Entries Close Thursday for USTA National Championships; Kudla in Newport Quarters; Q&A with DC Hitting Partner Johnson; Parenting Athletic Children
I just noticed that entries close for August's USTA National Championships at 11:59 a.m. on Thursday. I hope everyone who wishes to play has entered, but every year I hear stories from tournament directors about someone who missed the deadline. The information on applying for a wild card can be found in the USTA's Player Development section at usta.com, which also has a complete list of what wild cards are awarded for winning not only the Nationals, but the Clay Courts, which begin on July 17th. The winners of the 18s Clay Courts get a wild card into the US Open Juniors. I don't know if that's the reason the Girls 18s Clay Courts field is so strong this year, but I'm excited to be covering that tournament in Memphis for the fourth time, with defending champion Caroline Price, finalist Whitney Kay, semifinalists Gabby Andrews and Catherine Harrison all returning, along with 18s Spring National champion Danielle Collins and International Spring Champion Samantha Crawford. The complete list can be found at the TennisLink site.
Denis Kudla's followed his surprise first-round win over Ivo Karlovic at the ATP Campbell's Hall of Fame Championships with an even more impressive one this evening, beating No. 2 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 6-1, 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinals. Dimitrov was coming off a good showing at Wimbledon, where he lost in four entertaining sets to semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in the second round, and at 62, Dimitrov is 332 ranking spots above Kudla. In this Providence Journal article about Kudla's win over Karlovic, Kudla gives Ryan Harrison credit for changing his mental approach. Kudla will play qualifier Michael Yani in the quarterfinals Friday.
NCAA champion Steve Johnson, who is serving as a hitting partner this week for the US Davis Cup team, is the subject of this Q and A at usta.com. Johnson talks about returning to USC for his senior year in the spring of 2012 and about winning the hotdog eating contest Andy Roddick organized for the Davis Cup rookies on the 4th of July. Evan King, who was also a contestant, gave his version of the event in his second blog post for usta.com.
And finally I ran across this piece by Paul Stanford in the British paper The Independent about the challenges, rewards and drawbacks of raising an athletically gifted child. Stanford recognizes there are no simple answers to the question of when and even why a child should seek sports stardom, and that federations, parents and everyone else who wants only the best for the child are never quite sure when encouragement ends and pushing starts. Does jealousy cause us to automatically think the worst of a prodigy's parents? Is missing out on some of the normal teenage activities to pursue excellence in sports really such a bad thing?
These are just a couple of questions that occurred to me as I read the article--there are plenty of other thought-provoking directions you may take after reading it.