Sherwood Cup, SEC Coaches Indoor Start Friday; Laura Robson vs. Melanie Oudin in First Round of Australian Open Qualifying
Dual matches have not yet begun, but many college tennis players are back on campus preparing for the start of the spring season. Several individual tournaments are on the schedule for this weekend, including the Sherwood Cup, which will mark the return to college competition of NCAA champion Steve Johnson of USC. Although he is not ranked nationally, he is the top seed, with teammates Raymond Sarmiento and Daniel Nguyen right behind him. The Trojans have five of the eight seeds in the 32 singles draw, which includes players from UCLA, Stanford and Baylor. Stanford's Bradley Klahn, the 2010 NCAA champion, has been injured and is not in the draw. UCLA's Nick Meister, who had hip surgery and could not compete last season, has returned to the Bruins for his senior year, and is seeded fifth. For a link to the draws, and also information on the Freeman Invitational, where the UCLA women are competing this weekend along with many other top women's players, including No. 1 Mallory Burdette of Stanford, see the UCLA athletic website.
The Stanford Daily previews the Cardinal women's team here, while the Daily Trojan focuses on the return of Johnson here.
The SEC men are in Lexington for the Coaches Indoor tournament, another prestigious tournament. Georgia's Wil Spencer won the title last year, beating Kentucky's Eric Quigley in the final. The draws are not yet posted, but the tournament page is up at the Kentucky athletic site.
Although bad weather continues to cause problems at the Australian Open qualifying, the women's tournament is scheduled to begin tonight (it's already Thursday in Australia). There are 12 American women in the qualifying draw: Melanie Oudin, Madison Brengle, Ashley Weinhold, Alison Riske (17), Julia Boserup, CoCo Vandeweghe(7), Julia Cohen, Chichi Scholl, Vavara Lepchenko(11), Jill Craybas, Tetiana Luzhanska(18) and Jamie Hampton(23).
Oudin is scheduled to play one of the few juniors in the draw: Laura Robson of Great Britain, who turns 18 later this month. Oudin has been unable to find the form she showed in the summer of 2009, and has not played since losing to Gail Brodsky in the first round of the USTA's Australian Open wild card tournament. Robson, who hasn't played a junior event since the 2010 US Open, has not competed much in the past few months, and was unable to play any warmup events this month due to an injury. For more on Robson, who is the 14th seed in qualifying, see this article from the Australian Open website.
Other juniors in the draw include 2011 girls champion An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium, who was awarded the traditional junior wild card, but has been out for months with an injury and has not competed since May. Irina Khromacheva of Russia received a qualifying wild card for the second year in a row. This time it actually makes sense, as she is now the ITF World Junior Champion and ranked 342 by the WTA, but it's still unconventional to award a wild card outside the country to any but the previous year's junior champion. The other two juniors are Australian wild cards: Viktorija Rajicic and Storm Sanders.
It was announced last night that former Cal player Bojana Bobusic was given a main draw wild card, and she will be making her grand slam debut next week.
See the AO website for the women's qualifying draw, and the results of the men's matches that were completed Wednesday.