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Thursday, August 31, 2006

SMASH Column, Who remembers what it's about?


My SMASH online column is posted. If everything in it you've already heard on this site in the past three days, well, it was original when I wrote it on Monday.

Thursday wasn't a very good day for young Americans as Lauren Albanese and Vania King were soundly beaten. No surprise, given they were playing Kuznetsova and Henin-Hardenne, but still. I hope King's singing of God Bless America goes better for her. At least she's not competing with Celine Dion's rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. Alex Clayton and Donald Young lost in straight sets in their first round doubles match to the eighth seeded team of Simon Aspelin and Todd Perry.

Agnieszka Radwanska lost to Tatiana Golovin, meaning she'll probably play the juniors, while last year's US Open girls champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus followed her upset Wednesday of 11th seed Anastasia Myskina with a straight set win over Jamea Jackson today. Ryan Sweeting, the 2005 boys champion, gets his opportunity to match her tomorrow evening against Olivier Rochus.

The ITF website has a preview of the juniors today. It references the top eight seeds, but nos. 9-16 aren't given. I've emailed the ITF asking for them. Marcia Frost of collegeandjuniortennis.com will have the junior qualifying draws.

Last but not least, Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated provided a link to this fantastic piece on the main draw qualifying last week. If I were an editor of a tennis magazine, I'd make an offer to its author, Kurt Van Hook, in a hurry.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

US Open Junior Preview (Without Draws)



©Colette Lewis 2006--

First a housekeeping note:
There’s been a change in personnel at Smash/Tennis online, and it appears the column that I wrote on Monday is a casualty of that upheaval. I hope it will get posted before the end of the week, because it’s not going to be very timely beyond Friday, but it’s out of my control.

Now that the field is set (at least until the next withdrawal and the possible special exempts from the Canadian Open), it’s a good time to preview the US Open juniors. Unfortunately, unlike Kalamazoo or the US Open, the draw isn't available, and won't be until Saturday, if I remember correctly.

The most obvious observation is that the girls field is much stronger than the boys this year, with all three of the 2006 Grand Slam junior champions entered for the girls, but only one for the boys. France’s Alexandre Sidorenko, the Australian winner, and the Netherland’s Thiemo De Bakker, the Wimbledon champion, have decided to skip New York for lower-level men’s events, leaving only Martin Klizan of the Slovak Republic, who was something of an unknown before he took the French boys’ title.

The girls have the Australian Open champion and ITF No. 1-ranked Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, Agnieszka Radwanska, the Polish star, who won the French girls title in 2006 to go with her 2005 Wimbledon junior title, and Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, the winner of the 2006 Wimbledon and 2005 Orange Bowl titles.

The 17-year-old Radwanska easily qualified for the US Open main draw, and if she has a win or two, ala Andy Murray at Wimbledon last year, she may not stay in the junior draw. With a WTA ranking of 129 and a win over Pavlyuchenkova in the French finals, she's certainly the favorite. As for the U.S. girls, Lauren Albanese, who lost in the second round in the Australia juniors, the first round at Roland Garros and didn't play Wimbledon, has had a terrific summer--her win in the first round of the main draw Monday is a testament to that. She won't be seeded however, nor will Ashley Weinhold, who also has had an excellent two months on the Futures circuit and won two rounds of qualifying at the Open last week, which means that they are at the mercy of the draw gods.

Alexa Glatch, a finalist last year in New York, may get a seed based on her ATP ranking of 323, but she doesn't appear to be match-tough and last won a match on any level back in early July. Julia Cohen, at no. 7 the only U.S. girl in the ITF Top 30, lost early in San Jose at the Girls 18s National and in the second round in the French and Wimbledon juniors this year.

For the boys, who have seen six of the last seven junior Grand Slam singles champions come the the ranks of the unseeded, there are no clear favorites. Klizan favors clay, as does Jonathan Eysseric of France, the Italian Open winner this year. Eysseric is only 16 and may be a year away from challenging for the title, but Kei Nishikori of Japan, who will be 17 in December, is a threat now, as is, of course, Donald Young.

As for the unseeded player most likely to imitate Ryan Sweeting's performance this year, I nominate Philip Bester of Canada, who was an improbable finalist at Roland Garros in June. Bester, whose game is much more suited to fast courts, had a disappointing grass season, but as long as he doesn't draw Young, who beat him last year in the first round of the juniors in New York, I think he'll be a factor. And look out for another Canadian, Peter Polansky, who yesterday destroyed ITF no. 9 Sanam Singh of India 2 and 0 in the Canadian Open. Polansky was seriously injured in a sleepwalking incident this spring, but his results suggest he is fully recovered, and if he wins Thursday, he might grab one of those precious special exemptions that will keep him from having to qualify. Sidorenko did that in the Grade 1 leading up to the Australian Juniors this year, so there's precedent. The Czech Republic's Dusan Lojda, with a 621 ATP ranking, will be a tough out, as will Mike McClune, who is looking for his first win in New York, having lost to Marin Cilic in his initial appearance there last year.

If hotels weren't so expensive in New York, I'd be there for qualifying. If there are any readers who want to report on the qualifying, consider this your invitation. I know Marcia Frost of collegeandjuniortennis.com will be there.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Luke Jensen Named Women's Coach at Syracuse



Luke Jensen picked a good day for maximum publicity for the announcement that he's been named the women's tennis coach at the University of Syracuse. A washout in New York means a lot of tennis press looking for stories, and this is certainly a surprising one.

Jensen hopes to serve as head coach and to continue as a commentator and tennis ambassador, and his boss apparently supports this ambition, at least for now. I know Jensen loves the game, but does he have the technical expertise and enough experience in coaching to handle the job? Attitude and motivation are big parts of coaching, but they aren't the only parts. Knowledge must be conveyed. Players that want to get better need to know how.

Charlie Bricker posted a story on Lauren Albanese today, while TennisWorld's Peter Bodo spent some time watching the Donald Young/Novak Djokovic match yesterday and didn't like what he saw regarding Young's game.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Albanese, King Win at US Open; Young Loses; Junior Wildcard + Brian Baker Update



As expected, lots of news today, and on the American women's side, most of it was good. Vania King easily defeated wild card Alicia Molik of Australia, while Girls 18s champion Lauren Albanese dropped a first set tiebreak to Olga Savchuk of the Ukraine, but came back for the win to put herself in a second round match with 2004 US Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova. For her efforts, King gets Justin Henin-Hardenne as a second round opponent.

Donald Young did win his first ATP level set, surprising 20th seed Novak Djokovic by taking the opener 6-4, but came back down to earth, winning only four games in the final three sets.

The men's doubles draw was also released, and Sam Querrey will play in the main draw with Jesse Levine. Kellen Damico and Nate Schnugg also received wild cards, presumably for winning the Wimbledon Junior title together, as they didn't play together in Kalamazoo and aren't scheduled to in the US Open juniors. I'm sure Michael Shabaz is wondering why the USTA didn't give he and Levine a wild card last year when they were the reigning Wimbledon Junior doubles champions.

Thanks to the commenter who alerted me to the latest in the wild cards for the junior boys. Here's the thorough explanation he/she provided:


Austin Krajicek has been given a main draw wild card into the U.S. Junior Open, replacing Wil Spencer. He was originally given a qualifying WC.

Adam El Mihdawy has been given a qualifying WC, replacing Krajicek.

Ryan Thacher, who was given a qualifying WC, no longer appears on the entry list. Thus, there's one available qualifying WC.

Tyler Hochwalt is now in the qualifying draw after several players withdrew. Drew Daniel is the next alternate.

Altogether, there are 14 U.S. players in the main draw and 12 U.S. players in the qualifying draw (assuming that the last WC goes to an American).


It was my understanding that due to other commitments Thacher would not make use of his qualifying wild card, and that appears to be the case here. I am happy that El Mihdawy is getting a chance in the qualifying.

On the girls side, Chelsey Gullickson has moved from qualifying to main due to withdrawals, and Mallory Cecil has received the final main draw wild card. Gail Brodsky and Ellah Nze have moved up to qualifying, while Julia Boserup and Carolyn McVeigh have been given the last of the qualifying wild cards.

And last but not least, there is definitive news on Brian Baker from his hometown newspaper. Again, I appreciate hearing from readers when they find stories like this one.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Taking Your Tennis On Tour:: Bonita L. Marks, Ph.D.



The Sunday before the US Open is about as quiet as tennis ever gets. Who says there's no off-season? It's today! Before I start watching the scores change on usopen.org for the Donald Young and Lauren Albanese matches first thing Monday, while keeping an eye on the USA network's coverage, I thought I would mention a book that I was given a copy to review, Taking Your Tennis On Tour; The Business, Science, and Reality of Going Pro.

I'm hard-pressed to think of an issue this book doesn't address. It begins with a very sensible chapter on collegiate tennis as the starting point, and throughout the book, it is assumed that the pro path is being pursued after some years of high level college tennis. From there it explores what is termed The Science of Going Pro with chapters on physical, mental, nutritional "toughness". Part 3, The Business of Going Pro, discusses in detail the economic realities of starting out, from private sponsorship plans and contracts to budgeting and taxes. Part 4 is titled The Reality of Going Pro, and it's a candid look at the none-too-glamourous circuits that everyone starts out playing, and the grinding travel they involve.

Dr. Marks uses her connections at the University of North Carolina, where she is an associate professor, to provide many real-life examples and anecdotes from players like Tripp Phillips, Brian Vahaly and Don Johnson. I especially like the section called "In Their Own Words: The Best and Worst Aspect of Circuit Life" when dozens of pros, few of whom ever reached the Promised Land of the Top 100, reveal what made the effort worthwhile, and what made it difficult.

My only objection to the book is how male-centered it is. Although much of the information is applicable to women as well as men, the lack of any acknowledgement of the special issues women face or even that women are out there playing is perplexing.

But I can't find fault with anyone who quotes my favorite line from Jim Courier about the life of a tennis player in The Journeymen: "It's like having a backstage pass to the world."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sweeting Faces Choice....Again



After winning the US Open boys championship last year, Ryan Sweeting had to decide whether to begin college or embark on a pro career. He decided to go to the University of Florida in January, and was there less than two months when he was charged with DUI and drug possession, and suspended from school. Charlie Bricker of the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel has followed this saga closely, and he caught up up with Sweeting in New York, where he is preparing for his match against Guillermo Coria.

I don't have any inside information on which way Sweeting is leaning. The $5000 he earned for defeating Justin Gimelstob at the Legg Mason last month pales in comparison to the $16,500 that goes to a first round loser in the U.S. Open main draw. There's no question that Sweeting has had a great summer, but it's also true that he has some unfinished business at the University of Florida. It may depend on his match with Coria, a former world no. 3, who has fallen far enough to be unseeded, but was a US Open quarterfinalist last year. A win or a close loss could change his direction, but if Sweeting gets thumped as he did by Arnaud Clement at the Legg Mason, I suspect he'll be in Gainesville again.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Qualifying Complete at US Open


This usopen.org article has the details. How ironic that the only wild card to make it through to the main draw is Youlia Fedossova of France, who received her wild card via a trade with the French Federation. Jamie Hampton received the U.S. wild card to play qualifying at Roland Garros this year; she lost in the first round. Bob Greene has an account of Hampton's loss in the first round of qualifying in New York at tennisrecruiting.net.

The news on the women's side was particularly disheartening this year; not a single U.S. female made it through, with Ashley Weinhold, Ansley Cargill and Angela Hayes all losing the final match.

The men did much better, with four Americans getting through qualifying: Jesse Witten, Jeff Morrison, Mike Russell and Robert Kendrick claiming spots in the main draw.

Marcia Frost of collegeandjuniortennis.com has covered the qualifying all four days. Make sure you check out her stories and photos over the weekend.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Apple Falls Far From the Tree as a Player Clears His Own Path



The New York Times (registration required) features a Sam Querrey profile today, and it's a very interesting look at his father Mike's athletic career and how it played a role in his son's choice to forego college.

Sorry I don't have any photos more recent than last year's Open Jrs. It is, gulp, the last time I've seen Querrey play, live. If he can win a couple of rounds at the Open next week, maybe he'll still be around when I arrive for the junior event. Or maybe, like Andy Murray, there won't be a need for photos of him from the past, as there are so many from the present.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Amateur Hour: Journalism without Journalists:: The New Yorker


There probably aren't going to be many posts on Zootennis that will cite New Yorker stories, but this one, by Nicholas Lemann, raises some very interesting issues about the rise of internet journalism, including blogs.

With the torrent of comments that have poured in lately, I've been thinking a lot about how to best handle them, and as you all certainly know, I have no way of verifying the identities of those commenting, nor am I able to determine what is fact and what is perception in these comments. Some good friends have begun to express reservations about what's going on with all these comments, and have warned me that the direction it is heading may drive away the valuable, reasonable readers, leaving only those who have a specific, personal agenda.

I have, from the start of Zootennis in January of 2005, refrained from gossip, innuendo and rumor; I confirm facts with sources before I publish and if I am voicing an opinion, I hope it is clearly understood to be that. I appreciate hearing from readers who know things I do not. The more information I'm exposed to, the better, as it will provide me knowledge that will lead to better reporting and writing. But ultimately, I need to take responsibility for what goes up on this site, and that means some comments will not get to the wider audience. I will read every one, but that is all I can promise.

If there is one part of the New Yorker article that resonated with me it was this:

Reporting—meaning the tradition by which a member of a distinct occupational category gets to cross the usual bounds of geography and class, to go where important things are happening, to ask powerful people blunt and impertinent questions, and to report back, reliably and in plain language, to a general audience—is a distinctive, fairly recent invention. It probably started in the United States, in the mid-nineteenth century, long after the Founders wrote the First Amendment. It has spread—and it continues to spread—around the world. It is a powerful social tool, because it provides citizens with an independent source of information about the state and other holders of power. It sounds obvious, but reporting requires reporters. They don’t have to be priests or gatekeepers or even paid professionals; they just have to go out and do the work.

I intend to keep going out and doing the work, and I appreciate any help you can give me.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

SMASH Column, Post-Nationals Edition


My SMASH online column went up today.

Last night, I had an opportunity to do an interview with Kevin McClure, who does a weekly tennis podcast with "The Koz" that I've been listening to for several months.

Those of you who would like to listen to the interview and hear a little bit more about my personal background can find it here. It's over 30 minutes long, so consider yourself warned.

And finally, I wanted to make sure you all know that Marcia Frost, of collegeandjuniortennis.com is covering the qualifying at the U.S. Open. She'll be at Flushing Meadows for most of the next three weeks, so take advantage of her insights and reporting.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Murray's Mother Sets Pushy Parents Straight


With all the comments lately on parents and their role in junior tennis, I thought a link to this article in the Sunday Times would be appropriate.

Judy Murray, Andy's mum, is behind a new website called britishtennisparents.com that provides a comprehensive and well-organized look at the issues that arise in high level junior tennis. It is debatable whether Andy Murray is a model to emulate (mercurial is one of the nicer adjectives describing his behavior), but his mother does seem to be an intelligent and realistic type who genuinely wants to help other parents. I'm still waiting to see my first parent "chart" a match, but it's not a bad idea. Maybe it's a British thing.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Helgeson Transfers to Georgia



What's been a rumor since the NCAAs in May has been confirmed: Travis Helgeson, who spent two years at the University of Texas, will join the Georgia Bulldogs.

With John Isner, Luis Flores, Helgeson and incoming freshman Jamie Hunt, coach Manny Diaz has a very impressive lineup to begin the year, and Nate Schnugg has verbally committed and may join the team in January. After falling just short in their quest for a national title in May, they are now the overwhelming favorites. And the NCAA Championships will be in Athens in 2007. It's a script the Stanford women followed perfectly in 2006.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Nats Most Memorable Moments of 2006


The long-awaited (by Austin anyway) Most Memorable Moments of 2006 are up at ustaboys.com. I think that is the final Nationals story of 2006.

I'm going to be away from my computer for most of this weekend, so those of you commenting (and I'm excited that there's so many of you now) will see a delay in those comments being published. Again, please refrain from personal attacks under the cover of anonymous. To use a name while commenting, use the "other" selection on the comment page.

Friday, August 18, 2006

U.S. Open junior wild cards released


I want to preface this post by saying that like seeding, it's a lot easier to criticize wild card selection than it is to do it.

Here are the USTA's boys wild card selections for the main and qualifying draws of the U.S. Open Junior Championships:


MAIN
1. Brennan Boyajian
2. Mike McClune
3. Wil Spencer
4. Marcus Fugate
5. Bradley Klahn
6. Rhyne Williams
7. Chase Buchanan
8. Jarmere Jenkins

QUALIFYING
1. Ryan Thacher
2. Ryan Harrison
3. JT Sundling
4. Alex Domijan
5. Austin Krajicek
6. Tatsuma Ito

The 16s winner in Kalamazoo traditionally gets a main draw, and the finalist a qualifying. As you've probably gathered, I believe that Ryan Thacher should have been given a main draw wild card, given his performance in Kalamazoo, Palm Springs, Rockville and Scottsdale. He played every major USTA event, including the 16s Intersectionals and 18s Team Championships, won by Southern Calfornia, and yet he is not considered to have played the "competition" that the other wild cards have.

Rodney Harmon was kind enough to explain to me the reasoning behind the USTA choices, and basically, they come down to birth year. Ryan Thacher should be compared to Mike McClune and Wil Spencer, who also have 1989 birth years (as does Boyajian), not to Klahn and Jenkins (1990s), who finished behind him in Kalamazoo, or Williams and Buchanan (1991s) who played the 18s in Kalamazoo. (Thacher has two wins over Buchanan this spring.) I understand the value of giving younger players experience, but that must be balanced by putting on the court players with a realistic chance of winning matches.


And speaking of players born in 1989, where is Tyler Hochwalt's wild card? Seeded 27th, he finished sixth in Kalamazoo, losing to McClune and Kellen Damico, who will be seeded in New York. Not even a qualifying wild card (he beat Fugate in qualifying in last year's Open)? I can't begin to understand that reasoning. How about Adam El Mihdawy, who finished third in Kalamazoo?

Wil Spencer will not be playing in New York due to the ankle injury he suffered in his quarterfinal match in Kalamazoo, so that will free up a main draw wild card for someone. I'm too confused to even guess who it may be.

The girls wild cards are as follows:
MAIN:
1. Lauren Embree (16s winner)
2. Jamie Hampton
3. Mallory Burdette
4. Melanie Oudin
5. Ashley Weinhold
6. Christina McHale
7. Mary Gambale
8. To be confirmed

QUALIFYING
1. Mallory Cecil
2. Beatrice Capra
3. Alexandra Anghelescu
4. Brittany Augustine
5. To be confirmed
6. Matoba Yuka

Interesting that Chelsey Gullickson was given a women's qualifying wild card, but, unlike Marcus Fugate, not a main draw junior wild card. Gail Brodsky, who won the Women's National Open last December and was a Junior Orange Bowl 14s finalist, is out of luck, as is Ellah Nze, who is 585 in the WTA rankings. Both are "alternates" as of yesterday.

And could somebody please explain to me why we are trading qualifying wild cards with Japan? Australia, France or Great Britain I could understand, but nothing that Japan can give entry to can possibly compare to what we're providing.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Top Seeds Take Different Routes to Kalamazoo Championships:: The Tennis Recruiting Network


My wrapup for tennisrecruiting.net was posted today. I did have an opportunity to speak with Ryan Thacher Tuesday evening (he ran for a plane Sunday afternoon without talking to the media; he ended up missing the flight and staying in Kalamazoo an extra night) and I can assure everyone who is worried about him after the heartbreaking loss in the 16s final that he's just fine. He's looking forward to starting his junior year in high school, and if he doesn't get a main draw wild card into the U.S. Open juniors, he's not going to mope about it. Is there anybody who has seen him play that thinks he shouldn't get one?

Speaking of wild cards, the men's choices were released today. I guess with Ryan Sweeting getting a main draw wild card, it's official that he's no longer playing under the Bahamian flag.

As for the qualifying wild cards, the second, third and fourth place winners in Kalamazoo (Levine, Smyczek and Fugate) got them, as did 2003 winner Robert Yim and 2004 finalist Scott Oudsema. Ryler DeHeart, a recent graduate of Illinois who has had an excellent summer on the Futures circuit, may be a name unfamiliar to those who follow only pro tennis, but he's a good choice.

A final note: It appears that what was first thought to be food poisoning is now more likely a viral infection that's responsible for the illness of several Kalamazoo finalists over the weekend. After an investigation, there's no evidence of any widespread food-borne illness in the area.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

SMASH Column, Kalamazoo Edition


My SMASH online column is up, and although I feel I left out more than I included, it certainly wasn't a chore to write.

Also, the USTA has announced the women's U.S. Open wild cards. Only Alexa Glatch, and Lauren Albanese, who won hers in the Girls 18s Nationals in San Jose, are juniors in the main draw group. The qualifying wild cards are a much younger bunch, with six girls--Julia Cohen, Madison Brengle, Chelsey Gullickson, Jamie Hampton, Ashley Weinhold and Mary Gambale--all aged 17 and under.

Marcia Frost will not be happy; Audra Cohen, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Player of the Year from the University of Miami, did not receive a qualifying wild card; no college players did.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

DePalmer miffed by USTA's model:: Knoxnews.com



More fallout from the Mike DePalmer Jr. Open Letter to the USTA in this article from the Knoxville newspaper (free registration required.) Included is a rebuttal from Rodney Harmon and an interesting perspective from University of Tennessee assistant tennis coach Chris Woodruff.

I'm hearing that Sports Illustrated is working on a story about tennis development and the USTA's role in it. Stay tuned, this is going to get really interesting.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Perspectives on Sunday's 16 Final



Pam Shebest of the Kalamazoo Gazette has covered the Nationals for over 20 years and her finals story is here. She had no way of knowing how ill Boyajian was after the match, but he spent Sunday night in a Florida emergency room receiving treatment.
Other tidbits from the final day are here.

Erik Boal of the Los Angeles Daily News gives the 16s championship match account from Ryan Thacher's point of view. (There's one mistake--Boyajian didn't lead in the third set until he went up 6-5.)

Usta.com has all the details of the other National winners at sites around the country.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

How Bizarre: Nats End with a Bang and a Whimper


I never saw this coming: the whole week was nearly perfect and then food poisoning strikes. Jamie Hunt sick during the 18s doubles final; Jesse Levine unable to take the court for the 18s final due to food poisoning; Brennan Boyajian doubled over with stomach pain during the 16s championship match and vomiting after.

It's hard to imagine a 7-6 in the third final (I believe the first ever in the 16s) being overshadowed or upstaged, but this episode of ER has almost done it.

See ustaboys.com for the match story.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Nats Day Nine: Clash of Top Seeds Set for Sunday


It's No. 1 vs. No. 2 in both 16s and 18s singles on Sunday, which holds out a promise of two exciting matches to close the delightful week of tennis in Kalamazoo.

Donald Young will be trying to win back-to-back championships at Kalamazoo, while Brennan Boyajian is after his third consecutive National 16 singles title.

Details of Saturday's matches, including the doubles finals, are at ustaboys.com.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Nats Day Eight: The Tennis and the Weather Continue to be Excellent


You never know when the tournament's defining match will be played, and even though there is an entire weekend of tennis remaining, that honor will almost certainly go to the match between Adam El Mihdawy and Jarmere Jenkins, in the 16s quarterfinals on Friday.

The best tennis weather imaginable provided the perfect backdrop to the guaranteed drama of a third set tiebreak.

My match account for ustaboys.com has the details here.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Nats Day Seven: Young and Boyajian Advance


The huge upset in singles has yet to happen; the No. 1 seeds got through in straight sets Thursday; the No. 2s play on Friday. With only four main draw singles matches today, there were much greater opportunities for me to actually watch some matches from start to finish and to talk with parents, coaches and players. It's a relief to have a few moments to think (and sleep). The wrapup story for Thursday is here.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Day Six at the Nats: A big upset and more great weather


Wednesday is always a busy day at the Zoo, but the scheduling of the round of 16 throughout the day actually gives us an opportunity to pursue an ambitious goal--photographing, in action, all 32 players still playing in the main draw.

Please visit the photo archives for a shot and caption summary of all the day's matches.

For news of the big upset, see ustaboys.com.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

The Nats Day Five: Perfect Weather for Long Matches


The weather couldn't be better--sunny with temperatures in the mid 70s and no humidity. It's surprising how many matches featured cramps today; could it be more psychological than physiological at this stage in the tournament?

My story at ustaboys.com provides the details of Tuesday's fourth round matches.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Nats Day Four Ends with a Bang




Sometimes it's 7 p.m. before the day's story reveals itself, and that was the case on Monday, when Steve Forman saved five match points in his third round boys 18s match with Zachary Watson.

There was so much tennis on today's schedule that it would be understandable if the last match would have the biggest impact, but it was a great tennis whether it was at 7 a.m. or 7 p.m. See ustaboys.com for the details.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

The Nats Day Three: Photos, Photos & More Photos


It's a tossup which is more exhausting during the National tournament here in Kalamazoo: watching tennis all day or going to the parties every night.

Three people who didn't appear to be any the worse for wear are my website crew--BrieLynn Hanna, Rob Sturm and Julian Seelan, who between them put up 50 photos of the action Sunday in Kalamazoo.

The new website features an impressive enhancement. You can just click on the image and it will enlarge in a separate window right before your eyes. Please check out all the photos in the photo archives--they are one of the best ways to appreciate the special flavor of the Nats.

Ustaboys.com's home page has the Sunday wrapup story.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Three Seeded Players Lose Saturday in Second Round at Nats



©Colette Lewis 2006
Kalamazoo--

Jared Pinsky, Bradley Mixon and Alexei Chijoff-Evans made a beautiful summer Saturday downright miserable for three of the top 32 seeds in boys 18 singles.

Pinsky scored the biggest upset when he eliminated No. 8 seed and 2005 semifinalist Jamie Hunt 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 late Saturday evening at Stowe Stadium.
At Western Michigan University, Mixson disposed of 11th seed Dennis Lajola 6-2, 6-3 while Chijoff-Evans outlasted 21st seed Justin Kronauge 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3.

"The first set he beat me pretty bad," said Pinsky, of Potomac, Md. "I just wasn't ready to play and he makes you play every point. He doesn't give you anything."
After Pinsky had evened the match, the 17-year-old lefthander jumped out to a comfortable 4-0 in the third set, but Hunt fought back to 4-3. "I started to get a little tight there," Pinsky admitted. "But I just said, 'this is my match, this is what I've worked for, so just fight hard the rest of the match.'"

Unseeded, Pinsky was match-tough after his first round victory on Friday, citing that as an advantage Saturday.

"The first match you are always the most nervous," said the 16s divisions sixth place finisher in 2005, "so I got that out of the way and came into today just relaxed. I think it helped playing that first match yesterday."

A bevy of college coaches were looking on during the match, but the senior says he will be taking official visits this fall before making any decision. "Stanford, Duke, Virginia, Illinois are possibilities, but I'll have to visit and see."

The top two seeds in the boys 18s didn't lose a game between them, as No. 1 Donald Young downed Patrick Collins of Tulsa Okla. 6-0, 6-0. Not to be outdone, No. 2 Jesse Levine immediately followed Young on Court 2 at Stowe Stadium and double bageled Andrew Mateljan.

Alex Clayton, the fifth seed, was jolted awake by Skyler Tateishi of Hawaii, who lead 4-1 before losing the next nine games. "I wasn't really hitting the ball very well and I wasn't focusing as hard as I should have," Clayton said. "But I'm actually glad it was a tough match, to play a better player and to get some competition in," said the 2004 16s finalist.

The 16s began play on Saturday with one round of singles and two rounds of doubles. Five seeded doubles teams failed to make the third round, with the seventh seeded team of Kyle McMorrow and Alex Johnson the most highly-regarded team to fall; they lost to Alex Rafiee and Will Reynolds 7-5, 6-0.

For complete draws, click here.

Friday, August 4, 2006

A Long Day/Night at the Zoo



The first day is always very long, with matches beginning at 8 a.m., two rounds of doubles and then the professional exhibition/opening ceremonies in the evening.

I had an opportunity to interview both Aaron Krickstein and Todd Martin, and in my story for ustaboys.com, I used a few of the quotes, but the conversations about Kalamazoo, and their different paths to professional careers in tennis, were much more interesting than I'm able to convey in the very brief time I have to devote to the blog tonight.

But it was obvious, again, that there is no "right way" to excel, to earn success, to develop, to compete. Krickstein was clearly ready for professional tennis at 16, Martin not until he was 20.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Kalamazoo's U.S. Open Blue Courts Welcome Nation's Top Juniors: The Tennis Recruiting Network


Registration has begun here in Kalamazoo and thank goodness it was inside. It's been raining/drizzling all day, and although the weather forecasters continue to promise better weather for Friday, keep checking the webcam (the far right icon on the homepage at ustaboys.com). The photo below is a player having his portrait shot for use on his player badge, website profile and player photo board erected near the courts.



My Kalamazoo preview story for the Tennis Recruiting Network was posted today.

Right now the doubles draw for the 18s is just closing, and the player meeting starts in an hour, so there's plenty more for me to do tonight.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

SMASH Column, Pre-Nationals Edition


My SMASH online column was posted Wednesday afternoon (despite the date reading 7/25/06 on the Smash home page, it's a new column, trust me). There will NOT be a new column next week due to all the work I'll be doing for the ustaboys.com website.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Quite a Start for Prodigy: San Diego Union-Tribune



I took notice of Coco Vandeweghe (and at 6 feet, she wasn't hard to spot) at this year's Easter Bowl, when she won the 16s back draw, unseeded, after losing in the first round. That's ten wins in seven days. A wild card into a WTA Tier 1 event is quite a step up from that however. Jerry Magee has the details here.

In other news, Holden Seguso has withdrawn from Kalamazoo; Steve Forman has verbally committed to Wake Forest, with The Tennis Recruiting Network getting the particulars here. Reka Zsilinszka's early choice is promised for Wednesday.

Lots of interesting comments on seeding and wild cards in the past two posts. An unseeded player winning a major national tournament should not happen with any regularity. It's a sign that the system doesn't work. I encourage you to complain not just here on zootennis, but directly to Bill Ozaki and Lew Brewer at the USTA. If they hear only from those who complain when the USTA ranking list isn't followed to the letter, they will think everyone prefers that ranking and seeding system. Their email addresses are available on this page.