Now that Wimbledon has crowned its champions, the tennis world's attention shifts to America. Tennis Channel is joining in. Starting this week, it's training its cameras on a dozen events and tournaments, presenting 500 hours of live coverage through Aug. 23 as a "Summer Title Wave," network president Steve Bellamy said.
The action begins with weekday coverage of the men's (Association of Tennis Professionals) grass-court Miller Lite Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, R.I., the site of the Tennis Hall of Fame.
Bellamy said Venus Williams might serve as host there as the network surveys the grounds.
Tennis, expected to be available in some 10 million homes with 3 million subscribers by the end of July, will supply coverage of Andre Agassi in World Team Tennis action on July 12 and July 19.
It'll also cover the circuit's finals on Aug. 23 at the National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., where the U.S. Open is held.
Fed Cup quarterfinal matches are slated for July 19-20 (Italy vs. U.S.) and Aug. 16-17. The Mercedes-Benz Cup (ATP) gets showcased in Los Angeles July 29 through Aug. 1. Semifinals and finals of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, come Aug. 2-3.
The women's J.P. Morgan Chase Open in Carson, Calif., provides fodder Aug. 4 to 8., while the TD Waterhouse Cup (ATP) weighs in from Commack, N.Y., Aug. 18 through 22.
Bellamy said Tennis is bringing a new look and feel to tournament coverage. Whereas matches are largely presented from an overhead camera behind the baseline, Tennis is sporting a number of court-level and below-court shots that Bellamy said makes viewers appreciate "the pace of the ball moving 100 feet in a split second."
Given its sole focus on the sport, Tennis is also able to react nimbly. For instance, Bellamy asked editors to accelerate a feature on Maria Sharapova for the series No Strings
as the 16-year-old Russian made her run to the round of 16 at Wimbledon (Bellamy groaned during last week's interview when he saw, via an online service, that she had lost.) The installment will bow July 13.