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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Talbert Sportsmanship Award Winners; Smith, Fratangelo, Frank Advance at Vero Beach Futures; Calderone Sets Win Mark at Western Michigan

For some reason the USTA didn't include the names of the winners of the Bill Talbert Sportsmanship awards in the release of the other national award winners who were announced at the semiannual meeting earlier this month, but I've been able to track down the names of the four juniors who won the 2010 awards. Molly O'Koniewski (Southern), Jamie Pawid (Northern California), Ashok Narayana (Texas) and Samuel Shropshire (Middle States) will be invited to attend the induction ceremonies at the International Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island in July to receive their awards. The Northern Cal section had this article on Pawid's selection on their website, and O'Koniewski's award was announced in this Island Packet article from last month, but I don't have any links for the two boys. I hope there is more recognition for them in the months ahead; last year their were videos prepared for the four winners. It's a great honor, and their families, coaches and friends should be proud of their selection.

The first round is complete at the Vero Beach Futures, with several juniors advancing to the second round. Yesterday, qualifier Austin Smith picked up his first ATP point with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Terence Nugent of the Ivory Coast and wild card Bjorn Fratangelo beat Great Britain's Matthew Short 6-4, 7-5. Today, qualifier Mitchell Frank, who surrendered only three games in his four qualifying wins, lost only three to No. 8 seed Blake Strode, taking a 6-2, 6-1 win over the former Arkansas All-American. UCLA freshman Dan Kosakowski advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 6-4 decision over Chris Kwon of the US. Kosakowski will face top seed Artem Sitak of New Zealand Thursday.

Sitak beat 2009 NCAA champion Devin Britton in the first round Monday. Britton is the subject of this feature at TCPalm.com by Ray McNulty, centering on the difficulty Britton has had accumulating enough points to graduate from the Futures level. Although it's logical to think so, given how Britton has struggled, I believe McNulty is wrong when he says: "The pro game, even on the lower-level tours, is noticeably better than what is played at America's top tennis schools."

I've seen both, and watch results closely, and as Dan Kosakowski, who is 20-12 this year playing No. 1, could tell you, the level of competition at the top of Division I is very similar to that found at a Pro Circuit Futures.

Complete results can be found at the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.

And if I can indulge in a little hometown news here, Western Michigan University senior Michael Calderone last week set the Bronco record for career wins with 214. In this feature on Calderone from the Kalamazoo Gazette, the "off-the-junior-radar" status of Calderone is a heartening example for those who are looking to play Division 1 tennis, but don't have the ranking to attract the interest of more prominent schools. Calderone was a three-star recruit who never cracked the TRNet's Top 200 for the class of 2007, but he can now be considered one of the best players in the history of the school.