Saturday, April 21, 2012

Wimbledon Bound; Both No. 1s Lose in LA Friday; ACC, SEC Conference Finals Set

It's official. I will be covering the Junior Championships at Wimbledon this year at zootennis.com. I had received an email a couple of weeks back informing me that I was approved, and today I received the official accreditation in the mail. It speaks to the Wimbledon way of doing things that they actually use the post; the other two slams I've covered--Australia in 2006 and the US Open since 2004--simply send emails.

This will be my second trip to Wimbledon. I went in 2007, the year Donald Young won the boys title, and it rained for the first three days and often the next two, resulting in match tiebreakers to decide third sets once play resumed, and leaving many second round matches unfinished as late as Thursday. Madison Brengle made the final, losing to Urszula Radwanska, so despite the miserable weather, which improved dramatically for the last three days, it was great to be there.

I had received my credential back then through Tennis magazine, because until this year, all journalists had to be accredited through a print publication. Internet-only journalists were not accepted. This year that policy was changed and in late January I sent an email requesting a credential. An immediate response assured me I would be considered "at a later stage", but since I had filled out no formal request, I was shocked when I was received an email two months later saying I had been approved.

With the excitement also came the anxiety. The expense is one of the reasons I didn't try to get a magazine or newspaper to sponsor me the past four years, but I was able to find a reasonably priced flight this year, and hope to find convenient accommodations, although I haven't yet. Wimbledon is now very strict about photographs, and as a member of the media, I am not allowed to take photos myself without special permission (on the outer courts only), which I am to request when I arrive. Without my usual accredited photographer, I will be working out an arrangement with someone accredited and onsite at least for the final few days if I can. I hope what I can add by being there will make up for the lack of visual evidence that I am.

The junior fact sheet is out, but it will be some time before the acceptances are released, with the closing date for entries May 22. Last year the boys ranking cutoff for the main draw at Wimbledon was 53 and the girls ranking cutoff was a puzzling 314. (In 2010 the numbers were 70 and 275, and in 2009, a more balanced 58 and 64). I hope that doesn't discourage any US boys from applying and I hope it encourages girls who are considering a possible trip over there.

To return to the upcoming focus of zootennis, the climax of the college tennis season, there's been some spice added to the soup with both No. 1s losing at home yesterday in Los Angeles. The fourth-ranked USC women zipped past top-ranked UCLA, winning the doubles point and getting three straight-set wins from Sabrina Santamaria, Kaitlyn Christian and Valeria Pulido at 3, 4 and 6 to clinch the match. The final score was 6-1, with Chanelle Van Nguyen collecting UCLA's lone point at 5. This gave USC at least a share of the Pac-12 title. Stanford, who beat Cal 4-3 today, will join USC as conference champs if they beat Washington State next week in a make-up match at Ojai. Both have one conference loss, with USC losing to Stanford and Stanford losing to UCLA. None of this clears up anything regarding favored status at the NCAAs next month in Athens, which just means more excitement and anticipation.

The USC men fell 4-3 to No. 5 UCLA yesterday, suffering their first loss of the year and ending their winning streak at 45. The Trojans won the doubles point and four first sets in singles, but both Bruin freshmen Marcos Giron at 4 and Dennis Mkrtchian at 6 rebounded from first set losses to post their points. Unlike the women, the men are playing a conference team event for the first time next week in Ojai, so their rubber match (USC won their first meeting in February) could be as soon as Sunday.

The SEC conference tournament finals are Sunday, with the Georgia men facing Kentucky and the Georgia women meeting defending NCAA champion Florida in Starkville. Both Georgia teams lost 4-3 in Athens to their opponents earlier in the year.

In the ACC conference tournament finals in Cary, NC, also Sunday, the Virginia men face Duke for the title. It's Virginia's ninth straight appearance in the ACC tournament final, while Duke is in its third. The women's ACC conference title will be decided between Duke and North Carolina. Ten days ago, Duke and North Carolina met in a conference dual match, with the Blue Devils posting a 4-0 win.

In the Big East tournament, host University of South Florida has both men's and women's teams in the finals Sunday. The women will play Notre Dame and the men, who upset Notre Dame today, will play Louisville.


past traveler said...

Zootennis at Wimbledon!
Don't forget to pick up your "Oyster" Card for public transportation and the throw away phone at heathrow.You can get them "Topped Off" at several locations. Have a safe and enjoyable trip. Tip, do not take a taxi from the airport to London, too expensive,take the tube or train.

Austin said...

SEC Womens tourney is in Oxford at Ole Miss, not Starkville where the men are.

UGA & Miss State had a great match in the mens tourney yesterday, five matches went to three sets, very close. I think UGA gets revenge on UK today in the final. Florida will roll UGA in womens final after struggling past Ole Miss yesterday. The Alabama choked the match against UGA yesterday, losing 4-2 after winning the first set in five of six singles matches.

past traveler said...

You can go to the Richmond Station and pick up the train to get to the town of Wimbledon, then just take a nice leisurely walk or the double decker bus to the venue. Enjoy ur "Pimms" at Wimbledon

been-there said...

Austin, you forgot to mention that both times that Alabama played UGA women, UGA was missing Lauren Herring, the # 2 singles player and a vital doubles player.

Alabama matches might not have been so close with her in there.

Florida did not roll today at all. 5 out of the 6 matches were 3 setters, a 4.5 hour match. Again, no Lauren Herring.

Last time UGA met Florida, it was 3-3 tied up, with Herring versus Embree for the match, Embree winning it.

5.0 Player said...

Reliable sources indicate that the USC men's team is appealing the loss to UCLA on the grounds that the UCLA line-up with Nick Meister playing below Clay Thompson constitutes a stack.

Clark Coleman said...

Clay Thompson has played #1 for the last 9 dual matches, including the entire Pac-12 regular season schedule, with no one protesting until USC in the last Pac-12 match. That makes the likelihood of winning that protest very low, I think. It is not as if they switched the lineup just for USC.

SoCalplayer said...

Nothing to worry about though. Coach Smith usually appeals when his team loses to the Bruins in past matches.

Austin said...

I dont agree with Thompson playing above Meister, however, they have been doing the latter part of the season, so a protest is ridiculous.

Eric Amend said...

@Socal Player:

Where there is smoke....

UCLA's 2010 conference win over USC was overturned on protest and UCLA had to ship the PAC-10 Championship trophy to USC. You'd think Billy would have learned something from that but alas.... no!!

@Clark Coleman:

Actually.... Yes, he does that move 9 matches before with USC in mind.
Nick moved down from #1 immediately after his loss to Steve Johnson in the previous dual match meeting between tye two in March. Why? Was it a bad loss?? Did he think Nick should have beaten Steve?? Did he think Clay had a better chance against Steve?? Clay lost to Ray Sarmiento in that sane March match yet Billy moved him up to #1 for the very next match. Hmmmm...

Peter Smith is defending his team from Billy Martin's insistence on stacking against USC every time they play for the conference title since 2007 and he's the only Coach in the conference with the clout to keep him in check!!!

tennisforlife said...

Thompson is ranked 57 places below Meister in the individual rankings. The only way that is not a stack is if Meister was returning from injury but as Clark correctly points out he has played the last 9 matches so he must be feeling ok.

Arnold P. said...

UCLA lost to both Stanford and Arizona in 2010. They did not win the PAC-10 that year.

Colette Lewis said...

@Arnold P:
I believe this is the correct reference, not 2010, when USC shared the title with Stanford

5.0 Player said...

Austin- While I usually agree with you, I don't agree with your logic in this case. Just because UCLA has been putting Clay Thompson above Meister in the line-up for some time does not make it any less a stack. All that tells me is that it was a continuous or compounded stack which is arguably worse than just doing it for one match. I think that this has been a prolonged or continuous stack for some time.

Mark @ Tennisopolis said...

Wow! Congratulations on getting credentials to Wimbledon again! That must be a great feeling to get the approval from the world's most prestigious tournament. It is a good sign for all internet writers and all tournaments. If the others see that W sees internet reporting as legitimate, surely the smaller ones will follow. Have fun out there! Looking forward to the posts.