My Interview with USTA National Collegiate Coach Dustin Taylor; Steve Johnson Reaches Nottingham Final, with Possible Wimbledon Wild Card at Stake; Routliffe Signs with Alabama
My interview with Dustin Taylor, who has recently been named the USTA National Coach - Collegiate Tennis, is available now on the Tennis Recruiting Network. Taylor and I spoke at length last month at the NCAAs, and while I learned about his background and previous coaching experiences, the focus was how this related to his dreams for the revamped USTA Collegiate Team.
The goal of creating a team that has the prestige of being named an All-American is not a modest aim. But if it can become a significant part of the structure of the USTA's collegiate pathway, the benefits will go beyond any individual accolade. I know from talking with Taylor that he is committed to college tennis, and his new position provides more evidence that the USTA is too. Let's hope Taylor can grow his area so that college tennis is a significant presence in the Player Development structure.
Steve Johnson, one of the recent college players Taylor mentions in the interview, has reached the final of the Nottingham II Challenger, defeating another two-time NCAA champion, Somdev Devvarman of India, 6-3, 6-4 in today's rain-delayed semifinal. Johnson will meet unseeded Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium in Saturday's final, and as Steve at Shank Tennis pointed out on twitter, a Wimbledon main draw wild card may be on the line. Although there is no formal arrangement, last year Wimbledon awarded Nottingham II winner Grega Zemlja of Slovenia a main draw wild card, and both Johnson and Bemelmans are preparing to play Wimbledon qualifying beginning Monday, just as Zemlja would have done had he not received the wild card last year. This is Johnson's second Challenger final--he won the Aptos Challenger last August, and, coincidentally, that win earned him a wild card into the US Open.
The University of Alabama women announced signings for the fall, and Canada's Erin Routliffe, one of the most sought-after recruits who wasn't signed in November, is among them. Routliffe, who won the 16s singles and doubles titles at the 2011 Orange Bowl, has been ranked as high as 17 in the ITF juniors. In addition to Routliffe, Alabama has signed Carmen Blanco and Luicelena Perez of Venezuela and Danielle Spielmann of Switzerland. The Northwestern women added Brooke Rischbieth of Australia to their already strong recruiting class, and Southern Cal confirmed the transfer of Brynn Boren from Tennessee.
And a quick update on the two $10,000 Pro Circuit events this week, which are now through to the semifinals. At the women's tournament in Delaware, top seed Jessica Moore of Australia is joined in the semifinals by three young Americans: Florida freshman Brianna Morgan and 17-year-olds Brooke Austin(2) and Peggy Porter.
In the men's tournament in Florida, it's Jesse Witten(7) facing Fernando Romboli of Brazil in one semifinal and Mitchell Frank against last week's champion Marcelo Arevalo(2) of El Salvador in the other.