Duval, Vickery Advance at Midland $100K; First Round Complete At Rancho Mirage $25K; The Role of a Junior Development Coach vs. a Federation
Seventeen-year-old doubles partners Vicky Duval and Sachia Vickery won their opening round matches Wednesday at the $100,000 Dow Corning Tennis Classic in Midland, Michigan. Duval, who lost to Vickery 6-0, 6-4 in the final round of qualifying Tuesday but got in as a lucky loser, beat No. 2 seed CoCo Vandeweghe 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 earlier today, while Vickery spoiled Taylor Townsend's pro debut with a 6-4, 6-3 win in the evening featured match.
From the tournament press release :
"I was really lucky that I got that second chance and tried to make the most of it today," said Duval. "Yesterday, I was rushing a lot because I really wanted to get into this main draw and was too nervous out there, but I played much smarter today."
The win was also by far the biggest of her career and the first against a top 100 player on the WTA Tour.
“I’ve smelled those wins against top 100 players before, but to actually come through and pull it out is really nice,” she said.
Duval had actually won a round two years ago in Midland as a wild card, beating Mashona Washington before falling to Rebecca Marino of Canada in a close second round match.
Vickery and Townsend had many long games but when a big point materialized, it was Vickery who usually took it. Counterpunching and using her considerable speed, Vickery was able to stay in points until Townsend made an error. Townsend also didn't serve well, losing her serve five times in the second set. Vickery got the only hold of the second set, serving at 2-1, and that was enough to get her past Townsend, who was playing in her first match of 2013.
Next for Duval is former USC All-American Maria Sanchez, while Vickery will play Monica Puig.
For more on top seed Lauren Davis and Townsend, see this article in the Midland Daily News.
The first round is complete at the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event at Rancho Mirage, with qualifier Mayo Hibi and wild card Louisa Chirico reaching the second round. The 16-year-old Hibi, who lives in Irvine, Calif. but plays for Japan, cruised past Mai Minokoshi, also of Japan, 6-2, 6-0. Chirico, also 16, defeated Stanford freshman Krista Hardebeck 6-2, 7-5, avenging her loss to Hardebeck in the USTA National 18s Championship round of 16 in San Diego last August.
Fifteen-year-old Belinda Bencic of Switzerland also reached the second round with a 7-5, 7-6(5) win over fellow qualifier Ashley Weinhold of the United States.
An open letter to player development coaches from former Australian Open tournament director Paul McNamee has been circulating, and although I tweeted a link to it earlier today, I think it's important enough to post again here. McNamee, who has long been at odds with Tennis Australia, believes their system, which selects young players to support and takes over their coaching, damages the most important relationship that exists in tennis--that of a player and the coach who developed his or her game. Tennis Australia is not the only federation that does this, of course, with the USTA, LTA and I assume, the French, functioning in a similar fashion. All of these federations have excellent coaches, of course, but do they know the player--and believe in the player--as that first coach does?
I found it particularly refreshing that McNamee, who has spent his life in tennis and could claim special knowledge based on that alone, would say:
I even hear private coaches buying into this refrain. A Melbourne coach recently said to me “I’ve got a really good kid who I love working with, but I know I’ll eventually have to let him go to a better coach in the system”. I said to him “Stop right there. Don’t ever put yourself down like that again. You are doing a great job with that boy. Don’t be concerned that you think you do not have the knowledge to coach him at the Tour level. That may be true right now, but I guarantee you that by the time your kid is playing on Centre Court at Wimbledon, you will have acquired all the knowledge you need and, anything you’re missing, you’ll know who to seek out. The best chance for your kid to make it is if you guys go on the journey together”.
There are arguments to be made that if a federation is to assume the financial obligations of training a player, it needs to have control over that training. If it doesn't, the federation is simply a bank, yet one without any collateral if the loans it makes aren't repaid. That's hardly a recipe for accountability. But McNamee isn't wrong to question the current system and point out the contributions of those who work outside it.