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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Women's NCAA D-I Sweet 16 Play Begins Thursday; Notes From Milan, Paris, Sumter and Kansas City

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Athens, GA--

We stopped by the Dan Magill Tennis Complex today to pick up our media credentials, making sure that there had been no changes since we were last here in 2007. There weren't, although the beautiful landscaping seemed especially gorgeous today under the clear blue sky. The teams with 6 p.m. matches tomorrow and Friday--Texas, Baylor and Clemson women, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia and Florida men--were out practicing, mostly with the assistant coaches, because there was a mandatory coaches meeting scheduled for 5 p.m.

The weather forecast for the eight women's matches on Thursday is excellent--clear, low 80s, not much humidity, no chance of rain. The day will kick off with No. 6 Northwestern against No. 11 Miami and No. 3 Florida against unseeded Ole Miss at 9:00 a.m. Following them will be defending champion Duke, No. 10, against No. 7 UCLA and No. 2 North Carolina versus No. 15 Florida State. At 3 p.m., No. 4 Michigan meets No. 13 Tennessee and No. 5 Notre Dame plays 2009 finalist Cal, seeded 12th. No. 1 Baylor plays No. 16 Texas and No. 8 Stanford takes on No. 9 Clemson in the nightcap. For a Waco Tribune feature story on top-ranked Baylor's No. 1 player, Lenka Broosova, click here.

Live scoring and video is available at tournament central at georgiadogs.com. I will be tweeting throughout the day and hope to attend as many post match news conferences as I can, but will opt for watching the end of a match if there is a conflict, as there often is on the first few days.

The UCLA tennis blog is a great way to follow the experience from a participant's perspective; right now you can go there and see what the Bruins are having for dessert at the team banquet. Plus, I appreciate the shout-out to zootennis.com!

Before I start to concentrate strictly on the NCAA tournament, there is good news from the red clay of Europe. There are four girls from the U.S. in the round of 16 at the Grade A Italian Open: Monica Puig (PUR), Lauren Davis, Beatrice Capra and Ester Goldfeld. None of the U.S. boys made the third round.

In French Open qualifying today, Jesse Witten, Ryan Harrison, Michael Yani and Alex Bogomolov all won to reach the final round of qualifying. Ryler DeHeart and Kevin Kim play their second round matches on Thursday. In the first round of women's qualifying in Paris, Julia Cohen, Madison Brengle and Bettanie Mattek-Sands advanced.

See the Roland Garros website for more.

There are a couple of high school tennis stories to pass along. Jack Sock won his third straight high school title, blanking Ross Guignon, the bronze ball 16s Easter Bowl winner, in the final, while leading his team to the state title. To see what Sock has in common with former Georgia Bulldog Travis Helgeson, click here. And Harrison Richmond and his older brother Josh led their high school, Waccamaw, to the South Carolina Class AA state championship for the fourth straight time last weekend. For a complete account of the final match, see this article from the Myrtle Beach Sun News.


love-tennis said...

I love how Jack Sock plays for his high school. That is the smartest thing his parents can encourage him to do. In the national/ITF events, he can have the "glamour" of the high level tennis, if you can call it that.

Most highly skilled kids like that play high school tennis because it is just fun. Fun is what tennis really should be, and tennis really isn't very fun in jr. USTA tennis.

frightened said...

love-tennis, you frighten me with those comments. i'm speechless.

Brent said...

'Frightened', what hit you sideways about 'love's' comments? I think the 'junior tennis really isn't very fun' is probably a little dramatic. But, the point that they are encouraging him to play high school tennis I think is fantastic. He will have these memories to look back on regardless of where his career goes from here. He is learning valuable leadership lessons - we won't always work with the best of the best. And he's just getting a chance to be a normal high school kid for a little bit. I refuse to believe that his professional prospects have been materially stunted by playing a few weeks of high school tennis every year versus playing Futures.

love-tennis said...

Nothing cracks me up more than the medium level kids who think they are too cool for high school tennis. Yet, they don't win the supernationals either. Well, why are you too good for hs tennis? Jack Sock does it. He achieves at both levels.

On the way, he develops more friends from outside the country club tennis world, becomes far more well rounded, becomes part of the school, and has a real high school life. And the season doesn't take very long. Most smart hs coaches don't require that you practice at school all the time either.

If you go to a hs match, you see kids laughing all the time. If you go to a supernational, when do you see kids laughing except at check-in? Maybe occasionally in doubles? Maybe?

getreal said...

This sounds like the jack sock fan club. Actually high school tennis is probably a good fun move for him after his string of losses at the pro level after his futures win last fall. I would have been surprised if he would have played high school tennis if his winning streak had continued.

frightened said...

love-tennis, you sound like someone who has a child that plays high school tennis and is trying to justify what a waste of time it is. for kids that want to get to the highest level it develops none of their game.it leads to complacency and lack of focus because of the level of play. the only thing most kids get out of it is extra publicity because most people dont understand how weak it is. it is a complete waste of time and stunts their development if they are capable of playing at the higher levels.

love-tennis said...

No frightened, you are plain wrong. I hope you don't have kids. It is not a total waste. Half of tennis is mental. You need relief from the pressures of hard-core tennis to relax and enjoy yourself. It is a short term way to socialize and make friends. If you know anything about human psychology, you have to be happy to achieve.

Of course I mean it for short-term, not for a long-term path. Obviously the competition isn't as tough. And yes, you finally get some publicity. Isn't it worth it? Don't the high school bball and football stars get all the publicity and then go to a DIII school? Shouldn't a tennis player who has achieved far more relatively get their picture in the paper? What is wrong with that?

And no, I do not know Jack Sock. At least he probably knows how to capitalize the beginning word of a sentence though.

The Dude said...

When my son was a nationally ranked junior player we had wondered whether to forgo HS tennis. A local parent, who's son was an older talented national junior, advise us to make sure my son played HS tennis. She said it was their biggest regret as the team gave kids personal social skills and they had so much fun together that would have been a great learning experience for her son.

It is NOT a waste of time depending on the HS tennis coach. The coach allowed my son to practice when it didn't interfere with his USTA training and tourneys. He made great friends and was a popular HS athlete which developed his self esteem in contrast to an obsure tennis kid who wasn't part of the school culture. He won the state singles title 3 years running and led his team to 4 straight conference and state titles. His coach was named National HS Coach of the year. Reading about your team in the local paper, having fun at team dinners and banquets, nurturing leadership skills, having everyone know and admire you in HS....priceless. He was recruited and currently plays D-I tennis.

HS tennis did not interfere with my son winning 2 Silver Balls and a Bronze Ball in USTA juniors. When the 99.9% of tennis parents come to realize that their kid will not end up playing on the tour, it will be too late to make good decisions for their kids.

Brent said...

Dude, appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Couldn't agree with you more but extra credible coming from your perspective. Don't know how a junior tennis parent would read your note and still decide to go with the 'all the eggs in the pro basket' approach.

John said...

As a general rule I would agree with the thoughts about (yes) to playing high school tennis. But in some rural local areas it just doesn't make sense and that has nothing to do with 'professional' aspirations. It would be like a 5.0 player playing on a 3.5 team.....just not good for anyone.