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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Blake offers vision of game's life after Murray--Independent Online Edition

Independent Online Edition > Blake offers vision of game's life after Murray::

A story ostensibly about junior Myles Blake, who is contemplating whether to continue to train in Australia, where his parents immigrated years ago, or to accept the invitation of the LTA to train in England (based, I gather, on his winning two matches at junior Wimbledon, as he's never won so much as a Grade 1). My unsolicited advice: with Tiley taking charge, this is no time to leave Australia.

The subtext of this story though, is just how important tennis is in Great Britain. Evidence follows:


On the other hand, he [Blake] is three months older than Andy Murray, who was the subject of a conversation I overheard yesterday morning in a coffee shop, one middle-aged Englishwoman in a floral-print dress saying to another, with no trace of irony: "I do hope the tennis people can find another Murray."

I am trying to imagine a scenario in the U.S. where a Starbucks line would feature two thirty-something Yankee fans idly speculating on who will be the next Donald Young. That borders on preposterous, and neatly defines just how much the two countries' sporting scenes differ.

And if David Felgate, the LTA's performance director actually believes that his program is in the spotlight only during this fortnight, he's mistaken. Although it won't blind him with the same intensity, he'll be interrogated plenty at the U.S. Open, the Australian Open, the French Open and Davis Cup ties until Great Britain captures one of those titles.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Championships, Wimbledon 2005 -Junior Roundup

The Championships, Wimbledon 2005 - Junior Roundup
With fully half the boys quarterfinalists at Junior Wimbledon from the U.S., it's quite surprising that one of them isn't Sam Querrey, who had a very tough draw and lost today to French Open Jr. Champion Marin Cilic. The story on the match from Wimbledon.org is a good one.

The wrapup story (link at top of post) makes reference to Timothy Reilly, not Neilly, but I'm assuming that's not ignorance, just a typo. Neilly, the reigning Orange Bowl champion, is always dangerous. Donald Young's next opponent is French Open finalist Antal Van Der Duim of the Netherlands, and Americans Jesse Levine and Tim Smyczek resume their rivalry, guaranteeing a U.S. semifinalist. Levine won both their 2004 ITF matches in straight sets.

Another interesting tidbit from Junior Wimbledon--after the first round of boys doubles a grand total of one of the eight seeded teams remain.

It's Not Obvious To Wertheim


I read Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim's mailbag religiously. I respect his opinions and admire his writing. When he mentioned my blog in his mailbag, my readership quadrupled. In other words, I'm a fan. But I'm mystified by his answer to this question this week:

What do you think of young Andy Murray? The U.K. commentators have instantly jumped on the "Henman-replacement" bandwagon, usually guaranteed to achieve nothing more than pricing a promising sportsman out of the market with hysteria. He does look to have a lot of potential, given his solid serving and the kind of "unphasable" mentality you need to be successful when everyone else is hysterical in the U.K. Do you think he is showing signs of being good enough?
-- A. Bannatyne, Aberdeen, Scotland

Any teenager who can win two rounds at a Major and make hash of a solid veteran like Radek Stepanek has to be doing something right. I saw Murray play some in the juniors of Paris and in one match he looked terrific; in the other he looked like a teenager who had grown frustrated playing on his least favorite surface. He also handled himself well, all things considered, last week. And he's already on his way as a pro -- he received a wild card into the Campbell's Newport event next week.

Still, you feel for the kid. If he's from anywhere outside Old Blighty he's just another Novak Djokovic with a fairly raw game but undeniable potential. As it stands he'll be carrying the weight of a nation at the biggest event for the next decade or so. No wonder he's left the U.K. to train in Barcelona!


Murray's been in Barcelona for over two years. He fully expected to win the junior French and told Angela Buxton in January that "Down the road, in a few years I would like to win the French Open as my favourite surface has obviously become clay." Wertheim's implying that Murray was on his "least favorite surface" is an logical assumption, but it's wrong.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Brad Dancer Named Fighting Illini Men's Tennis Head Coach :: Dancer becomes the 19th men's tennis head coach at Illinois

Brad Dancer Named Fighting Illini Men's Tennis Head Coach :: Dancer becomes the 19th men's tennis head coach at Illinois--

I'm very pleased that Illinois named Associate Head Coach Brad Dancer to head the program after Craig Tiley's departure to Tennis Australia.

I haven't known Dancer very long, but I've run into him at enough junior tournaments to know that he works very hard recruiting. I've also seen him coaching at college tournaments, so I know he has that skill in his repertoire as well. If anyone is anticipating that Illinois will suffer with Tiley no longer at the helm, I think they're mistaken. Dancer won't miss a beat, and the Illini should contend for a national title next year.



Is American Tennis in Peril? (Washington Post; registration required)

Is American Tennis in Peril?
--
I don't know, but I'm not going to Jason Feller for the answers when he writes something this dumb:

Of the young rising stars in the junior circuit there is only one American male or female that is expected to be a serious contender, Donald Young.

Should I assume he's not a regular reader of zootennis?

Monday, June 27, 2005

US Has Notable Success at Wimbledon Juniors First Round

US Has Notable Success at Wimbledon Juniors First Round--

The U.S. junior boys had a very disappointing Roehampton, the Wimbledon junior warm-up event, with only Jesse Levine winning more than one match. But perhaps it served its purpose as, after the first round of Jr. Wimbledon, nine US boys are among the 32 remaining. The Netherlands, with four, has the next most surviving in the boys draw. Remarkably, every quarter has at least one American and one has two, meaning there could be, improbably, nothing but US players left in the quarters. That won't happen, of course, but after the Orange Bowl, in which all semifinalists were American, it doesn't seem entirely far-fetched.



The U.S. girls started with much less quantity, as only six made it in, and half lost in the first round, but the seeds, Kirkland, Glatch and King survived. The Wimbledon website covered the Glatch - Kudryavtseva match (link here) which was really a tough draw for both as Kudryavtseva was an Orange Bowl finalist last December, but hasn't been playing juniors events much since, and hence was unseeded. There aren't many 24 game sets played in the Juniors--and kudos to both girls for seeing it through.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Murray's Field of Dreams (Sunday Times)

Murray's Field of Dreams (Sunday Times)--

Perhaps the last post about Andrew Murray during this Wimbledon, but what a first week he had. I particularly like the writers dubbing it Andymonium. It was a bit surprising to me how little most of the Wimbledon fans knew about him prior to the fortnight, but he introduced himself to even the casual British tennis fan in a hurry. I will refrain from linking to the Sean Connery story--I'm not sure what his credentials are in tennis talent assessment, but he called Murray "as gifted as anybody who's ever played the game." Whatever you say 007. And Nick Bollettieri's comments weren't particularly enlightening either.

But I will link to columns by two former Wimbledon champs--John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors as they weigh in on Andy Murray.

McEnroe is referring to himself when he recalls Murray losing last fall to the "old man." That had to be one of the low points for Murray when he was attempting to determine his prospects for the future after his US Open Jr. win.

This is nitpicking, but McEnroe wasn't, as he claims here, the number one junior in the world in 1977. I happened to run across this on the Wimbledon website the other day:

The Junior World Ranking circuit was started by the ITF in 1977, linking nine of the major events for juniors. John McEnroe won all three tournaments he played, but finished third on the overall standings behind fellow American Van Winitsky. Czech Hana Strachanova headed the girls' year-end standings.


Winitsky and Strachanova are two of the names that point out how dicey it is predicting future professional success from junior results. (I have to say that in 1977, Winitsky had one of the most dominant tournaments I ever witnessed in Kalamazoo, not losing a set in singles and winning the doubles as well).

But I love the McEnroe quote at the end of this story when he compares his (much greater) first Wimbledon success with Murray's:
I remember thinking, "Either I'm better than I thought I was or these guys are worse than I thought". The same thought may have run through Murray's head these past two weeks.

It certainly ran through mine.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Championships, Wimbledon 2005 :One To Watch, Junior Wimbledon

The Championships, Wimbledon 2005: One To Watch-->

Or one not to watch, as Andrew Murray has pulled out, leaving Donald Young, at 2, the highest seed competing. There is no mention of this on the Wimbledon website, you have to figure it out for yourself by looking at the draw, which is finally posted.

As for this story, perhaps this comment is tinged with a bit of resentment, as I sent its author, David Bates, an email offering my services as a writer to Wimbledon.org's junior section and never received a response. Anyway, his piece is a look backwards, at how some now playing in the "senior" event fared as juniors. I know Wimbledon is all about tradition, but I can't help but think that he's writing this kind of story because he doesn't know anything about the current juniors.

Friday, June 24, 2005

ITF Tennis -Wimbledon Junior Preview

ITF Tennis - Wimbledon Junior Preview--
I would love to do my own Wimbledon Junior preview, but since there are no draws posted on either Wimbledon.org or the ITF site, I'm at a decided disadvantage to Mr. Fletcher, the author of this one, who at least is privy to the seeding.

I gather that Murray has been given the number one seed, as he was at the French Juniors, but he may not play. He certainly won't if he beats Nalbandian tomorrow, and the way Murray's been playing, I'm not dismissing his chances. He will be the clear favorite to win the juniors if he loses to Nalbandian and can find enough time between media sessions to play tennis.

But Croatian Marin Cilic, who beat Murray in the semis in Paris, just won the Grade 1 Roehampton junior event, and has the classic "ic" size and game. (I think. I've not seen him play since Sam Querrey beat him 7-6 in the third at last year's US Jr. Open). It would be no surprise to me if he took the Wimbledon junior title.

As for the world's top ranked junior, Donald Young, his game does not seem particularly suited to grass, despite the comparisons to John McEnroe that have been bandied about. Once he develops his serve, that surely will change, but for now just getting several matches on grass to begin to understand the nuances of the surface would be a realistic goal.

Other boys contenders include Sergei Bubka, Robin Haase, Petar Jelenic, Sam Querrey, Ryan Sweeting and Phillip Bester.

On the girls side, Azarenka, Kirkland and Wozniacki will bear watching, but as Kirkland is the only one that I've seen play, I hesitate to make any serious pronouncements on their chances.

I am assured that the draw has taken place, but still no publication of it anywhere. I will post a link to it when it's available.




Thursday, June 23, 2005

MURRAY RESTORES HOME PRIDE: Sporting Life

MURRAY RESTORES HOME PRIDE: Sporting Life> --

Before Wimbledon started you could probably have gotten pretty good odds from Ladbrokes that Andy Murray would be the last British player remaining in the main draw at Wimbledon. He wakes up tomorrow, still 18 years old, but now carrying all the baggage that Henman has been shouldering on behalf of AELTC nation for a decade.

Beating a top 16 seed today, Murray has yet to lose a set in the main draw at Wimbledon. And you thought "Wimbledon The Movie" was an unlikely Hollywood fantasy. What I love about sports is the absolutely unpredictable nature of it. Nothing Disney could concoct ever stands a chance of being as unlikely and inspiring as the triumphs we see on sport's grandest stages.

And with that, I'm off to watch the Pistons try to do the impossible--win their second game on the road to take the NBA title. Wanna bet?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Wimbledon Andrew Murray - Times Online

Wimbledon tennis Andrew Murray- Times Online--

It often seems that my blog is just one Donald Young, Sam Querrey and Andrew Murray story after another. Murray's first round win yesterday in the main draw puts him at the top of media heap once again, and there are literally dozens of stories I could post about it. I chose this one because it's so stylishly written, and gets at Murray's personality (although I vehemently disagree with the one description of him as "conveniently guarded"; maybe it's an expression of the Queen's English that is eluding me. If it's meant to suggest any reticence whatsoever, the reporter is mistaken).

Murray won the only 2004 junior Grand Slam singles title that Gael Monfils did not,
Monfils and after the Frenchman scored a second round win over Dominic Hrbaty, seeded 22nd, he raised the bar for Murray, who faces the 14th seed Radek Stepanek in his second round match Thursday. The BBC News story here at least manages to give a nod in Monfils direction, which given the current Murray-mania is commendable.

Note to BBC editor: Gasquet turned 19 last Saturday. In Nottingham. There was quite a big deal made of it, because he won his first ATP tournament that day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Flipping the Script: Tennis.com

Flipping the Script: Tennis.com

You have to page to the bottom of Steve Tignor's story to see it, but it's there--my first item (story would be stretching the point) in Tennis Magazine.

It's fitting that it's attached to Steve's story; the managing editor of Tennis Magazine is the reason I got to write it. I met him at the Orange Bowl in Key Biscayne last December, and unlike a number of tennis writers I've met, he follows and likes the junior game. He was interested in my comments and perspective (always flattering) and in addition, he was very easy to talk to as we watched a couple of matches together. At the time, I was still hawking my Oudsema college vs. pro opus , and he not only read it but passed it along for me. Although nothing came of that particular foray, he urged me to pitch this Murray story, and I got the assignment.

Steve's blogging for Tennisworld at Wimbledon right now (read it--it's great stuff), so it's doubtful he'll ever see this post, but it's a public, and overdue, thank you to him for his encouragement.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Phenomenal player--L.A. Daily News - Sports

Phenomenal player-- L.A. Daily News - Sports--

Another Sam Querrey story, but this one isn't via his hometown newspaper. Lots of nice details on how he has done more the Lindsay Davenport approach to tennis while in high school than the Agassi and Sampras route (they "played up" regularly).

I'm pleased to read that Querrey has finally gotten a clothing endorsement--as of the Easter Bowl, he didn't have one--a baffling situation after his performance at the US Open last year, but I can't find much rhyme or reason to endorsements since I've been paying attention to such things.

Also, there is an error in the story--apparently the quote attributed to his father, Ed, is actually his grandfather Ed, whom I've seen at many of Sam's matches.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Grass Clippings

©Colette Lewis 2005--
Grass Clippings--

Quiet Please

Grass court tennis is different, and the distinctions are not truly discernible when watching Wimbledon on TV. It took me a full day to adjust to the absence of sound when the ball hits the court, and in the wide-open meadow that constitutes the Philadelphia Cricket Club venue, even the ball hitting the racquet produced a less distinct thunk. PCCclubhouseWith no stadium walls or stands to hold noise, the first impression was overwhelming quiet, broken only occasionally by a player's shriek over a bad bounce or the clatter of silverware from the veranda overlooking the feature courts where the members lunched.

As long as those clamdiggers are white
Eventually I began to accept what was being played as tennis, not some noiseless and archaic predecessor of the current sport. But the atmosphere at the club was so genteel, so civilized, that I almost expected to see someone take the court in Bill Tilden-style white flannel trousers. Sondhu Nadal's current costume would have been unthinkable, and indeed, he would have been asked to ditch the neon shirt in favor of the white attire the Club requires.

The Neighborhood
The Philadelphia Cricket Club is surrounded by beautiful slate-roofed, ivy-covered mansions of Chestnut Hill, and many of the tournament's participants are housed in them--guests of club members with a spare room or two and tennis playing children who serve as ballrunners. (ITF Grade 3s and above are required to provide "hospitality", i.e. meals and lodging). CnutHillhome
Because most of US juniors who were in Europe for the French Open returned to England for the Roehampton Grade 1 event and did not play the US Grass Courts, the field was made up of younger juniors, who were getting their very first exposure to grass court tennis. USTA High Performance Coach David DiLucia, who is from the Philadelphia area, conducted a grass court camp for a few days prior to the tournament, using both the Merion and Cricket Club grass courts. Germantown Cricket Club also features grass tennis courts, making Philadelphia the undisputed center of grass tennis in the United States. The burning question is, of course, do they play cricket?, which apparently they do, once a year in May.

Top Three Reasons I'll Return Next Year
3. Ian Crookenden, the tournament director, who treated my husband and I as if we were valued volunteers, even though we weren't actually required to DO anything.

2. Ballrunners and officials. Ballrunners are scarce at junior tournaments anywhere outside Kalamazoo, but not at PCC where they were abundant and enthusiastic all through the tournament. The predominantly Middle States section officials were generally excellent, even with lines that are nowhere near as distinct as those on clay or hard courts. ballrunners

1. The food. The buffet that players and volunteers were offered was the club members lunch as well, uniformly excellent and, I don't think I'm overstating this, every bit the equal of a cruise ship in quality, variety and quantity. The coconut crusted chocolate/butterscotch brownies were a revelation to someone who thought she'd experienced every worthwhile variation of a bar cookie. This one elevates the form. In addition, an ice cream sandwich wagon appeared every afternoon, a perfect snack if you somehow avoided overeating at lunch. Tip to prospective players--the food alone is worth the $70 entry fee, even if you lose in the first round (but sign up for doubles; that guarantees you another whole day to eat).
PCC1854

Jetlag free
One of my goals for this year was to get a credential to Wimbledon. It didn't happen, but my disappointment is minimal, what with this similar-- no, superior--experience at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. No media hordes, no queues, no endorsement-rich tennis stars, no royal boxes, no English food, no rain. The U.S. Junior International Grass Court Championships have much to recommend them vs. "The Championships".

Have Racket, Will Travel for Ticket to the Show - New York Times (registration required)

Have Racket, Will Travel for Ticket to the Show - New York Times--

Not a junior story, but one every prospective professional tennis player should read. That it is a story about one of my favorite players ever at Kalamazoo, Paul Goldstein, is just icing on the cake. When he won an unprecedented three titles in a row in Kalamazoo, he landed in the record books here, and then added an NCAA record at Stanford as the first player on four championship teams. This next record he's chasing is not so substantial, most singles wins on the Pro Circuit.

He didn't qualify for Wimbledon, [see comment for clarification] so it's back to the minor leagues for him, but I don't know a single person in tennis who isn't rooting for him to spend as much time in the "show" as he wants to and to retire when he's good and ready.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Roy, Brengle Win Grass Court Championships

©Colette Lewis 2005--
Roy, Brengle Win Grass Court Championships--

My schedule didn't permit me to stay in Philadelphia Saturday when the singles finals were played, (it's like leaving a movie with ten minutes remaining; not recommended) so I did not see Rupesh Roy's 6-1, 6-2 win over Wil Spencer, nor Madison Brengle's 6-3, 6-3 upset of Lindsay Burdette. Brengle played extremely well in her semifinal match, and was the third seed, so maybe it's not all that surprising, but Burdette seemed very comfortable on grass and is much more imposing physically than is Brengle.
Brengle2

As for Roy, I never saw him play on either of the feature courts, so I admit I'm not speaking with much hard knowledge, but he won both the singles and doubles titles, not losing a set in singles competition, so it would be hard to argue against his game, which, though not classic serve and volley, shows evidence of familiarity and suitability for grass courts. He has now won two ITF events in the United States since April, and made the quarterfinals in the other one, proving he's consistently good.
Roy
I hope to do a tournament wrapup story Sunday afternoon, with some personal impressions of the whole experience of the Grass Courts.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Spencer Closes Strong to Reach Boys Final; Girls Top Seed Burdette Tries Again for Championship

Spencer Closes Strong to Reach Boys Final; Girls Top Seed Burdette Tries Again for Championship--
©Colette Lewis 2005--
Philadelphia PA--

Floridians Clint Bowles and Wil Spencer stood at two matches apiece in their rivalry, having split two hard court and two clay court meetings. Unsurprisingly, their semifinal match Friday at the US Grass Court Championship at the Philadelphia Cricket Club was a two and a half hour epic, with Spencer saving three match points en route to a 6-7(6), 6-1, 7-5 victory.
Spencer

Neither Spencer, 15, or Bowles, 16, had lost a set in the tournament, so it was fitting that the first set ended with a tiebreaker. Spencer ran out to a 4-0 lead, but Bowles fought back, converting his second set point.

In set two, Spencer, seeded sixth, immediately seized the advantage, galloping to a 4-0 lead before Bowles finally held, then finished the set with a flourish by breaking Bowles to get even.

In the third set, the roller coaster of a match saw Bowles peaking early, up two breaks and 3-0 before Spencer started chipping away at the lead, getting one break back, but still down 5-4 when Bowles stepped to the line to serve for a place in the finals. Spencer earned a 15-40 lead in the game, and at 30-40 thought he had evened the set when he called a ball on the baseline out, but was overruled by the chair umpire. Bowles then garnered the ad, and with it match points, three times, but each time Spencer denied him, and the psychological edge Spencer gained there effectively ended the match, as he held at love and broke Bowles at love in the final game.

"At the end, I decided to be agressive, not defensive," said Spencer, "and it paid off."

Asked about the overrule, and his ability to shrug off the effects of it, Spencer said, "I wanted to win so bad, I just let it go. I was focusing so hard on winning that I didn't let it bother me."

Spencer's opponent in the final on Saturday is fifth seed Rupesh Roy of India, who defeated Cory Parr 6-3, 7-6 (4). Roy, 16, was unable to serve out the match at 5-4, but prevailed in the tiebreaker when the 17-year-old New Yorker lost both his serves at 3-4.

Roy and Bradley Cox, the third seeded team, took the doubles championship over the unseeded team of Bowles and Michael Sroczynski 6-7(8), 7-5, 6-2. Until five all in the second set, there were no service breaks, but eventually Cox and Roy coaxed one from a weary Bowles, squaring the match. When they broke Sroczynski in the first game of the third set, then held, Cox and Roy established an edge that they had no trouble maintaining as they did not drop serve in the entire match.

The semifinal matches in girls singles were less dramatic, as last year's Grass Court finalist and top seed Lindsay Burdette, 17, took out unseeded thirteen-year-old Julia Boserup 6-3, 6-2 and third seed Madison Brengle ended the impressive run of Pennsylvanian qualifier Michaela Kissell 6-2, 6-1. Brengle, 15, lost the first two games of the match, then ran off 11 straight games before Kissell got on the board.
WeinholdMarand
In the girls doubles final, Texans Sanaz Marand and Ashley Weinhold lived up to the top seeds, as they defeated the second seeded team of Jelena Durisic and Stefanie Nunic 6-3, 6-4. Marand and Weinhold breezed through the draw without losing a set.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

True Confessions of a Grass Court Absentee

True Confessions of a Grass Court Absentee--
©Colette Lewis 2005--
Philadelphia PA--

Due to another commitment today, I couldn't watch the quarterfinals, and I am loathe to indulge in the write-a-story-by-looking-at-the-drawsheet form of tennis journalism. Instead, I'll just comment.

Bowles beating Salmon, whose game is classic grasscourt, 1 and 0? Look out--the last time Bowles got on a roll like this he won a National title (see Mobile, March 2005). And fifth seed Rupesh Roy, with his 2 and 1 win over the number one seed Johnny Hamui, and Cory Parr, same score, over seventh seed Shan Sondhu also made statements with their performances today. Wil Spencer, seeded sixth, scored a mild upset over fourth seed Albe Richelieu to round out the semifinals on the boys side. The boys doubles looked to be much more exciting than the singles today, as unseeded Bowles and Mike Sroczynski edged Salmon and Spencer in a third set tiebreaker, while Bradley Cox and Roy, seeded third, eliminated the second seeded team of Richelieu and Matthew Sands.

As with the boys, the girls semifinals will feature two unseeded players: Julia Boserup, the thirteen-year-old Californian, who earned her spot with a three set victory over Caitlin Whoriskey as did qualifier Michaela Kissell, a straight set winner over sixth seed Stefanie Nunic. Boserup will face top seed Lindsay Burdette and Kissell draws Madison Brengle, the third seed. Burdette dismissed unseeded Denise Dy 6-4, 6-3 and Brengle had little trouble with the fifth seed Jelena Durisic, if the 6-1, 6-2 score paints an accurate picture.

The girls doubles seeds worked out as planned, at least, with Sanaz Marand and Ashley Weinhold, the top seeds, scheduled to face the second seeded team of Durisic and Nunic. Marand and Weinhold eliminated the Burdette sisters in straight sets and Durisic and Nunic salvaged something from the day, beating Brengle and Carolyn McVeigh in two tiebreak sets.

For full draws and scores click here

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Quarterfinals Set at Grass Courts

©Colette Lewis 2005--
Philadelphia PA--

Unseeded Clint Bowles and Carlos Salmon advanced to a quarterfinal meeting after convincing wins Wednesday at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, site of the ITF International Grass Court Championship.

Bowles eliminated Jarmere Jenkins 6-3, 6-2, while Salmon sidelined eighth seed Dimitri Loucareas 6-0, 6-2. Salmon's first serve, a formidable weapon on hard courts, is even more impressive on the grass, and as the wind and absence of rain firmed the playing surface, he used it to great advantage. Loucareas, who won a three set battle of big servers in the first round, started badly and was unable to find any rhythm in a match where three strokes was a long rally.

Fourth seed Albe Richlieu was extended to three sets for the second consecutive match, but once again survived, defeating Ruan Roleofse 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. He will face sixth seed Wil Spencer in the quarterfinals; Spencer cruised past Adam El Mihdawy Wednesday afternoon 6-0, 6-3.
Brengle
In girls singles action, qualifier Michaela Kissell continued her charge through the draw, dispatching Lyndsay Kinstler 6-1, 7-5. She will meet sixth seed Stefanie Nunic, who overcame Mallory Burdette 2-6, 6-2, 6-2. Fifth seed Jelena Durisic subdued a stubborn Melaine Oudin 7-5, 6-4 and, in the only meeting of two seeded players in the girls quarterfinals, will take on Madison Brengle, the third seed.

Brengle breezed through the first set of her match with Jessi Robinson, taking it 6-1, but Robinson regrouped, breaking Brengle at 5-6 to even it at a set each. Both girls found it difficult to hold serve in the final set, not surprising really, as the server rarely ventured to the net, preferring to take her chances from the baseline. When Brengle stepped to the line serving at 6-5, it seemed quite likely that a tiebreaker would decide it, even when Brengle jumped out to a 40-0 lead, there was a tenuous feel to her lead. The determined Robinson managed to save four match points in the game but Brengle forced an error to eke out the win.

In doubles action, an unseeded team is assured in the boys finals as both Salmon-Spencer and Bowles and Mike Sroczynski won on Wednesday and face each other in the semifinals. Form held in the bottom half, as second seeds Richelieu and Matthew Sands and third seeds Brad Cox and Rupesh Roy earned their way into the semifinals.

Only the fourth seeds are missing from the semifinals in the girls division as Brengle and partner Carolyn McVeigh upset Manijee Ashrafi and Yolande Leacock. Brengle and McVeigh will face second seeds Durisic and Nunic, while top seeds Sanaz Marand and Ashley Weinhold take on sisters Lindsay and Mallory Burdette, the third seeds.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Few Surprises Tuesday at Grass Courts

©Colette Lewis 2005
Philadelphia PA--

With only eight singles matches on the schedule, the opportunity for surprises was limited; Lindsay Burdette and Johnny Hamui, the top seeds, didn't give their opponents so much as a breath of hope Tuesday in the oppressive heat at the Philadelphia Cricket Club.

Burdette steamrolled Mia Fiocca 6-0, 6-0 and Hamui was nearly as dominant, mowing down Matthew Sands 6-1, 6-1. The other seeded player in the girls top half, Sanaz Marand, was unable to join Burdette in the quarterfinals however, as Caitlin Whoriskey defeated the fourth seed 6-3, 6-3. Denise Dy and Julia Boserup followed up on their first round upsets with wins on Tuesday--Dy defeating Logan Hansen 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 and Boserup downing Lindsay Clark 6-2, 6-2.

Rupesh Roy (5) and Shan Sondhu (7) had routine straight set wins over Brad Cox and Andy Magee to advance to the quarterfinals. Cory Parr's route was more challenging, as he overcame cramps and a one set deficit to defeat Philadelphian Maksim Tikhomirov 5-7, 6-2, 6-2. Serving at 3-2 30-all in the third set, Parr crumpled to the court, unable to move his left leg. A trainer provided oncourt assistance and after a brief interval, Parr resumed play, showing no further signs of distress, winning that game, and the next two, to take the match.
Parr

After that scare, Parr did not participate in doubles, although his usual partner Carlos Salmon did find a substitute in Wil Spencer and they advanced in two tiebreak sets. Tikhomirov teamed with Dan Buikema to upset the fourth seeded team of Corey Huggins and Dimitri Loucareas 6-4, 6-4. With the withdrawal of the top seeded doubles team of Peter Aarts and Jonathan Boym, only two seeded teams remain in the boys doubles. The four seeded girls doubles teams all advanced on Tuesday. For full draws see the tournament website

Monday, June 13, 2005

Second Seeds Second Best at Grass Courts Monday

©Colette Lewis 2005--
Philadelphia PA--

Top seeds Johnny Hamui and Lindsay Burdette advanced to the second round on Monday, but number two seed Peter Aarts in the boys division and Ashley Weinhold, the girls' second seed, were both upended in opening round play.

Clint Bowles of Tampa FL, the USTA Spring 18s National Champion, eliminated Aarts 7-6(2), 6-3. "I liked it," said the lefthander of his first competitive match ever on grass, "it was fun." Aarts, of Pound Ridge NY, considered Bowles' return of serve as the key to his win. "I didn't serve my best, but he returned well."

Aarts wasn't the only boys seed to fall, as his doubles partner, third seed Jonathan Boym of Marlboro NJ was upset by 14-year-old local favorite Maksim Tikhomirov, 6-4, 6-0.

Tikhomirov
Top seed Hamui survived a strong challenge from qualifier George Laffey 6-3, 6-4 and fourth seed Albe Richelieu pulled through, outlasting Dan Buikema 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

In the last match of the day, girls number two seed Ashley Weinhold managed to force a third set, but could not overcome qualifier Michaela Kissell of Hostetter PA, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. Seventh seed Yolande Leacock and eighth seed Kristy Frilling were also upset victims. Julia Boserup beat Leacock 6-3, 6-2 and Denise Dy downed Frilling 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Burdette needed nearly two and a half hours to subdue Blakely Ashley 6-4, 6-7(1), 6-3. Burdette's younger sister Mallory, who is in the opposite half of the draw, also fought her way into the second round, defeating Kirsten Flower 6-3, 7-6 (6).

The comeback of the day however, belonged to Adam El Mihdawy, who got into the main draw as a lucky loser, lost the first nine games in his match with Viju George, then reeled off ten of the next thirteen games, eventually advancing when George retired, 0-6, 6-4, 4-2.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Road Trip


All this talk of grass court tennis has me very excited about attending my first tournament on that surface. No, it's not Nottingham or Roehampton, but Philadelphia, for the USTA Junior International Grass Courts, which begin tomorrow. It's a small draw (32) but it's boys and girls, singles and doubles, and there are 21 grass courts at the Philadelphia Cricket Club to wander. Add to that a visit with family in the area, and it sounds like a perfect way to spend a week in June.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Guardian Unlimited Sport Tennis: Foolish to hurry Murray says Becker

Guardian Unlimited Sport | Tennis | Foolish to hurry Murray says Becker--

How would the British press fill their pages if not for Murray and Becker? Becker's assessment of Murray's game seems clear-eyed, much more so than his rating of the German player mentioned in this piece from last month. Apparently overrating one's young countrymen is an occupational hazard in tennis circles. Yet another reason to suspect that Craig Tiley will add fresh perspective to the Australian development program.

As for saluting the flag, this brief excerpt from the Telegraph had me shaking my head.

Another youngster making a big impression is Britain's Andrew Kennaugh, who yesterday won the Stella Artois junior title, fighting back from 0-3 in the final set to beat Australia's Carsten Ball. You wait ages for a good young British player to come along, and then they all arrive at once.

Yes, Kennaugh's win over Ball is a good one, but this is an exhibition, not a junior event sanctioned by the ITF. If the Stella Artois's website doesn't even post a draw for the juniors, can it really be taken seriously? I'd bet a quid that if a player other than Kennaugh had won (providing he wasn't British), there would have been no mention of it anywhere.

And last year, Brit Miles Kasiri made the Wimbledon junior finals and this is where he is, or isn't, today.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Lauren Embree: Junior Spotlight of the Week (usta.com)

Lauren Embree: Junior Spotlight of the Week--
I haven't focused much on the girls side of tennis lately, so I thought I'd link to the current Junior Spotlight of the Week for Lauren Embree. Embree
First, I owe her an apology as my headline from the Easter Bowl had her finals opponent Connie Hsu as the champion (it's now corrected). I can only plead exhaustion as that was after 14 straight days of junior tennis reporting. Anyway, that Easter Bowl final is the only time I've seen her play, but I was impressed with her grit and her poise. As the number one seed in Palm Springs, she was the target, as she will be in the Florida State Closed Sectional, which begins today. But she's not playing the 14s, rather the 13-year-old is top seed in the 16s division, a definite step up in maturity levels for her.

And, there is this interesting item from the tournament home website: EXCITING INCENTIVE FOR 16'S AND 18'S PLAYERS - ALL 16'S AND 18'S FINALISTS WILL RECEIVE $1250 FOR EXPENSES TO BE USED AT THE 2005 SUMMER NATIONAL CLAY COURT OR HARD COURT CHAMPIONSHIPS. MONEY WILL BE DISTRIBUTED TO 3RD PLACE PLAYER IN CASE FINALISTS ELECT NOT TO PLAY NATIONALS. RECEIPTS MUST BE PROVIDED.

I don't know enough about sectional tennis (my one exposure a year is in Florida in January) to know if this is unusual, but it has me raising an eyebrow. I'll need to call my friend Bobby Curtis after he's done directing this mammoth tournament, to get more details on the reasoning behind this "incentive."

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Guzick a 'genius' on and off the court (Anderson Independent Mail--registration required)

--Guzick a 'genius' on and off the court--
I had my choice of several UK stories to feature today, as Andrew Murray is making a big splash in the ATP grass court warmup at Queen's Club (link to story on his win over Dent here), but it's graduation time, not just grass court season, so here's a story about Will Guzick GuzickEasterBowl and his jaw-dropping 1600 score on the SAT. According to Kaplan's Test Prep & Admissions website, "...about seven out of every 10,000 test takers will earn a 1600 on the SAT I."

And I'd put the odds of winning the Easter Bowl and having a perfect SAT score at approximately astronomical.

Due to a September birthday, Guzick has three more years to play the junior summer circuit, and another whole year before colleges can begin to recruit him in earnest. Enjoy this summer Will--the deluge awaits.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

UI men's tennis coach heading Down Under--The News-Gazette Online

The News-Gazette Online: UI men's tennis coach heading Down Under----
Time for me to weigh in on the news that Craig Tiley is leaving the University of Illinois to take the newly created position of Director of Player Development with Tennis Australia.

Tiley
According to this AP story, Tiley had turned down the offer recently, which may account for the rumors swirling at the NCAAs late last month about his possible departure. From my few conversations with him, I know that he's not coy, and I suspected, as apparently did his AD and others, that he wasn't going to stay at Illinois forever. In fact, I believe he told me as much when I interviewed him for my story on Scott Oudsema last November.

His stint as South African Davis Cup Captain was also a clue that his ambitions exceeded the realm of college tennis. And why not? Although nothing he can do in Australia can approach the rags-to-riches empire building he did at Illinois, he will be doing it for an entire country, not a state university, with the requisite increase in money and talent that demographic implies. And I can't imagine anyone would look back wistfully on the onerous and often picayune NCAA regulations for student-athletes or the small number of scholarships available (in men's tennis 4 1/2).

For those not fully conversant with the miraculous creation of a tennis powerhouse that Tiley fashioned at Illinois, I'm happy to direct you to this 2003 story by Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated, written prior to Illinois winning the National Championship. Wertheim followed up on it with another story last spring, but you must be a Sports Illustrated subscriber to read it online.

There are now questions to be asked-- who will take over for Tiley? (associate coach Brad Dancer, I hope--he says he's interested); what is Tiley's plan for getting Australian juniors back in the international elite? (whatever it is, I'm predicting it will be widely copied).

And the question that occurred to me earlier today--couldn't the USTA have found a similar position for Tiley, who is vice chair of USTA High Performance committee?

I understand they tried--here is the job posting dated yesterday, for a new position that Tiley was offered. Whatever counteroffer Tennis Australia floated obviously tilted the scales to them, but I'm only mildly disappointed that he won't be developing talent in the U.S. Tiley has contributed so much to college tennis here in the United States, has demonstrated so vividly how a passionate and adept leader can change a culture, that he deserves a grander stage, wherever it leads him. I know the sport of tennis will be the ultimate beneficiary of his love for the game.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

'Sco' holds court in Woodland (Daily Democrat)


Daily Democrat Online - Sports
-- 'Sco' holds court in Woodland
--
I'm on record as a big fan of Scoville Jenkins, and I've read more than a few stories about him, but this is an exceptionally good one. He and his father, also named Scoville, have some refreshing comments about the role of race in tennis in this piece.

And the Jimmy Connors anecdote is new to me. I had never heard of this ‘Star Search‘ roadshow he conducted.

Unfortunately, Jenkins didn't make it out of qualifying for the Futures in Woodland and so he starts over again next week. But I can't fathom him getting downhearted or discouraged. He'll just work harder.

Monday, June 6, 2005

Illini descend on Futures (Daily Democrat Online )

--Illini descend on Futures-- Daily Democrat Online -- Only too happy to post any story whose first two words are Brad Dancer, the associate head coach of the University of Illinois. I didn't know Brad late last summer, when he suffered serious injuries in an automobile accident while transporting Illinois team members to a tournament much like the one in this story. He seemed completely recovered when I met him at the ITA Individual Indoor Championships in Ann Arbor in November, and I've since seen him at nearly all the junior and college tournaments I've covered--scouting at the former, coaching at the latter.
Dancer
I've already posted several stories on the Illinois tennis program, so I will only briefly reiterate my admiration for it. Players get better there, which is the bottom line when talk turns to whether college tennis is a viable route for a promising junior.

Ryler DeHeart, who earned a main draw berth by winning the wild card event, I've known for a long time, as far back as his Florida sectional days when he won a designated junior event while I was running the desk. GD Jones and Kevin Anderson both competed in the US Open Jrs. last year, and I have seen them play some great collegiate tennis several times this year.

I hope Jones and Anderson, who, with DeHeart, have all played in the number one position at Illinois, qualify here and continue to perform well this summer while playing in the minor leagues. Not because the Illinois program needs any more visibility, but because college tennis does.

Sunday, June 5, 2005

ITF Tennis - Juniors - Cilic and Szavay crowned king and queen of clay

ITF Tennis - Juniors -Cilic and Szavay crowned king and queen of clay

Two unseeded boys meet in the singles final and an unseeded team wins the doubles. I don't think any of them were mentioned in the previews I posted, were they?

With Puerta the most recent in a spate of unseeded men's finalists at the French, I'm tempted to just chalk it up as a side effect of clay. And certainly there was no reason to suspect that Antal Van Der Duim of the Netherlands would be in the final, as he had never reached an ITF Grade A or Grade 1 singles final prior to Roland Garros.

Champion Marin Cilic lost to Donald Young in the quarterfinals in Australia, and hadn't played any junior events in between, competing in Futures and Challengers instead. Perhaps this win signals a maturation, indicating that he will be a contender for the remaining Grand Slams, this year and next.

I don't expect him to be seeded at Wimbledon, the tournament he says, in the Roland Garros.com website story below, that every Croatian wants to win. But I guess coming out of the pack at Roland Garros didn't present much of a problem-- he beat the first, third and fifth seeds on his way to the final-- so his confidence may carry him through at the All-England as well. But I gather Andrew Murray will be very eager for a rematch there.

Roland Garros - The 2005 French Open--Cilic wins Junior Boys’ title

Roland Garros - The 2005 French Open -Cilic wins Junior Boys’ title---

Roland Garros - The 2005 French Open -Junior Girls: Szavay’s double

Roland Garros - The 2005 French Open - Junior Girls: Szavay’s double

Saturday, June 4, 2005

Guardian Unlimited Sport | Tennis | Murray is blown out in anger

Guardian Unlimited Sport | Tennis | Murray is blown out in anger--
It was surprising that Murray lost to Cilic in straight sets, but this story was exactly what I expected from the British press afterward.

And although I'm not really all that enamored of racquet-smashing as a response to frustration, it demonstrates to me how very different Murray is from many of the previous British players. Competing with emotion doesn't work for everybody, but there's only so much of your personality you can submerge on a tennis court. Murray has high standards and expectations of himself, at least as lofty, I suspect, as the British press has for him. There's bound to be disappointment when he doesn't meet them, and although Preston implies otherwise, there really isn't a preferred way to respond to the realization that you are not playing as you know you can.
MurrayOpen04

I don't know whether Murray lost because he took his opponent lightly. That seems unlikely to me. I'm sure he thought he could beat Cilic if they both were playing their best, and I don't see the problem with him saying so. The mature adult in me knows that Murray would be better off talking in cliches, never saying anything that would allow his personality to surface. There is no price to pay for that. No stories like this one to endure. But I'm casting one vote for candor. May the no-spin zone always envelop Andy Murray.

Friday, June 3, 2005

Courting perfection -- Querrey rolls 6-0, 6-0: Ventura County Star (registration required)

Ventura County Star: Tennis Courting perfection -- Querrey rolls 6-0, 6-0--
I look forward to reading anything Rhiannon Potkey writes, whether about Sam Querrey or not. Querrey lost in three sets to Lukas Lacko of Slovakia in the quarterfinals (see Potkey's story on that here), but I was also stunned to see this score in his Round of 16 match with Kennaugh, as I mentioned in a post on Tuesday.

I've got an idea: rather than have Potkey do her reporting on Querrey via email and quotes from dad Mike, the editors of the Ventura County Star should send her to Wimbledon. I understand that daily newspapers get priority for credentials there, so it could work. Or I am naive to think a newspaper would spend that kind of money for a junior tennis story? (sigh--I think I've answered my own rhetorical question.) But she does cover the Bryan brothers locally too.
Bryans

Thursday, June 2, 2005

ITF Tennis - Juniors - French Open Quarterfinals

ITF Tennis - Juniors - French Open Quarterfinals

The quote from Andrew Murray in this story is just so typical of him:

"I practiced with him the day before the tournament started, and that was the first time I saw him....I think if I play like I did today, I should win pretty comfortably."

There are very few tennis players of any age as candid and forthright as Murray, and he doesn't seem to mind if he comes off a bit arrogant. It makes him a writer's delight, and he gets amazing coverage in Great Britain, especially when Henman and Rusedski are out of it and the media is there for the duration, looking to fill air and space. That Murray has just dumped his Spanish coach only adds spice to soup du jour the British press is concocting of his young career.

But count me among the impressed after his 4 & 2 win today over del Potro of Argentina. I expected it to be a long and closely contested match, and probably that 54 minute first set was, but Murray apparently took liberties with del Potro's second serve, as the Argentine won only a quarter of those points.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Being a Prodigy Has Its Faults - New York Times (registration required)

Being a Prodigy Has Its Faults - New York Times--

Rhoden weighs in on Donald Young in this story from Paris, where Young lost in the second round yesterday to Ukrainian Dolgopolov, who has hands comparable to Young's. In other words, very nice.

Rhoden quotes mentor McEnroe as now predicting that Young will struggle. Jumping off the bandwagon pretty fast, aren't you John?

But I agree completely with Donald Sr. that Jr. needs matches.
Junior matches. Futures qualifying matches. Some anonymity.
Well, the first two can be arranged.

Note to the Times fact-checking staff: The ATP doesn't have anything to do with junior tennis tournaments. It's the ITF.

ITF Tennis - Juniors - French Open

ITF Tennis - Juniors - French Open--

Eleanor Preston writing for the ITF junior site is welcome, especially since the official Roland Garros site doesn't have any stories on juniors. (But the match stats even for juniors are awesome. I hope the USTA follows suit for this year's Open.)

But her dismissal of Andrew Kennaugh, the opponent that Sam Querrey double-bagled today, as a mere qualifier overlooks the drama in this match, (albeit before it was played).

At the Orange Bowl last December, Querrey was coming off a big win over France's Jeremy Chardy, who had just won the Grade 1 Eddie Herr. Querrey easily took the first set from Great Britain's Kennaugh in their Round of 16 match, but dropped the second. Querrey then held a match point at 5-3 in the third, but missed a sitter at the net, and Kennaugh, the very definition of a grinder, fought back to force, then win a tiebreaker.

I was anticipating a similarily tight contest today. Obviously it couldn't have been more one-sided. Querrey's now reached the quarterfinals of the last (and first) two junior Grand Slams he's played and there are no seeds left in his half.

So I'll take credit for saying on Sunday that the US junior boys would do better than their older compatriots (there were three in the Round of 16), and that the seeding was bizarre. Only 1, 6 & 5 remain, as I mentioned, all in the top half. And with all their wild cards and highly-touted development program, no French boys (and only one girl) remain. South America has only one representative in the boys' quarters and Spain none.

Having just written that got me thinking that I hadn't seen a world class junior from Spain in my three or four visits to top level international events, so I just went to the ITF junior rankings to see who've they got. And, incredibly, there is not one Spanish boy in the top 200. Does this mean their well is running dry? Somehow I doubt it. Their juniors are probably playing the satellites and futures instead. Last year, Nadal could have played the juniors, but instead was beating Federer at the Nasdaq. Meanwhile, there are two Ukrainians, a Croatian and a Slovakian in the quarters. I wonder if the Spanish and French media are fretting about their tennis futures based on this one tournament. Again, I doubt it. Sometimes a tennis match is just a tennis match, not a referendum on the state of the game in some sort of global competition. That's what Davis Cup is for. And Croatia might just win it this year.