To create global excitement about the sport of tennis, the ITF has declared March 4th to be World Tennis Day. A pair of exhibition events, one in New York and one in Hong Kong, will serve as the focal point of the celebration.
In New York, the BNP Paribas Showdown will be held at Madison Square Garden. Though professional tennis at the “Garden” is nothing new with both the ATP and WTA holding their year-end championships there in years past, recently the February exhibitions have been a staple with a rotating set of the world’s top players.
This year, a pair of men’s and women’s match will be on the cards. New World No. 1 Serena Williams will face off against Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka. That will be followed by Rafael Nadal, making his first appearance in America since the 2011 U.S. Open, against former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro.
Along with the matches, the USTA will once again sponsor “Tennis Night in America”. This is an initiative to encourage clubs throughout the country to open their doors to new participants. Kids will also be introduced to “10 and Under Tennis” that promotes the sport through the use of smaller racquets and smaller parameters on the court.
In Hong Kong, the BNP Paribas Showdown event there will feature two legends of the sport along with two current champions.
Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe will renew their rivalry once again in one match while former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki faces Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska.
Aside from New York and Hong Kong, other countries plan to hold events to take part in the global day. Czech Republic, Spain, Argentina, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Portugal and South Africa among many are those already expected to participate.
“We look forward to World Tennis Day as a way to put a spotlight on tennis participation,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti. “The very successful Tennis Night in America, staged by the USTA in association with StarGames, is an example of how special events and participation activities can be combined successfully. We look forward to events around the world over the next few years, and to see our 210 member national associations get behind World Tennis Day with activities in their own countries on that day.”
Though not officially connected with World Tennis Day, a separate event in Los Angeles, California is also taking place on March 4th. The L.A Tennis Challenge will feature World No. 1 Novak Djokovic along with former No. 1 Pete Sampras as the headlining players.
Also appearing at the one-night only event will be Mardy Fish, Tommy Haas, James Blake and the Bryan Brothers.
Blake and Haas will open the night followed by a singles match between Djokovic and Fish. The evening will conclude with doubles feature Djokovic and Sampras against the Bryan Brothers.
For more information about any of these events.http://www.worldtennisday.com/ or http://latennischallenge.com/