The sports agency Octagon has announced the signing of Tornado Ali Black to a representation contract. The 13-year-old Black, who reached the finals of the 12s and 14s at the Eddie Herr in 2009 and 2010 and won the 16s division last year, is currently in Europe for Teen Tennis and Les Petits As. Black, who lives in Boca Raton, trains at the USTA National Center.
Tom Perotta of the Wall Stree Journal published this article on the ITF/USTA initiative on 10-and-under tennis. I'm sure you've seen the many advertisements proclaiming "the rules of tennis have changed," which seems a bit melodramatic to me, but the smaller courts, nets, racquets, and most of all, the different balls, must now be used in all sanctioned federation 10-and-under tournaments. Perotta gives plenty of space to the objections to the format, although I must admit I had not heard the injury concern voiced until I read this story. Nick Bollettieri and Patrick McEnroe come out in favor, while others, including Tennis Australia, are not exactly all-in on the concept.
I don't have any expertise from which to address this issue, as I don't follow or cover much of the 12-and-unders, let alone the 10-and-unders, but I do see some 10-year-olds who play in the 12s, which is perfectly acceptable to all federations, so I'm not sure how it holds the very top players back. I confess that I don't see the need for sanctioned 10-and-under tournaments, but again, I haven't studied the issue closely and don't understand most of the objections. Other sports have no trouble attracting players with altered rules and dimensions more suitable for the very young, so I don't see why tennis would consider itself above that concession.
Will this somehow stunt the growth of the sport? I simply don't see how, so on balance, I think helping bring more success to younger players is worth the cost of the disruption we're going through now.
In the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Innisbrook, four Americans have advanced to the semifinals. Qualifier Grace Min defeated Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-3 today and will face unseeded Lauren Davis in Saturday's semifinal, which will be a rematch of the 2010 Orange Bowl final, won in three sets by Davis. In the other semifinal, qualifier Lauren Embree, a junior at the University of Florida, will play No. 2 seed Gail Brodsky.
In the $10,000 men's Futures in Plantation, No. 8 seed Jack Sock has reached the semifinals, beating No. 3 seed Benjamin Balleret of Monaco 6-3, 6-1 in today's quarterfinal. Sock and partner Nick Monroe, the No. 2 seeds, lost the doubles final today to the unseeded University of Virginia team of Drew Courtney and Jarmere Jenkins 7-6(3), 7-5.
For complete results, see the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.