Unstrung To Air On ESPN Classic On May 3
By Tennis Week
4/24/2008 3:44:00 PM
The precise steps of stringing a racquet becomes a visual metaphor for the painstaking process of developing a junior player in Unstrung. One year after its premiere at the Tribeca/ESPN Film Festival In New York City, the Jim Courier, Mike Tollin-produced documentary has already become a classic.
ESPN Classic will air the Robert Klug-directed documentary — that follows a handful of American junior tennis players as they persevere through the pressure of amateur tennis to the USTA Nationals in Kalamazoo, Michigan — on Sunday, May 3 from 8-10 p.m. Eastern time.
ESPN Classic will begin an eight-day run of sports movies starting Sunday, April 27, to coincide with the second annual Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival — a showcase of sports — and competition-themed films within the overall Tribeca Film Festival (April 23-May 4). The ESPN Classic slate features seven films — one from each of the past seven Tribeca Film Festivals — and will be highlighted by the televised world premiere of Unstrung and a 30-minute special featuring a wrap-up of the 2008 Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival’s 12-film program.
The film follows the journeys of Donald Young (cast as "Number 1"), Sam Querrey ("The New Kid"), Timothy Neilly ("The Hopeful"), Marcus Fugate ("The Player") among others through the junior ranks and features interviews with champions including Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Andy Roddick reflecting on their junior experiences.
To view a trailer of the film, please visit Unstrungmovie.com. The film, which generated positive reviews when it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 25 last year (to a packed audience that included Courier and his friend, REM lead singer Michael Stipe) includes interviews with Andre Agassi, John McEnroe and Courier.
Reflecting on his father's decision to send him from his Las Vegas home across the country to the Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, Fla. when he was a teenager, Agassi says in the film: "It was a very difficult time. You sort of resented it. You missed out on your childhood in many respects and in a sense you blame your parents for that decision."
McEnroe, who developed his skills without leaving his New York home under the guidance of Harry Hopman and Tony Palofax at the famed Port Washington Tennis Academy, says in the film: "It's okay to dream big. If you don't dream big, it's not gonna happen."
The epilogue of Unstrung has been re-shot and is currently being re-edited for the world broadcast premiere on ESPN Classic.
The following is an update on the seven junior tennis stars featured in the film:
* Holden Seguso is enrolled as a freshman at UCLA, excelling as the No. 2 singles player on the roster. He is also pursuing his other passion, music. He has recently released his first CD, "We're Taking the Penguin".
* Marcus Fugate was rendered ineligible to play college tennis because of an endorsement deal he signed as a junior player. He continues to pursue professional tennis and is currently ranked No. 816 in the world.
* Clancy Shields is a junior at Boise State University, playing college tennis alongside his brother. He currently has a 24-13 record on the 35th-ranked team in the nation.
* Tim Neilly is playing for the Bahamas in Davis Cup and attempting to re-start his professional tennis career. He is currently ranked No. 1150 in the world.
* Greg Hirshman is a freshman at Stanford University, where he is currently 18-12 on the No. 24th-ranked tennis team in the country. Greg has also found time in his freshman year to launch an alternative political newspaper and write an article on cryptology being published in an internationally acclaimed magazine.
* Sam Querrey, a late addition to the film, won the Tennis Channel Open in March, 2008, his first ATP tournament win. He is currently ranked No. 50 in the world.
* Donald Young Jr. won his first-ever professional tournament in 2007 as part of a year-long comeback. He has re-energized his career and is currently ranked No. 73 in the world — the youngest top 100-ranked player on the ATP Tour.
© 2007 Tennis Week