Monthly Archives: November 2018

Inside the Tour with Nina and Irina — The business side of the sport with UTR’s Stephen Amritraj



“I think you’re essentially starting a business when you turn pro.”

Stephen Amritraj, a former player and coach with a rich tennis resume, joins Nina Pantic and Irina Falconi this week to talk about the business side of the game. He gives his take on attending the recent Fed Cup final (01:16), what being professionally really means (10:16), what Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) adds to the sport (18:00), the upcoming 500-player draw California Championships (24:42), his 2019 wedding to WTA pro Alison Riske (27:15), growing up in a tennis family (29:29), and more.

His family tree includes former world No. 18 Vijay (uncle), former world No. 74 Anand (dad), former world No. 154 Prakash (cousin) and former world No. 201 Ashok (uncle).

Stephen played college tennis at Duke and had a brief pro career (04:35) before getting into coaching—he’s worked with Rajeev Ram and Mardy Fish, to name a few (08:05). In 2014, the 34-year-old joined the USTA as a national men’s coach and then the head of collegiate tennis. This year, he was named the chief tennis officer of UTR, which is rapidly gaining traction for rating all ages, genders and nationalities across every tournament level in the same system, focusing solely on the opponents played and games won.


Beyond the Baseline, with Jon Wertheim — Jimmy Arias on Coaching Tennis’s Next Generation



Just a few weeks after being named as the new director of player development at the IMG Academy, longtime pro Jimmy Arias joins the Beyond the Baseline podcast to discuss his new role and his experiences with the top young, 10 to 18-year-old players at the IMG Academy. Arias was one of the original tennis students at the academy when it was the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy and he discusses how things have changed since he was playing and practicing there and how methods of training and approaches to recovery, fitness and more have modernized. Wertheim and Arias also discuss how his new role will impact his coaching with individual players, the 2018 tennis season and more.


Inside the Tour with Nina and Irina — Pro life from the perspective of The Little Giant, Danielle Lao



“I told myself, Danielle, if you can make a Grand Slam qualifying [draw] you are totally overachieving in life.”

American pro Danielle Lao turns her writing skills into podcasting magic to share her story with Inside the Tour co-hosts Nina Pantic and Irina Falconi. The University of Southern California alumna (Class of ’13) just hit a career-high of No. 169 after five years on tour thanks to her recent results, including reaching the final of a $60,000 ITF in Stockton, Calif.

She’s had a strong last few months highlighted by qualifying for her second straight US Open by beating the same player in the last round, Jana Fett (01:18). The 27-year-old explains how her college career helped her mature as a person (07:25) and how she came to write her Amazon eBook The Invaluable Experience (08:41) as well as how she learned to not compare herself to anyone else and just keep chasing her dream (12:54).

As Danielle gets ready to play the Australian Open for the first time, she has a painful story to tell about her history with the not-always-so-happy Happy Slam (19:55). It’s the tale of being an alternate for a Grand Slam qualifying draw and going through hope, heartbreak and, eventually, validation.

The Californian also shares some fun facts about herself like how her boyfriend, Nam Gip, holds a Guinness World Record for fastest 4-person marathon in a costume (25:33), her passion for baking—nothing is off limits, even French macarons (26:24), how she would have worked in finance had she not given pro tennis a chance (30:15) and why her Twitter handle “@TheLittleGiant” is appropriate because she’s 5’3” — just like Irina. (31:40).


Beyond the Baseline, with Jon Wertheim — What We’ll Remember from the 2018 Season



As the women’s season comes to a close and the ATP prepares to start its final tournament of the season at the ATP Tour Finals, Beyond the Baseline host Jon Wertheim and Jamie Lisanti look back on 2018 and hand out awards, including the top moments of the year, the men’s and women’s MVPs, newcomers and breakout stars, matches of the year and more. The pair also gives a lookahead to the 2019 season with some quick-hitting predictions and wishes for the next year in tennis.


Inside the Tour with Nina and Irina — Previewing the Fed Cup with Alison Riske



“In my experience, not even one week, it’s one match—if I’m able to get through that one match to give me the confidence back—honest to God, that’s usually all it takes to turn something around.”

Podcast co-hosts Nina Pantic and Irina Falconi met up in Lake Nona, Fla. to chat with American pro Alison Riske. She was preparing for this weekend’s Fed Cup final against the Czech Republic in Prague where she will be the veteran on a team that includes newcomers Sofia Kenin, Danielle Collins and Nicole Melichar.

Riske shares behind-the-scenes facts about what it’s like to play Fed Cup—from finding out who made the team and being part of the 2017 title-winning team to choosing opening night outfits and making rookie speeches (00:40).

The world No. 63 talks about her off-seasons plans (11:00) and reflects on her 2018 season (18:25)—her highlights include reaching the Nurnberg final, winning a $100,000 ITF title in Surbiton and scoring three Top-15 wins. She opens up about overcoming doubt throughout her career (21:38), why she turned pro (29:53) and how influential her dad was in keeping her in the sport (33:38).

The 28-year-old adds in some tips for being witty on Twitter (26:00) and gives her no-nonsense strategy for dealing with keyboard warriors (28:00).


Beyond the Baseline, with Jon Wertheim — Taylor Fritz on Innovations in Tennis



Ahead of his appearance at the ATP Finals Next Gen in Milan, Taylor Fritz joins the Beyond the Baseline podcast to talk about the year-end event; his thoughts on innovations such as on-court coaching, towel racks on the court, the shot clock and more; his expectations and goals for the 2019 season; his approach when it comes to coaches; his experience with Paul Annacone and what he’s learned from him; his relationship with other players on tour, particularly the young Americans; his plans for the offseason and more.