Texas A&M Women Defeat North Carolina in Chapel Hill; Baker's Dozen of US Girls in Peru ITF Grade 2; Player Development Stalls in South Africa, Indonesia
No. 7 Texas A&M and No. 3 North Carolina met today in Chapel Hill, just three days before the start of the ITA Women's Team Indoor in Charlottesville, Virginia, which I will be covering live beginning Monday, and if the win by the Aggies is any indication, the experimental format may lead to some upsets.
Texas A&M, who reached the NCAA finals last year for the first time in school history, came out on the positive end of the two match tiebreakers that were played and beat the Tar Heels 4-3. Ines Deheza clinched the match for Texas A&M with a 4-6, 6-2, 10-6 victory over Ashley Dai at the No. 4 position, while freshman Saska Gavriloska also captured a point for the Aggies in a match tiebreaker over Hayley Carter at No. 2, 0-6, 6-2, 12-10. North Carolina won the doubles point and got their two singles points from Jamie Loeb, over Cristina Stancu at No. 1, and Caroline Price, over Anna Mamalat at No. 3, with Texas A&M getting their other points from Stefania Hristov over Kate Vialle at No. 5 and Rutuja Bhosale over Tessa Lyons at No. 6.
For the complete results, see the North Carolina website.
This week's South American ITF tournament is a Grade 2 in Peru, and while most of the US boys have returned to the states, with Logan Smith the only American boy competing this week, 13 American girls are in the 64-player draw, with eight of them seeded. Dasha Ivanova is the top seed, with Madison Bourguignon No. 2, Nicole Frenkel No. 4, Abi Altick No. 5 and Mia Horvit No. 7. Also seeded are Raquel Pedrza(9), Ellyse Hamlin(10) and Mary Haffey(14). The other five US girls in the draw are Ally Miller-Krasilnikov, Sara Kelly, Meghan Kelley, Ndindi Mwaruka and Karina Traxler. All but Mwaruka and Traxler won their first round matches.
For complete draws, see the ITF junior website.
With the globalization of tennis given as the reason the four slam nations no longer dominate the sport, it's easy to assume that all countries have the same level playing field when it comes to development. But as demonstrated in this article on the decline of South African tennis, which gives the US college system as the only alternative for young players there and provides the shocking news that there are no, as in zero, Futures tournaments scheduled there for this year, it's more complicated than that. Turkey has a Futures tournament practically every week, and that hasn't led to a flood of their players into the Top 100, but it is hard to fathom a country with the kind of history that South Africa has in the sport being bereft of even the lowest level tournaments.
Indonesia doesn't have the same kind of history in the sport, with their current top ATP player ranked 874 and their current top WTA player ranked 602, but their one past star, Yayuk Basuki, who won six WTA singles titles and was ranked as high as 19 back in 1997, has faced no less frustrating circumstances in trying to find courts for her academy. According to this BBC article, there are no free public courts in the entire country.
"We're not asking for free facilities," Yayuk said. "But if I can subsidise kids who are not wealthy enough to pay, why can't the government also subsidise if they have good facilities?"
The situation means tennis remains known as a sport for the wealthy in the country.
Most children who pick up tennis at a young age come from the upper middle class, who have access to a court at home, or whose family can afford to put them in a club.
Reading articles such as these makes you realize just how many things must go right for just a few good juniors to emerge from countries like these, and how determined those individuals and their coaches must be to stick with the sport in the face of all these obstacles. Maybe too many choices, which is often cited as a problem in attracting young people to the sport of tennis here in the United States, isn't such a bad problem to have.