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Thursday, June 20, 2013

No US Women Qualify for Wimbledon; British Boys and US Girls Dominate in Eastbourne; BBC Explores State of British Tennis

Grace Min, Irina Falconi and Vania King all lost today in the final round of qualifying for Wimbledon at Roehampton.  Min lost quickly to Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic 6-0, 6-2, the No. 10 seed King fell to No. 17 seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4, and Falconi was beaten by Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia 6-4, 6-4.

The other qualifers include a third Czech, Eva Birnerova, and two French women, 30-year-old Virginie Razzano and 19-year-old Caroline Garcia.  Another young player, Germany's Carina Witthoeft, an 18-year-old who hasn't played a junior event in three years, qualified, as did 29-year-old Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan, the No. 2 seed, and 20-year-old Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal.  Italy's Maria Elena Camerin, 31, Austria's Yvonne Meusberger, 29, and Colombia's Mariana Duque-Marino, 23 round out the qualifying field.

King has a 50/50 chance of getting into the main draw however, as she is one of the four highest seeds who made it to the final round of qualifying. There are two lucky loser spots available in the draw with the withdrawals of Venus Williams and Sveta Kuznetsova, so King will join No. 18 seed Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia, No. 20 Julia Glushko of Israel and No. 19 Sesil Karatantcheva of Kazakhstan in the lottery for those two spots.  The draw is at 10 a.m. Friday in London.

For more on the final day of women's qualifying, see this article from the tournament website.  The draws are here.

As far as I can tell, there's no official place for the results of the United States and Great Britain Junior competition that going on in Eastbourne, but the British Tennis twitter account passed along singles results throughout the day, with the US girls and the British boys ending the day with 5-1 leads. Jonny O'Mara beat Spencer Papa in three sets, Luke Bambridge beat Stefan Kozlov in three sets, Evan Hoyt beat Luca Corinteli in three sets to make it 3-0 for Great Britain. Noah Rubin beat Cameron Norrie in three sets for the only US victory of the day. Great Britain won both boys doubles matches.

In the girls competition, Katy Dunne defeated Louisa Chirico in straight sets for the only British victory Thursday.  Tornado Alicia Black defeated Harriet Dart, Jamie Loeb beat Gabby Taylor and Taylor Townsend downed Katie Boulter, all in straight sets. The US girls won both doubles matches as well.  Although she didn't specifically say it was based on her team's performance today, girls coach Judy Murray tweeted "Sometimes u r the pigeon. And sometimes you are the statue. Today was a statue kind of day."

When Wimbledon rolls around there are countless British articles and columns on what's wrong with tennis there, with a particularly urgency in the discussion this year, as the LTA is looking for a new chief executive, and the sport's government support is being threatened.

The BBC kicks off the discussion with this stat-filled piece, comparing the numbers of ranked players in Great Britain with those of the United States, France and Spain.  The attitude and hunger of the British players also is called into question, and Pat Cash, Tim Henman and Andrew Castle provides their theories, as does current British player Elena Baltacha. I'm not putting too much stock in the numbers provided in the population/players/courts/coaches table, as they seem to be estimates in many cases, but a couple of numbers jump out.  With the awful British weather, that's a pretty small number of indoor courts, and Spain and Germany seem to have very high coach to player ratios.

Lisa Stone of Parenting Aces was recently on vacation in France and Spain, and while there, she visited, and took a lesson, at an academy on Mallorca. She provided her impressions of the differences between the Spanish and the US methods of junior development in this post.