We couldn't refuse Northwest Airlines' offer of vouchers to take a flight three hours later, so all the action at the Futures event was over when we arrived just before sunset. The top two seeds in the men's division are out--No. 1 Benedict Dorsch lost to Conor Niland on Tuesday and No. 2 Todd Widom was beaten today by Chris Lam.
Thursday I'll be at the Hillsborough Community College courts bright and early, which is 10 a.m. in the non-junior time clock, and I'm going straight to court 13, where two qualifiers, Pavel Chekhov and Somdev Devvarman, will meet to see whose winning streak extends to six. Chekhov finished 2006 as the No. 10 ranked junior in the world, while Devvarman, a finalist at last year's NCAAs for the University of Virginia, is currently eighth in the college rankings. I'm also interested in checking out the Conor Niland - Marcus Fugate match and Donald Young versus Dmitri Vlasov.
The women's side features very few familiar names or faces, but I'll be watching Audra Cohen take on Robin Stephenson and Julie Ditty against qualifier Sorana-Mihaela Cirstea of Romania. The top two seeds in the women's event, Pauline Parmentier of France and Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic, reached the second round with straight-set wins. For complete draws, see the Pro Circuit home page.
Florida's junior tennis authority Bobby Curtis was busy taking phone calls while preparing for the designated events in the section this weekend, but we managed to get together at Rick's on Davis Island for a very tasty and filling Italian dinner. (Rick's isn't exactly the name you'd expect for such a place--Luigi's or Antonio's, of course, but Rick's?)
Earl Olson, who helps direct the tournament on behalf of the City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department, joined us, and we caught up on what's been happening in the two years since we've been in town. The community college sits on a very valuable piece of property across the street from Raymond James Stadium, where the Bucs play, and next to the Yankees' spring training site, and proposed construction projects, including dormitories and a hotel, may affect the tennis center. It's a fine facility and one that can host men's and women's futures simultaneously and handle a junior tournament too shouldn't be taken for granted.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007