I’ve never been one for year-in-review posts. That’s partly because, unlike tennis journalists who cover professionals, December is one of my busiest times for tournament coverage, leaving me little time for reflection. I’m also looking ahead to my annual Intriguing Questions article for The Tennis Recruiting Network; this year’s edition will be out later this month.
In an attempt to keep this a manageable and readable length, my highlights from 2009 will be confined to those I actually witnessed, with links provided to my stories on zootennis.com for those who would like to read more. So, in chronological order, here are my two dozen highlights of the year.
~Virginia defeats Georgia to win ITA Men’s Team Indoor. Georgia coach Manny Diaz is not convinced a rivalry has been established.
~My first conversation with coaching legend Robert Lansdorp was fascinating and educational, and I rarely watch a tennis match now without recalling one of his nuggets of wisdom.
~Beatrice Capra competes in her first tournament on her own—no coach, no parent—and wins the USTA 18s Spring Nationals in Mobile. Eleventh seed Fred Saba surprises Jack Sock in boys final.
~Sloane Stephens finds her top form to win ITF International Spring Championships, while Mitchell Frank’s victory starts him on the path to the ITF Junior Top Ten.
~Christina McHale triumphs over a stellar field to win the 18s Easter Bowl; Evan King caps two outstanding weeks in California with boys title, his second at the Easter Bowl.
~A cramping Justin Kronauge of Ohio State puts his team in its first NCAA final with a win at No. 3 singles in the deciding match against UCLA.
~The University of Southern California men, with three freshmen in the lineup, win another NCAA title in College Station, defeating Ohio State 4-1.
~Duke captures its first NCAA women’s title, with tournament MVP Reka Zsilinszka leading the Blue Devils to a 4-0 victory over California, runner-up for the second straight year.
~Devin Britton of Ole Miss and Mallory Cecil of Duke, both of whom started college in January, win NCAA titles.
~Unseeded qualifier Lauren Davis wins ITF Grass Court title; Raymond Sarmiento takes singles and doubles championships.
~Unseeded 14-year-old Krista Hardebeck wins USTA 18s Clay Courts, with final moved indoors due to rain.
~Chase Buchanan dominates field to win USTA National 18s title at Kalamazoo. Gonzales Austin upsets top seed Jack Sock in 16s final.
~Devin Britton, given a wild card by the USTA, draws Roger Federer in first round of US Open, which leads to my first published story in the print edition of the New York Times.
~Standing outside Arthur Ashe Stadium with thousands of other fans watching the big screen as Melanie Oudin defeats Maria Sharapova in the third round of the US Open.
~Rain once again sends US Open juniors on bus odyssey to Port Chester, but Buchanan topples No. 1 seed Yuki Bhambri and No. 8 seed Gianni Mina to reach finals.
~Great Britain’s Heather Watson emerges from shadow of Laura Robson with her surprise victory in New York, while Bernard Tomic of Australia ends his junior career with routine win over Buchanan for boys title.
~Tennessee’s JP Smith claims singles and doubles titles at ITA D’Novo All-American Championships in a remarkably cold and damp Tulsa.
~Sekou Bangoura keeps his cool under challenging conditions in semifinal, wins first ITF Grade 1 title at Pan-American Closed in Tulsa. Eugenie Bouchard of Canada takes epic final match against Ester Goldfeld to win her first ITF major.
~Pac-10 sweeps all four titles at ITA Indoor, held at Yale University.
~Duck Hee Lee of Korea is deaf, but that challenge didn’t prevent the 11-year-old from reaching the semifinals at the Eddie Herr.
~U.S. players take six of eight singles titles at Eddie Herr, including both 12s titles.
~Unseeded Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada, playing in her third straight tournament, coping with a sore knee and a taped thigh, upsets world junior champion Kristina Mladenovic to win Dunlop Orange Bowl. France’s Gianni Mina wins boys title, while Alexios Halebian and Breaunna Addison of the U.S. take 16s championships.
~Unseeded Yuki Chiang upsets top seed Brooke Austin in Junior Orange Bowl 14s final. Abanda, Nguyen and Hong are seeded champions.
And since no look back would be complete without lowlights, here are a few from 2009:
~SEC Champion Ole Miss men and Big 12 Champion Baylor men sent on the road for the regionals by the NCAA Tennis Committee.
~Murphy's Law prevents U.S. girls from defending Junior Fed Cup championship, as they lose by forfeit in qualifying.
~Power outage at the NCAAs in College Station leaves half the stadium dark and the media center without power. Twitter is the sole means of conveying scores in the women’s match between Baylor vs. Stanford.
~UCLA men forfeit 2008 Pac-10 title.
~Gabriela Dabrowski wins two matches in consecutive weeks when opponent is given penalty for racquet abuse on final point at Eddie Herr and at Orange Bowl.
~Post-doubles match brawl results in three suspensions at the Orange Bowl.
Here's hoping there's an even higher ratio of good memories to bad in 2010!
Sunday, January 3, 2010