USTA Releases New Junior Competition Proposal, Much Revised From Previous One; Burdette Wins First Round Match at BNP Paribas Open; More on Kyrgios' Rare Challenger Title; Sony Open Wild Cards to Harrison, Duval and Keys
I was wrong about the USTA Junior Competition and Sportsmanship Committee not releasing the revisions to the schedule prior to the votes. They have done so in thorough fashion and Lisa Stone has the 5-page summary and the complete 28-page document, as well as the proposed calendar available at her site, Parenting Aces.
I haven't had time to thoroughly study the new plan, but the new committee appears to have made some concessions based on the Town Hall meetings and listening tours. If there was one item I thought was a shoo-in from my attendance at the Naples Town Hall meeting, it was the qualifier for the 16s and 18s Clay and Hard Court National championships and that has been proposed, with a 64-draw for eight spots in the main draw. The National Winter Championships have been restored (no qualifier), and the Easter Bowl draw size has been doubled from 32 to 64 (or halved, if you go by what it is now), but there is no gold ball for that tournament, which now includes the 12s.
If this passes, and I have no reason to think it won't, I'll be covering the 18s National Spring Championships in Mobile for the last time next week. On the proposed calendar now for the March time slot is a National Spring Team championship tournament, which will be a gold ball event.
There are now National Selection tournaments and one of the Regional tournaments is open. The new Masters (October) and Sweet Sixteen (May) tournaments have been retained.
I'm sure others will be able to point out more subtle changes that I've missed and I'll understand the changes better myself as I have time to discuss it with those affected, which I should be able to do next week.
I must admit that there were more changes than I had hoped for or expected, although my preference would have been for a complete do-over, as I've said many times. As Lisa says, this is still just a proposal, but she discusses the path for it in the next few weeks in this post, if you still would like to make your opinion known to your sectional leadership.
At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, qualifier Mallory Burdette picked up her first WTA main draw win of the year, defeating wild card Jill Craybas of the US 6-3, 6-1. Burdette was interviewed on the tournament's new radio feature this evening and she said she didn't request a wild card into the main draw. After reaching the semifinals at the $100,000 Pro Circuit event in Midland last month, Burdette knew she would get into qualifying on her ranking, now 125.
"My ranking's at the point where I want to kind work through it myself, play through the qualifying, work my way up," Burdette said. "I didn't ask for a wild card here."
Burdette is based in Ft. Lauderdale with her longtime coach Nick Saviano, but she mentioned traveling north to Boca Raton to hit with Jamie Hampton and Madison Keys at the Evert Academy. Burdette's second round opponent is No. 23 seed Tamira Paszek of Austria, who is 1-5 in WTA matches this year.
Lauren Davis was swept out of her first round match with Simona Halep of Romania 6-2, 6-0, an unusual Davis scoreline. It's been almost a year since Davis has lost a set without winning a game; back in April of 2012, she lost to Maria Sanchez 6-4, 6-0 in the semifinals of the $50,000 Indian Harbour Beach Pro Circuit event.
In the final round of men's qualifying, wild card Bobby Reynolds defeated No. 2 seed Michael Russell 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(4) to advance to the main draw. Wayne Odesnik also advanced via a third-set tiebreaker, defeating Matteo Viola of Italy 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-6(6).
Thanks to Jeff Sackmann of tennisabstract.com, there's now some context to add to 17-year-old Nick Kyrgios' recent Challenger title. I tweeted a few of his observations on the rarity of a Challenger win for a 17-year-old, and he provided a complete overview at his blog Heavy Topspin shortly thereafter. Today, the Wall Street Journal's Carl Bialik, using Sackmann's data, amplified that theme, showing that most of the players who did take a Challenger title before age 18 have gone on to win Grand Slams. There are disclaimers of course, and I want to point out that when Bialik refers to the junior records of Murray, Djokovic and Federer, et al, those are their junior slam records, which is clear if you look at tennisabstract, but isn't quite so clear in the article.
The Sony Open announced main draw wild cards for four men and seven women today. James Blake, Lleyton Hewitt, David Nalbandian and Christian Harrison received the men's main draw wild cards. Germany's Andrea Petkovic, Spain's Garbine Muguruza, Canada's Eugenie Bouchard, Croatia's Ajla Tomljanovic, Estonia's Anett Kontaveit and Americans Madison Keys and Vicky Duval received women's main draw wild cards. Qualifying begins on Monday, March 18.