McPhillips, Kontinen Win Grade 4 at Evert's; Orange Bowl Acceptances; Translating Junior Success to Pros--Is Australia Failing?
Fifteen-year-old Kyle McPhillips won her second consecutive ITF today, defeating No. 7 seed Caitlyn Williams 6-2, 6-0 at the ITF Grade 4 tournament at the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton. She and Chanelle Van Nguyen, the fifth seeds, also won the doubles title, defeating sixth seeds Mary Clayton and Kate Fuller 6-3, 6-2. It's been a great two months for McPhillips, who in between her win at the ITF Grade 4 in Atlanta and this one reached the finals of a $10,000 Pro Circuit event near her home near Cleveland. McPhillips didn't lose a set in singles and in doubles, she and Van Nguyen needed a match tiebreaker only in the semifinals against No. 3 seeds Maria Belaya and Lauren Herring.
The boys singles champion also captured the doubles. Top seed Micke Kontinen of Finland beat unseeded American Robert Livi 6-1, 6-4 and teamed with Great Britain's Nick Jones for his second title. Kontinen and Jones, the top seeds, defeated No. 6 seeds Bjorn Fratangelo and Alex Robles 7-5, 6-3. Livi had several notable wins, defeating No. 2 seed Shane Vinsant in the quarterfinals and Marcos Giron in the semifinals. For complete results, see the TennisLink site. The U.S. ITF junior circuit is quiet the next two weeks--it's the junior off-season!--with the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl next up.
The acceptances for the Dunlop Orange Bowl have been released, and French Open champions and ITF junior world No. 1s Kristina Mladenovic of France and Daniel Berta of Sweden are entered, in hopes of securing the coveted year-end title. For the complete acceptances, 18s and 16s, see the usta tournament page.
In this weekend's Pro Circuit finals, Taylor Dent won in Knoxville, Conor Niland in Niceville and Varvara Lepchenko in Phoenix. Sekou Bangoura Jr. and Denis Kudla lost in the Niceville doubles final to top seeds Tigran Martirosyan and Artem Sitak 6-4, 7-5. For complete draws, see the Pro Circuit page.
A recent article in the Perth Australia Sunday Times examines, as the headline puts it, "Alarming number of Australian juniors fail in move to senior tennis ranks."
The opening paragraph continues:
Figures compiled by The Sunday Times show that from 53 of Australia's junior Davis and Fed Cup representatives over the past decade, 36 were at one stage ranked inside the world's top 100 juniors.
But only one from that group, Samantha Stosur, holds a similar senior ranking.
It's undeniable that Australian tennis has fallen on hard times this century. But I don't think these particular numbers are an indication of the failure of its systems. First, using this decade is dubious, as it's unrealistic to expect any of the 16-year-olds who competed in the Junior Davis and Fed Cups in the last half of the decade to be Top 100 in the professional ranks, as none would be older than 20. (As a comparison, the U.S. has two women (Oudin, King) and five men (Roddick, Querrey, Isner, Odesnik, Ram) who are currently in the Top 100 after having been in the Top 100 of the juniors this decade.) No one is currently denigrating the Spanish development system, disappointed that Pere Riba and Roberto Bautista, who led Spain to the Junior Davis Cup championship in 2004, aren't in the ATP Top 100.
Second, comparing a current ranking (Stosur's) with a career ranking (all juniors who "at one stage" where ranked in the Top 100 of juniors) is again stacking the deck.
And finally, there are only five years worth of players vying for a spot in the junior Top 100, while there are four times that many, all in a comparable stage of maturity, clamoring to break into the professional Top 100.
Paul McNamee, who unsuccessfully challenged Tennis Australia president Geoff Pollard in a recent election, believes the system is broken, and he thinks that Tennis Australia is responsible for the feeling that private coaches have that their best players are being "stolen" from them. He also mentions the lack of clay courts as another reason player development has failed to produce more champions in Australia.