Tennis Channel adds on-air talent
LOS ANGELES — Tennis Channel will be the “March Madness” home for tennis fans again in 2014, as the network offers more than 180 live hours of combined coverage across 17 days from two of the sport’s most prestigious events. Other than the four majors, no tournament in tennis hosts a larger player field than the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., and the Sony Open Tennis in Miami, each of which has been referred to as the sport’s “Fifth Slam.” Among the new faces on the network’s on-air team this year will be Hall of Famer Jim Courier, renowned sportscaster Mary Carillo and, making her Tennis Channel debut, women’s basketball legend Lisa Leslie (@LisaLeslie).
In the case of the “Fifth Slams” this month, Tennis Channel will devote more than 475 hours to the two events from March 6-30, via daylong match coverage, encore replays and, in Southern California, a half-hour on-site pregame show.
The action gets underway with 12-straight hours of matches in Indian Wells Thursday, March 6, the second day of the 12-day event (complete schedules for both tournaments follow). This is the first time that Tennis Channel will begin its coverage on Thursday - in the past it has started on Friday of the first week or the weekend. With 9 days of live coverage at the BNP Paribas Open this year, including seven days of 12-hour match blocks, Tennis Channel will offer nearly 100 hours of live play and close to 240 overall.
Lead-in show Live at the BNP Paribas Open will air all but one day of Tennis Channel’s live coverage and begin at 1:30 p.m. ET. Set on the grounds of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden within the presence of thousands of tournament attendees, the 30-minute program will be hosted by Brett Haber (@BrettHaber) and Hall of Famer Tracy Austin (@thetracyaustin), roles they held during the show’s debut in 2013. Joining them in 2014 will be former World No. 1 doubles star Mark Knowles (@knowlzee10s), whose championship career includes titles won at the US Open, French Open and Australian Open. Live at the BNP Paribas will bring daily updates, news, special guests, player interviews and analysis to viewers, similar to the network’s on-air approach at the US Open. Throughout the day the grounds-based set will act as a hub for Tennis Channel activity.
With the 2014 launch of its Center Court format, Tennis Channel has taken the round-the-clock approach it pioneered at the majors and BNP Paribas Open and incorporated it into the network’s coverage throughout the year. Based in the channel’s Los Angeles studio - a la the central desk on the grounds of one of the Grand Slams - announcers, analysts and guests will now bounce between simultaneous matches at multiple tournaments worldwide, following the best competition as it take place live, regardless of time zone. As a result, Tennis Channel’s live coverage in essence has become “always major” in that, at any given time, viewers now have the sense that the biggest names are all competing in the same place, as they would at the US Open or French Open. The Los Angeles studio will be used for the network’s Miami telecast.
This year Tennis Channel is adding two days of coverage at the Sony Open Tennis by way of daylong blocks on Wednesday and Thursday of the first week. Last year the network’s coverage in Miami began on the first Friday. The channel’s daily, live coverage runs from Wednesday, March 19, through Wednesday, March 26, and will consist of 12-hour programming blocks on all but two days. Eighty-seven hours of live Sony Open Tennis matches will air on Tennis Channel in 2014, with close to 240 overall.
As part of its coverage of both the BNP Paribas Open and Sony Open, Tennis Channel will air encore replays of all singles quarterfinal, semifinal and championship matches.
Hall of Famer Courier and award-winning Olympic, tennis and other-sports broadcaster Carillo are familiar to network viewers at other events during the year. Courier has steadily increased his presence on the channel since joining its US Open team in 2012, adding Wimbledon, the Australian Open, and now the Indian Wells event. Carillo recently expanded her role with the network, and adds the BNP Paribas Open, Sony Open and other events throughout the year to her US Open, French Open and Wimbledon responsibilities.
Along with Haber, Austin, Knowles, Courier and Carillo, this year Lindsay Davenport (@LDavenport76) will be in the booth again for Tennis Channel at Indian Wells, an event she won twice as a singles player and six times in doubles. Yesterday the International Tennis Hall of Fame announced Davenport’s election to the prestigious organization; she will be inducted this summer. Former player and Tennis Channel mainstay Justin Gimelstob (@justingimelstob), whose close relationships with players present and past have given him one of the most respected insider’s perspectives in televised sports today, also will be in Indian Wells for the network again in 2014.
Basketball legend Lisa Leslie, arguably the greatest women’s hoops star of all time, will make her Tennis Channel debut as part of the BNP Paribas Open this year. Leslie, a four-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time WNBA champion, will handle grounds reporting during the tournament and appear in select tournament desk segments.
Tennis Channel’s Sony Open Tennis team in Miami will feature Davenport, Haber, Carillo, Gimelstob and Knowles, along with 2000 Australian Open doubles champion Rennae Stubbs (@rennaestubbs). Based in Los Angeles, former player Leif Shiras (@LShirock) will be part of the Sony Open Tennis team as well, bringing matches to viewers from Tennis Channel’s Center Court studio beside Austin and fellow former player Jimmy Arias (@JimmyArias10s).
Tennis Channel Everywhere, the network’s free app, is available to Apple and Android users and offers a variety of digital features, and TV Everywhere functionality for subscribers of select distribution partners. The app allows viewers to take the daylong BNP Paribas Open and Sony Open Tennis experiences with them wherever they go. Visitors to Tennis Channel’s Web site, tennischannel.com, can stay on top of the action in Indian Wells and Miami via live scores, daily highlights, feature interviews, news updates, photos and blogs. Veteran tennis reporters Steve Flink and Joel Drucker (@joeldrucker) will cover both events, and fans can stay engaged with the network via numerous social media channels, among them: Facebook (facebook.com/tennischannel), Twitter (twitter.com/tennischannel), YouTube (youtube.com/tennischannel), Instagram (instagram.com/tennischannel) and Pinterest (pinterest.com/tennischannel/).
Additionally, Ross Hutchins - who is back on the ATP Tour after missing 2013 while battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma - will maintain a video blog for Tennis Channel in Indian Wells this year for the first time.
Tennis Channel’s Live BNP Paribas Open Match Schedule (Men’s/Women’s Singles Unless Otherwise Specified)
|Thursday, March 6||1:30 p.m.-2 a.m.||First Round|
|Friday, March 7||1:30 p.m.-2 a.m.||First Round, Second Round|
|Saturday, March 8||1:30 p.m.-2 a.m.||Second Round|
|Sunday, March 9||1:30 p.m.-2 a.m.||Second Round, Third Round|
|Monday, March 10||1:30 p.m.-2 a.m.||Third Round|
|Tuesday, March 11||1:30 p.m.-2 a.m.||Third Round, Round of 16|
|Wednesday, March 12||1:30 p.m.-2 a.m.||Round of 16, Quarterfinals|
|Thursday, March 13||2 p.m.-8 p.m.; 10 p.m.-midnight||Quarterfinals|
|Friday, March 14||6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.; 9:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.||Quarterfinal, Semifinal|
Encore replays of the men’s and women’s singles semifinals and finals will air as follows (ET):
Saturday, March 15 - Women’s Semifinals: 7 a.m.-11 a.m.; Men’s Semifinals: 9 p.m.-3 a.m.
Sunday, March 16 - Men’s Semifinals: 7 a.m.-11 a.m.; Women’s Semifinals: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Women’s Final: 9 p.m.-11 p.m.; Men’s Final: 11 p.m.-1 a.m.
Monday, March 17 - Women’s Final: 1 a.m.-3 a.m., 6 p.m.-8 p.m., 10 p.m.-midnight; Men’s Final 8 p.m.-10 p.m.
Tuesday, March 18 - Men’s Final: 12 a.m.-2 a.m.
Tennis Channel’s Live Sony Open Match Schedule (Men’s/Women’s Singles Unless Otherwise Specified)
|Wednesday, March 19||11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.||First Round|
|Thursday, March 20||11 a.m.-11 p.m.||First Round, Second Round|
|Friday, March 21||11 a.m.-11:30 p.m.||Second Round|
|Saturday, March 22||11 a.m.-11:30 p.m.||Second Round, Third Round|
|Sunday, March 23||11 a.m.-11:30 p.m.||Third Round|
|Monday, March 24||11 a.m.-11:30 p.m.||Third Round, Round of 16|
|Tuesday, March 25||11 a.m.-11:30 p.m.||Round of 16|
|Wednesday, March 26||TBD (7 p.m. or 9 p.m.)||Quarterfinal or Semifinal|
Encore coverage includes men’s and women’s singles semifinals (ET):
Friday, March 28 - Women’s Semifinals: 12 a.m.-4 a.m., 7 a.m.-11 a.m.; Men’s Semifinals: 10 p.m.-4 a.m.
Saturday, March 29 - Women’s Semifinals: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; Men’s Semifinals: 10 p.m.-midnight; Women’s Final: 8 p.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday, March 30 - Men’s Semifinals: 7:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Monday, March 31 - Men’s Final: 12 a.m.-2 a.m., 4 p.m.-6 p.m., 9 p.m.-11 p.m.; Women’s Final: 7 p.m.-9 p.m., 11 p.m.-1 a.m.
Tuesday, April 1 - Men’s Final: 1 a.m.-3 a.m.; Women’s Final: 4 p.m.-6 p.m.
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