The ninth season of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, the seven-week North American summer tennis season that links 10 ATP World Tour and WTA summer tournaments to the US Open, launched Monday with the women’s Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, Calif. Since its inception in 2004, the Emirates Airline US Open Series has doubled television viewership and increased event attendance, while generating new corporate partnerships for the sport.
Throughout the summer, the Series will feature 200 live television hours on ESPN2, Tennis Channel and CBS Sports. The Emirates Airline US Open Series premieres on television on Thursday, July 12, from the Bank of the West Classic with six hours on Tennis Channel. Tennis Channel will then air six additional hours from the tournament on Friday, followed by six hours of coverage on ESPN2 over the weekend, with the final airing at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.
More than 200 of the game’s top players will compete during the Series for $40 million in prize money. Additionally, through the Emirates Airline US Open Series Bonus Challenge, the USTA will offer up to an additional $2.6 million in bonus prize money at the US Open to the top three men’s and top three women’s singles finishers in the Emirates Airline US Open Series. The Emirates Airline US Open Series Bonus Challenge has resulted in the largest paychecks in tennis history for men ($2.4 million–Roger Federer, 2007) and women ($2.2 million–Kim Clijsters, 2005 and 2010). Last year, Mardy Fish and Serena Williams swept the Emirates Airline US Open Series men’s and women’s titles—the first time two Americans won the Series Bonus Challenge in the same year.
The Emirates Airline US Open Series season will be supported again by a multi-million dollar national marketing campaign, the EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com website, and sponsor activation on both the national and local levels. This year, Emirates Airline became the title sponsor of the Series, as well as the official airline of the US Open. The Emirates Airline US Open Series is also supported by sponsors American Express, Chase, Citizen Watch Company, Esurance, evian and Gatorade.
As part of Emirates Airline’s title sponsorship of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, Emirates will be giving back to local communities this summer in Los Angeles, New Haven and New York via a racquet return program in which fans will be asked to donate used racquets that will in turn be refurbished and given to kids in need. Emirates will also work with the USTA to refurbish a set of public courts in Washington, D.C. this fall. In partnership with USTA Serves, the USTA’s National Charitable Foundation, Emirates will further support these communities through tennis and education programming for disadvantaged youth. As part of the USTA Serves’ overall mission to encourage children to succeed in school and become responsible citizens, the programming will provide at-risk youth with positive role models, academic assistance, health and life skills that will help fight obesity, prevent substance abuse, and school dropouts through structured, neighborhood community tennis programs. Emirates Airline already has its racquet return program in place in Toronto, and it will continue at the Rogers Cup this year.
Sir Maurice Flanagan, Executive Vice Chairman, Emirates Airline & Group said: "Emirates is committed to improving the quality of life for children and young people in need, and this is a goal that we actively support in countries across our global network through our Emirates Airline Foundation. An integral part of our sponsorship of the Emirates Airline US Open Series will be to engage with local communities across the United States through outreach programs that support the goals and needs of the USTA community initiatives. We are looking forward to working with the USTA to support local communities and to encourage more young people to develop an interest in tennis."
"We take great pride in the growth of the Series, in the number of television viewers, attendance at events, and in attracting corporate partners, and this growth has been validated with Emirates Airline coming on board as title sponsor of the Emirates Airline US Open Series for the next seven years," said J. Wayne Richmond, General Manager of the Emirates Airline US Open Series.
USTA Military Days and Tennis Play Days
This year, all Emirates Airline US Open Series tournaments will host a Military Appreciation Day and a Tennis Play Day. Military Appreciation Days will honor military service members, veterans and their families. These events will include ticket promotions for the service members and their families, appreciation ceremonies, and some will host a free tennis clinic for military and veteran children and their families. The Military Days are a way for tournaments to show appreciation for service to the country and to introduce military members to the sport of tennis. Tennis Play Days, featuring 10 and Under Tennis, will provide kids of all skill levels the opportunity to experience tennis in a fun, social setting. Similar to other youth sports, like soccer and baseball, 10 and Under Tennis features equipment and courts scaled to kids’ sizes. Racquets are shorter and lighter, and courts are smaller. Balls bounce lower and move slower, making them easier to hit and keep in play. Kids participating in Play Days will take part in multiple matches against a variety of players, giving them the chance to continue to develop and enhance their skills while having fun.
200 hours of live tennis action will be televised during the seven weeks of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, with ESPN remaining the lead broadcaster, extensive live and encore coverage on Tennis Channel, and CBS Sports airing the Men’s Singles Finals in Cincinnati and Winston-Salem. The Emirates Airline US Open Series, combined with the US Open, will deliver more than 400 hours of live coverage to tennis fans during the summer tennis "Open Season."
ESPN2 will offer 94 hours of coverage over seven weeks of the Series, including Singles Finals each weekend. Simulcast coverage on ESPN3 – accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE – and ESPN Mobile TV will also be available all summer long.
The impressive roster of television talent covering the 2012 Emirates Airline US Open Series season includes: ESPN – Chris Fowler, Ted Robinson, Mary Joe Fernandez, Pam Shriver, Cliff Drysdale, Brad Gilbert, Jimmy Arias, Sam Gore, Rennae Stubbs and Tom Rinaldi; Tennis Channel – Ted Robinson, Lindsay Davenport, Jimmy Arias, Leif Shiras, Corina Morariu, Justin Gimelstob, Ian Eagle, Brett Haber and Ashley Fisher; and CBS Sports – Mary Carillo, Mary Joe Fernandez, Jim Courier and Bill Macatee.
Electronic line calling technology will continue to be branded "Chase Review" and players will once again have three challenges per set plus one additional during tiebreakers.
Emirates Airline US Open Series Radio powered by RadioTennis.com is scheduled to provide live-audio play-by-play via the Internet from select tournaments again this season.
National "Follow the Story" Game
The USTA’s "Follow the Story" game returns for a second year to allow fans to actively engage and follow tennis all summer long, from the start of the Emirates Airline US Open Series through the US Open.
From Monday, July 9, through Sunday, September 9, fans can sign up on EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com. Fans will connect with the Emirates Airline US Open Series and the US Open through Facebook and Twitter and earn points for social activity. The more activity and conversation, the more points are accumulated. Weekly and the overall second place prizes will be provided by Panasonic. The fan who accrues the most points at the conclusion of the 2012 US Open will receive a trip to the 2013 US Open and a five night vacation to Dubai, including round-trip business-class airfare on Emirates Airline.
About the Emirates Airline US Open Series
Now in its ninth season, the Emirates Airline US Open Series continues to serve as a true regular season of hard court tennis, linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. Fans follow the action throughout the summer during national broadcast coverage while players battle for $40 million, including a chance for bonus prize money at the US Open. The Series collectively reached a U.S. television audience of 39 million and drew more than 800,000 on-site fans in 2011. In 2012, Emirates Airline became the title sponsor of the Series, as well as the official airline of the US Open. The Emirates Airline US Open Series is also supported by sponsors American Express, Chase, Citizen Watch Company, Esurance, evian and Gatorade.
Americans Mardy Fish and Serena Williams swept the 2011 Emirates Airline US Open Series men’s and women’s titles. In 2007, Roger Federer collected the biggest paycheck in tennis history – $2.4 million – for winning the US Open and the Emirates Airline US Open Series. In 2005, Kim Clijsters also captured both the US Open and the Series, winning $2.2 million – the largest purse in women’s sports history – and equaled that amount in 2010, winning the US Open and finishing the Emirates Airline US Open Series in second place.