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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sweet 16 Day at the Clays

©Colette Lewis 2006
Rockville, MD

Thursday evening is the Sweet 16 dinner at the Congressional Country Club, where all 32 of Wednesday's singles winners are invited to celebrate their success in the tournament by dining at the exclusive club. It's a boys-only event--no coaches, no parents-- designed to increase the camaraderie among the players. Long pants are de rigueur, so on Wednesday evening there is a run on preppy khakis at the Old Navy and TJ Maxx stores in the vicinity, because, as one parent said to me, it would be "presumptuous" to pack them.

With 64 of the best juniors in the country on the courts at Woodmont Country Club today, I wasn't able to see more than a few matches in their entirety, but in honor of the dinner, and as a change of pace from my normal match reporting, I thought I'd list 16 things I learned Thursday at the Clays.

1. Top seeds are an endangered species in the 18s. With Attila Bucko (2) and Wil Spencer (4) losing today, top seed Marcus Fugate is the only player seeded above 9 still in the main draw.

2. Brennan Boyajian, the top seed in the 16s, is picking up right where he left off after his Easter Bowl win three months ago. His routine 6-3, 6-2 dissection of Ryan Harrison, which gave him his fourth consecutive straight-set win, was more evidence that his game, although subtle, is brilliant nonetheless.

3. Davey Sandgren caught a scheduling break. With an 8 o'clock match time, Sandgren and opponent Ryan Thacher avoided the heat of midday. Sandgren, who won in three sets, said he was going to do nothing the rest of the day but practice his first serve, which he joked went in about 5% of the time Thursday. Sandgren will undoubtedly be fresher than his opponent--Jarmere Jenkins, who played until 5 p.m.

4. The serve may not earn as many free points on clay as it does on grass and hard courts, but it can still make a difference. Matt Brewer, the 9th seed who upset Wil Spencer, wasn't broken until the second set, and his serve was a weapon, not a liability, as it often was for Spencer.

5. Jarmere Jenkins is an iron man. For the fourth straight day, in the daunting heat and humidity, the unseeded 15-year-old from Georgia won a marathon match, beating Roy Kalmanovich 6-7, 6-3, 7-5.

6. Roy Kalmanovich has a fearsome forehand and isn't afraid to use it. Jenkins had six match points with Kalamanovich serving at 5-6, but for the first five, Kalmanovich hit either a service winner or a forehand winner, and never seemed tempted to play it safe.

7. If a player is injured, the heat, the long points and the mental demands of clay won't give him a chance to play through it. Attila Bucko was suffering from back and shoulder problems and wasn't able to play with the same verve he showed in reaching the 2005 final, losing ninth seed Michael Venus in straight sets.

8. Jason McNaughton is one vocal tennis player. In his three set win over Erik Corace, also unseeded, McNaughton could be heard bellowing and howling in the main seating area four courts away.

9. Jeff Dadamo supposedly hates clay, but the 17-year-old Floridian may be changing his mind. The 17th seeded lefty hasn't lost a set in the tournament and took out five seed Reid Carleton Thursday.

10. Nick Meister can raise his game at the right moment. Down a set in both of his 18s consolation matches on Thursday, the Southern Californian Jr. Sectional champ won the twelve-point tiebreak that decides all back draw matches in both.

11. Devin Britton, a wild card and five seed, usually serves and volleys and had great success on grass last month in Philadelphia, reaching the semifinals. But his expectations for the clay, a surface that blunts the 15-year-old's arsenal of shots, weren't high coming in, so no matter what happens in his match against opponent Andrew Kells, a 17 seed, on Friday, he should leave Rockville pleased with his results.

12. Days are shorter when no doubles are played.

13. Clay courts need a LOT of maintenance.

14. There are still plenty of players I have yet to see hit a tennis ball. In the 16s, I'll admit to having no knowledge of three of the quarterfinalists--Jason Smith, Creighton Blanchard and Spencer Smith.

15. Ken Thomas is arriving Friday for Radiotennis.com webcasting, so give a listen over the next three days if you have a chance. Dave Kozlowski of Tennis Channel fame, who was here last year, is not returning.

16. It may not be as hot as earlier in the week, but nobody would call it good weather for tennis.


Anonymous said...

You didn't mention that the 2 seed in the 16's (Jt Sundling) lost 7-6 in the thrid to Andrew Kells. I guarantee that was an exciting match, were you able to see any of it?

Colette Lewis said...

I did see the end of the second set, when Sundling came back from down a break to force a third. But then I heard that the Kalmanovich-Jenkins match was deep in the third, so I went to catch the end of that and missed the undoubtedly exciting ending of Sundling and Kell's match.

Austin said...

I just got home and saw the post that had the link to RadioTennis and turned it on to hear an 18's dubs match between Ryan Lipman/Rhynne Williams and Prandecki/Landwerlen. They are about to start a breaker in the 1st set and here is what has happened so far this set. Rhynne Williams has yelled and complained repeatedly, broken a racquet, and the most pathetic-juvenile-immature thing I've heard in a while...he has so far called his opponents scrubs, overweight and to top it off, the combo of overweight scrubs. If you are going to act like that then you need to stay in your own age division and not in the 18's where most kids are mature enough to not degrade their opponents out loud during the match. You can hear him say it through Ken Thomas's microphone. Hopefully since he is only 15yrs old he will be able to grow out of it.
I hate the fact that I will now not be rooting for an up-and-coming young American. I hope Lipmann isn't too embarrassed out there with the Knoxville native. I bet Chris Woodruff, who is there at the Clay Courts, isn't too proud watching a fellow local kid. It's one thing to be loud and yelling in the juniors, but it's another to do what he's doing.....and Prandecki/Landwerlen just choked the breaker after being up 6-3 or 6-2 in it. And that was after coming back from down 5-1 early in the set.

Anonymous said...

I once saw the mother of Rhyne Williams mention (albeit under her breath..but just loud enough for others to hear) that she was proud of her daughter for not acting up on court like her opponent was. Of course, nothing wrong with that, but interesting that her son had/has some questionable behaviour out there. Sometimes when you hear parents get into things, its refreshing in a warped way to see that they (the family) are not perfect either!