Thursday, July 25, 2013

Townsend Will Play USTA Girls Nationals in San Diego; Girls 16s and 18s Wild Cards Named; Gibbs, Christian Harrison Fall Just Short in Pro Events

A couple of weeks ago, when the acceptance lists for the USTA Nationals were published, I mentioned that Taylor Townsend was not included in the Girls 18s field. Because she had said she was going to play it, and with a US Open main draw wild card on the line, I was surprised by her absence, but until the wild cards were announced, there was obviously a still a chance she would compete in San Diego next month.

As it turns out, she should have been on that initial acceptance list due to her ITF ranking, but an administrative error occurred and she was overlooked.  If someone didn't drop out who received entry via the National Standings List, she would have received a wild card, but since someone did, a wild card wasn't necessary, and she is now in the field and playing doubles with Gabby Andrews.

With Townsend and the 12 wild cards below, the field is even more impressive than it was two weeks ago.

Girls 18s Wild Cards:
Jennifer Brady
Hayley Carter
Kennedy Davis
Nicole Frenkel
Ellie Halbauer
Dasha Ivanova
Liz Jeukeng
Christina Makarova
Rasheeda McAdoo
Elizabeth Profit
Maria Shishkina
Katrine Steffensen

Girls 16s:
Helen Altick
Usue Arconada
Julia Goldberg
Olivia Hauger
Raveena Kingsley
Angela Kulikov
Ndindi Ndunda
Erica Oosterhout
Madison Stevens

Two-time NCAA champion Nicole Gibbs played her second round match against No. 4 seed Jamie Hampton today at the WTA Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, and Hampton scraped through with a 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-3 win. Hampton, who hadn't played since the first day of Wimbledon, looked a little rusty, especially on serve, but Gibbs held her own and was even back on serve after trailing 4-0 in the third set before losing, a comeback that would surprise absolutely no one who knows her.  For more on the match, see the Stanford website.

Christian Harrison continues to make his case for a US Open main draw wild card (his older brother Ryan also will need one), after taking top seed John Isner deep into the third set before losing 7-6(9), 4-6, 7-5 in the second round of the BB&T Atlanta Open tonight.  Isner got 70 percent of his first serves in, had 29 aces, and still barely squeezed by the 19-year-old.  Harrison, ranked 373, had defeated No. 83 Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-1, 6-7(7), 6-2 in the opening round, his first ATP tour win. Last year in the Cincinnati Masters qualifying, Harrison had lost 6-3, 6-3 to Falla, then ranked No. 54.

Ken Thomas called the match at radiotennis.com, and despite Isner's roots in Georgia, it was obvious that the underdog Harrison had captured the affection of the crowd. They roared louder on each match point he saved, three in all, before Isner finally served out the match.

Isner will play James Blake in the quarterfinals Friday. Kevin Anderson, the No. 2 seed, also needed three sets to advance to the quarterfinals, beating qualifier Matt Ebden of Australia  6-7(7), 6-2, 6-2. He will play Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan Friday.


tennisrus said...

I thought I read that Maria Shishkina was now playing for Kaz, and wouldn't that make her ineligible to play USTA National Tournaments?

Colette Lewis said...

If she has the appropriate immigration status she can play USTA events (like Mayo Hibi and Tommy Mylnikov have done). But she is not eligible for the various wild cards offered by the USTA.

Scotty T said...

Harrison had a couple set points in the 1st set tiebreak and got broke at 5 all in the 3rd when up 30.0.... Looking at stats it's the only time in the tournament he was broken..obviously he is continuing his progress..with very few wildcards this year..

Tony said...

Completely off topic but just read that Chuck Kriese has been named head men's tennis coach at the Citadel. If that isn't a random hire, I don't know what is.

FloridaTennisParent said...

The wildcard system is fraught with cronyism. While some recipients are certainly worthy, every year there are lots of examples of players with mediocre results who receive a WC based on who they know. When asked how the choices are made, the USTA says the method is confidential. There was some mention last year of a tiered list of criteria for future WC choices, but I haven't heard anything more about that. Tough to promote your buddy's kid, or advance a social agenda if you have to expose your method to the light of day.

College Fan said...

Christian Harrison is one of the top young Americans and has shown he can compete with about anyone out there. His game clearly passes the eye test, but . . . I disagree with your statement Colette. I think he has a ways to go to make his case for a US Open Main Draw WC. Just because someone (in the role of an underdog) plays a good match or two, I don't think that makes the case. Daniel Brands played Nadal a tight match at the French and recently beat Federer, but that doesn't make the case he's a top 10 guy.

Despite the fact that we know Christian can play at a very high level, a player needs to have a body of work that earns the right for a Main Draw WC. You have to do more than play people tight matches.
Did you realize that Christian has won 4 outdoor hard court matches all year? And two of those were in a Futures event back in February. Bradley Klahn has won 4 hard court matches in each of his last 2 Challenger events. Plus, he has won a Futures event outdoors in the US. I would argue that Klahn is more deserving.

There are 5 WC slots available for Americans (not counting the Zoo WC). We know that Ryan Harrison and Brian Baker will get 2. These guys are recent top 100 guys, so no argument. That leaves 3 including the Pro Circuit WC. Kuznetsov won a Challenger last week and another earlier this year. I think he deserves a WC whether or not he gets the Pro Circuit one.

That leaves 2 more spots. If you look at results this year on outdoor hard courts, I think you can make the case for Rhyne Williams and Smyczek. Klahn, Sandgren and Krajicek also all have more "wins" on their resumes.

If Christian's ranking had ever been above the 350s, it would be one thing. He can't even get direct entry into the Qualifying.

If he makes two deep runs in Vancouver and Aptos, let's reconsider. Otherwise, give him a WC into the Qualies and have him earn his way to the main draw. Earning consective victories, at any level, can only help one's confidence.

russ said...

Good effort by Christian, but have to agree with college fan. Still think it's in Christian's best interest to fly below the radar at this point.

Tom - Michigan said...

Excellent, logical comment by College Fan.

My only contradiction is I believe Rhyne Williams deserves to be on the automatic US Open main draw WC list.

I do hope Christian continues to progress which he will under his dad's guidance and coaching. He needs to play Challengers with qualifying ATP events mixed in, without wildcards.

Florida Tennis parent, I agree there should be a public method but with USTA Director of M/W Tennis, Lew Brewer, Several Sectional staff and the tournament directors all involved in the selection of wildcards, no wildcards can go through without a majority approval, so there cannot be "promoting a buddy's kid" without qualified reasons. The real issue is with a 196 draw, there are far more "mediocre" players in the draw then on wildcard list.