Tennis Channel Takes Court


The Tennis Channel officially launched in some 3 million homes Friday at 6
a.m. (EST) with coverage of the Tennis Masters Series Hamburg Championships.

But the fledgling network and its guests tossed up a few balls during a
launch party at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on the UCLA campus the night

While Wendy Mallick, Dulé Hill, Alan Thicke, Carl Weathers, Ted McGinley and
Alan Rachins all plied their racquets, first-serve honors went to Rae Dawn
Chong, who will be seen on Lifetime Television's Wild Card series this

Tennis Channel president Steve Bellamy announced Chong's top delivery at 99
miles per hour (although it was closer to 74). For her efforts, Chong received a
package of equipment, lessons and a donation to her charity, A Place Called
Home, a southern Los Angeles-based facility for at-risk kids.

After the party, CEO David Meister didn't get much sleep as the channel's 3
a.m. launch in the Pacific time zone neared.

"I lay in bed, remembering highlights of the past three-plus years, and at
2:50 a.m., got out of bed and e-mailed Steve," he said. "We shared the moment

In other Tennis Channel news, investor Peter Sampras inched closer to
retirement, announcing that he would not play at the French Open or the
Wimbledon Championships.