Monday, April 20, 2009

A New Champion is Crowned

It's been a GREAT week covering the Family Circle Cup again this year! It's always the most exhausting week in my calendar as I'm constantly pushing full-speed ahead, 9-days strait, often 9am through midnight, no breaks, in multiple locations all over the city.

As the Official Photographer, I'm not only required to cover the action...but also the fans, activities around campus, images for sponsors, behind the scenes appearances by players, and VIP events all week...resulting in somewhere around 20,000 images! It's a HUGE task. But I enjoy the opportunity to test myself, stretch my versatility, and come up with creative images under pressure.

I have to say this year has been one of my favorites as I like to think I found a rising star. When I photographed a portrait of Sabine after her second round match, I felt like this could be her year to break through. After her defeat of Venus, I knew she had the game. And by the time she beat Marion, I realized she had the maturity to go all the way. Here's my portrait of the NEW Family Circle Cup Champion. Take a good look at that smile...I believe you'll be seeing a LOT more of it as Sabine continues her rise to the top!

For more photos, visit the galleries at the Family Circle Cup and the Sony Ericson WTA Tour website. I'm thrilled to say my images made the front page of the WTA Tour every day this week...a first for me!

Family Circle Cup Finals

Nadia Petrova & Bethanie Matteck-Sands came from 3 match points down to win the doubles!

Their third time playing together, Patty Schnyder & Liga Dekmeijere had a good time during their doubles final even though they came up short of the trophy.

19 Year Old Sabine Lisicki brought her A-Game to the finals.

Caroline Wozniacki fought hard but couldn't find an answer, letting her coach know her frustration.

Sabine Lisicki is overcome with emotion and tears of joy well up as she realizes she's won her first WTA Tour Championship. At #63 in the world, Sabine is the lowest-ranked Champion in Family Circle Cup history, overcoming huge odds defeating Venus Williams, Marion Bartoli, and Caroline Wozniacki to do so.

A fitting end to Sabine's tournament run, in the arms of her Dad and coach, whom she thanked during the trophy presentation for all his love and support over the years, through the good times and the bad.

Family Circle Cup Day 6

Sabine Lisicki simply over powered the more experienced Marion Bartoli.

Marion Bartoli lost her quarterfinal to the young German who beat Venus earlier this week.

Caroline Wozniacki gets last-minute instructions in the tunnel from Tour Supervisor, Pam Whytcross, while Elena Dementieva stretches in the background.

Caroline Wozniacki's tumble during her quarterfinal against Elena Dementieva didn't slow her down a bit.

Elena Dementieva just couldn't find a rythme against the 18-year old Caroline Wozniacki.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

On The Bench

Between sets us photographers have to entertain ourselves. Here's a fun one of me with Leslie Billman, shooting for Wire Image, and Alice Keeney, shooting for the Associated Press. Leslie is a pretty good player herself. She and I paired up to win the annual Family Circle Cup Media Tournament two years ago, a friendly competition between all the writers, photographers, TV crews, and other media personnel. Alice must have been having a bad hair day...trying to hide behind that hood and her cell phone. ;-)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Family Circle Cup Day 5

Elena Dementieva is looking un-stoppable this year.

Virginie Razzano played well but couldn't handle the power of Caroline Wozniacki.

Caroline Wozniacki in front of the scoreboard...I love how the background compliments her outfit.

Sabine how can you not root for someone with such an adorable smile?

For about ten minutes this AMAZING two-inch wide shaft of light from the setting sun streamed through a crevice in the stadium bleachers and gave Marion Bartolli this beautiful golden glow.

Photographing the Family Circle Cup

Just a quick shot of me shooting the Venus Williams vs Sabine Lisicki match from the tippy top of the stadium.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Family Circle Cup Day 4

Sabine Lisicki jumps for joy after one of the biggest wins of her young career.

Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish enjoys the action on Stadium Court.

Venus lunges for a volley but the effort wasn't enough to defeat the 19 year old Sabine Lisicki.

Marion Bartoli watching the Sabine Lasicki upset Venus Williams.

Dominika Cibulkova hustles during her 3-set win over Anastasia Rodionova.

Julius "Dr. J" Erving

Dr. J, the legendary NBA basketball star, was in town to watch his daughter, Alexandra Stevenson. He got in a little golf the morning before her match and I was invited to tag along for a few shots. Born out of wedlock to freelance writer Samantha Stevenson in 1980, Alexandra only recently re-connected with her father.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Family Circle Cup Day 3

See more of my images on the cover of the WTA Tour website and in their Photo Gallery.
Alona Bondarenko in a rare play for the net.

Anastasia Rodionova reflected in her coach's sunglasses during a change over. On-court coaching was only recently introduced to the tour.

Patty Schnyder goes airborn during her powerful serves as she's outlined by the long shadows of her late afternoon and tough three-set match.

Pure luck gets me a glimpse of Patty's eye through the throat of her racket.

Elena Vesnina sprints for a drop-shot.

Fans relax on the Grand Lawn of the Family Circle Cup campus.

Family Circle Cup Media Center

Here's me goofing off in the Media tent. Grace from the Post & Courier was playing with my Nikons (they use Canon at the paper) and snuck this shot off. This is where I frantically ingest CF cards and edit images for the FCC and WTA. That's my friend Douglas on the other side of me, Mike Saia (Communications Manager of the FCC) standing behind us, and Mic Smith (of the Associated Press) in the white hat.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Family Circle Cup Day 2

Bethanie Matteck-Sands
Vera Zvonareva

Bethanie Matteck-Sands

Marion Bartoli

Sania Mirza

Sabine Lisicki poses for a quick portrait

Monday, April 13, 2009

Family Circle Cup Day 1

Day 1 at the Family Circle Cup had TONS of off-court and VIP events. So I'll save the action shots for later in the week. I think you'll enjoy some of these behind the scenes images! :-)

Nadia Petrova poses for me in front of her 40x47 foot banner hanging from th stadium that I photographed the year she won it. Nadia told reporters that having her image up there was a highlight of her trip her.

Patti Schnyder is always a crowd favorite here in Charleston and is always ready with a friendly smile.

Venus Williams had some fun at this press conference.

Dominika Cibulkova during the Lacoste Fashion Show at The Riviera Theater.
Sisters Alona & Kataryna Bondarenko with Olga Savchuk and Elena Vesnina at the Player Party held at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Serena Williams with her mother, Oracene at the Player Party.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bethanie Matteck-Sands at the Riverdogs

There was a lot of great action during today's final Qualifying rounds for the Family Circle Cup. But the highlight of my day was being the exclusive photographer covering Bethanie Matteck-Sands as she warmed up with the Charleston Riverdogs and threw out the first pitch for tonight's game. Bethanie was married in November...I'm bummed she didn't call me to be her photographer...HA! She's the third highest ranked American in the tournament, behind Serena & Venus Williams. So come on out and cheer her on!

My two favorite shots are the "Captain America" pose on the pitcher's mound and the "Reflections" shot of her in the sunglasses worn my the Channel 4's news reporter.

Happy Easter

Happy Easter from the Family Circle Cup!!! The long CRAZY road of covering this WTA Tour Premier Tournament has begun. Like last year I'll do my best to post a few photos on here each day. So check back frequently. Plus you can always visit the Family Circle Cup website and the WTA Tour website to see my images. Have a great week!