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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

King Shocks Top Seed Domijan in 18s, Webb Takes Down No. 2 Seed Vinsant in 16s at Kalamazoo

©Colette Lewis 2009--
Kalamazoo, MI--

Once the early tournament rain was safely in the rear view mirror, the USTA boys 18 & 16 National Championships were moving along in an orderly fashion until today, when the round of 32 produced shock after shock.

The first indication that Wednesday would be a day of surprises came before the morning low clouds and fog had burned away, when No. 29 seed Dane Webb blitzed through No. 2 seed Shane Vinsant 6-2, 6-2. Former training partners at the T Bar M Academy in Dallas, Texas, (Vinsant now trains with the USTA at Boca Raton), the pair have had so many battles and know each other's games so well that calling the result an upset would deny their long history.

"We've played like over 15 or 20 times," said Webb, who got out to an early lead and maintained his focus throughout the match. "We basically know each other's games perfectly, so it's usually whoever executes better that day. We usually switch off and it's usually pretty close, but I played well today."

As a 29 seed, Webb hadn't experienced the show courts at Stowe Stadium until today, but he was happy to play well on such an important stage.

"I got off to a better start and had some momentum from there. He had some trouble getting going. It was fun, I had a lot of fun."

Aside from Webb's big win, there were few other surprises in the 16s, with top seed Jack Sock and No. 3 seed Bjorn Fratangelo easing past their opponents in straight sets, as did No. 4 seed Jackson Withrow. No. 12 Spencer Simon survived a two-hour and forty-five minute ordeal with unseeded Michael Redlicki before emerging with a 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-1 victory. Simon's opposition in the fifth round, No. 8 seed Gonzales Austin, also had his hands full with unseeded Anthony Delcore, who trains with Withrow in the unlikely tennis hotbed of Omaha, Nebraska. Austin prevailed 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4 in the day's last singles contest.

There are a total of five unseeded players in the round of 16 in the younger division, all in the top half and three in Sock's quarter: Michael Rinaldi, Alexander Petrone, Nick Chappell; with Robert Stineman and Daniel Ho in the quarter with Fratangelo and Marcos Giron. Giron, the No. 7 seed, has lost only 12 games in three matches.

In the 18s, the result that had Stowe Stadium buzzing all afternoon and evening was No. 19 Kevin King's 6-7(0), 6-4, 7-6(2) win over top seed Alex Domijan.

The 18-year-old King, who already has a full year of college tennis under his belt at Georgia Tech, is a difficult matchup for many players. A left-hander who has no fear of the net and volleys well, King demonstrated the improvement in his ground strokes during the past year, staying with the 6-foot-6-1/2-inch Domijan in many baseline rallies before taking an opening and closing in on the net.

"I knew if I played too defensively, he'd run me around," said King, who last year lost a close match to top seed Ryan Harrison on the same Stowe court--No. 2. "I played pretty offensive, and I wanted to get him out of his comfort zone."

Domijan looked a step slow throughout the last half of the match, but his serve and his forehand kept King from breaking him in the third set, until 5-5. Domijan saved two break points in the 11th game, but lost the third when a forehand found the net, giving King the chance to serve out the match.

King earned two match points in that game, but Domijan hit a deep winner on the first and King made a nervous forehand error on the second. When Domijan got his first game point, he smoked a return winner off an excellent King first serve, leaving a tiebreaker to decide it.

"He played a good game," said King, who didn't show any signs of frustration or panic when he did not convert those two chances to end the match. "I was just trying to hang in there and make him beat me."

That sounds more defensive that King actually played, as he hit two winners to open the tiebreaker, and took a 4-2 lead on an exquisite touch volley winner. A King ace made it 5-2, and he earned four more match points on a forehand pass after he had forced Domijan into the net.

This time, King made good on his chance to complete the upset, scrambling after each passing attempt Domijan made, once even falling down and getting up again, before sending the ball back over the net, and finally, beyond Domijan's reach.

"He came to the net, and I got a little bit lucky," King said. "He tried to wrong-foot me and I was ready for it."

King credited both his experience last year against Harrison and his year in college for his readiness to win such a close match.

"Having a high level of practice every day, good competition in the ACC and two great coaches (helps)," King said. "I've just been spending a lot of time on my game."

"It was good experience last year, the same scenario, and I knew he (Domijan) wasn't going to roll over, and I'd have to play tough. I didn't want to lose another close one."

While Domijan and King were battling through their third set, No. 5 seed Evan King and No. 25 seed Justin Shane were doing the same over on court 4. After dropping the first set 7-5, Shane began to control the rallies with his forehand, winning the second set 6-3, and taking a 2-0 lead in the third set, but he gave the break back serving at 3-2.

"When I got up a break I started trying to be special," said the 17-year-old from Virginia. "After he broke back and we were on serve, I went back to the way I was playing. I just hugged the baseline and I'd take it early and hit it to the other corner, make him run a lot. If he can do that and beat me, then he's too good."

At 5-5, King was broken, and Shane had the changeover to think about serving out the match.

"I was a little nervous, excited," said Shane, who ranked his first encounter with King as his best win. "I almost fell down, my legs gave out."

With Domijan's defeat, No. 2 Chase Buchanan now assumes the position as favorite, after his 6-2 6-2 win over No. 29 seed Christian Schultz. No. 3 seed Denis Kudla was down an early break to No. 17 JT Sundling, but took control for a 6-4, 6-1 win and No. 4 seed Tennys Sandgren also had a routine victory, taking out No. 32 seed Sean Berman 6-3, 6-2.

Unseed Mousheg Hovhannisyan continues to roll, dominating No. 10 seed Mitchell Frank 6-1, 6-3 and Frank Carleton, also unseeded, breezed past Devin McCarthy 6-1, 6-2. The third unseeded player in the 18s fifth round is Clarke Spinosa, who defeated Sidarth Balaji 6-4. 6-4.

The 18s doubles quarterfinals were played on Wednesday evening, and the results were in keeping with the theme of the day's singles.

No. 2 seeds Matt Kandath and Ryan Lipman fell to No. 8 seed Sekou Bangoura Jr. and Nathan Pasha 7-5, 7-6(6). Kandath and Lipman failed in their attempt to serve out the second set, but still had a chance to even the match in the tiebreaker. One of the tournament's most memorable shots was the last one; with Lipman serving at 6-7, Kandath hit what appeared to be a certain volley winner, but Bangoura had anticipated it. He tracked it down, and in a split second his laser of a backhand down the line ended the match.

Bangoura and Pasha will meet the unseeded team of Hovhannisyan and Ryan Cheung in Friday's semifinals. Hovhannisyan and Cheung, who saved match points in their Tuesday night win, again came from behind Wednesday, defeating the No. 12 seeded team of Andrew Butz and Zachary Katz 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-5. Butz was serving for the match at 5-4, but was broken at 30-40, and the Californians broke Katz to secure the semifinal spot.

The other semi will feature top seed Daniel Nguyen and JT Sundling against No. 7 seeds Mitchell Frank and Junior Ore. Nguyen and Sundling beat King and Kudla 7-5, 6-4, while Frank and Ore got past No. 16 seed Christopher Mengel and Schultz by the same score.

The round of 16 in both divisions is scheduled for Thursday, as is the 16s doubles quarterfinals.

For complete results, see ustaboys.com.


tennisfan said...

I know it is official that Vinsant trains at USTA, but for the past 6 months he has been at Brookhaven Country Club along with Emmett Egger and Andrew Koreinik

Observer said...

How have the USTA kids done at this year's Zoo?

Curious said...

Colette do you have the list of kids training at the USTA high performance center in Boca?

Colette Lewis said...

The list of Boca residents, originally scheduled for release during the Clay Courts, is now supposed to be distributed after the Nationals.

Tennissc said...

As a tennis fan its really sad to see the kids that punted the back draw, lots of big time players, NS or injury. If you can't play the back draw in this the top USTA tournament how will they do in college tennis.College tennis is where all of them belong, but leave the attitude at home, suck it up and show us really how good you are. Lots to learn and this sport teaches some valuable lessons.

nadalfan said...

i agree. The players that pull out of the backdraw show little heart.

Play Tennis said...

Can we get a list of all the players who pulled out of the back draw of the 18s or played 4 games and stopped?

Players like Alex Domijian, JT Sundling and Evan King. Its disgusting and very cowardly. If you are going to play a tournament, play until the very end. These players are not good enough to quit playing the backdraw.

Also, if you cannot play your singles match, you should NOT be allowed to play your doubles match.

I can't beleive their coaches and parents are putting up with that.

Brent said...

To the other commenters on people dropping like flies in the backdraw - amen. No more than 10% of those are legitimate injuries.

gomidwest said...

i agree with everyone that pulling out of the backdraw in the biggest junior tournament of the year is just wrong. tons of kids dream of even getting to kalamazoo and most of them never do. i am not sure about the doubles thing though because you do have a responsibility to someone else and you shouldnt just abandon them as it is not the partners fault about the backdraw. i saw chris mengel couldnt play the singles draw because of an injury but he still played doubles. that might be an exception but the amount of withdrawals we see from singles should not be allowed. there should be some sort of penalty for skipping out on the backdraw that would scare most players away from doing it.

characterfan said...

The USTA needs to make it clear, at least to their "special" players, that pulling out of the backdraw is frowned upon and won't be ignored and perhaps will result in not being considered for a WC or some other perk in the future. But that is never done; many players who have pulled out or tanked in the past still picked up wild cards, even into the US Open. Clearly the USTA coaches and some of the college coaches have not taken a stance against this arrogant behavior. The USTA should show some guts and guarantee the winner of the backdraw a WC into the US Open qualies at least--then you'll see alot more of the players gut it out. But even without that, shame on the parents and coaches for allowing the "what's in it for me" attitude to prevail.

Austin said...

Absolutely loving all the rants from you all about players not playing the backdraw.

This has always been my BIGGEST pet peeve.

Especially in a year where its hard to find any guys who look like they will be highly ranked pros.

Georgia Dawg said...

TennisSc and others that think like him. Some times its better to think before you speak. In actuality, many of the boys in the 18's are already in college or about to embark on their college careers. It makes little sense for them to stick around and play the backdraw, when in fact, many colleges kick off this week. Here at Georgia, classes actually begin on Monday. Most of the freshman are already moved in. Remember that some people actually enter tournaments, with their goal being to win it, not just see how many matches or points they can pick up.
Once they lose, especially a close tight match, why should they stick around. Just because the USTA says so, not hardly.

destowe said...

I have to agree with Tennissc and Play Tennis that these kids shouldn't be allowed to fake injuries. That shows a lack of character. I noticed that Domijan did the same stunt last year. Hmmmm.

justthefacts said...

Correct me if I am wrong but Domijan has never played the back draw throughout his junior tennis. Anyway, the kid has got to lean to move on the court if he has shot to make it in the pros as movement is key on that level. Curious how many injuries were legit? Suggest that the USTA give a WC into the mens qualies for the backdraw winner which would definantly inspire players to play it because it is a real grind but with such a prize would expect most to play it.

justthefacts said...

Correct me if I am wrong but Domijan has never played the back draw throughout his junior tennis. Anyway, the kid has got to lean to move on the court if he has shot to make it in the pros as movement is key on that level. Curious how many injuries were legit? Suggest that the USTA give a WC into the mens qualies for the backdraw winner which would definantly inspire players to play it because it is a real grind but with such a prize would expect most to play it.

collegefan said...

Credit to Alex Clayton for playing the ITA summer championships and congrats for winning. He gets a direct entry into the All-American tourney this fall. Hopefully, he'll have a big junior year

Integrity said...

Maybe the U.S.T.A. is already aware of the problem..Last year 3rd place winner Ryan Harrison and 5th place winner Chase Buchanan were both awarded wild cards into the Qualies of the Open. Perhaps its because they bothered to play the back draw matches. Harrison played it while serving underhanded with a bad back. Its called character.

Brent said...

justthefacts, I remember watching Domijan play Nevolo on the back courts at the Zoo (think it might have been two years ago), so he has definitely played some, but agree with the disappointment. Great idea to add some carrot out there for those dropping out - how often are all the best juniors in the country in the same place? So many good testing, developmental matches that people are passing on here.

Paul said...

I agree with Georgia Dawg. For many of these players, junior tennis is over and the focus is on college tennis. You don't know the financial circumstances of the players and their families.
It can cost an extra $250-300 per day for a player & parent to stay and play in the meaningless back draw for what, their ranking points? Who cares? Some may have their return flights scheduled and to change that sometimes cost $150+ per ticket. So from the players' perspective, I can see them going home to enjoy the rest of the summer before embarking onto college. They are not there to please you or the USTA, they are there for themselves.

Stephen said...

Paul -- you contradict yourself with the argument that players already have their flights scheduled. Why would they schedule their flights to leave before the tournament is over if they are playing to win? If anything, they would have to pay more money to leave early. And do you really think money is a major issue for most of these players?

Paul said...

Stephen, I didn't say all these players are playing to win. Some of these players have schedule a certain number of days. And yes, money is a factor for many, in addition to the other factors I mentioned. If you are out of the main draw in the 1st or 2nd round upset, what would motivate you to try to win 10-11 matches, 2-a-days in that heat & humidity and waiting during rainouts? Junior tennis is NOT something to cling on to. The glory is in the main draw, the grind is in the backdraw, especially if you have already tasted glory and USTA balls in your past. Sorry to disappoint you but that's just the way it is from the players' perspective.

zoofan said...

To qualify to play for the Zoo is a privileged . So I agree to the fact that you play to win and be the last man standing even if it's the back draw . So shame on those players who withdrew for some lame excuse , it's speaks volume about their character .

Stephen said...

Paul, why would I be disappointed? The players can do whatever they want. I am just questioning some of your lame excuses.

formerchamp said...

As a player the backdraw sucks. That is jsut the bottom line, there is no backdraw in college tennis, there is no backdraw in professional tennis. There is no backdraw in itf tournaments. Especially at kalamazoo which is the last tournament of the summer for most juniors who play it, very few of the top players want to stick around to play a few more matches that are essentially worth nothing more to them than practice. And money is a major issue, even for those who have plenty of it. If you can save 500 dollars I don't care who you are, your probably going to do it.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If someone doesn't want to play backdraw why in the world would you want to force players to do so? I personally never defaulted from a backdraw, but I can tell you for sure that sometimes I did not want to be there and that could be seen in my effort. I have been on both sides of the fence where I lost 2nd round and grinded 10 matches in a row, and I have lost early and than lost immediately after, not giving my full effort. It may look bad to some, but its a part of junior tennis. And no offense but its usually the lower level players playing the backdraw and grinding it out because they need to. The alex domijans, evan kings, chase buchanons, kevin kings, all the top players really have nothing to play for after they have lost. They either have another tournament to get ready for (us open) or college tennis to prepare for.

I dont think it is really worth this many people complaining over it on this blog.

sam said...

Only in the States do we have backdraws, its all part of the "lets feel good about ourselves" culture. You lost, go home and regroup, figure out what you gotta do and keep moving on. Backdraws are ok in the 12s and 14s but as you get older start facing reality. Domijan wants to win the main event, not the backdraw. Next everybody will be wanting backdraw to the backdraw, shoot, why dont we just give everybody a trophy

Alcorn#1 said...

I played back draw. Wasnt fun. It was terrible and backdraw made me look even worse. I think losing once is enough punishment for me. I lose once and was like ouch then I lost again and I am just like deja vu? didnt this already happen to me. I played the zoo twice and lost 4 times. I mean everyone other than 3 guys in the draw lose twice. Its a little harsh. Can you lose and be a champion? no. So lets make it one loss and your pain is over.

Go Alcorn State!!

sam said...

Thank you formerchamp for posting some commonsense

fed up said...

to formerchamp and sam: actually, there are consolation draws in college tennis (check out the ITA website and the big individual tourneys in college) And since the backdraw at the Zoo is a full feed in through the quarters it's not meant to be a "feel good" draw for all the lousy players--if all the players who lost in the main draw through the quarters actually played, its like an extension of the main draw itself and an accurate gauge of who is the fifth place finisher. It also "corrects" for seeding errors. Spare me the "top players are preparing for college tennis or the US Open". The backdraw field is already full of college players and if everyone played as they should it would be full of US Open players too. The arrogance of many the top US Junior players is laughable--most are mistaken if they think they are so above the rest of the crowd that playing the backdraw through is a complete waste of time. Maybe instead of talking about how Americans are soft and have an "everyone's a winner" mentality, we should talk about young American tennis players being spoiled and feeling entitled. The Zoo is already changing from the best National Championship that attracts all the top players to one that is now being played only to get that US Open main draw WC. Those juniors who already have WC's aren't bothering to play it, many of those who play only for the WC abandon the tournament as soon as they lose. I'd love to hear the opinion of college coaches and other former players over the age of 30---are there reasons other than the WC to play the Zoo, and is there any reason to play the back draw?


To play tennis: IF you are going to be calling kids like Evan King and JT sundling cowards your going to have to state your real name. These are two of the best sports and most liked individuals in junior tennis. Both of them always play through tournaments and have received multiple sportsmanship awards. Im not sure why Evan king pulled out but him withdrawing from one tournament backdraw does not allow you to call him a coward. JT Sundling pulled out of the backdraw to maybe focus on his best chance at getting into the us open! Also if you frequently read zootennis you would know that he had wrist surgery earlier in the year, maybe that is playing a roll in the decision making. Even if both of these players just didnt want to play the backdraw im not going to hold it against them because they have proved them selves better than that over there entire junior career. The real coward is the loser cutting down these junior players on this blog.

Paul said...

Stephen, the only thing lame is your misunderstanding of the issues players face.

formerchamp said...

fed up,

It really has nothing to do with arrogance. Bottom line nobody WANTS to play the backdraw, people feel like they should because its offered to them. Its dumb. At the highest level in any sport there is no consolation. Look at every major pro sport. The only reason the backdraw is there is so people who arent going to progress very far in the main draw have an opportunity to get more matches in. Sorry to burst your bubble on this one, but thats the way it is.

Pat Harrison said...

Back Draw Comment,
The major U.S.T.A. tournaments have had feed-in-consolation draws for decades. State tournaments have them to establish rankings and who qualifies for Sectionals. Sectionals has them for the same reasons. To see who qualifies for Nationals. Nationals has them to get more match play in between people in different parts of the country so you are not playing the same people all the time.
As kids are coming up in junior tennis they all have that dream of playing professional or college tennis. The problem with having Consies in the 18's is that reality and monetary situations have taken there toll and set in. Kids now know they are going to play college tennis and where a lot of times by now. On the other hand, many kids have not selected colleges and are still being recruited for the upcoming year or the year after.
I know quite a few college coaches who stay to see the backdraws to see what kind of attitude a player has after suffering a bad or tough loss in the main draw. It speaks volumes about the kind of teammate and player they will be and their character.
Personally, I have never let 1 of my children default out of a back draw and never did myself. I'm proud of the fact that they have both won the backdraw at the Orange Bowl in the 14 and unders. I also have never let them default out of a tournament in doubles that they were still in even if they were done with the singles.
The backdraws and the doubles are a chance to work on the transition game, serving and volleying, timing of the slit step coming in off approach shots and serves, service retuns, shot selection and court positioning not to mention the mental parts of the game and dealing with choking late in sets that are tight.
Backdraws aren't fun and I don't like watching my kids play it and they don't like playing it when they feel they could have won the tournament but it can be valuable if the right attitude is taken.
Look at it as a necessary evil. Kind of like trying to get the most out of your practices on days when you aren't mentally there. I can certainly see both sides of the debate but in the long run the lessons you can teach your kids about finishing what you start(in my opinion) even when you don't want to outweigh anything that can be learned from quitting. Just my 2cents which isn't worth much.

steven s said...

Pat..I have been reading your posts for years, and have been very vocal as far as you always signing your name to your posts, as if you are some tennis guru because of the success of your sons..and also chafing at your past suggestions that everyone reveal their identity. Most of the time, and this is just my opinion, you have come across as arrogant to me. Well, it looks like there is a first time for everything:

I agree with your thoughts on this 110%, and I admire the way you have instilled in your children the attitude to finish what they have started. As the years have gone by, and with the way they have progressed, it would have been easy for them to take this elitist cop out attitude, and not play the backdraws, but thanks to good parenting, that has not been the case. They seem to be both warriors, and I commend you (and your significant other) for that. All junior parents should take a lesson from this: Even superstars can (and should) not necessarily do what is most convenient or "easy", but instead, do what is RIGHT.

Brent said...

Pat, thanks so much for posting and for your perspective. A couple questions - how is Christian healing up? Hopefully, he can get back out on the court soon. How did you guys think through the decision to have Ryan play Challengers instead of the Zoo? Was disappointed to see him and Rhyne Williams not have the chance to play for their national championship but I'm sure there are factors in the decision that I'm not thinking of.



First--I do NOT have to state my name because this blog does not require you to and probably for the same reason YOU didn't either.

Second--just because Evan and JT are good sportsman and good people does NOT excuse them from playing the backdraw. They do NOT hold a get out of jail free card. Why hold them up on a pedastal? They are NOT good enough for that. Once they withdrew, they joined the other crowd who pull out. I understand JT has a chance to play in the US Open, but continue the tournament. You are just conforming to all the others who bailed out.

Lastly--It seems that a high majority of players who pull out of the backdraw are the seeded players. Which shows its an ego issue. Big props to Matthew Kandath and Tenny Sandgren for turning around and winning today.

Zoo Fan said...

Tennis Fan said: "I know it is official that Vinsant trains at USTA, but for the past 6 months he has been at Brookhaven Country Club along with Emmett Egger and Andrew Koreinik"

Perhaps they should consider going back to the USTA.

Pat Harrison said...

The reason for having Ryan play the Challengers instead of Kalamazoo were: Through the years I have tried to make sure that my kids prove themselves at each level befor moving on to the next level. I've wanted them to prove they were at or near the top of each age group before moving up to the next age group with the ultimate goal to be the best Pro player they are capable of being. I think he has proved himself at the junior level and felt it was time to move on to the next level. Last year when he qualified and won a main draw match at the A.T.P. level in Houston against a top 100 player I made him go back and play juniors for the rest of the year except for 2 Futures in Fla. on clay in which he lost 1st rd. I felt like from a maturity stand point and from a need for more development in his game it was the right thing to do. This year with more maturity and a better developed game Nick and I think he has started to prove himself at the professional level on a more consistent basis so did not see the need to go back to junior tennis. We feel like it is more important for him to learn to be a professional at this point and the best way for that is to be around professionals. The kids I've seen going back and forth between the pros and juniors in the recent past made me wonder if that was the right decision and if they may have been better served sticking with Pro tennis only once that commitment was made.
As for Christian, we don't have a set timetable for when he will be back. Just want to make sure he is completely healthy first. Thanx for asking.