Wednesday, April 1, 2009

USTA Junior National Team Drops 4-3 Decision to USC Men; Querrey Tries Coaching

The USTA brought out its heavy-hitting coaching lineup and most of the members of the 2008 ITF World Junior Davis Cup champion team, but it wasn't quite enough against one of the top college teams in the country yesterday. Although undermanned, the sixth-ranked Trojans still came away with a 4-3 win, winning the doubles point handily and earning wins at No. 4, 2 and 3 singles before the juniors came back to take the final three singles matches.

Watching scores change on the USC website last night, I couldn't see who was on the court coaching, but I later heard from USTA National Coach David Roditi that in addition to himself, the USTA had Jose Higueras, David Nainkin, Hugo Armando, Marc Lucero and Sam Querrey giving advice to the juniors.

"We had a pretty good coaching staff," Roditi said. "Sam Querrey came and coached JT against Magdas."

JT is of course JT Sundling, who has committed to USC for the fall, and who, like Querrey, is from Thousand Oaks, California. Playing No. 2 singles against Trojan senior Abdullah Magdas, Sundling had an early lead, but lost 7-5, 6-3.

With the way the doubles point went, Roditi was happy just to be in the singles matches, let alone win three of them, with USC winning the doubles 8-0 at No. 1 and No. 2 and 8-4 at No. 3.

"I'll tell you what my pep talk was after the doubles," Roditi said. "I said, guys, I have good news and I have bad news. The bad news is we're down 1-0. The good news is, it's not a total of games. These guys won 24-4, and all they got was one point. There's still six points out there."

And as it turned out, those six points were divided, as were first sets.

At No. 1, Denis Kudla, who led the U.S. team to the Junior Davis Cup title last September, took a 7-5 first set from Steve Johnson of USC, who was moved into the top spot due to the back injuries of Robert Farah and Jaak Poldma. At No. 6, Clay Thompson won a tiebreaker against USC's Dan Gliner, and at No. 5, Nathan Pasha battled past Trojan Daniel Nguyen 6-4.

In addition to Magdas at No. 2, USC had taken the first set at No. 3, with Jason McNaughton getting past Kalamazoo 16s champion Jordan Cox 6-3, and Matt Kecki edging Raymond Sarmiento 7-5. Cox and Sarmiento were members of the USTA's Junior Davis Cup team, with Cox playing in North American qualifying and Sarmiento in the finals in Mexico, but another prominent JDC member, Evan King, just arrived in California on Tuesday from the clay court swing in Brazil, and Roditi didn't feel he was physically prepared to take on the California hard courts with no more than hours to adjust to a new surface and time zone.

The singles matches all went as the first sets did. Kecki got USC's second point, beating Sarmiento 7-5, 6-1, Magdas downed Sundling 7-5, 6-3 and McNaughton completed his 6-3, 6-3 win over Cox to clinch it for the Trojans. Nathan Pasha got the USTA boys on the board with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Nguyen, with Thompson winning their second point by scoring a 7-6(3), 7-6(5) victory over Gliner. Johnson had come back to take the second set from Kudla 6-3, and since the dual match was decided before they had started the third set, the two played a match tiebreaker, which Kudla won 11-9.

Roditi acknowledged that the final score was a bit deceptive.

"It would have been maybe a little scary if they had had their full lineup, but they were all out there, Farah played doubles, and they were all cheering, and it was fun. It was a great experience."

Southern Cal head coach Peter Smith knew that the timing of the event wasn't ideal for his team, smack as they are in the middle of the Pac-10 season, but he wasn't about to shrink from the challenge.

"It was classic David Roditi," Smith said. "After the team beat Miami, I texted him that that wasn't a fair matchup, and he said then why don't we play you? I said okay, let's go. March 31st, that's a terrible day, but hey, we've got to uphold the college."

"I think it was a great experience for the USTA juniors, especially to get a glimpse of what top college doubles is like," Smith added. "When you're a junior and you're playing doubles, it's too much about shot-making, and it has to be more about disciplined pattern play."

After the match, many of the several dozen students at the after-school program at the USTA's Carson Training Center, who had served as ballrunners, got to play a little too.

"Sam Querrey stayed for about an hour or an hour and a half after the match playing games with all the ballkids," said Smith, who mentioned that Kaes Van't Hof and Tracy Austin were also there. "We played 'Smash Them in the Face,' we played 'Live Ball', we did all these drills, and Sam enjoyed it as much as any kid out there. It was such a great moment for tennis, I couldn't even believe it."

For more on the match, see the USC Trojans' website.


Austin said...

Thats pretty cool that Sam was there, although I'd much rather him still be in the draw in Miami. Its time for him to step it up and get deeper into draws at Masters events.

JT'S #1! said...

Way to go JT! I love you! Keep it up you're the best!

txcollege10s said...

For those who have ever had the chance to spend time 'behind the scenes' with Sam, you know he is a riot. If you have ever been in an interview room with him, you always have to fact check because he loves messing with writers. Great kid.

This guy will have a long career because he has such a great attitude. Would it be nice if he could win more? Of course.

Roditi is awesome.

old school atlanta said...

Is the "new" tennis handshake a fad or here to stay? I've been offered it but (proudly) never taken it.

john said...

David Roditi, is the best National Coach ! He is a good man. The USTA is lucky to have him .

tennisparent said...

Agree with John that David Roditi is a great coach if you are on his A list but like your typcial USTA overpaid high performance coach its a short list. The whole problem with Roditi and team is that they are exclusive rather then inclusive and that's not seen that changing. It's always the same small group of kids that get all the attention and resoruces of the USTA.

5.0 Player said...

In my opinion this was irresponsible of Peter Smith to allow his players to risk injury, wear and tear on their bodies and incur added emotional stress to set up this match against the USTA junior team smack in the middle of the Pac Ten schedule. From what the article said it sounds like his ego got in the way of thinking about the well being of his players first.

If I was on the USC Team (Or if I was the parent of a player) and had to play this match at this time of the year I would be furious at him.

Lighten Up said...

Lighten up 5.0. Peter Smith has been a top college coach for like 20 years and is as good as it gets. It's not like a football coach scheduling a full contact scrimmage in the middle of the season. His players were basically doing what they would have been during a practice that week. I actually think he put his ego aside, if anything, and did something that was actually good for the sport of tennis.

devilsadvocate said...


Coach Roditi had JT Sundling, Daniel Ho, Clay Thompson, Jordan Cox and Denis Kudla on the team. Evan King apparently was there and didn't play.

The USTA brought Rhyne Williams, Bob Vanoverbeek, Denis Kudla and Chase Buchanan to Spain.

Jack Sock and Sekou Bangoura got the USTA main draw wildcards into the Mobile Future.

All of these players are coached by non-USTA coaches. Please tell me how the USTA coaches aren't changing and helping/including many other players?

It would be interesting to hear some juniors who has asked for help and have not received it or the usta has said no.

tennisparent said...

To devilsadvocate

Not talking about WCs. Talking about $$$$ the USTA spends on trips (Spain), international travel etc. It's always the same small group...Kulda, Williams, Pasha, King, Sarmento, Vanoverbeek, Buchanan. I am not counting including JT Sundling, Daniel Ho, Clay Thompson for the pre-carsen camp because they are from the area and it did not cost the USTA any $$. I am talking about who the usta spends its realy $$$$ on. Their real $$$$ reach is as narrow as their vision.

devilsadvocate said...


You still didn't respond to my comment of: "It would be interesting to hear some juniors who has asked for help and have not received it or the usta has said no."

Tennis90 said...


I am a player at a top University, currently in the line up and the USTA never gave me anything, even though they gave to others who most likely did not need it nearly as much as I did.

I could not agree more about the USTA only giving money to a select few.

o my said...

thank you devilsadvocate, everyone needs to stop complaining about the help people dont get, and start applauding to the help that the USTA does give, and the usta shares money and wildcards with more than just a few players.

sorry to all who think the USTA should give out 20 bucks to every player who can pick up a racket

5.0 Player said...

Lighten Up said: "Lighten up 5.0. Peter Smith has been a top college coach for like 20 years and is as good as it gets. It's not like a football coach scheduling a full contact scrimmage in the middle of the season. His players were basically doing what they would have been during a practice that week. I actually think he put his ego aside, if anything, and did something that was actually good for the sport of tennis."

Sorry I didn't respond sooner to this ridiculous comment. Just because Peter Smith has been a college coach for 20 years does not make him some sort of god that is beyond reproach. And, he is certainly not known as one of those nurturing paternal types of coaches.

If you think a competitive match against the top junior players in the U.S. isn't wear and tear and stress then you obviously haven't played much competitive tennis. Not only is a competitive tennis match always taxing on the body at this level, but there was a lot of added pressure for these college players to have to risk the embarassment of losing to the junior team and for nothing but a coach's impulsive adventure.

lighten up (again) said...

5.0 - I just think he's beyond reproach of an anonymous message board poster whose afraid to tell his identity when blasting someone.

God forbid he put a little pressure on his players. Sounds like you're the one who needs a coddling coach, but not everyone does, certainly not the USC team.

McLovin said...

5.0 Player, are you kidding me. It's just a freakin' scrimmage. This is a non contact sport unlike football. Never be afraid to lose, just play the matches for competitive play. You are really thinking way too hard on this one, lighten up already.

5.0 Player said...

To McLovin and Lighten Up:

I don't know what planet you guys are living on! Just using the term "non contact sport" doesn't mean squat. Look around at all the injuries suffered by junior and college tennis players and open your eyes!

Ryan Harrison, the US's top junior prospect is out in a full body cast because he broke his back playing tennis in this non contact sport. Both Bermudez brothers broke their backs last year. Kurthan Ambarci and numerous other top junior players have broken backs, vertebrae fractures or stress fractures. Ally Baker who was once the top US girl prospect had to retire permanently from tennis before she even got started due to the numerous stress fractures in her feet. Jack Sock had stress fractures in his feet two times in a row and had to disappear from junior tennis for over a year.

Guga Kuerten had to retire early due to his hip injuries.

Tons of college players are out for several months due to stress fractures but I guess you don't want to talk about that.

Grant Hill has had 5 foot surgeries but the NBA is also a "non-contact" sport.

Just because there is no contact with the other players does not make it injury free; there is tremendous contact and pounding from the court.

Why don't you guys go ahead and tell these injurred players and their parents to "just lighten up!" Remind them also that they should quick whining because their kids played a "non-contact" sport.

Instead of throwing out meaningless labels I encourage you to come up with something substantive for once.

I am all for competition for a reason, but the whole point was that this was a meaningless risk right smack in the heart of the season where USC is battling it out with their Pac 10 Rivals with little or no recuperation days in between and so they don't need to compound the risk for injury that already exists.

Under your "logic," Federer should play Nadal in 3 out of 5 set exhibition on red clay the day before the French Open because it would be "good for tennis" and to quote McLovin: "It's just a freakin' scrimmage. This is a non contact sport unlike football."

How about running an exhibition marathan the day before the Olympics marathon? Running is also technically a non contact sport.

You guys should both lighten up and also open your eyes while you're at it. McLovin accuses me of "thinking too much" on this one. I would rather think too much than think too little which is clearly what you're doing.

oooh-kaaay said...

Sorry but it still sounds like you REALLY need to lighten up.

Or maybe I shouldn't type this while at work because under your logic I guess I could get carpel tunnel syndrome. And maybe I shouldn't drive home because I could get in an accident.

Enough already 5.0, USC rested like 2 or 3 starters in singles gave their top recruit a taste of what he's going to see next season and probably made some nice inroads in recruiting w/ the USTA coaches, etc. Plus they've continued to win since that monumental match that could have ended all their careers with your logic.

Where were you when Miami played their match? Sounds like this is kind of personal for you. Why not wait and see if someone actually got hurt before going into your rants.

abc said...

How about you just ask the players whether or not they would like to play. If they do, great. If they don't, oh well. Problem solved. Now was it that difficult?

Brent said...

5.0, by your logic, no team would ever practice. Why would they take the risk? They didn't exert themselves materially more in that USTA scrimmage than they would have in a run-of-the-mill practice. To be this passionate on this issue is one of the stranger positions I have ever seen taken.

College Tennis Watcher said...

Ooh-Kay. Your last comment doesn't warrant a response. The Miami match wasn't right smack in the middle of the conference season. Your so called analogies aren't even close. No one said that the players shouldn't practice or compete.

I totally agree with 5.0 Player. I'm glad someone had the guts to stand up to and question some of these coach's decisions. If I had to guess, McLovin, OOh-Kay and Lighten Up are either friends with Peter Smith or they are the types that just automatically agree with whatever an authority figure like a college coach says.

Instead of a "knee jerk" defense of any coach decision, I recommend that you think things through before you blindly support the person in authority.

The Dude said...

Look, practice makes better players. So they play a match. This is tennis. The team probably practices every day. Whether they play a practice match against their teammates or against the junior team is no big difference. No biggie. They are not pros. No violations, no faults, lighten up dude.

Tennis Parent said...

To The Dude, Lighten Up, and OKay: Just saying "lighten up" repeatedly on every one of your posts is not a substitute for making a valid point. It's becoming pretty clear that the three of you are the same person.

5.0 Player actually took the time to make some excellent and valid points and it appears that the only response you can come up with is to say "lighten up" which you seem to think makes you more credible because you've accused someone else of not being as relaxed as you are. Even assuming you are indeed more relaxed than 5.0, you are still clearly wrong about this issue or you haven't fully supported why you think you are right. Acting more relaxed won't make you any less wrong on this nor will it help you in being more persuasive.

The only other "arguments" you've been able to come up with are red herring labels such as "non contact sport" which 5.0 blew out of the water and now characterizing the match as practice when it was a competition.

Now I'm looking forward to your next response which might be from one of you using a new name to tell us to "lighten up" because you cannot respond substantively to 5.0's seven or so excellent points about why this USC match was a mistake to schedule smack in the middle of conference play. If that doesn't work you will come up with one of your false analogies or will falsely attribute something to 5.0 that he never said nor implied.

I also have to laugh at Lighten-Up's shameless hypocrisy in attacking 5.0's courage for merely remaining anonymous while he himself has remained anonymous. Didn't he see any irony in that attack?!

lighten up (last post from on this one!!) said...

I can assure you it’s different people.

Anyway, I don't see the hypocrisy at all re: anonymity. I think the great thing about this site is that it is extremely rare where someone takes shots at college coaches whether they be warranted or unwarranted. In fact, that is one of the very refreshing things about the site. That was my issue – publicly taking a shot at the coaches anonymously, which was not what I was doing. I think one of the very ugly things about the college football and basketball blogs, message boards is that they are filled with anonymous attacks, rumors, etc. That doesn’t happen on zootennis. It’s well within anyone’s rights to question coaches anonymously, this is America. And 5.0 feels strongly that he/she is correct on this – more power to him/her. Personally, it just rubs me the wrong way when I see it happen because I have several good friends in coaching who have families and are trying to make a living just like anyone else. And to go back to my past post – yes they are not “gods” and not beyond reproach, but personally I think they ARE beyond reproach from anonymous message board posters. That's just my personal opinion. If 5.0 put his/her name to it, I’d have more respect for him/her. I take some blame on these postings, though, as I’m the one who got the ball rolling on the discussion/disagreement.

But C'est la vie. I think we are well past the point where are going to agree to disagree on all of this.

Peter Smith said...

Ok-tell you what I just wandered onto this lively discussion by accident, so let me set the record straight. I was very aware that it was in the middle of our season and we took steps to lighten the load in other areas. In the end-competition is good for everyone, protecting kids is the worst way to make them successful I sat my two best players because they didn't feel they were up to it and I told everyone on the team they could have Monday and or Wednesday off before and after the match. It was a much easier week than usual because of the match. In the end I think it really helped a couple of our guys because they were able to see the differences between junior and college tennis play. We had 11 of the 12 singles players out there American, we had friends playing friends and it was a good atmosphere. There was absolutely no down side. If I look at only making my team great then we are going to lose in the long run. It was good for my players to give back a little and put it on the line. My players liked it and hopefully we can do it again in the future. It exposed about 50-100 people to college tennis for the first time. We included young area juniors that had a blast and got inspired to play more tennis.