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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Texas Tech Captures Blue Gray Classic; Puig Wins Grade A Copa Gerdau in Brazil

Auburn, AL--

I've been fortunate to cover some very exciting dual matches this season, and today I added another to my list, with Texas Tech's 4-3 win over Oklahoma in the finals of the Blue Gray Classic. It's hard to top the thrill factor of a doubles point that goes to a 10-8 tiebreaker in the deciding match, but the singles had plenty of twists and turns too, and was ultimately decided with a late break in the third set at No. 1 singles, with Tech's Raony Carvalho defeating Oklahoma's Andrei Daescu. I'll be doing a full match report for the Tennis Recruiting Network, and have more information at that time about the changes that are coming for next year's Blue Gray tournament, as well as comments from both Texas Tech coach Tim Siegel, a veteran of the competition, and first-time participant John Roddick of Oklahoma. In the meantime, see the Texas Tech athletic site for their story and results.

A few random observations about today's match before I get to the ITF Junior results:

There may be a bigger shot in college tennis than Carvalho's forehand, but I haven't seen it. Although pace is amplified indoors, several of the sophomore from Brazil's shots from that side were hit as hard as any you might have seen at Indian Wells this week, maybe harder. When Carvalho is not making errors, as he didn't in the first five games of the opening set against Daescu, he is devastatingly good. Fortunately for the rest of the men playing college tennis, he doesn't always play at that level.

It was a great call by the tournament officials to move the match indoors, and it was fortunate that the Auburn indoor facility was available. Although it cleared off by 3 p.m. in Montgomery, it was miserable at match time, and waiting could have disrupted travel plans and forced play under the lights. Not many spectators made the 45 minute drive to Auburn, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as the viewing consists only of small bleachers next to court one.

The Big 12 is one tough conference right now on the men's side. Six of the seven teams are in the Top 25, and all are playing exceptionally well right now. It should be a very interesting conference season, which I'm sure Texas College Tennis blog will be following closely.

Now, on to the ITF junior tennis news. There were three tournaments in the Caribbean/Central America region this week, an ITF Grade 1 in Malaysia and the Copa Gerdau taking place in Brazil. U.S. players went deep in several events, with Puerto Rico's Monica Puig winning the Grade A in Brazil over American Jessica Pegula. Puig, the No. 2 seed, who is already in the ITF Top 10, has to be relieved to have won a final after several second place finishes this year, and is sure to climb even higher in the rankings with this win. For the unseeded Pegula, the 2-6 7-6(5) 6-3 loss isn't a disappointing result, and she will also get a boost in the rankings. The boys Copa Gerdau title went to unseeded Mathias Bourgue of France.

At the Grade 1 in Malaysia, Dane Webb reached the semifinals in singles and in doubles, Webb and Mitchell Krueger were also semifinalists. At the Grade 4 in Barbados, Caroline Price and Robert Livi made the singles finals, and Price won the doubles with Daria Sharapova, who trains at Bollettieri's. Trey Strobel and Ronald Powell won the boys doubles in Barbados. On clay in Panama's Grade 4, four U.S. girls made the semifinals. Fourth seed Belinda Niu defeated No. 6 Ashley Dai 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 and No. 5 Tristan Dewar beat Gabrielle DeSimone 6-3, 6-3. In the final, Niu downed Dewar 6-3, 7-6(3). Niu and DeSimone won the doubles title.

For all the results, see the ITF junior website.


a couple of random thoughts said...

Congratulations Danielle Collins, she’s as tough as nails. It wasn’t too long ago that she drew an unseeded Jan Abaza in one of Florida’s sectional tournaments in the first round. It was a 3 and ½ hour match which Danielle won. The best match of the tournament, essentially the final. Jan never lost again in the back draw and Danielle won that tournament.

On the Agassi vs. Sampras controversy which can be caught on youtube and has had a lot of press, aside from the discomfort when watching it, one thing that caught my attention was the camera coverage. There was one youtube clip where Federer volleyed many balls and ended the point with a drop volley. The crowd went nuts, but what was most interesting to me is where the fan/camera man was sitting. Couple that with the 60 minutes story last night about how no one watches doubles and the Bryans walking in to an empty press conference and what is clear is that the way tennis is captured by cameras in the United States hasn’t changed for years. Watch the Australian open and there are camera angles everywhere. Watch golf, they follow the silly ball; watch football they have a camera hovering the field, watch baseball, there’s a camera at Home plate. Tennis has clearly, yet again, not done a good job of promoting itself. Doubles should be the place where camera experiments are performed, why? The perfect argument, right now no one is in the stands anyways. I think more people would watch on TV with a little change in camera angles and attempts to track the ball more.

Lastly a question, where does a junior in Broward County or Palm Beach County in Florida go to get in shape and learn footwork? There’s a couple of juniors in this area who have tried a couple of academies yet they remain slow a foot, continue to back up on balls and haven’t really been instructed to get in shape or been given an ideal playing weight. I’m familiar with a great personal trainer in Dade County that’s reasonable priced but that is too far away. What the secret, do juniors do Pilates, yoga, DVD fitness videos? If you have some economical answers, please contribute. Essentially are there any Etcheberry footwork guys in the area?

NOT a Jankovic Fan said...

Is there anyone more fake than jankovic on the womens tour? She bitches and complains on every loss, talks bad about her opponents or says how bad she played, then expects everyone to cheer for her when she wins?

Her fake injuries and smiles on the court do NOT fool most people. It's a shame she won Indian Wells and a shame she fools fans into liking her.

footwork said...

Have you tried Diego Ayala? He is a great coach and undertstands proper footwork technique for junior players. He is near Ft. Lauderdale.

Teaching footwork does't take much money and you can use a couple cones and a public field, if you are looking for repetition. Worst case, you can buy a footwork video and practice on your own.

OU Tennis said...

Alot fo credit goes to Coach Roddick at OU for having an immediate impact and improving his team!!!

He is one of a few college coaches that actually improve the their players, but most importantly, have the passion and knowledge to do so.

marcos said...

Hi Colette. I`m Writting to let you know that argentine Andrea Collarini, a 1992 boy, top ten ITF in 09', will play now onwards for the US. He was borned in NY, and though he lived in Argentina since he was 2 years old, two months agos he received an offer from the USTA, that will give all to him in order to get his best shape. He´ll be living in Boca Raton, and a huge ampunt of money. Last week he make semis in Croacia F3, using a Junior Excempt.

Sory for my english, i know it isnt that good.
Se ya

MacAttack said...

Wow. Great win with savy Brazil (Tech) beating the rugged Romanians (OU). Was this Davis Cup or the blue gray classic. So this is what college tennis has stooped to at the detriment of US Junior's dreams and ambitions. If the deck wasnt stacked high enough for the aspiring junior player to compete for the very few d1 scholarships now they have to face an onslaught of washed out professionals from around the world.There is a reason why international basketball limits roster spots to 2 us players per year. The reason???? Well if your sport is played by non host country players then support and enthisiasm would die. What % of college players were foreighn in the 1970's and early 80's when US college tennis was at its peak? Just another reason to push our best and brightest into Baseball, football, and Basketball.

Tyler said...

Your are 1000% correct, but no one is doing anything about it! There are no petitions, nothing!

College tennis probably has as many players switching teams each year as free agency in pro football and pro basketball combined. The college has to make room for the new influx of failed pros.

I'm beginning to believe the where are the American Players is more of a pacification strategy, I mean how to you expect to have more John Isner types develop when they can't even play on an american college team? The late bloomers are being completely shut out.

MacAttack said...

Also, when sport programs are eliminated due to budget constraints who do you think will be on the chopping block first? It’s very easy for the college AD to eliminate a program that does not have Alumni support or American students participating. Tennis will be the first to go. Also how do you generate community support for a team that is not comprised of any one from the community? What about local kids trained at local clubs or academies playing for local programs?

MacAttack said...

And for those who will comment you can't win with local players I would like to say who cares...You and maybe the 12 people in attendence at your matches would probably be better entertained and certainly more enthusiastic if they had a rooting interest in the team and its players that have trained and participated in the community or heck even the state. Do you think that the Florida Gators or even the Akron Zips would fill their stadium's if half the team and all the starters played their HS ball and were from Denmark? I dont think so. Winning is important but not to the point that you destroy your own sport!!!!

later development said...

Was Patrick MacEnroe looking to his left and right at Davis Cup - realizing what type of player 'makes it' - Organically?

I could be wrong, and it would be very interesting to know Colette, but were Isner and Querrey 12-year-old phenoms -- swooped up by the USTA and trained over their Junior careers? I'm thinking that the players who are currently being 'identified' at 12 are the small fast kids. Are those kids going to become the adults who make it in the big leagues??

When the Isner/Querrey type -- the type that rapidly develops in their late teens - is overlooked by the USTA (because of the late development) and THEN does not have the opportunity to develop on an American D-1 team, well, you have to come to the conclusion that many opportunities to develop top players are lost.

I agree with Tyler, it seems that for U.S. kids, the whole "training hard to play college' thing is in this day a complete sham. If you look at who is playing the matches, it becomes very clear that very few American kids are actually 'playing' on these teams -- despite who is listed on their roster.

Colette Lewis said...

@later development:
Isner and Querrey were not 12-yr-olds identified as future champions by the USTA. But I can assure you that any 16 or 17-yr old player with the talent and potential of Querrey and Isner would be have plenty of opportunities to develop at the college of his choosing. That's just not a fair reading of the talent identification skills of D-I college coaches. If the next Isner is out there now, I have complete confidence that he will be "discovered" by the time he's 17. Don't forget that Isner went to one of the storied programs in college tennis, and Querrey had decided on another-USC-before turning pro.

Eric Amend said...

If I'm not mistaken, I believe Sam won the 14 Nationals, so he would have been on their radar. He was already fairly tall at that point.

Mac Attack said...

Forget the future champion quest. There are just to many variables to predict greatness. And if you are not in the top 50 in the world you are probably better off going to Dental School or whatever floats your boat educationally and professinally. I am talking about college tennis. Isnt that a worthy quest in of itself? Name 1 sure fire cant miss top 50 pro prospect that has been identified in this country that has actually cashed in before the age of 16? And the ones that have made are once in a life time athletes. Again top 50 not top 250. I saw Sharapove play her first pro event at 15 and you could not miss the future greatness. But since then? I also saw Bagdattis at 17 and was pretty impressed. So why doesnt the USTA promote the main reason why middle class parents get their kids interested in playing tennis? Scholarships.... Lets save college & Junior tennis in the US before it is to late. Forget pro tennis. That is unless you are in the catching lightning in a bottle business.

Man in the Moon said...

Mac Attack

I agree with you 100%.

The only problem is the USTA is interested in producing USO champions. And only USO type players.

IMO that is the wrong way to go (for the USTA)and I have elaborated on that exact point ad-nauseam.

steven s said...

"Man in the Moon". I agree with you. Instead of, "shoot for top 10 in the world", and ignore the rest..it should be "shoot for top 10 in the world, and support as many kids as possible in this ridiculously expensive sport. That way, they would expand their reach and influence, and perhaps a Younes el Annouyi late bloomer will be a result. Way too many kids in this country without Pat Harrisons, or tons of $$.