Saturday, December 15, 2007

Junior Orange Bowl Qualifying; Oudin and Tomic Make News

I spent the day at the University of Miami, watching the second round of boys 14 qualifying. The rain predicted for the past two days has thankfully not materialized, because with a 256 qualifying draw, there isn't much leeway. I was most interested in seeing the matches of the boys who played in the Boca wild card tournament for European travel, but for two of them, Nick Wood and Alexios Halebian, their 6-0, 6-0 wins allowed very little time for viewing. Tyler Gardiner had a more competitive encounter, defeating Terence Celestine 7-5, 6-2, but the match I watched most of was Robert Livi's 6-3, 7-5 loss to Alexandru Pasareanu of Canada.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I thought Livi had gotten a walkover and was practicing with a U of M player. Pasareanu, whose ITF birthdate is listed as May 1, 1993, is the most mature looking 14-year-old I have ever seen. Those who remember him from the 12s (I don't) say he was remarkably bigger and stronger in that age group too.

He lost in the first round of the 14s last year, and is in the qualifying this year, so his results haven't followed his physical development, but he had too much strength and size for Livi today.

Tomorrow there will be two rounds of play to determine the 16 qualifiers for Monday's main draw.

(The seeds are available by clicking here and under the "Show Players For" box, selecting the Main for each division. I'm sure you'll be surprised, I know I was.)

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution profiled Melanie Oudin yesterday, in advance of her exhibition match with Ashley Harkleroad tonight in a benefit that features Andy Roddick and Robby Ginepri.

And Bernard Tomic has been the subject of several U.S. features (Tennis Week here, ESPN here, with an Orange Bowl photo of mine accompanying). And the Australian press is of course giddy to have him in the forefront of junior news. (One story started by calling him the "world's leading junior," which may come as a surprise to Berankis, Ignatic and the 20 other players ranked ahead of him by the ITF). This is one local story focusing on his Gold Coast home, and it also mentions rumors that he is older than 15, which I have heard and do not give any credence to. He looked 12 when I saw first saw him in 2004 and since he didn't start playing tennis until after he had immigrated to Australia, it's hard to figure where those years would have gotten lost, and why.


Anonymous said...

Tough draw for Livi. That kid does look very mature.

Anyone know why Reo Asami isn't playing? He's almost the only notable American not participating in the 14s.

Another notable American not participating is Mico Santiago. Anyone know anything about this kid? has him ranked as the 5th best 8th grader, yet he rarely competes, and when he does it's in the 18-and-under division. He doesn't even play the big national tournaments. He's a bit of a mystery. I know he was born in 1994, but that's about it. Anyone know why is so high on him?

Anonymous said...

Whether their lying about their age is a none factor, except if they are playing in an age division much younger than their real age. There are kids who do want to stay and play their division to see how good they are competing with their peers. Tennis is the only sport that promotes jr. to turn pro before they are physically and mentally ready. 98% will not even make it to the pros, due to burn out and injuries. To many young kids are training 4-6 hrs a day and think that is what it takes at 12-15 yrs old. If you are going to be good you will be. But with the training schedules these kids have, I personnally to not see it. Give the body and mind a chance to grow and then see what happens. Going to college and then maybe turning pro. You do not have to make it by the time you are 18yrs.

Anonymous said...

didn't maccini jst beat tomic at the US open Qualies? At this aget he best is a moving target...

Anonymous said...

how does christian harrison not get a seed and vikrim hundal who gets a seed would loose 0 and 0 to harrison

king of tennis said...

speaking of one of the last posts, you have to be tall to be a good professinal, they said christin was 5 feet and ryan was 6ft makes no sense with genetics

Carol said...

I remember when Mary Joe Fernandez was whipping everyone in the juniors and all of the jealous parents used here in the States were saying she was older than the really was. Its just so typical of people involved in junior tennis that they cant for a minute celebrate a special talent but have to try and drag them down so they can feel good about themselves. One enormous reason why so many parents are thrilled when their children have left the juniors behind is that they no longer have to deal with the pettiness, insecurity and bitterness of other parents.

Anonymous said...

christian is 13 years old and ryan is 15 years old. It makes a lot of sense. You got to get older in order to get taller.

Anonymous said...

i dont think ryan was 5 feet when he was 13 that is my point

Anonymous said...

"Annonymous said: Another notable American not participating is Mico Santiago. Anyone know anything about this kid? has him ranked as the 5th best 8th grader, yet he rarely competes, and when he does it's in the 18-and-under division. He doesn't even play the big national tournaments. He's a bit of a mystery. I know he was born in 1994, but that's about it. Anyone know why is so high on him?"

People in the Pacific Northwest are familiar with Mico because he used to play all the junior tournaments including nationals before he reached 12 or 13 years old. He is very small, but very talented with uncanny foot speed.

It is a mystery to everyone why he no longer plays junior tournaments in his age group. The big danger of playing way up in age groups is that the kid may not get used to the pressure of playing kids his own age or younger. I believe Harold Solomon discussed this on this blog. It is much less pressure to be the young guy playing older kids where there is nothing to lose. And, he certainly would get some competition in his own age group, particularly when it comes to national and international tournaments such as Eddie Herr and the Orange Bowl.

With regard to your question about why is so "high on him," the answer is that the rankings are based purely on a computer program. It doesn't use the USTA point system, but its own point system based on quality of wins. So, it isn't like some person who works there has some high opinion, it is just how their computer system works. The flaw of that system seems to be that someone can get ranked high just playing in a handful of tournaments so long as they do well in a very few matches. Under the USTA system, not exposing yourself to the competition will hurt you. That is why Mico can be ranked high in in his age group without having to play any of those players in his age group; and that is also why he probably has no USTA ranking in his age group because he hasn't competed in the USTA tournaments in his age group.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that info. It's too bad he doesn't play in the lower age groups. It's hard to know where he stands in relation to other kids his age when he doesn't play them. I wonder if the USTA has approached him about playing Les Petits As. It sounds like he might be one of our best four players.

I found a picture of him and he does look very small. However, he does have some wins in ITFs, so he must have some good things going for him. He beat Martin Krueger (a 14-year-old German who's a seed in the 14s) 6-4, 6-3 last month, which suggests that he would fare well at the major international events. He lost 6-3, 6-3 to Raymond Sarmiento, which I think is a very respectable scoreline for a 13-year-old.

His size is an obstacle, but he seems interesting. I'll be following his development. He's definitely flying under the radar right now.