Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wild Cards Ahn, Muhammad, Robson, Venus and Smyczek Advance to Second Round in US Open Qualifying; ESPNews Airs Draw at Noon Thursday

The first round of qualifying for the US Open is complete, and wild cards enjoyed more success on Wednesday than they did on Tuesday.

Fifteen-year-old Laura Robson of Great Britain, who was something of a surprise wild card, started off the morning with a 7-5, 6-1 win over No. 21 seed Stephanie Foretz of France. Although Ken Thomas of radiotennis.com called the Court 11 match, I wasn't able to listen, but later in the day, he mentioned that Foretz "went away" in the second set. I was able to log in for the next match, in which wild card Alex Domijan lost a 7-6(4), 7-5 decision to Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico, and I stayed close to the computer for most of the remaining matches.

Wild card Asia Muhammad posted an impressive 6-2, 3-6, 6-0 victory over Jorgelina Cravero of Argentina, ranked 181, and another wild card, Kristie Ahn, kept her US Open qualifying record perfect with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Nathlie Vierin of Italy, ranked 221. Ahn, who qualified as a wild card last year, only to draw Dinara Safina in the opening round, stopped by to talk with Ken Thomas while he was calling the Julie Ditty loss to Anna Lapushchenkova. She revealed that she's still planning on college, most likely Stanford, but will be moving temporarily to the USTA Training Center in Carson to work with National Coach Tom Gullikson and others. Ahn said it was currently a three month trial. I'm not sure, but I think I heard her say she isn't going to play the US Open juniors this year. She is still showing in the acceptances as of Monday, however.

The only other U.S. woman reaching Thursday's second round today was No. 27 seed Angela Haynes, who beat Lindsay Lee-Waters 6-3, 6-2. In all, there are seven U.S. women still alive, with three of them--Lauren Embree, Ahn and Muhammad--wild card entries.

In addition to Mike McClune, who reached the second round late Tuesday evening, two other wild cards earned another match today: Tim Smyczek and Michael Venus. Smyczek beat former ATP Top Ten player and Australian Open finalist Arnaud Clement of France. Smyczek, who is at a career high of 282, beat 20th seeded Clement 7-6(6), 6-4. Venus, the former LSU standout, had a similar scoreline, in dismissing Marcel Felder of Uruguay 7-6(5), 6-4.

Two-time Kalamazoo champion Donald Young also won a tight two-setter, taking out Marco Crugnola of Italy 7-6(2), 6-4 and former Duke star Michael Yani had a convincing 6-1, 6-3 victory over No. 29 seed Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France. Kentucky wildcat alum Jesse Witten also had an easy win over Go Soeda of Japan 6-2, 6-1; Steve Pratt wrote this story about Witten's victory. There are eight U.S. men remaining, three of them wild cards.

In addition to Marcia Frost, who is covering the qualifying for College Tennis Examiner, other mainstream media has checked in. Peter Bodo of Tennis Magazine and tennis.com, wrote about 2007 US Open Junior finalist Jerzy Janowicz in his TennisWorld post today, and Tennis Week's Scoop Malinowski is also out checking out practice and qualies. He is particularly enamored of 2008 US Open Junior champion Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who faces No. 1 seed Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil in the second round of qualifying Thursday.

For complete Thursday schedule, see usopen.org.

And don't forget to watch ESPNews at noon EDT Thursday for the US Open draw. I'm particularly eager to see who the NCAA champions and 18s champions will play next week.


The Dude said...

Observations from the courts on Day2:

Smyczek, nice win today. Strong ground game, moves well. Got visibly nervous when he serve for the first set and the match when he was up a break in both sets. He would have errant tosses, double faults or stray hits. Good to see him pull through.

Domijan- strong ground game, needs to work on his 2nd serve which is short and weak. When you are that big and have developed your game as a baseliner, it will be hard to compete at the pro level against all those jack rabbits. He should have been developed as an attacker a la Max Mirnyi.

I watched Jordan Cox go down 1-4 before I left, all court game but his opponent ran him side to side quite handily.

Kristie Ahn, strong mentally, very strong forehand, goes for her shots, aggressive baseliner, different from most U.S. junior girls.

Nicole Gibbs, a lot a heart and wants to win, but IMO, short on talent. When the ball comes at her too hard or she doesn't know what to do, she defaults to the moonball as her response.

Ryan Harrison, all court player started out tight and nervous, shanking balls, low service toss and dropped the 1st set 4-6. Relaxed a bit and hit out in the 2nd to take the set 6-0. In the 3rd set Ryan was down 2-5 when his opponent call the trainer to massage his lower back. Ryan fought off 4 match points against serve and converted his 4th break point. Coming back to 5-5, 40-15 serving, Ryan played some loose points and was broken and lost 5-7. IMO, he has to develop a stronger forehand. He hits it deep with an upright open stance but he needs more force on it. His 2nd serve is excellent, consistently deep with action. His service motion has great rhythym and technique. Harrison has a lot of potential and is developing nicely. I think he should have played the Zoo for the main draw wildcard.

Donald Young, this is probably the 5th or 6th time I've seen him play in the past 4 years. He still chokes up on his racquet. He still has a low service toss. I don't really see any development in the last 4 years. He has the same game, moves well with good hands but has no power behind his shots.

This is my 28th year at the US Open and just my observations.

Colette Lewis said...

@The Dude;
Thanks for the terrific report from USO qualifying. Really appreciate your insights!

Strategy said...

To the Dude,

Harrison's opponet was a guy who played up on top of the baseline and loved the ball hit hard at his waist. Did you consider that maybe Harrison played the forehand heavy on purpose as a strategy?

getreal said...

to the dude

Was there poarft of the day and agree with your observations. Harrison continues to show he can compete solidly at the next level. Cox clearly out if his depth but never understood why he got the WC anyway. Anyone see Sangrens match?

The Dude said...

To Strategy, I didn't see "heavy" on Harrison's forehand. He hits it deep but he doesn't rack it like his opponent does. For what I can see, that is the only area in his ground game he needs to improve. I mean, it's not bad but it's not a weapon. I don't see Ryan cleaning forehand winners. His opponent had a forehand weapon which Ryan allowed him to hit too often from the middle hash mark. Ryan used his slice well to his opponents backhand to change things up but couldn't exploit his weaker side. Also, Ryan needs to pressure 2nd serve returns better. His opponent fists the handle when serving and had a weak 2nd serve but Ryan received 2nd serves too deep and didn't pressure the return. All n' all, IMO he has the most potential of the U.S. juniors (including Donald Young).

Big Daddy Goob said...

Haha, Britton gets to play Federer first round while Buchanan draws Tsonga.

McLovin said...

Welcome to the Big Show Devin! S&V to Fed's backhand on nightime TV, booyeah!

Ole Miss said...

Goodluck Devin ! Nightime show , at Ash . Keep us proud !!!!!

Sam E. said...

Well the USTA sure know how to pick losers! This is the second year straight that none of their US wild cards made it to main draw. You would think after last year you would think this time they will get it right. Whose doing the choosing these girls? Come on guys we are not looking for the next best friends we are looking for the next US Open Winner. I recommend instead of choosing by favoritism, as it looks now, why not have a playoff for the best 32 and let them earn their wild cards. We can no longer afford to keep these losers around.Our country can do better!

Colette Lewis said...

@Sam E:
Kristie Ahn was a qualifying wild card last year and reached the main draw.

Unknown said...

Well, Sam E, I have to agree with you. The girls just did not look like pro material.They were beaten hands down. I agree with the Dude, Gibbs definitely does not have weapons, Ahn is a good baseliner but needs to get in shape, Stevens, Muhammad and Vandeweghe have good potential but lacks the right training to be on the pro tour, they have a lackadasical attitude,they are not fighters. Hope the USTA get it right the next time. We need to train Champions!

just curious said...

Sam E. and J.

Just curious, so who would you have given the wildcards to?

The Dude said...

I wonder, is it harder to train a big hitter to mature and keep the ball in or train defensive grinders to become more offensive to develop pro material? The USTA employs the 2nd approach as they cull from the 12s and 14s Supernational winners and national ranking list as the basis for their High Performance junior selection. In baseball, scouts are looking for power pitchers who can throw a big fastball or hitters who have a big bat and can hit the long ball. In tennis you wonder who are making these selections? Yes, Gibbs has done very well in juniors but as a tennis observer for the last 30 years, I would never pick her game as one that I would think could ever have success at the pro level (no offense intended). She reminds me of the curious case of Mary Gambale who won the Littl Mo's 10s, was a highly ranked junior who defeated Alexa Glatch for the 2005 Hardcourt 18s. I saw her at the US open wildcarded when she skipped college to turn pro and I was flabergasted. Here was this retriever standing 10 to 15 feet behind the baseline throwing up moonballs all match long. She had a lot of heart but no game for todays tennis but she was a USTA high performance. So I ask again, who are making these decisions?

The Dude said...

And to J, Christina McHale looks like she can be pro material. She moves well, strike the ball clean and has a lot of heart. She only needs to improve her forehand, her 2nd serve, and attack more when she has her opponent off court.

Austin said...

Well someone who is given a wildcard into the qualifying tournament means they werent ranked high enough to make it in on their own, so who expected them to win matches anyway? Especially three in a row.

Unknown said...

I pick football players not tennis players and what I look for is strength, power, speed and the Heart of a Champion. I did not see this in these wild cards. Did anyone? Did the USTA? Are you guys aware of the physical level of these athletes today? Before the USTA hand out their wild cards, they should ask themselves, Is she strong enough? Is she fast enough? Is she hungry enough? before these girls are granted wild cards. So, the USTA should start training the right athletes and it should not be about tennis connection. These girls did not deserve wild cards, because if they are the best in our country, Lord Help Us!! Where is Richard Williams when we need him?

Time will Tell said...

J, If you pick football players and not tennis players then there should be nothing wrong with Sloan Stephens selection..Her dad was an All Pro running back in the N.F.L. Tennis players need explosive 1st steps, speed, agility, hand eye coordination and an even temperment in the Mens game. On the womens side speed as always is an asset but not necessary. Look at Lindsay Davenport and Chris Everett. I don't believe anyone in their right mind would call them great athletes but they were great tennis players. I suspect there may be a couple of girls that fall into this category that you like most people don't see.

Greg said...

To Time will Tell:
Chris Evert (learn how to spell names) played in a different era, with today's technology and power speed is necessary. Davenport - she is 6'2" or so: how many players are like her where the span makes up for lack of speed?
'You like most people?' - do not generalize, if you have a valid argument - state it.

tennis said...

speed is necessary?? tell that to sharapova, kleybanova, safina, ivanovic, bartoli, petrova, pavlyuchenkova, azarenka, etc. Apparently they didnt listen. Give me a break.

Speed is NOT necessary in the girls game, OBVIOUSLY. Here is the VALID argument

Time Will Tell said...

Tennis, Thank you. I posted a similar response to Gregs sarcastic uninformed post which Colette chose to not post.

Colette Lewis said...

@Time Will Tell--
I don't have any comments from you that went unposted. Did you mistakenly send it anonymously?