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Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Look Back at 2009: Memorable Moments in College and Junior Tennis

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!


Man in the Moon said...

as Bob Hope / Bing Crosby once said "thanks for the memories"

Manuel said...

I don't think you are being very fair by saying I virtually dismiss the Virginia tennis program and we don't consider them rivals. I have great respect for UVA and what they have acomplished.
If you allow me to include the rest of my quote following my joke about our 14-1 record against Virginia at that time, you and all your readers would get a fair assesment of my comments. Your question to me after the match was:Is this a rivalry now? I thought the question was rather ridiculous given the success of the Virginia program in recent years...
Here is the rest of my answer to you: "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."
Manny Diaz

Nancy from Atlanta said...

Oudin lost again today at Hopman Cup, thats 5 losses in a row since the Open.

Hopefully the hype can stop now until she actually wins 1 tournament.

Man in the Moon said...

Wow, Manuel

that truly and unequivocally changes the complexion of the original quote.

Almost like night and day

5.0 Player said...

With regard to Melanie Oudin, while I think she has game and I wish her the best, is it just me who senses that there is an unusual immaturity about her? She not only looks about 13 or 14 years old, but when she is interviewed she sounds that young and even her facial and body gestures on the court strike me as more typical of a very immature girl.

I hope she is more emotionally mature than she seems to convey because she will need that to cope with all the attention.

4.5 said...

yes very whiny on the court

Chris said...

I am disappointed at your lack of acknowledgment of the two top americans in the itf right now. you go on about other players who respectively had great years, but mitchell frank who has had his fair share of critics for his game style since he won 14s clays or denis kudla not even getting a mention even after winning eddie herr?? If you dont give credit to the two top americans in the world but show much more for others is there not something wrong with this picture?

avid follower said...

Nothing against Frank and Kudla. Both have accomplished a lot in the ITF.
If you ask most coaches, Frank does not have a lot of upside.
But calling them "the two top Americans". You really mean ranked in the ITF Juniors. Ryan Harrison, 17, is ranked around 365 in the ATP. Jack Sock,17, has already won one Future and a Semi in his last 3. Both have huge upsides.
They're playing above the ITF Juniors.
We'll see who becomes better in the long run, but Frank and Kudla are not the best two young Americans right now

ATP events said...


Denis and Mitchell are the two highest ranked american juniors in the itf rankings but those rankings really don't mean that much.

They certainly deserve credit for achieving that ranking and winning those matches, but they wouldn't be ranked that high if the other top American juniors played those events.
1) Ryan Harrison is currently in the 300s in ATP.
2)Jack Sock is ranked in the Top 700 in the ATP and won a Future event already.
3)Alex Domijan ranked 700 ATP.
4)Bob Vanoverbeek and Jordan Cox (Wimbledon Jr. singles finalist) are Top 1000 ATP.

All of these guys barely played ITF tournaments or stopped playing a long time ago.

The real rankings are the ATP NOT ITF. Hopefully Mitchell and Denis will start playing those.

tennisinc. said...


You make a good point, and in response to ATP Events, who are the so-called coaches who say Frank does not have much upside? Also, the guys you mention with ATP rankings all played several ITF events (Sock played the fewest but is ranked in the top 150). Between the ages of 15-17, most of those guys traveled extensively playing ITFs, so that is a misleading statement.

getreal said...

---Bob Vanoverbeek and Jordan Cox (Wimbledon Jr. singles finalist) are Top 1000 ATP. Cox played the ZOo and crashed out both in the main and back draw. Has potential but his run at Wimbledon seems to have been it for 2009. Van Overbeek a nice player w/ potentail but never has seperated himself at any group from the pack. Harrison and sock, another story.