I took the trip up to Boca Raton today for two reasons--to see the completed National Training Center and to have a look at the wild card round robin that the USTA is conducting to determine who will receive the spot in the Australian Open main draw. I discovered a bonus tournament, but more about that later.
Last year Madison Brengle, who was a last-minute replacement, won the Australian Open wild card, which the USTA receives in trade for a U.S. Open main draw wild card. Since she fit the criteria--1985 birth year or later, WTA Top 300--she was invited back again this year. Bethanie Mattek, Ahsha Rolle and Alexa Glatch also received invitations due to their birth dates and rankings. The other four are wild cards: Gail Brodsky, Asia Muhammad, Coco Vandeweghe and Ashley Weinhold (Melanie Oudin was initially in the field but dropped out when she reached the Orange Bowl final). The format has two groups of four and the top finisher in each group plays Thursday to decide the winner. After two days, this is how the results look:
Wednesday's matches will see Vandeweghe play Muhammad and Brengle play Mattek. If Brengle wins, she makes the final. If Mattek and Vandeweghe win, it gets a lot more complicated, as there will be three players who are 2-1.
In group 2 matches on Wednesday, Glatch plays Rolle, and Brodsky plays Weinhold. The same scenario holds as in group 1; if Glatch wins, she's in, but if Rolle beats her and Brodsky wins, there will be three players at 2-1.
Tuesday's matches were all completed in straight sets, and other than plenty of complaints about chair umpires calling all the lines, there wasn't much to indicate that a lot was riding on the outcome. The two US Open blue courts, in the photo above, were used, with two sets of two matches. Mattek beat Muhammad in straight sets and Brengle beat Vandeweghe on one court. On the other, Rolle defeated Weinhold and Glatch beat Brodsky. Usta.com has the results from Monday's competition here. Bonnie Ford of espn.com also is following the story.
I took a brief tour of the new training facility, and ran into Jarmere Jenkins, who was only just released from the hospital following his admittance on Saturday, when he was forced to retire from his semifinal Orange Bowl match. He said that his heart and kidneys had been affected, requiring more monitoring than the standard overnight IV that suffices for most cases, but that he was fine now.
The wild card tournament wasn't the only chaired event being held at the Evert Academy site. The round robin to determine which players will travel to Europe this winter for Teen Tennis and Les Petit As started Monday, under the direction of USTA High Performance coach Kent Kinnear. Participants are (by USTA ranking of 1994 birth years): Harrison Richmond, Mitchell Krueger, Reo Asami, Alexois Halebian and Robert Livi. Wild cards were given to: Tyler Gardiner, Nick Wood and Joe Di Giulio, the only 1995 birth year player in the group. The top two finishers in the round robin plus one wild card will go to Europe this winter. Christian Harrison is also likely to make the trip. Once I receive the final results from Kinnear, I'll pass them along.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007