Monday, November 7, 2005

ITA Indoor Odds & Ends

©Colette Lewis 2005
I've got a backlog of other stories to get to, but here are a few quick observations on the recently completed ITA Indoor in Columbus Ohio that I just attended.

  • Casey Angle, the ITA Director of Communications, made my job infinitely easier with his quick, thorough and frequent updates. He is so accommodating and gracious that it takes repeated exposure to appreciate just how hard he works and how much he does for college tennis. And how much he knows about it too. Just getting to know him better was a major highlight of the event for me.
  • There are many differences between college and junior tennis, but the most obvious is the emotional maturity of the participants. Not only did the vast majority conduct themselves on the court with admirable restraint and, dare I say it, professionalism, but I was struck by their self-possession off the court as well. Both Ryler DeHeart and Ben Kohlloeffel displayed genuine interest and kindness when asked for autographs by young fans after their matches. Contrast this with an unfortunate spate of brattishness at the recent Chanda Rubin ITF in South Carolina, where I heard that one racquet-throwing tantrum resulted in a conduct default.

  • It may be that the Indoor atmosphere exaggerated it, but the size of the mens field was certainly noteworthy. John Isner (at least six-nine), Andreas Siljestrom (six-nine), and Marco Born (ditto) made very large men such as Jonathan Stokke and James Pade seem average-sized. It's rather ironic that the serving prowess of that towering threesome, who won last month's ITA National fall event outdoors (Isner in singles, Siljestrom and Born in doubles) could not carry them through to indoor titles where the speed of the courts should give them even an greater advantage.

  • Speaking of doubles, with all the controversy raging in the ATP over revamping doubles, (see Peter Bodo's take on the issue here) which I've steered clear of as it hasn't any relevance to junior tennis, college tennis has hit on a workable solution. During dual matches and all individual competitions save the NCAAs, one eight game pro(sic) set is played. It's quick, and in my limited experience, it seems to be enough. It certainly beats no-ad scoring, a college innovation that died a welcome death back in the 80s, but is now being resurrected to "improve" professional doubles.

  • I got a chance to catch up with Chris Garner, the 1984 16s singles and 1985 18s doubles champion here in Kalamazoo. When I bumped into him at last year's Orange Bowl, he was an assistant at Colorado, but he and his family have now settled in Columbus, where he has recently taken a similar position at Ohio State. Garner spent one year at Georgia before going out on the pro tour, and he is now working to finish his degree with an eye toward becoming a college head coach someday. Garner wasn't the only former Kalamazoo champion at the Racquet Club of Columbus--Matt Anger, the head coach at Washington, won the 16s title in 1979. As for the younger generation, Stokke won three consecutive doubles titles with Rajeev Ram from 2000-2002, and Isner won an 18 doubles title in 2003.