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Friday, January 21, 2011

USTA Junior Boys Team vs. Alabama; Plaza Cup Begins Saturday; Kozlov Repeats as Teen Tennis Champion; Styslinger Qualifies in AO Juniors

We were fortunate to escape mid-winter in Michigan this week for our annual visit to South Florida for the Plaza Cup, a USTA regional tournament with level 3 points. Other than the date change--it was held over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend the previous four years--there aren't any changes of note. It's a 32-draw three-day event with a full feed-in and doubles for 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s. I will primarily be covering the boys and girls 18s and boys 14s at Salvadore Park, which features 13 Har-Tru courts. For the draws, see the TennisLink site.

Usually on this trip I try to spend a couple of days at one of the Futures events, but with the USTA National Junior team's match with Alabama scheduled for yesterday, there wasn't much time for that. (My coverage of that event was posted this morning on the Tennis Recruiting Network website.) I did stop by the Tamarac Futures, held at the Woodmont Country Club, which is the site of the Synergy Tennis Academy. I had a chance to talk with Diego Ayala, one of the principals, who I knew from his coaching on the junior circuit. He spoke of the renovations that had been completed in the year and a half since they've taken over the 20-court facility, and in addition to the Futures tournament, now in its second year there, they are hoping to add national junior events.

I watched the four quarterfinals in the company of the Challenger Tennis blog's proprietor, and I'll leave him to recount the tennis shots made and the emotions on display, but rest assured, there were plenty of both. Phillip Simmonds of the U.S. will play No. 3 seed Alex Bogdanovic of Great Britain in one semifinal, while Dan Smethurst of Great Britain meets Daniel Garza of Mexico in the other. In the women's $25K in Lutz, on the other side of the state, qualifier Jessica Pegula has continued her excellent play, reaching the semifinals with a straight-set win over Jennifer Elie, also of the U.S. Pegula took out Julia Boserup and top seed Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal in her first two main draw matches.

The first round of four rounds of qualifying for the Weston Futures was completed, despite widespread rain in the afternoon throughout the area. Many of the players in the match I covered yesterday advanced to the second round. For complete results, see the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.


At the Aegon International Teen Tennis 14-and-under event, 12-year-old Stefan Kozlov repeated as champion with a 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 victory over doubles partner Henrik Wiersholm. The girls title went to Anastasiya Rychagova of Russia, who defeated Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 6-1, 6-1. For complete draws, see the LTA website.

Next up for the U.S. 14-and-under quartets is Les Petits As in Tarbes France. All eight Americans are in the main draw, which begins Monday.

Qualifying is complete at the Australian Open Junior championships, and Mac Styslinger of the U.S. earned a place in the main draw with two wins on Friday. The draws have not yet been released, but the ITF junior website has a preview of the action, which begins Sunday. Marcia Frost will be covering the U.S. juniors matches for collegeandjuniortennis.com.

15 comments:

Ok said...

What is happening with the pro transition in the USA juniors? Raonic was a good junior, but never as good as the USA juniors of his age group. He never was at the level of Buchanan, Klhan, Rhyan Willima etc. And right now, nether of them are even in the conversation of making it into the top pros as Raomic. I understand that all of them are in college, but mayme there is the mistake. For some guys college is a great opportunity, but for top juniors, maybe going directly to the pro level is the best one. You can go to college whenever you want in the future. The USTA should start sponsoring much more the top junior and maybe send three per year to the pro tour. In the future, one out of them will make it high in the rankings.

tony said...

@Ok. I figured someone, sooner or later, would come on here and start talking about how Canada has some strong up and comers (Raonic and Marino in particular) and use it against the U.S. These two are big in stature and each possess a big weapon; a huge serve. While all the Americans you mentioned are strong players, neither possess a legit weapon. And thus it is unfair to compare the aforementioned. A legit weapon can and will take you to the next level.

U.S.junior transition said...

Ok..Raonic was in fact at the level of the U.S. juniors you mentioned. He is now 20 yrs. old and is just now breaking thru to the top 100 after the A.O. I agree that the college thing is completely overrated and in fact hinders the progress of more of the top kids than it helps. They chose the college route which is their decision and some of them will still have nice careers when they are done, if they so choose. We have an American(Ryan Harrison) who chose the professional route and is already inside the top 200 at 18 yrs old. Raonic was nowhere near the top 200 at 18 so we do have someone making the transition thats a U.S. junior.

getreal said...

to OK...you say "never was at the level of Buchanan, Klhan, Rhyan Will..." could not disagree more. Roanic was a ligit top 30 ITF junior and look at his size/serve today. Only a few juniors pop threw under 21 and to date Roanic is one of them... None of the above had Roanic's results in the futures in 2009-2010, espeically the during the last year, not even close!

been-there said...

Well, if you are going to talk about the U.S.'s failure in junior tennis, it really isn't fair in regard to Rebecca Marino. She was frequently playing Pacific Northwest tournaments. I bet her parents would give credit to the Pacific NW region.

While she lived in Canada, she was around a lot. She played sectionals and zonals in the Pacific Northwest region. One time her brother (who was really a hockey player) played in for the Pacific Northwest in Tucson (for the PNW team) because we had a dropout.

I wasn't so sure she'd make it in the pro's because quickness was not her strongest asset, but definitely cheered her on. KUDOS to her, and U.S. tennis.

no posers said...

the usta will never get it right, picking the kids they have. the coaches were good players, but can they coach? seems they are still living in the 80s. they are leaning towards scrappers and short ones(girls). they need to teach the kids to be aggressive and go for big shots to convert to a higher level. it is not always about winning, but coming into your own as a shot maker.

The Dude said...

From what I have seen over the last 8 years, the USTA sponsored boys have been developed as consistent baseline grinders with no agressive weapons. These attributes are perfect for winning junior national titles but are not a precurser of success in the big show. If you don't have weapons, you don't have a future on the tour. Donald Young was unbeatable as a junior but as a pro, he has no weapons hence no future. What is he suppose to do, all of a sudden change his stroke production to be flatter and more penetrating? No can do.

... said...

Buchanan and Williams won futures when they where 17. They had the results to go pro. The sames as Domijan. When a player has at least a 10% of making it into the top 25, the USTA should start investing a lot of money, time and coaching. And not for a year, but for at least, 3 years. The problem comes in the next step,when the player is 18. Almost every year, the usa has been the country with more top juniors, but obviously, that is not happening in the pro tour. So star getting more money thre.

getreal said...

to said-- winning a futures at 17 doesn't mean anything unless there is consistent follow-through. the toughness of the draw can vary also. More to the point in the last year Raonic had wins over 3 top 100 players including a #31 ranked ATP player and a bunch in the 100 to 200 range. No US junior is playing at that level except for Harrison which is probably why he is a pro and the rest are in college

The Dude said...

Watching Raonic play against Ferrer and he plays attacking tennis. He's looking for openings to hit winners. He looks to approach the net and knock off volleys. He has a huge serve with the most aces in the tournament. These is no America junior with his style of attacking play and weapons display.

getreal said...

While not a believer in USTA player development, I don’t blame the org for the lack of juniors popping through. Raonic popped through from a small federation without resources who was not touted as a hot prospect as a junior. I don’t anything about his development but I would guess he had a very devoted coach, an amazing work ethic, talent and the head for the game.

Jerry said...

Canada puts a lot of money and resources in their junior development, check out their federation website (i.e. http://www.lovemeansnothing.ca/players/juniors, or www.tenniscanada.ca).

On the other hand - instead of taking our top juniors to Australian Open, we take them to play college teams. Go figure.

Some thoughts said...

The Australian Open juniors has turned into an irrelevant event. The top juniors are playing the Pro Futures in Florida. I do not consider Dennis Novikov as anywhere near the top of us juniors.

Bottom Line - its easy to criticize the usta. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. We have become a tennis country of blaming others and not looking in the mirror and taking blame on ourselves.

The college match the guys played was a day before the Weston Future qualifying.

It seems the usta is against one-on-one coaching which is what other countries are doing, with their best prospects, like Roanic of Canada and Tomic of Australia.

Most of our top juniors are interested in college which limits their desire in the 17-21 yrs to further their development, like Rhyne Williamns, Jarmere Jenkins, and Chase Buchanan.

getreal said...

Agree with the USTA not taking a team to Australia. It’s a long way, expensive and it’s only for two ITF events over a three week period. That’s why only 5 of the top 20 ITF boys made the trip while almost all go to the other junior slams. As collette pointed out didn’t even need an ITF ranking for qualifying. No doubt those top US juniors will get stronger match play, and a lot more of it, here between futures and college tennis. As for the small group of US juniors boys who made the trip, seems they have a lot funding from somewhere when you look at their non-stop travel. On the girls side makes sense though for Davis to go as she has the results to possibly win it.

coachm said...

Some Thought's what do you mean by you "don't" consider Dennis Novikov one of the "top" juniors? Who do you consider then?