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Tennis Channel and ESPN2 to Offer Complete Coverage of Women's Year-End Sony Ericsson Championships

LOS ANGELES and BRISTOL, CONN., Oct. 28, 2008 - Tennis Channel and ESPN2 will cover the 2008 Sony Ericsson Championships - the prestigious season-ending competition in women’s professional tennis, featuring the world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams - in their entirety Tuesday-Sunday, Nov. 4-9. More than 30 live hours are planned from the event’s inaugural run in Doha, Qatar, almost all of which will be telecast in high definition.

Combined, including replays, the networks will offer close to 70 hours of HD match coverage during the six-day Sony Ericsson Championships. Tennis Channel will carry 32½ hours of live competition, spread across each day of the event. The network’s coverage includes all round-robin matches, singles semifinals and doubles play. ESPN2 will carry the singles final on Sunday, Nov. 9, at 12 p.m. ET. Tennis Channel will follow its network’s live coverage with daily encores of each match of the competition, in addition to a same-day replay of the singles final.

“This year Tennis Channel will offer more coverage of the Sony Ericsson Championships than ever before on U.S. television,” said Victoria Quoss, executive vice president, programming and network strategy, Tennis Channel. “Audiences have never been able to see so much of the women’s year-end competition and drama live and in HD, as the world’s eight best players battle match after match all week long. The tournament is the climactic end to the entire season, and we’re excited that our viewers will be there for every point as the 2008 champion is crowned.”

Veteran sportscaster Barry MacKay will call the Sony Ericsson Championships on Tennis Channel, along with analysis from former No. 1 doubles player Corina Morariu and, making her debut in the network’s broadcast booth, former singles and doubles No. 1 Lindsay Davenport. In joining Morariu, Davenport, who won the year-end championships’ singles title in 1999 as well as three doubles crowns at the event during her career, is reunited with her 1999 Wimbledon-championship doubles partner. Rounding out the team, former No. 1 Tracy Austin will conduct pre and post-match interviews from the Khalifa International Tennis Complex in Doha.

Cliff Drysdale and Pam Shriver will cover the singles championship on ESPN2. Drysdale has been with ESPN since its very first tennis telecast in 1979. As a player, he won 35 singles titles, and was the US Open runner-up in 1965. That year and in 1966 he reached the semifinals at both Wimbledon and the French Open. He also captured 24 doubles crowns, highlighted in 1972 by the US Open men’s crown with Roger Taylor. Shriver,who joined ESPN in 1990, won 21 singles titles and 112 in doubles, including 23 Grand Slam events (22 in women’s doubles plus one in mixed doubles). While partnering with Zina Garrison, she captured the 1988 Olympic Gold Medal in doubles in Seoul.

“It’s been a terrific year of women’s tennis with memorable matches and exciting action on ESPN2, and we’re pleased to cap the year with another championship event, this time from Doha, Qatar,” said Jason Bernstein, senior director, programming & acquisitions, ESPN. “This is a great way to finish 2008 and spring toward 2009 when we will televise all four Grand Slam events for the first time, beginning with the Australian Open in January.”

“The 2008 season has been one full of historic milestones and a thrilling race for the No. 1 ranking, and it is only fitting that our Sony Ericsson Championships will be the first season-ending event in the Middle East, first to feature equal prize money and first brought to U.S. television viewers in high definition,” said Stacey Allaster, president of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. “We are pleased to partner with Tennis Channel and ESPN, as they are leaders in presenting innovative and exciting tennis coverage for U.S. fans.”

The Sony Ericsson Championships conclude the annual women’s professional tennis season. Singles competition initially takes place within two groups of four players each. Every player has one match against each of the other three women in her group, with the top two players in each group advancing to the single-elimination semifinals and subsequent championship. Thus tennis fans are assured of seeing each of these eight stars play at least three matches during the week.

On the doubles side, the four teams that qualify for the Sony Ericsson Championships compete in a single-elimination semifinal and championship during the last two days of the event.

All singles players have qualified for the 2008 Sony Ericsson Championships. They are U.S. Open winner Serena Williams, Wimbledon winner Venus Williams, World No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, French Open winner Ana Ivanovic, Dinara Safina, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonereva. Likewise, the doubles field is set, with the teams of US Open winners Cara Black/Liezel Huber and French Open winners Anabel Medina Garrigues/Virginia Ruano Pascual joined by Kveta Peschke/Rennae Stubbs and Katarina Srebotnik/Ai Sugiyama.

When not watching the Sony Ericsson Championships on Tennis Channel and ESPN2, viewers can keep up with the season-ending competition online at www.ESPN360.com, which offers 24 hours of live, round-robin coverage Nov. 4-7, and www.tennischannel.com, which will feature tournament draws, scores and news, as well as a veteran reporter’s previews in Steve Flink on Tennis and updates at popular fan blog LaRosa’s Sweet Spot.

Tennis Channel’s and ESPN2’s 2008 Sony Ericsson Championships Schedule

Date Time (ET) Event Network
Tuesday, Nov. 4 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Round-Robin Action Tennis Channel
Wednesday, Nov. 5 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Round-Robin Action Tennis Channel
Thursday, Nov. 6 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Round-Robin Action Tennis Channel
Friday, Nov. 7 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Round-Robin Action Tennis Channel
Saturday, Nov. 8 5 a.m.-8 a.m. Doubles Semifinals Tennis Channel
9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Singles Semifinals Tennis Channel
Sunday, Nov. 9 7 a.m.-8:30 a.m. Doubles Final Tennis Channel
12 p.m.-2 p.m. Singles Final ESPN2

Tennis Channel will also offer same-day replays of the singles and doubles finals on Sunday, Nov. 9: Doubles Final - 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.-12:30 a.m.; Singles Final - 7 p.m.-9 p.m.

The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour is the world’s largest premier professional sport for women with more than 2,000 players representing 90 nations competing for $70.8 million in prize money at the Tour’s 58 events in 34 countries. More than 4.7 million people attended women’s tennis events in 2007 with millions more watching events on television networks around the world. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season concludes with the Sony Ericsson Championships - Doha 2008 in Doha, Qatar, November 4-9, 2008. Further information on the Tour can be found on the Internet at www.sonyericssonwtatour.com.

ESPN & Tennis
Tennis has been part of ESPN since its first week on the air and provided many memorable moments, but it has never been as important as today, with three of the four Grand Slam events and the US Open arriving in 2009. In 2008, ESPN will present approximately 400 hours of tennis coverage, and in 2009 the hours will climb to 600. Since 2005, nearly all the tennis coverage has aired on ESPN2.

ESPN debuted September 7, 1979, and the first tennis telecast was exactly one week later, September 14, a Davis Cup tie, Argentina at U.S. from Memphis with Cliff Drysdale on the call.

Tennis Channel (www.tennischannel.com) is the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and passionate lifestyle of tennis. A hybrid of comprehensive sports, health, fitness, pop culture, entertainment, lifestyle and travel programming, the network is home to every aspect of the wide-ranging, worldwide tennis community. It also has the most concentrated single-sport coverage in television, with telecast rights to the US Open, Wimbledon, Roland Garros (French Open), Australian Open, Olympus US Open Series, ATP Masters Series, top-tier Sony Ericsson WTA Tour championship competitions, Davis Cup and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, and Hyundai Hopman Cup. Tennis Channel is carried by eight of the top 10 MSOs and has a national footprint via DIRECTV and DISH Network.

 

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