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Monday, June 22, 2009

Robson Loses, Larcher de Brito Wins; Roehampton's Second Round; Why Not Serve and Volley?; Roddick In, Sell Out

Tennis ingenues Laura Robson and Michelle Larcher de Brito captured most of the women's headlines as Wimbledon opened today. Robson took the first set from Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, but double-faulted her way out of contention in the next two sets, while Larcher de Brito was unexpectedly quiet in her 6-2, 7-5 win over Klara Zakapalova of the Czech Republic. Tennis.com's Steve Tignor is at Wimbledon this week, and he posted this long and interesting analysis of their games and the hype that accompanies both of them, turning to Nick Bollettieri for even more insight. Here is another story, from the Telegraph that asks Bollettieri about his role in the high-decibel noises emanating from many of the women who train at his academy.

The second round was completed today at the Roehampton ITF, with four U.S. boys and one U.S. girl reaching the round of 16. Alex Domijan defeated No. 7 seed David Souto of Venezuela 7-5, 6-2, Bob van Overbeek downed unseeded Karim-Mohamed Maamoun of Egypt 6-3, 7-5, Devin Britton got revenge for his 2008 Eddie Herr defeat at the hands of Virginia recruit and No. 6 seed Julien Uriquen of Guatemala 6-3, 6-0, and No. 8 seed Denis Kudla got past Jack Carpenter of Great Britain 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-1. Unseeded Nicole Gibbs is the only U.S. girl still in singles; she defeated Akiko Omae of Japan by the popular 6-3, 7-5 score. Jordan Cox, Harry Fowler, Beatrice Capra and Brooke Bolender were eliminated from singles today. The top half of the boys draw, which contains three of the Americans, has only one seed left, No. 16 Arthur De Greef of Belgium. Top seed and French Open Boys champion Daniel Berta of Sweden was beaten today by New Zealand's Sebastian Lavie 7-5, 6-2. No. 2 seed Liang-Chi Huang of Chinese Taipei also lost today, to Great Britain's Ashley Hewitt, a wild card. For complete results, including doubles, see the LTA news page. A new acceptance list has been posted for Junior Wimbledon today on the wimbledon.org home page.

I watched some of Roger Federer's match today on Centre Court and was struck at how much baseline tennis was played between he and Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei. Although I saw some of that in the girls draw at the International Grass Courts, very few points played by boys there went more than four or five strokes, so I guess I wasn't expecting the long rallies, which I enjoy on clay and hard courts, but find frustrating on grass. I know the grass at Wimbledon has changed, and now I know even more about how it has and why, with this article by Geoff Macdonald for the New York Times Straight Sets blog.

Macdonald includes John McEnroe's thoughts on the decline of serve and volley, and Macdonald even refers to the Malcolm Gladwell New Yorker article about underdogs that I linked to last month.

And if you are wondering how it is the head coach of the Vanderbilt women's team ended up blogging for the New York Times, check out this story from the Vanderbilt athletics website on Macdonald's recruitment.

If you aren't following me on Twitter you may have missed these links on college coaching changes last week. John Roddick has been named men's head coach at Oklahoma and Kathy Sell has resigned from her position as head women's coach at Princeton.


Len Toohey said...

What John Roberts said in Geoff MacDonald's article, about the reason for the Wimbledon grass being slower isn't true at all. Anyone who has been a groundskeeper would know that the type of grass used has only the most minuscule effect on its speed. What does the damage is the way the grass is prepared. If Wimbledon wanted to speed things up they could roll it more and it wouldn't be any less resilient. They choose not to because the European lobby is so vocal and because they want to ensure the marquee players stay on court for as long as possible, even if its a triple bagel win. Then they add in balls which are less lively (Tim Henman caught them opening the balls prior to the event - that reduces a lot of their pace)and you have a grass court that plays dull and slow-medium.

All of your other links are wonderful but don't be fooled by the convenient argument Roberts and the All England Club dish up.

scott said...

Levine takes out Safin in 4. Way to go, Jesse.

Stephen said...

Wow, horrible day for US men. Albeit, they had some bad draws, but there are only a few US men left now and we're only into the 2nd round.

Jesse Levine did come through with a big win over Safin, though.