Tuesday, February 7, 2012

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.


pactennis said...

Would think Johnson would have to win 2 rounds in San Jose for it to affect his participation in the ITA indoors. And, if he made the quarters, I'm sure the Trojans would be fired up for him rather than bummed he's not there. Would think their coaches would use his absence as a way to challenge the players. Johnson's earned he right to play pro matches when the opportunity is there. Also, the finals of the Indoors is not until Monday, so if they really want him there he can make the later rounds

love-tennis said...

Pactennis, I hope he can do both.

I am not quite so sure that his USC teammates or coaches would be as thrilled at him playing a pro tournament compared to contributing to the team.

I don't know of too many college coaches who would be happy with that, unless the team stuff was a complete "creaming" of the opponents and they didn't need him.

But it sounds nice!

Honesty said...

They beat Stanford 7-0!!! Last time I checked they don't need him. At this point im sure Peter Smith is thrilled he is going out playing professional tournaments walking around the site with his USC clothing on. People talk and every kid both American and foreign now know USC is the place to go if you want to play college tennis. As long as he isnt playing a Challenger during the REAL NCAA Team Championships, I doubt anyone cares at all. And I guarantee you he wants to play that and the individuals to get the US Open WC again. Ok the end.

tennis said...

stanford was missing Klahn, their best player, which pushes everyone down a slot. Not saying it wouldnt be the same result, but at least give them the benefit of the doubt

been-there said...

UGA men with the new addition of Singh are looking pretty good too.

been-there said...

Wow, we wonder why tennis isn't played more widely by all? Hmm..half the kids in my child's school are on the free lunch program....

I just looked at the entry fee for the 12's Spring National's in Del Ray Beach in April.

Entry Fee*: $151 per player for one event, $151.50 for two events

That is too much.

The Dude said...

Herein lies the problem, every year junior tennis becomes more exclusionary as tourney entrance fees race ahead of inflation. 3 years ago it was $101 if I recall correctly.