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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Duval Reaches Quarterfinals at Copa Gerdau; Sock Drops Sony Ericsson Debut; Vallverdu to Coach Murray; Alex O'Brien Update

Vicky Duval reached the quarterfinals of the ITF Grade A Copa Gerdau with her win today in Porta Alegre Brazil. Duval, the No. 14 seed, defeated No. 4 seed Daria Salnikova of Russia 6-1, 4-6, 6-1. She will play unseeded Olga Ianchuk of Ukraine Friday. Tristen Dewar, the only other American remaining in singles after two rounds, lost to No. 6 seed Danka Kovinic of Montenegro.

At the Sony Ericsson Open, positive results were hard to come by for Americans. Qualifier Jamie Hampton, playing in her fourth match since Monday, lost to No. 21 seed Andrea Petkovic of Germany 6-2, 7-5, Melanie Oudin fell to No. 29 seed Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-3 and Bethanie Mattek-Sands lost to top seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 7-5.

Wild card Jack Sock was the only American man in action, other than Ryan Harrison, who lost late this evening to Rainer Schuettler 7-5, 6-2. Sock definitely had his chances against Carlos Berlocq of Argentina, but lost 7-5, 7-6(6) in two hours and 20 minutes. Sock served for the second set and had numerous set points to extend the match, but didn't take advantage of his opportunities against the 71st-ranked player, with Berlocq saving 10 of 13 break points. The stats show that Sock actually won a higher percentage of his second serve points than his first. Sock will be teaming with Harrison in doubles and they will have their work cut out for them, as they play the Bryans in the first round.

For complete results, see sonyericssonopen.com.

Daniel Vallverdu was an All-American at the University of Miami, but he is in the news these days because of his friendship with Andy Murray of Great Britain. The two have been friends since their junior days at the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Spain, and Vallverdu has been serving as Murray's coach/hitting partner in the past several months. This article in The Telegraph is dismissive of Vallverdu's professional ranking, but it really isn't pertinent to the discussion of his suitability as a coach for the world's No. 5 ranked player.

It's ironic that this article, from the Daily Mail, which calls for the resignation of LTA head Roger Draper, criticizes the hiring of high-priced "name" coaches by that organization. Despite the many exclamation points in the headline, the story is a balanced look at the five years of the Draper regime. Is five years enough time? I'm not sure it is, but the lack of confidence in Draper's ability seems to be the crux of the problem. Craig Tiley has had five years in Australia, and although that country is also struggling to produce Top 100 players, there seems less impatience with him among media and tennis fans.

In the where are they now department, this article from the Amarillo Globe News about 1992 NCAA singles and doubles champion Alex O'Brien, who also led Stanford to the team championship that year, explores his life after college and professional tennis. O'Brien, who was inducted into the ITA Collegiate Hall of Fame in 2007, is now a rancher and a banker, who also finds time to coach a bit in Amarillo, Texas. His foundation provides free instruction for young players in his hometown.


GoUSA said...

There has been a lot of buzz around Lendl wanting to coach Murray.
Does anyone have any news on what is happening with the coaching situations on the 2 up and coming Americans, Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock?
Harrison is looking for a new coach and is working with his dad, Pat for now.
Sock was in Miami without his long time coach and working with the USTA coaches.

Will be interesting to see if either ends up with a top notch coach who things they can make an impact.