Pollard Wins Australian Election; Mladenovic, Kubler Win in Osaka; Harman Suggests College Tennis as Development Step
Australian Open tournament director and Tennis Australia Player Development head Craig Tiley was the first to announce the news last night that TA's president Geoff Pollard had been re-elected, fighting off a challenge from former Australian Open tournament director Paul McNamee. In a tweet, Tiley said: "Well done Geoff. Congratulations on your re-election this morning."
Other Australians were not as happy with the election results. Lleyton Hewitt, who had sided with McNamee's campaign to oust Pollard after twenty years in the position, had plenty to say both before the election and after. In this story in The Age, Hewitt wants to know if Pollard's own vote was needed to keep him in office, a vote that would have been necessary if the other 16 votes were split. Why this matters to Hewitt, I'm not sure, but perhaps the information would be useful if he supports another candidate next election. Linda Pearce, a respected Australian tennis writer, has her own doubts about the means Pollard used to assure what he says is his final year on the job, if I'm reading between the lines in this article.
What this means for Steve Wood and Craig Tiley is less clear. Wood just received a contract extension from the board, which was much criticized for its timing, and Wood was the CEO when McNamee resigned as Australian Open tournament director. If McNamee were to run again, presumably against a Pollard protege, this divisive scenario could be repeated, and it's difficult to see how Australian tennis fortunes would be improved by that.
With all this attention on the election, Australian Jason Kubler's win in Osaka has been overlooked, but after his performance in the Junior Davis Cup earlier this month and his win Sunday in a Grade A, there is reason for optimism. Todd Woodbridge, the new head of men's tennis, is quoted in this Canberra Times article as saying the country's 15- and 16-year-old boys are the best block since the 80s. The 16-year-old Kubler, seeded 11th, downed eighth seed Hiroyasu Ehara of Japan, 6-0, 4-6, 6-2 and is now the youngest boy in the ITF Top 40. For more on Kubler, see this blog entry by Andy Yanne.
Kristina Mladenovic of France, the world's top-ranked junior for most of the year since winning the French girls title, solidified her position by winning both the singles and doubles in Osaka. The top seed defeated her doubles partner Timea Babos of Hungary in the final, 7-6(5), 6-3. For more on the Osaka Mayor's Cup, see the ITF junior website.
The London Times columnist and tennis reporter Neil Harman has been championing college tennis with regularity in his recently weekly "Net Posts," and today uses former Virginia Cavalier Dominic Inglot as an example of the effectiveness of that development path. Inglot, from Middlesex, England, has won six Futures doubles titles since capturing the NCAA championship with Michael Shabaz in May.