While much of the center court focus at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center will be on whether Novak Djokovic and Samantha Stosur can defend their men's and women's singles champions -- or if Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova or someone else will lift those trophies -- announcers will play key doubles' roles at the 2012 U.S. Open Tennis Championships.
There will also be a new telecast teammate on the grounds as CBS Sports Network will supply outer-court coverage over Labor Day weekend, joining broadcast brethren CBS, as well as ESPN2 and Tennis Channel, in providing expansive coverage from Flushing Meadows, N.Y. from Aug. 27 through Sept. 9.
Longtime tennis broadcaster Bill Macatee, who will continue to be engaged in much of Tennis Channel's coverage after signing a contract renewal with the cable network in June, is stepping into the role as CBS's lead play-by-play man, succeeding Dick Enberg. The legendary broadcaster uttered the final "Oh, my" of his tennis career during his call of Novak Djokovic's four-set triumph over Rafa Nadal in the 2011 final.
"Bill Macatee is a natural choice to assume the role of lead tennis play-by-play announcer for CBS Sports," said CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus. "He is a highly-respected, talented and versatile announcer who has been a fixture on CBS Sports' U.S. Open Tennis broadcasts for 15 years and has called all four Grand Slam events during his career."
Meanwhile, world's former No. 1 Jim Courier and current U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier, after working during the first week of the 2011 tournament, has signed a multiyear contract and will serve as Tennis Channel's lead analyst for the upcoming fortnight.
"Jim has worked with us before, but getting him to commit full-time certainly has been a long time in the making," said Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon. "He's certainly a busy guy with Davis Cup and the Champions Tour. We love what he stands for and he's so good at what he does."
Courier will also be calling matches for CBS, working with Ian Eagle, who is also on Tennis' roster. Others pulling network doubles duty: John McEnroe for ESPN2 and CBS; Mary Carillo for CBS and Tennis; and Mary Joe Fernandez as an ESPN2 analyst and as a CBS reporter.
Black Rock, now in its 45th consecutive year of Open, will present some 37 hours of live coverage, beginning with men's and women's third-round action on Saturday Sept. 1 from noon to 6 p.m. (ET) and in the same time slots over the rest of the Labor Day weekend. It will conclude with men's semifinals and the women's championship in primetime on Saturday Sept 8, and the men's final the following day at 4 p.m.
For its part, CBS Sports Network will step onto the outer hard courts in Queens during CBS's broadcast windows on the tourney's middle weekend. The 44 million-subscriber national sports cable network, which presented the first-ever telecasts of tournament qualifying last week, will also provide a live studio show, Today at the U.S. Open during those three days at 10 a.m.
In terms of live hours, ESPN2 will serve up the most, more than 100 in high-definition, while broadband service ESPN3 has 400 or more in store.
During the event's first week, ESPN2's coverage will start at 1 p.m. each weekday and continue nonstop for at least 10 hours through both the day and evening sessions. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM, will begin at 7 p.m. and continue until 11 p.m. or whenever play is concluded.
In the second week, ESPN2 will have Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM at 7 p.m. on Labor Day, followed by day-long windows from Tuesday through Thursday. Its Thursday, Sept. 6 telecast window will include the mixed doubles championship, while that evening's telecast will begin with charity exhibition doubles match, with actor Adam Sandler teaming with John McEnroe to play against actor Kevin James paired with tennis great Jim Courier. Sandler, McEnroe and James all were raised in Queens, New York, while Courier now lives in New York. Comedian and Brooklyn native Colin Quinn figures to be busy as the chair umpire.
In addition to McEnroe and Fernandez, ESPN's on-air talent team will feature Chris Evert, Cliff Drysdale, Darren Cahill, Chris Fowler, Grad Gilbert, Pam Shriver, Tom Rinaldi, Mike Tirico, Hannah Storm, Chris McKendry and LZ Granderson. With Patrick also in the mix, ESPN2 is again expected to feature the brothers McEnroe in the booth.
Given its immersive approach, Tennis will present almost 245 hours over the course of the fortnight.
The network, benefiting from a wider distribution berth, approaching some 55 million homes, during a freeview period on such key distributors as DirecTV and Dish Network, will proffer more than 70 live hours. In addition to full slates of matches most days, highlight and analysis shows US Open Tonight and Breakfast at the Open bridge the late-night and early-morning hours with the latest on-court activity.
The tournament's opening day, Monday, Aug. 27, exemplifies Tennis' Open tennis telecast schedule The network will go live at 10:30 a.m., with a new, half-hour lead-in show that breaks down everything that has happened to that point and what can be expected in the day ahead. Match coverage gets underway at 11 a.m. and runs until 7 p.m. US Open Tonight airs from 11 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., followed by an immediate encore. At 6 a.m. Breakfast at the Open takes viewers to the start of the next day's play at 10:30 a.m. As such, viewers essentially can find U.S. Open action on Tennis around the clock over the next two weeks.
Courier, Eagle, Carillo and Macatee aside, Tennis' on-air talent team comprises Grand Slam legend Martina Navratilova (who is working with the latter on the channel's 20th consecutive major, everyone it has covered); Ted Robinson and Brett Haber on play-by-play; former players Tracey Austin, Lindsay Davenport, Justin Gimelstob and Rennae Stubbs; and reporters Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated and Cari Champion of the network's Court Report. Seven-time Slam winner and 1988 U.S. Open king Mats Wilander will handle analyst duties during the men's encore coverage of the singles final, as Courier segues into preparation for the following weekend's Davis Cup semifinal in Spain.