|Elena Dementieva arrived early in New Haven and is now doing some painting on New Haven's public courts. Here is the complete article about the event:
Pilot Pen Hotshot Pitches in at East Shore Court
Days before her debut at the Pilot Pen tennis tournament, Russian tennis hotshot Elena Dementieva took a squeegee to the East Shore Park tennis courts to highlight the USTA's investment in refurbishing public courts. "Hopefully we're going to see a winner of Pilot Pen starting on these courts," said the World's No. 5-ranked female tennis pro, flanked by New Haven kids.
Dementieva is the first tennis star to fly in for the tournament
, which runs Aug. 18 to 26. In Russia, they don't have public courts, she said. Though she wasn't a painting pro — "I've never done this before!"
— she was happy to highlight the United States Tennis Association's US Open Series Legacy Program, which helps communities that host US Open Events refurbish public courts.
East Shore's public courts, where Career High School tennis teams practice, lay freshly resurfaced Wednesday. After a few of coats of paint, they'll be ready within a week to host the growing number of city kids — 200 per year — who take reduced-priced tennis lessons from the city Parks and Recreation department. That number of participants has quintupled in three years, say city officials, due largely to USTA grants.
"The timing couldn't be better," said Board of Aldermen President Carl Goldfield, representing the mayor at Wednesday's press conference. He noted the city's Open Schools Program, which offered sports and classes to city teens, had just ended, so the courts would give kids a new place to go.
Anne Worcester, Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament director, hoped the tournament would "use the excitement and appeal of professional tennis to inspire participation at the grassroots level." Pilot Pen will also donate money to Parks and Rec for tennis, to be used for more tennis instructors and equipment.
After the press conference and staged painting act, Dementieva signed balls for kids and withstood a blitz of media cameras. In her two days before the tournament, when she's not practicing her admitted weakness, her serve, she'll be walking around between Yale buildings and downtown New Haven sights. "It's very nice to walk around."
I just have to add that Elena looks really great in the pictures. It was so nice of her to help promoting tennis. If she could just win a slam, she'd be a great ambassador of tennis.