USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Tournament Begins Friday; Tennis Recruiting Network's National Showcase Tournaments; Interviews with ITF World Junior Champions Townsend and Peliwo
The USTA's annual Australian Open wild card tournament begins Friday, with four first round matches for the men and four first round matches for the women. The participants and their seedings:
1. Julia Cohen
2. Alexa Glatch
3. Madison Keys (defending champion)
4. Mallory Burdette
Cohen plays Min, Glatch plays Riske, Keys plays Mattek-Sands and Falconi plays Burdette.
1. Tim Smyczek
2. Denis Kudla
3. Rhyne Williams
4. Tennys Sandgren
Smyczek plays Harrison, Kudla plays Buchanan, Williams plays Kosakowski and Sandgren plays Klahn.
There is also an exhibition featuring the Bryan Brothers scheduled for Friday afternoon.
Friday's match times are available at the tournament website. Parenting Aces' Lisa Stone will be at the tournament, as will a reporter for Tennis East Coast. Amanda Pruitt, the men's tennis SID at Tennessee, will also be in Atlanta for the event.
Speaking of Parenting Aces, Lisa has written a post about the new Tennis Recruiting Network initiative--National Showcase Series. TRN has organized USTA-sanctioned tournaments open to every junior in the country, which will count toward TRN rankings. They will not count toward USTA rankings unless the player is a resident of the district or section where they are held. The first tournament is for boys and girls 18s in Costa Mesa, California on December 26. It's an exciting innovation that's bolstered by the high regard college coaches have for the Tennis Recruiting Network's rankings, and leveraging that regard has led to more opportunities for juniors competition in 2013.
The Tennis Space has published two brief question and answer sessions with newly crowned ITF world junior champions Taylor Townsend of the US and Filip Peliwo of Canada.
Townsend's responses are here, and Peliwo's are here.
I spoke to Townsend many times last week in the Orange Bowl and wasn't able to use all the material she gave me, but I did want to pass along her answer to the question I asked her after her loss to Ana Konjuh in the semifinals. Townsend reached the quarterfinals of both a $25,000 and a $75,000 Pro Circuit tournament this fall, so she had recent experience with the level Konjuh was playing at this month, and I asked her what she had taken from her loss to Konjuh.
"That match taught me a lot of different things I need to work on, especially against players like her," Townsend said. "People that are on the pro circuit, they hit the ball like her, and even bigger. It taught me a few things I need to tweak and work on so that I can hang with people, and allow myself to play my game against people who hit that hard."
Townsend, currently ranked 498, is still under the WTA age restrictions, which limit the number of ITF Women's Circuit and WTA tournaments she can play. When she turns 17, in April, she will be able to play 16, and Townsend also qualifies for what the WTA refers to as "merited increases" in the number of events she can play due to her Top 5 ITF Junior status as well as reaching a junior slam singles final. (The explanation of the age eligibility restrictions can be found beginning at page 240 of the WTA Rules.)
There are two $25,000 Pro Circuit events in Florida next month that Townsend is expecting to play, and since she played so few pro events in 2012, she is unlikely to reach her limit of 12 (plus merited increases) before April.