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Pro Tennis: Arthur Ashe

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Pro Tennis: Arthur Ashe

Last Saturday, KCTL took it's players, volunteers and parents to the US Open's Arthur Ashe Kids Day at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY. It's a great day for the kids to watch the professionals practice (there were Nadal, Federer and Djokovic sightings!), get on to the courts for tennis games, and watch live musical performances. But it's also a day to talk about Arthur Ashe and his legacy on and off the court. arthurashe

Arthur Ashe (1943-1993) was the first, and is still the only, African American male to win the US Open (1968) and Wimbledon (1975). He also won the Australian Open in 1970, and made it to the quarterfinals at the French Open in 1970 and 1971. As a doubles player, he won the Australian Open (1977) and French Open (1971). He also made the finals in Wimbledon (1971) and the US Open (1968).

After Ashe retired in 1980 after heart surgery, he became an author, a civil rights activist, chairman of the American Heart Association, a commentator for ABC Sports, captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team, and founder of the National Junior Tennis League (that KCTL is a part of.)

In 1983, with Harry Belafonte, Ashe founded the Artists and Athletes Against Apartheid. From the Arthur Ashe Learning Center website, "His commitment and efforts toward this cause were such that when Nelson Mandela, a political prisoner of the South African government for 27 years, was first set free and was asked whom in the U.S. he wished to have visit, he said, 'How about Arthur Ashe?'"

Arthur Ashe died in 1993 from AIDS-related pneumonia. He and his doctors believed he contracted the virus during his second open-heart surgery through blood transfusions. A year before his death, he went public with his illness. Ashe also founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS and Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health.

In 1979, he was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. In 1983, he was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame. In 1985, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In 1986, Ashe won a sports Emmy.

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After his death, President Clinton posthumously awarded Ashe the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And in 1993, he received the Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged. The main stadium at the US Open, the Health and Wellness Center at his alma mater at UCLA, and an ESPN ESPY award are all named in his honor. In 2005, the USPS released a commemorative Arthur Ashe postal stamp.

To learn more about Arthur Ashe:

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Pro Tennis: Andy Murray

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Pro Tennis: Andy Murray

On Saturday, July 6, Andy Murray broke a 77-year dry spell for Britain. He won London's grand slam, Wimbledon aka The Championships, by beating Novak Djokovic 6-4 7-5 6-4. It was an impressive match, you can watch match highlights here.

Andy Murray is Scottish and British and currently ranked #2 in the world. The past year has been a solid one for him, he won the gold at the 2012 Olympics beating Roger Federer, and Murray won the 2012 US Open beating Djokovic.

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Murray's been playing tennis competitively since the age of 11. Later at 16, he was diagnosed with bipartite patella, where the kneecap remains as two separate bones instead of fusing together in early childhood. During matches, you'll see Murray frequently hold his knee due to the pain caused by the condition. It's incredible that he can play and win with an ailment like that!

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Murray's playing style includes groundstrokes with low error rate, an nuanced ability to anticipate and react and quick transitions from defense to offense. Murray is one of the top returners in the game, returning fast serves with his excellent reach and ability to anticipate. For this reason, Murray is rarely aced. Murray is known for being one of the most intelligent tacticians on the court, often constructing points. It's also been suggested that Murray has the best lob in the game.

For more information, visit his Wikipedia page.

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