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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

LTA Continues to Take Heat in Great Britain; Britton and Domijan to Meet for Spot in Roehampton Finals: Wimbledon Junior Qualifying Draws Posted

Yesterday was not a good day for British tennis; at the completion of Wimbledon's first round, only 2 of the 11 British players (nine wild cards, two direct entries) had won their opening matches. No. 3 seed Andy Murray, of course, was one of them, the other was Elena Baltacha, whose win over Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine prevented the worst British showing ever. As it was, 2009 now matches the previous low, set in 2007.

I've been collecting British development stories this week, and it's about time to start posting them, as their number is only going to be increasing. It doesn't seem to matter that in Murray the British have a genuine contender for the title; the undercurrent from all these stories, or the Fleet Street ones anyway, is that quantity is what is most prized. If England could only have the number of men in the Top 100 that Spain or France has, everything would be smashing, I guess, even though until last year, neither country had produced a men's Wimbledon champion in the Open Era.

We'll leave the discussion about whether a country ever produces a champion to another time and proceed to the frustration that the British are expressing. The first story, a sort of overview for casual tennis fans, from the Wall Street Journal, is entitled "Can Anyone Save British Tennis?"

The Times Neil Harman has been a particularly dogged critic of the current leadership at the LTA, and he doesn't pull any punches in his story, nor does the headline writer--LTA Must Take Blame for Britain's Lost Causes. And the readers comments on Harman's story are not to be missed either. Steve Bierley of the Guardian is not inclined to blame the LTA, but rather glumly cites the lack of athletic talent in the country in his review of Tuesday's results.

Tennis.com's Steve Tignor has been providing a very interesting review of what the tabloids are focusing their energy on this week, and in a post today, that's the sorry state of British tennis. His recounting of the headlines, which are never heavy on subtlety, is quite comical, especially to those of us who have no exposure to that sort of thing. And speaking of headlines, Peter Bodo of tennis.com's TennisWorld, looks at the British performance at Wimbledon under the title Cruel Brittania.

And finally, there is this Independent story, focusing on the demands of English schools as a reason that British players are behind their contemporaries as youngsters. It's rather unusual in these tennis discussions for the U.S. to be held up as an example to emulate, but this one does just that.

Today at Roehampton, Americans Devin Britton and Alex Domijan advanced to a semifinal meeting, assuring that the U.S. will have an unseeded boy in the final. Britton, who has not lost more than five games in any of his four wins, beat Alessandro Bega of Italy 6-2, 6-3, while Domijan beat New Zealand's Sebastian Lavie 6-1, 3-6, 6-1. Britton and Jordan Cox also reached the doubles semifinals, but that didn't earn Cox a special exempt into the Wimbledon Junior main draw; he'll be playing singles qualifying prior to his doubles semifinals. Alexandra Cercone is in the same boat; she and Beatrice Capra are in the doubles semifinal at Roehampton, but Cercone will be playing her Wimbledon singles qualifying match first. Bob van Overbeek is the only other U.S. boy in qualifying. The other U.S. girls who begin qualifying Thursday are Brooke Bolender, Sachia Vickery,and Annie Mulholland. Julia Boserup, who is still on the qualifying list in the latest acceptance, from Tuesday, isn't in the qualifying draw. Interesting to note that Tammy Hendler of Belgium and Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan were given wild cards into the girls main draw, but all the wild cards in the boys are from Great Britain.

For the draws and order of play for Roehampton, see the LTA's website. For the Wimbledon Junior qualifying, see wimbledon.org's home page and a big thank you to the AELTC for posting that in a timely fashion in an easy-to-find place.


Penny Keith said...

Please, please, please, don't make any comments about what we British want or think based on the drivel contained in our newspapers. They trade in negativity and gloom, two things which are in no way representative of the British people. They aren't an accurate reflection of our attitudes and it's truly insulting to be associated with them.

Jon King said...

I suppose I would come to a similiar conclusion as I did about US juniors....the best athletes don't play tennis. England is soccer crazy, I would guess their best athletes start kicking soccer balls at 2 years old.

Austin said...

So whats the countdown clock at for the Jesse Levine(Florida) bandwagon show to begin? He's up 6-2,6-1 on Cuevas right now. Will probably face Stan "im not the man anymore" Wawrinka in the 3rd round.

The team of Kevin Anderson(Illinois) & Somdev Devvarmann(UVA) choked in the big moments against #4 seeds yesterday. Still a good showing taking them to a close four sets I suppose.

Blake(Harvard) & Fish just took out the #3 seeds.

scott said...

Great win for Jesse. Looked a little sketchy there after the first 2 sets, but he found a way. His last 2 service games in the 5th were clutch. It was nice of ESPN2 to actually show him, though I did get to see the entire match on Directv.

Stephen said...

Jessie Levine wins in 5 sets! I'm on the bandwagon. :)

high bounce said...

The LTA is getting heat for their lack of players but their staff is working 24/7 in an effort to turn things around. The USTA has Patrick McEnroe who is barely working part-time with no development background trying to improve American tennis. It will be a tough five or six years watching Patrick run this program into the ground.

use logic said...

Jon King, What you fail to realize is that many of the top athletes in tennis WOULD be equally successful at basketball or football if they devoted the same amount of time to it. All cultures gravitate toward whatever sport is played most in their community when they are growing up therefore that is what they are most successful at. Its common sense really.

get real said...

use logic

No way is that true. Most of the tennis players are not big enough to play football. You have to be an animal and not worry about your pretty by looks. Maybe a small few could play basketball. There is a reason why the guys pick the sports they participate in.