Lauren Embree and Nicole Gibbs will play for a French Open main draw wild card berth at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, after both earned three set victories today at the Boca West Country Club. Embree, the No. 8 seed, downed No. 9 Stacy Lee 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, while Gibbs, the No. 6 seed, crafted one of the comebacks she has a knack for, defeating No. 5 seed Sloane Stephens 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4. In this tournament, the 16-year-old from Manhattan Beach, Calif., has won three three-setters and avenged her recent losses to Stephens in Carson and McHale at the Easter Bowl. Embree has also gone into the third set in her three wins, although she benefited from third-set retirements by Madison Keys and CoCo Vandeweghe.
Gibbs's success in this tournament has had unfortunate consequences for the Junior Fed Cup team however, as the defending champions have most likely been eliminated from this year's competition in the qualifying round, which began today at the USTA Training Center.
Down to two players--Ester Goldfeld and Lauren Herring--the U.S. team couldn't afford any bad luck, but that's what they got. Herring would not be cleared to play by the USTA medical staff or ITF due to some abnormal results from a recent blood test, and a substitution for her was not allowed. The U.S. had drawn Canada in the first round, the team expected to challenge them in the four-team round robin, and had that match been on Sunday, as it was last year, Gibbs (though no doubt exhausted) would have been able to play it. As it was, Herring was forced to default in the No. 1 singles match, Goldfeld won at No. 2, but Gibbs was still playing Stephens when the doubles match was called, and Canada won that by default, and took the match by a 2-1 score. When the results of a new blood test for Herring came back normal later in the day, it was too late, although she will be able to play over the weekend, against Mexico and the Bahamas.
It was a gamble for USTA Player Development to tap Gibbs for both events, and the roulette wheel stopped on the wrong color for the Junior Fed Cup team.
The other three U.S. teams--the Junior Davis Cup, and the boys and girls 14s World Junior competition--all scored 3-0 wins. For Andrew Labovitz's account for the USTA, click here.
The Tennis Recruiting Network's Ali Jones spoke with Jarmere Jenkins about his decision to sign with Virginia in a story published today.
And the women's head coach at Penn State is the subject of this lengthy investigation by the student newspaper The Daily Collegian. I have no knowledge of the program, the coach, or the players, but it seems that this story raises some important issues about what it takes to be a successful college tennis coach.
Friday, May 1, 2009