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Deboogle!. 04-29-2005 05:08 AM

James News!
We needed a thread for this :cool:

From the Providence newspaper.......
On the Courts by Mike Szostak: Blake tries to regain elite status

NEWPORT -- Finally fit after a year of a scary injury and illness, James Blake has begun the long haul to rejoin the tennis elite.

You remember James Blake, the one-time New England Wonder Boy who started hitting tennis balls in Harlem as a kid; moved with his family to Fairfield, Conn.; followed his All-American brother Thomas to Harvard, where he became an All-American; bid farewell to the Crimson in 1999 after his sophomore season and a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships; won his first ATP Tour title in 2002; earned his highest ranking, No. 22, in 2003, and broke his neck while crashing into a net post in Rome in 2004.

Well, Blake, now 25, is back on the ATP Tour, determined to improve his ranking, eager to do well on clay and grass in Europe and excited to return to Newport for the Campbell's Hall of Fame Tennis championships in July.

Blake was in town Tuesday to mingle and have lunch with tournament sponsors and box holders, smile for photographs, sign autographs and answer questions from his fans during a relaxed Q&A session led by WHJJ's Steve McDonald.

Always gracious, and always grateful to Hall of Fame boss Mark Stenning for giving him a break when he was a collegiate star and a struggling young pro, Blake was great. He charmed everyone with his personality and impressed all with his thoughtful responses. He earned a round of sympathetic applause after describing his father's influence on him before he died of cancer last July.

Blake has committed to the Hall of Fame tournament July 4-10. This will be his seventh consecutive appearance at the Newport Casino.

"Why would anyone not want to come back? This is a beautiful place, and it's so much fun," he said.

When Blake returns with his pals Robby Ginepri, Jeff Morrison and Mardy Fish -- Jurgen Melzer, Justin Gimelstob and Vince Spadea also have entered -- he hopes his ATP entry ranking is higher than his current No. 189. His ranking tumbled last year while he recovered from a broken vertebra in his neck, suffered when he tumbled into a net post while practicing in Rome in March, and from zoster, an inflammatory nerve disease than can affect hearing and vision.

After his neck injury, he played only Newport, Washington, D.C., and Delray Beach, Fla. He missed Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Having recovered from zoster, he started working on his conditioning and was ready for the start of the 2005 campaign in January. He played a tournament in Aukland, New Zealand, and lost to Fernando Gonzalez of Chile in the first round. He fell to Lleyton Hewitt in the second round of the Australian Open.

Back home, he lost first-round matches in Delray Beach and San Jose and a second-round match in Memphis. Playing in the desert, he reached the third round at Indian Wells and the quarterfinals at Scottsdale in February. He reached the quarterfinals again this month at the U.S. Clay Court Championships in Houston.

"I feel I'm back on the level I want to be in terms of fitness," he said. "In terms of tennis, I feel I'm hitting the ball great, but I've lost three '6-in-the-third' matches. I know that's a matter of not playing. I don't feel comfortable on the big points. I feel that when I win one, they'll start coming in bunches."

Blake's tough three-set losses occurred to Nicolas Lapentti in the quarterfinals at Houston, 7-6 (3); to Fish in the first round at Memphis, 7-6 (7), and to Carlos Moya in the second round at Key Biscayne, Fla., 7-6 (6).

Blake plans to play Challenger tournaments in Robinsville, Miss., and Forest Hills, N.Y., to boost his ranking and then head to France for the French Open qualifier in mid-May.

"I haven't had to play the qualies since 2001, so this will be a new experience," he said.

Then it will be on to England for the brief grass-court season. He is counting on his dual citizenship -- his mother is British -- to help earn a wild card or two. After Wimbledon, he will return to Newport, his "home" turf on the pro tour.

PaulieM 04-30-2005 06:12 AM

Re: James News!
yes definitely needed a news thread!:yeah:

smucav 05-11-2005 04:07 PM

Re: James News!

Two Pilots In Flight
Home court appealing to Blake

Jim Fuller , Register Staff

NEW HAVEN — When word finally reached James Blake that Connecticut is once again a player in the men’s professional tennis game, the most prominent player on the ATP with ties to the Nutmeg State couldn’t help but be a bit reflective.
When Blake was a teen-ager, he would make his way from Fairfield, where he attended Fairfield High, to watch the pros strut their stuff at the Connecticut Tennis Center. Back in 1998, the last time the Pilot Pen had a men’s tournament, Blake competed in the qualifying draw. So when Blake heard that the Pilot Pen would hold men’s and women’s draws the same week starting in August, he didn’t hide his enthusiasm. "I would really love to play there," Blake said. "It would be great to have people come and support me, and it would give my friends and family a chance to see me play." Blake, a former top 25 player currently ranked 66th, is enthralled at the idea that the Pilot Pen became just the fifth American event to hold men’s and women’s professional events at the same time. "I see a great upside for that tournament," said Blake, who stopped short of becoming the first men’s player to commit to the 2005 Pilot Pen. "(New Haven) definitely deserves a (men’s) pro event." David Wheaton, a former top 15 player and a 1997 Pilot Pen quarterfinalist, believes that the sport would benefit by having more events featuring WTA and ATP draws. "I believe that could be the future of tennis," Wheaton said. "It gives the fan, the most import person in tennis, a feeling like that are going to a buffet. You buy a ticket and you can find what you like. It is like a smorgasbord. "I played in the tournament when it was held in Stratton Mountain, Vt. (it moved to New Haven in 1990). I remember the beauty surrounding that tournament, the (celebrity) softball game. When it moved to New Haven, it wasn’t the same atmosphere. Now that the women’s tournament has been there, I think it will be a great tournament." A week before the Pilot Pen was awarded the right to the event formerly known as the TD Waterhouse Cup, 2004 Pilot Pen women’s quarterfinalist Mashona Washington was in New Haven giving free lessons to 400 New Haven youngsters. When she met with the media, she was quick to throw her support behind New Haven’s bid to bring back men’s tennis. "It has been successful," Washington said of the women’s event. "We like to come here. It has been such a great warm-up tournament (for the U.S. Open). It is great. I enjoy it. "The men just bring a whole different dimension to it. Andy (Roddick) and James Blake, if they come here, that would be cool. Sometimes I think our tournaments aren’t as good, in my opinion, and I think (a men’s draw) kind of brings the level of a tournament up." Jim Fuller can be reached at Register sports columnist Dave Solomon contributed to this story.

2005 pilot pen tennis tournament
WHEN: Women Aug. 21-27; Men Aug. 21-28
WHERE: Connecticut Tennis Center, New Haven
FINALS: Women: Saturday, Aug. 27 (CBS); men: Sunday, Aug. 28 (ESPN2)
SINGLES MAIN DRAW: Women: 28; Men: 48
INFORMATION: 1-888-99-PILOT or 776-7331.

©New Haven Register 2005

Deboogle!. 05-12-2005 03:13 AM

Re: James News!
Really nice from Oprah's O Magazine :)
James Blake

The accident could have paralyzed him. The shingles almost did. Then an unending parade of friends (and their jokes) reconnected the tennis player to the simple pleasures of his life.

For a guy who's 25 years old, I think I've lived a lot. As a pro tennis player and a model, I've had more real-life experience than most people my age. But last year was a very difficult one. In May I broke my neck. I was on the court, and I was running for a ball, tripped, and hit a net post headfirst. But it could have been much worse—I could have been paralyzed if I hadn't turned my head at the last moment. And it meant I got to spend time at home with my dad in the last weeks of his life. He was struggling with stomach cancer; he lost the fight in July. But we got to say everything we needed to before he was gone.

A week later, I started to feel very sick, and soon after I was diagnosed with shingles. The virus left half my face paralyzed, messed up my balance and blurred my vision. The doctors told me that in six months to a year and a half I'd be 100 percent back to normal. But I didn't know if I'd ever compete again.

Leaving the hospital, I felt it was all catching up with me. I couldn't walk, I couldn't taste anything, I didn't look right. I went home and got ready to spend months alone, sitting on the couch, waiting to get better. That's when they started coming. What felt like a constant stream of friends from every corner of my life descended on Fairfield, Connecticut, with one purpose: to cheer me up. They made me laugh at them, and when they saw my crooked grin, they made me laugh at myself. That's when I realized how many deep, lifelong connections I had made. I try to make people laugh and happy, and they were all returning the favor.

Now that I've fully recovered, I'm grateful for everything. I walk down the street and think, I'm not dizzy, my legs are working right, I can see straight and smell and hear clearly. It's a nice day. I have a family that loves me and friends who will be there no matter what. My father is with me. I'm competing again, and I think people are rooting for me. I have a new credibility with fans because they've learned that I don't have the perfect life. I'm like the character in a movie whose misfortunes help people relate to him. And I'm always aware that everything can go wrong, that it can all be taken away at any minute. Like I said, I feel much older than 25.

smucav 05-12-2005 05:59 PM

Re: James News!
James is the third alternate for the Surbiton challenger (the second week of Roland Garros).

smucav 05-17-2005 03:36 PM

Re: James News!
James has committed to the Pilot Pen:

He also says he is hoping for a WC to Wimbledon, otherwise he will play the qualifying.

smucav 07-11-2005 07:52 PM

Re: James News!

Twice during the Campbell's Hall of Fame Championships, ATP players went to a baseball diamond to throw out the first pitch. On Sunday, New England native JAMES BLAKE was at Fenway Park in Boston to throw out the first pitch before the Red Sox took on the Toronto Blue Jays. Blake fired in a strike, and then took in the game. During the middle innings, he sat atop the famed “Green Monster” in left field and was interviewed by NESN. On Monday, JEFF MORRISON delivered the ceremonial first pitch before the Newport Gulls played a USA Baseball team of college all stars. Morrison spent time before the game chatting with Team USA players who, like him, attended the University of Florida.

Deboogle!. 07-11-2005 08:32 PM

Re: James News!
James was given a WC into Cincy!!!!! :banana:

Golfnduck 07-12-2005 03:25 AM

Re: James News!
YES!!! I really hope he has a good summer.

smucav 07-12-2005 09:16 PM

Re: James News!

Date: Monday, July 11, 2005

Springfield Lasers def. Boston Lobsters 24-14

Set Score SPR BOS
MD: de Voest/Leach (SPR) def. J. Blake/T. Blake (BOS) 5-1 5 1
WD: Mc Cain/Smashey (SPR) def. Bedanova/Schlukebir (BOS) 5-2 10 3
WS: Mc Cain (SPR) def. Bedanova (BOS) 5-3 15 6
MS: J. Blake (BOS) def. de Voest (SPR) 5-4(5-3) 19 11
MX: Smashey/Leach (SPR) def. Schlukebir/Landsberg (BOS) 5-3 24 14

FINAL 24 14

Springfield Lasers:
Lindsay Davenport, Rik de Voest, Rick Leach, Kelly Mc Cain, Kaysie Smashey, Tamarine Tanasugarn

Boston Lobsters:
James J. Blake, Martina Navratilova, Daja Bedanova, Jonathan Chu, Johan Landsberg, Kristen Schlukebir, Thomas T. Blake

Site: Bright Arena at Harvard University in Cambridge

Article Last Updated: 7/13/2005 09:03 AM
Blake happy with homecoming
Connecticut Post

NEW HAVEN — To say that James Blake is eager to play at the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament next month would not sufficiently describe his excitement.
Blake, from Fairfield, was the first ATP player to commit to the Pilot Pen after it added a men's tournament to run alongside the existing women's event.

He also agreed to take part in Tuesday's annual Street Clinic in front of City Hall, even though he was scheduled to play World Team Tennis in Boston on Monday night and will compete in Houston tonight.

"I've been looking forward to it since I first heard there was a chance of it coming to New Haven," Blake said Tuesday when he met with the media following the clinic. "Even before that, when I heard Long Island might be canceled, I was hoping New Haven would get it."

The Pilot Pen is scheduled for Aug. 19-28 at the Connecticut Tennis Center on the Yale campus. The men's event replaces the TD Waterhouse Cup, which had been held on Long Island.

Blake conducted a clinic with local kids on Church Street Tuesday afternoon. The street was blocked off and a tennis net was set up for the event. He also competed in a few light-hearted matches with local television personalities.

After he was introduced to the crowd, which included kids and anyone who chose to stop by during the course of the afternoon, Blake, who attended Harvard, was presented with a Yale T-shirt by Bruce Alexander, vice president of Yale.

Blake then pulled a Harvard shirt out of his pocket and made an exchange.

"I'll wear the Yale T-shirt when you put on this Harvard shirt," Blake quipped.

Blake arrived in New Haven after midnight on Monday and was up fulfilling media commitments only a few hours later. He left after speaking to the media so he could fly to Houston.

Asked about his health following an injury- and illness-plagued 2004, he joked, "I feel great. I could have had more sleep last night, but other than that ..."

But Blake, who fractured his neck and was slowed by a virus called zoster last year, is healthy now and trying to work his way back up the rankings. He was once as high as No. 22 in the world.

"I feel fantastic," said Blake, now ranked No. 110. "It's a great feeling. I think every kid takes their health for granted and feels like they're invincible, and now I've been woken up to the realization that my career is finite, and I'm trying to make the most of every match every year I'm on Tour now. It could have been taken away in an instant and it still could be taken away in an instant, so every moment I'm out there, I enjoy it."

One moment he's especially excited about is the Pilot Pen. Tournament director Anne Worcester said she expects a Blake cheering section on Stadium Court.

"Long Island is relatively close, but not like being in your back yard," Blake said. "Being able to possibly stay at home and travel up here every day is a great feeling. And all my friends will be coming here, especially if I have night matches. Hopefully they won't get too rowdy that Anne will kick them all out. I'm really excited. My mom will be able to come watch. It's really a thrill to be able to play here in Connecticut."

NOTES — Worcester said she expects the pre-wild card field on the men's side to be announced today. ... Worcester also said the tournament needs additional volunteers to accommodate the two tournaments. Those interested should visit ... With the help of the USTA, the tennis courts at East Shore Park in New Haven were given a face lift and new instructional programs are already under way.
Pro tennis player James Blake of Fairfield high-fives children as he descends the steps of City Hall in New Haven on Tuesday for the annual Pilot Pen street tennis clinic. (Brian A. Pounds/CTPost)
James Blake, who attended Harvard, gets a laugh out of a T-shirt from rival Yale that he was given Tuesday at New Haven's Pilot Pen Street Clinic. (Brian A. Pounds/CTPost)
Tennis pro, James Blake of Fairfield looks on as Sebastian Formica, 4, of Orange takes a swing at the ball during Tuesday's Pilot Pen Street Tennis Clinic in New Haven. Blake himself was only four years old when his father took him to a clinic in New York conducted by Author Ashe. (Brian A. Pounds/CTPost)

smucav 07-14-2005 04:17 AM

Re: James News!

Date: Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Houston Wranglers def. Boston Lobsters 23-22(STB 7-6)

Set Score BOS HOU
MD: J. Blake/T. Blake (BOS) def. Fish/Fisher (HOU) 5-4(5-3) 5 4
WD: Cargill/Gallovits (HOU) def. Bedanova/Schlukebir (BOS) 5-3 8 9
WS: Cargill (HOU) def. Bedanova (BOS) 5-4(5-3) 12 14
MS: J. Blake (BOS) def. Fish (HOU) 5-4(5-4) 17 18
MX: J. Blake/Schlukebir (BOS) def. Fish/Gallovits (HOU) 5-4(5-3) 22 22

STB 6 7
FINAL 22 23

Boston Lobsters:
James J. Blake, Martina Navratilova, Daja Bedanova, Jonathan Chu, Johan Landsberg, Kristen Schlukebir, Thomas T. Blake

Houston Wranglers:
Mardy Fish, Steffi Graf, Tommy Haas, Ansley Cargill, Ashley Fisher, Edina Gallovits, Ryan Newport

Site: Westside Tennis Club in Houston

Angle Queen 08-22-2005 04:56 PM

Re: James News!
Heads up, James Fans! He's the featured guest on ESPN's on-line chat at 2pm this afternoon (22 AUG 05)

Here's the link:

bright_light_23 08-23-2005 02:46 PM

Re: James News!
Hi everybody :)

Does anyone have the transcript for the chat? You have to become a member to read the entire thing I think... :sad:

aceit 08-23-2005 03:03 PM

Re: James News!
Bright light, I found this on GM:

Thanks to everyone for signing on and for you interest in tennis and in me!

Erin, Sudbury MA
I was able to see you play with the Boston Lobsters this summer...was that team a good experience?

That was a great experience being back in Boston and playing at Harvard, where I haven't been in a while. I played with my brother and I wish we could have won, but it was great and I hope to be able to play team tennis again.

patrick (bessemer,AL)
How did the matches vs. Federer in Cincy and Roddick in DC will help in your Open preparation?

They are two of the best players in the world and getting them on hardcourts will help me know what I need to do best at the Open. I'm close, and hopefully playing here at the Pilot Pen will help me get a little closer to playing with the Roddicks and Federer's of the world.

Abid (Fredericton, NB Canada)
Who do you hang out with the most from the tour, off the court

My best friend is Marty Fish, he lives near me in Tampa and we play cards a lot. All the young Americans are my friends and we have a good time when we're on the road. And I've played doubles with Mark Merklin a few times and he's a good friend, as well.

andrew. harrisburg pa
what would you consider your biggest moment has been in your career?

I'd say playing and winning my first Davis Cup match. Playing in Winston-Salem about a month after 9/11 there was an extreme sense of patriotism, and that was the last time I can remember being nervous on the court. It's something special when you get to play for something bigger than yourself and represent your country.

Twonk (New Jersey)
I'd think you and Sharapova would make a popular mixed doubles team. How 'bout it?

I think that would be a whole lot of fun! But the only chance for mixed doubles is at the Grand Slams and we're more focused on singles right now. Maybe later in our careers, if she'd have me. But she’s probably got a whole lot of other offers!
Lauren (Chicago, IL)
I just want to offer you a big WELCOME BACK. It's great to see you back on the court and playing so well. Do you feel your time away from the game last year has given you an even greater drive to play and just enjoy your time out there, win or lose?

It's definitely given me a little different perspective on enjoying things. Young players tend to think it will last forever but last year made me realize that there's a finite amount of time out here. I need to enjoy it while I can because not a lot of people get to do what I do -- travel the world and do something I love -- so I have to enjoy it. What gets me going is knowing I've worked to get the most out of my talent and done my best, so I just want to work hard and enjoy the next few years no matter what.

Matt (Chicago)
What would be your dream match, who would it be and where would it be.

Probably against Andre Agassi, someone who I enjoy playing because he hits the ball clean, gives great points and would allow me to use my speed. His serve won't blow youaway and the speed makes for a great match. He's also one of the best guys on the tour and that would make it even better, and I'd like to play him at the US Open, which I grew up watching.

Dave (NJ)
Was there a moment or moments growing up that convinced you that you could make it in this sport?

Not growing up, because I really didnt' think I had a chance to do this. As I got older I realized how hard it would be to be a pro player, but when I was winning the 18s I still didn't know it. When agents started talking to me I didn't know why, but when I did well at the college level and played okay in some futures events in the summer I started to realize I maybe had a future in front of me in tennis.

Juliette (Holland)
What would you like to do after your tenniscareer?

I'm not sure, yet. I'd like to finish my degree at Harvard, but other than that I'm not sure. I don't know if I'll be married or whatever, but beyond that I just don't know. I'd like to stay in sports, though, because I just love it and I'd like to stay around other athletes.

Abid (Fredericton, NB Canada)
Who was tougher to play; Sampras or Federer?

I never played Pete. I practiced against him quite a bit and that's a lot different. But Federer is one of those guys you have to play near-flawless tennis against to beat. Some guys you might not have to be at your best but with Federer you have to do everything right.

Abid (Fredericton, NB Canada)
Who were you favorite players growing up?

I loved watching Jim Courier because of how hard he worked, I loved Stefan Edbergs's sportsmanship and how he carried himself on the court. Those two were my favorites.

Matt (Chicago)
What were you studying at Harvard?

I was studying economics at the time, but if I go back I'll most likely change to sociology or African-American studies. Given the changes in my life I don't think I'll be going to business school, so econ is out.

Vanessa (NC)
Is there anyone that you really enjoy watching play tennis?

I enjoy watching Federer because it's like watching history as he chases Sampras' record. I also like watching Carlos Moya, who plays a bit like me, and Marat Safin because he's so unpredictable and one of the most talented guys out there.

Eve (Davao City)
do you eat a particular kind of food before a match?

I don't have a specific meal like Wade Boggs, but I like to get a lot of protein the night before and lots of carbs the day of the match. Bagels, fruit, that kind of stuff to give me some energy.

Justin (Cali)
You think you'd ever be interested in college coaching down the road?

Maybe, because I had always planned on going back to Harvard and helping out. I always felt like I could help the other players when I was there, and now with my Davis Cup and tour experience I feel like I would have something to offer. I think I would definitely enjoy that.

Andre (Chicago,Il)
what is your favorite european tournament and city to play in?

Favorite is probably Wimbledon. I love going to England because my mom is from there, and even though I don't always play well on grass. And prior to my injury there, Rome was at the top of the list, too. The history is amazing and so is the food.

Kelso (NYC)
Do you have any kind of friendship with the Williams sisters? Any talks with them ever about being a minority in tennis?

I do have a good relationship with both of them. They are great girls who enjoy life and tennis. Serena is an incredible competitor. I know her better than Venus, but we've become friends, too. And we do have a connection being minorities in a 'country-club' sport. They've inspired a lot of young black girls and I appreciate everything they do and everything they have to say.

Matt (Chicago)
What are your favorite sports teams? Are they all New England teams?

I was born in NY so I'm a huge Mets fan, and I was a huge Michael Jordan fan and am still a Bulls fan. I also cheer for the new York Giants, and now that I'm in Tampa I'm getting into hockey and am becoming a huge Lightning fan.

Lynn Austin, TX
Will you ever grow back your trademark dreads?

I don't know. Right now I enjoy how easy it is to get out of the shower and not have to worry about my hair! Ask me again in a few years and we'll see what happens.

Marlene (Richmond VA USA)
If you were in charge of mens professional tennis, what one thing would you make a priority to change?

I would shorten the season a bit, so that after the US Open there is only the Davis Cup and Masters Cup. Guys are playing so many tournaments that there are a lot of injuries, so fewer tournaments would mean less injury and would make the tennis easier to follow. I would also change the Davis Cup format a little, because it's a little hard to follow right now with all the different schedules and teams. Make it more like the Ryder Cup, every two years, or condense it into two or three weeks.

Steven (Canada)
How many weeks in a year do you spend at home?

I'm probably in Tampa training about 15-20 weeks out of the year and in Connecticut maybe 8-10 weeks out of the year. The rest are spent on the road.

les, orlando
Hi James, great to see you back on the tour! I have a quick question, how was it being in Xbox Top Spin and are you going to be in Top Spin2?

It was a lot of fun. I never thought I would see myself in a video game and it's cool to see myself there. That's a good game and hopefully I can get into the next one.

Vanessa (NC)
How would you rate you current game compared to where you want to be?

I think I'm getting close to where I want to be. I feel like I'm better now than when I was top 25 because there are things I've improved. I think it's only a matter of time before my ranking shows that, and I think I'm getting to a point where I can compete with the top 10 players in the world.

Toni Shreveport, LA
What do you think is contributing to all the injuries to tennis players today?

I think it's the grueling schedule that guys are forced to play. And the game is so much faster now that every week you're breaking down your body and you don't have much time to build it up first. You can't spend one month preparing and then 11 months tearing your body down and not expect to get injured. That's the major reason I said before that I would shorten the season and give guys a little more time to recover and take care of their bodies.

I have to run, but thanks to everyone for sending in the great questions and taking an interest in tennis!

bright_light_23 08-24-2005 06:48 AM

Re: James News!
Hi aceit :bigwave:

Thank you SO MUCH. :yeah: They asked him some *really* awesome questions! I'm glad they were able to chat with him... :cool:

Thanks again!

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