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Hosted by Nina Pantic and Irina Falconi, tune in to hear players, coaches and experts talk about everything tennis, from happenings on the court to trending topics, as well as what goes on behind the scenes both on the tour and in the pressroom.

TENNIS.com Podcast TENNIS.com Podcast/Tennis Channel Podcast Network

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Hosted by Nina Pantic and Irina Falconi, tune in to hear players, coaches and experts talk about everything tennis, from happenings on the court to trending topics, as well as what goes on behind the scenes both on the tour and in the pressroom.

    USTA CEO Michael Dowse on the tennis boom in 2020

    USTA CEO Michael Dowse on the tennis boom in 2020

    "In the last few months, literally millions of people have discovered our sport and they're out playing tennis for the first time."
    This week, the TENNIS.com Podcast is excited to bring in special guest, USTA CEO Mike Dowse. Dowse started his role at the USTA in January of last year, just in time for the craziest year in tennis history.
    While it’s been a challenging year for everyone, tennis—particularly at the grassroots level—saw a boom in participation. Since tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, three million new players were able to pick up a racquet in 2020. Overall, there was a 22 percent increase in participation with over 21 million players. 
    As a former college player and the current leader of the USTA, Dowse has helped cultivate and support tennis at all levels and has been at the forefront of decisions made to help grow the game. 
    He was thrown into the fire during the US Open when the USTA navigated uncharted territories by hosting a Grand Slam in New York City, the most recent epicenter of the pandemic. He shares what went into making the impossible happen in New York, and how he expects the 2021 US Open to look like later this year. 
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    • 25 min
    Jeff Salzenstein on reaching as many players as possible

    Jeff Salzenstein on reaching as many players as possible

    "If anybody has a dream or a passion to start something that is the key. You just have to start and you just have to get going and just take one step at a time."
    This week's guest is former ATP pro and CEO of Tennis Evolution, Jeff Salzenstein. His tennis story is a special one as he reached exactly No. 100 in the ATP rankings at the age of 30, then started a successful YouTube channel helping teaching tennis to thousands of people. 
    Salzenstein was a top-ranked junior in Colorado before going to Stanford where he’d work his way up to play at No. 1. After school, he gave himself three years to make it as a pro, but serious ankle and knee injuries ruined his timeline.
    Instead of giving up, he kept chasing his dreams and would win five ATP Challenger titles and reach a career-high ranking of exactly No. 100 in 2004. The feat made him the first-ever American to break into the Top 100 after the age of 30. 
    After retiring a few years later, he put all his focus into coaching back home in Colorado. In 2010, he started Tennis Evolution, an online destination for tennis lessons and coaching videos with a YouTube channel that has more than 85,000 subscribers. 
    Every day he uses his decades of playing and coaching experience to help players of all ages and abilities in Colorado and all over the world online. As everyone knows, standing out on YouTube is no easy task. 
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    • 34 min
    Marcus Daniell on the importance of effective giving

    Marcus Daniell on the importance of effective giving

    “What I landed on was starting an organization and trying to leverage my connections and my relationships in the sporting world to try and bring effective giving into the total sporting arena."
    This week’s guest is Marcus Daniell, a world No. 41-ranked doubles star with a much bigger purpose in life than just tennis. The 31-year-old has made it his mission to help others through charitable work, and founded High Impact Athletes last year to help athletes give back more effectively.
    Daniell hails from New Zealand and opted against college tennis to turn pro. He began focusing on only doubles in 2015, and has won five ATP doubles titles. Just last month, he broke through at the Grand Slam level by reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open (with Philipp Oswald).
    Philanthropy has always been a part of Daniell’s life and as his tennis career earnings grew, so did his donations. He has been donating a portion of his earnings each season, and this year, he became a member of Giving What We Can, where members pledge to give 10 percent of their income to charities. Daniell explains it’s not just about how much you choose to donate, it’s also about where.
    During the tour shutdown in 2020, he discovered effective altruism, a philosophy that advocates using evidence and reasoning to determine the most effective ways to benefit others. That same year, High Impact Athletes was born. The purpose of Daniell’s organization is to connect athletes and the general public with the most effective, evidence-based non-profits in the world. Over 30 athletes have joined HIA including Stefanos Tsitsipas, Milos Raonic and Rajeev Ram. The main areas of focus are animal welfare, extreme poverty and climate change, all of which Daniell is passionate about.
    He explains how he got into tennis and philanthropy, how he’s combined those two loves, and why effective altruism is so important to helping better the world.
    Watch TENNIS.com Podcast episodes on YouTube and Facebook.
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    • 39 min
    Blair Henley on getting the best out of players virtually and inside the stadium

    Blair Henley on getting the best out of players virtually and inside the stadium

    "It’s those times where you’re sort of sitting there figuring out what can we do to make the most of this tournament in terms of publicizing our sport? It's just finding the different avenues to tell people about our game."
    Though a lot of focus has been on the players and all of the obstacles they’ve had to endure this past month and year, reporters like this week's guest Blair Henley have had to adjust, too. Henley is a recognizable face on the tour as one of the top digital media creators and stadium hosts out there.
    After her own playing career wrapped up at Rice University, Henley got her start making instructional videos for Tennis Now and writing for outlets like TENNIS Magazine. Since 2015, she has been a stadium host at some of the most popular calendar stops like the US Open, Cincinnati, Indian Wells and Delray Beach.
    Her job is to put the players, and the tournaments, on the map. She tells us all about her career and what it has been like to get quality time with big names like Roger Federer while building relationships with new faces like Coco Gauff and Sebastian Korda. 
    To start of the year, she was one fate lucky few on site at Delray Beach. Then during the Austrian Open swing, she did online interviews called “Quarantine Chronicles” with Victoria Azarenka, Stefanos Tsitsitpas and Rajeev Ram for her YouTube channel. 
    She explains how her work has been impacted by the pandemic, though it hasn’t been all bad: Zoom has made reporting and content creation possible from anywhere in the world.
    Watch TENNIS.com Podcast episodes on YouTube and Facebook.
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    • 36 min
    Martin Blackman on Jennifer Brady's Australian Open run

    Martin Blackman on Jennifer Brady's Australian Open run

    “When we see an American player have a breakthrough, have a good result, we’re all high-fiving and texting and jumping up and down. It really means a lot for us, this is way more than just a job for us."
    The Australian Open has been one for the history books and Martin Blackman joins the show to help put things in perspective. He's the general manager of player development at the USTA and has a lot to be proud of this month. 
    It’s an exciting time for the USTA with 18 American women inside of the Top 100. Though the men haven’t fared as well Down Under, it’s still been a breakthrough fortnight for former UCLA Bruin Mackenzie McDonald as he made the fourth round. Blackman shares how, soon after his arrival, the USTA adapted to better support emerging college players.
    He has relished in seeing three American women make the Australian Open quarterfinals, Serena Williams, Jennifer Brady and Jessica Pegula (another American, Shelby Rogers, reached the fourth round). Brady, also a former Bruin, and Serena would advance to the semifinals, with Serena losing to Naomi Osaka and Brady topping Karolina Muchova to appear in her first career Grand Slam final.
    Brady trained at the USTA National Campus for three years before she began working with German coach Michael Geserer in 2019. Blackman and the USTA are still on hand to support the 25-year-old with anything she needs, and even hopped on Zoom to give her some tips during her 14-day hard lockdown. As is to be expected, Blackman has only great things to say about Brady and her team.
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    • 26 min
    Sharon Fichman on competing on her own terms

    Sharon Fichman on competing on her own terms

    "Doubles is more enjoyable for me in the sense that it just feels kinder on my heart and my soul when I play."
    This week's show features world No. 57 doubles pro Sharon Fichman. The Canadian calls in from Melbourne where she talks about her quarantine experience, the reason she quit the tour for two years, and how she rediscovered her love for competition.
    Competing this week at the Australian Open (she and Giuliana Olmos upset No. 5 seeds Hao-ching Chan and Latisha Chan and are through to the third round), Fichman shares what it has been like traveling Down Under and preparing for a major in unprecedented circumstances. The 30-year-old gives an honest take on what it’s like to be a doubles specialist through all of the chaos and uncertainty surrounding the new normal.
    Growing up in Toronto, Fichman was a junior phenom, peaking at No. 5 in the world. She'd turned pro as a teenager, rising as high as No. 77 in 2014. But she began dealing with injuries and setbacks, and ultimately stepped away from the game for two years.
    After getting into coaching and broadcasting, she made a comeback—in only doubles—in 2018. Rising back up the rankings fast, she has claimed two WTA doubles titles in her second career, and has returned to the Grand Slam stage. 
    Fichman's career has taken a lot of twists and turns, and everyone can learn from her zen-like, optimistic attitude as she continues to play the game she loves, the way she wants to play it. 
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    • 28 min

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