May Aces; Stephens Reaches French Junior Semis; Nadal Launches Tennis Academy in India, McEnroe in NY?
My feature this week for The Tennis Recruiting Network is the May Aces--12 players who made news last month with outstanding performances. One of them is Italian Open champion Sloane Stephens, who defeated No. 11 seed Silvia Njiric of Croatia 6-2, 6-2 in today's quarterfinals at the French Open Juniors. With the loss of the three remaining U.S. doubles teams, Stephens, a 15th seeded qualifier, is the last American junior competing in Paris. She will be first on Court 2 on Friday, facing France's Kristina Mladenovic, the ninth seed, in the semifinals. Knowing both girls' games, I think Stephens has a great chance to reach the final, but please don't ridicule me if she ends up losing. I think some of those commenting here have been less than welcoming to those who enjoy assessing draws and predicting matches. I certainly appreciate anyone who goes on record, although I've pretty much retired from doing that myself after I picked Grigor Dimitrov to win the Wimbledon Juniors, and he did. I have no clue who will win the French on the boys side, or even who to consider a favorite now. One of the semifinalists, unseeded Daniel Berta of Sweden, lost his first match at both the Italian Open and in Belgium last week, but maybe in Paris he's taking pointers and inspiration from Robin Soderling. For complete results and draws, see rolandgarros.com.
The New York Times has expanded its US Open blog, and there have been regular updates from Paris. John Martin has done a couple of pieces on Tennys Sandgren (the most recent one is here) and Geoff Macdonald, head coach of the Vanderbilt women, has also been a regular contributor. His predictions of the men's semifinals are here.
The news that the Rafael Nadal Foundation will be starting a tennis academy in India has been widely reported today, but another possible superstar attaching his name to a USTA Training Center in New York hasn't seemed to generate much of a reaction. The New York Times ran this piece, entitled "McEnroe Wants Academy to Revive Tennis in New York," refers to John, not Patrick. John expresses his dismay with USTA committees and politics, but I think it's Patrick who may be voicing the reservations of many when he says:
“There’s no doubt that John will help discover new talent and allow kids to reach their potential, but is he going to be a guy who shows up at 8 a.m. and works with the kids until 8 p.m.? That remains to be seen. Running a great academy is a day-to-day operation, and you have to surround yourself with a great team of coaches who work with kids every single day.”
Perhaps consulting, like Tracy Austin is doing at the West Coast Training Center in Carson, would be a more realistic goal for John.