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Capriati, Kuerten, Orantes to be inducted

NEWPORT, R.I. — In recognition of their great accomplishments and immense contributions to the sport of tennis, former world No. 1 tennis stars Jennifer Capriati and Gustavo Kuerten, along with Spanish tennis great Manuel Orantes, tennis industry innovator Mike Davies, and the late Randy Snow, a wheelchair tennis champion, will be presented the highest honor in the sport tomorrow- induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The five individuals will be honored in a grand ceremony with a sell-out crowd applauding their success at the Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. The Induction Ceremony will be broadcast live on Tennis Channel at 12:30 p.m. EST.

“As great champions and influential contributors to the sport of tennis, the International Tennis Hall of Fame is proud to salute the remarkable members of the Class of 2012. Jennifer, Guga, and Manuel all achieved exceptional success on court, and their accomplishments are integral in the history of our sport. As one of the greatest wheelchair tennis players of all time, Randy’s on court success deserves great recognition, as does his tireless work to grow wheelchair tennis. Additionally, the sport of tennis would not be the high profile, global sport it is today, were it not for Mike’s vision, dedication, and drive to grow the game,” said Christopher Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. “The Induction Ceremony will be an extraordinary day and we look forward to honoring these outstanding individuals, and sharing in the celebration with their many fans.”

The Induction Ceremony will feature speeches by the inductees, as well as presentation speeches by people they have selected. Hall of Famer Monica Seles will present Jennifer Capriati, and Hall of Famer Stan Smith will present Manuel Orantes. Guga Kuerten has selected his mother, Alice Kuerten, to present him for induction. Anne Worcester, tournament director of the New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara will present Mike Davies. Randy Snow will be presented by his father, Tom Snow.

The Induction Ceremony will be attended by special guests of the inductees, including friends and family, coaches, other Hall of Famers and tennis legends, and more than 3,700 enthusiastic fans.

The festivities will continue on Sunday morning, when 2012 Hall of Famer Guga Kuerten will be back in action in a special Hall of Fame Exhibition Match. Former world top-10 star Todd Martin will also play in the match, along with Hall of Famers Stan Smith, Owen Davidson, and Gigi Fernandez. Tickets for the exhibition match are still available and may be purchased on tennisfame.com or by calling 401-849-6053.

Since 1955, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has honored 225 people representing 19 countries, inclusive of the Class of 2012. The International Tennis Hall of Fame features a comprehensive tennis Museum that commemorates the greatest champions and contributors of the sport and chronicles the history of tennis from its 12th century beginnings through present day. A special exhibit paying tribute to the Hall of Fame Class of 2012 has recently been installed and will be showcased in the Museum for one year. Items on display include Capriati’s pink Fila tennis outfit from the 2002 Australian Open, Kuerten’s bright blue Diadora sneaker from the 1997 French Open, the Slazenger racquet that Orantes used at the 1975 US Open, a wheelchair that Randy Snow used for playing tennis, and dynamic photography of Mike Davies in action as both a player and innovator.

Recent Player Category - Jennifer Capriati

American tennis star Jennifer Capriati won three major titles, an Olympic gold medal, and a Fed Cup championship with the US team. In 1990, her first season on tour, she was ranked in the WTA world top-10, at age 14. In October 2001, she became world No. 1, a position she held for a total of 18 weeks.

Capriati, 36, is originally from New York, N.Y., but she has been a long-time resident of Tampa and West Palm Beach, Fla. In her first season on the WTA, Capriati reached the finals of two of her first three pro events, and she advanced to the semifinals of the French Open before falling to eventual champion Monica Seles. She captured her first tour level victory in her first season on tour, which propelled her into the world top-10 at just 14 years old- the youngest player to ever accomplish this feat. Capriati closed out her first pro season at world No. 8, a fresh, young name etched among an elite group of veteran tennis stars including Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Gabriela Sabatini, and Martina Navratilova. In 1992, she captured the Olympic gold medal at the Barcelona games, defeating both the second-seeded Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario and the top-seeded Stefanie Graf.

Capriati took a break from tennis in the mid to late 1990s, and made an impressive comeback in 1999 and the early 2000’s. She overcame top seed and world No. 1 Martina Hingis at the 2001 Australian Open to capture her first Grand Slam title. She followed that up with a victory at the French Open and she was the only player that year to reach at least the semifinals of all four of the Grand Slam tournaments.

The tennis world was already giving Capriati high marks for a stellar comeback when she went ahead and clinched the image as one of the toughest competitors on tour at the 2002 Australian Open. Once again, she faced Hingis in the final. In brutally hot weather, the score read 6-4, 4-0 in favor of Hingis, when Capriati’s fighting spirit kicked in. She saved four championship points to eventually prevail 4-6, 7-6, 6-2, to claim her third Grand Slam title. The match was widely regarded as one of the greatest comebacks in tennis history, and it was named one of the ten best matches of the decade by Tennis magazine.

Capriati stopped playing at the end of the 2004 season, having compiled a career record of 430-176 and having won 14 career singles titles and 1 doubles title.

Recent Player Category - Gustavo Kuerten

One of Brazil’s most beloved and successful athletes, Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten was the world’s No. 1 player for 43 non-consecutive weeks, and he is a three-time major champion, having won French Open titles in 1997, 2000, and 2001.

With his beaming smile, engaging personality, and high energy game, the lively atmosphere that Kuerten, 35, brought to tennis stadiums around the world was nothing short of extraordinary. In 1997, Kuerten was ranked world No. 66 and had just eight ATP World Tour level wins to his name when he entered Roland Garros, and captured the title. In the years that followed, Kuerten became one of the most dominant clay court players of his time. He won the French Open title again in 2000 and 2001, and achieved a total of 20 singles titles and 8 doubles titles. In addition to his French Open titles, he reached the quarterfinals at the French Open in 1999 and 2004, and was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon in 1999, at the US Open in 1999 and 2001, and at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

In 2000, for the first time in history, the No. 1 year-end position came down to the final match of season. Kuerten defeated superstar Andre Agassi in the match, breaking an eight-year reign of No. 1 finishes by Americans. It was the first time that a South American had ever been ranked world No. 1, a position Kuerten held for 43 weeks over his career.

That same year, Kuerten embarked on another important venture, to which he is still dedicated today. Inspired by his late brother, Guilherme, he opened the Institute Guga Kuerten to help disabled people. The institute is dedicated to providing developmental opportunities, sports, and education, as well as to promoting social inclusion throughout the nation. The institute is located in Kuerten’s hometown of Florianopolis, Brazil, and since its inception, it has assisted more than 40,000 people in over 168 Brazilian cities. Kuerten was awarded the ATP World Tour’s Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award in 2003, and in 2010, he was honored with the Philippe Chatrier Award by the International Tennis Federation.

Recent Player Category, Wheelchair Tennis - Randy Snow

Wheelchair tennis superstar and three-sport Paralympic medalist Thomas “Randy” Snow won 22 major tournament titles during his career, and he achieved a world ranking of No. 2 in singles and No. 1 in doubles. In addition to his success on court, Snow was a tireless advocate for wheelchair sports and athletes, and he was instrumental in the growth of wheelchair tennis. Snow earned Paralympic medals in tennis (singles and doubles), basketball, and track (exhibition), and he was the first wheelchair athlete to be inducted to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. Snow is the second wheelchair tennis player ever to be inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. His induction will be a posthumous recognition of his achievements and contributions to the sport. He passed away on November 19, 2009 in El Salvador while volunteering at a wheelchair tennis camp.

Master Player Category - Manuel Orantes

Manuel Orantes, a Spanish tennis star of the 1970s and 1980s, reached the world No. 2 ranking in 1973, and remained in the year-end world top-10 for five consecutive years. He amassed an impressive 33 singles titles and 22 doubles titles during his lengthy career. Orantes’ run for the 1975 US Open trophy goes down in history as one of the greatest Grand Slam tournament victories ever. In the semifinals, Guillermo Vilas was leading two sets to one, and 5-0 in the fourth set, when Orantes made his move, winning seven games in a row and saving five match points to go to a fifth set. More than four hours after the match began, Orantes triumphed 6-4 in the fifth set and qualified for the finals well after midnight. The next day he faced the seemingly invincible Jimmy Connors, a fan favorite who was No. 1 seed and defending champion. Orantes decisively defeated Connors in straight sets to claim the US Open title.

A dedicated Davis Cupper, Orantes, 63, was a member of the Spanish team for fourteen years. He was integral in leading the team to the 1967 challenge round against Australia. In all, Orantes netted a winning record of 60 and 27 for his country, and he was also a member of Spain’s victorious 1978 World Team Cup team.

Contributor Category - Mike Davies

Mike Davies has been an influential behind-the-scenes leader in the tennis industry for more than 40 years. Over the course of his career, Davies held executive positions with World Championship Tennis, the Association of Tennis Professional (ATP), and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), and he was the driving force behind many tennis innovations that laid the foundation for the high profile, global sport we know today. Davies negotiated the first ever, highly successful television/tennis contracts, and he was at the forefront of negotiating tennis sponsorships and developing professional tours. Some of Davies’ other innovations that are now natural parts of the sport include yellow tennis balls and colored apparel for players, both added for easier television viewing, and rules such as 30 seconds between points and 90 seconds between games, which were developed to manage a consistent pace of play.

Not just a mover and shaker behind the scenes, Davies, 76, was also an on-court star in his day. Originally from Swansea, Wales, Davies was Britain’s No. 1 ranked player in 1957, 1959, and 1960 and he was a member of the British Davis Cup team. In 1960 he reached the men’s doubles final at Wimbledon with Bobby Wilson.

Today, after more than 40 years working in tennis, Davies still has his eye on the ball- he currently serves as CEO of the New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, a WTA event.

Hall of Fame Voting

A panel of international tennis media voted on the Recent Player inductees. The International Masters Panel, which consists of Hall of Fame inductees and individuals who are highly knowledgeable of the sport and its history, voted on the Master Player and Contributor inductees. To be inducted in any category, an affirmative vote of 75% is required.

Hall of Fame Eligibility Criteria

Recent Player

Active as a competitor in the sport within the last 20 years prior to consideration; not a significant factor on the ATP World Tour or WTA Tour within five years prior to induction; a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship and character.

Master Player

Competitors in the sport who have been retired for at least 20 years prior to consideration; a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship and character.

Contributors

Exceptional contributions that have furthered the growth, reputation and character of the sport, in categories such as administration, media, coaching and officiating. Contributor candidates do not need to be retired from their activities related to the sport to be considered.

 

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