Saturday, July 31, 2010

Kudla, Ore Fall in Qualifying at Legg Mason; Cox and King Win Doubles TItle in Godfrey; Puig Wins Central American Caribbean Games Gold

Qualifying has begun for next week's ATP Legg Mason Classic in Washington DC and the WTA Mercury Insurance Open in San Diego, as well as the $100,000 Challenger in Vancouver. There were quite a few interesting matches, so I'll start in on the east coast and work my way west.

Junior Ore and Denis Kudla, who train together at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, MD, received qualifying wild cards for the second straight year, and both lost in straight sets. Ore was beaten by Kei Nishikori of Japan, 6-3, 6-1 and Kudla lost to Somdev Devvarman 6-1, 6-1. Devin Britton also received a qualifying wild card and took the first set from Argentina's Brian Dabul, ranked 92, but lost 5-7, 6-2, 6-2. Donald Young, the subject of this Washington Post profile, beat Virginia senior Michael Shabaz, another wild card, 6-4, 6-2. Qualifying results are available here. The main draw wild cards went to Gasquet, Blake, Nalbandian and Verdasco.

In San Diego, the qualifying wild cards went to local player Amelia Herring, who is going to Stanford, and Stacey Tan, a sophomore on the 2010 NCAA Championship team, Texas A & M sophomore Nazari Urbina and Tori Kinard. The last three won their wild cards in a recent opportunity tournament. Unfortunately, all of them lost in today's opening round of qualifying. Herring was beaten by Sloane Stephens, Urbina by CoCo Vandeweghe Tan by Greta Arn and Kinard by Jill Craybas. Jamie Hampton took out No. 1 qualifying seed Kimiko Date Krumm and Ajla Tomljanovic beat Urzula Radwanska. The qualifying draws can be found here. The three wild cards in the main draw went to established WTA players: Dominika Cibulkova, Gisela Dulko and Ana Ivanovic. Ken Thomas is webcasting qualifying at radiotennis.com.

The Vancouver Challenger is a combined event, with the men's qualifying beginning today. Christina McHale is entered in the women's event, with Beatrice Capra and Shelby Rogers getting main draw wild cards according to the ITF Women's Circuit entry page. Former ITF world junior champion Noppawan Lertcheewakarn of Thailand is also entered, but she is still in St. Joseph, Missouri, where as the No. 1 seed, she has reached the singles final against doubles partner Gabriela Paz of Venezuela, the No. 7 seed. The unseeded pair lost in the doubles final today to USC's Maria Sanchez and Ellen Tsay, the No. 7 seeds.

In Godfrey, Ill., the site of the men's $10,000, Evan King and Jordan Cox won the doubles title over the University of Texas team of Josh Zavala and Jean Anderson 4-6, 6-3, 12-10. For more on King's first professional title, see the Michigan athletic site. Friday's play was completely rained out, so the quarterfinals and semifinals were both played today. Texas A & M senior Austin Krajicek beat Blake Strode and Rhyne Williams to advance to the singles final, where he'll meet Robbye Poole, the former Ole Miss player, who is going for his second straight Futures title.

For complete results, see the Pro Circuit results page.

At the Central American Caribbean Games in Mayaguez, Monica Puig, playing for Puerto Rico, won the singles gold medal in women's tennis. She was the No. 3 seed. For a photo, click here.

And finally, the Women's US Open National Qualifying Playoff will be between No. 1 seed Alina Jidkova and No. 2 seed Alexandra Mueller tomorrow at the Bank of the West Classic. Jidova beat No. 3 seed Brittany Augustine in three sets and Mueller got by unseeded Jessica Pegula, also in three sets. Pegula had beaten No. 4 seed Courtney Dolehide on Friday.


Serbia Dominates Israel in European Junior Davis Cup Qualifier: Live Report



David Marcus of sponsor OTZ Sporting Goods has provided his second and final report on the Junior Davis Cup European qualifying in Israel. Click here for his first. I am heading out to see some of the 14s Zonals this afternoon here in Kalamazoo, but later tonight I will post on all the pro events going on today across the country, as well as the Women's US Open National Playoffs. Thanks to David for giving us a glimpse of the young European standouts and for supporting zootennis too!

Junior Davis Cup/ European Qualifying
report by David Marcus

Friday at the qualifying tournament for the European Junior Davis Cup on the clay courts in Herzliya, Israel, the Serbian team showed why they will be a force in the tennis world for years to come. The No. 1 seeded team from Serbia faced off against the home team, the No. 2 seeded Israel. Pedya Krstin the No, 3 ranked player in Europe blanked Israel’s Igor Smilansky (No. 17 in Europe) 6-0, 6-0. Hitting laser backhands down the line and powerful forehands from all corners of the court, Krstin, who now plays with a yellow OTZ band dampener on his racquet, dominated the play from start to finish.

Next up Serbia’s Miki Jankovic the No. 2 ranked player in Europe, defeated Israel’s No. 1 seed (11 in Europe) Or Ram-Harel 6-2,6-1. Harel had no answer for Jankovic’s strong topspin serve and volley game. Displaying an imaginative variety of shots, Jankovic, 15, hit drop shots from many angles and effectively counterpunched by ripping several crosscourt forehand winners past a lunging Harel. “I played pretty well today," said Jankovic in a post-game interview. "Next week our goal is to defeat this year’s favorites, France and the UK, and capture the European Junior Davis Cup."

Serbian junior team coach Mico Ratkovic has been working with Jankovic since he was eight years old. “Miki is a great athlete and he has a confident and calm approach to tennis,” said Ratkovic. “He trains hard and has developed a potent mix of tennis shots. His excellent racquet preparation allows him to hit winners from many spots on the court. We travel together to tournaments 32-33 weeks a year and we maintain a very good relationship. I think he can go a long way, but the next two years are very critical and time will tell.”

Friday, July 30, 2010

Wrapping up the Clays with Story, Slideshow and Video

The Tennis Recruiting Network has had four straight days of Clay Court coverage from all the divisions. My story, the last in the series, can be found here, but make sure you read the seven other articles that appeared throughout the week. Below is my slideshow, which ends with photos of Matt Walker fulfilling his part of the bargain by sitting still for the head shaving. If you want to recognize him in San Diego next week, make sure you study the second photo carefully.

In addition to the slideshow, there are two short videos on the tenniskalamazoo YouTube channel, one of finalist Whitney Kay and the other of champion Caroline Price.







Thursday, July 29, 2010

Top Four Seeds Advance to Quarters at Women's US Open National Playoff; King Reaches Singles Quarters and Doubles Final in Godfrey

The Women's US Open National Playoff began yesterday, with four matches played, and today the first round was completed, leaving eight players still alive for the U.S. Open qualifying wild card, including all four seeds. Yesterday No. 1 seed Alina Jidkova beat Eleanor Peters 6-4, 6-3, Kaitlyn Christian downed Samantha Powers 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-2, No. 3 seed Brittany Augustine defeated Belinda Niu 6-4, 6-1 and Evangeline Repic got past Jan Abaza 6-3, 7-6 (2). For more details on Wednesday's matches, see this story from usopen.org.

In today's action, Jessica Pegula won over Megan Falcon, 6-0, 6-4, No. 4 seed Courtney Dolehide defeated Rachel Kahan 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, Maureen Diaz beat Katerina Sevcikova 6-2, 6-3 and No. 2 seed Alexandra Mueller downed Romana Tedjakusuma, 6-2, 6-3. More detailed coverage of the matches can be found at gvtnews.com.

The two $10,000 Pro Circuit events in Godfrey, Ill. and St. Joseph, Mo. produced some interesting results for those preparing for the upcoming USTA Nationals.

Qualifier Evan King beat 2009 Kalamazoo 18s champion Chase Buchanan 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-3 and in Friday's quarterfinals will face wild card Rhyne Williams, who today defeated No. 7 seed and 2008 Kalamazoo 16s champion Jordan Cox 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. Austin Krajicek saw to it that recent Kalamazoo champions were not shut out in Godfrey, as the 2008 18s winner took out No. 5 seed Alex Domijan 6-1, 7-6(1). Krajicek plays Blake Strode in the quarterfinals.

King and Cox, who played many a doubles match together as juniors, teamed up this week in Godfrey and have reach the finals. They beat Buchanan and Sekou Bangoura 7-6(0), 6-3 and will meet Texas Longhorns Jean Andersen and Josh Zavala, who defeated another accomplished former junior team, Krajicek and Jarmere Jenkins, 7-5, 3-6, 10-7 in today's semifinals.

In the women's event in Missouri, juniors Ellen Tsay, Grace Min and Kyle McPhillips advanced to the quarterfinals, with McPhillips and Min playing each other on Friday. McPhillips, who is playing the 16s division in San Diego, defeated No. 2 seed Liz Lumpkin 6-3, 6-1. McPhillips and Catherine Harrison reached the doubles semifinals, where they will play Tsay and her partner, Maria Sanchez of USC.

For complete results, see the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.

Junior Davis Cup Qualifying in Israel: Live Report


David Marcus, one of the proprietors of sponsor OTZ Sporting Goods, is in Israel this week, and is attending the European Qualifying for the ITF's Junior Davis Cup. He filed this report on the action, and it sounds as if Serbia will continue to be part of the tennis conversation for many years to come.

I will post briefly later tonight on the results of the first round of the Women's US Open National Playoffs and notable Pro Circuit results today.

Junior Davis Cup/European Qualifying
report by David Marcus

Wednesday marked the start of the qualifying tournament for the European Junior Davis Cup on the clay courts in Herzliya, Israel. Teams from Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Israel, Poland, Serbia and Ukraine are competing for the top two spots. The top two teams will advance to the European Junior Davis Cup championship next month in France. The winning teams of the tournament in France will play in the World Junior Davis Cup Championship in Mexico in September. This is the first time Israel has hosted this event and more than 500 tennis fans and the mayor of Herzliya came out to cheer the teams and watch some outstanding junior tennis players.

One of the most watched players in the tournament is Miki Jankovic, 16, from Serbia who is ranked No. 2 in Europe and already carries an impressive ITF ranking of 106 for the age 18 and under category. Sporting a powerful serve and great touch at the net, Jankovich played an impressive clay court match to easily defeat Dominic Weidinger of Austria 6-1, 6-1. Miki’s teammate Pedja Krstin, is ranked no. 3 in Europe and easily beat Austrian Johannes Schretter 6-2, 6-1. The Serbian team is seeded No. 1 in the competition.

Next up the No.2 seeded Israeli team defeated No. 3 seeded Belarus. In the first match Israel’s Igor Smilansky (ranked No. 17 in Europe) crushed first serves and powered inside out forehands to defeat a game Aliaksei Tarada 6-2, 6-4. Not to be outdone, Or Ram-Harel (ranked No. 11 in Europe) followed suit with a smooth all court, error free performance to defeat Yersh Maskim 6-0, 6-3. Tomorrow’s final will be the showdown between the two top teams Serbia and Israel.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wild Cards For USTA National Championships Announced

The USTA National Championships begin a week from Friday here in Kalamazoo, with the tournaments at the other locations getting underway Saturday or Sunday. Here are the wild card recipients for those events:

Boys 18s:
Harry Fowler
Alexios Halebian
Hunter Harrington
Mousheg Hovhannisyan
Matthew Kandath
Evan King
Zachary Leslie
Alexander Petrone

Boys 16s:
Eric Brinzenskiy
Luca Corinteli
Joseph Di Giulio
Daniel Kerznerman
Nikko Madregallejo
Spencer Papa
Konrad Zieba
Shane Vinsant

Boys 14s:
Kevin Lee
Jonathan O’Neal
Francis Tiafoe
Ziqi Wang

Boys 12s:
Alafia Ayeni

Girls 18s:
Jan Abaza
Kelsey Laurente
Sarah Lee
Jamie Pawid
Jessica Pegula
Kayla Rizzolo
Shelby Rogers
Reserved

Girls 16s:
Ekaterina Bure
Erin Gebes
Victoria Robertson
Jwany Sherif
Deborah Suarez

Girls 14s:
Jessie Lynn Paul
Ariana Rodriguez
Carolyn Xie

Girls 12s:
Kenya Jones
Gaby Pollner
Maya Smith

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

USA's World Junior Tennis Teams; Youth Olympic Games; McEnroe's Academy Decides Girls Scholarships; McHale Wins, Johnson Loses

Although the USTA has not yet sent out a release, the U.S. teams for the ITF World Junior Tennis competition 14-and-under tournament have been selected. Gabrielle Andrews, Brooke Austin and Taylor Townsend will be the United States' girls team, which is seeking its fourth consecutive world title. Jordan Belga, Stefan Kozlov and Noah Rubin are the boys who will be competing for the U.S. in Prostejov, Czech Republic beginning next Monday. Kathy Rinaldi and Mike Sell are the USTA National Coaches making the trip. The list of countries participating can be found at the ITF junior website.

Monica Puig, who plays for Puerto Rico, is the only U.S. player scheduled to compete in the first edition of the Youth Olympic Games, which begin on August 15th in Singapore. The fact that the USTA National championships end on the day the tennis competition begins probably accounts for the limited interest on the part of the U.S. juniors, although Grade A points are being given. The fields are very strong, however, with India's Yuki Bhambri, Wimbledon boys champion Marton Fucsovics of Hungary, Brazilian Tiago Fernandes, the Australian Open Junior champion, and Great Britain's Oliver Golding among the boys expected to contend. World No. 2 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine is entered, as are No. 3 Puig, No. 4 Timea Babos of Hungary and No. 5 Sachie Ishizu of Japan. In all, there are six Top 10 boys and five Top 10 girls scheduled to compete. The complete list can be found here.

Last week, John McEnroe's tennis academy in New York held tryouts for the girls scholarships. Sabrina Xiong, 12, of Fresh Meadows, Queens was the full scholarship winner. For the names of the other girls who received partial scholarships, see this release at Global Village Tennis News. The Wall Street Journal met with McEnroe to discuss his academy last week. That article can be found here.

In the ATP's Farmers Classic in Los Angeles today, Somdev Devvarman beat USC's Steve Johnson, a fellow qualifier, 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the second round. The former NCAA champion from Virginia will next play No. 6 seed Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia.

At the WTA's Bank of the West Classic, Christina McHale defeated Kai-Chen Chang of Taiwan 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 in another first round battle between qualifiers. McHale plays top seed and French finalist Samantha Stosur of Australia in the second round.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Other Clay Champions; Strode Wins US Open Qualifying Playoff; USC's Johnson, McHale Qualify For Pro Tour Events

I've just returned to Kalamazoo, where the 80 degree temperatures are a pleasant change from the long string of hot and humid days last week in Memphis. I'll have a recap of the girls 18s Clays for the Tennis Recruiting Network and a slide show here later this week, and then it will be just a matter of days before the focus turns to the National Hard Courts.

Here's a brief rundown of the finals of all four age divisions of the Clay Court Championships:

Girls 12s: Cristina Rovira (6) def. Sofia Kenin (1) 6-2, 7-5
Boys 12s: Anudeep Kodali (3) def. Nathan Ponwith (7) 4-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(6)
Girls 14s: Tornado Ali Black def. Maria Shishkina (14) 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(4)
Boys 14s: Daniel Kerznerman (1) def. Benjamin Tso (9) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
Girls 16s: Hayley Carter def. Jamie Loeb (3) 6-3, 3-6, 6-0
Boys 16s: Michael Redlicki (8) def. Gordon Watson (5) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Girls 18s: Caroline Price (13) def. Whitney Kay (1) 6-3, 6-3
Boys 18s: Bjorn Fratangelo (1) def. Alexios Halebian 6-4, 7-5

For complete results, including the doubles finals, see the release at usta.com.



Also over the weekend Blake Strode, the former Arkansas all-American and 2009 NCAA semifinalist, won the Men's US Open National Qualifying Playoff, defeating Cecil Mamiit, the 1996 NCAA champion from USC 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(1) in Atlanta. For more on that match, see this article from usta.com. The women's tournament will be played in conjunction with the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford beginning on Wednesday. For the biographies of the 16 participants, click here.

In the Futures event in Joplin, Mo., former Ole Miss star Robbye Poole won the singles title over qualifier Joel Kielbowicz, who played at UNLV. For an article about Poole's win, click here. The University of Texas team of Jean Andersen and Joshua Zavala took the doubles title. In the women's 10K in Evansville, No. 4 seed Gabriela Paz beat unseeded Chichi Scholl 6-4, 6-0 to take that title. Juniors Brynn Boren and Sabrina Santamaria won the doubles championship.

In the Lexington Challenger, top seed Carsten Ball defeated No. 5 seed Jessie Levine 6-4, 7-6(2) to win the men's singles, and top seed Karumi Nara beat No. 2 seed Stephanie Dubois 6-4, 6-4 to win the women's singles. Raven Klaasen and Izak Van Der Merwe won the men's doubles, with former Cal-Berkeley Bears Christina Fusano and Bojana Bobusic, the No. 4 seeds, taking the women's doubles.

For complete results, and the draws for this week's two $10,000 events, see the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.

Today in Los Angeles, Steve Johnson of USC won his final qualifying match and is into the 28-player field at the ATP Farmers Classic. A wild card into qualifying, Johnson defeated Chris Guccione of Australia 6-3, 6-3 for one of the four qualifying berths. Somedev Devvarman and Tim Smyczek also qualified.

At the Bank of the West Classic, the WTA event at Stanford, Christina McHale defeated Jamie Hampton 7-6(2), 6-0 to qualify for the main draw.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Caroline Price Claims Girls 18 Clay Court Title


©Colette Lewis 2010--
Memphis, TN--

When Caroline Price defeated longtime rival and top seed Whitney Kay 6-3, 6-3 Sunday morning at the Racquet Club of Memphis to earn the 2010 USTA Girls 18s Clay Court championship, it wasn't her fourth gold ball or having her name engraved on the outsized trophy or her wild card into qualifying at the Club's WTA event that was foremost in her mind.

Instead, it was the promise her traveling coach Matt Walker of the Racquet Club of the South made to all the students of his high performance program in February: he would cut off his lengthy locks if any of them won a gold ball, an ITF Grade A event or a $10,000 Pro Circuit tournament.

"It was a pretty big motivation, to shave his head if I won it," said an ebullient Price a few minutes after the trophy presentation was complete. "Someone brought a razor, so we're about to do that."

On yet another steamy Memphis morning, Kay and Price, both 17-year-olds who live in suburban Atlanta, played tentatively in the opening games of the match. Price, the No. 13 seed, took a 2-0 lead, but surrendered it in her next service game, the first of four straight breaks. The left-handed Price wasn't getting a high percentage of first serves in during that stretch, but she was staying with Kay off the ground with her backhand, normally her less potent side. The strengthening of that shot was the silver lining of an injury cloud this spring.

"Easter Bowl this year I tore my (left) wrist and I was put in a cast for almost three months, so while I was in a cast, we worked on my righty forehand, so that when I came back, my backhand would be stronger. My backhand used to be my weakness, but now I feel a lot more comfortable with it. It was sort of like a blessing in disguise."

Price held for 5-3 in the first set, and Kay wasn't able to overcome two double faults in the next game, dropping serve for the fourth time in the set. She had come back from the loss of the first set twice this week however, and when she broke Price to open the second set, then held, it appeared she could force a third set, as she had done in the 2009 Easter Bowl final against Price.

Trailing 0-2 and 0-30, Price got a crucial hold in the third game of the second set, and her first serve began to provide her with opportunities to put away short balls. The only point she lost in the next three games was on a double fault, and any tentativeness she may have displayed early in the set was long gone.

"Caroline played really well, and I feel I was a little off my game," said Kay, who had beaten Price 7-5, 6-3 at a Southern Designated in February. "When I played her last she missed more than she did today, and I was making a few more errors today. She was hitting her backhand well."

After Kay held to make it 5-3, Price stepped to the line to serve out the championship, a scenario she admits she has not always handled well in the past.

"I've had a problem with getting close and then letting down, letting them come back a little bit, and I'll either lose or end up winning a tiebreaker or 7-5," Price said. "So today, you could even ask the ball kids, I was talking to myself. It's not over, just focus one point at a time. She's a great player, she could have pulled out some big shots."

Price was obviously overeager on her first match point, sending a forehand six feet long, but got the job done on the second, when Kay's return went long.

Her loss to Kay prior to her injury wasn't a primary motivating factor for Price.

"It helped, but I wasn't even trying to think about her," said Price. "I was just trying to enjoy the game, I love it. My motivation was to make Matt shave all his hair off."

Walker, who grew up in Memphis and played at the Racquet Club, was willing to keep his end of the bargain.

"The goals are important, and they came up with it," Walker said. "So I'll do it. I agreed to it."

In addition to the shearing of Walker, Price had another celebration in mind.

"We found this huge fountain nearby, and my mom said I could go run through that if I win, so I think I'm going to head over there to cool down."

In the third place match, No. 5 seed Catherine Harrison defeated No. 8 seed Gabrielle Andrews 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. No. 4 seed Kyle McPhillips won the consolation tournament with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over unseeded Whitney Ritchie. Emina Bektas was named the winner of the USTA Sportsmanship Award.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kay and Price Meet Again to Decide Girls 18s Clay Court Championship

PriceKay

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Memphis, TN--

They've won a gold ball together, but when Georgia's Caroline Price and Whitney Kay take the court on Sunday morning, they will be in a more familiar position--facing each other for a singles championship, this one the title at the USTA girls 18 Clay Courts.

In Saturday's semifinals, Price, the No. 13 seed, came from 5-2 down in the second set to defeat No. 5 seed and local favorite Catherine Harrison 6-2, 7-5, while the top seeded Kay put an end to the impressive run of 13-year-old Gabrielle Andrews 6-4, 6-2.

For the sixth straight day, there was no threat of rain, and although the temperature did not reach 100 as predicted, the heat index did. It didn't take Price and Harrison long to warm up, given those numbers, but it was Price who came out firing in the morning's first semifinal.

Price hit a sizzling forehand return winner to earn her first break, taking a 3-1 lead in the opening set. Harrison had a chance to get that break back in the seventh game, when Price fell behind 15-40 on her serve, but Harrison netted three consecutive shots, and Price held with an ace.

"I was just getting more balls in play," said Price, a 5-foot-11 left-hander. "I think we were both nervous, but I would just get one more ball and then she'd miss. I was fortunate in the first set, because I don't think she was playing her best."

After Price broke to take the first set, Harrison struck back, holding easily and taking a 5-1 lead in the second set. There seemed little doubt that a third set would decide the match, when Price began to come back, using what she called her "one point at a time" strategy. Harrison was broken serving for the set at 5-2 and at 5-4 she earned her first and only set point. After a long rally of punishing ground strokes, Harrison put a backhand into the net, the first of three straight backhands she would net, and Price had pulled even. She held, and now the pressure was squarely on Harrison, who was unable to force a tiebreaker, dropping serve for the third straight time, and with it, the match.

Harrison, who lives in suburban Memphis, had several dozen supporters cheering for her, while Price had only her mother providing encouragement. But Price took some tips from her father Mark, a former NBA star, about playing "on the road."

"He used to tell me when he would go to stadiums where there were tons of people, he would use it as a pump-up. I used it to help me get more determined, telling myself, I can do this, when people were cheering against me."

Although Gabrielle Andrews, known as Gabby to friends and family, also had local support from her relatives in the Memphis area, they weren't able to help her overcome the more experienced Kay.

Kay led the entire match, and each time Andrews got a break back, she was immediately broken in the next game. Kay was broken serving for the set at 5-4, something of a pattern for her this week, and in the next game Andrews was up 40-15, but an untimely double fault and several unforced errors gave Kay the first set.

"I think experience definitely helps," said Kay, who turned 17 last month. "She missed a few shots that she probably should have made. She probably got a little tight, thinking big point here, but I got a little lucky on some of them."

In the second set, Kay built a 4-0 lead, but Andrews brought it back to 4-2 and had two break points to get back on serve in the seventh game. Kay hit a perfect drop shot to save the first, and Andrews hit a backhand wide on the second, and Kay took a 5-2 lead. Andrews had two game points to force Kay to serve out the match in the next game, but couldn't convert and Kay earned her spot in the final on her first match point.

Back in April of 2009, Price and Kay, both from suburban Atlanta, met in the finals of the Easter Bowl 16s, with Price winning in three sets, then joining forces to earn the doubles title in Rancho Las Palmas. The most recent result in their long intrasectional rivalry came in February, with Kay winning that Southern Designated final 7-5, 6-3.

"It's really important to hold serve against Caroline, try to break her early on," Kay said.

Price, 17, still isn't convinced that clay is the surface best suited to her game.

"I'm not a fan of clay," Price confessed. "I have kind of a hard court game, with a big serve and forehand, but my coach has been helping me a lot, and we've been working on putting one more extra ball in play. Normally on hard, I can hit a shot and it won't come back, but he's gotten me to expect it back. But it's not my favorite."

Kay wasn't ready to concede that she had an advantage.

"She looks like she's playing well on clay too," Kay said. "So we'll see."



In the doubles final, the unseeded team of Breaunna Addison and Kelsey Laurente claimed the title with a comprehensive 6-1, 6-1 victory over the seventh-seeded team of Katie Goepel and Blair Shankle.

Addison and Laurente, who were the champion and finalist respectively at the Dunlop Orange Bowl 16s last December, had not had success in their first pairing several years ago, but were happy to be playing together once Addison received a wild card into this year's Clay Courts.

The two 15-year-olds from Florida survived two match tiebreakers in the early rounds, but from the round of 16 on, they dominated their opponents.

"I think when one of us isn't playing so well, the other one can pick her up," Addison said. "I'd start getting nervous and she would come through for me, and when she got nervous, it'd be vice versa."

"We help each other out," agreed Laurente, who won the 14s Clay Court singles championship last year, and looks very comfortable on the surface.

"My coach says my game is better on hard courts, but I just love sliding on clay," Laurente said.

Addison had played two consolation matches earlier in the day, while Laurente had played one, but neither showed any signs of fatigue in the late afternoon heat.

"I just tried to focus on each point and making smart decisions, so I wouldn't have to be out here as long," Addison said. "I knew this was going to be a tough match, that both of them are great players, so I just tried to focus."

Addison and Laurente didn't have any big plans to celebrate their victory, with Laurente looking forward to a shower and Addison doing some math homework.

"We'll leave with smiles on our faces, though," Laurente promised.

In the third place match in doubles, Mara Schmidt and Tina Tehrani defeated Elizabeth Begley and Alecia Kauss 6-3, 7-6(2) in a battle of unseeded teams.

There will be three matches on Sunday morning, beginning with the consolation final, where No. 4 seed Kyle McPhillips will play unseeded Whitney Ritchie. Also at 8 a.m., Harrison and Andrews will play for the bronze ball in singles, with the championship singles match beginning at 10 a.m. CDT.

For complete results, see the TennisLink site.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Andrews Defeats McPhillips, Joins Kay, Price and Harrison in Girls 18s Clay Court Semifinals


©Colette Lewis 2010--
Memphis, TN--

She may not have much experience with clay or with the heat and humidity plaguing Memphis this week, but 13-year-old Gabrielle Andrews proved in her 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 4 seed Kyle McPhillips that she is a title contender under any conditions.

Seeded eighth, Andrews, from Pomona, Calif., came into the match between the two reigning Easter Bowl champions (Andrews in 14s, McPhillips in 16s) with confidence, having beaten McPhillips in the Claremont, Calif. ITF this spring. But that was on hard courts, on Andrews' home turf; this match was on green clay, against the 2009 girls 16s Clay Court champion.

"We don't have a lot of clay courts in California," said Andrews, whose father grew up in Memphis and whose grandmother and aunt still live here. "And before this tournament I didn't hit on clay at all. But once I got to Memphis, I hit on clay a couple of times and I got used to it."

McPhillips started well, breaking Andrews to open the match, but she was broken right back and lost four straight games. Usually a very precise shotmaker, McPhillips was making errors of every kind--Andrews said she "caught her on a bad day today."

Andrews was able to keep McPhillips off balance, mixing in a forehand slice with her usual array of powerful backhands. In the second set, serving at 3-2, Andrews survived one break point in a five-deuce game and another serving at 4-3, with her serve helping her on key points. McPhillips couldn't dent Andrews' composure in the final game, and she calming served out the match to reach her first semifinal in an 18s National.

"I didn't know if I'd make it this far actually," Andrews said. "I knew I was going to play a lot of big girls who are used to playing on clay."

Andrews will meet top seed Whitney Kay in Saturday's semifinal. Kay spotted unseeded Californian Ashley Dai the first set but went on to take control late in the second to earn a 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-1 victory.

Kay had difficulty closing out sets yesterday against Meghan Blevins, and against Dai today she was also unable to serve out the first set with a 5-4 lead. In the tiebreaker, Kay, of Alpharetta, Ga., had a 3-1 lead, but lost the next six points, mostly on her unforced errors.

Down 2-0 in the second set, Kay rallied to win the next two games, and both players held serve until Dai was broken serving at 5-6. Kay's serve was effective throughout the match and her forehand was frequently putting Dai on the defensive, but it wasn't until Dai started making unforced errors that Kay was able to take control. Down 5-0, Dai managed one game on serve, but when it came time to serve out the match,
Kay had no difficulty, taking it at love.

Local favorite Catherine Harrison needed five match points to subdue No. 9 seed Ronit Yurovsky 6-1, 7-6(9), who had two chances to put the match into a third set.

Harrison came out very strongly, with her depth and pace giving Yurovsky problems, but Yurovsky, from New Kensington, Pa., adjusted in the second set, and took a 3-0 lead. Harrison won the next three games, and broke Yurovsky to take a 5-4 lead. She had two match points in that game, but didn't convert, and the set went to a tiebreaker. There were not a lot of scintillating points, with more errors than winners, but Yurovsky managed to save a match point at 6-5, and earn set points at 7-6, and 8-7. At 9-8 Harrison had another match point, but hit a forehand long; she earned her fifth and final by forcing an error after a long rally. Yurovsky missed her first serve, then her second, and an engrossing tiebreaker came to an anticlimatic end.

I've seen very little of No. 13 seed Caroline Price this week, as she has not played on Stadium Court, and today the daughter of former NBA player Mark Price was not on Court 5 very long. Price, from Duluth, Ga., defeated unseeded Oklahoman Whitney Ritchie 6-2, 6-1, her fourth straight two-set match. Price and Harrison will play Saturday's first semifinal on Stadium Court.

The doubles finals are set, with No. 7 seeds Katie Goepel and Blair Shankle meeting unseeded Breaunna Addison and Kelsey Laurente for the gold balls. Goepel and Shankle defeated the unseeded team of Elizabeth Begley and Alecia Kauss 6-2, 6-0 in one semifinal, while Addison and Laurente beat the unseeded team of Mara Schmidt and Tina Tehrani 6-4, 6-1 in the second.

Both Addison and Laurente are still in the consolation tournament, so the time for the doubles final will depend on their morning results.

And speaking of the consolation tournament, it's worth noting that after losing in the second round on Monday, Emina Bektas, the No. 2 seed, has played and won eight singles matches in four days of oppressive heat and humidity.

For complete results, see the TennisLink site.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Local Girl Fights Back to Reach Quarters at Girls 18 Clay Court Championships


©Colette Lewis 2010--
Memphis TN--

As Catherine Harrison, both calves wrapped with bags of ice, made her way from the trainer's table to a shady spot to talk with reporters about her 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-1 victory over Breaunna Addison, the 16-year-old from Germantown, Tenn. stopped several times to accept the congratulations of the family members and friends who had vocally supported her for nearly three hours.

With the temperatures nearing 90 degrees and the humidity becoming more oppressive with each passing hour, the fifth-seeded Harrison was serving for the match at 5-1 in the third set when she began to cramp for the first time ever.

"I've never really cramped before, but when I hit my first serve, whoa, both my calves kind of seized up," Harrison said. "I was definitely trying to end the points early that last game. I had to go for it, because I didn't quite know what would happen if I kept on playing. I think the heat was kind of getting to her also."

Addison asked for a trainer at the changeover at 5-4 in the second set, having just broken Harrison, who couldn't capitalize on her one set point in that game. It wasn't a long visit, and there was no massage or apparent cramping. Addison didn't play well in the next game, double faulting to make it 15-30, and when a forehand that Harrison called just long was confirmed by an examination of the mark by the chair umpire, Harrison had two additional set points. Addison hit a backhand wide on the first one, and the match, already over two hours in duration, would go to a third set.

The first set had been an excellent display of tennis by both players, with only one break of serve each. There were many 30-30 points, almost all of which were won by the server, and the level was consistently high.

It was even better in the tiebreaker, where winners outnumbered errors by a wide margin. Addison had a 6-4 lead in the tiebreaker, but Harrison saved both of those set points, and another at 6-7. Addison finally prevailed on her fourth set point, to end the 70 minute set.

In the second set Addison led 3-2 and was serving at 40-0, when suddenly she lost five straight points. Harrison held then broke to take a 5-3 lead, although she expressed surprise that she was down a set and a break.

"I remember the 40-0 game, and I knew the score, I guess I just didn't realize it would have been 4-2," Harrison said.

After she extricated herself from that predicament, Harrison's confidence level seemed to rise, and after taking a 3-0 lead in the third set, she definitely looked the fresher of the two. Addison called for the trainer a second time at that stage, but lost the game after taking a 40-15 lead, and her body language was becoming increasingly negative. Harrison continued to blast two-handed ground strokes from both sides with the occasional perfect drop shot thrown in for good measure, and with a final winner had reached her first quarterfinal at a USTA National Championship.

Harrison's opponent in Friday's quarterfinal will be No. 9 seed Ronit Yurovsky, who defeated Nicole Long, a No. 17 seed, 6-3, 6-4.

The other quarterfinal in the bottom half of the draw will feature No. 13 seed Caroline Price against unseeded Whitney Ritchie. Price beat Skylar Morton 6-1, 6-4, while Ritchie battled unseeded Riko Shimizu for more than three hours in the midday 95 degree heat before earning a 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-3 victory.

In the top half, No. 1 seed Whitney Kay survived unseeded Meghan Blevins 7-6(2), 7-6(2). Both Kay and Blevins served for the first set, Kay at 5-3, Blevins at 6-5, but neither could finish the job. Kay played the more steady tiebreaker, and Blevins looked doomed when she trailed 5-2 in the second set, but she used an effective combination of defense and variety to mount her comeback. Kay served for the match at 5-2, 5-4 and 6-5, but couldn't convert. She didn't let the frustration she must have felt show however, and again played consistent, confident tennis to win the second tiebreaker.

On Friday, Kay will play unseeded Ashley Dai, who has yet to lose a set in the tournament. Dai defeated unseeded Lindsay Graff 6-4, 6-2 on Thursday. No. 4 seed Kyle McPhillips takes on 13-year-old Gabrielle Andrews in the fourth quarterfinal. McPhillips defeated unseeded Amber Li 6-2, 6-4, while the eighth-seeded Andrews downed Katie Goepel, a No. 17 seed, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

The doubles quarterfinals were played Thursday afternoon, and only one seeded team has advanced to the semifinals.

Goepel and Blair Shankle upset top seeds Emina Bektas and Jasmine Minor 4-6, 6-1, 12-10 and will face Elizabeth Begley and Alecia Kauss, who ousted No. 4 seeds Kay and Megan Kurey 2-6, 7-6(2), 10-6.

The other semifinal features Addison and partner Kelsey Laurente against Mara Schmidt and Tina Tehrani. Addison and Laurente beat unseeded Leyla Erkan and Cece Witten 6-4, 6-2, while Schmidt and Tehrani defeated Yurovsky and Ellen Silver, a No. 9 seeded team, 6-3, 6-1.

For complete results, see the TennisLink site.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Seven Unseeded Players Reach Thursday's Round of 16 at Steamy Girls 18s Clay Courts


©Colette Lewis 2010--
Memphis, TN--

The upsets may have abated on Wednesday, but the heat certainly didn't. With temperatures climbing into the mid-90s and the heat index well over 100 degrees most of the afternoon, no one was interested in staying out on the court one moment longer than necessary. The misting sprinkler (pictured above) that was installed for cooling off overheated players, spectators and college coaches was a popular spot by late in the day.

Only three matches went the distance, with the top seeds remaining in the draw, No. 1 Whitney Kay and No. 4 Kyle McPhillips, avoiding any prolonged time on the court. Kay defeated No. 17 seed Shayne Austin 6-0, 6-3 and McPhillips breezed past unseeded Katie Klyczek 6-1, 6-2. Each will play an unseeded player in the round of 16 Thursday, with Kay taking on Meghan Blevins, who beat No. 17 seed Sherry Li 7-6(5), 6-3 and McPhillips facing Amber Li, who beat unseeded Erin Stephens 6-1, 6-4.

No. 5 seed Catherine Harrison looked very strong while playing at her customary time, 8 a.m., on her customary court, Stadium. Harrison, from the Memphis suburb of Germantown, just had too much depth and pace for unseeded Lynn Chi, and the 16-year-old with the two-handed forehand advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win. Her next opponent is likely to present a very serious challenge however. Although unseeded, Breaunna Addison, the 2009 16s Orange Bowl champion, is playing outstanding tennis in Memphis, and in her first match at the Racquet Club of Memphis site, she blitzed No. 16 seed Haley Driver 6-2, 6-0. Those courtside at 8 a.m. will need to be wide-awake to follow the blasts from each player Thursday morning.


One of the closest matches of the day was No. 17 seed Skylar Morton's 7-6(0), 7-5 victory over unseeded Rachael Reed, who had beaten No. 3 seed Danielle Collins on Tuesday. Reed served for the opening set twice, at 5-4, and 6-5, but in a set that saw eight service breaks, it wasn't exactly a surprise that the first set went to a tiebreaker.

Reed simply could not make a shot in the tiebreaker and seemed to lose interest and concentration as the errors mounted.

"She had some easy balls, that's the thing," said Morton, 16. "She missed a swinging volley, and some other shots. But even if she made some of those, I was fighting harder than her."

When Morton took a 3-0 lead in the second set, it looked as if Reed was still feeling the effects of that dismal tiebreaker, but she fought back, and actually led 5-4 before Morton won the final three games of the match.

Staying focused and composed while watching Reed's big shots sail by her was key to Morton's win.

"I tried to stay mentally tough," Morton said. "I just say good shot, and if I actually say it, it helps me. There's nothing I can do, so I can't get mad at myself. She was hitting a lot of winners."

Morton, who trained for the tournament on clay in the heat and humidity of Maryland, was working on making the transition from grass, after reaching the finals last month at the ITF International Grass Courts in Philadelphia.

"It's a totally different game style," Morton said. "Grass is serve and volley, coming to the net a lot, points are really short. But here, points are really long, you have to keep the ball higher over the net. I guess it's whoever's more fit on clay."

Morton's opponent on Thursday is No. 13 seed Caroline Price, who defeated unseeded Mary Jeremiah 6-2, 6-3. The two have never played.

The round of 16 does not feature a single match that was anticipated when the draw was released. In addition to Blevins, Li and Addison, there are four other unseeded players in the final 16, playing each other: Ashley Dai, who plays Lindsay Graff, and Riko Shimizu who plays Whitney Ritchie.

Katie Goepel and Nicole Long join Morton as No. 17 seeds remaining, with 13-year-old Gabrielle Andrews (8) and Ronit Yurovsky (9) joining Price, Harrison, Kay and McPhillips as Top 16 seeds still in the hunt for the championship.

The round of 16 doubles were still incomplete when I left the site, but results can be found soon at the TennisLink site.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reed Ousts No. 3 Seed Collins in Girls 18s Clay Courts Third Round


©Colette Lewis 2010--
Memphis, TN--

With temperatures in the 90s and high humidity, the third day of the USTA Girls 18s Clay Courts certainly had its challenges.

Catherine Harrison, the No. 5 seed, who is from suburban Memphis, had the most benign conditions, with an 8 a.m. start time on Stadium Court. After barely an hour, she had powered past Madeleine Hamilton 6-2, 6-3 and could go home to the air conditioning, but the rest of the field wasn't so fortunate.

There were main draw matches played at two other sites in addition to the main site, the Racquet Club of Memphis, where I stayed throughout the day. While the day's first round of consolation matches occupied nine of the ten RCM courts, the Stadium Court was reserved for main draw matches, and following Harrison's win another Tennessee player took the court, Caitlyn Williams, a No. 17 seed. Williams and Indiana's Katie Klyczek battled for two hours and 45 minutes before moving to a third set tiebreaker to decide it, but that ended quickly, with Klyczek winning every point to earn a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(0) victory.

Klyczek, who had plenty of power on her serve and her ground strokes, got the only break of the third set at 5-5, but she was unable to serve it out, making an unforced error at 30-40. That was the last unforced error Klyczek would make, as Williams simply could not keep a ball in the court or over the net in the tiebreaker.

As the temperature continued to climb, the remaining main draw matches began to reclaim the other courts. Top seed Whitney Kay looked as if she might be an upset victim when she dropped her serve at 5-5 in the first set on a double fault, and Hailey Johnson held in her service game to claim the lead. That would be the last time Johnson would hold her serve in the match, as Kay eliminated the uncharacteristic errors that popped in the first set, and won ten straight games before Johnson finally ended the streak by breaking Kay. The players were required to take a heat break after the second set, but it didn't change the momentum, with Kay rolling to a 5-7, 6-0, 6-1 win.

While I was watching the end of Kay's win, No. 3 Danielle Collins was falling behind Rachael Reed 5-0 in a match played on one of the three lower courts. Collins, who had barely escaped Laura Wiley 7-5 in the third on Monday, fought back to force a tiebreaker in the first set, but when Reed won it, the wheels fell off for Collins and she was beaten 7-6(7), 6-1.

Reed blamed her nerves and Collins's improved play for the disappearance of her big lead in the first set.

"I started getting really nervous and she started playing much better," said the 16-year-old from The Woodlands, Texas. "She was striking the ball more. In the tiebreaker, I just wanted to get off to a good start and keep doing what I was doing that got me to 5-0. I started putting pressure on her and moving into the court."

Reed had no trouble matching Collins's power and Collins became increasingly frustrated with her own errors. Although she finished sixth here in 2009, she never looked comfortable on the clay and was not able to find any rhythm in the second set.

"I wasn't expecting to do so well playing on clay," said Reed, who was a finalist at the 16s Winter Nationals in January. "I'm more of a hard court players and I don't have a lot of experience playing on clay courts. I played the Intersectionals, but I usually don't play on clay. I'm more of a one-two punch sort of player, take a lot of balls on the rise, go for more and be in the court. This, you can't hit every ball as hard as you can. It's really about placement and working the point."

Collins was not the only Top 8 seed to lose on Tuesday. No. 6 seed Elizabeth Begley was beaten by Ashley Dai 6-2, 6-2 and No. 7 seed Hanna Yu lost to Aria Lambert 7-6(3), 7-6(1). Of the 32 seeds who should be playing on Wednesday, only 14 are.

For complete results, see the TennisLink site.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Erkan Upsets No. 2 Seed Bektas as Seeds Begin Play at Girls 18s Clay Courts


©Colette Lewis 2010--
Memphis, TN--

When she stepped to the line at 5-3 in the second set, having just broken No. 2 seed Emina Bektas in the second round of the USTA Girls 18s Clay Courts, Leyla Erkan was serving for her biggest win of the year. She had won the first set 6-4, playing controlled and solid tennis against the error-prone Bektas, and Erkan had continued that steady play throughout the second set.

The nerves that accompany closing out a victory appeared however, and Erkan wasn't able to seize her opportunity; despite taking a 30-0 lead, she double faulted twice and ended up losing the game. But she was determined to take the positives from that misstep.

"I focused, I tried to win that game, fought really hard, even though I lost it," said the 17-year-old, who trains at the Smith-Stearns Academy in Hilton Head, South Carolina. "I tried to keep my composure, which I did, and then on her serve, I just tried to get every return in. She has a huge serve."

When it is working, Bektas's first serve can be devastating, and in one game, she aced Erkan three consecutive times. But in that final game, Erkan succeeded in getting her returns in play, and Bektas was unable to eliminate the errors that had plagued her all afternoon. On match point, she missed a sitter at the net, which despite her previous errors, still came as a shock.

Erkan had been playing ITF junior events this year prior to resuming USTA play with two National Opens this summer in Atlanta, and she enjoyed the opportunity to travel and play international competition. She also got a lot of practice on clay, although it still is not her favorite surface.

"I don't really enjoy it; I like hard courts more," Erkan said. "I train on clay at Smith Stearns, so I'm used to it, and I'm able to adjust my game well to play on it."

Two other Top 10 seeds escaped with victories, although both played much longer that they would have liked under the hot afternoon sun, which was only made bearable by a fresh breeze. Kendal Woodard served for the match against No. 9 seed Ronit Yurovsky at 5-3 in the second set, having won the first set 6-4. But Yurovsky broke back, held, won the second set tiebreaker 7-6(4), and took the third set 6-2.

Against No. 3 seed Danielle Collins, Laura Wiley served for the first set twice, but ended up losing it a tiebreaker. Wiley won the second set, was down a break in the third at 4-2, got the break back, then lost her next service game to give Collins the opportunity to serve for the match. In what was a theme of the final games of the match, Collins was broken to make it 5-5 and with Wiley serving in the next game, after six deuces and four game points, Wiley was broken.

This time Collins didn't flinch, winning her service game at love to end the over three-hour match.

Five alphabetically 17th-seeded players lost today. Gabrielle Devlin lost to Alyssa Ritchie 6-3, 1-6, 6-3; Jasmine Minor was beaten by Theresa Smith 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-4; Megan Kurey was defeated by Mary Jeremiah 6-2, 6-2; Danielle Flores lost to Lynn Chi 6-1, 6-2 and Molly O'Koniewski was beaten by Emily Flickinger 7-6(5), 6-2.

Top seed Whitney Kay and No. 4 seed Kyle McPhillips lost only one game between them in their second round wins.

For complete draws, including doubles, which are now down to the round of 16, see the TennisLink site.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Farah Wins Challenger in Colombia; Falconi Takes Atlanta 10K, Turns Pro


I spent the day traveling to Memphis to begin my live coverage of the USTA Girls 18s Clay Court championship Monday, but before I turn my focus to that tournament, there's news from the Challenger and Pro Circuit level.

Robert Farah, who played No. 1 for the NCAA champion Southern California Trojans, won the $125,000 challenger in Bogota Colombia today. Farah, a wild card, beat No. 7 seed Carlos Salamanca, who also is from Colombia, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(3) in the final. When Farah left USC at the beginning of June he had no ATP points. With his win today, he will likely be inside the Top 300. He and his partner Juan Sebastian Cabal also won the doubles title. A photo of Farah with the trophy can be found here.

Complete draws can be found on the ATP website.

I had received a couple of emails yesterday from readers in Atlanta who had heard that Georgia Tech's Irina Falconi had turned pro, and I can confirm that she has. Falconi defeated Florida sophomore Allie Will 6-1, 6-4 in the singles final of the $10,000 Pro Circuit event in Atlanta today, and I spoke to her by phone while she was on her way to Lexington. The 20-year-old from Florida said she had turned pro, feeling the time was right, and that her coach Bryan Shelton supported her decision. In the doubles, Kristy Frilling of Notre Dame and Julia Glushko of Israel defeated Falconi and Maria Sanchez of USC 6-2, 2-6, 10-7.

At the Peoria Futures, former Florida All-American Greg Ouellette won the singles title over Daniel Yoo, 7-5, 1-6, 6-3, avenging his loss in the June final at the Chico Futures. In the doubles, former North Carolina Tar Heel Taylor Fogleman and former Tennessee Volunteer Benjamin Rogers beat Jack Sock and Sekou Bangoura of Florida 6-2, 6-4.

In Aptos, unseeded Marinko Matosevic of Australia won the $75,000 event, defeating No. 3 seed Donald Young, 6-4, 6-2 in the final. Carsten Ball and Chris Guiccone made it a sweep for Australia with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Australians Adam Feeney and Greg Jones in the doubles final.

This week the men and women have a combined event ($50,000 prize money each) in Lexington as well as two smaller events. The men's $10,000 is in Joplin, Mo., while the women's $10,000 tournament is in Evansville, Ind.

For complete results and draws, see the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Book Review: USTA's Mental Skills and Drills Handbook





Calling the USTA Mental Skills and Drills Handbook comprehensive is an understatement. Aimed primarily at junior development coaches, it contains over 450 pages which cover topics ranging from mental toughness to giving back to the game, with the emphasis on the practical ways a busy coach can integrate them into daily practice routines.

Edited by Larry Lauer, Daniel Gould, Paul Lubbers and Mark Kovacs, who is currently head of Sports Science at the USTA, the book comes with step-by-step instructions for on-court and off-court drills with the relevant forms available in pdf form on the included CD.

Do you work with a player who gets so nervous that she is unable to perform up to her practice level?

What do you do when a player comes to practice late, is unprepared or fails to work hard in practice?

How do you cope with players who always have an excuse for not playing well?

What's the best way to set goals?

How can you help players relax in pressure-packed matches?

Can the 3R's help with emotional control?

What's the best way to prevent burnout?

How do you change poor body language?

Can you help your players be more independent and accountable?

What's the best way to deal with cheating?

How can you help your player balance tennis with other parts of his life?

Are you able to assist in developing ambassadors for the sport of tennis?

What can you do to foster team chemistry?


These are just a few of the hundreds of mental issues the handbook explores, but the sheer number of suggestions is always balanced by a discussion on the practical way to assess which are appropriate for whom, and how to work them into a daily routine. This is definitely not a theoretical or philosophical book, although it touches on those issues. Overall it is meant to provide real solutions to common problems that young players face as they mature. And there are plenty of great suggestions that would be just as effective for recreational players of any age. The work of sports psychologists such as Yongchul Chung, Kristen Dieffenbach, Russell Medbery and Cristina Rolo, who are the authors of many of the chapters, is not geared as much to the why as it is to the how, making their work accessible to not just coaches, but parents and players too. Most of the suggestions are for the ages 12-18, but there is a section on how to adapt some of the concepts to the under-12 age group.

I hope most of the coaches who visit zootennis.com already have a copy of this handbook, which I was sent for review back in April, but if you don't, you can't hope to find a more comprehensive, practical treatment of the subject. Listed at $49.95, it can be purchased now at Amazon for less than $35.00.

Dave "The Koz" Kozlowski interviewed Kovacs at the Fed Cup tie with Russia back in April and posted this interview on 10sballs.com. Kovacs, who won the NCAA doubles title while playing at Auburn, talks about his junior and college career as well as his position at the USTA.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Midwest Wins Intersectionals; Barte Receives WTA Wild Card: Farah Through to Semis in Bogota; Blake Practices at Ole Miss

The 16-and-under USTA Team Intersectionals wrapped up on Thursday, with the Midwest section's boys and girls beating the Southern section's 6-3 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Southern had won three straight titles, and last year blanked the Midwest, but a sweep of the doubles after a split of the six singles matches gave the Midwest team its revenge. Brooke Austin and Kyle McPhillips led the way, winning all four matches they competed in. The Shreveport Times always does an excellent job covering the event, with daily stories throughout the tournament. For their article on the final and the photo galleries from the tournament, click here. For the final results, click here. The tournament's TennisLink site is here.

The Bank of the West Classic at Stanford announced its wild cards today, with Stanford's Hilary Barte receiving a main draw wild card. Barte, who lost today in the Atlanta Pro Circuit tournament to Georgia Tech's Irina Falconi, is in elite company. The other three main draw wild cards went to Dinara Safina, Ana Ivanovic and Victoria Azarenka. Those given qualifying wild cards are CoCo Vandeweghe, Tammy Hendler and Stanford incoming freshmen Nicole Gibbs and Kristie Ahn. For the complete release, click here.

Robert Farah, the recent USC graduate, has reached the semifinals of the $125,000 Challenger in his home country, Colombia. A wild card, Farah beat Giovanni Lapentti of Ecuador, Paul Capdeville of Chile and Alejandro Gonzalez of Colombia, all in straight sets, to reach the semifinals. There he'll meet doubles partner Juan Sebastian Cabal, who dealt Farah the only loss of his brief professional career last month in a Venezuela Futures event. Complete draws can be found at the ATP website.

In addition to Falconi, Allie Will, the Florida sophomore, and 15-year-old Madison Keys have reached the Atlanta semifinals. Will plays top seed Julia Glushko of Israel, while Keys and Falconi will decide the other finalist. Glushko and Notre Dame's Kristy Frilling are in the doubles final against Falconi and Maria Sanchez of USC.

In Peoria, Andrea Collarini has reached the semifinals in singles, while Sekou Bangoura and Jack Sock are in the doubles final.

For draws and results, see the Pro Circuit results page at usta.com.

James Blake is playing the upcoming ATP event in Atlanta, and while in Oxford, Miss. for a friend's wedding, he practiced at Ole Miss. The Oxford Eagle filed this account, with video, and the Ole Miss athletic website had a photo and a brief story.

The tournament to decide the men's qualifying wild card at the US Open begins next Thursday in conjunction with the Atlanta event. The USTA website did a preview (I noticed an error, as Blake Strode also played in the USO qualifying draw last year) and also posted a "getting to know" piece that reveals that Nolan Paige will not be playing, with New England finalist Brandon Wai taking his place. Paige is the No. 1 seed in the 16s Clay Courts, which begin, for him, on Monday, so I presume he had to choose between the two.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

ITA Summer Circuit; Clay Court Seeds Announced; John McEnroe Names Boys Scholarship Recipients

My weekly article for the Tennis Recruiting Network is now available, and it was one of those stories that was a great learning experience for me. I was aware of the ITA Summer Circuit of course, but I had only a vague idea of how it worked, so I needed to ask a lot of questions of those with much more familiarity with it than I had. I was struck, as I hope the story conveys, at how relaxed everyone seemed. The stress level was certainly several notches below what I usually observe at a national tournament, but it still had the validity of an organized competition--these were not practice matches.

In addition to the draw and entry page at the ITA website, there is another page with the results of the finals played for each event in each reason.

The seedings for the USTA National Clay Courts have been released, with Whitney Kay receiving the top seed in the girls 18s in Memphis (which I will be covering) and Bjorn Fratangelo given the No. 1 seed in the boys 18s in Delray Beach. Following Kay are Emina Bektas, Danielle Collins and Kyle McPhillips. After Fratangelo are Emmett Egger, Wyatt McCoy and Gonzales Austin.

Dangerous floaters in the girls 18s draw are Orange Bowl 16s champion Breaunna Addison, Ashley Dai, Whitney Ritchie, Florida Closed winner Lindsay Graff, and Lynn Chi, who beat Collins in the Florida Closed quarterfinals last month on the same Har-Tru surface.

Unseeded boys that no seeded player wants to face in the second round include Andrew Butz, Alexios Halebian, Hunter Harrington, Dennis Mkrtchian, Spencer Newman and Bob van Overbeek. It appears that there was no deviation from the most recent USTA National Standing List.

In the boys 16s, also in Delray Beach, Nolan Paige, Mackenzie McDonald, Maxx Lipman and Richard Del Nunzio are the top four seeds. At the girls 16s in Virginia Beach, Brooke Austin, Spencer Liang, Jamie Loeb and Kourtney Keegan are 1-4.

Except for the girls 16s, the seeds are available only via the competitors list on the Tennis Link sites.

John McEnroe announced the results of the tryouts he held on Wednesday for scholarships to his new tennis academy in New York. Nearly 200 boys attended the tryouts, and the five winners, one of whom will receive a full scholarship, were introduced during the World Team Tennis match between the New York Sportimes and Philadelphia Freedoms. For the names and ages of the scholarship recipients, see the WTT website.

And speaking of tryouts, here's another story on Nick Bollettieri's talent hunt in India.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ball State's Women's Program Penalized by NCAA; Dick Gould Interview; Alison Riske Feature; McEnroe Twitter Chat

The NCAA today announced that the Ball State women's tennis program has been given three years of probation for "exceeding playing and practice hour limitations." The NCAA's release also cites the former head coach for unethical conduct for asking the student-athletes to provide false and misleading statements to investigators.

The Muncie Star Press published this article today detailing former coach Kathy Bull's federal lawsuit against the university, filed Monday. Most likely the story was prepared yesterday for publication today, as it refers to a lack of a decision from the NCAA.

A more upbeat college tennis story is this feature on current Stanford Director of Tennis and former men's coach Dick Gould. The author, Dan Markowitz, starts with the premises that dominant teams are good for a sport, and that's why college tennis is suffering, but I'm not sure college tennis is suffering, although there's no arguing with the amazing success of Stanford men professionally in the 70s and 80s, that is not, and will not, be duplicated in today's global game. (One correction: there are actually 7 U.S. men in the ATP Top 100 right now).

Gould is adamant that any player (all the discussion in the article is on men's college tennis) with any academic inclinations at all can benefit from college tennis, and not just for "something to fall back on." He believes even someone like Sam Querrey could have profited from college tennis and that it takes only a year or two to make up the difference in time on the pro tour for those who stay in school versus those who don't.

There are some interesting comments on the post, but it's a bit weird to see Markowitz asking later on why there are no "decent college tennis players." To put the bar at the Top 100, which is admittedly the level necessary to pay expenses and live comfortably, when determining if a player is "decent" is silly.

On the other side of the coin, this Almanac feature on Alison Riske, who decided not to accept a scholarship at Vanderbilt after initially announcing she would, explains her reasons for choosing to go straight to the pros. Playing college tennis would not have been a "ridiculous" decision, as the story implies, but Riske has begun to have success on the WTA tour, and her ranking has steadily risen to the 150s. It's a good feature, revealing Riske as a Dave Matthews fan with a lot of superstitions, who enjoyed every minute of her experience last month at Wimbledon.

For those of you with a Twitter account, the USTA is conducting a twitter chat with General Manager of Player Development Patrick McEnroe Thursday at noon Eastern time. Questions can be submitted to the usta twitter account now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Childs Leads New Zealand Past Pakistan in Davis Cup; Bollettieri Recruits; Domijan Settling into World Team Tennis; USTA National Entries Close Thurs.

2010 NCAA finalist Austen Childs of the University of Louisville clinched New Zealand's 3-2 defeat Pakistan last weekend in an Asia-Oceania Group II Davis Cup tie at home. New Zealand trailed 2-1 going into the final day, and Childs had not played in the opening day of singles. Childs' teammate Rubin Statham, who had given New Zealand an early 1-0 lead Friday, on Sunday beat Pakistan's No. 1 player Aisam Qureshi, who had needed over four hours to defeat Michael Venus on the opening day, leaving the score tied at 2. Childs, taking Venus's place, then downed Aqeel Khan in straight sets to put the Kiwis into a September contest with Thailand. For more on the New Zealand win, see the Louisville athletic site and this article from the New Zealand Press Association.

Two former ITF World Junior champions played major roles in their countries' victories in Davis Cup over the weekend. Taiwan's Tsung-Hua Yang, who was the top junior in 2008, won all three of his matches against the Philippines' Cecil Mamiit and Treat Huey. For more on that tie, see this article from the Taipei Times. Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis, the 2007 ITF junior champion, led his team to a 3-2 win over Ireland. Ireland, like the Philippines, had two former U.S. collegians playing for them: James McGee and Conor Niland. Lithuania will now play Slovenia in European Group II action in September.

The complete results of the weekend ties, see the Davis Cup website.

In other global tennis news, Nick Bollettieri is in India recruiting students from that country for stays at his academy (and IMG's) in Bradenton. According to this article from The Times of India, Bollettieri will select 15 students for his camp, with four eventually given full-time scholarships for a year. In another article, this in the Hindustan Times, Bollettieri was asked about Yuki Bhambri, the 18-year-old who trains at his academy. Bhambri made a big leap in the ATP rankings last year, but this year he has not found the same success in the Futures, and he has fallen from 321 to 475.

When I read in this article in the Albany Times Union about Alex Domijan, who is playing World Team Tennis for the New York Buzz in that city again this year, I was a bit baffled about the "amateur" rankings that the writer referred to. I was hoping that he'd found the junior tennis writer's holy grail, which would be a website that has the definitive word on every young player's amateur status, but unfortunately, it was an misinterpretation instead. Domijan may have been ranked atop the USTA 18s in the past, and was as high as 12 in the ITF World Junior rankings, but the numbers the writer used for story came, he said, from Domijan's Buzz profile, which doesn't mention any amateur rankings.

Finally, a reminder that the deadline for entry for the National Championships in August is Thursday, July 15th at noon EDT. As of today, Domijan has not applied for entry into Kalamazoo. For more on this year's tournament, see ustaboys.com.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hamilton, DeBot Win ITA Summer Circuit Titles at Western Michigan; More on McHale

HamiltonDeBot

As I wrote on Saturday, the ITA Summer Circuit was in town this weekend, and I went back today for the finals. The women's championship was between two incoming freshmen, No. 4 seed Nida Hamilton, who will enter Northwestern this fall, and unseeded Nikki Chiricosta, who will join her older sister Christine at Bowling Green, with Hamilton taking a 7-6(1), 6-4 victory. The men's championship featured two unseeded players, incoming Dartmouth freshman Brandon DeBot and Detroit Mercy junior Nick Tolomei, with DeBot earning a 6-4, 6-1 win.

My Tennis Recruiting Network article on Thursday will be more of an overview of the circuit itself than an in-depth recap of this particular event, so I'll add a bit more about the two finals here in tonight's post.

In the women's final, which followed the semifinals earlier in the day, Oak Brook Illinois' Hamilton survived three double faults in the opening game and went on to take a 4-1 lead. Hamilton had three chances to make it 5-1 with Ohio's Chiricosta serving, but Chiricosta saved all three break points and then broke Hamilton the next two times she served to take a 5-4 lead. Chiricosta made too many unforced errors to put any pressure on Hamilton in the first five games, but she reduced them dramatically in the latter part of the set, while Hamilton seemed content to wait for the error, which was now a rarity.

Chiricosta served for the set twice, at 5-4 and 6-5, but never had a set point, and in the tiebreaker, Hamilton took control, playing more aggressively and forcing errors. With many lengthy points and deuce games, the set took more than an hour to complete, but with benign summer weather--humid, but not much over 80 degrees--neither looked tired.

There were three straight breaks to open the second set, but Hamilton held for a 3-1 lead and survived two break points serving at 3-2 to stay in front. After 45 more minutes, with every game going to deuce, Hamilton got her first match point with Chiricosta serving at 3-5, but Hamilton's forehand went wide and Chiricosta held. Fatigue finally seemed to become a factor in the next game, where the points were short, with Hamilton taking a 40-15 lead and a second match point. Chiricosta couldn't take advantage of a second serve from Hamilton, and her tired-looking forehand found the net to give Hamilton the win.

The men's final also featured a long first set, with seven breaks of serve, including four straight to start the match. DeBot, from Stevens Point, Wisc., had difficulty with his volleys to start the match, but he began to find his range, and took care of his serve from 4-4 in the first set until the end of the match. Tolomei, from Rochester, Mich., returned well but wasn't able to keep his error count down in the longer rallies. Once he was broken for a second time in the second set in a four-deuce game, Tolomei had trouble denting DeBot's increasing confidence, and the match ended quickly.

Hamilton, who has not played a junior event since February, told me she doesn't believe she'll get into the National Hard Courts in August, but DeBot, who did not lose a set in his six wins, is looking forward to returning to Kalamazoo, where he said he always seems to play well.

Although it is not yet updated, I was told the complete draws will be available by Tuesday at the Western Michigan athletic site.

There has been quite a bit of discussion about Christina McHale's professional status in yesterday's comments, but the three articles that I'm linking to here about her win over Victoria Azarenka in the Kennedy Funding Invitational Sunday don't leave much room for doubt.

Here is the northjersey.com article, the New City Patch article, and the Journal News article, all of which make reference to her new professional status.