My Story on Steve Johnson's Week at Davis Cup; Southern California Wins Intersectionals; New NCAA Phone Rule Dumped; Pro Circuit Update
NCAA champion Steve Johnson was the subject of several features during his stint last week as Davis Cup practice partner in Austin, I did an interview of my own, by phone, for my Tennis Recruiting Network weekly article. I also spoke to USC head coach Peter Smith and Johnson's father, Steve Sr., for a piece I am writing about Johnson for SMASH. The focus of that article, which will be available only to junior members of the USTA via smashtennis.com, is Johnson's decision to return to USC in January of 2012 to try to win a fourth straight team championship. It's important to him, as he makes clear at the end of the Tennis Recruiting article, and unlike Tennessee's Rhyne Williams' wait-and-see-stance about his professional future, I don't think there's any doubt Johnson will return to USC for his last semester of eligibility.
The Intersectionals, the USTA's coed, 16-and-under team event held every year in Shreveport, La., finished yesterday, with the top-seeded Southern California sectional team taking the title over the Southern section 7-2. It was odd to see Ashley Dai, who won all four of her singles matches for Southern California, playing in a 16s competition, as the University of North Carolina recruit has been playing 18s for several years, but I'm sure coach Brett Masi was happy to have her.
It's great for junior tennis fans that the local newspaper, the Shreveport Times, gives the event such thorough coverage every year, providing stories and photos each of the five days of the event. This is their article on yesterday's final. With the confusing way the TennisLink site works for this kind of event, I'm not sure I would have figured out who had won the tournament without the newspaper to help me.
Speaking of confusing, there was a new NCAA rule proposed that would allow more phone calls to recruits and earlier contact, but it will not happen, after the initial decision in favor of the change was overturned yesterday. Thanks to Marcia Frost, Dallas Oliver of Tennis Recruiting and Erica Perkins Jasper at the USTA, I think I finally have a grasp of the situation. This link from ncaa.org explains that the Legislative Council reversed its earlier support of the proposal, and a vote to override will not be necessary, although there is still a chance the Board of Directors could revisit the issue next month and request an override vote. For now there will be no extra phone calls come August 1.
At the Aptos Challenger, Jack Sock lost his second round match to No. 3 seed Matthew Ebden, the second time this year Sock has dropped a three-set decision to the Australian after winning the first set. Former LSU star Michael Venus, who just returned to the US after a successful Davis Cup tie for New Zealand, reached the quarterfinals.
All of the junior players are out of the $10,000 men's Futures in Rochester, with Bjorn Fratangelo, Jason Tahir, Mitchell Frank and Michael Redlicki all losing in the second round. Qualifier Redlicki did earn his first ATP point however by posting a first round win over Dmitri Marfinsky of Russia.
In the Atlanta 10K, top seed Lauren Davis and unseeded Lauren Embree will meet in one semifinal, with No. 5 seed Taylor Townsend playing No. 2 seed Alexis King in the other. If Townsend beats King Saturday, I suspect she will not play the Clay Courts in Memphis, but I've been wrong about that kind of decision before. Because she is seeded, Townsend will not play singles in Memphis until Monday, which makes it feasible. Last fall, Lauren Davis won a 10K in Williamsburg, Va. and flew all the way to Tulsa that night to play in the ITF B1 Pan American Closed the following day, so it is possible, although obviously not ideal.
The doubles final on Saturday will feature two current and two former college players. Florida sophomore Alex Cercone and Tennessee senior Natalie Pluskota, who are unseeded, will face former Wake Forest standout Alexandra Hirsch and 2008 NCAA champion Amanda McDowell of Georgia Tech, the No. 2 seeds.
For complete draws, see the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.
At the ITF Grade 1 in Austria, Allie Kiick has reached the semifinals. In today's quarterfinals, the unseeded Kiick beat No. 4 seed Ellen Allgurin of Sweden 6-0, 6-2, the third seed she has beaten this week.