted as saying, “One of the biggest injustices in sports is that Nick Bollettieri is not in the tennis hall of fame. There is a section for contributors to tennis, and there is no one in the world who has contributed more to the game. How they can put contributors in and not Nick Bollettieri blows my mind. It would be the saddest thing if he does not get in while he is living.”

It’s an interesting fact given that Bollettieri has coached ten players who reached the top ranking in the world, including Monica Seles, Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic. Props to Dell for stirring up some controversy in the article — it’s always nice reading solid, investigative work complete with quotes that sting.

A plate too full? 
Regardless, Bollettieri has a lot else on his plate (probably too much to care), including a website in the works of being launched called Vidaloo Tennis. No, not spelled exactly like the Indian curry dish. But just another testament to the ever-expanding Bolletieri/IMG brand. So far the site is both barren and weird (can it be both?), featuring a 25-second clip from none other than Vitale himself. “It’s going to be a Hall of Fame website,” he yells in his famous commentating voice. Bollettieri says it’ll be the “most content rich” tennis site, aiding everyone from little kids to senior citizens. It was, however, supposed to be up and running on April 1st. April Fool’s?! It’s not yet. Or is that a 2012 date? Hmm…We’ll have to keep tabs on the site’s progress, and see if there’s content by the time Nick jumps off that plane.

Tennis fans everywhere, mark August 1st on your calendars.

fashion focus: vintage bollettieri

nike-bollettieri.jpg

Staring into the shades of the leathery Nick Bollettieri, I never would’ve thought he and Nike could come up with such awesome 80s fashion. Just look at that sweatshirt.

Bid on it: It’s up for auction on eBay (starting bid: $15), along with a version that’s neon green instead of orange.

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>> vintage: nike’s agassi tees and windbreaker

short balls: wednesday

Does Dubai have a shortage of Nadal mimics?: Gator Jesse Levine got a call from Roger Federer, who flew the lefty out to the Middle East for some hitting sessions. (Times Leader)

Because Roger could be in trouble: A blogger points out that Nadal is nipping at the heels of R-Fed. The Swiss’ number one spot could be in danger.

Grasping at straws: The USTA wants to toughen up their juniors so they signed ‘em up for boot camp. It’s not quite like hitting sessions in a drained out swimming pool, but… (SFSS)

We all have a type, don’t we?: Some hardcore journalism from the Daily Mail, who’s discovered that Boris Becker and ex-wife Barbara Feltus were destined for a romance of some sort; “no fewer than five of (his) lovers have borne a striking similarity” to Barbara, and her current boyfriend is also a scandal-plagued redhead.

Young and out on the field: A great story in the L.A. Times about the current climate for LGB athletes in high school sports programs. For some, it’s good; for some, it’s bad. My one criticism: it would’ve been nice to see how transgender folk are being received…

Stanford through 2012: Unlike its San Diego counterpart (RIP), the Bank of the West Classic in Palo Alto will be around through 2012. (Palo Alto Daily News)

The LTA tries to quantify tennis potential: Tennis mom Judy Murray and the rest of the British gang are really serious about finding future pros. And so they’re having kids go up against a metronome. Let’s hope it works. (Zoo Tennis)

Asia on the fashion map: Much like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka embraces its contribution tennis fashion — i.e., Reebok‘s hot pants look for Venus Williams. MAS Active received the order for the whole outfit (layered top, skirt, and short shorts) four months before Wimbledon. (The Sunday Times)

FYI: Coach Nick Bollettieri charges $900 an hour for his tennis services at his academy in Western Florida. And that’s on top of the $41,100 annual boarding fee. (Times)

WTA and Beijing Olympics hammer out a deal: Countries can send up to six players to the Beijing Olympics. Like in Athens, ITF hammered out a deal to award rankings points for the women’s competition. (IHT)

short balls: haas canoodles, blake dishes, tursunov makes a plea

From the sidelines: Yep, that’s German Tommy Haas at last night’s match between Safin and Bastl at UCLA. Haas isn’t defending his Countrywide Classic title due to a shoulder injury. He’s nursing it with some lovin’ from…Sandy Woelden? …Sara Foster? Who is it? (Thanks for the photo, Chris.)

Glowing shuttlecocks!: While night tennis might have failed, everyone’s a-ravin’ about Blackminton.

Bollietteri’s New York outpost: He’s joining the staff at CityView Racquet Club, the newest addition to NYC’s tennis scene. Now accepting applications, the club will have valet parking, limo service, and a tiny membership — which’ll guarantee you a court when you want one. (via UrbanDaddy NYC)

Tursunov rallies for support: At a tournament overshadowed by the arrival of Becks, Norcal-based Dmitry Tursunov makes a plea to his fellow players: promote the sport any way they can, be a little friendlier with the fans, and do things to keep them coming back.

Revealing the secrets of celebrity: You want to become the next Anna Kournikova? Follow this L.A.-based agent’s instructions.

Tennis non-whites: The New York Times Book Review wrote up James Blake‘s Breaking Back and Charging the Net by Cecil Harris and Larryette Kyle-DeBose. While Blake doesn’t reveal much dirt in his own book — likely because he still needs to show his face on the tour — he makes comments about the racial battles being fought on the courts in Charging the Net. On the brouhaha surrounding his ’01 U.S. Open match against Lleyton Hewitt:

“(Lleyton and I) talked about it in the locker room, and he did apologize. … He said he didn’t mean for it to come out the way it did. … I knew we would both be on the tour for a long time, and I told him that if he said anything like that again, I wouldn’t be so kind.”

(via NYT)

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short balls tuesday

Forty women are vying for The Scud’s love: But I’ve already broken up with Mark Philippoussis. If you’re still up for reading up on this NBC train wreck, try Page 2.

It makes sense: It crept up on me that after her win over Sharapova in Birmingham, Jelena Jankovic has entered the Top 3. (PA Sport via Sportinglife)

Guga still sidelined: But not by injury. This time, Gustavo Kuerten’s abyssmal ranking — and not his nagging hip injury — forced Brazilian officials to choose Flavio Saretta, Thiago Alves and Marcos Daniel over him for the Pan American Games. (Xinhua, via The Hindu )

Pan Am rehash: You should still tune in to watch the games, though, if only for Brazil’s awesome uniforms (photo above).

Bollettieri sets up shop in Dubai: Legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri takes to the Middle East as part of an IMG Academy. (via Dubai City Guide)

Apple, Pilot Inspektor, and now… Jagger: Congratulations to Lindsay Davenport on her newborn son, and good luck to him on the playground. (via MVN.com)

Indian men fawn over the women’s tour: The neophytes of the SEWTA Tour aren’t doing much for Mahesh Bhupati; he still loves Steffi Graf. (via Times of India)

OT READING: An article in the IHT on how open-air markets are disappearing in Hong Kong.