Although it was still damp this morning in Miami, the skies cleared around 10 a.m. and I spent the day at Tropical Park, where the boys' 12s were scheduled to complete their first round of the main draw.
The first order of business was to finish the qualifying round, which was completely washed out on Saturday. Jay Berger, a USTA High Performance coach working with some of the 12s was there to follow the progress of Justin Butsch who did make it through qualifying, and later in the day, through his first round match, without any difficulty.
I asked Jay if he thought that the 12s were better than ever, and although he declined to agree unequivocally, he did say that he thought they were able to play games with more shot variety. I certainly saw my share of volleying and drop shots, even a few offensive lobs, but in the first round, it's not unusual to see top players working on their games.
Eddie Herr champion Mitchell Krueger got off to a flying start, as the No. 1 seed from the U.S.,(all seeds are No. 1s) Krueger defeated Ondre Cargill of the Bahamas 6-0, 6-0. Next up for Krueger is Danny Mack of Florida, currently 17th in the USTA rankings.
There were a couple of surprise losses for boys from the U.S. Mitchell Polnet, who reached the round of 16 at the Eddie Herr, lost a tough three-setter to Vasco Mensurado of Portugal, and Thai Kwiatkowski, a quarterfinalist at the Eddie Herr, was eliminated by qualifier Michael Cohen of Great Britain.
I intend to spend most of my time at the University of Miami, site of the boys' 14s, so this may have been my last opportunity to see the boys' 12s until the semifinals, when they move to the University courts. Miami traffic simply doesn't permit me the luxury of moving efficiently between sites, but I'll be following the results closely for all four divisions this week.
Sunday, December 17, 2006