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.