BY DOUG McKENZIE Correspondent Some of my fondest childhood memories involve going to live sporting events with my father. I think that holds true for a lot of people, especially in the tristate area, where there are so many professional franchises in a variety of sports. As a Mets fan, I spent countless hours at Shea Stadium, a place that my father would also find a way to bring me to when my beloved Miami Dolphins came to town to battle the New York Jets. Living on the north shore of Long Island, we would, on occasion, head east to catch a New York Islanders game at the Nassau Coliseum, where Mike Bossy, Billy Smith and company were in the midst of their historic championship run of four Stanley Cups in a row in the early 1980s. We went to professional indoor soccer games (New York Cosmos), saw a few New York Knicks games (back when they played professional basketball at Madison Square Garden), and also frequented the Garden to catch Louie Carnesecca’s St. John’s University basketball team as they battled the likes of Georgetown, Syracuse, Villanova, etc. for Big East supremacy. I remember every single time I witnessed a live sporting event, and consider myself blessed to be able to enjoy those memories – especially now that professional sporting events have become so expensive, further separating the haves from the have-nots, and making it harder and harder for fathers to afford creating such wonderful memories for their sons and daughters. While fans of all of the major professional sports have been complaining of rising ticket prices for quite some time now, the New York Giants have actually managed to turn up the volume of those cries with the introduction of Personal Seat Licenses for season tickets for their new stadium, set to open in 2010. (The Jets are expected to make a similar introduction in the near future.) A PSL is a one-time payment for the permanent control of a seat for Giants home games. It provides the seat PSL owners with control of successorship for their tickets and the right to buy them as long as they, or their designee, wishes, and as long as the Giants play in the new stadium. The PSL stays active as long as the PSL owners buy the season tickets. All net proceeds from the sale of the PSLs will be used for the construction of the new stadium, with the team owners picking up half the tab of the estimated $1.6 billion project. So rather than turn to the taxpayers to help fund the construction of a new 82,500-seat facility (something the owners are proud to trumpet), the Giants have turned to the season-ticket holders, who were already paying exorbitant amounts for their season tickets. The prices for these PSLs range from $20,000 per seat to $1,000 per seat, with ticket prices also rising substantially at the new stadium. The Giants, to their credit, have been honest about their intentions all along, with ownership citing a need to maximize revenues in order to remain competitive in what is a booming industry. The new stadium, they say, will allow them to do that, without affecting the average Joe’s already crippling tax burden. The problem, in the eyes of many current season-ticket holders who may not be able to afford their tickets in the new stadium, is that none of them asked for a new stadium. While the current Giants Stadium may not have all the amenities of some of the more modernized complexes, it remains a great place to view a football game. And with a sport as popular and rich in tradition as the National Football League, the on-the-field product will always be infinitely more important to a team’s fan base than the luxuries offered in the team’s stadium. A friend of mine has been a Giants season ticket holder for the past 15 years. And while he plans to pay the $10,000 (in three payments) for the PSLs on his two seats, he has asked me not to mention his name, as he is still trying to discover a way to hide his looming purchase from his wife. “She’d go nuts if she knew what I’m going to have to pay to keep my seats,” he said. “We can’t afford the 10 grand, plus the cost of the tickets (which should be about $120 each, per game, or approximately $2,400 for the season for both tickets). But I’m not about to give up my tickets. I’ll find a way.” As part of the purchasing process, he will have to select four PSL zones (in order of preference) where he would like his new seats to be. The seat assignments will be based on a combination of his preferences, current location and account tenure in Giants Stadium. So in other words, he needs to shell out the $10,000 and hope for the best. Another friend and current seasonticket holder is facing a $40,000 price tag for a pair of PSLs on his field-level tickets, plus the $160 per ticket for all 10 home games (eight regular season plus two preseason games). He does not plan to keep his tickets at that price. “This is a great way to turn one of the great fan-based stadium crowds into a corporate gathering of guys who are rooting for the team because Eli (Manning) is Peyton’s brother, and they won a Super Bowl last year,” this disgruntled fan said. “What about the fans who sat through Kurt Warner in December? Or the breakdown in the playoffs the year before against Carolina? “It’s an absolute travesty and I hope something is done about it. Otherwise (the owners) should be ashamed of themselves. Beers are $9 for God’s sake.” The Giants had to know that this announcement would be met with criticism, especially amid today’s concerns with a struggling economy. It all leads back to my original thought – who can afford to take their kids to the ballpark anymore? With the prices of tickets, combined with the aforementioned ridiculous vending prices at the stadiums, it could cost you upwards of $500 to take a family of four to any type of professional sporting event. I don’t know what my father paid 20 years ago, but it certainly wasn’t $500. While I understand that professional sports franchises are raising their ticket prices to compensate for a variety of increasing organizational costs (most notably the escalating salaries of the athletes themselves), the end result is that with each ticket price increase fewer people can afford to attend these live events. While owners are steadfast in arguing that the market demands that the fans contribute to meeting the rising operating costs of their franchises, the bottom line is that many people who are struggling to pay their own bills every month cannot justify spending several hundred dollars on a three-hour sporting event. You can’t continue to preach that you have the fans’ best interests at heart, while at the same time excitedly talking about the state-of-the-art luxury boxes that will be in the new stadium. From the fans’ standpoint, every single seat in that stadium has become a luxury item. So my message to the owners of our local professional sports franchises is this – be careful when putting the burden of covering your rising operational costs on your ticket holders. Each time you do so, you alienate more and more loyal fans that can no longer afford to foot the bill. And while you may still be able to fill your stadiums on a regular basis, it will be a different crowd than what you’ve become accustomed to over the years. While this is rapidly becoming a corporate world, there are some things that should remain the property of the common man. Like the ability to take your kid to a football game without jeopardizing your financial stability. I realize in the grand scheme of things, with all the problems in the world, this issue may all seem a bit trivial to some. But like I said, I remember every sporting event I ever went to with my father. And you can’t quantify the value of those memories. Let’s not make days like those a memory altogether. struggling economy. It all leads back to my original thought – who can afford to take their kids to the ballpark anymore? With the prices of tickets, combined with the aforementioned ridiculous vending prices at the stadiums, it could cost you upwards of $500 to take a family of four to any type of professional sporting event. I don’t know what my father paid 20 years ago, but it certainly wasn’t $500. While I understand that professional sports franchises are raising their ticket prices to compensate for a variety of increasing organizational costs (most notably the escalating salaries of the athletes themselves), the end result is that with each ticket price increase fewer people can afford to attend these live events. While owners are steadfast in arguing that the market demands that the fans contribute to meeting the rising operating costs of their franchises, the bottom line is that many people who are struggling to pay their own bills every month cannot justify spending several hundred dollars on a three-hour sporting event. You can’t continue to preach that you have the fans’ best interests at heart, while at the same time excitedly talking about the state-of-the-art luxury boxes that will be in the new stadium. From the fans’ standpoint, every single seat in that stadium has become a luxury item. So my message to the owners of our local professional sports franchises is this – be careful when putting the burden of covering your rising operational costs on your ticket holders. Each time you do so, you alienate more and more loyal fans that can no longer afford to foot the bill. And while you may still be able to fill your stadiums on a regular basis, it will be a different crowd than what you’ve become accustomed to over the years. While this is rapidly becoming a corporate world, there are some things that should remain the property of the common man. Like the ability to take your kid to a football game without jeopardizing your financial stability. I realize in the grand scheme of things, with all the problems in the world, this issue may all seem a bit trivial to some. But like I said, I remember every sporting event I ever went to with my father. And you can’t quantify the value of those memories. Let’s not make days like those a memory altogether.
Thanks to some solid senior leadership, the youthful Raritan High School boys basketball team has battled its way to a respectable 10-11 mark and berths in both the Shore Conference and NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II tournaments. The Rockets are coming off a tough 69- 56 loss to Manasquan, the sixth seed, in the Shore tourney. Coach Dennis Caruano’s team, seeded 11th in CJ Group II, will open the state tourney on Monday, March 2, at Roselle, the sixth seed. A year ago, Raritan struggled through a 6- 20 campaign and Caruano was determined to better that record this time around. The Rockets immediately made their presence felt with an early season triumph over powerful Red Bank Catholic. In addition, Raritan has played well in Shore Conference Class Central competition — where seven of the eight teams qualified for the Shore tourney — earning victories over Matawan (twice) and St. John Vianney. “We knew coming in that this was a fairly young team, but I thought we could be competitive,” the coach said. “We’ve certainly done that and we’ve continued to improve with each game.” Seniors Corey Hahn and Chris Monahan have played key roles in this success. Hahn, though just 6-3, is a potent force under the hoop. He averages 9.3 rebounds and three blocked shots along with 12 points per game. Monahan leads the team in scoring with a 13.2 average and also tops the Rockets with 51 three-pointers. He canned six treys in the loss against Manasquan. Point guard Bennett Jackson has provided good ball movement. The junior averages five assists, three steals and 10 points. Matt Argudo, a 6-5 forward, has also made a mark, averaging eight points and eight rebounds, while fellow junior Matt Roomey, a guard, averages five points. Meanwhile, the Rockets have persevered despite one very scary moment as well as several injuries. In a game at St. John Vianney, Vincent Casalastro fell after making a jump pass, hitting his head on the floor and appeared to be seriously injured. The junior swingman was airlifted to the hospital and fortunately everything turned out fine. Casalastro is expected back this week. Meanwhile, freshman Michael Aaman, who looked sharp in averaging seven points early in the season, suffered a growth plate injury and missed 14 games. Junior forward Matt Facendo recently suffered a similar injury and is done for the year. The emergence of sophomore guards Tom Pizanie and Mike DaCosta has helped the Rockets’ cause. Both players have displayed top-notch defensive skills, and Caruano has alternated them to guard the opposition’s top guard. “Our bench play really helped us this year, and that’s been a big advantage for us,” the coach said. “Overall, we’ve shot the ball pretty well and we’ve adjusted to varsity game. Our younger guys are now experienced varsity players and that will also help us in the future.” Right now, however, Raritan is concentrating on Roselle. To help prepare, Caruano’s team has three tough road games set for this week. After visiting Freehold Township on Monday, the Rockets visit Middletown South today and surprising Keyport on Friday. “Those are three very good teams and it will be a good test for us as we get ready for the state tournament,” Caruano said. BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer
Lacrosse in Middletown will host lacrosse clinics on July 16-18 from 6-8:30 p.m. at Thompson Middle School, 1001 Middletown Lincroft Road in Middletown. Current Middletown High School North and Middletown High School South girls and boys lacrosse coaches and former college lacrosse coaches will handle instruction, with proceeds going to the high school lacrosse programs.Experienced and new players at all levels can sign up at www.middletownnjlacrosse.org. For questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.B.Y.A.A. Recreation Soccer will be holding fall registration for its Coed Recreation League (ages 4-16) on July 11 at the Middletown Public Library, located at 55 New Monmouth Road, Middletown. Signups will be in the community room from 6-8:30 p.m.Fees are $75 per child, or a $170 family rate. Cash or check accepted in person.Games are played on the Bayview Elementary School Soccer Fields, 300 Leonardville Road, Belford.For additional information or to register and make payment with a credit card, see the website at www.eteamz.com/byaasoccermiddletown.
By WARREN RAPPLEYEA Correspondent With a lineup that includes just one senior, the Red Bank Catholic (RBC) High School girls basketball team still retains plenty of talent, as the Caseys look to equal or exceed last year’s 19-9 mark.The lone senior is Alex Barazotti, who averaged 10 points per game a year ago and keyed her team’s NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A quarterfinals win over Notre Dame High School with 14 points. Coach Joe Montano said he will count on the 5- foot-7 Loyola University-bound guard to key the offense, particularly in the early going as the veteran coach works his talented younger players into the rotation.“The only thing I’m concerned about right now is scoring,” said Montano, who enters his 25th year on the RBC bench. “We didn’t score the way I would like in our scrimmages, but we were also shifting girls in and out, so I think it will come. We’re going to lean on Alex until the other girls get a little more seasoned.”Joining Barazotti in the starting lineup are sophomores Tia Montagne, Maureen Coakley and Josie Larkins. Montagne returns to the point, where she averaged five points and showed confidence moving the ball around. Coakley, a 5-foot-11 forward, gives the Caseys a presence under the basket, where she also averaged five points. Larkins, a 5- foot-8 shooting guard, had a promising freshman campaign, averaging six points and showing she can score from 3-point range.Montano is expecting contributions from junior Caitlin Carroll and Jennifer Bagnell, who are both moving up from the junior varsity team. At 5-foot-7, Carroll, a solid defender with a good outside shot, will alternate between guard and forward, while Bagnell, at 5 feet 9 inches tall, will be upfront and has been rounding into form after battling through a back injury last season.Once again, Montano is planning to employ several freshmen. Rose Caverly, whose older sister, Mary Kate, starred for the Caseys, is savvy with the ball and will see time at the point. At 5 feet 9 inches tall, Caverly can also crash the boards. Hayley Moore is a pesky defender who can also score, and 5-foot-10 Katie Rice is a strong rebounder who will become an offensive presence inside. “I’ve been very impressed with our freshmen so far,” the coach said. “They all have high basketball IQs to go with their talent, and they show a lot of poise on the floor.”Juniors Gillian Hansen, Erin Howard and Paige Curti provide depth, and Rachel Gazzola, a 5-foot-10 freshman, could also work her way into the lineup.The Caseys will rely on a man-to-man defense, although Montano will occasionally employ a mix-and-match zone setup depending on the opposition and situation.“We’re going to play eight or nine girls pretty regularly,” he said. “A lot will depend on what’s happening at the time, but I want to keep fresh legs on the floor.”This season, the Caseys play in the Shore Conference’s Class B North Division, while longtime rivals Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School and St. John Vianney High School will be in A Central. St. John Vianney downed RBC twice last year in the regular season and also prevailed in the South Jersey Non-Public A semifinals. The two teams are set to play on Feb. 14 in a nondivision matchup at RBC.RBC was scheduled to open at home on Dec. 19 against Ocean Township High School and was to play Toms River High School South in the opening round of the WOBM Christmas Classic on Dec. 20 at Toms River North. The Caseys are seeded second in the annual tournament.
By Iacovos ConstantinouTHE football league resumes in Cyprus this weekend after the enforced ten-day break due to the Euro 2O16 internationals. The six games will be played over a three day period (Saturday-Monday) with the two teams competing in European competitions, APOEL and Apollon, set to kick-off play on Saturday.Having already been beaten once this season in the Super Cup by Ermis Aradippou, champions APOEL will have to put their mouthwatering Champions League clash in Barcelona on Wednesday on the back burner if they are to avoid a similar setback. Rafik Djebbour, one of APOEL’s summer star signings is expected to make his debut but John Arne Riise’s debut will be delayed for at least another week as the Norwegian gets back to full fitness. Ermis, rather surprisingly sacked their coach on Monday and replaced him with Nikki Papavassiliou who had just a couple of days to get to know his players. However, Papavassiliou feels that his players are well prepared for the game and their recent Super Cup victory will give them the advantage they need to upset the champions.Apollon entertain first division newcomers Ayia Napa and should prove too strong for Nicos Andronikou’s team.The Limassol side has enough depth to rest a few players ahead of their Europa Cup opener against FC Zurich on Thursday should their coach decide to do so.On the other hand, Andronikou does not have that luxury and his task has been made even harder as three of his squad players are ineligible for the game as they are loanees from Apollon. Marchev will also miss the game through injury.Doxa Katokopias, the first team to sack their coach a couple of weeks ago, will have to show considerable improvement if they want to get anything out their game against AEL. AEL were disappointing in their first home game of the season (draw with Ethnikos) and they know that only a return to victories will ease the pressure off both the players and Bulgarian coach Ivaylo Petev.Omonia coach Costas Kaiafas meanwhile has labelled his team’s clash with Nea Salamina as the most difficult away game of the season!Quite a strange comment if you consider that Nea Salamina have not managed to pick up one point in their home games against Omonia for 14 years.Kaiafas will be glad to see experienced defender Anthony Scaramozzino back in contention for a place in the starting line-up while Nea Salamina will be without Marco Aurelio.Ethnikos Achnas, the surprise leaders of the championship, should be able to defeat Othellos Athienou and maintain their position at the top of the table. Pointless Anorthosis take on AEK Larnaca in Monday’s other game. Both teams have shown that they will be no pushovers this season despite a major overhaul in their squads. They both deserved to get something out of their last games against Omonia and APOEL respectively.Saturday, September 13th : APOEL v Ermis Aradippou (19.00), Apollon v Ayia Napa (20.00)Sunday, September 14th: Doxa Katokopias vs AEL (19.00), Nea Salamina vs Omonia (20.00)Monday, September 15th: Ethnikos Achnas vs Othellos Athienou, Anorthosis vs AEK (both 19.00)
By Simon EvansThe defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks claimed the number one seed in the NFC playoffs with Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers adding divisional titles after wins on the final Sunday of the regular season.The Baltimore Ravens also made the postseason, taking the final AFC wild-card berth thanks to a victory over the Cleveland Browns and the San Diego Chargers’ loss to Kansas City.The Seahawks head into the playoffs on the back of six straight wins – the latest a 20-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams which secured the NFC West divisional title.The New England Patriots had already secured the top seed in the AFC and they and the Seahawks will enjoy a first round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.Green Bay won the NFC North for the fourth year in a row after defeating the Detroit Lions 30-20 while Carolina clinched the NFC South thanks to a 34-3 crushing of the Atlanta Falcons.Pittsburgh grabbed the AFC North title with a 27-17 victory over the playoff-bound Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore made the postseason by topping the Browns 20-10.Seattle started slowly against St. Louis, but a nine-yard touchdown run from Marshawn Lynch and a 49-yard interception return by Bruce Irvin in the fourth quarter made sure the road through the NFC playoffs goes through Seattle.The Packers’ delight at their divisional title was tempered by concern over the left calf of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.Rodgers aggravated a calf injury, which had kept him out of practice, when throwing the first of two touchdown passes to Randall Cobb late in the second quarter.After going to the locker room, Rodgers, despite a noticeable hobble, returned in the third quarter, finding Cobb again with a 13-yard touchdown pass to restore Green Bay’s lead after a second Calvin Johnson touchdown reception for the Lions had tied the score at 14-14.Rodgers even managed to push himself into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown as the Packers made sure of the divisional prize, which earns the quarterback a much-needed week off.LOSING RECORDThe NFC South has been a weak division but while Carolina enter the playoffs with a losing record 7-8-1, they have won their last four games.Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw two interceptions, both of which were returned for touchdowns as Carolina’s defense dominated.Antonio Brown scored touchdowns on a 71-yard punt return and a 63-yard pass play as Pittsburgh won their first division title since 2010.Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger passed for 317 yards and two touchdowns.The San Diego Chargers went into Sunday knowing a victory would take them into the postseason but their 19-7 loss to the Chiefs opened the door for the Ravens.Baltimore trailed Cleveland 10-3 at the end of the third.But quarterback Joe Flacco took control, throwing for two touchdowns as the Ravens took advantage of the Chargers’ slip.The outcome means the AFC North will have three teams in the playoffs — Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.The Dallas Cowboys head into the playoffs in strong form, crushing of the Washington Redskins 44-17, while Rex Ryan, expected to be fired by the New York Jets, enjoyed a 37-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins.Sunday also marked coach Jim Harbaugh’s final game with the San Francisco 49ers. The team announced after a 20-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals that Harbaugh would be leaving.The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have the first pick in the 2015 draft after finishing with the worst record in the regular season (2-14) following a 23-20 loss to New Orleans.
By Ed OsmondLeicester City became unlikely bedfellows with Premier League giants Manchester City and Arsenal at the top of the table on Saturday as striker Jamie Vardy maintained his extraordinary scoring sequence.The England forward hammered home a 65th-minute penalty to score for the ninth consecutive league match and seal Leicester’s 2-1 win over Watford.The victory put the Midlands side joint top with Manchester City and Arsenal, who both play on Sunday. All three have 25 points, although Leicester are behind on goal difference.Manchester United kept up the pressure on the pacesetters when a terrific goal from impressive youngster Jesse Lingard helped them on the way to a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford and put them within a point of the leaders.It was Vardy, though, who was again the talk of the League as he became only the second player to score in nine straight Premier League appearances. He needs to score in his next game to equal the record of Manchester United’s Ruud van Nistelrooy, who scored in 10 successive matches.Earlier, Claudio Ranieri’s surprise packages, who spent last season struggling for survival in the top-flight, had gone ahead when midfielder N’Golo Kante was amazed to see his weak 52nd- minute effort roll under accident-prone goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes’ hands.Troy Deeney’s 75th-minute penalty for Watford proved in vain.Manchester United’s fans found relief after another largely underwhelming performance from Louis van Gaal’s side was redeemed by the superb goal from Lingard, who was also impressive in the midweek Champions League win over CSKA Moscow, and a late second.HOLDING MIDFIELDERSThe home fans had earlier been left unimpressed by Van Gaal’s safety-first approach as he played two holding midfielders in Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick and United struggled to overcome a typically well-drilled Tony Pulis side.Juan Mata sealed the deal with a stoppage-time penalty after Gareth McAuley was sent off for hauling down Anthony Martial.West Ham United missed the chance to close on the leaders after Romelu Lukaku scored his customary goal against the Hammers at Upton Park to earn Everton a 1-1 draw.Slaven Bilic’s side looked poised to continue their striking start to the season after a lovely curling 30th-minute effort from on-loan Argentine Manuel Lanzini put them ahead.But Lukaku, who has now netted in all seven games he has played against the London outfit, equalised before the break to deny Bilic the chance of a victory over his old club.Sunderland’s struggles at the foot of the table continued as Southampton earned a deserved 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light, Dusan Tadic hammering home the 69th-minute penalty which underlined their superiority.Newcastle United earned an important and highly improbable Premier League victory at Bournemouth, snatching a 1-0 victory completely against the run of play thanks to a 27th-minute Ayoze Perez goal.Fans of the struggling home team at Dean Court could hardly believe what they felt was daylight robbery in the pouring rain as Bournemouth dominated proceedings, only to be thwarted by poor finishing and tremendous goalkeeping from Newcastle’s Rob Elliot.The victory enabled Newcastle to leapfrog Bournemouth near the foot of the table, pushing them out of the relegation zone with 10 points from 12 games and plunging the south coast side into the bottom three on eight points.Norwich City pulled slightly clear of the danger zone with a 65th-minute Jonny Howson header earning them a 1-0 win at home to Swansea City.Struggling champions Chelsea visit Stoke City in the late kick-off.
Pizzas are off the menu for Manchester City players as manager Pep Guardiola has imposed strict weight parameters on the squad breaching which will result in training bans, left back Gael Clichy has said.Guardiola has added four players, including winger Nolito and German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, to the City ranks hoping to rebuild the squad after the club stumbled to a fourth-place finish last season.“With him, if your weight is too high, you’re not training with the team,” Clichy told British media while also praising the manager’s eye for details. “So we have a few players who are not training with the team yet.“He has also cut out some juices and, of course, pizza and all the heavy food is not allowed… He just wants us to trust him, he wants to trust us and I think it’s the right way to start a relationship.”Guardiola, who replaced Manuel Pellegrini, is one of the world’s most highly rated managers after claiming 21 trophies during his spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.The 45-year-old will open his first season in England with a home clash against David Moyes’ Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium on Aug. 13.
World number two Novak Djokovic has parted company with his coaching team in a bid to halt a run of poor results which culminated in a quarter-final exit at the Monte Carlo Masters last month.A winner of 12 Grand Slam titles, the Serb has suffered a noticeable dip in form since winning his maiden French Open last June, relinquishing top spot in the ATP rankings to Briton Andy Murray five months later.He made a shock second-round exit at the Australian Open to Uzbek Denis Istomin, followed by successive defeats to Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in Acapulco and Indian Wells, before being beaten by Belgian David Goffin in Monte Carlo.On Friday, the 29-year-old announced that he would part ways with his coach Marian Vajda, fitness coach Gebhard Phil Gritsch, and physiotherapist Miljan Amanovic.“I am forever grateful to Marian, GG and Miljan for a decade of friendship, professionalism and commitment to my career goals,” he said in a statement. “It was not an easy decision, but we all felt that we need a change.“I want to continue raising the level of my game and stamina and this is a continuous process… I am a hunter and my biggest goal is to find the winning spark on the court again.”Djokovic’s overhaul by Murray at the top of the rankings ended a run of more than two years as number one for the Serb, who has spent a total of 223 weeks at the summit during his career.Djokovic added that he would take his time before naming a new head coach.“I feel like this is a new chapter in my life,” he said. “My career was always on the upward path and this time I’m experiencing how it is when the path takes you in a different direction.“I have been on the tour long enough to know how to manage daily routines and I don’t want to rush my decision… I will inform the public when I find the right person, but for now I thank you for your support and understanding.