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Friday, August 24, 2012

My Look Back at Junior Davis Cup; Crawford, Williams, Klahn, Reynolds and Smyczek Qualify for US Open Main Draw

In addition to following the US Open qualifying, I spent a good part of this week writing a Tennis Recruiting Network article on the late, lamented Junior Davis Cup. As I explain in the article, the Junior Davis Cup was once considered the pinnacle of achievement for an American junior, and I have yet to talk to anyone in the junior tennis world who doesn't recall it fondly and regret its demise. It was great fun to do the research, peruse the old programs and the folders of black and white photographs at the USTA Boys 18 and 16 National Championship office, and talk to those who were a part of it. I hope you enjoy reading it as much I as enjoyed writing it.

Today at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, five American qualified for the main draw, including three former college players and one junior.

The junior is Samantha Crawford, the 17-year-old from Georgia, who trains at the USTA's Boca Raton facility. Crawford defeated 29-year-old WTA veteran Eleni Danilidou of Greece, currently ranked 108 by a score of 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, and because it wasn't televised, I don't have much more to offer than that. She did convert her first match point with Danilidou serving at 4-5, they same route she took to close out Marie-Eve Pelletier of Canada in the second round. In another similarity to Thursday's match, Crawford came out way ahead in the winner department, hitting 46 winners to Danilidou's 7. Crawford also committed 48 unforced errors, which is a lot, but she had a much better ratio than Danilidou, who had 21.

Crawford will face fellow teenager Laura Robson of Great Britain in the opening round.

The college players are Bradley Klahn, the 2010 NCAA champion, and Rhyne Williams, the 2011 NCAA finalist. Neither lost a set in their three qualifying wins, with Klahn defeating ATP No. 113 Florent Serra of France 6-4, 6-4 and Williams outclassing Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 6-3, 6-2. Williams' match was televised, and he looked in control throughout, although it was true that mostly he just had to wait until Gojowczyk made an error or missed a first serve. Williams did come up with a couple of spectacular passing shots, and he never looked nervous, at least until he double faulted on his first match point. But he regrouped, and two unforced Gojowczyk errors later, he had reached his first grand slam main draw.  Klahn in making his second appearance, having received a wild card in 2010 as the NCAA champion.

In the main draw, Williams will face former US Open champion Andy Roddick, seeded No. 20 this year, in the opening round, while Klahn's opponent is fellow left-hander Jurgen Melzer of Austria.

The other American qualifier with college ties is Bobby Reynolds, the 30-year-old veteran who had a distinguished career at Vanderbilt. Seeded 30th, Reynolds, playing in front of a large crowd on Court 11, beat unseeded Sergio Gutierrez-Ferrol of Spain 7-6(5), 6-3. Gutierrez-Ferrol had dropped the first set in his previous two wins, but he seemed bothered by the raucous fans, talking and gesturing to them late in the first set, and he showed little interest in competing throughout most of the second set.

The fourth and final American men's qualifier is Tim Smyczek, who outlasted No. 3 seed Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-4.
Smyczek and Reynolds will play each other in the main draw.

With five qualifiers, the United States has the most of any country, with Russia and Germany having the next highest number with three. Last year, only one American, Michael Yani, made it through qualifying.

For both main and qualifying draws, see the tournament website.


am said...

Gutierrez-Ferrol started tank treeing in the second set, almost made it interesting.

The National City Team was something they had in the 80s, not sure when it fizzled out. Not as big a deal as JDC but still pretty cool.

The Dude said...

Glad to see Klahn in action on Court 17. His game look very strong, striking the ball well on both sides, moving well with no apparent weaknesses. He has really improved over the years.