Monday, August 17, 2009

Other National Champions and an In-depth Look at the Junior Tennis Champions Center

After ten days of concentrating on Kalamazoo, it's time to check in on the other winners of National titles.

Girls 12s (Alpharetta, GA):
Kenadi Hance (2) def. Carolyn Xie (6) 2-6, 6-3, 6-0
Boys 12s (North Little Rock, AR):
Henrik Wiersholm (3) def. Spencer Furman (6) 7-5, 5-7, 7-6

Girls 14s (Peachtree City, GA):
Hayley Carter (17) def. Christina Makarova (9) 7-5, 6-1
Boys 14s: (San Antonio, TX):
Jake Albo (6) def. Gregory Garcia (4) 1-6, 6-3, 6-2

Girls 16s (San Diego, CA):
Lauren Davis (1) def. Chanelle Van Nguyen (10) 6-0, 6-4

Girls 18s: (Berkeley, CA):
Christina McHale (3) def. Lauren Embree (4) 6-0, 6-1

McHale will be playing in her second Grand Slam main draw in New York. Back in December, she won the USTA wild card for Australia. For more on the girls 18 Nationals, see Marcia Frost's coverage for ustagirls.org.

Davis was defending her title in San Diego, a rarity in the 16s division, but she had little trouble earning that precious US Open Junior wild card for the second time, losing only 24 games in seven matches. She admits that the Jr. Open wild card was the reason she played down in this story from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Tennis Recruiting Network will have coverage of all the National tournaments later this week. Click here for the schedule.

The Washington Post Magazine has published this long feature about the Junior Champions Tennis Center in College Park, Md., focusing on Denis Kudla, Mitchell Frank and Junior Ore. The magazine's editor, Tom Shroder, spent time with Kudla and Frank at this year's French Open Juniors, but he also goes into detail about their daily routine when at home.

The article refers to Daniel Coyle's The Talent Code, which I reviewed last month and Geoff Colvin's Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, which I've just begun to read, as reflecting the philosophy of the JCTC, and I think it's also important to recognize that there is a tennis "angel," Ken Brody, who has made much of this possible financially.

There are a few errors in the final update section at the end. Frank lost in the round of 32, not the round of 16 at Kalamazoo, and Ore is not in the main draw of the US Open Juniors yet. He is four spots away, but likely to get a wild card if he doesn't get in via withdrawals.

Speaking of wild cards, last year the USTA released the women's US Open main and qualifying wild card selections on Wednesday and the men's on Thursday of the week after the Junior Nationals. Although there was no formal release on the US Open Junior wild cards, it was on that Thursday that an updated acceptance list appeared with names in the WC spots. (The current acceptance list, updated last week, can be found at the ITF Junior website.)


John said...

Couple things here that speak volumes about the USTA and how they use wildcards. First is that Lauren Davis who has proven herself at the G18's level felt her only way into qualifying (qualifying) for US Open Jr's was to play G16's hardcourts. For me, I would have loved to see her play and test herself in the G18's event - would be good for her and the event. USTA should want her in the qualifying of US Open in my opinion....and should give a player of her caliber a WC...anyway.....

My real "OMG" moment was in looking at the Rogers Cup qualifying and noticed a US jr there that belongs in the qualifying of a $10k circuit event, not a $2M pro series event. Tristan Dewar? As McEnroe would say, "you can't be serious". With players like Marino, Granville, Larcher DeBrito playing and losing in the 1st round of qualifying and then to see Dewar's name just indicates there is much more than results and potential at play when the USTA hands out these coveted WC's.

I saw Dewar in Evansville, losing in the qualifying of that $10k event.......great player for her age.....but there are 50 US juniors who are better and more deserving of that Rogers Cup WC.....sure wish someone connected to USTA could explain that rationale.

John said...

I just realized that I read Lauren Davis's story wrong in that she got a Main Draw WC.......so that makes more sense to me vs. counting on the USTA to give her that entry.

I did notice that Tristan Dewar didn't even make the Alternate List for the US Open Jr. event......yet got the WC into qualifying of a $2M professional event.....yikes.

nyc said...

when i clicked on the acceptance list posted there were no wild cards listed in the spots. is there somewhere else this is shown?

Colette Lewis said...

The list is updated regularly, and when the wild cards are determined, they will show up on that list

Eric Amend said...

John and other USTA bashers,

Once again, the USTA bashing is getting old.

The Roger's Cup is a Canadian tournament, included in the U.S. Open Series, that is run by Tennis Canada, NOT the USTA. Unless there is a reciprocal agreement between the USTA and Tennis Canada which I highly doubt and that I don't know about, the USTA had absolutely nothing to do with Tristan Dewar getting a WC, and your bashing is baseless!

I'm not saying the USTA is always correct but it''s just like our government, you can always find someone who is unhappy with something yet sometimes they are uninformed in their criticism.

FYI-A few years ago, there was an American teenage girl from a wealthy family who wanted to be a professional, who hadn't even competed in the National junior tournaments, that would travel to exotic countries on the other side of the globe in order to "show up" at Tier II and Tier III level tournaments hoping that the qualifying draws weren't full of "ranked players" so that she could sign in, play, and pad her ranking. When she did get into the qualifying, she would have a difficult time winning a game, let alone a set or match.

The most obvious and blatant example that she received preferential treatment was when she received a qualifying WC into a 1.5 million dollar event in the Middle East. There was ABSOLUTELY no reason for giving her a WC based on her merit so it was rather easy to concluded that she must have "bought" the WC because she shouldn't have been given that opportunity in the first place.

Because of my previous experience as a $50,000 Challenger tournament director, where I declined an offer for $5,000 from a German player's parents for a WC, you may conclude that money may or may not change hands in exchange for WC's when they are highly suspicious and that very well could have been the case when Dewar received the WC into the Roger's Cup. OR she simply may have know someone that had a connection to the tournament and she got it that way.

There are other examples of "wasted" wildcards but it's not always the USTA's responsibility when an undeserving player garners a WC when it is obvious that they might not be ready for the opportunity.

John said...

Eric Says, "There are other examples of "wasted" wildcards but it's not always the USTA's responsibility when an undeserving player garners a WC when it is obvious that they might not be ready for the opportunity."

Thanks for the response.....so it isn't just the USTA that is the issue here.....it is broader than that. Seems to me like the USTA (or at least Eric) shrugs its shoulders vs. working with other federations/countries to resolve these type of issues. Doesn't seem to awfully hard to change that process....with the other option to just let those WC's continue to slip between the cracks......I don't think that is an acceptable approach.

If the USTA was more transparent about their processes and educated its interested constituents vs. the opposite, then there wouldn't be so much "bashing"....although if you reread my post, I don't see how that would be called bashing....perhaps Mr. Amend is a little sensitive to input and questions?

Eric Amend said...


So, I took your advice and I re-read your two posts and I once again came to the obvious conclusion that you are wholeheartedly blaming, or bashing, the USTA for Dewar's wildcard into the Roger's Cup. The primary example is when you said "but there are 50 US juniors who are better and more deserving of that Rogers Cup WC.....sure wish someone connected to the USTA could explain that rationale" as well as when you said "then to see Dewar's name just indicates there is much more than results and potential at play when the USTA hands out these coveted WC's." Come on, that's purely laying blame on the USTA right there so don't say it isn't because it sounds exactly like what some jealous tennis parent would say, whether you are one or not.

Look John, by all means, you can be critical of the USTA if you so choose. But just make sure that when you criticize them that it's for something that they were actually guilty of in the first place and I suggest that you get your facts straight !! OK?! Because the USTA didn't hand out those wildcards, Tennis Canada, who is the governing body of Canadian Tennis did.

So... Yes, I am "sensitive to input and question" when a person (you) is completely misdirecting their criticism towards the wrong entity, in this case the USTA, about a tournament in a foreign country (Canada) which the USTA has zero input when it comes to wildcards.

Also, giving out wildcards is not the exact science that you would like to make it out to be so I'm not "shrugging my shoulders" at the present wildcard procedure and I'm sure the USTA isn't either. I just understand that every wildcard that goes to a player isn't going to catapult them into the Top 100 and it may appear to be "wasted" if that player doesn't utilize it in that way.

Lastly, the kind of oversight between the Tennis Federations of the world in regards to handing out wildcards that you are suggesting just isn't going to happen. When you said "seems to me like the USTA (or at least Eric) shrugs its shoulders vs. working with other federations/countries to resolve these type of issues. Doesn't seem to awfully hard to change that process" you seem to be inferring that the Tennis Federations of the world should conduct a monthly conference call, debate, and then dictate to the owners of professional tennis tournaments who can and can't ask for and receive a wildcard into their tournament?? That sounds like a from of protectionism that's in some "free world" that I don't want to live in anytime soon!!

Again, my frustration, or "sensitivity" as you called it, is with people that overly criticize the USTA without correctly stating the basic facts of their argument, which you clearly didn't do in your original two posts.

John said...

Eric.....you need a sedative. The issue that I raised isn't nearly as complicated as you suggest. If you worked in Corporate America, you could solve a "big" problem like that before breakfast. Too bad that you seem ok with mediocrity......I am not.

John said...

And Eric

When you can tell me that you've seen the list of USA players who requested a WC into the Roger's Cup and if you can stand tall that the US, Canada, or whoever, "got it right" then that is great and I'll stop on this issue.

Until then, you are just a blatant and ignorant supporter of the tennis establishment with no desire or concern to get things even close to right.

I have no junior I'm supporting......so you have that wrong too. I'd support Tristan getting a WC into a 10 or $50k event....no more, no less. And if there is a system in place to put her into a $2M event, then I'll cry about it all day long.....while you do just shrug your shoulders and say, "it can't be helped".....nonsense.

Eric Amend said...


That's been the problem with the USTA for far too long; too many Corporate Americans like you who think they know the nuts and bolts of how to make a tennis player trying to stick their hands in Player Development, where it doesn't belong, instead of tending to daily business. Let the pros take care of the development of players, you guys go do lunch. I think Patrick McEnroe has been, and will continue to, get it right.

You still don't understand my criticism of your post so I'll try to explain it to you one more time, even as I fear that you will continue to ignore and deflect my argument onto other topics and that it will just fall on your deaf ears.

A quote from the first sentence of your first post was a "Couple things here that speak volumes about the USTA and how they use wildcards" which leads everyone who is reading your post to think that you are talking about the USTA. Then you go on to talk about how your "OMG moment" was when you saw that Dewar got a WC into the Roger's Cup and you "sure wish someone from the USTA could explain that rationale" as if it were the USTA's fault that Dewar got the WC.

NEWSFLASH: It can't "speak volumes about the USTA" when Tennis Canada is the organization that granted Dewar the WC in the first place!!! Now, if you wanted to speak about the process and criticize the process that the USTA and other Tennis Federations go through regarding wildcards then you should have stated it that way instead of incorrectly blaming the USTA for what Tennis Canada did when it granted Dewar a wildcard.

I'm not saying that the USTA hasn't made any mistakes with wildcards, everyone makes mistakes, but you cannot criticize the USTA for this particular instance.

I'm also not defending the process that allowed a player of Dewar's level, whom I don't know but you do, to receive that WC. In fact, if she's as "inexperienced" as you seem to make her out to be then I agree with you that she didn't deserve it. And by all means, please continue to "cry" about it until you're blue in the face. Just make sure you're "crying" to Tennis Canada and not the USTA because that is EXACTLY the misplaced criticism of the USTA that I was referring to in my initial post when I say that I'm tired of all the USTA bashers out there.

Being in Corporate America should have at least taught you that you had better be more specific in your arguments when your being critical of an organization instead of just generalizing.

John said...


Wow you are off on a tangent and this bashing of Corporate America has just gone on for too long (sic).

Rewinding for you, remember that after you corrected my first post by educating me to the fact that US players don’t always receive WC’s through the USTA “WC Process” (which I didn’t know), I THEN said that I didn’t care as much about “who’s problem it was”, but that we put a process in place to fix situations like that.

That was my reference to Corporate America where there are likely millions of process specialists who could fix an issue this simple before breakfast. While I’m not in Corporate America as you presume, I know enough about how things get done there that I can speak to it. “Let’s do lunch”……that was rich……..

Nowhere in my posts do I pretend to be an expert in Player Development but I do know the WC process should be an element of that and when it is so broken that if a US player such as Dewar gets a WC into any $2M event in the US or other country……then my strong belief is that process should be fixed.

And the reality is that if the USTA isn’t part of the solution there, then they are part of the problem. If you don’t understand that, then I’m not gonna have lunch with you.

not from eric said...

John, everything you write is off base because your entire point was entirely wrong from the get go. Your first sentence is about how the USTA uses wild card and your "OMG" moment (your words) was for something they have nothing, zero to do with.

John said...

not Eric

What you are missing is the continuation of the blog.....the first post of mine was misinformed in that I thought the USTA would bless a USA WC into any event. But if you read the rest of the blog beyond that, you will see I got Eric's point about US vs. Canada (in this example) and said that even with that, the overall WC process can still be improved.

Unless in your world, once someone says something wrong in a discussion, then everything that is said after that is also wrong, then you make a great point.

In this case about Dewar, are you also saying that the WC process can't be improved between countries for an event like Rogers Cup? If so, then we disagree on that point.

not eric said...

My point is that when you are so wrong on something it's hard to take much of what you write after that with much credibility. I mean, who in the world would ever think the USTA controls wild cards into an Canadian tournament? So yes in my world when someone makes a boneheaded remark, it's hard to take them very seriously in ensuing discussions. I think it works that way in the "Corporate World" you speak so fondly of as well.

John said...

Not Eric.....

For someone to think that the USTA has a say-so in a US player getting a Wildcard into a US Open Series event is a "boneheaded" remark?? I don't think it was -- in fact I would expect (and hope) the USTA would weigh in on those decisions to help to minimize inequities, payoffs, etc. For example, with the upcoming US Open WC's, I think they did a very good job with selection. Anyway, when Eric educated me, I moved on to make the broader point.

I'm sorry you aren't able to get the point of the discussion and that you have to try and degrade someone to make your point (what was your point again - are you saying the current process is fine)?

Bottom line is that in my opinion, is there is a pretty big opportunity for improvement here with the WC process as the US works with other countries to determine WC's for US players.

get real said...

I have been reading zoo tennis for about 3 yrs. There are alot of people who care about this sport and have some good ideas. The problem is no one is doing anything about it. Why not start an organization for juniors in the states. The USTA does not want to hear what they are doing wrong ect. You could involve coaches and tennis pros(yes there is a difference). Have a group of elected people to oversee what is being done and communicate. Some of it could be on a volunteer bases and monies can be from donations ect. Face it the USTA is so worried about producng someone they are blinded. There are some great athletes out there with futures in tennis but are not given the opportunities for coaching and financial support for tourneys. That is due to the closed minded usta. They pick their favorites and thats it. Who do they ansewr to. If Drewer did get a wild card from the usta shame on them. I was told the usta can request a wild card. The hating on the usta is necessary. They need to have corporate america involved with the way you run an organization and show a profit at the end of the day, not being in the red like they have been for all these years

The Dude said...

The problem is that the USTA picks their favorites from the 12s in the belief that they have to recognize and nurture talent early. However in this process, they pick from the national rankings list which typically identifies the best tournament grinders and pushers. In tennis, you don't know what you get until the 18s. You don't know about maturity size, first step quickness, power and mental toughness. Players lose quickness as they grow larger unless they are exceptional (Safin). They develop these grinders who make great juniors because junior tennis is about not missing. Developing all court play, volleying skills (a Federer like game) would actually penalize junior play because it takes longer to develop and you would not compare well to the grinders in the 12s age group. Hence you would never be identified early (e.g. D. Britton). You would then never be anointed in the USTA High Performance system and you would have no monetary benefit from USTA to pay you travel expenses to the ITF ranking tournaments. Now these grinders typically don't make great pros however great their success was in juniors (D. Young) because they have no weapons. Hence the current USTA approach is faulty and has never proven itself in practice. They should anoint kids as they come of age into the 2nd year 16s and 18s and spread the wealth rather than wasting money in the 12s trying to pick early winner. Then they wouldn't have to defend their early picks and throw good money after ill conceived picks.

Colette Lewis said...

@The Dude
Devin Britton was on the USTA 14-and-under team that went to Teen Tennis and Les Petits As in 2005. He and Ryan Harrison won the doubles title at Teen Tennis. He also was invited to the USTA Davis Cup camp in 2006, so it is unfair to imply that he was ignored by the USTA when younger.

And I'd like to go on the record as saying that Donald Young has plenty of weapons: speed, quickness, court sense and great touch.