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Davis Cup to remain on Tennis Channel

LOS ANGELES — Tennis Channel has extended its telecast rights agreements with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to remain the exclusive U.S. broadcaster of all Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, Fed Cup by BNP Paribas and Hyundai Hopman Cup competition. The deals keep coverage of the American Davis Cup team on the network through 2013 and all other matches in the three most prestigious international team competitions in tennis through 2015. The announcement comes on the eve of the 2011 Davis Cup season, which begins this weekend.

With the exception of the American Davis Cup team, Tennis Channel has been the U.S. home of tennis’ three international team cups since it first went on the air in May 2003. (The network actually introduced itself to viewers in April of that year, prior to launch, with a free preview during women’s Fed Cup play - Venus Williams competed for the U.S. team in the first match to appear on the channel.) In late 2004 Tennis Channel signed its most-recent team cup extension, giving it exclusive television rights to all Fed Cup, Hopman Cup and non-U.S. Davis Cup action through 2010. U.S. Davis Cup matches first appeared live on Tennis Channel in 2006, before becoming exclusive to the network with a two-year agreement starting in 2009.

“Tennis Channel viewers have always been passionate about Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Hopman Cup, which feature so many of the game’s elite playing for something bigger than personal glory,” said David Scott, vice president, programming, Tennis Channel. “The intense stadium crowds, gritty five-set matches and exhausted players on last legs contradict the notion of tennis as a quiet country club sport. When you see superstars jogging around the court draped in their nations’ flags or shedding tears during national anthems you can’t help but think of the Olympics, and we’re thrilled for the opportunity to keep bringing these great events to our audience.”

As with previous team cup rights agreements, Tennis Channel will have access to the ITF’s highlights and classic-match library in addition to its live tournament rights. Davis Cup and Fed Cup, respectively, are akin to soccer’s World Cup championships for men and women, and in many countries surpass even Wimbledon, the US Open, French Open and Australian Open in popularity due to their national pride factor. Davis Cup, founded in 1900, is the largest annual international team competition in sports and, with few exceptions, has featured every great male tennis player of the past century. Likewise, Fed Cup is the largest annual international team competition in women’s sports, with almost everyone from Billie Jean King to Kim Clijsters taking part since its inception in 1963. The year-long tournaments unfold over the course of the tennis season, with countries meeting head-to-head for each round of play over periodic weekend matches.

Hopman Cup brings the men and women together for two-person mixed-doubles teams that represent their countries in an annual January tournament, started in 1988. The United States has won the most championships in Davis Cup (32), Fed Cup (17) and Hopman Cup (five) competition.

Tennis Channel’s coverage of the 2011 Davis Cup season begins this weekend with the U.S. team’s first-round play against Chile in Santiago, Chile. The meeting will consist of two singles matches on Friday, March 4, at 9 a.m. ET, followed by the doubles match Saturday, March 5, at 10 a.m. ET. Tennis Channel’s live coverage concludes with the remaining singles play Sunday, March 6, at 9 a.m. ET. Each of the five matches is worth one point, with the team that wins at least three points advancing to the quarterfinals to face either Belgium or Spain July 8-10. Every evening at 8 p.m. ET Tennis Channel will offer an encore presentation of the day’s Davis Cup action.

Coverage from Estadio Nacional in Santiagois as follows (all time ET): Friday, March 4: 9 a.m. - Live Singles #1 12 p.m. - Live Singles #2 {8 p.m. - Instant Encore Singles #1} {11 p.m. - Instant Encore Singles #2}

Saturday, March 5: 10 a.m. - Live Doubles {8 p.m. - Instant Encore Doubles}

Sunday, March 6: 9 a.m. - Live Singles #1 12 p.m. - Live Singles #2 {8 p.m. - Instant Encore Singles #1} {11 p.m. - Instant Encore Singles #2}

The United States hopes to uphold its unbeaten Davis Cup record of 4-0 against Chile. The two countries’ most recent competition was during the 2006 quarterfinals, when the Americans beat the Chilean team 3-2 in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Of note is new captain Jim Courier, who is at the U.S. helm for the first time following the retirement of 10-year Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe last year. Courier, who as a player helped the American squad win the Davis Cup in 1992 and 1995, is a former World No. 1 singles player, French Open and Australian Open champion, and is enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

He leads a team that features the return of American star Andy Roddick (No. 8), who is back after taking a year off last year for the first time in his career. Roddick, an integral member of America’s most-recent Davis Cup champion in 2007, comes into this weekend after having gutted out his 30th singles title in Memphis Feb. 20. The world’s top doubles tandem, recent Australian Open-winning twins Bob and Mike Bryan, are also Davis Cup veterans whose victory in the 2007 final clinched the U.S. championship. The remainder of Courier’s squad includes the resurgent Mardy Fish (No. 16), Sam Querrey (No. 22) and John Isner (No. 32). Querrey will not make the trip to Chile this weekend following doctors’ advice that he rest to improve a slight rotator cuff impingement.

Chile enters this weekend’s matchup after a 4-1 victory over Israel in last year’s first round, prior to a 4-1 Czech Republic loss in the quarterfinal. The team is captained by Hans Gildemeister and features Paul Capdeville, Jorge Aguilar, Nicolas Massu and Guillermo Rivera-Aranguiz.

 

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