Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wimbledon Junior Qualifying Begins Thursday at Roehampton; Robson to Meet Sharapova at Wimbledon; Spencer, Gomez Receive Atlanta WCs

The rain kept any play from happening at the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton today, which is odd, because Wimbledon did get quite a few matches in despite a mid-afternoon start due to early rain. Krista Hardebeck did advance to the semifinals however, with Madison Keys, who had withdrawn from doubles earlier due to an injury, pulling out of singles as well, prior to her meeting with Hardebeck. Keys' Wimbledon participation is certainly in doubt now. Thanks to the twitter follower who let me know that Keys had withdrawn. Otherwise I might have missed seeing on the order of play that Hardebeck was awaiting her semifinal opponent.

The juniors at Roehampton will share the courts there with the Wimbledon qualifiers on Thursday, weather permitting, and there are six Americans in the Wimbledon junior qualifying draws. Catherine Harrison, Elizaveta Nemchinov, seeded 15th and Lauren Herring, the fifth seed, are among the girls hoping to win two matches and advance to the main draw. Dennis Novikov(5), Connor Farren(8) and Emmett Egger are the US boys in Wimbledon junior qualifying.

As I mentioned earlier, the strength of the boys draw is amazing this year, with an ITF ranking at the time of acceptance needing to be 103 or higher just to get into qualifying. By contrast, two girls from Great Britain in the mid-300s in the ITF junior rankings were accepted into the girls qualifying. With that kind of disparity, it's hard to know from year to year whether it's worth it to pay for the European airfare on the chance you may get in. And of course, just as is true for the men's and women's qualifiers at Wimbledon, you don't get into the gates of the All England Lawn Tennis Club unless you qualify. The grass there is reserved for main draw matches.

For the complete draws, see the ITF junior site or the LTA site. The latter has the order of play. It doesn't look as if there will be live scoring however, which was an innovation at the US Open junior qualifying last year that I had hoped would become standard practice at the other junior slams.

Seventeen-year-old Laura Robson, who has had a difficult year so far with injuries and poor performances, and last week parted ways with coach Patrick Mouratoglou, got a big lift today when she won her first round match at Wimbledon. The 254th-ranked wild card beat fellow left-hander Angelique Kerber of Germany 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3, in a match that was available on ESPN3. Robson looked very comfortable in the second set, hitting a lot of outright winners on her forehand side, but she displayed some of the nerves that have plagued her in the big matches when she was serving for the second set at 5-4. Backhand errors and a double fault resulted in a break, but she held confidently at 5-6, and played well in the tiebreaker. She took a 4-0 lead in the final set, but lost both breaks, only to right herself by breaking Kerber at 3-4. There was none of the sloppiness or evident nerves that cost her the game serving for the second set when she served for the match, and she closed it out at love.

It's her first singles win at a Slam after failing to qualify at three others, and losing to Daniela Hantuchova and Jelena Jankovic in Wimbledon first round matches the past two years. Next up for her, an even bigger name--Maria Sharapova.

For today's results and Thursday's schedule, see wimbledon.com.

Still nothing to report on the USTA collegiate team, but several college players are reported to have received wild cards into professional events. Wil Spencer of Georgia and Guillermo Gomez of Georgia Tech have received qualifying wild cards into the ATP Atlanta Tennis Championships next month, and Dennis Nevolo of Illinois and Evan King of Michigan have received wild cards into the qualifying of the Winnetka Challenger, joining Stanford recruit Robert Stineman. All three played their junior tennis in Illinois. The tournament just announced that James Blake has accepted a wild card into the main draw after his first round Wimbledon loss yesterday.


Jeff said...

Collette FYI - on the same note we will have a rare doubles entry at the Atlanta Tennis Championships,as Georgia and Georgia Tech unite. Drake Bernstein and Kevin King received a wildcard into the main doubles draw of the ATC.

love-tennis said...

That is the thing I love about tennis, even the tough junior world that we came up through. Off court, my daughter made friends all over the country, just like with Drake and Kevin. Tennis is such a great sport.

We'd come into a supernational players' meeting and there'd be friends all over. Can't beat that.