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Monday, February 7, 2011

January Aces; College Update; Dow Corning Tennis Classic Main Draw Starts Tuesday

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Midland, MI--

I'm at the $100,000 Dow Corning Tennis Classic for a couple of days, but before I recount how Monday went there, I wanted to pass along a few links. The first is my January Aces article for the Tennis Recruiting Network, which was posted today. Starting with the Winter Nationals and ending with the ITA Kick-off weekend, a lot went on in the first month of 2011.

I neglected to mention the No. 7 Florida men's 4-3 win over No. 27 Florida State yesterday in Tallahassee, which although not decided in a third-set tiebreaker like Baylor-UCLA, still went down to the last match, with Florida's Nassim Siliam defeating the Seminoles' freshman Blake Davis 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 at No. 4 singles to clinch. Florida lost the doubles point, but got wins from Spencer Newman, Billy Federhofer, Sekou Bangoura Jr. and Siliam to remain undefeated. For more on the match, see gatorzone.com.

Today in Champaign-Urbana, in a men's match postponed from last Friday, No. 16 Illinois defeated No. 14 Duke 4-2. Illinois again lost the doubles point, but got singles wins from Abe Souza, Roy Kalmanovic, Stephen Hoh and Bruno Abdelnour to seal the win. For more, see fightingillini.com.

Now to today's action in Midland. When I arrived, I checked in with Josh Rey, who is doing the publicity for the tournament for the USTA, then tried to get a spot to watch the second round qualifying matches in the balcony overlooking the courts. But with a free lunch provided and no admission charge, there were plenty of spectators watching the qualifying matches, and I was also distracted by the sight of so many players I haven't seen in a while. I spoke with Trice Capra and her mom, as Trice waited for her court, hearing about the four match points she saved in her first round qualifying match with Sanaz Marand, said hello to Jamie Hampton (it's been years since our paths had crossed), Christina McHale (more than a year) and Irina Falconi (May NCAAs, in person). The player I had seen most recently but had changed the most was Vicky Duval, who now is sporting glasses. A wild card in the main draw, the 15-year-old Duval has been wearing the glasses only since Christmas. She also said she was determined to make a snow angel this week, since she had only seen it snow twice in her life.

Before I left the tennis to attend the annual pre-tournament press conference in a different part of the 16-court facility, I saw former USC All-American Amanda Fink complete her 6-2, 6-2 win over 15-year-old Jan Abaza. Capra, the top seed in qualifying, was just starting her match with Alexandra Mueller, who won the qualifying wild card into the U.S. Open last year in the USTA's first National Playoffs.

I picked up my soup and sandwich and headed over to the well-attended press conference with Irina Falconi, Sabine Lisicki, Lucie Hradecka, CoCo Vandeweghe and USTA Lead National Women's coach Tom Gullikson. Mike Woody, the tournament director served as the MC, and when the six or eight reporters (not including TV crews) ran out of questions, he asked some of his own. For Josh Rey's account of the press conference, go to tennispanorama.com. For an account from the Saginaw News, see this article.

When I returned to the courts, Capra and Mueller were in a tiebreaker, and Robin Anderson, the 17-year-old from New Jersey, was down a set to 1998 Dow Corning Champion Alexandra Stevenson. Mueller, whom I had never seen play before, won the tiebreaker, and took a 4-0 lead before Capra got on the board in the second set. Mueller was hitting big and not missing, while Capra was making more errors than usual, perhaps as the result of her conscious decision to change her game to be more offensively minded. Throughout the day, everyone I spoke to was saying how fast the courts were this year, and both Mueller and Stevenson were taking advantage of that. Although neither moves as well as their younger, smaller opponents, there weren't a lot of opportunities for Capra and Anderson to work the points--they were over too fast. Capra lost 7-6(3), 6-3, while Anderson went down 6-3, 6-2. The court speed would certainly seem to favor the big servers like Sabine Lisicki and CoCo Vandeweghe. I'll get to see Lisicki on Tuesday, when she plays USTA girls 18s champion Shelby Rogers.

The last match on was former Harvard player Lena Litvak against 18-year-old German Anna Livadaru, and I was able to watch the final two sets of that match courtside. The ball-striking wasn't as impressive as in some of the other matches I saw, with more errors deciding points than winners, but there were still many entertaining points. No. 7 seed Litvak played an awful game serving at 4-5 in the first set, hitting three unforced errors and then double faulting on set point, but she came back to win the second set 6-0, as Livadaru had all kinds of trouble with her serve. She couldn't get a first serve in with any consistency, and her second serve seemed to be the same as her first, which resulted in a discouraging number of double faults, with three in one short game in the second set.

The third set brought better tennis, especially from Litvak, who used her slice to set up her forehand, and also used a drop shot regularly. When she broke Livadaru at love in the fifth game, the match was basically over, and Litvak quickly closed out the day's action 4-6, 6-0, 6-2. Her opponent in the final round of qualifying will be Asha Rolle, the No. 2 seed. Mueller, the only unseeded player remaining in qualifying, will play No. 6 seed Mashona Washington, No. 5 seed Stevenson plays No. 3 seed Marina Erakovic, and No. 8 seed Fink faces No. 4 seed Alexa Glatch.

In the main draw, there are four main draw matches Tuesday, in addition to Lisicki and Rogers. Top seed Varvara Lepchenko will play Anna Tatishvili, Christina McHale faces Anastasia Pivovarova, Irina Falconi meets Katie O'Brien and in the night match, Jamie Hampton will play 2009 Dow Corning champion Lucie Hradecka, who was a finalist last year.

For the complete draw and results from today's qualifying, see the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.


jobaholic said...

It was a bit disappointing to hear that Capra was making more errors than usual in the game. I hope she gets more focused the next time she has a match. www.tennisround.com

getreal said...

On Friday Tennessee shuts out IL. On Monday Il shuts out Duke. Seems Duke lacks to depth to be a top ten team this year. Surprised about that

College said...

Tenn beat Illinois 5-2 not 7-0 and Illinois beat Duke 4-2 with it looking like a 4-3. How is either of those matches a shut out?
Secondly, Duke is without their #4 player from last year who for some reason isn't in the lineup right now.