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Monday, September 3, 2007

U.S. Open Junior Wins Sparse on Labor Day

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Flushing Meadows, NY--

The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center was packed with junior tennis matches on another dry and sunny day at the U.S. Open, and most of them involved Americans. With 20 girls (19 after Alexa Glatch was forced to withdraw with food poisoning) and 15 boys, there were bound to be both winners and losers; on Sunday the majority won, on Monday they did not. It was the seeded U.S. girls that took the biggest hit, and all of them--No. 3 Madison Brengle, No. 6 Julia Cohen and No. 13 seed Reka Zsilinszka--went out in straight sets.

Brengle, a finalist in the Australian and US Open Junior Championships this year, lost to 17-year-old Australian Jessica Moore 6-4, 6-2, but the result wasn't as surprising as it may seem at first glance. Tennis Australia thought so much of Moore's prospects that she was given their reciprocal wild card into the main draw, where she fell to the No. 20 seed Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-2 last week. I saw very little of the match, but I did talk to Moore afterwards and she felt Brengle, who also was awarded a wildcard in the women's draw, was beatable.

"She had a pretty good draw in the seniors (pros), and I didn't feel she took advantage of it," Moore said of Brengle's 6-4, 6-1 loss to American fashion plate Bethanie Mattek. "I knew if I played my aggressive game, I'd break down her weakness and I'd have a really good chance."

When asked to identify Brengle's weakness, Moore giggled nervously and hesitated a moment before saying, "I felt her forehand would really break down and my game exposes that a lot because I like ripping the ball. I would get her out of the court, and I felt that worked well, because I got short balls every time to put a forehand away."

There were no major upsets on the boys side, but there was very nearly one, as Tennys Sandgren, who earned his wild card by winning the 16s in Kalamazoo, lost by the the slenderest of margins to No. 5 seed Greg Jones of Australia 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5). Sandgren had no difficulty trading ground strokes with the 2007 French Open Junior finalist and Wimbledon semifinalist, and the much bigger 18-year-old couldn't locate his serve, rendering his volleying skills moot. Sandgren took advantage of every opening Jones gave him, and held his nerve even the precarious positions of serving at 4-5, and 5-6 in the third set. A debatable baseline call by the chair umpire (there were only four officials on the court and it was the chair's decision as to what lines they called) in the third point of the tiebreaker put Sandgren in a 3-0 hole, and although he recovered to bring it to 4-3 Jones, the Australian finally found his serve. On his third match point, he cracked an ace to put an end to Sandgren's upset hopes.

After the drama of that match, I caught the end of qualifier Frank Carleton's much less riveting 6-2, 6-4 win over Harri Heliovaara of Finland. Heliovaara, part of the team that won the Australian Open Junior doubles title this year, has been injured, only recently returning to competition, and the rust in his game showed. The 16-year-old Carleton won nearly every big point and on the biggest one--match point--Heliovaara double faulted.

I made my way over to Court 11, where another qualifier, Dennis Nevolo (irritatingly referred to as NeVELo throughout the match by the chair umpire) had dropped the first set to qualifier Giacomo Miccini of Italy 7-5. Nevolo was up 3-1 in the second set when I arrived, promptly played a loose game to give the break back, and then at 3-3, hitched a ride to what can only be described as The Zone. He broke Miccini with three astonishing winners, and although Miccini held at 3-5, he never had a chance the rest of the match. Nevolo served well, volleyed deep, hit every angle, made every return, and blunted the power of the 15-year-old Bollettieri student. I left when Nevolo was up 5-0, and it was no surprise to me that it ended as a bagel in the third.

Ryan Thacher was the third U.S. winner on the boys' side, taking out qualifier Jared Easton of Australia 6-2, 6-1, making his U.S. Open debut a success. U.S. girls chalking up wins were wildcards Melanie Oudin, a 6-4, 6-4 winner over unseeded Stephanie Vogt of Liechtenstein and Ashley Weinhold, who defeated No. 9 seed Kai-Chen Chang of Taipei 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. Qualifier Kim Couts also won, dispatching Shiho Akita of Japan 6-1, 6-3. Chang was the only non-American seed to lose on the girls side; the boys lost two seeds on Monday--No. 10 Ricardo Urzua-Rivera of Chile and No. 14 Henrique Cunha of Brazil.

Doubles began Monday afternoon, and there were a few surprises. The sixth seeded team of Sung-Hee Han of Korea and Nikola Hofmanova of Austria lost in three sets to the Slovakian team of Kristina Kucova and Klaudia Boczova. The unseeded American team of Adam El Mihdawy and Ryan Harrison upset the fifth seeded Chilean team of Guillermo Rivera Aranguiz and Urzua-Rivera.

U.S. Wildcards Bo Seal and Alex Domijan will play their first round matches on Tuesday morning. For complete draws, see usopen.org.


Carol said...

Madison was disappointing but the other girl totally outplayed her without ever looking like she was extending herself. She was also right about Madison's forehand breaking down under pressure and I thought Madison looked very slow. Perhaps her head wasn't in the juniors but she'll need to work on her movement and forehand if she wants to make more of a splash next year, especially if the word is out that she has a weakness in those areas.

I dont think anyone will be too surprised that Reka and Julia lost. They've been solid citizens in the juniors but they dont have the extra gear needed to do really well at the big events. I know Reka is set to play for Duke and I think she'll do well in the college game but I really do hope this finally convinces Julia that she isn't ready for the pro tour. College will be a better fit for her game and current interests.

Austin said...

It's hard to have good results as a country when arguably our three best junior boys aren't competing in our own grand slam. Having Young, McClune and Damico playing would have really made us look better.

Also, for the life of me I can't figure out how Julia Cohen is always seeded, and somehow ranked, so high at junior tournaments. It seems like she never fulfills her seed at big tournaments. I really hope she goes to college like her brother decided to.

Anonymous said...

Great efforts for the Americans ! Keep it going .

Please refresh my memory , how come Damico and Young as well as Kecki are not playing ?

david said...

I don't think we're doing poorly. With Domijan winning today (granted, with a little luck), the majority of boys have advanced. And one of the losers was a recently turned 16-year-old who lost 7-6 in the third to the #4 player in the world. Seal got an awfully tough draw with Berankis, who came into this tournament on a roll and who has a tendency to make good players look bad (see his results).

I think we have two players who have the potential to make a deep run (Williams and Thacher). Thacher just beat 6th ranked Stephane Piro in straight sets and appears to have an attractive draw for the next round. Williams has a tough draw with Elias and probably Jones, but he certainly has the ability to win those matches.

If we had Young, McClune, Damico, and Kecki, the American field would be absolutely loaded. But even as is, I think it's a solid group.

I would rank Damico below Thacher and Williams, by the way.

Anonymous said...

If Jessica Moore is twice more talented technically, and three time more superior physically, she is 100 times much better mentanlly than Brengle. Your analysis on Brengle's game is right on technically. I am disappointed you totally ignored the mental/attitude aspect of her game.

Remembering you mention a storry that TA sned its best boy jonior player home right before Wimdledon because of his lack of effort during French Open. I think the american jonior, especially those "Top" joniors like Brengle, and USTA has to to learn from those TA storyies.

Man in the Moon said...

Don't know if I already sent this one -please check

Get over it -Young, and McClune are out of the juniors!!!

"Dispute Resloution" is everybody as sick of that American Express commercial as I am, not to mention the Roddick commercial for that car company. I think they have shown each commercial over 200 times already. Thank goodness for TIVO. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a backlash against those two companies. What, they can't afford to do another commercial or 2!!

Amazing about CBS and USA network -- 4 foreign girls ages 18, 18, 18 and 16 have fantastic wins / upsets and hardly an interview, paragraph, sentence, or even a word about them. If it is not American they just don't give a hoot.

Yes, I am an American but to go on, and on about the red, white and blue is a bit much.

The reasons are painfully obvious-- the better American players do in the event the more Americans will watch and the better the RATINGS. Talk about touting your team -- they sound like homers at a local football or basketball game.

It is interesting the commentators always mention the weak points about non-Americans and hardly mention the weak points about non-Americans.

It has gotten so bad in America they are now talking about a 5 year old boy in Calif. as the next great American hope.

Basically Americans are looking for quarterfinals or better (top 5- 10 in the world.). Making it to the final weekend for the Grand Slams. And whether any American adimits or not --- that is what they want. Nobody is interested in top 25 unless you really follow tennis.

And frankly I don't see that on the horizon for America- meaning not Donald Young (who has similar focus problems as the guy who beat him-Lopez) or even Isner unless significant changes occur in both players.

Clearly Nadel, Joko, Berdych, Muarry if he stays healthy possibly Del Potro, Gasquet not Monfils (focus problems) have a much greater potential to be top 5.

david said...

To Man in the Moon:

1) Yes, the American Express commercials have been played ad nauseam. This we can agree on! I haven't seen the Roddick one too much, so I don't fine that one quite as annoying.

2) Austin can speak for himself, but he was merely noting that several of our top juniors aren't participating. That has to be taken into account when evaluating the country's performance as a whole. I don't think there's anything to "get over." It's just a noteworthy fact. To be even-handed about it, there are some top non-American juniors missing as well: Kei Nishikori, Petru-Alexandru Luncanu, Martin Kilzan, Brydan Klein, and Michal Konecny.

3) Yes, American tennis broadcasts give American players a disproportionate amount of attention. That's natural, and frankly I prefer it that way, even though I enjoy watching non-Americans as well. It's not like non-Americans are completely ignored. A couple days ago, for instance, they cut away from Robby Ginepri's five-set match with Wawrinka to show the Moya/Kohlschreiber match. Novak Djokovcic has received an abundance of attention and praise throughout the week. Those are just a couple of examples. It's not all Americans all the time.

If you meant to say that the weaknesses of Americans aren't discussed, I strongly disagree. How many times has James Blake's record in five-set matches, his inconsistency, and his supposedly flawed approach been discussed? Quite a lot. Any time Roddick goes through a mini-slump, commentators act like his career is over. Ginepri's regression since his U.S. Open semifinal appearance is typically brought up when he's playing. Jim Courier talked about him needing to improve his work ethic. Did you watch the Young/Davydenko match? Chris Fowler couldn't stop talking about Young's previously winless ATP record. It's certainly untrue that Americans' weaknesses aren't mentioned.

4) Who's talking about a 5-year-old from California? The U.S. Open commentators?

5) You're right, most Americans are only really interested in players who win Grand Slams. Standards are extremely high, and it's those standards that lead to the overly negative view of the state of U.S. tennis. U.S. tennis is doing fine, and it appears that it's going to be on the upswing soon, at least for the men. I'm more optimistic about men's tennis than I've been in a long time.

oldschool said...

To Man in the Moon...everything you've stated is fairly obvious. American television favors American players ? Really ?...Not a new observation. Nadal, etc. have more top five potential than Donald Young and Isner ? Do you think that's a unique observation ? By the way, I wouldn't say that Nadal and Djokovic have top five "potential" they are already there...

Austin said...

1) Both the McEnroe and Roddick commericals are horrendous. Whoever came up with them should be "let go" from their respective agencies. I'm still not sure the Roddick one even makes sense.

2) I came home from work last week hoping to find Ginepri's match on tv, instead I was staring L&O: SVU in the face. No chance that happens if Roddick, Blake, Sharapova or the Williams Sisters are playing.

3) Speaking of Ginepri, I was quite shocked to see they put Djokovic-Del Potro as the night match instead of Ginepri-Wawrinka. I could have almost guaranteed the latter was going to go five, and if your name isnt Nadal or Federer the crowd in Ashe would rather watch an American. Yeah, we know who Novak is, but I have yet to have a friend who isn't into tennis that has heard of him. Not to mention Djokovic blew him out just as expected.

4) Speaking of Thacher, his progression is VERY similar to Querrey two and three years ago. He is in the finals of the 16's, then the next year in the finals of the 18's because he has a big, explosive game. Now he beats a top seed at the Open and is into the round of 16. I think his inexperience at the international level will ultimately be his maker in this tournament, but he is my pick to make it. When Thacher wins NCAA's his freshman year things may change.

Man in the Moon said...

David, and Old School

David, all you points are well taken and we are basically saying the same thing.

The point about weakness in the Americans players - I meant specific points such as cross court forehand, back hand volley, etc. not so much - if they were in slumps, regressions, etc.

But basically we are both in the same ball park on our thoughts!!!

Old School, your comment
"fairly obvious. American television favors American players ? Really ?... " I don't know if you have ever been to Wimbledon, The French, or Australian Open, or US Open -

I have, on more than one occassion, and yes, the local press, TV and Media in those areas do cater to their National players.

BUT NOT TO THE EXTENT THAT THE US MEDIA DOES. It is way over the top when the US TV coverage does not cover major news items i.e. the 4 young girls who had amazing results.

The foreign press, TV, MEDIA at the Grand Slams are much more GLOBAL than America.

So, my point is to the people who have not travelled to the other Grand Slams (including you), might not be aware of the "OVER THE TOP COVERAGE" that America gives to it's tennis players. So it is not necessarily that obvious in the GLOBAL PICTURE.

And that is problaby part of the problem as David has alluded to in the above blog. why we as Americans expect so much- the over indulgence of our Media.

In continuation Mr. Old School as you commented "Nadal, etc. have more top five potential than Donald Young and Isner ? Do you think that's a unique observation ? By the way, I wouldn't say that Nadal and Djokovic have top five "potential" they are already there...

If you have read anything at all on this site- most of the bloggers will disagree with you on the top 5. I have been saying that about Young for 3 years, so it is great to finally have a person on my side about Young-thank you very much.

BTW the people on THIS SITE CERTAINLY KNOW that Nadel and Joko are top five and they also know that Berdych (#9), Murray (#19) if he stays healthy possibly Del Potro (45), Gasquet (13) not Monfils (57)--


I do appreciate your thoughts and comments concerning my bloggs.

Man in the Moon said...


I forgot about the point about the 5 year old.

Check out the site www.undergroundtennis.com 5 yr old Jan Silva he is also on "you tube". He is beginning to make the local papers -- and no it wasn't on CBS yet, but I don't doubt it will be there soon.

My point is America is so, so hungry to get "results / hope" we are now looking at a 5 yr old.

Even on this site - Austin has brought up some girls from florida ages 10- 12 that he thinks will develope into champions. Give me a break!!!

Anonymous said...

I watched Thacher play today against Piro, and I don't know if I would call his game explosive. I think it's more based around his speed, and finesse. But the only thing that seemed explosive to me was his serve.

Anonymous said...

I watched Thacher play today against Piro, and I don't think his game is very explosive. I think it's more based around speed, and some finesse. But the only thing that seemed explosive to me was his serve. It didn't seem like he hit his forehand very hard, but more deep in the court.

david said...

Okay, I've read about the Silva kid. I agree, it's absurd to talk about a 5-year-old as being the future for any country. Thankfully, I *don't* think that the kid is going to be discussed in the mainstream media. Besides, didn't he move to France? Even if he does turn out to be great, he may end up playing for France.

Anonymous said...

that would be Sachia Vickery and Victoria Duval. And lest we forget Alexus Jones. (www.alexusjones.com)

Man in the Moon said...


"Holy Cow" to quote the Yankee great for 50 years (player/broadcaster) -Now I have seen everything.

The website www.alexusjones.com which was in the previous blog absolutely knocked my socks off.

I have never, ever seen anything so absurd - if she is good, very good or even excellent that would show up in results sooner or later.

She will have a *very tough time living up to the hype*-

It is on the verge of child abuse- I truly feel sorry for her.

But wish her the best of luck.

Correcto mundo on the other 2 girls -thanks for the tip.

Man in the Moon said...


I believe you are correct about the training in France, however I think he has US citzenship --I don't know for sure.

Anonymous said...

Christian won the 8 and under Lille Mo National Regionals at age 5. He actually played the finals on the day he turned 6. I think there are a lot of kids out there who are that talented at that age if they were introduced to the game by then. A lot of factors have to go into making it on the pro tour as these kids grow older but its a good sign to see kids being introduced to the game at that age. Pat Harrison

Man in the Moon said...

I personally know and have been around many, many Pro Basketball and collegiate All American BB players. Same for ATP and collegiate All American tennis players.

Believe me , it makes no difference what a player does in the 6,8, 10, 12 and under catergories in either sport.

Yes, it is great that youngsters start early in any sport.

As we all know -Pro sports in any arena takes a very miniscule percentage of the players that participate and to even think that a 5 - 12 year old player is destined to greatness is impossible to predict.

It only gives the parent bragging rights.

Anonymous said...

man in the moon, agree with you 100%. The parent of this Alexus Jones wants NOTHING other than for his kid to be a PRO tennis player. Just like Mike Agassi. Just like some other parents out there of promising junior players. Nothing less. This child has had no choice in the matter. Yeah right, (at age 3-4).."Daddy, please can we go out and hit 6 thousand balls today, who needs coloring books!" And the thing is, you follow this kid through the juniors, and I am sure she will win, especially against her own age..and yes, maybe the lottery ticket will be won, and she will indeed go far in this sport. And at age 12 if you ask her if she loves tennis, she will happily say "yes!!"..and 3 years later, she will still say "yes"!!!!...but what is disturbing is that some parents will be so high and proud and say, "my kid loves tennis", "my kid has FIRE and PASSION"..when in fact, how can they not, when their entire life at such an early age is geared toward this? But then again, I'm sure Andre Agassi would not trade his career for what his father did..he was another kid who knew nothing else growing up. You know, we all are aware of the Agassi story, and Mr Agassi hides nothing as far as his intentions with his kids..back then the "web" was non-existent..I wonder if he would have created an "Andre Agassi Tennis Samurai" webpage!?

Anonymous said...

a thought: would Mike Agassi, or Richard Williams have been disappointed if Andre, or Venus and Serena had not made it to the PRO's, or would they have just been content in that they did everything they could to try and make this happen, and would not be disappointed one single percentage point? I would hope it would be the latter...but..if they indeed had that 1% disappointment in the back recesses of their mind, dont you think that the child (or children) that you spent all the time/hours on the court would sense this? And how's that for a rest of your life, knowing that daddy or mommy wanted more from me? Another thought (jeez, this Alexus Jones thing has me going!) how would Mr Sampras, or Mr Querrey feel toward their kids if they did not "make it". I see a difference between Agassi/Williams..and Sampras/Querrey, and it makes me sad if this Alexus Jones does not become a great PRO. Sad for her, and her self-esteem.

Colette Lewis said...

A comment asking about Damico, Kecki and Young was lost, but Damico has started college at Texas, Kecki is still injured (withdrew from Kalamazoo after semifinal loss) and Young decided after his third round loss to Lopez that he wouldn't compete in the juniors.

Gatorboy said...

So, big question: When do you cut off funding for those players who just don't have what it takes to be top level players?

Austin mentioned Julia Cohen and she's the poster child for money down the drain. Yeah, she's been able to get a good ranking but if can barely win a match in the junior slams when it matters most.
Why do we waste money on players who have proven, time and time again, that they aren't good enough for the big stage, whether its juniors or pro level?