I've mentioned a few times over the past couple weeks that I'll be covering the USTA Boys 18 & 16 National Clay Court Championships for their website, a position that Tournament Director Jeff Szekely offered me after last year's Kalamazoo tournament, which he attended. The 18s age division was brought to Rockville, Maryland for the first time last year, combining with the 16s event already in place there. By all accounts it worked out very well, but Szekely has demonstrated that he is interested in continuing to improve the tournament.
The winner of the 18s gets a main draw wildcard into the ATP Legg Mason event, which is August 1-7 this year. The 18s runnerup and the 16s winner get a wild card into the qualifying draw. These are two big carrots for playing on a surface that isn't featured in the U.S. much, regardless of the time of year, but particularly in the summer.
It's unlikely that I'll have time to blog AND write my official stories (posted here), but I'll try to put up a link every day. Friday is a travel day, but I hope to post some first impressions once we're settled in.