Sponsored by IMG Academy

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Paz Signs with Renaissance; Cako Update; Simidian Wins New Jersey High School Title

U.S. Open Junior Championship finalist Gabriela Paz of Venezuela has signed with Renaissance Tennis, the South Florida sports management firm. This isn't breaking news--the RTM website's announcement is dated September 26--but often there isn't any way to know if a young player has signed with an agency unless you ask them, so a formal release is helpful. Renaissance is one of the newer agencies, with Norman Canter, Richard DeVries and Tarik Benhabiles as Managing Director, Chairman of the Board and Director of Tennis respectively. Clients include Flavia Pennetta, Peng Shuai, Alisa Kleybanova, Benjamin Becker and Benedikt Dorsch. Valeria Solovieva of Russia is the only junior listed. I believe her father is the Director of Physical Fitness. Another new agency that's been formed recently is Mamba International, which represents Somdev Devvarman, Treat Huey and Takanyi Garanganga. Not surprisingly, it's based in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Jacqueline Cako continues to receive extensive coverage on her tennis career, and this story, from the Daily Herald in Everett, Wash., has comments from her mother and her coach, Russ Bucklin. Bucklin is quoted as saying:

"Predicting potential is difficult," Bucklin acknowledged. "So with that disclaimer, I'd say that every three months I have to up my guess. In the beginning I would have said, 'If she can make the top 125 (in the world) and play for five years on the pro tour and break even (financially), that's really good.' But then she starting blowing up the junior (international) rankings and we thought, 'Well, maybe she can make it inside the top 100." But right now she's already playing pretty close to even with the top 100 players.

"So what I think now is that she's going to make the top 50," he said. "And I think she's going to hang there for a while."

And finally, a New Jersey weekly, The Leader, recognized Amy Simidian, who will be playing tennis at Penn State next fall, for winning the NJSIAA singles tennis championship as a student at Becton High School.


Junior Tennis Fan said...

Speaking of Cako, does anyone know what's new with her old Pacific Northwest rival, Lilly Kimbell? It appears that Lilly hasn't played a junior tournament since August 3. Is she injurred or playing pro tournaments?

justthefacts said...

I think she plays mostly HS tennis, and then will pop up and probably win the Orange Bowl again with her unique game.

Colette Lewis said...

Kimbell did play the Southlake Texas $10,000 last month. She qualified and lost in the first round to former Vanderbilt No. 1 Amanda Taylor, who, ironically, was also from the Pacific Northwest.

love-tennis said...

She played Fed Cup (Texas lost in the finals) and Hardcourts and then took a break. She then decided to really go for it and get in the best shape of her life, and thus got injured for a bit. Irony...
She is back playing high school tennis. New Braunfels just won 5A state championship for team tennis last weekend. Her 'mean' (lol) parents make her go to regular high school which totally limits her playing the ITF's/pro level tournaments to a bare minimum. She tried to play another ITF but it collided with the Regionals of the high school playoffs. See High School Championship story here.

love-tennis said...

Speaking of high school tennis, I don't know if you can post this because it is so long, but this article from Lorne Chan of the San Antonio Express last year, is a great one about the rivalry between Dallas Highland Park and the New Braunfels High School Unicorns for the 2007 4A state title. (New Braunfels got moved up to 5A this year).

Lorne Chan
Express-News Staff Writer

In impoverished African villages, the Bears are Super Bowl champions, and USC won the 2006 Rose Bowl. At least according to their championship T-shirts.

They're the clothes made for title celebrations if a team wins, while some of the pre-made shirts for what turn out to be the losing teams get sent to Africa as charitable donations.

But where do the shirts for high school tennis teams go?

Highland Park may be asking that question now after New Braunfels defeated the Scots in the Class 4A team tennis state tournament Saturday.

Most high schools don't order their state championship T-shirts until after they win, but Highland Park did things differently during its four-year reign as state champions.

Immediately after winning the state championship last year, Highland Park had its gear ready. The 2006 state champion T-shirts and bumper stickers were made before last year's state tournament so tennis players and their parents could celebrate just like World Series and Super Bowl champions.

"I bet they did the same thing this year," New Braunfels coach David Mueller said. "I guess they can dry dishes with their new shirts."

Highland Park had reason to be confident, considering it won 114 consecutive matches before Saturday, a streak dating back to 2002.

Comparing it to other sports streaks, the New England Patriots would need six-straight perfect seasons to get to 114 victories.

The streak made New Braunfels' 10-7 victory over the Scots for the state championship sweeter for the Unicorns.

The Scots dominated high school tennis during their run, spending most of their season beating top-ranked 5A teams. At the same time, New Braunfels was just a step behind, falling to Highland Park in the state finals the last two years.

With a legitimate threat to Highland Park's run, civilized days at the tennis courts turned into a heated rivalry between the two schools.

Before last year's state tournament, Highland Park coach Dan Holden filed a complaint to the UIL questioning the eligibility of two New Braunfels players.

So the Unicorns showed up at last year's medal ceremony wearing shirts that read "Investigate That" to mock Holden's complaint.

It also isn't just a rivalry between schools but between the tennis academies where most of the players train — New Braunfels' Newcombe Tennis Ranch and Dallas' T Bar M Racquet Club.

The country club throwdown boiled over during the state final, when Scots assistant Tylir Jimenez bumped Mueller.

"You don't forget poor sportsmanship," Mueller said. "You don't forget their parents sticking medals in our kids' faces."

New Braunfels made sure it didn't forget and set sights on Highland Park all season, even though it was a given they wouldn't meet until the state final.

Now the Unicorns have a streak to uphold from their perfect 24-0 season. They'll have state championship T-shirts soon too, once they get made.

But it would definitely be in poor taste to ask Highland Park what design it used for its dishtowels.