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Thursday, March 10, 2011

USTA Spring Nationals Start Sunday; ISC Acceptances; Stephens, McHale Win at Indian Wells; Duval, Sock, Harrison Featured on CNN

I'm getting ready to head to Mobile for the USTA 18s Spring Nationals, which begin on Sunday, so I'm going to make this post as brief as possible.

I don't have the complete list of wild cards for Mobile, but one big name not previously on the list of competitors who is now there is Gabrielle Andrews, the 14-year-old Californian who won the Winter Nationals, and will undoubtedly be the top seed at this National Championship. Eric Johnson, the boys 18s Winter National champion, received direct entry into Mobile. For the complete list of competitors, see the TennisLink site.

The list of acceptances for the International Spring Championships in Carson, California has been published. Grace Min, who is in the quarterfinals at the $25,000 Pro Circuit event in Clearwater this week, has entered, as has Madison Keys. Bjorn Fratangelo, who is No. 14 in the ITF Junior rankings, leads the boys acceptances. For the complete acceptance lists, see the ITF website. The 16s acceptance lists can be found on the tournament's page at usta.com.

Today in Indian Wells, both Sloane Stephens, who turns 18 in ten days, and Christina McHale, who will be 19 in May, won their opening round matches at the BNP Paribas Open, joining fellow wild card CoCo Vandeweghe in the second round. McHale beat Akul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan 6-3, 6-1; Stephens took out qualifier Jamie Hampton 6-2, 6-4. Next up for Stephens is top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark. McHale plays No. 11 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, Vandeweghe faces No. 6 seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia.

US qualifiers Tim Smyczek, Donald Young and Ryan Sweeting also won their first round matches today. For complete results, see the tournament website.

CNN put up two videos today about US juniors, although Vickie Duval is discussed only in terms of her Haitian background. But aside from that, the story details her father's life-threatening injuries in the Haitian earthquake last year, and what the Kitchen family did to help them. It was a great story then and it remains so, although Duval's father has been unable to resume his medical practice due to the injuries he suffered. The video can be found here.

CNN also filmed a short feature at the recent Delray International Tennis Championships, where they spoke to Mardy Fish and Jack Sock, along with USTA Head of Men's Tennis Jay Berger, who is referred to as a former USTA National Coach, which I guess isn't wrong, but doesn't exactly emphasize his current influence in that organization. Ryan Harrison and John Isner are also discussed in the segment, which is entitled "America's Next Tennis Ace."


Jon from PBG said...

I think Sock and Harrison are amazing young men and very nice players. But we always skirt around the real issue, we don't get our top athletes into tennis.

You hand Kobe at 18 years old a baseball glove, a soccer ball, a basketball and he would blow you away with his athletic ability. Same with an 18 year old Allen Iverson. Not talking character, just pure athletic skills.

No offense, but Sock and Harrison are just not going to blow you away with pure athletic ability. They are decent athletes who have worked themselves into being very good tennis players. And you wonder in the end if America will ever have a #1 male tennis player again until we get a rare freakish athlete who plays tennis from age 5.

The level of competition from around the world is getting bigger and faster and stronger with each passing year.

LetsgoUSA said...

Harrison has just changed coaches again trying to find the right combination to get him to the next level.
Does anyone know what is happening with Sock? USTA was with him in DelRay and Dallas, not his usual coach.

Jimmy said...

The real issue is the mental component

Santiago said...

I agree with the very first poster. It is the same old story, tennis in the USA is extremely expensive. I think a lot of good athletes stay away from the sport because of the expense. In order to learn and play the game well is not easy; however if someone has the monetary means you can “manufacture” a fairly decent player that in the long run will probably play some college and no more. I think that’s what we get in the United States. A stream of decent players who were manufactured by families with means. I live in the Northern California section and when I look at draws of juniors tournaments 85% of the names are either Chinese and/or Indian from affluent cities. Something has to be done to get people of color and low income folks into the game. I know this has been an issue for decades but it does not seem it will ever be solved. By the way, does anyone know Jack Sock's status re: college vs. turning pro? After the U.S. Open it appeared he was headed to college, is he now officially a pro?

Jon from PBG said...

Santiago, I agree 100%. We do end up with solid players whose families have money on the men's side. We don't have any up and coming male player who anyone would call the "most athletic young player" or the "fastest young player". They are all "solid" players, but nothing spectacular.

The women's side is a little different because of the influx of girls when the Williams sisters first hit the scene. We do have a handful of girls, including some African American girls, with some promise.

LetsgoUSA said...

Sock has not decided to go pro yet that I have seen. You would think he would soon with some of his results.
Congrats to Ryan Harrison! Just beat Chardy, #49.
Love to see some young Americans start to make moves!!!

Colette Lewis said...

As of the Dallas Challenger, Sock had not made a decision on college vs. pro

wi tennis said...

Jon, I'm not sure where this information comes from. Kobe is probably good at soccer because he grew up a lot of his life in Italy. However, hitting a baseball is an amazingly difficult skill. Best baseball hitters couldn't necessarily be great basketball players. Picture Mark McGuire playing tennis!? How do you know Iverson could kick a soccer ball? Seems like a ridiculous argument.

Gael Monfils is a ridiculous athlete, but he doesn't have the mental component to be #1. Ernest Gulbis is a ridiculous athlete, but he doesn't have the mental component to be #1.

The repetition and discipline in constructing a point in tennis is a factor that can stop some "freak" athletes from being good players. Some people have that (Nadal, Fed, Djok) and some don't. Luck is a factor. Being #1 in the world is a ridiculous feat! The mind is a factor. Players specializing too early is a limiting factor to their athleticism. Andy Roddick played high school basketball.

Was pigeon-toed, Andre Agassi a ridiculous athlete? Probably not. But, he was an amazing tennis player! Although, Sampras was a great athlete. There isn't a cookie cutter way to be #1.

Harrison seems to have pretty good athleticism. He's not 6'5", but that doesn't take away from athleticism. I haven't seen him play in a few years, but maturity was his limiting factor a few years ago. Throwing racquets. Cursing. Etc.

I've never seen Sock play, but he seems to be on a good track.

People forget that the majority of the pro tournaments were played in the U.S. in comparison to any other country. They still are, but not quite as many. This limited others participation a lot before international travel became cheaper. U.S. gets so many wildcards, still. And corporations weren't as greedy and didn't have so much money. They couldn't sponsor lots of players to travel, etc. Now, they can do that with players from smaller tennis countries.

That's all I got.

wi tennis said...

Also, I'm not sure that being African-American makes you a good athlete. Seems a bit ignorant.

Peter Pan said...

Jon from PBG..All these great athletes you mention all played other sports growing up. The reason they excel at the sports they are in is because they knew thats what they were best at and stuck with it. They would NEVER have been as good at another sport as the one they are in. You are like a lot of people who assume because someone is black they automatically have a better chance of being a professional athlete. Many factors go into it besides athletic ability. Dealing with pressure, anticipation, playing smart, exploiting an opponents weakness, hand eye coordination. All these factors may come easy to a great athlete in 1 sport but not another. Michael Jordan tried to take up baseball and golf and he stunk at them. Charles Barkley is an embarrassment in golf. Why dont they excel in them if its about athleticism? Because they dont have the feel and understanding of those sports like they did basketball. Thats why they chose basketball.

Harrison has not changed coaches again. He tried someone for 1 tournament in Dallas that was recommended to him and knew it didnt fit. The livestream broadcasters in Dallas were 100% wrong in saying he had hired a knew coach.

Texastennismom said...

ALL the very top tennis players are
phenomenal athletes. To say Agassi wasn't a great athlete is ridiculous. Pete off the charts for sure.
I do think they would be great at other sports too - if they put the time in they had put into tennis...
Jordan would have been much much better at those other sports if he had concentrated on it since childhood. Almost all the top tennis players would be pro baseball players and I think a lot would be pro golfers. I don't think golf and baseball pros could transfer to other sports because while the difficulty of those sports is very high, it doesn't require the athleticism other sports too.
Mental - of course huge. But you can be great mentally and you won't be a top pro without having the athletic ability....
Whoever is helping Sock is doing a good job of managing his progress I think without rushing their choices.
McHale likewise. Good to see some sense.

JCrenshawtv said...

Im going to have to agree. The up and coming juniors are good tennis players but there not tht athletic compared to pros in the top 100. Agassi had incredible timing and ground strokes so there is an exception,but he was still a great athlete.