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Monday, July 21, 2008

Kalamazoo Wild Cards Announced; Review of Clay Court Champions

The USTA has released the names of the wild card recipients for this year's event, which begins on August 1.

Jordan Cox
Emmett Egger
Harry Fowler
Denis Kudla
Junior Ore
Raymond Sarmiento
Spencer Simon
Bob Van Overbeek

Joey Burkhardt
Drew Daniel
Lawrence Formentera
Mousheg Hovhannisyan
Matt Kandath
Kayvon Karimi
Aba Omodele-Lucien
William Parker

For the complete fields, visit ustaboys.com.

Here's a brief synopsis of the Clay Court singles champions decided over the weekend:

Girls 12s: Brooke Austin def. Taylor Townsend
Boys 12s: Jack Murray def. Jacob Dunbar
Girls 14s: Kyle McPhillips def. Chanelle Van Nguyen
Boys 14s: Alexios Halebian def. Tyler Gardiner
Girls 16s: Belinda Niu def. Nicole Melichar
Boys 16s: Nathan Pasha def. Zachary Leslie
Girls 18s: Lauren Embree def. Beatrice Capra
Boys 18s: Evan King def. Brennan Boyajian


10is said...

Can someone like Denis Kudla or Junior Ore get seeded even though they don't have the 16's ranking to get one?

floridatennis said...

Hope so. Should seed most--if not all the WCs. Fowler with his ITF ranking would be seeded top 8 in the 18s. Kulda has ATP points as just got to semis in a futures. Van Overbeek just came in 3rd at 18 Clays. Toughest 16s draw in years and would be surprised if the USTA did not seed accordingly.

Brian said...

Do you know when wild cards for the girls up in Berkeley will be announced?

Colette Lewis said...

I don't know when they will be posted, but I think the USTA releases them all at the same time, which was this afternoon.

Austin said...

If the ITF site is accurate then I dont understand why Kandath would play up into the 18's at the Zoo, he hasnt proven himself to be dominant in the 16's yet.

tennismom93 said...

some of these WCs should obviously among the top seeds, but based on his 18s clays performance, i really think evan king should be the top seed. i do wonder though why some of these kids are playing 16s when they are doing well at higher levels.

david said...

I'm not sure what you mean, Austin. Kandath hasn't even played in the 16s since the Orange Bowl, where he lost to Bernard Tomic in the QF. His last 16s event before that was Kalamazoo, where he he lost in the round of 16 (retired in the 3rd set against Formentera) and won the consolation bracket (beating players like Frank Carleton, Walker Kehrer, and Denis Kudla in the process). You can't dominate the 16s when you've hardly played the 16s. He's 6-1 over the last year against some of the top players in the 16s (King, Kudla, Ore, Fowler, Sarmiento). He wouldn't nearly be a lock to win, but there are only a small number of players who would pose a serious threat to him. I can understand wanting to test himself against competition that will be tougher overall. He's done fairly well in the 18s. He won't be overmatched. He narrowly lost to Bradley Klahn, 7-5, 7-6, at the International Spring Championships.

BTW, Colette, do you know which players were sent to play in the 14-and-under team event in the Czech Republic? I'm guessing Harrison, Asami, and Halebian.

Colette Lewis said...

I'll be doing a post on the World Junior Championship teams later this week.

Brent said...

Florida, I agree with your assessment. This certainly seems like the strongest 16s draw that I can remember. Does anyone have a list of who IS playing 18s that could be playing 16s? It seems like that list has to be materially shorter than it has been in years past. Harrison, Domijan, Kandath, and Lin and who else?

floridatennis said...

Agree...As far I can tell Harrison, Domijan, Kandath, and Lin are the only ones age eligible who are not playing 16s. Can't remember the last time the 16s draw was so strong. I thinks it's great these top players are squaring off at the Zoo instead of playing 18s, especially when a few would have been high seeds. Also agree that Kandath, Domijan and Lin should have played 16s as well.

10sPhysics said...

Boyajian and Sandgren won Kalamazoo 16s in 2006 and 2007. They both clearly belong in the 18s at Kalamazoo this year and will be seeded there. They both had strong 18s Clays but ultimately got taken to the woodshed. Now let me see if i have this straight: the boys that handily beat Boyajian and Sandgren (and who finished 1st and 3rd in the tournament) are now moving down to the play the 16s. This is quite hard to believe. It makes no sense for boys who can clearly compete at a high level in the 18s to be playing 16s. They should leave the 16s for the kids that have been competing there. I hope someone intervenes to rectify this.

Marcia Frost said...

Girls’ 18
Bolender, Brooke
Capra, Beatrice
Gibbs, Nicole
Gilchrist, Nadja
Goldfeld, Ester
Hampton, Jamie
McHale, Lauren
Stephens, Sloane

I'll be covering the end of the B18 Team, first six days of Kzoo, last four days of Berkeley

Brent said...

10sphysics, I disagree. If Kudla, Sarmiento, Cox, Vanoverbeek, etc. were all playing 18s, and King, for example, was left by himself in the 16s, then I would agree with your point. But, because there is so much talent left in the 16s this year, playing 16s isn't stunting their development at all. And again, the goal here should not be purely focused on maxing out their development path for the pro tour. It should be about achievement, pursuing goals, and making memories along the way. A finals performance or gold ball in 16s against this field is going to mean a lot more than losing in the round of 16 in the 18s. You have every other week to play 18s of Futures or whatever you want.

Plotinus said...

After winning the Clays, shouldn't Evan King play in the 18s?

Could he get in at this late date if he wanted to?

floridatennis said...

To Brent.
Agree… Will not hurt King's playing 16s because of the depth of the field. Sure he won Clays with some very solid wins but again the top players did not play it (Buchanan, Thatcher, Harrison, Kricheck (sp), Jenkins). Also hard is a different surface. On hard he recently lost to Saramento, lost solidly to Klahn, split with Cox. Also King has not played Fowler or Overbeek in the last year, both who have had solid hard court results. It will be an exciting tournament. IT is disappointing that Kandath, Lin and Domijon did not play it as well. The only WC, as I see it, will be if the USTA seeds correctly. According to ATP, ITF and USTA rankings my picks for the top for seeds are: King, Kulda, Fowler, Overbeek, Cox, Bangoura, Saramento and not sure who the other should be. Any one of these kids has the game to win it. I know Sock has his fan club but he has not been playing at the level at those kids (ITFs Futures etc) If the USTA does not seed those players in the top 8, it would ridiculous.

To 10sPhysics said...don’t understand why you feel these kids are too good to compete. After all this is the closest to a grand slam for USTA juniors. That would be like telling all the top pros they should only play the top tournaments because they are too good. What this does is make a gold ball mean something for once and gives everyone else a crack at these kids, who they never see. Most wont play USTA in the future outside of the zoo so it win for those other players. Gives them a shot at the best 16 year olds currently in the US. I don’t see a downside on that. These top kids will be under a lot of pressure to step up to the plate.

tenniswatcher said...

People, when are you going to figure it out? The field at 18's clays is NOT going to be anything like the field at 18's zoo. Evan King, talented that he is, won't go 4 rounds at the zoo. If you take a look at the 18's field, there are at least 25 threats, to include... Buchanan, Klahn, Williams, Kecki, Domijan, Harrison, Jenkins, Spencer, Krajicek and Thacher to name what I think will be the top 10. Historically, the 18's clays venue is a platform for the younger kids to get in some practice before the big dance.

Austin said...

There are always certain people who should be in the 16's that play up into the 18's who have absolutely no chance. In some cases its about ego, they would rather make the round of 32 or 16 in the 18's than take a chance at losing in the 16's. It's their decision, but I think it's the wrong one.

When you are sitting on the porch with your kids at age 45 talking about the old days, I would rather have a trophy from the time I finished in the top3 in the 16's to show the kids rather than telling the kids I made the round of 16 in the 18's, but would have gone further had I played my correct age.

I see multiple kids every year who are arent even top10 who play up and wind up being ranked outside the top50 instead of playing their age and being one of the elite and forget how to win. I wonder who is to blame the most; coaches, parents of the kids themselves?

The Dude said...

Domijian on clay and Domijian on hardcourt are two different opponents. Look at Blake on clay vs, hardcourt, no comparisons.

Bystander said...

Austin, I think it mostly the parents who push their kids to higher age groups. Many of them see the probability that their kids will be pros so they proceed with their blinders on, trying to keep up with others who are playing up in age. Some also see that there is less pressure on their kids as they are not expected to win. This mental challenge is easier than being expected to win when you are a top seed in your own age group. In 2006, many of the kids who were playing 18s very well throughout the year dropped down and played the 16s Zoo and some lost earlier than expected. Klahn, seeded #3, lost in the round of 16, that year.

Colette Lewis said...

Here are the players who are eligible to play the 16s who are playing the 18s in Kalamazoo:
Breon Badger
Jamin Ball
Blake Bazarnik
Sean Berman
Alex Domijan
Ryan Harrison
Mousheg Hovhannisyan
Matthew Kandath
John Lamble
Denis Lin
Eugene Muchynski

confused said...

can someone please explain why sean berman is playing 18s?

Analyst said...

Don't be so quick to jump to conclusions about why a player decides to play up or down in a national championship. In many cases it may have only to do with the likelihood of getting a wild card in the 16s. Players like Muchynski, Ball and Lamble who may fare better in the 16s have not played any 16 events in the last 4 months,a USTA requirement for age division eligibility(they play a lot of sectional events and playing in the 18s would make sense at that level); they are eligible without wildcards in the 18s but would need one to play the 16s. They certainly would not receive a 16's wildcard when players like Cox, Kudla, etc need them. Hovhannisyan and Kandath, even though ranked very high nationally, needed wildcards to play in the 18s or the 16s because their sections require playing sectional events for endorsement.With only 8 wildcards available the word is that the 1992's will get precedence over late 1991 players for 16's wildcards. Sean Berman was eligible in the 18's without a wildcard but needed one in the 16s. Maybe he thought he wouldn't get one there with so many others needing one? The USTA and some of their sections may need to revisit their eligibility/endorsement policies. With so many kids playing up and internationally (you can debate the merits of this in another post) this may become more of an issue. Now it seems to affect mostly Kalamazoo.

Austin said...

You would think Berman would play in the 18's at the Clays if he was going to at all.

floridatennis said...

Agree with analyst...As far as I can tell Cox, Kudla, Kandath, Ore, Egger, Moushag, Berman Fowler, Sarmiento would have gotten into the 16s off the national list w/o needing a WC if they had been able to get a sectional endorsement.

Bystander said...

Some sections are lenient with endorsement requirements , Eastern appears to be quite strict. Kandath didn't get a sectional wild card to play in the Davis Cup Team Competition in IL . You would think that the section would want to field the best team but uh,uh.

TennisProV1 said...

After several years of the point system and creating a junior tennis system that promotes and allows many avenues to achieve points and rankings, the USTA sections are trying any way they can to get their best players to compete within the section. For many of the best players in the country, this is not feasible as they are already competing in 20-30 events throughout the year at the national and international levels. To add another 10 events in the section and state does not make sense.

The real problem is the point system. There should be one ranking system nationally and the top person on that list from the section should be #1 in that section, etc. That would simplify the entire process. However, this will never come to pass. What most people do not realize is that USTA is not governed by national USTA. It is governed by the sections themselves. Each section having different agendas and demanding different processes. Like our Congress, there are some larger sections who want certain regulations and smaller sections wanting the opposite regulations. These differing of opinions has created the stalemate we have today.

To play the national clays or hards in the summer, a player in the Southern Section has to play the Southern Closed in the age group you wish to be endorsed to nationals in. To play that event, you have to play your state qualifier in that same age group AND have enough points at the state level to be endorsed to the Southern Section. In North Carolina, that means you have to be in the top 20 in the state, which takes five additional tournament results outside of the qualifier. For someone who is a top national level player, but outside of the 16 spots nationally to receive direct admittance to National Championships, this means you have to go play six events that you will likely have no competitive results in JUST to get to your sectional championships to get endorsed to nationals. OR you can just hope for a wildcard from USTA national.

Not a great system for developing junior players. Just my opinions.....

McLovin said...

TennisProV1, yes that seems to be an onerous path to for sectional endorsement. In Eastern you only have to play 2 out of 4 designated events for each national segment, or 6 events per year which isn't bad. Some players will enter these events and invoke the 1 pt injury default if they don't want to play the event, but you have to pay your $80 per. I don't like the points system, You can, in a measured way, buy your ranking as players will travel and criss cross the country playing those level 3 tournamnets where the competition is lax but the points the same as more competitive tourneys. Players will sometimes travel to the least competitive national open to garner points rather than the closest one. In the old head to head system, this gamesmanship did not allow players to reach higher USTA National standings. In today's point system, a player's ranking can be somewhat gamed.