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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

First Round of US Open Qualifying Complete; Levine's Year in Review


The first round of qualifying in the U.S. Open ended a short time ago, with Ryan Harrison losing in three sets to Daniel Munoz-De La Nava of Spain. Harrison was one of eight USTA wild cards who lost on Wednesday, but he was the only wild card playing Wednesday to extend his opponent to three sets. Tim Smyczek, Alex Clayton, Bryan Koniecko, Christina McHale, Amanda McDowell, Michael McClune and Julia Boserup all went quietly in two sets. NCAA champion McDowell's 6-1, 6-1 loss to France's Julie Coin, an All-American at Clemson a few years back, was especially disappointing, as was McClune's loss to Franco Skugor of Croatia, which was available via radiotennis.com. With Benjamin Becker's loss yesterday and Benedikt Dorsch's loss today, it wasn't a good day for NCAA champions, except Audra Cohen, who fought back to defeat Alina Jidkova of Russia 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

The four wild cards posting wins today were Florida State's Jean-Yves Aubone, 2007 US Open Junior champion Ricardas Berankis, Shenay Perry and Madison Brengle. Brengle saved at least one match point that I saw while checking the usopen.org scoreboard when Ana Jovanovic of Serbia was serving for the match at 5-4 in the third. Brengle saved that match point and broke, then she got broken again, broke back and then won the tiebreaker 7 points to 5. Sounds like a pretty exciting match to me, but it's hard to tell if you aren't there.

The No. 2 seed in the men's draw, former Illini star Kevin Anderson, went out in straight sets to Giovanni Lapentti of Ecuador.

With no admission charge and no credentials required, there's quite a bit more coverage of US Open qualifying than the average pro tournament. Here is McCarton Ackerman's report on yesterday's Sloane Stephens match, posted at Tennis Grandstand. I expect he'll be covering throughout the week, as he does a regular feature on the Futures/Challengers for that site.

And Marcia Frost of collegeandjuniortennis.com is at the qualifying, as she has been for years. For her reports, click here.

Those of you who are following Jesse Levine's career will be interested in this feature by Greg Garber of espn.com. A lucky loser, Levine reached the quarterfinals of the Pilot Pen today in New Haven when Steve Darcis retired down 2-0, and will be in the Top 100 when the U.S. Open begins on Monday. Garber traces the ups and downs of Levine's past twelve months and also explains just how deep his rivalry with fellow left-hander Donald Young goes.

19 comments:

Becky said...

Well there is your reason for why Mcdowell did not receive a MD WC. Amanda Mcdowell lost 1 & 1 to a player that has lost to one of our young juniors Asia Muhammad. I would love to see our college players have more success. However, it is evident in the 2008 NCAA Champ's results, that especially on the women's side, our most promising talent does not come from our college pool.

justthefacts said...

Maybe just not this year. Would not write off Womens College Tennis completely, however this type of result is exactly what fuels the USTA's opinion of college tennis, especially in regards to females and their "make a move by 14-16, or do not even consider PRO, unless you were one of our chosen one's (Stevensen, Weinhold etc..)

gsm said...

Congrats to Aubone for his win, but can anyone explain how his opponent, Van Gemerden, a Dutch guy ranked near 700, got into the Qualifying Draw? Was he a last minute replacement?

becky said...

To Justthefacts: Why is weinhold not competing at this years US Open?

woon said...

great article on jesse...hope the best for him, hes a great kid.

AndrewD said...

becky,

That's a simpleton's reason and one we should attach no weigh to whatsoever. I could just as easily say to you that McDowell's loss was precipitated by the intense disappointment she is feeling at not being given a wildcard into the main draw. We're probably both a little bit correct, but neither one can be called an actual reason for the loss or the denial of a wildcard.

Regardless, consider this. In order to become NCAA champion, McDowell actually had to beat mature players from a variety of nations (plus study and compete in an extensive round of preliminary matches). That isn't considered worthy of a main draw wildcard (ignoring, once again, the excellent PR opportunities it affords). However, the USTA continues to offer a main draw wildcard to the winner of the 18's JUNIOR nationals -an event with a decidely limited field OF CHILDREN (no internationals, a lot less playing experience). In the past 18 years only 4 girls who've won the nationals and been given a US Open wildcard have actually won a match. That includes Lindsay Davenport and Lisa Raymond. Yet still they persist.

Now, if McDowell didn't deserve or merit (two different things and different questions)a main draw wildcard, why do the 18s winners?

Cindy Britton said...

Congrats to both Ryan and Chase for the excellent effort. I know they will both do well in the Juniors and should be proud to have had that opportunity! I wish them both the best.

justthefacts said...

Becky, I am not sure why Weinhold is not competing this year. Injury?, perhaps results? I mentioned her because she is one of the few older girls that the USTA continues to support, with $$ training facility etc. I believe girls her age or older are the exception of who they choose to support, because they feel you must make a move toward successful PRO tennis at very early ages.

Man in the Moon said...

andrewd

very convincing and right on the $$$

analyst said...

Here's a question for those of you who have followed the junior and colegiate tennis circuit for a long time (longer than I have): was college tennis ever considered a viable route to the pros (as collegiate play is for some other sports such as football)or has it always been treated as a place for those who don't have the game to go pro? What are the reasons that it's status has either changed or always been viewed differently? What other sports do you think are similar? I was thinking that there was a time when all NHL players came directly from the junior ranks in Canada, but then I think that changed somewhere along the way and many now play college hockey before going pro. What about baseball? Do you think there is anything the NCAA could do, or college coaches could do, or the USTA could do to make college the preferred route to a pro career in tennis, so kids don't have to take such a risk whatever route they choose? (the risk of giving up the chance to go pro if they choose college and on the flip side, the risk of never getting back into the classroom or getting a college degree if the choose to "go pro" in their teens)

byoboy said...

I'm amazed at the comments on this site, not many of you have the facts or have worked with high end juniors to understand the mindset of these kids who want to go pro. College on the mens side for a year or two is a good idea if you're not an impact player, however on the girls side it is a total waste of time You don't give up going to college by turning pro, you give up playing tennis in college .

justthefacts said...

byoboy (or anyone), is there a cut-off age that the USTA uses to help them determine if a player has a chance at PRO tennis? There was a earlier post on another thread, defending the pick of Christian Harrison in the main draw of the juniors. The blogger said that it is a waste to give a wild card to someone who could win maybe a couple of rounds, but not ever have a chance to make a dent in PRO Tennis, as opposed to giving the wc to a 13 year old with years ahead of him, who admittedly may not be able to win first round. IMO, this is the USTA's way of saying that they have some sort of an age limit, perhaps not etched in stone, but in general, that they feel the players "upside" is greatly reduced. On the girls side, I will just use an example of Cako. Great results in the spring, and very much a late bloomer, though I feel that she also has been bypassed in favor of younger players with that "upside" guessing game of the USTA. They are basically saying that it is rare for players to come through after a certain age, so, why bother. Instead, we will reward all the younger players, and see who comes through. I agree that for a goal of PRO tennis, it takes a whole different mindset, and training regime, when comparing college tennis. I just feel that the USTA too often thinks of the "next one", as opposed to factoring in late bloomers, who have just the same goals (PRO) than younger players.

Stephen said...

Analyst -- The answer to your question depends on how many years you go back. It used to be that most of the top American male players went to college: Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, etc.

After the group of Sampras, Agassi, Chang, Krickstein, et. al. that changed and anyone who thought they had a chance as a pro skipped college and college tennis became dominated by international players as NCAA coaches recruited overseas to stay competitive.

Over the last several years, it seems that college is becoming more popular for all but a few of the US junior players. Many of the best ones, like Levine and Sweeting, only play in college for a year or two, though.

A couple of years ago, the NCAA semis in singles included Isner, Devvarman, Anderson, and Levine. All four of those guys were or will soon be top-100 players. I think that speaks to the quality of NCAA tennis now.

howtennisplayersaremade said...

To become a top pro in tennis you will need to overcome some moments in life and obstacles that most people dont think are even possible. The usta should be looking for tough gritty americans who when you watch play can see they are leaving there all out there and have a true fighting spirit. I think the usta should be taking 15-18 year olds and working with them and seeing what these kdis are made of. When you are looking at 13-15 year old kids and they have not matured yet you really do not know how tough they are and how tough they can be. You need to find the kids that when you talk to them about tennis you know they have a great understanding of the game and know strategy. I think these are the top candidates for the games next top americans. Chase Buchanan, Ryan Harrison, JT Sundling,

abrelosojos said...

i'd like to see an experiment... with money not being a constraint- have the USTA take the top 20 or so males and top 20 or so females that agree to being part of it (maybe 14-16 yr olds for boys, maybe a bit younger for girls say 13-15) and train them full time as primary coaches in boca/carson/somewhere for a minimum of 4 years. The deal is that these kids are being bred for pro tennis and that in exchange for agreeing to be a part of the experiment and be "all in" so to speak as far as turning pro, the USTA will pay for college for these kids when their pro career is over.

AndrewD said...

byoboy,

That's absolute rubbish. While it may be true that the elite female players were able to excel at a young age, there is absolutely no reason why a player can't go to college and have a perfectly respectable pro career.

It (going to college) is not what causes a player to achieve poor results on tour. Not having a strong enough game, drive and/or maturity does. To that end I am absolutely certain that there are quite a number of girls who, having the game but not the maturity to succeed lost all confidence by being pushed into pro tennis far too soon. The difficulty is in maintaining a high calibre of tennis and training while they're in school. If they can do that (which does seem to preclude playing at the majority of schools), they will still have every opportunity to establish a good career. The biggest problem will be tuning out people like yourself - even worse, people who are actually supposed to know something about the game- telling them that they've wasted their time and needed to turn pro straight out of school.

Tennisman said...

Collete, or anyone can you please describe Kristie Ahn's gamestyle. She just crushed Jelena Pandzic 1,3 at the Open qualies. Seems like she has a bright future ahead of her.

The Dude said...

Kristie Ahn is a power baseliner. She is great physical shape, does a lot of off court work. Has eshewed the USTA HP route by staying with private coaching. She's a good kid.

Marcia Frost said...

I spoke to Ashley Weinhold yesterday. She has been recovering from an injury and will be playing in the Women's Doubles and the Mixed Doubles.