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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

McEnroe Names Davis Cup Team; Domijan Selected as Practice Partner


I had the opportunity today to participate in a USTA conference call with Patrick McEnroe, who formally announced the Davis Cup team that will take on Switzerland next week in first round action in Birmingham, Ala. There were no surprises, with Andy Roddick, James Blake and the Bryan brothers selected, but while those names seldom vary, the names of the practice partners always do. For this tie, Amer Delic, the former NCAA champion while at Illinois, and 17-year-old Eddie Herr champion Alex Domijan will be accompanying the team. McEnroe admitted that he had picked Delic prior to the withdrawal of Federer from the Swiss team, but called Delic "such a good guy" and sounded happy to have him involved again, even though Delic doesn't fit the usual profile of a practice partner (he's 26). Here's what McEnroe said about Domijan:

Obviously Domijan is a guy I saw play a little bit down at the Orange Bowl, where he had a great couple of weeks there and at the Eddie Herr. Some of our coaches have been communicating with him and following him pretty closely, and we kind of like his attitude and what we've seen from him. I think it will be a great experience for him. He's practiced with some of our players already up at Saddlebrook, with the Bryan brothers and with James, and they seem to know him. We think he's got tremendous potential. It's a nice combination of a veteran practice guy, and someone like Alex, who's getting his first taste of that situation.
I spoke with Alex this evening about his selection, which came about three weeks ago, and he said he considered it an honor to be chosen, although he did express some disappointment that Federer wasn't playing.

"But Roddick and Blake and all the people are still going to be there, so I'm going to train with them. It should be pretty fun."

I asked him what he was most looking forward to about the experience, which starts on Sunday.

"Just playing with those guys a lot. Usually, if I play with them, it's only like one day every three or four weeks. So to play with them on a consistent basis, and hopefully I'll improve."

For the complete transcript of McEnroe's press conference today, see ASAP Sports.

At the ATP Delray Beach International today, 16-year-old wild card Evan King lost to Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-4. King was up 3-1 in the second set, but lost five of the next six games against the 115th ranked ATP player. According to this story about King in today's Sun-Sentinel, the boys 18s Clay Court winner next year will get a qualifying wild card, not a main draw wild card. There was some controversy this year, when two-time champion Xavier Malisse did not get a wild card, with King, Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Querrey getting the three available.

The Charleston Post-Courier covered the finals of the SMASH Junior Cup, and had this report on Alison Riske's win over Kristie Ahn.

5 comments:

AndrewD said...

Colette,

Do you think the USTA will follow suite and stop giving the winner of the Nationals a wildcard into the US Open main-draw - perhaps replace it with one into the qualifying?

I appreciate that it's nice for the kids but, unless they're going pro, they're receiving points and dollars (not that they get the cash)that would be better utilised by a player on the tour. A wildcard into qualifying would give them just as much experience and, possibly, a greater chance of winning a match (or three).

Colette Lewis said...

There's always been speculation about that, but from my admittedly biased perspective (there is no way we here in Kalamazoo would get the best field of the year in US boys tennis without it), it makes sense to keep it as is. With six available wild cards (not counting the Australian and French exchanges), there are enough for pro tour players who need the points and cash boost you mention. Reserving one for the country's best junior, as determined by a 192-person wild card playoff, makes sense to me.

Last year Ryan Harrison and Chase Buchanan received USO qualifying wild cards. There is no way they would play Kalamazoo to earn something they would already have been given. USTA High Performance has spoken often about the necessity of getting the best juniors playing each other, and Kalamazoo is one of the few times that actually happens, bringing Pro Circuit, ITF, college and USTA junior players together to fight it out for an admittedly huge prize.

Austin said...

The X-Man didnt get a wildcard over the others because no offense, but people dont go to see Xavier Malisse play.

tennisjunky said...

"King was given one of the three available wild cards, thus shutting out much higher-ranked Americans like Donald Young, Levine, Odesnik, Amer Delic, Todd Widom, John Isner and two-time ITC champion Xavier Malisse."

Too bad that this will be the last year for the Delray WC. Seems to me that it's a fitting reward, not to mention the experience, for one of our top juniors and a big draw to get the best juniors to play Clays. Besides, I would think that at this point in thier tennis careers the above mentioned who were "shut out" should be able to qualify on thier own. Also, Kings scores were more than respectable. I guess with this logic tennis australia should not have given the main draw WC to Tomic.

AndrewD said...

Austin,

Cut the glib.

Put simply, Delray were in the unenviable situation of having three wildcards to spread over five quality candidates (plus a few other options)- Hewitt, Querrey , Taylor Dent, Isner and Malisse - and one obligation - King. I can tell you, in no uncertain terms, that if they had their choice, the 'obligation' card would have been given to either Malisse, Dent or Isner. Give it to Malisse and you're guaranteed that Belgium will pick up the coverage.

Colette,

I don't believe that the winner of a national junior event should be rewarded with entry into that nation's greatest tournament. The winner of Kalamazoo should get direct entry into the US Open juniors but not the senior event - they just don't deserve it.

Make them earn entry to the main-draw through achievements on the pro circuit (or, at worst, by winning the US Open juniors - where they have to beat an international field), not by jumping the queue and winning a closed-shop junior event.