CBS has been broadcasting the US Open ever since its inception in 1968 at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills. The men’s final, which will take place Monday at 5 PM at Arthur Ashe Stadium, will mark the end of CBS’s broadcast rights for the Open. The Tiffany Network, which usually goes all out to retain its heritage sports properties, decided that it did not want to match ESPN’s very high bid for exclusive rights.
Aside from cost, CBS executives were concerned about the lack of success for Americans at the Open who are not named Serena Williams. The failure of American men and women to even make it to Labor Day at the Open (Serena aside), as was the case again this year, has hurt ratings.
Another source of frustration for CBS executives has been their misfortune with the weather. They have had to cede more top matches to ESPN than they would care to remember. And it happened again last Sunday when they lost the Roger Federer-Marcel Granollers match to the late afternoon torrents.
The hard-to-find Tennis Channel (Channel 406 on Time Warner Cable), was the beneficiary of Mother Nature reeking havoc once again with CBS. For those unfamiliar with it, the Tennis Channel generally broadcasts live matches featuring deservedly little known players on the side courts of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the US Open. Having Roger Federer play a Grand Slam match live on the Tennis Channel is the equivalent of Josh Groban singing on the stage of a junior high school auditorium.
Even more frustrating was that CBS invited back Dick Enberg, one of the greatest tennis sportscasters ever, to broadcast the Federer-Granollers match. Enberg has written and narrated a tribute saluting CBS’s forty-plus year relationship with the Open that will air on Saturday.
Don’t expect to see John Isner, the face of American tennis mediocrity, to be part of Enberg’s highlight reel. Isner once again exited after the third round. During his post-match press conferences he caviled about the media asking him about the futility of our male professional players.
Isner’s snippiness reminds me of how the sports information department at my alma mater, Columbia University, is always upset with me because of how I have made fun of their football and basketball programs almost as long as I have been writing this column. I wouldn’t have to write how awful they are if they would just win once in awhile.
The United States Tennis Association was hoping that 17 year-old Wimbledon juniors winner, Long Island native Noah Rubin, would be to this year’s Open what Mo’ne Davis was to the recent Little League World Series. It wasn’t to be as Noah get swept in straight sets on Tuesday. Novak Djokovic however believes that Rubin has the talent to shortly be an elite player. While Americans (not counting Serena Williams) have had trouble winning singles titles, they have fared a lot better at doubles. Scott Lipsky, who grew up in Merrick, and his doubles partner, Colorado native Rajeev Ram, blamed the USTA and the various television networks for not promoting doubles play. “If they did, more of the world’s best players would take part,” Lipsky said. To their credit, the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, have always teamed up for doubles at Grand Slam events.
20 year-old Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard certainly got a major publicity boost by being featured on the cover of the Sunday Times Magazine two weeks ago. Bouchard grew up outside of Montreal and expressed hope that Major League Baseball would put another team there. “I remember going to Expos games with my dad when I was ten and I loved it,” she said.
Business opportunities and endorsements were certainly on the minds of tennis players. Serena Williams seemed to be as excited about introducing her “Serena’s Signature” clothing line for HSN (formerly known as the Home Shopping Network) as part of New York Fashion Week.
Roger Federer discussed how he has become more involved with the Nike clothing line that bears his name and his “RF” logo. “Nike can’t come up with a clothing line for every famous athlete and I am proud that they selected me.” The day after his press conference, Nike announced that they were giving NBA star Kevin Durant a clothing brand as well.
Sam Querrey may have talked his way out of a potential endorsement. A writer asked him if he would consider running in the New York City Marathon as Caroline Wozniacki is planning. “There is no way that I would do that,” he replied. When I chimed in and mentioned that Subway Restaurants, a longtime NYC Marathon sponsor, always wants its athletes to run in it, Querrey quickly replied, “That’s all right. I prefer Quizno’s!”
Maria Sharapova promoted her Sugarpova confection brand to the press but winced when I asked her if she would consider adding a sugar-free line of candies the Saturday before the US Open began. “It’s called Sugarpova for a reason so the answer is no.” Ironically when she was eliminated by Caroline Wozniacki on Sunday, I reminded her about the large number of diabetics, those watching their weight and/or worried about dental problems, who consume dietetic products, she conceded that she might have to rethink her original position.
With yet another New York Fashion Week upon us it’s interesting to recall how athletes have been a key part of many clothing companies’ marketing strategies. Longtime Mets fans will recall how Tom Seaver was an endorser of Sears suits. Mohan’s Custom Suits used to run ads in the New York Post showing athletes such as Walt Frazier, the late Wilt Chamberlain, Patrick Ewing, Bernard Hopkins and many more being measured for suits.
Schuyler 4 is a fairly new company that wants to bring in European style clothing for today’s American consumer through its Alberto pants, Haupt and Codice shirts, and Carl Gross sports jacket lines, has signed New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke as an endorser. New Giants cornerback Walter Thurmond, who played last year for the Super Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks, and Brooklyn Nets guard Alan Anderson, also part of Schuyler 4’s pro athlete team.
Coconut water continues to be the fastest growing type of cold beverage in this country. Harney, best known for its large varieties of teas, has started a Taste Nirvana line of various flavored coconut water. An Australian company, Coco Joy, has just entered the fray, and it is one of the few to sell coconut water in cans.
If you are looking for a healthy snack, Crispy Green fruit chips are both low in calories and satisfying in taste.
I have to profess a weakness for both the raspberry chocolate and dulce de leche Milano cookies from Pepperidge Farms. My goal is to limit myself to two cookies per day.
NBC had a media event last week to promote its long-running summer variety show, “America’s Got Talent.” I have to admit that I had only watched brief moments of it until then. I liked the fact that they had magicians, comedians, and dancers in addition to singers, which of course are the specialties of both “The Voice” and “American Idol.” It reminded me of a sophisticated update on the old “Ted Mack Amateur Hour” that I remember watching as a kid with my dad.