ITF Junior Team Qualifying Begins; A Look at Newcombe's Tennis Academy, News from the Charlottesville Women's Pro Circuit Tournament
The qualifying for this summer's ITF World Junior Championships and the Junior Davis and Fed Cups is underway in Montreal, and it was a very good day for the U.S. All four teams won their matches 3-0, with the girls 14s--Madison Keys, Grace Min and Kyle McPhillips--winning every GAME they played with Guatemala. Saturday's matches pit three of the U.S. teams against the Canadians, with the Junior Davis Cup match between the two countries being webcast. For complete results and times, see the Tennis Canada website.
The San Antonio Express-News ran a feature story today on life at the John Newcombe Tennis Academy in New Braunfels, Texas. Although I don't agree with Ryan Harrison, who is quoted as saying "It's next to impossible to become a great tennis player if you don't go to an academy," I understand that he hasn't been around long enough to gain some perspective on other methods. And if you consider Pete Sampras as a product of an academy--this story puts him in the Bollettieri camp--Harrison may be right, but Grand Slam champions like Sampras, Davenport, Nadal and Federer really aren't products of academies. And of those more contemporary in age with Harrison, neither are Ryan Thacher, Bradley Klahn and Bernard Tomic. With that said, I don't want to come off as denigrating academies in any way. I think they are often the best option for a player seriously committed to improving their tennis and getting the most out of the sport.
The Charlotteville Daily Progress always provides excellent coverage of the $50,000 Boyd Tinsley Pro Circuit event, and this week is no exception. Kim Couts, who lost today to Bethanie Mattek in the quarterfinals, talked about her win Thursday over Brenda Schultz-McCarthy and her choice of professional tennis in this story. And I admit I wasn't all that familiar with Alexandra Podkolzina, who won the girls USTA 18s national title back in 2002, before I began to follow junior tennis as I'm doing now. She went Cal-Berkley the following year, quit the team after her freshman year, and is now about to graduate, while winning enough matches to be ranked inside the WTA Top 500. This story details her background, and it might not have gotten written if she hadn't beaten top seed Stephanie Dubois in the first round.