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Friday, June 3, 2011

Fratangelo Reaches French Boys Championship Match, Krueger & Vinsant in Doubles Final; NCAA Recap; French Development

Bjorn Fratangelo will play Dominic Thiem of Austria for the French Open boys title Sunday after each won three-setters in today's semifinals.

Fratangelo beat French wild card Tristan Lamasine 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in Paris Friday, and although I did not see the match, it's obvious from the stats that he made the most of his opportunities, going 3 for 3 on break point chances, while Lamasine was 2 of 9, with both breaks coming in the second set. Fratangelo saved a break point at 30-40 in the final game, then won the next two points as well to claim his place in the final. Radio and TV commentator Guy McCrea tweeted this: "Impressed by what I saw of Bjorn Fratangelo. Superb mental focus 2 overcome Lamasine & fiery @rolandgarros Court 2 crowd to reach boys final."

Andrea Collarini, who was raised in Argentina but now plays for the US, reached the French boys singles final last year, losing to Agustin Velotti of Argentina.

Fratangelo's success is something of a surprise given that he's lost in the first round of his only other junior slams, the 2009 and 2010 US Opens, but he does like clay. He told me during the Easter Bowl that he started believing it was a good surface for him after he won the 18s USTA Clay Courts last year, following up his 2009 championship there in the 16s.

"Winning two years in a row, I figured, okay, maybe it's a good surface for me," Fratangelo said. "I tend to play well on it. I like to move on it a lot, and I think it's fun, because it's not just hit the ball. You have to construct points. It's fun, I like playing on it."

Prior to this trip, Fratangelo had no experience with European red clay, but it's interesting that he contradicts the interviewer in the usta.com video below, which was filmed after he won his quarterfinal match. Having trained and played primarily on the Har-Tru, Fratangelo denies the interviewer's interjection that it's completely different.

Fratangelo's opponent in the final is Eddie Herr champion Thiem, the No. 14 seed, who made an impressive comeback to defeat Mate Delic of Croatia 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. Thiem got only 32 first serves in, but 10 of them were aces, a remarkable ratio.

In Sunday's girls championship, two recent junior slam finalists will get a second chance to capture the winner's trophy. Fifth seed Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, who lost the Australian girls title this year to An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium, beat second seed Irina Khromacheva 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 today and will meet 2010 Roland Garros girls finalist Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, the ninth seed, who defeated No. 3 seed Caroline Garcia of France 6-2, 1-6, 6-2. Puig saved three break points at 5-5 in the third, then broke the 16-year-old left-hander to earn a spot in the final.

Unseeded Mitchell Krueger and Shane Vinsant reached the boys doubles final with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Miki Jankovic of Serbia and his partner Dimitar Kuzmanov of Bulgaria. Their opponents in Saturday's final are No. 4 seeds Andres Artunedo Martinavarr and Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain. The girls doubles final is also seeded vs. unseeded, with Victoria Kan of Russia and Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands meeting second seeds Khromacheva of Russia and Maryna Zanevska of Ukraine.

As usual, there has been no junior coverage at rolandgarros.com, but the draws are here. The boys doubles final should begin between 7 and 8 a.m. EDT Saturday, as it follows the girls final. The ITF junior website has this article from today's semifinals.

Speaking of doubles, former Stanford All-American Scott Lipsky captured the mixed doubles title on Thursday with Australian Casey Dellacqua. Matt Cronin's article about the pair's championship run is available at usta.com.

An interesting investigation into the French system of development and why it produces substantial numbers of great players but not Grand Slam champions can be found in this Wall Street Journal story by Tom Perotta. I've heard other US coaches mention the problem with "full scholarship" players at academies, and the entitlement attitude that creates, so I wasn't entirely surprised to read this:
Patrick Mouratoglou, who runs one of the country's few private academies, recently stopped giving full scholarships to his players. He supports the federation's new philosophy, but said it needs to go further.

"It's much too late to do it when they are 22," he said. "You have to do it when they're 10."
And finally, my recap of the NCAA Singles and Doubles championships can be found at the Tennis Recruiting Network. If you didn't have a chance to read all the daily articles at zootennis, this is a chance to get a broader look at the six-day event.