NEW HAVEN OPEN ENJOYS SUCCESS ON AND OFF THE COURT
Tournament’s 15th Year Draws More Than 50,000 Fans for World-Class Tennis and Special Events
NEW HAVEN, Conn., August 26, 2012 – The 2012 New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, a WTA event that is part of the Emirates Airline US Open Series taking place at the Connecticut Tennis Center celebrated 15 years of women’s tennis in New Haven with thrilling on-court action and fan-friendly off-court activities and events.
On court, 2011 Wimbledon Champion and WTA Player of the Year Petra Kvitova returned to New Haven for the second time in her career and walked away with the title, defeating Maria Kirilenko in a tight two-set match that lasted more than two hours.
"The 15th year of women’s tennis in New Haven was one we will never forget," said Anne Worcester, New Haven Open Tournament Director. "From the exciting matches on the court to the countless events for our fans off the court, the 2012 edition of the New Haven Open is one of our most successful to date. Petra Kvitova continues her red-hot streak by winning here and we are delighted to crown her our new champion."
Kvitova rolled to the championship without dropping a set, out-hitting her opponents and playing some of her best hardcourt tennis leading up to next week’s US Open. With her successful run in New Haven, she also won the Emirates Airline US Open Series and has a chance to earn up to $1 million in bonus prize money at the US Open.
Along with her success on-court, the 22-year-old Czech had time to enjoy the tournament and New Haven.
"With a great (tournament) director, it's amazing," said Kvitova. "It's very calm here. You know, it's five minutes from hotel to (the tennis center), so it's pretty easy for us, for the players. You can go out to downtown for good dinners. We had a lot of offers here, so we could choose something we want to do. So that's great… I think I will come next year again."
The "offers" Kvitova was referring to include the Mayor’s Passport to Downtown Dining, which allowed players to enjoy complimentary meals at New Haven’s award-winning, international restaurants. You could also find her shopping at some of the city’s boutiques throughout her stay.
Kvitova’s run to the Championship signaled the end of an era as four-time defending New Haven Open champion Caroline Wozniacki’s unbeaten streak was ended as a knee injury forced her to retire in her semifinal match against Kirilenko. But the "Queen of New Haven" did not let that get her down, reflecting on her historical run in the Elm City.
"It's definitely meant a lot to me, this tournament," said Wozniacki. "You know, it was a big tournament for me to win back in 2008. Then coming back and defending it in 2009 was huge, as well, for me because I think that was the first time I had to go and defend a title. That was something that was special. Then, you know, you defend it again and again, all of a sudden you're in this elite group that has won a tournament four times. I mean, there's a lot of players that never win a tournament and there's a lot of players that never win four. Winning the same one four times in a row is definitely special."
Joining Wozniacki in her fifth straight year at the New Haven Open was boyfriend and No. 1-ranked golfer Rory McIlroy. McIlroy even took his first swings since winning the PGA Championships in the Yale Bowl, attempting to drive a tennis ball into a concourse tunnel. The video, which was uploaded to the tournament’s YouTube site, went viral, garnering more than 128,000 views in under a week.
Another high-profile boyfriend also made his way to the Connecticut Tennis Center this year. Four-time NHL All-Star Alexander Ovechkin was in the stands to cheer on Maria Kirilenko in Saturday’s final.
In doubles play, the World No. 1 team of Lisa Raymond and Leizel Huber of the United States won their fifth tournament of the year, getting revenge on the team that beat them at the Olympics, Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic.
Additionally, fans on-site were treated to two other tennis events, the US Open National Playoffs and the Maureen Connolly Challenge Trophy.
The US Open National Playoffs provide the opportunity for hundreds of tennis players across the nation to vie for wildcards into the US Open Singles Qualifying Draws and Mixed Doubles Main Draw. At this year's US Open National Playoff Championships, which took place concurrently with the New Haven Open, Alexandra Mueller and Clement Reix earned the singles qualifying wildcards and the team of Brian Battistone and Nicole Melichar earned the wildcard into the mixed doubles main draw.
The Maureen Connolly Challenge Trophy is a yearly competition between the best female tennis players age 18 and younger from the United States and Great Britain. This year, the teens from Great Britain edged the Americans under the guidance of team captain Judy Murray, mother of World No. 4 and Olympic Gold Medalist Andy Murray.
The more than 50,000 fans in attendance were not only able to enjoy some of the world’s best action on court, but also the wide array of special events and activities around the grounds.
Highlighting this year’s off-court events was the return of initiatives to support the fight against breast cancer. The CYBEX Pink Ribbon Run saw more than 117 miles logged on the famed pink treadmill throughout the week, with WTA stars such as Kvitova, Kirilenko, Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska, Sara Errani and Marion Bartoli lending their support to the cause. The autographed treadmill is being auctioned off on charitybuzz.com until September 6. All proceeds raised by both the run and the auction will be donated to Smilow Cancer Hospital Breast Center at Yale-New Haven.
Fans also did their part to support the fight against breast cancer, not only by running on the CYBEX pink treadmill and by making donations, but also by participating in July’s "15-Love" ticket promotion. This promotion celebrated 15 years of women’s tennis in New Haven by offering fans $15 seats to any session for 15 days, with $2 of each ticket sold also going directly to Smilow Cancer Hospital Breast Center.
Since the implementation of the breast cancer initiatives at the 2011 event, the New Haven Open has raised more than $30,000 for charity.
Before the tournament even began, the New Haven Open was taking other opportunities to leverage professional tennis to help make a difference in the New Haven community. Through the American Express and USTA "Fresh Courts" program, the New Haven Open was able to facilitate the renovation of tennis courts at McClain Park in the Hill Section of New Haven.
Additionally, the Emirates Airline Racquet Return Program encouraged fans to bring used racquets to the tournament to be refurbished and donated to New Haven Youth Tennis and Education. Throughout the week, more than 100 racquets were collected.
Fans coming to the site were also able to enjoy off-court activities such as the sold out fifth annual New Haven Food and Wine Festival Grand Tasting, Vineyard Vines Ladies Day Luncheon and Fashion Show, Aetna FitZone and Aetna Kids Day. Additionally, player autograph sessions were staged throughout the week at sponsor booths across the grounds.
The 2013 edition of the tournament begins in just under a year, on August 16. Mark your calendars today to ensure you don’t miss out on what should be another fantastic year of all the New Haven Open has to offer both on and off the court.
About New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara
New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara has always been much more than a tennis tournament; it is a leading example of leveraging a large-scale international sporting event to generate $26 million in regional economic impact and to build community pride, spirit and engagement, especially among youth. The 2011 tournament featured World No. 1 and now four-time defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, and three Grand Slam champions Li Na, Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova. The women’s-only WTA event is part of the Emirates Airline US Open Series and will be held August 17-25, 2012 at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale. The New Haven Open is prominently featured domestically on ESPN2 and also broadcast around the world. For more information about the tournament and tickets, visit www.newhavenopen.com or call 1-855-464-8366.
About First Niagara
First Niagara, through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A., is a multi-state community-oriented bank with nearly 430 branches, approximately $35 billion in assets, $28 billion in deposits, and approximately 6,000 employees providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses across Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.firstniagara.com.
About Emirates Airline US Open Series
Now in its ninth season, the Emirates Airline US Open Series continues to serve as a true regular season of hard court tennis, linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. Fans follow the action throughout the summer during national broadcast coverage while players battle for $40 million, including a chance for bonus prize money at the US Open. The Series collectively reached a U.S. television audience of 39 million and drew more than 800,000 on-site fans in 2011.
In 2012, Emirates Airline became the title sponsor of the Series, as well as the official airline of the US Open. The Emirates Airline US Open Series is also supported by sponsors American Express, Chase, Citizen Watch Company, Esurance, evian and Gatorade.
Americans Mardy Fish and Serena Williams swept the 2011 Emirates Airline US Open Series men’s and women’s titles. In 2007, Roger Federer collected the biggest paycheck in tennis history – $2.4 million – for winning the US Open and the Emirates Airline US Open Series. In 2005, Kim Clijsters also captured both the US Open and the Series, winning $2.2 million – the largest purse in women’s sports history – and equaled that amount in 2010, winning the US Open and finishing the Emirates Airline US Open Series in second place.