©Colette Lewis 2006--
My head is still spinning from all that I heard and learned at this morning's ITA Coaches Convention, but the word from the USTA's Paul Roetert that 16-year-old Madison Brengle had won the wild card tournament held this week for an Australian Open main draw berth is the most time sensitive.
I'm not even certain who all was invited to compete, but Roetert told me that Brengle was a last-minute addition, and that she didn't lose a match in the round robin format. She defeated Jessica Kirkland, the 2004 Orange Bowl champion, 6-4, 7-5, if I heard him correctly, coming back from 5-1 down in the second set.
At Eddie Herr and at the Orange Bowl, Brengle's losses were to Austria's Nikola Hofmanova, this year's Orange Bowl champion. She had a match point at the Eddie Herr and a set point in the first set in the semifinals at the Orange Bowl, but she obviously didn't suffer any crisis of confidence from losing this way, and now will have an opportunity to experience Australia in the first week, instead of just the second (junior) week.
The first speaker this morning was Nick Bollettieri, and he was introducing a DVD he and David Bailey have created about footwork. But Nick being Nick, there was much talk of many other topics and players. He spoke of David Wheaton, Jim Courier, Monica Seles and Andre Agassi, taking pains to explain how different they all were.
Seles' commitment to working on a shot until she got it right, often late into the evening cost him, he joked, "three wives." She was not a great athlete, he said, but she did work and compete and strive.
Bollettieri also said that he's turned around 100% on the question of college. He believes it's the right choice for enhancing the development of nearly every player, which segues nicely into one of the topics of Paul Roetert, the USTA Managing Director of High Performance. Roetert spoke of players turning pro who should have gone to college, adding that there were just two in 2006 who had a viable reason to forego college--Sam Querrey and Vania King. The increased cooperation between the USTA and the ITA can only enhance the view that for most, college is the best way to mature, as a tennis player and a person, before embarking on the "job" of tennis.
Roetert also spoke of the USTA's plan to take over the ITF Junior events in the U.S., perhaps adding more tournaments and having a way to earn USTA ranking points as well as ITF ranking points during the same tournament. The emphasis on doubles and the combined ranking coming in 2008 was mentioned. The points-per-round system adopted several years ago has, as I've heard often, and Roetert alluded to, given those with money to travel a big advantage over those without. He said he hopes to dampen the "point chasing" by emphasizing the sectional and regional aspect of junior tennis, and make sure that there are opportunities for high-level players who want to attend regular high school to do that. In addition, he spoke of the 36'- 60' tennis initiative to start younger children playing and competing with altered racquets, balls and court sizes; and of expanding qualifying draw sizes of ITF Men's Pro Circuit events to allow more college and junior players an opportunity to play at that level.
I'm sure I'll remember other things from the 45 minute talk, but that's a brief synopsis.
The third session I attended featured Dr. Jim Loehr, the famous sports psychologist, discussing "Storytelling and Mental Toughness." I'll save those insights for another post, but I'm already working on my own "good storytelling" which he defines as:
Reflects the Truth
Is On-Purpose (takes you where you want to go as a person)
Spawns Hope-Filled Action
There's definitely some New Year's Resolution material there.