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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sodden Saturday at Wimbledon


©Colette Lewis 2007--
London--

UPDATE: Rain continues; all junior matches cancelled for the day


With persistent rain since 10 a.m. here at Wimbledon, there have been no matches played as of 3 p.m. Saturday. The junior schedule has been reduced to eighteen matches, but the most anticipated first rounder--No. 1 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia versus Portuguese prodigy Michelle Larcher de Brito--is still on the schedule.

U.S. players still on the schedule are Mallory Cecil, Melanie Oudin, Gail Brodsky and Kellen Damico. I'm hoping to see at least some of those four matches.

The referee's office has already announced that there will be no play on Sunday, the traditional day of rest that is unique to Wimbledon, despite the rain.

The ITF has posted its Wimbledon junior preview here. For more coverage of the Wimbledon junior championships, see collegandjuniortennis.com.

P.S. This is a milestone for zootennis--my 1000th post!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Wet Start, Clear Finish at Wimbledon


©Colette Lewis 2007--
London--

It started out with heavy rain, taxi queues and pessimism over the day's schedule, but it ended much better than it began. Summer could be detected in the warmth of the afternoon sun, and the blustery winds were hardly felt by the avid fans, if not the players.

We found our B&B in the Village, unpacked and then walked through the quiet residental streets to the AELTC. There was no traffic and no bustle; that's all on the other side of the club grounds, though our hostess warned us that dinner in the village would be a challenge with all the spectators stopping by. I picked up my credential (escorted to Press Reception by a impeccably uniformed young man--not the way its done it New York--believe me!), talked to many of the reporters and tennis people I had hoped to see this week, and even spotted a few U.S. juniors--Kellen Damico, Johnny Hamui, Brad Cox. The junior qualifying draws were nowhere to be found on the premises (and they are never posted to any Grand Slam website), so I'll be relying on the main draw sheets, due out any minute, to see who earned their way in at Roehampton today.

In short, it's been a whirlwind 24 hours of travel and talk. Not much tennis yet--that's on tap for tomorrow, weather permitting, of course.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wimbledon

We're off to Wimbledon today, and I do not know if I will be able to post regularly here about the Wimbledon Junior Championships, which begin Saturday (weather permitting). I have received no response to my requests for permission to do so.
Marcia Frost is also heading over today, and she has been given the okay to post to collegeandjuniortennis.com, so please check out her site for news from the Wimbledon juniors.

I will try to post if and when I can, but if there aren't regular updates, you'll know why.

My recruiting profile of Bradley Klahn appears today on The Tennis Recruiting Network. The latest Inside Junior Tennis podcast should be available shortly.

And here's an interesting look at the state of British Tennis.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Southern California Sectionals; Florida State Closed

Doug and Julie Wrege of The Tennis Recruiting Network attended the Southern California Sectional, and Julie's story on the 10s division is posted on TR.net today. Eric Boal's Los Angeles Daily News article on Ryan Thacher's win over Lawrence Formentera in the Boys' 18 final is here.

I also mentioned last week that Clint Bowles had won the Florida State Closed boys 18s. The Florida section has a very comprehensive story on their website, with photos, of all the age divisions' winners.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Nats at the Zoo Makes ESPN Top 101 Events List; Pan Am Team Announced


Today on ESPN.COM, Jim Caple, a columnist on the popular Page 2 website, revealed a list entitled 101 things all sports fans must experience before they die. There are the expected entries of Kentucky Derby, Indianapolis 500, World Series, Masters, Michigan vs. Ohio State, Wimbledon. And then, down at No. 71, is this entry:

The USTA boys tennis championship (August, Kalamazoo, Mich.). This seven-decade-old tournament is where John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors behaved like brats when they literally were still brats. Other participants include Rod Laver, Arthur Ashe, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.

Even given the 65 years of history here and the quirky nature of some of the other 100 events on the list, I wasn't expecting that. Junior tennis is so far off the mainstream sports radar, I can't imagine who told Caple that it belonged on the list. But it does. If you haven't been here, think about making the pilgrimage this year.

The eight players making up the U.S. Pan American games team were announced today by the USTA. The four men are Stephen Bass of Notre Dame, Travis Helgeson of Georgia, Todd Paul of Wake Forest and Luke Shields of Boise State. The four women competing in Rio next month are Audra Cohen of Miami, Megan Falcon of LSU, Natalie Frazier of Georgia and Kristi Miller of Georgia Tech. Kent Kinnear, formerly of Illinois, is coaching the men and Brian Kalbas of North Carolina will coach the women.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Anderson, Pandzic Win Pro Circuit Events Sunday


Kevin Anderson of Illinois won the $15,000 USTA Men's Pro Circuit event in Loomis, California yesterday, defeating No. 1 seed Ivan Miranda of Peru 7-6(4), 6-3 in the final. Anderson, a finalist in the previous week's tournament in Woodland Calif., is now at a career best ranking of 419, and as is the case whenever a collegian has success on the Futures Circuit, the speculation starts: will he return to school for his senior year?

That question was posed by the Sacramento Bee, and Anderson, in this brief story is quoted as saying: "I definitely feel ready (to turn professional), but Illinois is a great environment, I have a lot to improve, and I have a great coach." He goes on to say it will take a leap to the Top 200 to change his plans to return to school. For a more detailed account of his victory, see this story from the fightingillini.com website.


The $10,000 women's event in Ft. Worth, Texas was won by Jelena Pandzic of Fresno Pacific. Pandzic, who was runnerup to Miami's Audra Cohen in last fall's ITA Individual Indoor Championships, has also had a very impressive start to her summer. As a qualifier, she reached the finals of the Houston Pro Circuit event earlier this month, where she was beaten in three sets by Asia Muhammed. Last week she was still relegated to the qualifier, but lost only five games in four matches, and in the main draw, lost only one set, defeating 15-year-old Lauren Embree of Florida in the final. (Embree, a qualifier herself, had an outstanding tournament, defeating Georgia All-American Natalie Frazier in the quarterfinals and top seed Vilmarie Castellvi in the semifinals.)

Pandzic was an NCAA finalist back in 2004, as a freshman at Fresno State, but was ruled ineligible to compete in Division I the following year. She enrolled at nearby Fresno Pacific, an NAIA school, and her only loss in two dual seasons was that three-setter to Cohen. According to this even shorter story in the Fresno Bee, Pandzic is now pursuing her tennis as a professional.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Wimbledon Junior Preview; Bricker Talks to Querrey

The Wimbledon Junior Championships don't begin until Saturday, but wimbledon.org has already posted this preview. It's a good sign that they'll be paying attention to the juniors, which would be a big improvement over the other Grand Slam websites, who usually ignore them until the finals. The story was obviously written a few weeks ago, as the rankings are out of date, and it is surprising that there is no mention made of Donald Young, who will likely be the top seed, given his ATP ranking inside the Top 300. Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the world's top-ranked girl, is certainly a threat at any junior slam, (Jon Wertheim over at SI.com has her beating Daniela Hantuchova in his first round upset special in the ladies draw) but she did not reach the third round of the main draw in Melbourne, as this story states. She lost in the final round of qualifying there this year. Pavlyuchenkova did win the girls doubles title last year at Wimbledon, but lost in the first round in singles, her worst showing in a junior slam since the 2005 US Open, when she had just turned 14.

Charlie Bricker caught up with Sam Querrey for this article in the Sun-Sentinel. Querrey's graduated beyond the usual realm of zootennis, but it's good reading.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Wimbledon Junior Wild Cards Awarded; NYT Features Donald Young

The All England Club released its wild card selections for the juniors on Friday. Daniel Cox, Graeme Dyce, Neil Pauffley, Joshua Milton, Marcus Willis, Sean Thornley and Daniel Smethurst of Great Britain plus Kellen Damico of the U.S. fill the eight boys' slots. On the girls' side, it's Jade Curtis, Tara Moore, Jocelyn Rae, Jade Windley, Anna Fitzpatrick and Naomi Broady of Great Britain taking six of the spots; the other two are going to Russian Anastasia Pivovarova, second in the ITF junior rankings and French Open Junior finalist Mariana Duque Marino of Columbia.

Sunday's New York Times Magazine features this article (free registration required) on the career of Donald Young. There have been lots of comments on Young by readers of zootennis, so I know many of you will find this interesting reading even if it can only add a little more nuance to such an oft-told tale.

Friday, June 22, 2007

USTA Training Academy Taking Applications

The USTA has published, on usta.com, its first detailed explanation of what it is offering and to whom at the newly constructed National Training Center at Evert's in Boca Raton. The examples of the kinds of results they want to see by birth year are certainly specfic, but as you probably know, I'm still unconvinced that birth year segregation has any meaningful part to play in junior development. I also think that if you are looking for a clue as to why clay court tennis skills are lacking in the U.S., you might note that winning the National Clay Courts is of no value when applying for a scholarship.

The deadline for submission is July 27 for those interested in beginning this fall.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Grass Court Wrap; New Inside Junior Tennis Podcast; Schnugg Update


My Grass Courts tournament wrapup is available today on The Tennis Recruiting Network.

This week's Inside Junior Tennis podcast is also primarily about the Grass Courts, but there is an important segment in which Kevin and I discuss the recent clarification by the NCAA of the payment of expenses for amateurs participating in professional events. The Intercollegiate Tennis Association website's homepage contains a link to the column and response under Additional Information: NCAA Educational Column.

The South Oregon Mail Tribune has made a point of keeping up with Nate Schnugg tennis career, and this article reviews his college season, his plans for the summer and Georgia coach Manny Diaz's plans for him this fall.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Women's Summer Collegiate Team Announced; Damico Receives Wimbledon Juniors Singles Wild Card

Although I published the men's Summer Collegiate team members' names a couple of days ago, I hadn't seen any reference to the women's team. Casey Angle of the ITA passed along the release today, and I'll just quote from it for the women's team.
=====================================================================
The women's team members are:
Megan Falcon, LSU (Soph., Alameda, Calif.)
Natalie Frazier, Georgia (Sr., Riverdale, Ga.)
Theresa Logar, Stanford (Sr., Rochester Hills, Mich.)
Jenna Long, North Carolina (Sr., Fremont, Calif.)
Kristi Miller, Georgia Tech (Jr., Marysville, Mich.)
Lindsey Nelson, Southern California (Jr., Villa Park, Calif.)

Virginia women's assistant coach Troy Porco will be coaching the women's team.

The USTA Summer Collegiate Team is an elite training program for the top American collegiate tennis players that began in 1996 and is funded by the USTA. It is designed to provide players with valuable exposure to the USTA Pro Circuit in a team-oriented environment during the summer months. This year's team will be playing in USTA Pro Circuit events primarily during the month of July.

Past players named to the USTA Summer Collegiate Team include current American professionals: James Blake, Bob and Mike Bryan, Jill Craybas, Amer Delic, Justin Gimelstob, Paul Goldstein, Laura Granville, Lilia Osterloh, Bobby Reynolds and Mike Russell.

More on this year's team members:

  • Megan Falcon, LSU: She finished No. 2 in the final Fila national singles rankings and was named ITA National Player to Watch. The SEC Player of the Year had a 28-match win streak this season and advanced to the NCAA singles semifinals.
  • Natalie Frazier, Georgia: Finished at No. 5 in the final Fila singles rankings and helped lead Georgia to the NCAA quarterfinals. Frazier collected 34 singles victories this season and was a finalist for the ITA National Senior Player of the Year.
  • Theresa Logar, Stanford: Logar was a member of three NCAA championship teams for the Cardinal during her career and finished this season at No. 8 in the final rankings and reached the round of 16 at the NCAA singles tournament.
  • Jenna Long, North Carolina: The ITA National Senior Player of the Year, Long captured the NCAA doubles crown (with Sara Anundsen) in May. She finished at No. 9 and 2 in the Fila singles and doubles rankings,respectively.
  • Kristi Miller, Georgia Tech: Miller led Georgia Tech to its first NCAA team championship last month. A three-time ITA All-American, she finished at No. 7 in singles this season and reached the quarterfinals at the ITA National Indoor Championships last fall.
  • Lindsey Nelson, Southern California: Nelson, the Pac-10 Player of the Year, reached the NCAA singles final for the second straight season. She has earned ITA All-American honors each of the last three seasons.
    ===============================================================================

    Today I received an email from Claire Wood, the referee at the Wimbledon Junior Championships in a response to my request for the date of the junior wild card announcement. She said she anticipated that main draw wild cards will be announced Friday; the qualifying wild cards will be named at the close of sign-in on Wednesday the 27th. She further added that Kellen Damico has been awarded a main draw singles wild card.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Grass Courts Slideshow

There's no other junior tournament in the U.S. with photo ops like these. Enjoy!


Monday, June 18, 2007

Macdonald Gets Endowed Chair at Vanderbilt; Bowles Wins Florida State Closed; Men's Summer Collegiate Team Named

When a college mentions their tennis coach in the same breath as their football coach, you know he must be a special teacher. Vanderbilt announced last week that women's tennis coach Geoff Macdonald is the recipient of the John R. Ingram Chair in Coaching Excellence Endowment for his outstanding, long-term performance. I met Geoff Macdonald at Mark Bey's National Junior Tennis Conference two years ago, and I was very impressed with his knowledge and dedication. This honor, of course, depends upon an institution recognizing a treasure when it has one, and Vanderbilt, to its credit, has taken notice.

Since Clint Bowles committed to Florida State last fall, he hasn't been playing much junior tennis, but he did win last week's Florida State Closed, one of the Sunshine State's most prestigious titles. He defeated No. 1 seed Brennan Boyajian in the semifinals and No. 2 seed Ryan Kim in the finals, but it's hard to call either of those wins "upsets"; Bowles was seeded at No. 12 because of limited play.

The Men's USTA ITA Summer Collegiate Team has been announced with Stephen Bass, Travis Helgeson, Bryan Koniecko, Jesse Levine, Todd Paul and Luke Shields named to the touring team. The LSU website disclosed the selections when announcing that Mark Booras, the Tigers' associate head coach, would be coaching the team.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Clay Court Wild Card, Tomic Sent Home, Brengle Stays in Europe

Just a few quick links tonight, but I did want to make sure that everyone knew that the Boys 18s and 16s Clay Courts will award a main draw wild card into next year's ATP Delray Beach International Tennis Championships to the boys' 18s winner. Registration closes on Thursday, so don't put it off any longer if you plan to play. Please see the tournament's TennisLink website for more information on the wild card and all the other particulars of this new venue.

There's this very surprising story from Melbourne's Herald Sun claiming that phenom Bernard Tomic was sent home from Europe by Tennis Australia, and will not compete at Wimbledon, because he didn't show adequate effort in a second round loss in the French Junior Championships.

And here's another local news update on Madison Brengle, who has spent the past five weeks in Europe and will be staying there for at least three more, through the Wimbledon Junior championships.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sun Shines on Klahn and Paz at Grass Courts




©Colette Lewis 2007--
Philadelphia, PA--

It was a damp, cool and cloudy for most of the 2007 ITF US Grass Courts, but for Saturday's singles finals the warm summer sunshine at the Philadelphia Cricket Club lifted everyone's spirits. Gabriela Paz and Bradley Klahn, the champions, had the most reason for smiles and happiness, but finalists Claire Bartlett and Ryan Lipman left the court knowing they had contributed to a enticing display of grass court tennis.

As the PCC members in their tennis whites strolled by the main court en route to their own Saturday matches, they stopped to admire a particularly deft drop volley or laser-like passing shot. In the day's first match, which Klahn won 7-6, (4), 7-6 (6), there were plenty of opportunities to appreciate those skills, and all the other physical and mental attributes grass demands.

The 16-year-old Klahn seized the first advantage of match when he broke Lipman to take a 5-3 lead in the opening set. That lead didn't last, as Lipman broke back in the next game, but Klahn didn't spend much time dwelling on what might have been.

"I just told myself to relax and have fun," said Klahn. "It's the finals." After winning the first set tiebreak, which he had also done in his semifinal win over Dennis Nevolo, Klahn, the No. 2 seed, may have faced the second set with extra confidence, but Lipman showed no sign of surrender.

"He's never out of it," said Klahn of the 16-year-old from Nashville. "Up a break, down a break, he always fights back."

There were no breaks in that second set until Lipman dropped his serve at 5-5, once again giving Klahn a golden opportunity. But Lipman denied him once more.

"He missed a few volleys here and there," Lipman said. "And I just kept making him play and never gave up."

In the second set tiebreak, the tables were turned however. It was Lipman that took a lead, holding a 5-2 edge with two serves coming. But he lost the next four points, and Klahn was back in control.

"He came up pretty clutch," said Lipman, the No. 5 seed. "Two return winners, so there's not much I could do."

"I just tried to stay positive," said Klahn of his bleak position in that tiebreak. "I had won the first set, so I was still in the lead. There was no reason to get upset."

Even when called for a foot fault at match point (7-6 in the tiebreak), Klahn kept his cool. "It's kind of hard when you get called for a foot fault serving at match point. That's a little tough," he admitted, although he showed no reaction to the call. "But it's still match point, you hit another serve and try to win that point."

Klahn second serve was an excellent one, and it produced a high floating return from Lipman. Klahn knocked off the routine volley, and after a subdued fist pump, approached the net to shake hands.


"It was a great match," said Lipman, who won the tournament's sportsmanship award, and demonstrated that attribute often in the match. "It's too bad one of us had to lose. It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed being out there."

The girls singles final that followed, a 7-5, 6-4 victory for Paz, was two completely different sets of tennis.

In the first, there were only three breaks of serve. The fifteen-year-old Paz got the initial break to take a 4-2 lead, but gave it right back. Then at 5-6, she broke Bartlett at love for the first set, and took a 3-0 lead in the second set. But after Bartlett, a 17-year-old from Tennessee, held for 3-1, there were six consecutive breaks of serve, the final one giving the Venezuelan a singles title to go with her doubles championship of the previous day.

"It was a really good tournament," admitted the second-seeded Paz, who also added the sportsmanship award to her haul of trophies. "But at the beginning of the match I was kind of like dizzy on the court, going back and forth all the time. She would slice, slice everything, and it was hard to hit the ball."

Paz wasn't as determined to get to the net as Bartlett was, and she never served and volleyed, but she did slice on occasion, and always seemed to select the correct passing shot when Bartlett came in.

When asked asked what Paz had improved from the previous year, when Bartlett had defeated her in the first round at the Grass Courts, Bartlett had a ready answer.


"She's definitely hitting the ball deep and really consistent," said Bartlett, who was unseeded in singles and doubles and reached the finals in both. "I come in a lot, but when she's hitting the ball so deep, it's hard to, so I have to wait a little longer."

Paz, who recently won a Pro Circuit Women's event in Texas as a qualifier, plans to play more U.S. events on that level during the summer, but she isn't abandoning the juniors.

"Now I'm 800 WTA, so I'll start getting into the 25s (thousand dollar prize money tournaments)," said Paz, who trains at the Extreme Tennis Academy in North Miami Beach, Fla. "But I'm going to play U.S. Open juniors, New Jersey, Lexington, Tulsa--the Grade 1s."

The three U.S. players in the finals will spend the next few weeks preparing for the next USTA National championships on an entirely different surface--clay--which are next month.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Paz, Lipman Go for Title Sweeps at Grass Courts on Saturday


©Colette Lewis 2007--
Philadelphia, PA--

Ryan Lipman and Gabriela Paz will go for singles championships Saturday after capturing doubles titles on Friday afternoon at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. Skies were partly cloudy and temperatures warmer than the previous two days, and conditions were ideal for players and spectators alike.

Nashville's Lipman, the No. 5 seed, earned his berth in the singles final with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over unseeded Dennis Kudla, then a few hours later teamed with Ryan Harrison for a 7-6 (6), 7-6 (2) decision over the top seeded team of Bradley Klahn and Dennis Nevolo.

Paz, a Venezuelan who trains in Miami, had a similarly successful day, topping No. 3 seed Tara Moore 6-3, 6-2, in the singles semifinal, and with partner Nadja Gilchrist, capturing her second consecutive Grass Court doubles title with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Claire Bartlett and Emily Fraser.

Both Klahn and Bartlett still have an opportunity to avenge their doubles losses however, as they earned trips to the singles finals by vanquishing their partners earlier in the day.

Although the matches both began at 11 a.m., Lipman had defeated Kudla before Klahn and Nevolo had finished their nip and tuck opening set. Klahn saved two set points, one with a blistering forehand winner trailing seven points to six in the first set tiebreak, before sneaking past Nevolo 7-6(7). In the second set, Klahn, a left-hander from San Diego, got an early break and rolled on, taking his fourth straight-set victory this week by a 6-2 score.

"I think I started playing a little more aggressive," said Klahn, 16, of his improved results later in the match. "I came to net more, pressured him more. In the first set I tried to beat him from the back a little bit more than I should have."

Klahn credited Nevolo's returns as a factor in the tight first set as well. "His returns are so good he can place them, pinpoint them wherever he wants, so it was tough to get that first volley where I wanted it," Klahn, the tournament's second seed, said.

Nevolo, a 17-year-old from suburban Chicago, also made effective use of the lob against Klahn in the first set, but Klahn began to make more first serves during the second set, and that gave him the upper hand. "He had less looks at second serves, which enabled me to get into the net more," Klahn said.

Just a few minutes after the match ended, Klahn and Nevolo ate lunch together in the clubhouse and discussed key points of their battle. "It's a little bit hard to play a friend and doubles partner," Klahn admitted, "but bottom line you're out there to win."

Bartlett knows that feeling. She and Emily Fraser, both of whom have committed to play college tennis at the University of Virginia, decided to get a head start on their possible partnership for the Cavaliers this week, and unseeded, they reached the doubles final. They also played each other in the semifinals Friday afternoon, and it was Bartlett who prevailed in another subdued matchup of friends, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.

"Emily played really well, and I did too," said Bartlett, from Chattanooga, Tenn. "She fought really hard, and she serves and volleys so much. It's always hard playing your doubles partner,"

New York's Fraser, like Bartlett unseeded in the tournament, has a one-handed backhand that is very effective on the unpredictable surface. But Bartlett has adapted her game to grass and knows that staying on the baseline is just too risky.

"It's such a different game, but I really love it," said Bartlett, who credits her English mother with supplying her with affection for the grass. "I know that there are going to be bad bounces, so you just take that into consideration and basically, get to the net. There can't be too many long rallies on grass."

Another player who enjoys the quirkiness of grass is Lipman, who, like Klahn, has yet to lose a set in the tournament. "I love the grass. It suits my game perfectly. Having a one-hander and being able to slice al ot, the drop shots, the serve and volley, really suits it well."

Kudla, 14, maximized his time at the net too, but the Virginian was unable to hold serve with any regularity. Although he broke Lipman twice in the first set, Kudla was broken three times himself, and never found a way to counteract Lipman's variety.

"I was a little tight," Lipman admitted, "but then I got ahold of it and started playing a lot better, smoother, and stopped thinking about the finals. I was focused on the present."


Despite being the same age, Klahn and Lipman have played only once before, at the 16s Winter Nationals, "a while ago" according to Lipman. But if the doubles match against each other later that afternoon is any indication, the finals could be very close. Although neither team was broken, the second-seeded team of Harrison and Lipman were called on to fight off four break points in the second set. Klahn and Nevolo, on the other hand, did not face a single break point in the entire match, but still lost when Lipman and Harrison raised their level in the tiebreaks.

When Paz and Bartlett square off Saturday, Paz is hoping she can be as successful avenging a defeat as she was in the semifinals against Moore. Moore, who trains at IMG/Bollettieri's in Bradenton, had beaten Paz at Carson in April's International Spring Championships, but Paz has been on a tear since then on the Women's Pro Circuit, winning one event in May and reaching the semifinals of another two weeks ago.

"In Carson, I really didn't play my best," said Paz, who was beaten by Bartlett in the first round of last year's Grass Court Championships. "It wasn't a very good match for me. Today I was moving well, I played good, and everything worked."

The second-seeded Paz credits her early arrival and extra practice time on the grass for her improved performance this year. But unlike Bartlett and Lipman, the 15-year-old professes no fondness for the surface.

"It's really hard to play on grass, it's really bad," said Paz. "The ball stays really low. You hit more slices, change the rhythm, because you can't just hit all the time. I hit drop shots, try to come to the net more, and just move, because you don't know what to expect--the bounces are so bad."

Saturday's finals will begin at 11 a.m. For complete draws, see the TennisLink website.

More May Aces; Shabaz Set to Attend Virginia

Yesterday, Part 2 of my May Aces went up on The Tennis Recruiting Network. Two of those junior aces, Ryan Harrison and Gabriela Paz, are continuing their fine play at the Grass Courts.

Also, it was announced yesterday in the Charlottesville Daily Progress that Michael Shabaz will be part of the team at the University of Virginia beginning this fall.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Doubles Finalists Will Be Singles Adversaries Friday at Grass Courts


©Colette Lewis 2007--
Philadelphia, PA--

When Emily Fraser and Claire Bartlett take the court Friday morning at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, they will be on opposite sides of the net, facing each other for a spot in the singles final at the ITF U.S. Grass Court Championships. Both are hoping to finish the day as winners however, when they team up to face Nadja Gilchrist and Gabriela Paz in the girls doubles final on Friday afternoon.

Two of the boys will also face that same friend/foe equation when Bradley Klahn and Dennis Nevolo, who meet in the semifinals, will join forces against Ryan Harrison and Ryan Lipman in the boys doubles final.

It was another gray and unseasonably chilly day for the quarterfinal and semifinal matches in the doubles, and only Barlett and Fraser, who are unseeded in singles and doubles, managed to advance without dropping a set. First the pair defeated Jessica Alexander and Alexa Guarachi 6-4, 6-3, then dropped the young team of Lauren Herring and Grace Min, who had upset the top-seeded team of Mallory Cecil and Zaruhi Harutyunyan in the quarterfinals, 6-2, 6-2. Gilchrist and Paz, the No. 2 seeds, had a more difficult time of it, needing three sets to subdue unseeded Beatrice Capra and Agnes Sibilski 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 in the quarterfinals and falling behind against unseeded Shinann Featherston and Jacqueline Wu in the semifinals before regrouping for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory.


Klahn and Nevolo, the top-seeded team and USTA Spring National Champions, eased by David Hopkins and Tennys Sandgren in the quarterfinals 6-2, 6-2, but looked vulnerable in the first set of their semifinal encounter with unseeded Philip Nemec and Bob Van Overbeek, losing it 7-5. During the tense second set, Klahn and Nevolo began to find their rhythm however, and evened the match with a 7-5 set of their own. Nemec and Overbeek held to start the third and had a chance to regain their lost momentum when Nevolo went down 0-40 on his serve. But he and Klahn scored the next five points and Nemec and Overbeek couldn't recover from that reversal of fortune, dropping the final six games.

Harrison and Lipman, the No. 2 seeds, outlasted Matt Allare and Marc Powers in the quarterfinals 6-4, 7-6 (4), and against No. 4 seeds Devin Britton and Jordan Cox in the semfinals, the Ryans came out firing, taking the first set 6-2. But as quickly as they captured the first set, they lost the second 6-0, giving Britton and Cox hope for a complete comeback. But an early break of Britton gave Harrison and Lipman some breathing room, and they took the final set 6-2.

Lipman and Paz will also see double duty on Friday, as Lipman, the No. 5 seed, faces unseeded Dennis Kudla in the other semifinal, while Paz, the No. 2 seed, meets No. 3 seed Tara Moore.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Green Grass and Gray Skies


©Colette Lewis 2007—
Philadelphia, PA—

It was an ideal day to get in the mood for Wimbledon. The ever-darkening skies made rain seem inevitable, the cool breeze demanded a jacket, and the Grass Courts’ schedule, already in disarray from heavy showers on Tuesday, didn’t need any more reminders of the tribulations of an English summer.

Fortunately, the gloom never produced any precipitation, and the singles semifinalists were determined. Even the first round of doubles was completed.

When we arrived shortly after 11 a.m., No. 6 seed Dennis Nevolo had already vacated one of the lush green courts, (no Wimbledon dead-brown patches at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, even three days in), taking a 6-1, 6-1 victory over unseeded Sam Garforth-Bles. Although this is Nevolo’s first experience with grass court tennis, he’s adjusting quickly, and he told me afterward that he’s finding that thinking and improvising are his best bets, given the eccentricities of the surface.

The quarterfinal match between Bradley Klahn, the No. 2 seed, and Ryan Harrison, No. 7, was extremely tight, with Klahn pulling it out, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4). Serving at 5-6 in the second set, Harrison managed to fight off at least five match points before holding, and with a 3-1 lead in the tiebreak, it looked as if momentum was on his side. But Klahn continued to punish Harrison’s second serve, often with outright return winners, and Klahn took the next five points and six of the next seven to earn the victory.


No. 5 seed Ryan Lipman ousted top seed Drew Daniel and unseeded Dennis Kudla put an end to lucky loser Andrew Landwerlen’s run with a 6-2, 7-6 (7) victory.

Because of rain earlier in the tournament, girls’ top seed Mallory Cecil played two singles matches Wednesday, winning the first, but falling to unseeded Emily Fraser in the quarterfinals 6-1, 6-4. Fraser will play Gabriela Paz, the No. 2 seed and 2006 Grass Court doubles champion, who reached the semifinals with a straight set win over unseeded Beatrice Capra. Tara Moore, the No. 3 seed. defeated No. 8 Zaruhi Harutyunyan to set up a rematch with Paz, whom she defeated in April’s International Spring Championships in Carson.

The semifinals in singles will be played on Friday, while two rounds of doubles are scheduled for Thursday.

(I apologize for the incomplete scores; the TennisLink website, which I usually rely on for details, hasn't been updated.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Inside Junior Tennis Podcast; British Tennis Development Update

Kevin McClure and I got an opportunity to discuss the juniors that we overlooked in the last Inside Junior Tennis podcast, which was basically all-NCAA. In this week's edition, the French Open Juniors take center stage, and we discuss the short scoring in doubles and the possible change in the USTA clay season.

I also thought this story from the British Independent was an interesting look at the development issues and plans the LTA is pursuing. For an entirely different take, see the Guardian's piece entitled: Want to produce British champions? Take away the funding.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Packing Time

It's been two weeks, so I'm eager to get back out on the tennis trail. Although it will be a short trip, we've decided to go to the International Grass Courts in Philadelphia. In each of the past two years, we were there throughout the week; this year we're hoping to catch the quarterfinals through the finals. The entire atmosphere and ambience of the tournament is unique in my junior tennis travels, so even with Wimbledon coming up in a few weeks, I couldn't stay away from the Philadelphia Cricket Club. For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.

There is a women's $25K event in Allentown, Pa. this week, and four of the eight qualifiers are U.S. juniors: Kim Couts, Chelsea Preeg, Asia Muhammed and Christina McHale. The men's Pro Circuit event in Loomis, Calif. had a couple of college standouts qualifying for the main draw with Cory Parr of Wake Forest and Nate Schnugg of Georgia chalking up three wins. The Loomis News posted this article about the tournament's history and spoke with Mike McClune about the rigors of the Futures circuit. To follow the draws for these events, see usta.com.

And again a reminder that beginning on Tuesday, all email subscribers should receive one email update from Zootennis via Feedburner. If you experience problems during this transition, please email me at clewis[at]zootennis.com.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Cornet, Ignatic Win French Open Junior Titles; Important Announcement for Email Subscribers


France didn't have much success in this year's Open, but they did come away with a junior champion when Alize Cornet, the No. 2 seed, defeated unseeded Mariana Duque-Marino of Columbia 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 today in the girls' final. Vlad Ignatic of Belarus, the No. 12 seed, topped No. 5 seed Greg Jones of Australia 6-3, 6-4, to give that country its third French Open champion this year. (Ksenia Milevskaya and Andrei Karatchenia were part of the winning doubles teams). As Eleanor Preston mentions in her story at iftjuniors.com, Ignatic will now take over the top spot in the ITF junior rankings. It's the second straight Junior Slam that has had a host country winner, with Brydan Klein's victory at the Australian. I would say that Naomi Cavaday is the best bet to continue that streak at Wimbledon.

Mark Winters spoke with Kellen Damico at the French and filed this article for the Denver Post. Another mention of Damico playing at Wimbledon with Eysseric, so the evidence is building, although Wimbledon still has nothing to suggest Damico will be in singles posted on their website. Eysseric's final blog entry gives his opinion of the "no-ad," using an adjective I heartily endorse. Interestingly, Eysseric selects a different point than Damico when analyzing what went wrong in the doubles final at 4-4 in the first set.

NOTICE TO FEEDBLITZ SUBSCRIBERS:
I am changing from Feedblitz to Feedburner to send out my daily emails. I have been testing Feedburner for a month now, and all new subscribers since mid-May have been getting emails from the new service without any problems or interruptions. You should receive both Feedblitz and Feedburner emails for this post, but on Monday, I will discontinue the Feedblitz service and you will receive only the Feedburner email on Tuesday. (If you subscribed anonymously to Feedblitz, you will no longer receive updates, as Feedburner does not have that option.) If you have any problems or questions regarding the subscription service, please email me at clewis[at]zootennis.com. I appreciate your patience during this transition.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

A 'Soviet' Plan to Save U.S. Tennis

This Wall Street Journal story about the USTA's Evert Initiative has been out for a few weeks, and I read it, but was waiting to post on it until I could find the time to type out some excerpts. WSJ stories usually aren't available for free online, but last night I discovered that this one was, so here it is. I think the headline is more provocative than the actual account of Madison Brengle and Ashley Weinhold training in Boca Raton, but it does make clear that this is a departure from the past methods of development in the U.S.

It's interesting to contrast this with Serbia, which has been much discussed during the French Open with the success there of three of its young stars: Novak Djokovic, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic. There doesn't appear to be a Serbian Tennis Federation, but that hasn't mattered. For an fascinating look at what it meant to be an aspiring tennis pro in Serbia, see ESPN's Bonnie DeSimone's article for espn.com.

Friday, June 8, 2007

NCAA Slideshow

I hope this slideshow serves as a fitting exclamation point on the story of the 2006-7 college tennis season.









NCAA Tennis 07
View Photo Slideshow



Thursday, June 7, 2007

Inside Junior Tennis Podcast; May's Tennis Aces

There was simply no time to do an Inside Junior Tennis podcast while I was in Athens, but Kevin and I did arrange to talk as soon as I got home. Unfortunately, that 45 minute conversation didn't record properly, so we had to do it all over again a few days later. We managed to talk just as long, but there was a lot to cover from the twelve days in Athens. And while I was in Athens, Kevin went to the finals of the women's D III individual tournament, which was played near his home. The link to the latest podcast is here. We'll try to catch up on all the junior news next week.

I started to do my usual May Aces column for The Tennis Recruiting Network, but found with the NCAAs, I had too much material, so I opted for a two-part edition. Part One, on the NCAAs, is here. And while you're at their site, check out the Women's Spring Recruiting Class rankings. Stanford and Iowa vaulted to the top ten with their spring signings, while USC remained at the top.

Congratulations to Kellen Damico for making the semifinals in singles and doubles at the French Open. Today Damico defeated No. 4 seed Fernando Romboli of Brazil 6-2, 6-3, and hasn't dropped a set in his four matches (seven if you count doubles). Damico is playing doubles with Jonathan Eysseric of France, who is blogging for the ITF Junior site this week, and Eysseric says that he and Damico are playing as a team at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. For the complete blog, which also includes entries from Michelle Larcher de Brito, click here. Next up for Damico is No. 12 seed Vlad Ignatic of Belarus, who still trains at John Roddick's Academy in San Antonio, and probably played many a practice match with Damico when he was there.

Alexa Glatch has also reached the semifinals in doubles. She and Romania's Sorana Cirstea have breezed through their first three matches, losing only eight games and keeping the super tiebreak out of the equation. Glatch and Cirstea are one of three unseeded teams in the girls' semifinals.

For complete junior draws, see rolandgarros.com

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Roland Garros Doubles Mystery--Solved!

Thanks to James Harrisson of the ITF staff, I've finally gotten an explanation as to why the juniors at the French Open are playing a tiebreak in lieu of a third set in the doubles. Here's what James emailed me:

Roland Garros organisers decided to experiment with the new format of play in doubles. It is the same system as is used at ATP events. As well as a third set match tiebreak (10 pts) they are playing the no-ad scoring system throughout. The ITF is conducting a survey of players, coaches and spectators to discover the popularity of this new system.

I don't fit into any of those categories, but I do have an opinion of this experiment, and it's not positive. I've always hated "no-ad" and was happy when college tennis abandoned it, and I think it, and the in-lieu-of-a-third-set tiebreak, should only be used when weather has given tournament officials no other option.

This isn't to suggest that I'm some fuddy-duddy purist who hates any innovations. I am fine with the third-set tiebreak in junior singles (or pros, for that matter), but both Roland Garros and Wimbledon still insist the final set continue until a player has won by two games. Looking for an useful experiment? Get rid of that!

And change CAN be good. (Okay, I hated the round robin thing). But I love the US Open blue courts, I'm all for Hawk Eye, and I enjoy seeing tennis played in brightly-colored clothing. I even like the eight-game pro set in college doubles. So I'm not adverse to experiments. But don't mess with the scoring. It favors the less skilled player(s) and it undermines the ITF's commitment to doubles.

When the ITF did away with separate rankings for singles and doubles in the juniors, it was with the express purpose of encouraging doubles play. That innovation was deemed a success, and the USTA has paid their respects to the concept by introducing a similar plan for their rankings, beginning next year. But what's the message the ITF is sending with this no-ad, no-third-set plan? That doubles aren't important enough to be scored traditionally, tournaments can't give them the time and the courts to play a real tennis match, and spectators are too bored to watch a third set.

The ATP and the WTA have adopted the no-third-set format, and I don't like it, but I understand that there are economic and logistical reasons for it. Junior tennis has never been subject to those pressures, so this is a solution without a problem. It's my hope that this idea gets buried under the red clay and never surfaces again, at Roland Garros or anywhere else.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Kinnear Leaves Illinois; Other College Coaching News


Kent Kinnear, who has been Brad Dancer's assistant at the University of Illinois for the past two seasons, will be leaving his position there to take a coaching job with the USTA's High Performance division. He is expected to take on the 1994 birth year boys, who are currently among several birth years being coached by Jay Berger, a teammate of Kinnear's at Clemson in the mid-80s. Berger will continue as a USTA coach; Kinnear is filling a vacancy created when Francisco Montana left his position a few months ago.

The University of Indiana filled its men's head coaching position by promoting assistant Randy Bloemendaal. The details are here. Other prominent programs with vacancies include Mississippi State, with the resignation of Sylvain Guichard as men's coach and Cal-Berkeley, where women's coach Jan Brogan is retiring after an impressive 29-year career at the school.

The search for a replacement for Timon Corwin at Kalamazoo College is continuing. The job posting can be viewed here.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Muhammed Wins $10K; Albanese and Nishikori Finalists in $50K in Carson


The Houston Chronicle posted this story on the $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit event and somehow neglected to mention that both finalists--Asia Muhammed and Jelena Pandzic--were qualifiers. Muhammed has not yet turned pro, although there was discussion about that earlier this year, and if she's still not entertaining the notion after this win, it may be a while. For those of you who remember last year's ITA Individual Indoor in Columbus, Pandzic was the NAIA player from Fresno Pacific who took Audra Cohen to three sets in the final. My story on that match is here.

The combined challenger in Carson received a lot of attention on usta.com. Here's the finals story, detailing Jessica Kirkland's win over Lauren Albanese and Alex Bogomolov's victory over Kei Nishikori.

The startling news today from the French Open juniors is that the doubles are being played in the shortened scoring format that is now invoked on the ATP and WTA tours, but hasn't been used in a Grand Slam that I can remember. I'm checking to see if I can find out if this is weather-related or a new ITF preference. For complete junior draws, see rolandgarros.com.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

New Clay Season for U.S. Juniors?

With Serena Williams the only American left in Paris for the second week, the U.S. reporters are looking for other story lines, and the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel's Charlie Bricker, who always gives juniors some attention at Grand Slams, talked to Rhyne Williams before his match today, and filed this story. (Williams, by the way, lost in three sets; for complete results, see rolandgarros.com).

I was very interested to hear Bricker quote Paul Roetert, Managing Director of High Performance, on the possibility of rearranging the junior calendar in the United States so that the clays are in the spring, and adding additional clay tournaments. I've been advocating this since I began to think about it, around 2004, I think, and I am delighted that it's up for discussion.

A while back, Bricker also tracked Madison Brengle's stint in qualifying at the French. I don't agree with his assessment of her fitness level, but he's entitled to his opinion.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Junior Championships Begin Sunday at Roland Garros

The singles draws for the Junior Championships at Roland Garros were released today, and although there were no deviations from the ITF junior rankings in the boys' seedings, there were some adjustments made in the girls'. Alize Cornet of France, who needed a wild card to get into the main draw, is seeded second, due to her WTA ranking of 118. Sorana Cirstea of Romania has a 169 WTA ranking and is seeded fourth, while Evgeniya Rodina of Russia is 172-ranked in WTA and was given the fifth seed. The top seed is the world's No. 1 player and winner of the past two junior Grand Slams, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, and the third seed is Anastasia Pivovarova, also of Russia, who won the recently completed Italian Open. Another oddity is the seeding of Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia, who was required to qualify but given a seed when she did. Jovanovski, 15, has been on fire during the European clay season and has seen her ranking go from 70 to 15 in the month since the French Open acceptances were announced. I definitely think she deserves a seed, but I can't recall the ITF ever taking recent results into consideration. I'm not sure what happened to Sacha Jones. At the NCAAs, she said she was on her way to France, but she's not in the draw.

It's good to see Alexa Glatch's name in a draw again. She qualified and faces Simona Halep of Romania, who won two consecutive $10K events in Bucharest last month. Madison Brengle seems underrated at No. 9, especially since she just won the Grade 1 in Belgium today, on clay, but she was barely seeded in Australia and still made the final. Reka Zsilinszka, seeded 16th in Paris, made the semifinals in Belgium, and Julia Cohen, at No. 7, is the other U.S. girl seeded in France. Veronica Li and Mallory Cecil are the other U.S. girls in the draw.

On the boys' side, the U.S. will have two seeds--Rhyne Williams at No. 13, a semifinalist in Belgium, and Kellen Damico, No. 10. Johnny Hamui, Mateusz Kecki and Austin Krajicek round out the U.S contingent in Paris.

The boys' top seed is Matteo Trevisan of Italy, who has won 17 straight junior matches, including the Italian Open, since losing in the third round in Australia. Trevisan recently took over the top ranking from Jonathan Eysseric of France, who has become a celebrity for serving as Roger Federer's hitting partner on clay (he's a lefty--go figure). Australia is well-represented with four seeds--Greg Jones (5), Aussie Open winner Brydan Klein (6), Radford recruit John-Patrick Smith (8), and Stephen Donald (9). Fourteen-year-old Bernard Tomic also qualified, to give Australia the same number of entries as the U.S. (Correction: Australia has one more than the U.S. I overlooked Andrew Thomas.)

One player that won't be contending for the French title is today's boys' winner in Belgium unseeded wild card Germain Gigounon of Belgium, who defeated Gastao Elias of Portugal. Had he entered the French, he would have earned a special exemption, but apparently he wasn't expecting to do quite as well as he did.

The ITF junior site released this preview of the French Juniors yesterday.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Florida Men's Recruiting Class is Tops; D I All-American Selections Released

The Tennis Recruiting Network announced the results of its Men's Spring Recruiting poll today, and just as in the fall rankings, the Florida Gators came out on top. If Levine returns, and he will unless a) he gets a huge signing offer from an agency or b) he reaches the ATP top 150 with his results this summer, Florida will be one of the preseason favorites for No. 1.

I am one of the panel that ranks recruiting classes (the women's spring rankings will be out on Monday) and I agree with the other seven voters who gave Florida the nod.

Because I was so busy during the NCAAs, I didn't have time to write original content for TRN, so they agreed to publish the accounts I wrote for zootennis. Next week, I'll be contributing my May Aces column--expect that to be weighted heavily toward NCAA heroes.

The ITA released its D I All-Americans and the season's final rankings today. Click here for the AA list, and here for the ranking page.