College Match Day at Notre Dame; Thirty Years of Changes in USTA Junior Competition; BNP Paribas Open Wild Cards Announced
|Notre Dame's Josh Hagar talks with ESPN3's Mark Bey after clinching the Ball State match|
Over at Parenting Aces, Robert Sasseville, a stalwart of junior tennis in the United States for decades, has put together a history of the USTA changes in the rankings and the junior competitive structure, and the reasons behind them. Although it is long, it is thorough and easy to follow, and should be required reading for every parent, coach, administrator and yes, player, who participates in a USTA-sanctioned event. He explains what has changed (spoiler alert-- a lot) in society and the sport the past three decades and how they have led to the constant attempts to make the rankings and the junior competitive structure better. Meanwhile, in the ITF junior competitive structure, I am aware of only two major changes the past 15 years--a move to a combined ranking (including singles and doubles), and no-ad for doubles, following the ATP, WTA and ITF Professional tours. There are many complaints about the ITF's lack of vision in improving Davis Cup and Fed Cup, but there is something to be said for that stability when you see the chaos caused by those who think they always have a better way and have the power to implement those ideas, regardless of any objections. I would love if it someone with Sassaman's depth and breadth of experience would write a similar history for Division I college tennis.
The BNP Paribas Open, which begins next Monday in Indian Wells with women's qualifying, has announced its wild card recipients. Main draw wild cards went to Nadia Petrova and Vera Zvonareva of Russia, teenagers Donna Vekic of Croatia and Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, and Americans Donald Young, Jack Sock, Ryan Harrison, Steve Johnson(USC), Rhyne Williams(Tennessee), CoCo Vandeweghe, Shelby Rogers, Vicky Duval and Taylor Townsend. I'm puzzled why Bradley Klahn didn't receive one, as he is the No. 3 American, ranked higher than all five of the men who did get a wild card.
Qualifying wild cards were given to USC's Raymond Sarmiento and UCLA's Clay Thompson, 16-year-old Stefan Kozlov, Irina Falconi(Georgia Tech), Madison Brengle, Grace Min and Allie Kiick, all from the US. Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis and Great Britain's Heather Watson also received qualifying wild cards.
As it has in years past, the tournament is running a pre-qualifying event, with a qualifying wild card up for grabs. UCLA's Dennis Novikov, Nick Meister and Dan Kosakowski are all entered in that tournament, now into the third round. Nicole Gibbs(Stanford), Sanaz Marand(North Carolina), Keri Wong(Clemson), Denise Muresan(Michigan) and Danielle Lao(USC) are just a few of the women competing in a very strong field. On Tuesday, 16-year-old Ena Shibahara, the 16s International Spring and USTA Winter National champion last year, beat the ITF World Junior No. 6 Louisa Chirico in a second round match. Complete draws can be found here.