Can US Tennis Hope for Better after Weak Australian Open? Seeking Freaks in Wales; Johnson Tapped for ATP San Jose Wild Card
Sandra Harwitt was in Australia for the Open last month, and in addition to her work for the ITF Juniors, she also wrote several pieces for ESPNHS and ESPN. This one, published today, examines the poor performance by the American men and women in Melbourne, with none getting to the second week in singles. Harwitt provides quotes from Mary Joe Fernandez, Patrick McEnroe, John Isner, Justin Gimelstob and Jim Courier, with Fernandez calling the US absence "sad" and McEnroe using the word "disaster". Gimelstob says it's "probably going to get worse before it gets better."
Davis Cup captain Courier is presented as the most upbeat of the group, expressing faith in both USTA Director of Coaching Jose Higueras and 10-and-under tennis to assist in getting American tennis back in the mix for grand slam success.
The US obviously has a completely different set of problems from a country like Wales, which is part of the United Kingdom and has a population of only 3 million. With Scotland (pop. 5 million) as a template, Wales is hoping to uncover a Welsh Andy Murray, but this detailed article clearly lays out all the obstacles to such an outcome. Peter Drew, the head of Tennis Wales, knows that any federation determined to create such a player is destined for failure.
“Those players are just freaks that can pop out anywhere, the Murrays, the Federers, Nadals or Djokovics,” he says.
“One might pop up from Wales, that would be great. But even if you had the best system in the world, it won’t guarantee you an Andy Murray as you’ve got to get someone with that freakish talent.
“All you can do is have that system in place, so that if that freakish talent does pop up your area, then you’ve got the best opportunity to take that player through.”
The SAP Open in San Jose announced today via twitter (@SAPOpenTennis) that USC's Steve Johnson has been given the final main draw wild card for the ATP event, which begins next week. How this will impact his participation in the ITA Team Indoor, which begins next Friday, will probably depend on his draw, which will be revealed this Friday.
Today at the Dow Corning Tennis Classic in Midland, Michigan, Madison Keys and Jessica Pegula won their final round qualifying matches to reach the main draw of the $100,000 event. Keys will play Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal and Pegula faces No. 7 seed Olga Govortsova of Belarus. Former Northwestern star Samantha Murray of Great Britain also qualified and she will play Gail Brodsky. Syracuse University senior Alessondra Parra, who received a wild card when Brodsky didn't need one, plays No. 5 seed Stephanie Dubois of Canada. 2011 finalist Irina Falconi, seeded 4th, lost in the first round today to Madison Brengle.
Allie Kiick and Maria Sanchez were among today's qualifiers at the $25,000 Pro Circuit Childhelp Desert Classic in Rancho Mirage.