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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Team Named to Defend Master'U BNP Paribas Title; College Park JTCC Reaches Out to Locals; Must-Read Bloggers

The USTA announced the players who will be competing for the U.S. in next month's international collegiate team event in France. Austin Krajicek of Texas A&M, Sekou Bangoura, Jr. of Florida, Reid Carleton of Duke, Maria Sanchez of USC, Allie Will of Florida and Kristy Frilling of Notre Dame will compete against seven other teams December 9-12 in Rouen France in the Master'U BNP Paribas competition. Boise State's Greg Patton and Virginia's Mark Guilbeau will be this year's coaches. Krajicek, Frilling and Patton were on the team that beat France last year to claim the title. For the complete release, see usta.com.

Today the Gaithersburg, Md. Gazette posted this article about the efforts of the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md. to increase the awareness of its programs among local residents. The JTCC has been one of the most highly regarded training centers in the nation for quite some time, and was one of the first USTA Regional Training Centers, but apparently the non-profit organization's reputation is more established nationally than in its own area. Ray Benton is trying to raise the profile of the center in Maryland, and as a first step met with the local city council to consider methods of reaching potential local players.

With winter approaching, and professional tennis winding down for the year, you may find yourself with more time to read about, rather than watch tennis. I have my favorite bloggers, and ever since he won the Tennis Channel contest a few years, James LaRosa has been a must-read for me. His weekly column, Sweet Spot, is always entertaining, funny and a little bizarre, but he often makes serious points about the game and its players. This week he tackles those who are quick to pronounce a player "over", "done" or "incapable of winning a slam. Being fairly new to the business myself, I could only nod in agreement when he writes:

The practice of calling time of death on a player is unbelievably smug and, more often than not, embarrassingly uninformed.

But I didn’t always see it that way.

When I was little boy, I think it was around 2003, I’d hear people damn players to failure all the time and think, wow, these guys must be experts to be able to make such sweeping statements. Possibly even psychic! Best not speak up and betray my own ignorance or lack of magical powers. So I sat silently by when someone in the know told me, for instance, that Amelie Mauresmo would never win a Grand Slam.

Of course, she won two, so the conversation moves on to other players, certainty intact, with no acknowledgement that the unpredictability of sport is what makes it so great. And just as these experts are quick to bury current players, they are even more certain that there are no great young players ready to emerge (especially if they're American). That's one of my pet peeves, so I thank James for articulating just why that attitude is so annoying to many of us.

For a detailed look at the past year in women's tennis, check out Todd Spiker's WTA Backspin blog. I read Spiker's weekly post throughout the year, because I know there's almost no result in the world of women's tennis, junior or pro, that gets past him. I now know, for example, that Zarina Diyas, the 2007 Eddie Herr 16s champion, is the youngest player in the WTA top 200, a position previously held the past two years by Michelle Larcher de Brito. He's thorough and reliable, as well as fun to read, which is a great collection of assets.

The Tennis Mom has been on hiatus for several months, but she is back with a revealing post on the emotional stress she experiences while watching her daughter compete in tournaments. She's found a solution that works for her, and other tennis parents have added their comments on the problem.

And finally, if you are interested in some onsite coverage of the Champaign Challenger this weekend, Andrea at A Change of Ends will be there for the semifinals and finals. USC's Steve Johnson lost in the quarterfinals today to Amer Delic in two tiebreakers. In addition to Delic, Alex Bogomolov and Bobby Reynolds have reached the semis, with the final semifinalist to be decided tonight between Jesse Witten and Michael Yani.

In Bratislava, Ryan Harrison lost in a third-set tiebreaker to wild card Martin Klizan, and Jack Sock fell in three sets in the Amelia Island Futures, to doubles partner Dimitar Kutrovsky. Although Sock will not repeat as singles champion, he and Kutrovsky are in the doubles final.

For complete draws, see the ATP site.