It's been a busy weekend for college tennis, and I'll highlight some of the biggest Top 25 matches of the past week that I didn't see, after I report on one rivalry I did get to watch in person.
Last night we went to the Western Michigan vs. Michigan State women's match at West Hills Athletic Club, the first of four matches this weekend for the Broncos. Western is ranked No. 61, while Michigan State is No. 70, but rankings aren't that important to the rivalry, which is the "major" Big Ten against the "mid-major" MAC, which doesn't even field a women's tennis team from each of its schools. Most of the Michigan residents on the courts last night were Broncos, but the Spartan No. 1, Stephanie Kebler, is from Okemos, just a few miles from East Lansing. Ultimately the win went to Western Michigan, 4-3, but it was one of those matches that aren't as close as the score implies.
By the time we arrived, Western had already clinched the doubles point with 8-1 and 8-2 wins at Nos. 3 and 2. Most of the singles were close for the first several games, but Western began to pull away, and took the first set in five of the six matches, with Kebler giving the Spartans their sole first set at No. 1. For a time, it looked as if a Michigan woman would win every singles match contested, with all five of the Western women with leads went to high school in the state. Eventually, Indiana's Whitney Wilson came back for a win at No. 5 against Jenny Nalepa to give MSU a point, but Emily Dudzik clinched it for the Broncos shortly thereafter with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Manon Noe of France after Rachel Denny at No. 6 and Ashley Moccia at No. 4 had given WMU a 3-1 lead. Kebler made it 3-2 with her win at No. 1 over Kerstin Pahl of Germany, and at No. 3, MSU's Elena Ivanova and Amanda Moccia had just entered a third set, which the Russian won to make the final score 4-3. For the complete results, see the WMU website. The Broncos also defeated Rice 4-3 today, and again it was Dudzik clinching, only this time as the last match on.
In men's matches between Top 25 teams earlier this week, No. 10 Baylor beat No. 9 Ole Miss 4-3 in Waco; No. 25 Notre Dame defeated No. 13 Texas A & M 4-3 in South Bend; and No. 5 Stanford downed No. 4 Southern Cal 4-3 in Los Angeles.
The big women's match were mostly today, with No. 2 Georgia squeezing by No. 7 Baylor 4-3, in Athens; No. 24 Florida State getting its first win ever over No. 13 Florida (to paraphrase Vitas Gerulaitis, nobody beats the Seminoles 33 times in a row); and in a just completed barn burner, the No. 6 Duke Blue Devils dealt No. 1 Northwestern its first loss of the season with a 4-3 victory in Evanston, avenging their 4-3 loss to the Wildcats in the quarterfinals of the ITA Team Indoor two weeks ago. Duke's Mallory Cecil came back from what I believe was a 5-2 deficit in the third to beat Maria Mosolova at No. 1 and Duke's Ellah Nze then won a third-set tiebreaker from Georgia Rose at No. 2 to give Duke the win. Here is the Northwestern website's account of the match.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Usually it's after the spring semi-annual meeting (which is in mid-March this year) before there's an official announcement about the USTA's Bill Talbert Sportsmanship award winners for the previous year, but the word tends to leak out here and there, with the recipients having been notified in January. I ran across the names in the March issue of Racquet Sports Industry (scroll about halfway down). Marcia Frost also has a column on the rise of doubles, and while I think of it, if you missed my Tennis Recruiting Network story about the Grips Program, a similar version can be found in last month's issue of RSI.
This is the most prestigious sportsmanship award in junior tennis, with the winners being invited to July's International Tennis Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Newport, Rhode Island. This year's inductees are Monica Seles, Donald Dell, Andres Gimeno and Dr. Robert Johnson.
Fifteen-year-old Jeremy Efferding, of Lake Worth, Fla. is the youngest of the four winners, which include two of the three winners of the sportsmanship trophies here in Kalamazoo in 2008--Nashville's Ryan Lipman, who won the Wes Richards Feed-In Sportsmanship award, and Studio City Calif.'s Ryan Thacher, who was named the Allen B. Stowe Sportsmanship award winner. (The third 2008 sportsmanship winner in Kalamazoo, Evan King, who received the Bobby Kaplan award for the 16s, was a Talbert award recipient last year). I'm not familiar with Gary Wang of the Middle States section, but for a photo of him from his section's 2008 awards banquet, click here.
The promotion that originally started as a Madison Square Garden exhibition with the Williams sisters, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic on Monday, March 2nd, has grown into something quite a bit bigger: "Tennis Night in America." Many clubs across the country will be hosting screening parties for the exhibition, while also undertaking a concerted push to register youngsters for spring and summer tennis programs. Here's an example of one in Wake County, North Carolina. To find the participating clubs in your area, click here.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Nine Questions with Julia Boserup; Fratangelo Commits to High School Tennis; College Surprise of the Week
When Julia Boserup won the Orange Bowl in December, I had an opportunity to talk with her for SMASH magazine, in a regular feature I prepare for them, "Five Questions With..." Unfortunately, a last-minute ad led to cancellation of the story, which was scheduled to appear in the Spring issue. I didn't want the opportunity for a wider audience for her remarks to pass by, however, so I recently asked her about her Fed Cup practice partner stint and the story has resurfaced as Nine Questions, which is my weekly post for The Tennis Recruiting Network.
The Naples Daily News today published a feature story on 15-year-old Bjorn Fratangelo, the Pittsburgh, Pa. native who recently moved to Naples to train full time there and will play high school tennis for Barron Collier. There are several errors in it (not counting the typo in the headline): the Orange Bowl is in December of course, and Fratangelo lost in the third round of the 16s there after getting in as a lucky loser. (Attempts to get the newspaper to correct these mistakes have been unsuccessful). And his national title this "past January" was January 2008, when Fratangelo won the Winter Nationals 14s. But I did learn something that I forgot to ask Bjorn myself when I spoke to him after his win at the Tennis Plaza Cup last month. His first name is indeed after the Swedish superstar of the 70s and early 80s who won 11 Grand Slam titles.
And perhaps I'll start a Surprise College Result of the Week designation. It isn't the No. 14 ranked Clemson women's 4-3 win over Georgia Tech in the ACC opener for both teams yesterday, even if the Tigers' No. 1, Ani Mijacika, didn't play. No, this week's surprise is the No. 69 SMU women's 5-2 win in Fayetteville over No. 17 Arkansas. The Razorbacks' superstar, Aurelija Miseviciute, did play, and lost in a third set tiebreaker to the Mustangs' No. 1, freshman Marta Lesniak of Poland, a name to watch for this spring. SMU certainly had Arkansas outnumbered--they have 12 players on their roster, compared to six for the Razorbacks. For the complete story, see the SMU website.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
ESPN's Greg Garber is taking his usual break from the NFL football beat to cover tennis, and he's done two features already, one on Todd Widom and most recently, on Melanie Oudin. And if you are a squash fan, he has written and produced a story on the Trinity men's squash team and its 11th straight national title. And if you think U.S. tennis is heavy on the foreign influence....
Nathan Pasha has written his second blog entry from Spain for usta.com, and apparently he is now turning the keyboard over to another junior, either Bob van Overbeek or Denis Kudla. I spoke with Mike Sell briefly over the weekend, and Chase Buchanan had a couple of injuries, so he is now back in the U.S. Raymond Sarmiento and Rhyne Williams qualified for the first Futures, winning four matches, with Williams beating Kudla in the third round of qualifying. Van Overbeek and Pasha lost in the second round of qualifying. Sarmiento lost in the first round of the main draw; Williams won his first match before losing today. For complete results, see the ATP's Challenger and Futures page.
As for the Pro Circuits in the U.S., there are no juniors remaining after the first round of either the $50,000 women's event in Clearwater, Fla. or the men's $15,000 tournament in Harlingen, Texas, although there are plenty of college players still in action. See the Pro Circuit page for complete results.
And speaking of college players, Notre Dame senior Kelcy Tefft is featured today in the USTA's College Spotlight.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I had the opportunity today to participate in a USTA conference call with Patrick McEnroe, who formally announced the Davis Cup team that will take on Switzerland next week in first round action in Birmingham, Ala. There were no surprises, with Andy Roddick, James Blake and the Bryan brothers selected, but while those names seldom vary, the names of the practice partners always do. For this tie, Amer Delic, the former NCAA champion while at Illinois, and 17-year-old Eddie Herr champion Alex Domijan will be accompanying the team. McEnroe admitted that he had picked Delic prior to the withdrawal of Federer from the Swiss team, but called Delic "such a good guy" and sounded happy to have him involved again, even though Delic doesn't fit the usual profile of a practice partner (he's 26). Here's what McEnroe said about Domijan:
Obviously Domijan is a guy I saw play a little bit down at the Orange Bowl, where he had a great couple of weeks there and at the Eddie Herr. Some of our coaches have been communicating with him and following him pretty closely, and we kind of like his attitude and what we've seen from him. I think it will be a great experience for him. He's practiced with some of our players already up at Saddlebrook, with the Bryan brothers and with James, and they seem to know him. We think he's got tremendous potential. It's a nice combination of a veteran practice guy, and someone like Alex, who's getting his first taste of that situation.I spoke with Alex this evening about his selection, which came about three weeks ago, and he said he considered it an honor to be chosen, although he did express some disappointment that Federer wasn't playing.
"But Roddick and Blake and all the people are still going to be there, so I'm going to train with them. It should be pretty fun."
I asked him what he was most looking forward to about the experience, which starts on Sunday.
"Just playing with those guys a lot. Usually, if I play with them, it's only like one day every three or four weeks. So to play with them on a consistent basis, and hopefully I'll improve."
For the complete transcript of McEnroe's press conference today, see ASAP Sports.
At the ATP Delray Beach International today, 16-year-old wild card Evan King lost to Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-4. King was up 3-1 in the second set, but lost five of the next six games against the 115th ranked ATP player. According to this story about King in today's Sun-Sentinel, the boys 18s Clay Court winner next year will get a qualifying wild card, not a main draw wild card. There was some controversy this year, when two-time champion Xavier Malisse did not get a wild card, with King, Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Querrey getting the three available.
The Charleston Post-Courier covered the finals of the SMASH Junior Cup, and had this report on Alison Riske's win over Kristie Ahn.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Way back in July of 2008, Evan King won the USTA National Boys 18s Clay Court singles championship, and tomorrow, he will take the courts again in Delray Beach, to use the main draw wild card he earned with that victory, although this time the surface will be hard.
King, who trains with the USTA in Boca Raton, was back home in Chicago watching his future teammates at the University of Michigan compete at the ITA Men's Indoor, and he was obviously very excited about his first match at the tour level (he has played a few Futures and Challengers). The Delray draw, which was posted yesterday, puts him against 21-year-old Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan, who is currently ranked 115th, although he finished last year 89th. The down side of not drawing Tommy Haas, Lleyton Hewitt, Sam Querrey or Mardy Fish is that King won't be playing on the Stadium court Tuesday. According to Tuesday's order of play, he'll be the third match on court 1.
Today at the SMASH Junior Cup in South Carolina, Alison Riske defeated Kristie Ahn 6-4, 6-1 to earn the qualifying wild card into the Family Circle Cup in April by winning the girls 18s title. The stakes were not as high for the boys 18s, but John Harrison Richmond, the 2008 Junior Orange Bowl 14s winner from Pawley's Island, S.C., has a head start on his USTA 18s ranking, winning the Southern section's Level 3 event. For complete results, see the TennisLink site.
My colleague McCarton Ackerman recently caught up with Vanessa Webb, the 1998 NCAA women's singles champion from Duke, and filed this story for The Tennis Recruiting Network, detailing her business career and her continued involvement in the highest levels of the game.
And in case you missed it yesterday (I did), the Baylor men defeated UCLA 4-3 in a dual match in Waco, giving head coach Matt Knoll his 300th victory.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
The Division III ITA Men's Indoor was this weekend at Gustavus Adolphus in Minnesota and the No. 2 seed, Emory University, defeated top seed Washington University 6-3 to take the title. The ITA tournament website with complete scores and draws is here.
For in-depth coverage of Men's Division III tennis, including the Indoor championships, see the blog d3tennis.blogspot.com.
In Division I men's tennis, No. 31 Kentucky went into Knoxville Saturday and beat the fourth-ranked Volunteers 4-2, winning the doubles point and getting wins from No. 1 (Bruno Agostinelli), No. 3 (Eric Quigley), and No. 5 (Alex Musialek). Kentucky gave Mississippi all it could handle during the Kick-off Weekend, demonstrating they can play with the SEC's best, although this was not a match that will count in the conference standings. The Wildcats' record is now 7-2, with the losses to Virginia and Ole Miss. For the complete account, see the Kentucky website.
A top men's team struggling right now is Tulsa, who was beaten by No. 39 TCU yesterday in Tulsa. TCU is on probation for another year, but they extended Texas A & M before losing 4-3 on Wednesday, so they are not a team to be taken lightly. The Tulsa website has the account of yesterday's match here.
In a clash between two top four programs today on the women's side, No. 1 Northwestern got by No. 4 Georgia Tech 4-2 in a just completed match.
In the SMASH Junior Cup, Alison Riske and Kristie Ahn will play Monday for the qualifying wild card into the Family Circle Cup in April. Riske was initially a No. 5 seed, and I'm not sure what happened exactly, but she was moved up to the No. 4 seed, the draw was redone, and she and Ahn fell in opposite halves, instead of the same quarter, where they were previously. Riske barely got by Shelby Rogers in the semifinals, needing a third set tiebreaker to advance. Ahn was a subject of this profile prior to the start of the tournament by the Charleston Post and Courier's James Beck. For complete results, see the TennisLink site.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
With Australia's oppressive heat one of the biggest stories of 2009's first Grand Slam, I asked Harold Solomon of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to provide his advice on the issue.
Today's question: What is the best way to cope with extreme heat?
Harold Solomon responds:
I think that there are a few basics that can help all players, including juniors, be ready for extreme heat situations.
Dress For It:
Clothing can definitely help curb the effects of the sun. We all know that light colored clothing tends to help keep the body cooler. Hats that do more than cover the top of the head can be effective in keeping the sun off the back of the neck, which is one of the areas that can cause serious problems in extreme heat conditions. Often players do not wear clothing protection around their necks because the manufacturers determine the type of clothing worn. We recommend players cover their necks with a wide-brimmed hat or use a scarf dipped in cold water that can be refreshed on changeovers, but we find players very reluctant to follow this advice. Also, a player's feet are often one of the primary areas to be effected by extreme heat. It is essential to wear shoes with soles that are thick enough keep the feet cool and to keep socks as dry as possible, to keep blisters from forming.
Drink For It:
Staying hydrated is extremely important both on and off the court. A hydrated athlete should urinate up to ten times a day. It is important to use water and a diluted sports drink the day before matches and water and a diluted sports drink with added salt on the day of matches and during matches. Tennis players in conditions like those in Australia can lose a tremendous amount of fluids, but if the sodium that is lost during competition is not replaced, players can find themselves with severe cramping, which can be totally debilitating. It is also very important for the player to refuel the body within 30 minutes of each match with carbohydrates most easily consumed in a non-diluted sports drink.
Ice For It:
During changeovers, the player should place iced towels over his or her head and neck to help lower the body temperature. I often used ice cubes under my wrist bands during changeovers to help cool down my body.
Practice In It:
It is very difficult to get ready for extreme heat conditions unless the player is able to practice for an extended time in similar conditions prior to the tournament, ideally for at least a week before it begins. During the summer in the U.S. we often see the Europeans falter in the heat the first week they come over to play; usually they are more acclimated by the second week. During the preliminary week of practice, the player should gradually increase the time and exposure on the courts and move practices from early morning and late afternoon up to times when the sun and heat are highest to condition the body and the mind to the effects of the high temperatures.
Playing in extreme heat is difficult and can be dangerous. The heat rule in Australia was developed to protect the players' well-being and they need to be aware of the importance of eating and drinking properly in these conditions. Many matches are won and lost in these conditions because the player has not properly prepared physically for the conditions which then affects the players ability to mentally stay in the match. Many times the mind will go before the body gives out. It's imperative that the player arrive at the tournament having done the physical training necessary to prepare the body well before the tournament begins. The acclimation period should be just that--the real work has to be completed before the player arrives at the event.
Do you have a question for Andy Brandi or Harold Solomon? If so, please send it to clewis[at]zootennis[dot]com with the phrase Coaches Q and A in the subject line.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Two weeks after the USTA Boys National Junior Team played an exhibition match against the University of Miami, (my article about that for Tennis Recruiting Network can be found here), it was the USTA Girls National Team's turn to test their games at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center in Coral Gables, Fla. This time the college team came out on top, with the Hurricanes winning 5-2.
Miami's No. 3 doubles team of Bianca Eichkorn and Gabriela Mejia quickly took care of the USTA's Allie Will and Chanelle Van Nguyen 8-1; the USTA took an 8-5 win with its No. 2 team of Lauren Herring and Grace Min downing Michaela Kissell and Alessa Waibel. Miami's No. 1 team of Julia Cohen and Laura Vallverdu defeated the USTA's Brooke Bolender and Beatrice Capra, 8-3. Without being there, I can't be sure of the order of finish, but the doubles point was won by Miami.
The USTA pulled even quickly however, when Chi Chi Scholl beat Claudia Wasilewski at No. 6, in a match that was played during the doubles, and with a 6-0, 6-0 score, barely took as long to finish as the 8 game pro set in doubles. But Miami took an early lead in all five of the remaining singles match, and much like the USTA boys, the Miami women took a lot of the drama out of the outcome.
At No. 1, Cohen beat Will 6-1, 6-1, and at No. 3, Kissell defeated Bolender 6-0, 6-3. When Min, at No. 4, lost 6-1, 7-6(3), Miami had earned its fourth point, clinching the match. Herring, at No. 5, split sets with Mejia, eventually losing in a match tiebreaker, 6-1, 2-6, 10-7. Capra split with Vallverdu, then won the match tiebreaker for a 0-6, 7-5, 10-6 victory. There was a No. 7 match played, with Van Nguyen beating Waibel 6-0, 6-1.
I spoke with National Coach Jean Desdunes by telephone this morning and he had nothing but good things to say about the experience.
"You would never know it was just a practice, based on the intensity and the focus," he said. "It was a practice for both of us, but it was great to create that under pressure. And the idea that as coaches we can be on the court, reinforcing and building on what we work on day in and day out, it's priceless. It's always been one of the best things about college tennis and Davis Cups. So for all those reasons, it's just a great concept."
I asked him for his take on the reasons for the girls' slow start.
"I think the situation was new to them. They were very excited about the opportunity, and I don't know that they knew how to handle it. They're younger, a lot younger. They all recovered and played better in the second set, and probably just ran out of time. But I have to give credit to the University of Miami for coming out and being solid from the beginning all the way through to the end."
Desdunes, who was head men's coach at Georgia Tech and an All-American at Clemson, thinks the girls learned a lot from the experience.
"It's fun. I think they walked away thinking, wow, that was pretty good. I think they'll be better next time, because I think they'll know what to expect. It will be interesting to see what they'll do the next time they get an opportunity like that."
As a former college coach Desdunes knows that getting a date that works for both teams is the biggest challenge in making these matches a staple of training.
"I know it was difficult to find a date for them, as well as for us, with having the players in town, so scheduling will be an issue, but I hope in the future we can do this again. I welcome it; it was good for everyone involved."
In other Player Development news, Tracy Austin has been named a special consultant to Player Development, reporting to Patrick McEnroe. She will be assisting with women players training in Carson, Calif., which include Sloane Stephens, Nicole Gibbs, Asia Muhammad and CoCo Vandeweghe. See the full release at usta.com.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
My weekly column for The Tennis Recruiting Network is an overview of the ITA Men's Team Indoor last weekend.
I've also put together a slide show, based on the men's All-Tournament team announced yesterday by the ITA, and would like to thank my husband, Paul Ballard, for all his hard work behind the lens in the challenging indoor conditions. The women's All-tournament team can be found in this ITA release.
There was a lot of news from the ITA in the past two days. Not only did they release the All-tournament teams, but also this announcement that the rankings will have a new sponsor (Fila having bowed out), the Campbell Soup Company.
In those rankings, the Northwestern women retained their No. 1 position in the team rankings, and Wildcat Maria Mosolova managed to hold on to her top spot in the singles, barely edging Clemson's Ani Mijacika, who is a fraction of a point behind. Renata Kucerkova and Anastasia Petukhova of Fresno State are ranked No. 1 in doubles.
The men's rankings did shuffle, with Virginia assuming the top spot in the team rankings, followed by Georgia and Ohio State. Tulsa's Arnau Brugues has claimed the top spot in the singles, with Steve Forman and Cory Parr of Wake Forest ranked No. 1 in doubles.
For complete rankings, see the ITA rankings page.
Marcia Frost was also in Chicago and posted this wrap for collegeandjuniortennis.com.
In addition to the slideshow and the embedded YouTube video below of Virginia's Drew Courtney earning a break over Josh Varela of Georgia at 5-5 in the third set, I also have posted two short videos of Michael Shabaz and Javier Garrapiz from their match in the finals at the tenniskalamazoo YouTube channel.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The year's first National Opens were played over the holiday weekend. Although there are too many to detail here, I did want to post a link to the article that appeared in the Dothan (Alabama) Eagle about the boys and girls 14s National Open held there. Any time a local paper takes the time to cover a junior event, I'm going to make sure they get credit for it. Although they sent a reporter, there are no photos, so I'm including one of girls champion Rasheeda McAdoo, the daughter of former NBA star Bob McAdoo, from January's Plaza Cup. To see all the February National Open results, see the TennisLink search page, and click on the short cut National Junior Tournaments in the box on the right. It will take you to 2009, and once you select February, you will get a page with all 19 of the different tournaments.
The SMASH Junior Cup, which begins Saturday, and features a WTA Family Circle qualifying draw wild card to the girls 18s winner, has published its draws. Kristie Ahn has entered the event and is the No. 1 seed. Alison Riske is a No. 5 seed, but unfortunately is in the same quarter of the draw as Ahn. For complete results see the TennisLink site.
While I was in Chicago, Wimbledon and U.S. Open Junior Champion Grigor Dimitrov made quite a splash; following up his win over Tomas Berdych in Rotterdam, the 17-year-old Bulgarian took a set from Rafael Nadal in the second round. This week in Marseille, he drew Gilles Simon of France, the No. 2 seed, and barely lost again, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Charlie Bricker, the longtime Sun-Sentinel tennis reporter who left the paper last summer, is writing regularly now for Bob Larson's Tennis News, and he evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of Dimitrov's game in this post.
The trip to Spain that I heard about when I was in Florida last month is underway, with Chase Buchanan, Denis Kudla, Nathan Pasha, Raymond Sarmiento, Bob van Overbeek and Rhyne Williams now in the Barcelona area with USTA National Coaches Mike Sell and Ricardo Acuna, preparing to play in a series of Futures tournaments there on clay. Nathan Pasha is blogging about the trip for usta.com, and his first entry, from Monday, can be found here.
For a complete list of the tournaments, see the ITF Men's Circuit page.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
There are going to be many changes in the next Division I rankings, due out on Thursday, but not at the top of the women's team rankings, where Northwestern will stay after their impressive showing in Wisconsin at the ITA Women's Team Indoor. After taking out a very dangerous Miami team 6-1 in the opening round, the Wildcats barely got by Duke in the quarterfinals 4-3, but handled excellent teams from Notre Dame and Georgia in the semifinals and finals, dropping only one point. Duke gets a rematch on Feb. 28th in Evanston, and the Fighting Irish also travel to Northwestern in early April, but if the Wildcats get by those two teams and Georgia Tech, whom they face in Atlanta this Sunday, a perfect regular season is probable. Although that would obviously make Northwestern one of the teams to beat for NCAA title, there are several teams who can rival them, especially when play moves outside later this spring. So despite Northwestern's hold on the top spot, there is a still a lot of excitement left this season in women's college tennis. For the Northwestern website's story on the Indoor title yesterday, click here.
The ITA now has a team schedule page, that provides links to the dual match schedules of most colleges with tennis teams, so check out your local team's upcoming home matches and make plans to attend one.
Georgia freshman Chelsey Gullickson, who garnered the Bulldogs' sole point in yesterday's Team Indoor final against Northwestern by beating Maria Mosolova, the nation's top-ranked player, was the subject of last week's College Spotlight on usta.com. The seventh-ranked freshman is definitely a contender for the NCAA individual title in College Station, and she is publicly stating that as one of her goals.
And in case you missed it, wild card Melanie Oudin beat her Fed Cup teammate Jill Craybas in the first round at the WTA Cellular South Cup in Memphis Sunday, but fell today in the second round to Marina Erakovic of New Zealand. The Memphis Commercial Appeal had this story about Oudin's victory. Portugal's Michelle Larcher de Brito, who just turned 16 and also a wild card, won her first round match against Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden 6-2, 6-0.
The Sony Ericsson WTA website devoted a recent "Getting to Know" segment to former Clemson standout Julie Coin. Click here for that interview.
The Pro Circuit has a $25,000 women's event in Surprise, Arizona this week, where Kaitlyn Christian and Asia Muhammad have qualified for the main draw. The men are in Brownsville, Texas for a $15,000 event there. Wild card Jordan Cox won his first round match today. (correction--Cox lost, it was initially posted incorrectly on the draw). For complete results and draws, visit the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.
Monday, February 16, 2009
©Colette Lewis 2009--
The fifth-ranked Virginia Cavaliers defended their ITA Team Indoor title Monday afternoon with a 4-1 victory over No. 3 Georgia at the Midtown Tennis Club.
When Virginia's Drew Courtney pounded a serve that Georgia's Josh Varela couldn't handle to close out the No. 6 singles match, the freshman from Clifton, Virginia put an end to the Bulldogs' recent dominance of the Cavaliers.
"Playing Georgia is a huge thing in Virginia tennis," Courtney said. "Coming out here knowing I was playing Georgia for the first time, I knew I had to step up and do what I can to help the team."
Although Courtney was playing Georgia for the first time, some of his teammates recall the disappointing losses to the Bulldogs in the past two NCAAs, with the 2008 Georgia loss, when Virginia was undefeated and ranked No. 1, still fresh in their collective memories.
"I think losing in the semifinals last year brought a lot of hunger, particularly the way it happened," said Virginia head coach Brian Boland, referring to the cramping that Sanam Singh experienced when playing Jamie Hunt in the deciding match. "They wanted to get back and have another shot this year."
Although the score was 4-1, the same score that Virginia posted in their victory at the 2008 Indoor over Ohio State, it was a very close match, as personified by the doubles point.
In some of the most amazing doubles displayed outside of the ATP tour, the two teams went back and forth, as first Virginia established momentum, up a break on all three courts, and then Georgia fought back to even it.
At one stage, Virginia had match points on two courts-- No. 3 when Georgia's Drake Bernstein and Javier Garrapiz were down four match points serving at 6-7 against Courtney and Lee Singer; and No. 2, when Virginia's Dom Inglot and Michael Shabaz were up 7-4 and serving on Georgia's Borja Malo and Christian Vitulli. But Bernstein and Garrapiz fought off all those points to hold for 7-7, and Inglot needed several more deuces and ads, before he and Shabaz finally secured the match, on a controversial ace.
At No. 1 doubles, Virginia's Houston Barrick and Singh were up 6-4, but were unable to serve it out against Hunt and Nate Schnugg, and they reached a tiebreaker just moments before the No. 3 court got to their 17th game. It was Barrick and Singh who excelled in that pressure-backed stanza, taking a 9-8(2) victory and the precious first point.
When the singles began, Virginia took the lead with first sets at No. 4 and No. 5, with Barrick getting in front of Malo at 4 and freshman Steven Rooda taking the opener from Bernstein at 5. But the Bulldogs had earned a first set of their own at No. 6, when the energetic Varela recorded a 6-0 set against Courtney.
On the front three courts, where the vast majority of the hundreds of spectators were seated, Schnugg posted the first set against Inglot at No. 1 and Shabaz took a one set lead on Garrapiz at No. 3. In the rematch of that unforgettable NCAA match in Tulsa, Hunt and Singh were the last to finish a set, and twice--at 5-4 and 6-5--Singh was serving for the opening set, only to be broken. Hunt won the tiebreaker, but by that time, Barrick and Rooda were close to finishing their matches, and a few minutes later Barrick had recorded a 6-4, 6-0 win, and Rooda a 6-3, 6-2 victory.
It was 2-0 Virginia, but Georgia had gained a split at No. 3, and shortly thereafter, Schnugg got the Bulldogs on the board with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Inglot, although Rooda's win gave Virginia their two-point cushion again. Courtney had come back with a 6-0 set of his own to even that match, and with the finishes on courts 2 and 3 still a ways off, a few dozen spectators began to focus exclusively on Court 6.
Serving at 4-5, Courtney got down 0-30, but fought back to take the next four points to make it 5-5. And when he broke Varela in the next game, Courtney knew he had to keep his composure for the upcoming game.
"I knew I had to just be calm," Courtney said. "I was so psyched that I broke, I just wanted to settle down and focus, bring it back in and make first serves."
He didn't make one until he was up 30-15, but then the 6-foot-5 Courtney got all his considerable power into two first deliveries, and Varela wasn't able to direct either into the court.
By the time the rest of Courtney's teammates got the word and arrived on court 6, the excitement was still in the air.
"It feels good," said Boland. "We're happy to be champs in Chicago. And it is nice to beat Georgia. The last three years, we've lost five matches and three of them have been to Georgia. And credit to them. Someone said, oh, you have a rivalry with Georgia, and I said it's not a rivalry until we can beat them, so maybe it is now."
"Is 14-1 a rivalry?" joked Georgia coach Manny Diaz, noting that the Bulldogs are still well out in front in the overall competition between teams. "No, it's been a rivalry for a long time, and for me to say something like that is almost insulting to the great program they have and have had for quite a while now. We've had a tremendous amount of success against a lot of people, especially the last four years or so. We might have come up a little bit short today, but we've had a tremendous week."
Georgia won the ITA Team Indoor in 2006 and 2007. They did not win the NCAAs in 2006, losing to Pepperdine in the final, but did take the title in 2007. Virginia, last year's Team Indoor champions. fell short in 2008 at the NCAAs, but they are hoping the pattern their rivals from Georgia established continues when the NCAAs convene in College Station, Texas in May.
For the complete scores, see the ITA Tournament page.
In Madison, Wisc., the Northwestern Wildcats became the first Big Ten team to win the Women's Indoor championship, defeating the University of Georgia 4-1. For more on the women's tournament, see the ITA tournament website.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
©Colette Lewis 2009--
The defending team indoor champions will meet the 2007 indoor champions on Monday, after the No. 5 Virginia Cavaliers breezed past No. 8 Tennessee 4-0, in a rare tournament shutout.
Virginia came out strong in the doubles, going up a break on all three courts, and took the No. 3 and No. 2 matches for the point.
While the Illinois and Baylor consolation match was given the preferred courts due to the home state crowds anticipated, Virginia and Tennessee played on the less spectator friendly courts, including Nos 13 and 14, which are only accessible by walking through the center of the four front courts. But tucked back out of view, Cavalier freshmen Steven Rooda and Drew Courtney at Nos. 5 and 6 respectively, helped Virginia dominate the singles. Courtney was finished first, with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Matt Brewer, and Rooda followed soon after with a 6-2, 6-2 over Volunteer freshman Christian Hansen.
On the front four courts, the action was more even, with Tennessee up a set at No. 1 and No. 4, but Virginia's Sanam Singh, at No. 2, was so dominate against Boris Conkic that the fourth point seemed inevitable. Showing off his tremendous speed, Singh couldn't miss in the first set, and won nearly every big point in the second on his way to a much less dramatic clinching win than he enjoyed Saturday evening against UCLA. Singh beat Conkic 6-1, 6-3 to set up the match between the past two Indoor champions.
Two years ago, Virginia had a great chance to reach the finals when they were up a set in five of the six singles against Georgia in the semifinals, but Georgia came back to record a 4-2 win. The Cavaliers have also lost the Bulldogs in the last three NCAAs, the most painful loss coming in last year's semifinal, when Virginia was undefeated before losing to Georgia 4-3 when Jamie Hunt defeated a cramping Singh at No. 4 singles. The two will be playing each other again, with similarly high stakes, at No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles, and Virginia head coach Brian Boland wouldn't have it any other way.
"We're really excited, wouldn't want it any other way," Boland said, no doubt considering Georgia his team's nemesis. "We've lost to them in the NCAAs three years in a row and we've only lost about five matches in three years. But with that being said, they've all been extremely competitive matches, most recently in May, when it came down to an unfortunate situation, but with all that being said, it's been fun. It's great for both teams and we're looking forward to it, are really excited about it. We're playing well right now and are looking forward to playing another great team."
Georgia can claim both men's and women's Indoor titles on Monday, as the women's team has also advanced to the final in Madison, Wisc., with a 4-2 win over No. 2 Cal. They will play top seeded Northwestern, who beat Notre Dame 4-1 to reach the finals for the second consecutive year.
For complete women's results, see the ITA tournament page.
For complete men's scores, see the ITA results page.
©Colette Lewis 2009--
Winners of the ITA Team Indoor in 2007 here at the Midtown Tennis Club, and the last two NCAA titles, the Georgia Bulldogs put themselves in position for another national title when they downed the No. 11 Stanford Cardinal 4-2 Sunday afternoon.
No. 3 Georgia took the doubles point when Jamie Hunt and Nate Schnugg eased past Blake Muller and Richard Wire 9-8 (4) at No. 1 after Stanford had won at No. 2, and Georgia at No. 3.
Stanford quickly took control on the back three courts, with Ryan Thacher pulling his team even at No. 4 with a 6-1, 6-3 dismantling of Borja Malo, and Richard Wire giving the Cardinal a 2-1 lead with an equally dominating 6-2, 6-4 victory over Drake Bernstein at No. 5. Greg Hirshman had also taken the first set at No. 6 for Stanford, but on the other side of the curtain, it was a different story.
Georgia had won the first sets at Nos. 1, 2, and 3, with Hunt taking a tiebreaker against Bradley Klahn in the last first set to be decided. Stanford's Matt Bruch came back to take the second set in his match against Javier Garrapiz at No. 3, but on No. 6, Josh Varela had also even that match for the Bulldogs with a second set win.
Meanwhile Nate Schnugg put Alex Clayton in the difficult position of serving down a set and 4-5, and Schnugg broke to earn Georgia's second point.
Unlike Bruch, who fell behind early in the third set, Varela came all the way back, and his 2-6, 6-0, 6-3 victory over Hirschman brought all the Georgia fans to the front three courts, where both Hunt and Garrapiz were up a break. It was Hunt that provided the clinching point, taking out Klahn 7-6, 6-3, and putting his team in yet another national championship match, the fourth of his two and a half year career at Georgia.
For complete scores, visit the ITA results page.
Usually I would devote much more time to covering the women's team indoor in Madison, but the 14 hours of tennis each day I'm watching at the men's competition in Chicago has made that impossible.
Jason Berney of the ITA has posted a release on yesterday's quarterfinal matches, and unlike the men's tournament, both the No. 1 and No. 2 teams survived, with No. 1 Northwestern just squeaking by Duke 4-3 and No. 2 Cal beating Georgia Tech 5-2. Georgia and Notre Dame are the other two semifinalists.
For all women's team indoor results, see the ITA tournament page.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
©Colette Lewis 2009--
When UCLA snared the doubles point and the first sets in four of the singles matches, Virginia's chance to repeat as Team Indoor champions looked bleak. But Michael Shabaz at No. 3 and Sanam Singh at No. 2 came back from a set down in their matches to earn the Cavaliers a semifinal berth against Tennessee on Sunday.
Dom Inglot got Virginia's first point with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Haythem Abid at No. 1, and Drew Courtney gave the Cavaliers a lead with a 6-3, 6-4 decision over Amit Inbar at No. 6. When Shabaz earned a split against Harel Srugo with a 6-3 second set after dropping the first set 6-2, the tide turned for Virginia. Bruin Nick Meister brought UCLA even when he beat Steven Rooda 6-2, 7-5 at No. 5, but Shabaz quickly grabbed it back, taking the third set against Srugo 6-3.
With a 3-2 lead, Virginia needed either the match at No. 4, where Houston Barrick trailed Michael Look 6-7, 3-4, or at No. 2, where Singh and Matt Brooklyn had just entered the third set. It soon came down to No. 2, because Look broke and held for a 7-6, 6-3 victory at 4. Singh, who had cramped in the 2008 NCAA semifinals against Georgia in a final-match-on situation, losing to Jamie Hunt, redeemed himself Saturday night. After dropping the first set 6-2, Singh stepped up his game and played much more freely winning the second 6-4 on a late break. After going up 2-0 in the third, Singh was broken back, but it was the only game he lost. With his teammates yelling encouragement from the adjacent court, Singh passed Brooklyn regularly and eliminated the unforced errors that had plagued him in the first set, and he rolled to a 6-1 win.
When he finished, the sheer joy that he and his team expressed may have washed away the disappointment of that warm night in Tulsa last May.
For complete scores, see the ITA results page.
©Colette Lewis 2009--
On the day No. 2 seed Texas went down to No. 11 Stanford, there was an even more surprising result awaiting the fans at the Midtown Tennis Club, when No. 1 Ohio State, a finalist in the past two National Indoors, fell to No. 8 Tennessee 4-3.
Fortunately for the schedulers, none of the six singles matches went to three sets, but the deciding match, at No. 4 singles, was long enough to be one. Tennessee's Matteo Fago and Ohio State's Balazs Novak were the last two standing, and two hours into their match the possibility of a third set was very real. Fago had won the first set 6-3, but it was 5-5 in the second.
The turning point in the match came when Fago kept his calm after failing to convert two break points with Novak serving at 5-5. Down 15-40, Novak won three straight points to put himself one away from a 6-5 lead, but Fago showed no sign of frustration. He hit a forehand winner and a backhand winner, and was able to go for the lines, because Novak had been overruled twice and didn't have the luxury of calling a close one out. Fago converted his third break point when Novak's forehand went wide, leading to pandemonium among the Tennessee faithful, who were warned by the tournament referee to keep their remarks toward the Ohio State player positive.
After the changeover, Fago stepped to the line to seal the upset, and with a delicate drop volley winner on the first point, proved his nerves were intact. A forehand winner made it 30-0 and a good second serve produced a return error to make it 40-0. Another second serve, this one an ace, completed the upset and sent the Volunteers swarming to embrace their teammate.
Tennessee was down 1-0 after losing the doubles point, but won four of the six first sets to keep their hopes alive. Ohio State went up 2-0 when Steve Moneke won at No. 3, but JP Smith pulled Tennessee to within one with his victory over the nation's top-ranked player Bryan Koniecko, and Boris Conkic took down Justin Kronauge at No. 2 to pull even. The Volunteers took the lead when Matt Brewer made it 3-2 at No. 6, leaving courts number 4 and 5 to decide the match. Ohio State's Matt Allare won at No. 5 to put all eyes on Fago and Novak, which was 3-1 Novak in the second set, when all the other matches had been completed. For the Ohio State faithful, the match couldn't have been in better hands, as Novak had never lost a dual match in his two seasons as a Buckeye, but the first cut is the deepest, as the top ranked team and its fans can now tell you.
For the complete scores, visit the ITA results page.
©Colette Lewis 2009--
The No. 3 seeded Georgia Bulldogs got a major contribution from the bottom of their lineup to get past No. 6 USC 4-1 Saturday afternoon at the Midtown Tennis Center. After the doubles point was decided in Georgia's favor at No. 1, the Trojans pulled even when Robert Farah defeated Nate Schnugg 7-5, 6-2 and it stayed at 1-1 for a very long time.
Georgia held the advantage, taking first sets in four of the other five matches, and when Drake Bernstein beat Matt (f/k/a Mateusz) Kecki at No. 5 by a 6-4, 7-5 score, and Josh Varela defeated Jason McNaughton in three sets at No. 6, Georgia held a 3-1 lead. The Trojans were given hope when Jaak Poldman gained at split with Jamie Hunt at No. 2, but they needed Steve Johnson at No. 3 to do the same.
Against Javier Garrapiz, Johnson dropped the first set, and was broken at 4-4 in the second, meaning that Garrapiz was serving for both the match and the Georgia victory. Johnson played an outstanding game to break Garrapiz, who could do nothing but applaud the Johnson winners, but he couldn't hold his serve in the next game, and Garrapiz converted on his second opportunity to take a 6-4, 7-5 victory and send Georgia into the semifinals against Stanford.
For complete scores, see the ITA results page.
©Colette Lewis 2009--
For the second time in two days, the No. 11 Stanford team dropped the doubles point, but came back to win four of the six singles matches to score an upset. Against No. 7 Florida on Friday, the Cardinal won the final match at No. 6; this morning, which actually finished this afternoon, it was No. 2 singles that decided the winner.
Cardinal freshman Bradley Klahn saved three match points in the second set tiebreaker against Kellen Damico, then went on to outlast the cramping Texas sophomore 1-6, 7-6(8), 7-5.
Klahn served for the match after getting a break at 4-4 in the third, and it was in that ninth game that Damico looked to be suffering from some stiffness in his legs. But Klahn won only one point on his serve to make it 5-5, and in the next game, at 30-30, Damico collapsed behind the baseline with leg cramps. After the trainer came to the court and Damico received treatment, he was able to continue, but with limited mobility, and he lost the next point to give Klahn a second chance to serve it out. Even with Damico unable to move, he parried a remarkable number of Klahn's ground strokes, but at 40-15, Damico went for broke on a forehand, and it caught the net, sending Klahn's teammates and coaches into their second celebration in two days.
The first sets in singles were evenly split, with three first sets to Texas and three to Stanford, meaning that the Longhorns were in the driver's seat, needing to win only the matches that they led. And except for the turnaround on No. 2, they did. After Richard Wire at No. 5 and Alex Clayton at No. 1 had given Stanford a 2-1 lead, Texas's Josh Zavala eased past Stanford's hero from Friday, Blake Muller to make it 2-2. Ryan Thacher at No. 4 gave Stanford a 3-2 lead, and with Matt Bruch earning a split with Ed Corrie, the Cardinal had two chances to close out the Longhorns. But Bruch, who served for the match at 6-5, threw in three double faults during a three-deuce game, never earning a match point, and Corrie took the tiebreaker for a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(4) decision that turned all eyes to the dramatics on adjoining court 2.
For complete scores, see the ITA website.
Friday, February 13, 2009
©Colette Lewis 2009--
It took over three and a half hours, but the No. 4 seeded UCLA Bruins finally dropped the No. 13 seeded Illinois team 4-2 in Friday's final match.
Illinois took the doubles point and a 2-0 lead, when Roy Kalmanovich beat Harel Srugo at No. 3 singles, but the Fighting Illini were trailing in all the remaining matches. At No. 1, UCLA's Haythem Abid had won the first set from Dennis Nevolo, but the Illinois freshman took a 5-2 lead in the second set, only to see Abid win the final five games to give the Bruins their first point. On the back three courts, UCLA won at No. 5, with Michael Look in two sets and with and at No. 4 with Holden Seguso in three sets, but Illinois' Marc Spicijaric at No. 2 earned a split, as did Billy Heiser at No. 6.
Illinois needed to win both matches to advance, however, and Spicijaric fell to Matt Brooklyn 6-4 in the third when the former Arizona State Sun Devil finally held after having been broken leading 3-2 and 4-3. It was an unreturnable serve on the first match point that put UCLA in the quarterfinals, where they will meet Virginia.
For complete scores, see the ITA results page.
©Colette Lewis 2009--
No. 5 seed and defending Indoor champion Virginia had no trouble with No. 12 Tulsa Friday night at the Midtown Tennis Club. Although their No. 1 doubles team was beaten to open the match, the Cavaliers took that point, and won the first set in all the singles matches. Drew Courtney gave Virginia its second point with a 6-3, 6-1 win at No. 6 over Ross Cunningham, and at No. 5, also in the back, hard-to-see courts, Steven Rooda gave the Cavaliers their third point with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Ashley Watling.
Michael Shabaz, who was down a break early in his match with Philip Stevens, found his return game midway through the first set, to put Virginia into the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-2 victory.
For complete scores, see the ITA results page.
©Colette Lewis 2009--
The No. 8 seed Tennessee Volunteers took the doubles point, and breezed past the No. 10 ranked Baylor Bears, who won the National Indoor here at the Midtown Tennis Club in 2005.
Tennessee earned its second point when Matteo Fago beat Dominik Mueller at No. 4, its third when Davey Sandgren also scored a straight set victory, over Julian Bley at No. 3. It was then a race to see if Baylor would get a point, as Baylors' Denes Lukacs was up a set and 5-2 over J.P. Smith at No. 1, but Volunteer Boris Conkic scored a 6-3, 6-3 win over Jordan Rux at No. 2 before Lukacs could finish.
For complete scores, see the ITA results page.
©Colette Lewis 2009--
The Ohio State University got off to a rocky start, but the top seeds recovered from the loss of the doubles point to send No. 16 seed Pepperdine to the consolation tournament.
In singles Buckeye Bryan Koniecko pulled his team even with a dominating performance against Bassam Beidas at No. 1, but Pepperdine went ahead when Omar Altmann beat Justin Kronauge 6-4, 6-4 at No. 2. It was the last point the Waves would get, as senior Steven Moneke took his match in straight sets against freshman Alex Llompart at No. 3, and sophomore Shuhei Uzawa defeated Alex Moreno 6-3, 6-1.
For complete scores, see the ITA results page.
©Colette Lewis 2009--
It took four matches, but we finally got a nail-biter at the ITA Men's Team Indoor. No. 7 Florida and No. 11 Stanford went back and forth until it all came down to No. 6 singles, with Blake Muller besting Eric Corace 4-6, 7-6, 6-3.
Florida took the doubles point, with a 8-6 win at No. 3. At the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles positions, both Florida, at No. 1, and Stanford at No. 2, served for the match, but neither could hold, with both going to tiebreakers. Florida's Joey Burkhardt and Antoine Benneteau rendered the tiebreaker at No. 2 moot when they prevailed over Richard Wire and Muller at No. 1.
Stanford won the first two singles to finish, with Ryan Thacher at No. 4 and Alex Clayton at No. 1 taking straight set wins. Florida pulled even when Alex Lacroix beat Bradley Klahn in three sets, and the Gators took the lead when Benneteau took out Matt Bruch at No. 3. Stanford then tied it up with Richard Wire downing Jeff Dadamo in three sets, leaving the final point in the hands of Muller and Corace. I arrived at the distant court 14 with the score at 2-2 in the third, and was told there had already been two breaks of serve. Two more breaks and it was 3-3, then Corace was broken to give Muller the 4-3 lead. When Muller held in the next game, serving well, he had established a real advantage, and Corace was unable to make Muller hold again, dropping serve to put Stanford in the quarterfinals.
For complete results, see the ITA results page.
©Colette Lewis 2009--
The No. 6 USC Trojans swept past Ole Miss early Friday afternoon, taking No. 1 and 2 doubles and No. 3, No. 6 and No. 5 singles. Steve Johnson got the second USC point when Kalle Norberg retired with an illness at No. 3, and Jason McNaughton earned the third point with a quick straight set victory over Otto Sauer at No. 6. Ole Miss No. 5 Bram ten Berge needed to win a tiebreaker to extend the match, but Abdullah Magdas played a near-flawless breaker to deliver the win for the Trojans.
©Colette Lewis 2009--
The Florida State Seminoles made a battle of it, but No. 3 Georgia advanced to the quarterfinals of the ITA Men's Team Indoor with a 4-1 victory. The doubles point went down to a tiebreaker at No. 3, with Georgia taking the No. 1 doubles and Florida State the No. 2. Bulldogs Javier Garrapiz and Drake Bernstein took that decision over Chris Cloer and Vahid Mirzadeh 9-8(2).
In the singles, Georgia took points at No. 3 with Garrapiz and No. 5 with Josh Varela; Clint Bowles of the 14th seeded Seminoles defeated Jamie Hunt at No. 2 for their lone point. Christian Vitulli took the fourth point for Georgia with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over Andrew Bailey at No. 6.
For complete results, see the ITA website's match results page.
©Colette Lewis 2009--
The first completed match Friday saw No. 2 seed University of Texas sweep past the University of Michigan 4-0. After taking No. 3 and No. 2 doubles for the first point, the Longhorns finished off the Wolverines when Ed Corrie downed Peter Aarts at No. 3 singles. Kellen Damico at No. 2 and Olivier Sajous at No. 5 earned the other points for the Longhorns. For complete results and live scoring, see the tournament website.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
My weekly feature for The Tennis Recruiting Network is a more in-depth look at last week's exhibition match between the USTA boys national team and the University of Miami.
Next week Thursday, the USTA girls team travels to Coral Gables for their chance to assess college competition. I think this is a great idea, and hope to see more of these exhibitions in the future.
We're on our way to Chicago for the Men's Indoor, so unless there is some breaking news, this is probably the last post until late Friday. Feel free to weigh in with your predictions on who will be holding the Men's and Women's championship trophies next Monday.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The fact that the USTA Men's and Women's Opens, held at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center every year, are played between Christmas and New Year's is no excuse for me to forget about them completely. It's a gold ball tournament, and this year it must have been particularly exciting, with the opening of the new indoor facility. (For more on the new space, Tennis Week's Richard Pagliaro provided this account).
Julia Cohen was the top seed and defending champion, but she lost in the semifinals, and 15-year-old Ester Goldfeld captured the title. Wake Forest senior Cory Parr did repeat as the men's champion, and Parr, the top seed, also took the doubles title too, with Craig Schwartz, who had won the doubles gold with another partner in 2007. For all the results, see the TennisLink site.
Matt Cronin of tennisreporters.net, Inside Tennis and Fox Sports, is, like our frequent commenter Austin, dismayed by the current state of men's tennis in the U.S. As Austin mentions in a comment on yesterday's post, the 1986 birth year, which includes Phillip Simmonds, Scoville Jenkins, Brendan Evans, Scott Oudsema, Nikita Kryvonos (and Alex Kuznetsov, who is actually a 1987 but is considered part of that group, all of whom bypassed college) hasn't fulfilled expectations at the pro level, given their excellent junior results. Cronin says, "U.S. Player Development is now stuck with arguably the least promising generation of young pros in 40 plus years of the Open Era."
Cronin goes on:
Blake has seen plenty of hotshot youngsters arrive in the past year from foreign soils — among them seventh ranked Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina, No. 20 Marin Cilic of Croatia and the highly talented Latvian teen (sic, Gulbis is 20), Ernests Gulbis. Two of those kids, Del Porto and Gulbis, are playing San Jose this week and both have the potential to make serious noise all year long.
But when true up-and-comers are discussed in the hallways of the major tournaments, it's those names that are the ones that come first to the lips. Outside of a rare mention of Querrey, no young American name is shouted down the tunnels.
"Everyone of them is enormous," Blake said. "They already look like men and developing early will give you an advantage to compete at this level. At 18 or 19, if you put me against Del Potro or Gulbis, you would have laughed. I was 150 pounds. It wouldn't have been fair. It took me longer and maybe will take some of our guys longer."
Taylor Dent then goes on to stick up for Michael McClune, and Cronin concedes that the older Americans are "pretty supportive of their peers, so it's no surprise that they aren't incredibly disturbed by the fact that of the top 10 U.S. guys, only two are under the age of 26. They are getting used to a brave new world of tennis where the top four men are a Spaniard, Swiss, Serbian (Novak Djokovic) and Scot (Andy Murray)."
I would argue, as I always do, that "player development" has very little to do with the ascendancy of those four. Am I wrong?
For the complete Cronin story, click here.