Two-time Pilot Pen champion and Connecticut native James Blake has been granted a wildcard into Pilot Pen Tennis at Yale, an Olympus US Open Series event on the ATP World Tour and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, to be held August 20-28 at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale, it was announced today by Anne Worcester, tournament director.
Blake will be making his fourth trip to New Haven this year, with the first coming in 2005 when he ran the table to capture the title as an unseeded wildcard. The win catapulted him into the US Open where he reached the quarterfinals, and played one of the most epic and exciting matches in US Open history, eventually falling in five sets to future Hall of Famer Andre Agassi. He will be looking to conjure up a similar run this year, as debilitating foot and knee injuries have sidelined him for portions of last summer and this spring. He is completely healthy again, and his game is starting to round back into the form that saw him reach a career-high ranking of World No. 4 in 2006.
“Earlier this year was very difficult for me, but this summer I feel completely healthy and that has had a big impact on my game and how I feel about the future” said Blake. “I love playing at the Pilot Pen and have so many good memories from 2005 and 2007 when I won the titles. It’s my hometown event, which means that all of my family and friends come out in the J-Block and support me in person, which never ceases to be special.”
The Pilot Pen is once again partnering with Blake to raise money for his charity, the Thomas Blake, Sr. Memorial Research Fund. Blake’s father passed away in 2004 from gastric cancer, thus in 2008 James created the fund to help raise money for leading-edge cancer research. The tournament will donate a percentage of all box seat tickets sold in the “J-Block,” the cheering section created by the Pilot Pen during his run to the title in 2005 and which has received national acclaim as well as proceeds from Fila “J-Block” t-shirts sold on-site at the Pro Shop.
“Adding James Blake, a two-time champion and hometown favorite, to our field is one of the best ways to strengthen our player field even more,” said Worcester. “James has such a strong following throughout Connecticut, it will definitely bring out all his fans far and wide, and in turn, we are delighted to help him support a cause about which he is so passionate.”
Blake’s first match will be on Monday afternoon, session two, and will not start before 4:30 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase in the J-Block and are on sale starting today. In addition, Blake will be one of the featured stars at Kids Day on Sunday, August 22 (session one) and those tickets are also on sale.
Pilot Pen Tennis – Blake Wildcard, p. 2
The Pilot Pen still has three men’s and two women’s main draw wildcards to distribute and there are four spots in both main draws for advancing qualifiers.
For tickets, how to become a volunteer, or more information about the tournament, please call the Pilot Pen Tennis Box Office, 888/99-PILOT, 203/776-7331, or log on to www.pilotpentennis.com.
About Pilot Pen Tennis at Yale
Pilot Pen Tennis at Yale, an Olympus US Open Series event on the ATP World Tour and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, will be held August 20-28, 2010 at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale and feature a number of international tennis stars. The 2009 Pilot Pen, whose champions are Caroline Wozniacki and Fernando Verdasco, drew nearly 80,000 spectators and was televised nationally for 16 hours on ESPN2 and CBS Sports. An economic impact study conducted in 2008 showed that the event generated an estimated total gross economic impact on the New Haven regional economy of more than $26 million.
About the Olympus US Open Series
The Olympus US Open Series brings together the 10 summer tournaments in North America, three television networks, tennis’ sanctioning bodies and top corporate sponsors during the summer tennis season. In 2009 the Series continued its enhancements to the sport, including more national TV hours, live back-to-back Finals every weekend, bonus prize money at the US Open, and a significant national marketing campaign.