Aug 6, 2014
08:06 AM
The Connecticut Story

Tennis Legend Jim Courier to Play James Blake, Andy Roddick at New Haven Open Exhibition

Tennis Legend Jim Courier to Play James Blake, Andy Roddick at New Haven Open Exhibition

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The Connecticut Open, New Haven’s professional women’s tennis tournament, has a new name and look this summer. The tournament has added a Legends event, which features Jim Courier, along with Fairfield native James Blake and Andy Roddick. Courier, a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, will play Blake in an exhibition match on Aug. 20 during the tournament, which runs from Aug. 15-23 at the Connecticut Tennis Center in New Haven.

Talk about the Legends event and how it came about for you?
“James Blake and I go a long way back. We have a long, rich history. We’re good friends. James called me up and asked me if I wanted to participate in this Legends event that he wanted to put on with (tournament director) Anne Worcester and her team at the Connecticut Open and I thought it would be a great excuse to go have some fun, compete a little bit with James and go back to a tournament that I played at a few times back in my day as an ATP player.”

How competitive will it get?
“I think it will be some competition. We will interact with the crowd and bring them into it. It won’t have the same kind of intensity that you’ll see with the women. We’re also there to entertain, but at the same time, we’re proud athletes and it will be a very high level. We play on the senior tour called the PowerShares Series and it’s highly competitive, so it will have a similar feeling to that, I would think, for the audience.

What do you miss most about playing on the tour?
“I think more than anything, the satisfaction of going out and competing, win or lose, on that weekly basis. I don’t do it quite as much, so it’s probably the competition that I would miss the most. But I’m pretty satisfied that I’m able to get it from time to time and have a little bit more of a normal life. It’s an extreme life. It’s a great life. There’s a reason why we do it when we’re young and we modify it and moderate it as we age.”

Which one player brought the best out of you on tour?
“My matches with Andre Agassi were always pretty special. We played a fairly similar style of tennis where we were both power baseline players. So it always felt like an interesting tug-of-war when I got to play against him. And I still get to play against him from time to time on the PowerShares Series Tour. I always felt like he was such a great measuring stick for me and it’s highly competitive and fun. It’s frustrating at times when you’re losing, but anything worth doing comes with a little bit of risk.

You won four Grand Slams. Which one meant the most and why?
“They’re all special for their own reasons. But if I had to point to one that’s the most meaningful of those four, winning for the first time was the most meaningful because you never know if you’re going to be able to do it until you actually do. The 1991 French Open is a very special memory because it was my first final in a major and I was able to win it in five sets.”

When you come back to New Haven in August, what can fans expect?
“It’s going to be a great night of tennis. They will have a high level WTA match and we will follow that. So they will get an awesome WTA tournament, then they will get a little bonus with James and I going out there. And we will play at a high level. We will interact with the crowd a little bit more than the WTA players because obviously they are playing for ranking points and for prize money. We’re playing for the fans and ourselves. It’ll certainly be competitive and it’ll be a very high level of tennis, I know it will be because I played him a couple times earlier this year. I think it’s a nice combination of being able to see the real tournament in action as well as a little more of an entertainment piece.”

Will they see the backside boogie [Courier’s signature forehand]?
“That might be a description of the way I get around my backhand to hit my forehand, and if that’s what you’re referencing, then, yes [laughing], I will be trying to avoid my backhand at all costs and hit forehands for sure.”


Tennis Legend Jim Courier to Play James Blake, Andy Roddick at New Haven Open Exhibition

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