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Monday, June 30, 2008

First Round of Wimbledon Juniors Complete; Eyewitness Report and Interviews from Guy McCrea at AELTC

As promised, Radio Wimbledon's Guy McCrea is providing coverage of the juniors direct from Wimbledon. He is obviously very handy with the voice recorder, and he has submitted four interviews in audio form for your listening pleasure. For photos of Monday's action, visit the ITF junior website, where Susan Mullane's pictures coincide with many of the players interviewed (click to enlarge them.) So, without further ado, here's Guy:

(NOTE: Quicktime, a media player available via a Free Download is required to hear the audio clips.)

Monday’s action at the All England Club saw the remainder of the boys and girls singles first round matches take to the lawns of the All England Club, as well as the start of the doubles event.

Let’s concentrate on some of the opening round highlights from the singles events. In the boys tourney, American qualifier Devin Britton went out in the first round to Japan’s Hiroyasu Ehara. It’s always pleasing to see serve and volleyers on the grass and many aspects of Britton’s game were also impressive – particularly his fighting spirit to take the second tie-break. It is easy to see why he has had success on this surface recently – not just in qualifying for Junior Wimbledon – but also in winning the US Grass Court title earlier this month. But he was ultimately edged out by an inspired opponent on court 8. Ehara served extremely well throughout the match and one break of serve proved enough for him to take the deciding set 6-4.

Elsewhere, Christopher Rungkat of Indonesia had to come from a set down to beatBritain’s James Marsalek. But there was better news for some of the other home players. On court 19, Marcus Willis was in excellent form against Italian 15-year-old Giacomo Miccini. After being sent home for ‘forgetting’ his tennis rackets at the Australian Open Juniors in January, Willis seems to have responded. He is a much improved player from this time last year – particularly in his use of the ‘leftie’ serve out wide, which troubled Miccini throughout. But the former junior world number 20 has an effective net game and this kept him in the match. Willis created the better chances in the deciding set though and finally broke through at the end to win it 11 games to 9 after almost two hours of battle. Willis’ fellow Brit Dan Smethurst is also into the second round. Last week’s Roehampton Grade 1 finalist beat Lorenzo Papasidero in straight sets.

FOR SMETHURST AUDIO CLICK HERE

In the girls singles, American wildcard Coco Vandeweghe followed Mallory Burdette out of the event with a straight sets defeat to Britain’s Jade Windley. Vandeweghe is certainly a clean striker of the ball off both wings and she also showed a keenness to approach the net. But her winners were cancelled out by an equally high unforced error count. Windley broke twice to win the first set 6-2 – her opponent’s anguished yell at the end of that rubber a clear demonstration of how unhappy she was with her game. It did improve for Vandeweghe in the second as she threatened in nearly all of Windley’s service games. But the Brit held out and went on to break Vandeweghe’s serve at the end of the set to win it and the match 7-5. A huge victory against an opponent ranked over 250 places above her in the ITF combined list.

FOR WINDLEY AUDIO CLICK HERE

American top seed Melanie Oudin joined Windley in the second round after an easy victory over Japan’s Sachie Ishizu. Oudin was dominant from the outset and barely broke a sweat in her 6-1, 6-2 win that took just under an hour. The top seed recorded an impressive 70 percent first serve percentage, and was typically aggressive from the baseline. Oudin was very pleased to build on last week’s victory at Roehampton.

FOR OUDIN AUDIO CLICK HERE

Oudin will now meet Britain’s Laura Robson in the second round. She dismissed American lucky loser Alexa Guarachi in straight sets 6-0, 6-4. The left-hander was happy with how the match went.
FOR ROBSON AUDIO CLICK HERE

Robson seems destined to be the Great British hope of the next few years. Just 14 years old and already ranked 59 in the world, she will be looking to avenge her defeat to Oudin in last week’s Roehampton final.

Meanwhile, Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski surprisingly went out easily in straight sets to 12th seed Nikola Hofmanova of Austria, while sixth seed Jessica Moore of Australia did well to come back from a set down and reach the second round.

16 comments:

AndrewD said...

Colette,

Do you have any idea when Wimbledon starts to include coverage of the junior matches on their web site?

Colette Lewis said...

I don't know when they'll start, perhaps with the quarterfinals, but that's just a guess. Guy McCrea is doing occasional coverage of juniors at Radio Wimbledon. He called the end of the Klahn win over Smethurst today live.

La magia - MHZ said...

Thanks colette for the gift. I already register and all worked perfectly!
Seya

In my opinion Tomic will win this slam easily. There is rumor that bernard could be call to play davis cup. At least as the fourth player though he wont play any single match. Last series he went as sparring

AndrewD said...

Colette,

I just had a look and they were offering a live feed of the Webley-Konta match. It opens in a much smaller window (seems to be the way with all the live matches) but, unfortunately, it seems to freeze up my computer after a few minutes. Hopefully the matches will then be available for viewing or download (I gather it happens within 24 hrs of the match ending) and I can watch it then.

On that: surprised to see Jankowicz out in 3 and Chase Buchanan (14th seed) falling in straight sets. Klahn through in straight but it was close (6 and 4) - pity they didn't show that one. Funny that two of the best 'grass court players' (as opposed to the best players who happen to be playing on grass) competing in singles at the tournament are in the junior boys event.

AndrewD said...

Meant to say, bigger shock that Oudin lost in straight sets to Laura Robson. It's a damn fine effort to beat the number 1 seed but even more impressive when you take into account Oudin's recent form and that Robson is only 14.

Austin said...

What's the deal with Rhynne Williams? Hasnt been heard from since last summer and gets his butt kicked by Dennis Kudla last week and not playing Wimbledon. I dont really get it.

fred said...

Boy, Ryan Harrison is really struggling. Since winning in Houston, he's gone 0-4 in pro matches (one against James Blake, in fairness) and 3-4 in junior matches. I think whatever hype he got after beating Cuevas has evaporated, which may be good for him actually.

I doubt even his toughest critics expected this. It's particularly surprising that he's doing poorly on grass, supposedly his favorite and best surface.

He's still a good player, of course, but it appears that he's a long way from even being a dominant junior.

Rhyne Williams is another interesting story. He's done nothing of note since his great run last spring, which comes as a big surprise to me. Chase Buchanan may be on a similar course judging by his results in Europe this summer. He did reach the final of the Astrid Bowl (which the help of a couple injuries to his opponents), but after that he was demolished by Eysseric in the first round of the French, lost in the first round of Roehampton, and today lost in the second round of Wimbledon in straight sets. Unexpected for a guy who won a Futures title. Jarmere Jenkins is another wildly inconsistent player.

All of this just reinforces the point that junior tennis players are extremely hard to predict. I still enjoy following junior tennis, but I have to remind myself not to get too excited by one or two great accomplishments.

UKTENNIS said...

Colette, todays WJS article on US tennis:
U.S. Tennis Sees Star Power Waning
European Boot-Camp Approach
Is Urged to Help Regain
Ground, Develop Newcomers
By MATTHEW FUTTERMAN
June 30, 2008

Intseresting article. As an American living in London went to watch the US juniors play both main draw Roehampton and Wimbledon quallies at the Bank of England Sports Center which is near where I live. Saw several matches and could not help but notice how the two USTA coaches (they wear jackets with the USA in big bold letters so you can’t miss them) focused on only on a few players for the Roehampton main draw, sat on the sidelines and cheered them on from begging to end. Also watched two Americans boys play the qualies for Wimbledon and no USTA coaches were on the sidelines supporting them even though both played next to each other. At an important international junior event like Wimbledon qualies it is more than surprising that the USTA coaches were not on the court routing/supporting those boys because so few Americans qualified to begin with. One won and the other younger won lost in a 15-13 third set tiebreaker.

Colette Lewis said...

The Wall Street Journal article UKTENNIS is referring to can be found here.

Man in the Moon said...

I have been saying for the past 3-4 years what the Wall Street Journal is now touting.

The American players are super hyped via the media from the age of 10 and the players believe the press clippings - and have a feeling of entitlement- that is what the WSJ is writing and what I have said ad nausam.

Now, even a blind man can see the light concerning USA tennis players.

The world class tennis prodigies from other countries want it more and are just more hungry.

It is impossible to believe that we don't have a single male player in the second week of Wimbledon and over the past 3-4 years we just don't produce.

One thing for sure - it is not going to happen unless we change our ways- because the present formula is not working.

Austin said...

Im starting to think Michael McClune is going to be a bust. He has done NOTHING this year. He is the same age as Young and Nishikori. Pete Sampras was winning the US Open when he was McClunes age and I dont think McClunitunes (as Federer calls him) could even qualify at Flushing Meadows. I dont want to write him off this quick but a guy his age who is going to be a highly ranked pro isnt THIS low in the rankings. He better have one heck of a summer of the USTA will cut him off at the knees with wildcards and give them to the next wave coming up.

fred said...

McClune's lack of progress has been perhaps the most disappointing part of this tennis year. He most recently crashed out in the second round of a Futures event. It's surprising. I thought he had considerable game. He shouldn't be languishing in the 300s. but perhaps it will just take some time. John Isner probably would have struggled as well as an 18/19 year old.

It's just been a tough year all the way around for young Americans. Isner has only been past the second round of one ATP tournament all year, with no wins in the slams. He also didn't get beyond the third round of the two Challengers he played.

Young is 0-3 in slams, lost in the second and third round of Challengers, and has only been past the second round in two ATP events. He's currently on a 5 match winless streak. He has an interesting game, but one wonders if he has the mental makeup required to make the next leap. I still hold out hope. I do enjoy watchng him play. A return to hard courts should serve him well.

Querrey has done fairly well, temporarily reaching the top 40, but his 1-3 grass court was a big disappointment. I don't know what it is, but he cannot play on grass. On the bright side, he won Las Vegas, reached the QF at Monte Carlo (on clay!), the semis of Delray beach, and the third round of the Aussie Open (losing to Djokovic). So, he's done moderately well. Top 40 is nothing to scoff at, it's just not satiating for spoiled American tennis fans like myself.

Levine, on the whole, has done poorly, which is somewhat unexpected considering how he finished 2007. He does have two Grand Slam wins, but one was against Vasallo Arguello at the Australian and the other was against Young. Not exactly brutal draws. He did win one Challenger.

Ryan Sweeting has done nothing. Another pretty talented player, but for whatever reason he can't put it together. The same goes for Alex Kuznetsov. They need to hurry up and start winning or they will soon be completely off the radar.

Other than Querrey, Odesnik has been the biggest success story. He's been hot and cold, but he's broken the top 90 and had solid showing in Houston and Roland Garros. He seems to be the lone American with clay court potential (although Ginepri did well this year).

None of the American college players distingushed themselves. There was thought that Schnugg, Clayton, and Damico could make some noise, but none seem poised to make a splash in the pros.

On the junior front, I've talked about some of the main guys. Harrison reached the Aussie semis and made headlines with his win in Houston, but has struggled mightily since then. Everything I read about him makes me think he'll eventually be really good, but we'll all have to tap the breaks for now.

Buchanan looked poised to become a top junior after winning the Easter Bowl and a Futures title, but failed to advance beyond the second round in three junior tournaments this summer (getting beaten handily in all three losses).

Jenkins appeared on the verge of being an elite junior at the end of 2007, but he's been extremely inconsistent in 2008, having crashed out in the first round of both the French Open and Wimbledon.

Rhyne Williams has lost in the third round of his last four junior tournaments, dating back to the 2007 U.S. Open. He's done basically nothing in pro tournaments. As Austin said, he most recently lost to 15-year-old Denis Kudla in the QF of F15 Futures (his best performance all year, actually). His backhand and temper must be holding him back, because the rest of his game looked really good when he won the Easter Bowl.

Ryan Thacher hardly plays outside of high school (and hasn't done well in the couple pro tournaments he's played). I wonder how good he would be if he committed to tennis full time. Right now it appears that it may be years before he does that (if ever).

Alex Domijan has been to the finals, SF, and QF of three Futures events. That's pretty good, although he didn't have the toughest draw on his way to the finals last week (he faced two 15-year-olds, Vahid Mirzadeh, and Peter Shults). He lost to Buchanan in his two junior tournaments. You know, he may be the safest bet out of all the juniors just because he's so tall and strong (from what I've read). Those types usually do fairly well even if the rest of their game is medicore (not saying that Domijan's is).

Bradley Klahn has been our best junior I'd say. Finalist at G1 Nottinghill, 3rd round at Aussie Open, winner of G1 International Spring Championships, QF at Astrid Bowl, SF at Roehampton, and now into the 3rd round at Wimbledon.

I'm by no means giving up on any of these guys, but suffice it to say, it's been a generally disappointing year for the young Americans. So many players seem to have the talent to be good pros, but the results in many cases lead one to a different conclusion, or at least temper one's enthusiasm. Those who have already proven to be solid pros (Young, Isner, Levine) haven't made the progress that was envisioned for them in 2008. The second hard court season could still change that, though. Let's hope so. I'm dying to get excited about a young player. I'll settle for mild enthusiasm, which is what would feel if a couple guys moved up from borderline top 100 players to consistent top 50 players.

watcher said...

This site has turned into a bunch of old tennis fans who have never had any authority, finding somewhere that they can anonymously post comments and feel important when they get to argue. Anyone on this site that is arguing constantly (man in the moon) to name one... clearly has nowhere where they are important enough to speak up because if they were, they wouldnt be writing it here. Everytime I get on here and see stupid arguments with some people bashing players, and others defending them, I can't think of how pathetic it is. If we all supposdly want american tennis to be dominate, how about stop being so biased about your opinions... Harrison was the talk about 2 months ago, everyone saying how he won an atp match etc... then Buchanon winning easer bowl and a future... but as soon as these kids have a bad week or two, everyone starts saying " wow what happened".... How about basing your opinions about players on how good you think the player can become. Not just current results. You see the same people talkin about how bad american tennis is right now, that were saying how excited they were that america is comin back whenever jenkins semied orange bowl, harrison won the atp match. and buchanon won the future...

John said...

Watcher.....your comment is the most interesting of all with the words you chose "no one with any authority".......

There is a very common theme throughout junior tennis and maybe beyond that the USTA (the "authority") is the problem and if they weren't elitist and listened to others maybe US tennis, which we ALL want to succeed on the international front, would be in a better position.

Authority.......USTA......ironically, the tone of your dismissive writing sounds like the tone I've heard back from USTA folks in power down in the FL office.....small world perhaps......

littennisgrl said...

i would really like the comments from jade windley on coco vandeweghe is there any way you would be able to send it to me.
thanks

Colette Lewis said...

littennigrl:
Please email me at clewis[at] zootennis[dot]com about this request.