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Thursday, February 5, 2009

January Aces; Koniecko Interview, Fed Cup News

It's the first Thursday of the month, so please check out the January Aces article I've written for The Tennis Recruiting Network.

Bryan Koniecko of Ohio State, currently No. 1 in the ITA individual rankings, is featured today on usta.com. I hope he's right about the assumption contained in his answer to a question on his goals (emphasis is mine):

My individual goals are to keep trying to improve while I’m still at college and obviously try to win the NCAA singles title at the end of the year. Winning the NCAA could give me a US Open main-draw berth, and that would be exciting, being from New York and all. More importantly, I want to win the NCAA title as a team and finish No. 1. Since I was a freshman, we have had top-5 teams, and due to some bad luck and a couple injuries, we missed our opportunity in going to the finals of the NCAA tournament. But as a senior and a captain, winning the NCAA as a team would just be an amazing finish to a great four years.

"Could" appears to be the operative word here, as Georgia Tech's Amanda McDowell did not receive a U.S. Open wild card after her NCAA individual championship last year.

The Fed Cup begins this weekend, and with Bethanie Mattek's recent withdrawal, captain Mary Joe Fernandez has asked Julie Ditty to join Jill Craybas, Liezel Huber and Melanie Oudin for the tie with Argentina. Fernandez is blogging for usta.com, and in this entry, I was somewhat surprised to hear that she did not know Oudin. Despite the age gap with the 30-somethings, Oudin is not the only teenager in the mix. Seventeen-year-olds Julia Boserup and CoCo Vanderweghe are serving as hitting partners in Surprise, Arizona, according to this article from the Arizona Republic.

The U.S. and Argentina are in the World Group, which has 16 teams, but there are also Zonal round robins taking place in Estonia, Australia and Canada. In Quebec yesterday, Puerto Rico, with 15-year-old Monica Puig playing No. 1, defeated the Bahamas 2-1 in an opening round match. For results and information, see the Fed Cup website.

And finally, if you haven't done so yet, take a look at the free live video streaming that Front Row Tennis is providing this week at the TbarM Dallas Challenger. This afternoon I watched the third set of a battle between 2002 Kalamazoo 18s champion Prakash Amritraj and 2004 Kalamazoo 18s champion Scoville Jenkins, won by Amritraj 6-4. Tonight, two members of the 2003 Illinois NCAA championship team will be on court when Amer Delic plays Brendan Evans and Rajeev Ram takes on Michael Russell.


tennis said...

does this mean that puig has turned pro by playing fed cup? I have seen her play and she is a good athlete, but do not see pro material. Saw she gained most of her points playing low grade itfs and then came back to the states and maybe would win a round or two. She is no Vickery or Keys. By playing fed cup does that jeopordize your college scholarship? Can see her playing for a good college.

New_AR_Hacker said...

would not ruin eligibility. Several male and female players have played Fed Cup and Davis Cup and continued playing College. It is more the signing with an agency or accepting money over and above expenses.

mac said...

Could you let us know why an American born NCAA singles champion would not get a wildcard into the US Open. I was under the impression that was always given. Thanks!

Colette Lewis said...

I spoke to USTA representatives about this at the Open last year, and the answer was basically that while it is customary, it is discretionary and in this case they thought a qualifying wild card was sufficient.

love-tennis said...


I am still trying to figure out why the USTA is not including Jacquelyn Cako or Kristie Ahn in these events where they are taking Mchale/Vandeweghe. Shouldn't those 2 at least be in the mix?

TechGirl said...


Did the USTA representative explain why McDowell's case was different to every other American born winner of an NCAA title? And why the doubles winners were treated differently to the singles winner? Zalameda and Lin got main draw wildcards. Vant Hoft and Zalameda got a wildcard into the mixed doubles. Vant Hof got a wildcard into the men's doubles.

If an American man wins the NCAA singles this year and gets a wildcard into the main draw, that will just smack of sexism. If the winner comes from one of the 'name' schools, it'll smack of elitism.

If the NCAA winner had a last name like Seguso, a domineering parent like Alexandra Stephenson or came from one of the elite schools the USTA would never have been brave enough to say no. But because it was a a no-name kid from a Tech school in the South they instantly got very brave.

ALso, i think that tennis journalists, bloggers and writers should be ashamed that they didn't do more to push the issue with the USTA. Instead they just lay back and took whatever feeble excuses they were given.

abc said...

I'm under the impression that McDowell did not receive the main draw wild card because of her summer results on the pro circuit. She lost to both Ahn and Stephens, two young girls who also received qualifying wild cards. It's not only that they beat her, but the scores were lopsided, 61 61 and 60 62. Would it have been right to give McDowell the wild card? Although she won the NCAAs, she did not post strong results during the summer, and the USTA obviously felt that others were more appropriate. But also, what does it matter if it's a qualifying or a main draw wild card? If anything, imo, it's clear that McDowell did not deserve the main draw wild card, losing first round of qualifying. Had she won maybe two rounds or qualified, then you could make the clear argument that yes, the USTA made a terrible mistake, but as of right now, I think the USTA made the right decision on this one.

TechGirl said...


The answer is very, very simple. Why did they decide to make McDowell an example? She had won a $10K event during the year, as well as the NCAA singles title, as well as amassing a fantastic record, all on top of maintaining studies at a demanding school and all while only being able to practise for a limited period per day. One poor match against Ahn and Stephens should never erase that.

If you look at what happened after those matches you'd have very clearly seen that, with matches under her belt, she went on a tear , qualified for a 10K and won it. If the losses to Ahn and Stephens had happened after she'd got match tough that would be signficant. They didn't so anyone basing their decision on that is looking for any excuse to disqualify the girl.

Also, if what you're suggesting is correct then any future NCAA winners should refuse to play any matches after they win the title, just in case they happen to lose to other Americans. That said, Riza Zalameda played a number of doubles events and struggled to win a match but she still got her wildcard into the main draw doubles.

Like I said, McDowell doesn't have a name behind her (like Vant Hof), doesn't come from the right school (like UCLA, USC or even a Miami) and she doesn't represent a minority group that the USTA is targetting (although her heritage is Greek). All she did was to win the match which has ALWAYS assured American players of a main-draw wildcard. That she was the exception to the rule (which makes a mockery of the 'discretionary' status) has yet to be answered by the USTA or properly questioned by the media.

fed up said...

Very good points made by techgirl.(In fact, "dead on" in many observations) Just like David Stern of the NBA, who helped steal a PRO Team from Seattle, and most recently, punished Lebron James by taking away his triple double, because the Cavaliers complained about an All-Star game omission..the usta wields this type of power and favoritism.

It is disgusting.

agree said...

I agree McDowell should have received the wc, no question about it, the USTA blew it. But let's not get too carried away with family heritage and "name" schools whinning. Didn't a Georgia Tech player named Kristi Miller get a doubles wild card 1-2 years ago? Bryan Shelton is also very respected within all tennis circles.
Also - abc - she lost in the first round of qualifying to Julie Coin who less than a week later upset world No. 1 in the main draw at the Open.
I think it's a joke that the USTA continues to wild card the national 18s champions and pull these kinds of things with American born NCAA champions. The boys 18s champion from last year wasn't even ranked during his freshman year of college tennis.