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Monday, November 17, 2008

ITA Indoor Wrap and Bids for 2009; First US Futures of 2009 on Clay, Knoxville Challenger News

With the flurry of activity over Early Signing Week (which ends Wednesday) at the Tennis Recruiting Network, I wasn't in my usual Thursday slot last week and won't be this week either. But you can find my wrap of the ITA National Indoor there today. Although I don't always have the luxury of thinking about a tournament for several days before writing about it, it does produce a slightly different perspective.

The ITA has announced on its website that bids are now being accepted for the 2009 Indoor, with a deadline of Dec. 15, which is the final day of the ITA Coaches Convention in Naples, Fla.

The 2009 Pro Circuit calendar for the men has undergone several changes in the past few months. Initially the first two Futures in 2009 were scheduled for Puerto Rico, on hard courts, but that was changed, first to TBA, and now to three $10,000 men's Futures in South Florida. Boca Raton will host the first, on Jan. 12, Hollywood follows on Jan. 19 and Plantation closes that stretch on Jan. 26. And, as was alluded to in the Doug Robson story on the changes in High Performance in USA Today, they will be on clay, not on hard courts as they traditionally have been.

McEnroe already has asked that more of the USTA-funded lower-tier Futures and Challenger events be put on clay, even if in the short term that makes it harder for upstart U.S. players to earn valuable ranking points.
The $50,000 Challenger scheduled for January 26 will be in Carson, Calif. on hard courts. The $15,000 Mobile Futures has been moved to March 30.

And if you are going into withdrawal, with no WTA, ATP or significant college or junior tournaments to follow, check out the Knoxville News, which is covering the Challenger there (this story touches on Serbia's Filip Krajinovic and former Illinois player GD (or Gd now I guess) Jones). For complete draws, see the Pro Circuit results page.

17 comments:

Chris Tucker said...

The First Futures of the year on CLAY???

You must be joking!...that makes no sense at that time of year and does not help our players.
Not now, and not in the future
I will say it again, our most successfull group of players grew up on hard courts!
Young, transitional juniors, trying to break through to the ranks of the pros need confidence and win a good amount of matches to gain that confidence....
To do that they need a clay court season to lead up to these events or it needs to be followed by more clay court events to give them a chance to do better as they play more of them.....
And unless you live in Folrida, that is not going to happen!
So what do all our other young players up north supposed to do?
Move down to Florida During the winter season?.....
Most of our young players are coming of an indoor season or hard court season....
This is another attempt to change the culture of US tennis by trying to force players to play more on clay courts.
with the backbone and strength of US tennis, and the circuit after Wimbledon leading up to our own home event, the US-Open, on the other surface....yes you guessed it right....HARDCOURTS
So what a confusing message to send to all our up and coming juniors who look forward to play the most important tournaments in the US....
If you really want to help the schedule then maybe change the junior event (Easter Bowl) to clay courts and expand claycourts there...
Maybe these people that organized this need to move to Spain themselves.....

Chris Tucker

Mary said...

Nice article in the KnoxNews but isn't Tennys Sandgren still homeschooled? I thought it was his brother Davey who plays for UT?

Colette Lewis said...

Mary,
I believe the reporter meant Davey. Tennys is still homeschooled.

the old pro said...

More Knoxville News...

"Knoxville's Rhyne Williams...lost in the first round to Slovenia's Luka Gregorc 7-6 (2), 6-3 and afterward announced his decision to play college tennis next fall.

"Yep, as of now, unless I win five of these in a row," said Williams. He said his top five schools are Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Duke, Illinois and Texas A&M."

This shows incredible insight from a 17 year old. Five in a row is a little extreme, but unless any young man has serious success at the challenger level, college tennis is the best option. I hope more of our top juniors don't get sucked into turning pro unless they have proven they can make it.

McLovin said...

Clay? Grasping at straws and spinning their wheels when they run out of solutions, IMO. US tennis is hardcourt tennis. I agree with Chris Tucker, "this no sense to me makes!"

tennisjunky said...

16 year old IMG's and Serbia's Filip Krajinovic beat #3 seed Robert Kendrick at the Knoxville Challenger. That kid has been on a roll.

currenttennistalk said...

chris tucker/mclovin

Have you taken a current look at the atp top 50 players in the world, and see what surface they grew up on? Id say over 85-90% trained primarly on clay. And then take a closer look at the Top 10.

The ATP Tour has slowed down all the courts and made the conditions heavier, even Wimbledon is slower. This is a new generation, not one from the 80s and 90s.

Our most successful group grew up on hard? Courier might argue that. You need to ask yourself, what the top current successful players grew up on? Federer, Nadal, Murray, Djokovic----CLAY!!!

It's easier to change from clay to hard, but difficult the other way around. So having clay court futures in January isn't a problem. It's also great training to start the year.

The best thing with tennis is: if you are good enough, you will win and be successful, if you are not, you won't. Clay better helps a players development and be successful.

and yes there have been many talks about moving the Easter Bowl to clay and it might happen soon in the next few years.

Chris Tucker said...

To Currenttennistalk:
I am glad you brought this up...

There is a great misconseption on European players and the surface they grew up on.
And I am glad you brought up these particular examples.
Courier grew up in practicing at Bolletierri's and they practiced almost all the time on hard.
Never the less, he developed his clay court game later and as you know did really great.
Federer grew up in Switserland with only having clay courts available a short time of the year due to the weather there..
He practiced mainly on indoor courts.(3/4 the time of the year)
That still is evident in looking at his game today. He doesn't play like a clay court player ("grinder"), but plays his best tennis on fast surfaces...
The same goes for Djokovic, living in Serbie, practicing almost 3/4 of the time on hard and indoor due to temparature and weather conditions.....
And where has he had his best results sofar....hardcourts.
Not so surprising.
Murray grew up in England (Scottland), and had the same situation as the above players.
He did not move down to Spain until he was 17 years of age.
And even then he did it to get out of England to play better players on a regular basis...
And he does not play like a clay court player and has had his best results on...yes again, hardcourts
Nadal grew up in Majorca, and anyone that has been there knows that how few clay courts there were there, not unlike today. But he could play outdoors a lot more..
He has made a consious effort to style his game like a clay court player and has been most successfull on that surface untill he made another surge in his game over the last 2 or 3 years in trying to become more versatile on all surfaces.
Just like Courier, he became proficient on one surface and later on developed on the other.

All north-european and east-european countries have the same weather conditions as in most of the US in winter. At best euro-players play halv the time on clay and half the time on hard, but mostly less due to the amount of rain there....

And yes, they have slowed down the grass to accommodate the clay court players a bit...Remember, they used to bypass that tournament and boycott it for a while, until they slowed it down.
Some spanish players (and even Andre Agassi and others) would not show there for a while.
But it is still fast enough to cause clay court players trouble.
By the way, you need a whole different type of approach to the game and footwork for grass!
So to change the philosophy on how to train our top juniors only or more on clay makes no sense.
And we should keep in mind that it is important to have US players believe in our own grand slam event and to excel on hard courts..

Bottom line to me:
It doesn't come down to playing more on clay or hard or grass...
It comes down to having an all round game with no glaring weaknesses to start off your junior career...
To find the style that fits you most and own that game!
And then having the passion, discipline and willpower to work on your game...to do whatever it takes without getting sidetracked by agents, fame and wealth but play cause you love the game and the competition the most...

Chris Tucker

McLovin said...

Well, I think it's more important to develop American players to win the US Open rather than the French Open. The USTA needs to fill Arther Ashe Stadium with an American winner. The USTA should develop all court players with weapons but they seem to only develop baseline grinders. As good as Evan King is in the juniors, he is not being developed with a game to be a successful on the ATP Tour. He has no weapons for a player his size and essentially a baseline grinder who makes a lot of balls. He is the embodiement of the USTA development model. Not meant to slight Evan as he's a great kid but to critize the USTA development model.

bigforehand said...

We do need to have an american win the us open. Evan King--a grinder? Last couple times I saw him play, he was aggressive, his transition game improved, and he was working his way into the net. Any player gets pushed back but Evan plays his best tennis moving forward.

Easy on critizing the usta mclovin. The usta does has players who are very aggressive and offensive minded. All of that talk just makes you less-credible.

thank you chris tucker! I will copy and paste what you wrote because that is the most intelligent thing i have ever read on here and needs to be repeated:

"Bottom line to me:
It doesn't come down to playing more on clay or hard or grass...
It comes down to having an all round game with no glaring weaknesses to start off your junior career...
To find the style that fits you most and own that game!
And then having the passion, discipline and willpower to work on your game...to do whatever it takes without getting sidetracked by agents, fame and wealth but play cause you love the game and the competition the most..."

floridafan said...

Chris Tucker,

Agree with you on all comments. But Bigforehand, who is aggressive and offensive, with great hands at the net in the USTA program? I haven't seen anyone from that group who would fit that description. The USTA has some talented kids, but definately not the most promising. But then again, the best players in the US are already training with private coaches who know what they are doing, so I am sure we will see some breakthroughs in a couple of years.

bigforehand said...

Out of respect to those kids who are in the usta program, i'm not going to throw any names out, so you and others can trash them on here. Have some respect. Those players are young-teenagers, they are kids, and I'm sure who are working hard....not multimillonaire athletes that are in the spotlight.

Sure there are different types of players, and the usta has some grinders, but i believe there are about 4-5 players, who are aggressive baseliners. Just remember the serve-n-volley game has pretty much been vanished from today's game.

Keep in mind, the usta has had primary coaching for only a year...and supplemental for the past 18 yrs. Also, the usta doesn't have all the best juniors in the us...not even close. There are plently of private coaching around the usa that continue to do a damn good job. If credit goes to everyone, then so does the blame, not just with the usta.

McLovin said...

"Evan King--a grinder?" Yes, would you agree that Donald Young is a grinder? They both have weak open stance forehands, good hands but both don't attack enough to use them and I am not talking about S&V. I am taking about hitting an agressive penetrating ball. They both his loupy, grindy forehands. At Evan size, he should have a killer forehand and serve but he has neither. But hey, you don't need either to do well in national juniors. Boyajian was a great junior and didn't have either also.

get real said...

currenttennistalk,
To say it is easier from going from clay to hard, is crazy. I do not know if you have played tennis, but, it is the opposite. It is much easier going from a fast surface to a slow. Try it out

currenttennistalk said...

Getreal--

I agree it is easier going from a fast surface to a slow surface, but "footwork" becomes an issue when going from a hard court to a clay court, where sliding, longer points and bad bounces come into play. Especially for a hard court player, which all americans are. I certainly hope you agree with that.

And Getreal--I have played tennis. Usually people who do not play tennis DO NOT go on random tennis blogs and talk about it.

bigforehand said...

Evan King and Donald Young are not grinders. They are very similiar, so great comparison. If they are confident and playing well, they are all court players, looking to finishing points off at the net. However, if they are not playing well or nervous, they are aggressive counterpunchers. Agree?

McLovin said...

bigforehand, yes I agree, they are all court and tend to be couterpunchers. However, their problem in making it on the ATP level is that they both don't dictate play. They both don't have weapons per se. Evan must be 6'1"-2" and he just doesn't crush his forehand or serve. He doesn't effectively "use" his lefty enough. Look, they were both developed to be great juniors, that is, they make a lot of balls with their loupy strokes and they use their speed and hands to grind out points. There was no better junior than Donald Young. However in the Pro game, they just don't hit through the ball, IMO. They can couterpunch, but they can't sustain pace to dictate play. When you look at the upcoming juniors, then tend to all have power and dictate play. Nishikori hits with better pace than these two and he's smaller. His stroke production is superior as he hits through the ball. Just my opinion.