In recognition of their great accomplishments and immense contributions to the sport of tennis, former world No. 1 tennis stars Jennifer Capriati and Gustavo Kuerten, along with Spanish tennis great Manuel Orantes, tennis industry innovator Mike Davies, and the late Randy Snow, a wheelchair tennis champion, have been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony took place on Saturday in Newport, Rhode Island.
“As great champions and influential contributors to the sport of tennis, the International Tennis Hall of Fame is proud to salute the remarkable members of the Class of 2012,” said Christopher Clouser, Chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum.
“Jennifer, Guga and Manuel all achieved exceptional success on court, and their accomplishments are integral in the history of our sport. As one of the greatest wheelchair tennis players of all time, Randy's on court success deserves great recognition, as does his tireless work to grow wheelchair tennis. Additionally, the sport of tennis would not be the high profile, global sport it is today, were it not for Mike's vision, dedication, and drive to grow the game.”
Since 1955, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has honoured 225 people representing 19 countries, inclusive of the Class of 2012. It features a comprehensive tennis Museum that commemorates the greatest champions and contributors of the sport and chronicles the history of tennis from its 12th century beginnings through present day.
Recent Player Category - Jennifer Capriati
American tennis star Jennifer Capriati won three major titles, an Olympic gold medal, and a Fed Cup championship with Team USA. In 1990, her first season on tour, she was ranked in the WTA world Top 10, at age 14. In October 2001, she became world No. 1, a position she held for a total of 18 weeks.
Capriati, 36, is originally from New York, but she has been a long-time resident of Tampa and West Palm Beach, Florida. In her first season on the WTA, Capriati reached the finals of two of her first three pro events, and she advanced to the semifinals of the French Open before falling to eventual champion Monica Seles. She captured her first tour level victory in her first season on tour, which propelled her into the world Top 10 at just 14 years old, the youngest player to ever accomplish this feat.
Capriati closed out her first pro season at world No. 8, a fresh, young name etched among an elite group of veteran tennis stars including Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Gabriela Sabatini and Martina Navratilova. In 1992, she captured the Olympic gold medal at the Barcelona Games, defeating both the No.2 seed Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and No. 1 seed Steffi Graf.
Capriati took a break from tennis in the mid to late 1990s, and made an impressive comeback in 1999 and the early 2000's. She overcame top seed and world No. 1 Martina Hingis at the 2001 Australian Open to capture her first Grand Slam title. She followed that up with a victory at the French Open and she was the only player that year to reach at least the semifinals of all four of the Grand Slam tournaments.
The tennis world was already giving Capriati high marks for a stellar comeback when she went ahead and clinched the image as one of the toughest competitors on tour at the 2002 Australian Open. Once again, she faced Hingis in the final. In brutally hot weather, the score read 64 4-0 in favor of Hingis, when the American's fighting spirit kicked in.
Capriati saved four championship points to eventually prevail 46 76 62 to claim her third Grand Slam title. The match was widely regarded as one of the greatest comebacks in tennis history, and it was named one of the ten best matches of the decade by Tennis magazine.
Capriati stopped playing at the end of the 2004 season, having compiled a career record of 430-176 and having won 14 career singles titles and one doubles title.
Recent Player Category - Gustavo Kuerten
One of Brazil's most beloved and successful athletes, Gustavo "Guga" Kuerten was the world's No. 1 player for 43 non-consecutive weeks, and he is a three-time major champion, having won French Open titles in 1997, 2000, and 2001.
With his beaming smile, engaging personality, and high energy game, the lively atmosphere that Kuerten, 35, brought to tennis stadiums around the world was nothing short of extraordinary. In 1997, Kuerten was ranked world No. 66 and had just eight ATP World Tour level wins to his name when he entered Roland Garros, and captured the title.
In the years that followed, Kuerten became one of the most dominant clay court players of his time. He won the French Open title again in 2000 and 2001, and achieved a total of 20 singles titles and 8 doubles titles. In addition to his French Open titles, he reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros in 1999 and 2004, and was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon in 1999, at the US Open in 1999 and 2001, and at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
In 2000, for the first time in history, the No. 1 year-end position came down to the final match of season. Kuerten defeated superstar Andre Agassi in the match, breaking an eight-year reign of No. 1 finishes by Americans. It was the first time that a South American had ever been ranked world No. 1, a position Kuerten held for 43 weeks over his career.
That same year, Kuerten embarked on another important venture, to which he is still dedicated today. Inspired by his late brother, Guilherme, he opened the Institute Guga Kuerten to help disabled people. It is dedicated to providing developmental opportunities, sports, and education, as well as to promoting social inclusion throughout the nation.
The institute is located in Kuerten's hometown of Florianopolis, Brazil, and since its inception, it has assisted more than 40,000 people in over 168 Brazilian cities. Kuerten was awarded the ATP World Tour's Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award in 2003, and in 2010, he was honoured with the Philippe Chatrier Award by the International Tennis Federation.
Recent Player Category, Wheelchair Tennis - Randy Snow
Wheelchair tennis superstar and three-sport Paralympic medalist Thomas "Randy" Snow won 22 major tournament titles during his career, and he achieved a world ranking of No. 2 in singles and No. 1 in doubles. In addition to his success on court, Snow was a tireless advocate for wheelchair sports and athletes, and he was instrumental in the growth of wheelchair tennis.
Snow earned Paralympic medals in tennis (singles and doubles), basketball, and track (exhibition), and he was the first wheelchair athlete to be inducted to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. Snow is the second wheelchair tennis player ever to be inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. His induction will be a posthumous recognition of his achievements and contributions to the sport. He passed away on November 19, 2009 in El Salvador while volunteering at a wheelchair tennis camp.
Master Player Category - Manuel Orantes
Manuel Orantes, a Spanish tennis star of the 1970s and 1980s, reached the world No. 2 ranking in 1973, and remained in the year-end world Top 10 for five consecutive years. He amassed an impressive 33 singles titles and 22 doubles titles during his lengthy career.
Orantes' run for the 1975 US Open trophy goes down in history as one of the greatest Grand Slam tournament victories ever. In the semifinals, Guillermo Vilas was leading two-sets-to-one and 5-0 in the fourth set, when Orantes made his move, winning seven games in a row and saving five match points to go to a fifth set.
More than four hours after the match began, Orantes triumphed 6-4 in the fifth set and qualified for the finals well after midnight. The next day he faced the seemingly invincible Jimmy Connors, a fan favourite who was No. 1 seed and defending champion. Orantes decisively defeated Connors in straight sets to claim the US Open title.
A dedicated Davis Cupper, Orantes, 63, was a member of the Spanish team for fourteen years. He was integral in leading the team to the 1967 challenge round against Australia. In all, Orantes netted a winning record of 60-27 for his country, and he was also a member of Spain's victorious 1978 World Team Cup team.
Contributor Category - Mike Davies
Mike Davies has been an influential behind-the-scenes leader in the tennis industry for more than 40 years. Over the course of his career, Davies held executive positions with World Championship Tennis, the Association of Tennis Professional (ATP) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), and he was the driving force behind many tennis innovations that laid the foundation for the high profile, global sport we know today.
Davies negotiated the first ever, highly successful television/tennis contracts, and he was at the forefront of negotiating tennis sponsorships and developing professional tours. Some of his other innovations that are now natural parts of the sport include yellow tennis balls and coloured apparel for players, both added for easier television viewing, and rules such as 30 seconds between points and 90 seconds between games, which were developed to manage a consistent pace of play.
Not just a mover and shaker behind the scenes, Davies, 76, was also an on-court star in his day. Originally from Swansea, Wales, Davies was Britain's No. 1 ranked player in 1957, 1959 and 1960, and he was a member of the British Davis Cup team. In 1960, he reached the men's doubles final at Wimbledon with Bobby Wilson.
Today, after more than 40 years working in tennis, Davies still has his eye on the ball. He currently serves as CEO of the New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, a WTA event.