Sponsored by IMG Academy

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tomic Wins Challenger; Kriese Working with Lertcheewakarn; Keys Makes Professional Debut

For reasons that elude me, 16-year-old Bernard Tomic's win at the $50,000 Melbourne challenger over the weekend has produced no comment from the Australian press. This is a significant accomplishment for a player of his age, and the lack of coverage is surprising, given the media blitz that accompanied him in the same city last month, when he won one match in the Australian Open main draw. The final featured yet another meeting between wild card Tomic and fellow Australian Marinko Matosevic, the sixth seed. In the brief time that Tomic has been playing Pro Circuit events, he and Matosevic have met four times, with the 23-year-old winning the first two, including the infamous match when Tomic left the court at the behest of his father, leading to a default. Tomic has won the last two times they have played, with the defaulted one the only match not reaching three sets. For a brief synopsis of Tomic's performance last week, see the Tennis Australia account.

A few days ago, I came across a story in Thailand's The Nation about Noppawan Leertchewakarn, the 2008 ITF World Junior champion (and US Open Jr. doubles champion) from that country. While she transitions from the juniors to the pro tour, she is planning on playing the remaining junior slams; she was a semifinalist at the Australian Open juniors in January. She is working with former Clemson men's head coach Chuck Kriese, who took a position with the Thai Federation last year.

The story goes on to say:
Being the world No 1 junior is no guarantee of success in the big leagues. Only three of the top girls since 1994 - Martina Hingis, Amelie Mauresmo and Svetlana Kuznetsova - have gone on to be No 1 among the professional women, and they'd all won at least one junior Grand Slam.

First of all, being No. 1 in the world is a pretty high standard for defining "success in the big leagues." But the odd thing about this is the selection of 1994 as the cutoff date, the year Martina Hingis was the World Junior Champion. Going back to 1978, there are a lot fewer No. 1s--why not start there to make the point?

Madison Keys, who turned 14 last month, made her debut in a professional tournament today in the $25,000 Challenger in Fort Walton Beach, and although she didn't win it, she did take eighth seed Ekaterina Bychkova, ranked 141 by the WTA, to three sets. For the complete results of that event, and the $15,000 Men's Futures in McAllen, see the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.