Sunday, July 31, 2005

Young top 18s seed for this week's USTAs (Kalamazoo Gazette)

8:00 p.m. update--
Due to technical problems, the draw may not be posted until Monday. But the complete list of seeds is now available by clicking here


Young top 18s seed for this week's USTAs

Unlike many junior tournaments, where the draw is not revealed until the day before the event, Kalamazoo, with its Sunday afternoon draw, gives everyone plenty of time to analyze it. I will post a link to it as soon as possible Sunday afternoon.

Here are the top ten boys 18s seeds:
1. Donald Young
2. Sam Querrey
3. Tim Neilly
4, Tim Smyczek
5. Jesse Levine
6. Alex Clayton
7. Mykyta Kryvonos
8. Denis Zivkovic
9. Marcus Fugate
10. Kellen Damico

Here are the top ten seeds in 16s:
1. Dennis Lajola
2. Wil Spencer
3. Steve Forman
4. Mateusz Kecki
5. Nate Schnugg
6. Dennis Nevolo
7, Will Guzick
8. Tyler Hochwalt
9. Jared Pinsky
10. Johnny Hamui

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Legg Mason Tennis Classic--Qualifying Preview

Legg Mason Tennis Classic--
I needed a starting point for the stunning news that Tyler Hochwalt, the 16s champion at the USTA Clay Courts last week, has won two matches in qualifying at the Legg-Mason Tennis Classic today in Washington DC.

Tyler's mom, Debbie, was kind enough to alert me that he had won his first match, over Horia Tecau, the seventh seed, who is ranked in the 300s on the ATP tour. Most 16-year-olds aren't going to win a set, let alone a match, in a ATP qualifying event, and yet Hochwalt came back and won his second match this afternoon, this time over Damiisa Robinson.

These are the type of results that are encouraging for a young professional such as Phillip Simmonds, who is now 19 and hasn't
played a junior tournament since last year's US Jr. Open. (Simmonds also won two qualifying matches today.) They are the stuff that dreams are made of for a youngster like Hochwalt. How cool would it be for Hochwalt to qualify and then draw Alex Clayton, the 18s Clays champion, in the main draw?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Koz Interviews Boys' 18 Clay-Court Champ Clayton::Tennis Week

Koz Interviews Boys' 18 Clay-Court Champ Clayton:: Tennis Week--
Well, actually, several of us interviewed Alex Clayton, not just the Koz, but he has been nice enough to cite me in the credits of his TV show and recommend me to a production manager at the Tennis Channel, so I'm not complaining.

One of the interesting parts of tennis journalism that I've discovered in the past year is the difference in the stories that emerge from the same post-match interview. Sometimes one particular quote will drive all stories, but usually there are as many different angles as there are reporters. Oh, and if anyone gets The Tennis Channel and sees the show on the Clay Courts, I'd love to hear comments.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Academy gives teen lessons in tennis, life

Academy gives teen lessons in tennis, life--

First it was Kellen Damico, now it's Tyler Hochwalt who has shown impressive results after a few months at the Roddick-Moros International Tennis Academy. This lengthy story is about both Hochwalt and his family, and the academy life.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sundling rolls to USTA win:: Ventura County Star (registration required)


Ventura County Star: Tennis --

What the ever vigilant Rhiannon Potkey's account of JT Sundling's second straight national 14-and-under singles title doesn't say is that he is a big favorite to win the next one too. With Ryan Harrison playing the 16s here in Kalamazoo next month, Sundling will certainly be the top seed in the 14s in San Antonio and the surface (hard) is much more suited to his game than the clay.

For an account of the 14-and-under boys Clay Courts from Ft. Lauderdale,
update: link no longer available as of 10/05

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Clay Impressions

--Clay Impressions
©Colette Lewis—2005

The USTA Boys 18 & 16 Clay Court Championships were quite an experience. The heat and humidity were right up there with College Station Texas, but alas, no air-conditioned press box where I could retreat. The first few days were brutally hot, and it was no surprise that heat exhaustion led to many retirements, some withdrawals and an occasional ambulance trip, as in the case of Clancy Shields. I’m not sure if the lack of those reactions at the NCAAs this year was due to the better conditioning of college athletes or the age/experience of the competitors or the surface, which prolongs exposure.


The commitment to chair all matches—singles, doubles, consolations—was a noble one, but because several umpires also fell victim to the temperatures, their diminished ranks resulted in lengthy delays, some approaching three hours at the main site. When plenty of ITF and USTA tournaments go several rounds into the main draw without chair umpires, chairing early round consolation and doubles matches was probably a luxury the players could have done without. Nats Tournament Referee David Markin and Director Timon Corwin have decided to chair all matches this year, a considerable expense, but with the Clays raising the bar, the Kalamazoo Nationals Championships will follow their lead.

The best match I saw, from start to finish, was the Tim Smyczek win over Marc Spicijaric in the round of 32. The level of play in that match equaled what I have become accustomed to seeing in the semis and finals in the ITF events I’ve attended, which usually have draws of 64, not 192.


The guttiest performance was, once again, turned in by Dennis Nevolo. Number one in the USTA 16 and under rankings, Nevolo was shockingly eliminated in the third round, but in the most trying of conditions, he made his way through the consolation draw-- winning nine of ten matches in a seven day span. He even avenged his Easter Bowl final loss to top seed Will Guzick in the fifth place match, overcoming a 0-5 first set deficit. Having seen Nevolo in action at Carson and the Easter Bowl, I wasn’t surprised at his grit. He may lose, but he doesn’t quit, and my admiration for his fortitude grows with every tournament I see him play.

The next most impressive performances were by the champions. Tyler Hochwalt in the 16s, who didn’t lose a set and beat two very good players in the round of 16 and quarters by the scores of 6-1, 6-2 and 6-1, 6-0, and won the doubles title. Alex Clayton didn’t lose his serve, in singles or doubles, until he was up 4-0 in the final set he would play. He was justifiably proud of that, and it bodes well for his prospects in Kalamazoo.


The “Sweet Sixteen” dinner is a wonderful concept and a unique way of recognizing excellence. Conceived by Tournament Director Jeff Szekely as a way for players to get to know one another off the court, all players who make the round of 16 are invited to attend a Players Only dinner at Congressional Country Club on Thursday evening. This year’s speakers were Donald Dell, Richey Reneberg and Dick Stockton. With no coaches or parents invited, it is an opportunity for older players to initiate younger ones into the Clay “fraternity.” Andy Orban has already attained legendary status, having won five of his six gold balls on the surface. He also now has an award named for him. Any player who makes the Sweet Sixteen four years in a row, as he did, will receive it.


The college coaches were out in force, with nearly every high profile program east of the Mississippi represented. Bruce Berque, the head coach at the University of Michigan, seemed to be there dawn to dusk through Friday afternoon and head coach Andy Jackson of the University of Florida was still watching matches on Sunday, which is rare. Those are two universities with outstanding athletic reputations that few coaches would relish battling for top recruits.


Every tournament I attend, I make new friends in the media. Ken Thomas of Radiotennis.com is an old friend, not a new one, but once again he made me laugh and welcomed me as a guest. And as the director of promotions for Lexus at this year’s US Open, he has something other than streaming internet to occupy his time in the next few weeks.

As for the new friends, Daniel Lyght of the Washington Post spent many hours Friday, Saturday and Sunday watching tennis, taking match notes, studying his draw sheets and asking good questions, of both the players and me. And the results of all this diligence were three very good stories. Links to those stories are available by clicking on the underlined days above.

Another new friend was Dave “Koz” Kozlowski who produces and hosts a regular show on The Tennis Channel (which regretably isn’t available in Kalamazoo). We reminisced about his visits to Kalamazoo and he paid me the compliment of asking me for information about the juniors he was filming. I sure wish I could see the show.

The Zoo Movie project is picking up steam. There was a crew at Woodmont Country Club all week, and although they didn’t call attention to themselves, and were almost deferential, it is obvious that they are committed to the drama inherent in sports and to the well being of their subjects too. If they can continue to walk that tightrope, it should be a terrific documentary.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Fifth place matches at Clay Courts feature exciting comebacks


USTA B18-16 National Clay Court Chmps. - News Article--
I'm home, drained from ten days in the heat and humidity of suburban DC. My camera quit working late in the week, so the photos I'm using are not particularly good ones. This is the final story I wrote yesterday about the backdraw winners. Tomorrow I hope to post my wrapup on the Clays.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Clayton earns Legg Mason main draw wild card with win over Bucko

USTA B18-16 National Clay Court Chmps. - News Article-- Add the name of Alex Clayton to your short list of promising American juniors. His domination of the field at the Clay Court Championships had everyone buzzing. And Bucko acquitted himself admirably in the final. Keep an eye on his results in the next year and a half as well.

Hochwalt claims 16 singles title at Clay Court Championships


USTA B18-16 National Clay Court Chmps. - News Article--
Tyler Hochwalt won the 16 Clay Court singles title emphatically, and earned the doubles title too, making his week in Rockville Maryland a memorable one.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Hochwalt dismisses local favorite Pinsky; Clayton overwhelms Ermakov to reach final

--Rockville MD--
©Colette Lewis 20045


Scottsdale Arizona's Tyler Hochwalt was facing a partisan crowd Saturday morning at the Woodmont Country Club when he took on local favorite and fifth seed Jared Pinsky of Potomac Maryland in the semifinals of the 16 singles.

But Hochwalt, 16, rode his powerful serve and forehand to a 6-3, 6-4 victory. The 6-foot three-inch righthander dominated his service games throughout the first set, while Pinsky struggled to find his form and energize his fans.

"The crowd helped me out," said Pinsky, 16. "They supported me, but he played too well."

Hochwalt, a ninth seed, praised Pinsky's effort. "Jared made me earn it. Especially in the second set, he really made me work hard for the points."

Hochwalt started the second set with a break, but Pinsky finally earned his first break chances of the match with Hochwalt serving at 2-1, and he converted. Pinsky held and was leading 3-2 when, in a four deuce game, Hochwalt held and then broke Pinsky. Both players held their next service games and Hochwalt had no breathing room when he stepped to the line at 5-4 to serve for the match. Pinsky had his chances, but ultimately Hochwalt closed the door with his power.

Hochwalt will face 15-year-old Waylon Chin, a 17th seed in Sunday's final. Chin, of Delray Beach Florida, downed Christopher Price of Houston Texas 6-2, 7-6 (2).

"I've been playing pretty well," said Chin, "getting through matches somehow. Today, I guess I was really nervous, but I went out and just tried to have fun."

Price expressed disappointment with the outcome.
"When you get this far, you want to get to the finals, or win the tournament," said Price, a ninth seed. "It's kind of depressing actually."

Attila Bucko, of Boca Raton Florida, came into the tournament a 17th seed, but he finds himself in the finals after a 6-2, 6-4 win over Andy Orban of Fayetteville North Carolina. Orban is something of a legend in Rockville, having made the round of 16 four straight years and winning all five of his gold balls on clay. But he had no answers for the native of Serbia, who grew up playing on red clay before moving to the United States four years ago.

"I really love the surface," said the 6-foot 3-inch lefthander. "But I love hard courts, too." When asked about the wild card into the Legg Mason main draw that awaits the winner, a wide smile appeared on Bucko's face. "I'm going for it," he said.

But a formidable obstacle stands in his path. Alex Clayton, the third seed, has yet to lose his serve in the tournament, and on Saturday afternoon, the 17-year-old from Fort Lauderdale Florida humbled yet another opponent, defeating Sasha Ermakov of Flower Mound Texas 6-3, 6-2.

Ermakov, a ninth seed, was granted a wild card to get into the tournament and he made the most of it, beating the number two seed and reaching the semifinals. But after a grueling three set win over Wil Spencer on Friday, he admitted that fatigue was a factor.

"Coming into today, I thought I felt decent, but I stepped on the court and after a few long rallies, I was just dead," said Ermakov.

But he did have one small victory. When Clayton was serving for the match at 5-2, he faced a 30-40 score, the first break point against him in his last four matches.

"I hit an ace, (on the next point) though," said Clayton. "I took care of it."

Clayton's pace on his serve and the depth of his ground strokes put Ermakov on the defensive throughout the match, and Clayton's return was lethal when Ermakov was forced to hit a second serve.

Although both are training in Florida, Bucko and Clayton have never played.

"I've watched him play and it looks like he likes to hit through the court," said Clayton. "I like to hit with spin, so it it should be a good match--I'm looking forward to it."

The welcome break in the heat and humidity Saturday proved a perfect backdrop to the evening's doubles championship matches.

In the 18s division, fourth seeds Orban and partner Michael Venus cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 win over a fifth seeded team of Clancy Shields and Christian Welte.

Orban has won a doubles title at the Clay Court Championships for three consecutive years, the first one with Welte, who was playing across the net this time.

"We just never really got into the match," said Welte.
"We're fast court players," said Shields, "and the clay just slows everything down."

In the 16s division, top seeds Will Guzick and Tyler Hochwalt, playing together for the first time, overcame the stubborn fifth seeds Calon Alpar and Alex Sanborn 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Guzick, who had played--and won--two matches in the backdraw earlier in the day didn't believe the extra matches were detrimental.

"Actually it worked a lot to my advantage," said Guzick, "because my returns were really grooved by that time."

And in the third set, that stroke was the key to Guzick's and Hochwalt's first break in a six deuce game. After taking a 4-0 lead, Hochwalt was broken and Sanborn held, but Guzick played a strong service game to reach 5-2 and Hochwalt served it out with an ace down the T the exclamation point.

In the 16 doubles match for third and fourth place, Jarmere Jenkins and Andy Magee defeated Donald Johnson and Nicolas Meister 6-3, 6-1.

The 18 doubles third place trophy was awarded to Ermakov and Conor Pollock when Clayton and Tim Smyczek withdrew due to illness.

Sunday’s schedule begins with three matches at 9:00 a.m.

The 16 singles consolation final is between top seed Guzick and second seed Dennis Nevolo. The 16 singles third and fourth place match features Jared Pinsky and Christopher Price. The 18 singles consolation final pairs Clancy Shields and Wil Spencer.

Scheduled for 10:30 a.m. is the 16 singles final between Tyler Hochwalt and Waylon Chin.
Following at 12:30 p.m. is the 18 singles final between Alex Clayton and Attila Bucko.

All matches will be played at Woodmont Country Club. Admission is free and open to the public.

William Guzick: Junior Spotlight of the Week (usta.com)

William Guzick: Junior Spotlight of the Week
--Will Guzick lost in the quarterfinals Friday at the Clay Courts, but he will be playing in the doubles final this afternoon. Guzick and his partner Tyler Hochwalt are playing together for the first time, but anyone who saw their memorable singles quarterfinal match at the Easter Bowl this spring (my account here ) is pleased that they got together.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Pinsky Powers Way into Semifinals in 16s; Clayton Continues Dominance in 18s


USTA B18-16 National Clay Court Chmps. - News Article--
Jared Pinsky of Potomac Maryland beats top seed Will Guzick in Friday's quarterfinal round. Third seed Alex Clayton racks up yet another straight set win to reach the 18s semifinals.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Second seed Smyczek falls to Ermakov in straight sets


USTA B18-16 National Clay Court Chmps. - News Article--
And the upsets just keep on coming at the Clay Court National Championships.

For additional coverage click here or see collegeandjuniortennis.com

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Third Set Tiebreakers add Drama to 18 Singles Play


USTA B18-16 National Clay Court Chmps. - News Article--
Smyczek and Spicijaric played a match of finals quality in the round of 32 at the National Clay Courts. For additional coverage of the Clay Courts, click here or go to collegeandjuniortennis.com

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Welte Shocks Top Seed Kryvonos in 18 Singles (ustaclay.com)

USTA B18-16 National Clay Court Chmps. - News Article --
A stunning result from the Clay Courts as top seed Mykyta Kryvonos loses in the third round.

For additional coverage of the Clay Courts, click here or see collegeandjuniortennis.com

Monday, July 18, 2005

Clays Heat Up



Clays Heat Up--
Please see ustaclay.com for Monday's wrapup story.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Clay Courts:: Day One



Click title above for a report on Sunday's first round

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Reconnecting--


A balloon lady, a golden statue mime ( with a golden wood tennis racquet no less), a giant screen displaying photos of last year's action--there was a lot going on at the Doubletree Saturday. Oh, there was registration and a player meeting too. When 400 male teenagers are required to be in one place during an afternoon, it had better be a big, well-organized venue, and it was.

I never left the hotel, but I managed to talk to a lot of parents and players I hadn't seen since the Easter Bowl in April, or in some cases, the Orange Bowl in December. (It's amazing how much a 17-year-old can change physically in mere months). Some parents follow junior tennis very closely, others do not (and if you're reading this, I guess I'd put you in the former category), but most are just plain fun to talk to, so the conversations can be lengthy. This is the last day I could indulge in that luxury--tomorrow match coverage begins. And it's been four weeks since I last saw live tennis, so I'm more than ready for it.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Comerica Challenger: Kid's got star power (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Comerica
Challenger:
--

The kid would be Scoville Jenkins, who is beginning to show signs of adjusting to the professional level, with his two wins at the Aptos Challenger Exhibit A.

Lots of good quotes from his coach, Torrey Hawkins, who is on anyone's short list of best junior tennis coaches.

The Dreaded R Word

--
Rockville MD--
When we arrived early this afternoon at Dulles, it began to rain. And then it rained, and rained, and rained some more. All kinds of rain: drizzle, steady, torrential. We took a tour of several of the clubs serving as sites for the Clays, but couldn't leave the car. The standing water near the courts at Woodmont Country Club, the host site, was green with dissolved HarTru. It was still raining as the gloom turned to darkness.

Tournament director Jeff Szkeley is beginning to fret, because it rained all day yesterday too, and there are limited indoor possibilities, particularly for clay.

And this is the worrisome part--there was a 30% chance of rain today. The extended forecast features several percentages greater than that. It looks like a 100% chance of stress before this system moves on.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Junior Tennis Documentary in the Pipeline:: Pro Tennis Fan

Pro Tennis Fan: Junior Tennis Documentary in the Pipeline
One of my favorite blogs found this brief mention of the Zoo movie in a Tennis Week story about Jim Courier.

To my knowledge, it's the first time Courier has discussed the project with anyone in the tennis press. I can tell you that it is definitely happening--preparations are underway for shooting here in Kalamazoo next month during the Nationals. I also understand that a small film crew might be in DC for the Clay Courts.

I can't imagine a more interesting documentary myself, but it will have to appeal to a bit broader audience than junior tennis geeks like me. But if "Spellbound" could make the National Spelling Bee fascinating, I've got to think that the pursuit of success in a global sport offers substantially more riveting possibilities. Stay tuned.

From Grass to Clay


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.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Tennis association gives sisters waiver:: Daily Comet.com Thibodaux, LA

DailyComet.com | Tennis association gives sisters waiver--

I'm very pleased to read that the USTA has agreed to give waivers to the two Dutch girls competing in Louisiana, allowing them to enter USTA events for which they qualify. The initial post generated a few heated comments on zootennis, and several others I spoke to about it had strong opinions too.

I admit to some surprise that the USTA sensibly resolved this with a minimum of time and money expended. They must view this as an unique set of circumstances unlikely to lead to a deluge of legal alien juniors flooding the USTA events. As I said in May, it's not something I could muster any energy to fight about. The USTA should be commended for showing flexibility and a commitment to their slogan "To Promote and Develop The Growth of Tennis."

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Agony and Ecstasy: Plenty of early tests at Comerica Challenger:: (Santa Cruz Sentinel.com)

Agony and Ecstasy: Plenty of early tests at Comerica Challenger--


Great story today about Monday's opening round at the Aptos Challenger, with nearly all the players featured in it current or past Kalamazoo Champions---Bogomolov (98, 01), Jenkins (04), Ram (00), Querrey (04). And a report on the (expected) Lankenau result too.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Rising Boca tennis star, ill brother lend each other support:: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Rising Boca tennis star, ill brother lend each other support: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

A sweet story about Jesse Levine and his younger brother-- I learned a great deal about the whole family from it. I was, however, a bit shocked by the reporter's assertion that Levine "will be seeded number one in doubles at Kalamazoo next month."

I suspect Levine and Shabaz will be the top seeds in the 18s, but there is actually a committee that makes that decision the night before the tournament starts. That Levine has already won the 16s doubles title in 2003 (with Jean Yves Aubone) is a plus, but until the seeds are announced on August 4, nothing is official.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Aptos' wildcards announced:: (Bob Larson's Tennis News)

Bob Larson's Tennis News | Aptos' wildcards announced--

And you thought Donald Young would be the 16-year-old (his birthday is July 23) to get a challenger wild card. No, it's Ben Lankenau, whose name I had never heard nor seen until I read this story. His juniortennis.com profile is here and to call it undistinguished is an understatement. He has never played in Kalamazoo. There must be a very interesting reason why he was given a wild card to a $75,000 challenger, when Phillip King and Sam Querrey, both Kalamazoo champions, were relegated to the qualifier. (One of the qualifiers will meet Lankenau in the first round Monday). Does his father own Seascape Sports club?

But before I launch into a full-fledged rant, two athletes' stories give me pause. First, Michelle Wie, who I steadfastly maintain is entitled to any and all sponsors exemptions she wants on the PGA tour. There are reasons, not all of them high-minded, for sponsors exemptions in golf, and they are probably pretty close to the same reasons that wild cards exist in tennis. Secondly, I had never heard of nor seen Jerry Makowski of Texas A & M until I saw him at the NCAAs, as the top-ranked freshman in country. He didn't play junior tennis, despite years at Bollettieri's, so I was completely unaware of his existence. It is certainly an unusual path, but it doesn't preclude tennis skill. I think the Williams sisters have made that abundantly clear.


So I'm hoping that Ben Lankenau is the Southern California version of Jerry Makowski, who is pursuing tennis excellence unconventionally, and needs a main draw challenger match to see where he stands. But wouldn't a qualifier wild card have been enough?

And one correction to this story, for you birthday sticklers out there (I'm president of THAT club)--Scoville Jenkins will not turn 19 until September. He is still, in fact, eligible to compete in Kalamazoo this year, should he choose to do so.

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Dupuis teaches foul-mouthed Murray a lesson::Guardian Unlimited Sport | Tennis |

Guardian Unlimited Sport | Tennis | Dupuis teaches foul-mouthed Murray a lesson--

I'm on record as a big Murray supporter, with his tell-it-like-it-is attitude, but I was dismayed to hear that he totally lost his composure in his loss to Antony Dupuis in the second round at Newport.

Even making allowances for the proclivity for exaggeration by the British press, the adjective describing him in the headline is, by all accounts I've read about this match, apt. There's nothing wrong with a competitor who is desperate and determined; one who doesn't take losing lightly and rages at himself for perceived inadequacies. But throw in profanity and a line has been crossed, add racquet tossing and "enfant terrible" describes it perfectly. I don't see any mention of Murray receiving warnings and/or penalties for this behavior; if he did not, shame on the umpire. Murray is being asked to mature in front of our eyes and if he really "learnt nothing here", it may be a longer and more painful process than his fans would wish.

Friday, July 8, 2005

Jesse Levine and Michael Shabaz: Junior Spotlight of the Week (usta.com)

Jesse Levine and Michael Shabaz: Junior Spotlight of the Week (usta.com)--
Jesse Levine put up some very consistent results in singles while in Europe and is now in the Top 20 in the ITF rankings along with four other American boys. But the Wimbledon Junior doubles championship was undoubtedly the highlight, and he and Michael Shabaz will now be favored to win the 18s National title here in Kalamazoo next month, and with it, the main draw wild card into the U.S. Open.

I believe that both Levine and Shabaz are at IMG/Bollettieri, at least they were last time I spoke with them in April. Levine's bio here lists him at Evert's.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

2005 NATIONAL OPEN JUNIOR TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS-16s-ATLANTIC CLUB, NJ-7/6/05

2005 NATIONAL OPEN JUNIOR TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS-16s-ATLANTIC CLUB, NJ-7/6/05--

My friend and colleague Marcia Frost of collegeandjuniortennis.com gets out of her office at Port Washington Tennis Academy on Long Island often, and over the 4th of July holiday weekend she was hard at work at one of the East Coast National Opens for 16 year olds. And though I wasn't familiar with the girls in the finals (no surprise there, you're probably saying to yourself), I have recently made the acquaintance of the boys winner, Adam El Mihdawy (and his father) at the Grass Courts.

Adam, who turns 16 in September, lives near the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, and although he hasn't been playing junior tennis very long, he is starting to produce some solid results, with this Open win his first title. I understand both father and son will be at the Clay Courts, and I look forward to seeing them both and watching Adam play again on an entirely different surface this time.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Rupesh wins USTA tourney in Philadelphia; eyes junior US Open::Deepika Kerala News

Deepika Kerala News::Rupesh wins USTA tourney in Philadelphia; eyes junior US Open--



From deepikaglobal.com, which provides "the latest news for global indians" comes this (rather late) story about Rupesh Roy, winner of the International Grass Courts in Philadelphia that I covered last month. I have no idea what the Boss Foundation team is that he's a member of (I'm guessing it doesn't involve Springsteen or Steinbrenner), so if anyone out there knows, please leave a comment below.

Roy may need to play qualifying for the U.S. Open juniors, but from what I saw at the Cricket Club, I wouldn't bet against him.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Classic Courier:: TBO.com

Classic Courier - from TBO.com--

The tennis world is taking a breather after the marathon six weeks that encompass both the French and Wimbledon, but I did find this interesting story about the Courier younger years. He is being inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame this weekend, and begins his stint with World Team Tennis next weekend, so it's an appropriate time to pause and look back at how it all began. One of my favorite Courier quotes is from the Mark Keil/Geoff Grant documentary "The Journeymen." Though obviously looking at it from a different perspective than the title characters, Courier has the good sense to recognize what tennis greatness gave him.....
"a backstage pass to the world"

Monday, July 4, 2005

Radwanska Captures Girls' Title:: Wimbledon.org

Radwanska Captures Girls' Title--

Before Wimbledon recedes into memory, I wanted to post this story (the only one I could find) about the girls finals.

Both Wimbledon girls finalists are a lesson in the unpredictability of junior tennis. I actually can claim to have seen Radwanska play, in March at the International Bavarian Junior Challenge, where she and her sister won the doubles. Seeded third there, she lost in singles in the second round to a qualifier. Her opponent in the Wimbledon final, Tamira Paszek of Austria, was also at the ITF Grade 2 event, seeded fourth, and she lost in the first round. (Makarova, who won the Bavarian, lost in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon to second seed Agnes Szavay, who Radwanska beat in the semifinals.)

There was nothing to suggest that four months later, both would find grass much more to their liking than indoor carpet and would meet in the Wimbledon Junior championship match, unseeded, of course, having eliminated the top two seeds in the semifinals. The 14-year-old Austrian beat Jessica Kirkland, the third seed, and top seeded and junior world number one Viktoria Azarenka, as well as two other seeds, so it isn't as if she was the beneficiary of a host of upsets.

The boys finalists were not truly surprising, with Chardy having made the singles semis and Haase the doubles finals at Wimbledon last year. But I don't think anyone could have seen a Radwanska - Pazsek girls singles final coming, if only because neither one of them is Russian.

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Americans Win Boys' Doubles:: Wimbledon.org

Americans Win Boys' Doubles--

Perhaps understandably, as Andrew Kennaugh is British, this story is told from the losers' perspective, but I've got to be careful about calling the kettle black here, as I write nearly everything on this site from an American point of view. And it doesn't hurt to give the losers their due, especially when they played two matches on Sunday, winning the first in a 15-13 final set, just to get to the Championship match.

Jesse Levine and Michael Shabaz are a rarity in boys junior doubles, where most world-class players change partners more often than Tom Cruise. The two 17-year-olds have been playing together for nearly a year now, and have won the Grade 1 Eddie Herr and the North American Closed and made numerous finals and semifinals at other top junior events. Despite their impressive record over the past ten months, they weren't seeded at Wimbledon, and didn't even have to beat a seeded team to win. The doubles seeding was almost comically inept, focusing as it did on the rankings of the players as individuals (which is hardly a proven approach) to the detriment of established, consistently good teams like Levine and Shabaz. Result: One seeded team made it out of the first round. (But before I savage the seeding process any further, let me point out that the one and two seeded teams in girls doubles met in the finals, with the top seeds winning).

Doubles seeding is a crapshoot, and not just at the junior level. The Wimbledon men's doubles title was won by Huss and Moodie, who had to qualify, and the mixed doubles championship match featured two unseeded teams. Could this capriciousness be part of the reason the ATP has pretty much thrown the doubles game as we know it overboard?

Bob Larson's Tennis News | Oudesma receives final wildcard for Newport

Bob Larson's Tennis News | Oudesma receives final wildcard for Newport--

He's not a junior anymore, but I wanted to mention that Scott Oudsema got his first ATP main draw wild card, I'm guessing on the basis of his showing at the grass court challenger at Forest Hills, where he qualified and won two matches, the second over Frank Dancevic, the third seed who is ranked 164 in the world, more than 800 places higher than Oudsema.

The boy from Kalamazoo just turned 19 on Friday (not in January, as this story says), and has begun working with coach Steve Devries. He may come up against another wild card in Newport who has had a bit more publicity for his recent success on grass--Andrew Murray.

Saturday, July 2, 2005

Let's Ask Monfils Who Will Win the Jr. U.S. Open Now

Chardy Takes The Championship-- According to reports on Wimbledon.org, after he beat Jeremy Chardy last year in the semifinals, Gael Monfils, now ranked 79th on the ATP tour, predicted that countryman Chardy would win it this year. He did. Unseeded after a disappointing French where he lost in the second round, Chardy dropped his only set in the first round at Wimbledon, and beat Donald Young, the world's number one junior, in the semifinals. There's no question he played the best tennis of any male junior last week, but, as he admits in this story, he's no Monfils, who last year at this time was looking toward the U.S. Open to complete the first junior Grand Slam since Stefan Edberg.

And despite Chardy's impressive run at Wimbledon, there's no reason to think he's established himself as an overwhelming favorite at the U.S. Open. He's a very fine junior, but there are a host of those, and who knows, maybe one of them will emerge at Flushing Meadows, as Andrew Murray did last year.

Friday, July 1, 2005

Centerville's Kronauge tops national tennis list ... and doesn't attend academy


Centerville's Kronauge tops national tennis list ... and doesn't attend academy --

Let the phone calls begin. Today is the day college coaches can begin a regular telephone campaign aimed at recruits and I imagine the Kronauge family is getting their share. With email it's not as big a deal as it used to be, but it must be the first indication of which universities are truly interested. I'm writing for the USTA's 18 & 16 Clay Courts website (see my preview story for that tournament here) coming up in a couple of weeks, and I'm looking forward to finding out who has contacted whom, from the coaches and players themselves.

Smyczek and Co Survive Rain to Reign at Wimbledon--ITF Tennis - Juniors


Smyczek and Co Survive Rain to Reign at Wimbledon--
The ITF has ceded most of its coverage to Wimbledon.org, but it sure was a breath of fresh air when I ran across this story on their website about yesterday's junior matches. Preston deftly lets the players tell the story here and although I doubt she saw any of the matches, it doesn't seem to matter much. There's a lesson for tennis writer newbies like me here somewhere, and I think it may be doing fewer point-by-point, game-by-game accounts.