Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2011 Talbert Sportsmanship Award Winners; Farah Wins First ATP Match; Bricker on Brian Baker and Michael Yani

At this year's International Tennis Hall of Fame induction, which includes the enshrinement of Jennifer Capriati, Gustavo Kuerten, Manuel Orantes, Mike Davies and Randy Snow, four junior players will be honored with the 2011 Bill Talbert Sportsmanship Awards. Not only do these four players get to rub elbows and share the stage with tennis legends, but they also are able to watch current men's stars at the ATP Campbell's Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, RI that week in July. 

The USTA announced the recipients: Whitney Kay, Josh Hagar, Andrew Ball and Sierra Halverson, at last month's annual meeting in California, and prepared videos about each one of them.  If you click on a player's name above, you will be taken to the video created about him or her. They are brief, but you will learn more about these four players than just their comportment on the tennis court.

Austin Tennis Academy has more on Josh Hagar's award here. Halverson has committed to play for Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, and their article about her award is here. Andrew Ball's school acknowledged his award in this article.  Congratulations to these four and to all other juniors nominated by their sections for this award.

The 2010 ITA Men's Player of the Year, Robert Farah of USC, won his first two matches on the ATP tour this week, after qualifying for the Barcelona Open, a 500 event. He beat former Tulsa All-American Arnau Brugues in yesterday's first round and today took out No. 16 seed Pablo Andujar of Spain 7-6(8), 4-6, 7-5. Andujar is No. 38 in the ATP rankings this week. Next up for the 25-year-old Colombian is Rafael Nadal.

Charlie Bricker hasn't been writing regularly for any print publication since leaving the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, but he writes regularly for World Tennis online, and his visit to the Sarasota Challenger last week produced two interesting stories.  The first is about Brian Baker, who is finally beginning to get some attention beyond this site for his comeback, with Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim urging via twitter yesterday that the Tennis Channel to get to Nashville with a camera crew pronto, after Baker beat Mike Russell in the opening round of the Savannah Challenger.

Bricker's most recent article is a look at former Duke Blue Devil Michael Yani, who shares with Bricker his goal to win a singles match in a slam, or at least play one of the Big Four at night in Arthur Ashe stadium. Bricker does the math, and the journeyman position that Yani occupies doesn't make for a fat bank account, but it certainly has its rewards.  When he finally decides to leave the tour, he'll not only have his Duke degree to help with the transition, but a whole lot of other life experiences to draw on, and few regrets. I hope he gets that win, or that opportunity.  Yani lost in the second round of the Savannah Challenger to qualifier Rhyne Williams, now in his first full year on the tour.

The Charlottesville women's $50,000 tournament has completed its first round, with all several notable results.  Julia Cohen beat top seed Stephanie Dubois of Canada and will now play Lauren Davis, in what could be an important match in the race for the French Open wild card.  Allie Kiick beat No. 5 seed and WTA No. 123 Olivia Rogowska of Australia, and University of Virginia wild card Lindsey Hardenbergh beat lucky loser and WTA No. 211 Johanna Konta to advance to a meeting with No. 8 seed and 2011 Charlottesville finalist Michelle Larcher de Brito.

See the usta.com Pro Circuit results page for draws.


Mark @ Tennisopolis said...

Good on Farah for getting his first win immediately followed by his first decent upset. He actually looked half decent vs Nadal too - a very good week for him.