Sponsored by IMG Academy

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sets and Games Decide Winners at USTA Spring Team Championships

©Colette Lewis 2014
Mobile, AL--

The first day of play in the USTA's Spring Team Championships extended until 9 pm, with some teams advancing easily into the quarterfinals and others needing mathematical calculations to move on.

In the boys division, the Buccaneers downed the Falcons 6-6, 11-10 and the Cowboys defeated the Jaguars 6-6, 12-10, with the second score being the number of sets won, the first tiebreaker.  There was only one three-setter in the Buccaneers win with but the fact that William Genesen of the Buccaneers took a set from Alex Phillips at No. 1 16s tipped the scales in his team's favor. The grueling match, which lasted over three and a half hours, was the focus of the cheering for all the players on both teams who had already finishing their matches.

The Cowboys and Jaguars played two three-setters and although the Jaguars won both, it wasn't enough.  One of the Cowboys who had plenty of opportunity to support his teammates was Faris Khan, playing the No. 1 12s position, after his 6-0, 6-0 win.

"It's the first time I've played one of these tournaments," said the sixth grader from John Newcombe's Academy in New Braunfels, Texas. "It's fun, it's just more fun having a team with you."

Unlike most of the players, who are meeting their teammates for the first time at this tournament, Khan trains with the No. 1 18s player on his team, Henry Gordon.  Gordon, who lost to Walker Duncan 6-3, 7-6(4), enjoys the mentoring experience.

"This event is definitely unique and I like it a lot," said Gordon, a high school junior. "There are kids from all age divisions, and I'm kind of like a big brother here to all the younger kids. It's good watching all of them, seeing how they develop, it's real fun."

In his match with Duncan, Gordon was down two breaks at 3-0 in the second set, but came back, only to have Duncan take it in a tiebreaker.

"It was a tough loss, but I'm happy with how I competed," Gordon said. "I played well."

Although disappointed, Gordon said he knew he had to forget about it and support his team.

"Right after I lost it was tough, but right after I lost I made sure I cheered on my team a lot," said Gordon. "I don't know about other people, but for me that makes a world of difference in how I feel. Every single point counted today."

The match didn't go exactly as Cowboys coach John Sherwood thought it would.

"If I were predicting ahead of time, I would have said we would have been a little more successful at the top of our lineup in doubles and in singles, and it turned out completely the opposite," Sherwood said. "We won it with the younger players and the bottom of the lineup. Everybody fought hard and it really came down to who won the most sets. You've got to win one way or another, and at the end of the day, there's no pictures on the scorecard, it's still a win."

The girls matches, which began at 1:30 pm in warm and sunny conditions, didn't end until nearly 9 pm, with two matches going to tiebreakers, and the closest contest yet decided by number of games won.  The Firecrackers and the Sharks were tied in points at 6, and in sets at 11, so the format's second tiebreaker, games won, was invoked.

Players from both teams gathered excitedly around the tournament desk where the calculations were being made. The anticipation caused the volume of their conversations to reach such a pitch they were asked to move a few yards back so those counting games could concentrate on the task of determining the winner.  After the announcement that the Firecrackers had won 115 games to 110, the Sharks coach asked to check the numbers, so the Firecrackers had to wait for what they were calling a "recount." When the number was confirmed, another cheer came from the girls and their parents, and coach John Meinicke could relax.

"That was exciting, but that's what we came here for," said Meinicke, whose team trailed 3-1 after the doubles. "The kids worked hard and it was a lot of fun.  We knew going into the last match that we had to win it and if we did, we'd be tied, and then it was just what the tiebreaker was going to be, and we weren't sure where we were, but we knew it was going to be close."

The Firecrackers Lea Ma defeated Somer Henry 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 at 14s No. 2, leading to the gathering at the tournament desk and the tallies necessary to determine a winner.

A few minutes later, the second girls match to end tied also needed calculations, with the Pirates defeating the Angels 6-6, 11-10, with Marya Lucia of the Pirates taking a set from Alyssa Dimaio at 12s No. 2 to put the Pirates into the quarterfinals.

The complete team results are below.

For all the individual results and the draw, see the TennisLink site.

Raiders def. Titans 7-5
Saints def. Seahawks 7-5
Vikings def. Bears 8-4
Eagles def. Lions 8-4
Buccaneers def. Falcons 6-6, 11-10
Patriots def. Broncos 9-3
Rams def. Panthers 8-4
Cowboys def. Jaguars 6-6, 12-10

Firecrackers def. Sharks 6-6 11-11 110-105
Red Hawks def. Bengals 8-4
Lynx def. Devils 9-3
Pirates def. Angels 6-6, 11-10
Lightning def. Stingrays 10-2
Leopards def. Blue Jays 8-4
Diamondbacks def. Dolphins 9-3
Tornados def. Ninjas 8-4


williebeaman said...

Team tennis is a great idea but the team names and the format is kind of lame. Make it the same format as college tennis and keep age groups together. Draft the teams when you get there and let the kids go at it. That way the best 100 18 year olds will be there and you can see them compete in a team atmosphere.

Doesn't mean a thing said...

Ya, not sure what posting those team names and scores on here is all about. Sometimes less is more.

USA Tennis said...

After reading Jose Higueras article in the LA Times about how American players do not want it enough, I am starting to believe that some of that comment is true.

Why is Jack Sock, the Wildcard King, still in Indian Wells? Rumor has it is he practicing only once a day, playing golf and watching his girlfriend play instead of playing the 100K Irving Challenger in Dallas this week or fully training, tennis and physical to get ready for Miami.

I hope most of our young pros realize it takes every ounce of effort and dedication to make it on the Pro Tour.

A beginning lawyer, doctor and most jobs require most of your time to become great at what you do, sometimes putting in 12-14 hour days or more.

I do not agree with most of what USTA PD is doing but this example with Jack is an example of what Jose is talking about.

Same ol' story said...

Why work when you are given all those WCs? USTA has always played favorites with WCs rather than spreading them around. How's that working out for them?

boniver said...

Jack is not getting WCs because of the usta. People keep perpetuating this myth. Usta doesn't control WCs at most tour events. CAA gets them for him.

Seen it said...

Who does CAA pay to get them? USTA. Who do you suck up to in order to get one? USTA. Who can call the TD at a tour event on your behalf to tell them to give you one? USTA. Who sets up round robins at PD to give a 15-16 year old a WC to a future? USTA. Who should you call tomorrow to get one? USTA.

Not a myth.

The Small Lebowski said...

WC's come in many ways. Can never blame a player for accepting one.

USA Tennis, who are you? What are your qualifications? Are you suggesting that Jack spend 12-14 hours a day on the tennis court? And that he isn't thinking about tennis 99% of the time he is off the court?

There's a big difference between a beginning lawyer sitting behind a desk 12 hours a day in an air-conditioned office and a guy sprinting around on concrete.

All of these guys are working hard. There isn't an off-season. For all you know, which is nothing assuming you are not in Jack's camp, his schedule called for a break--physically, mentally or both.

Don't hate him for taking WC's and assuming he is taking it for granted. Or slacking. I'm pretty sure he hates losing just as much as we all do.

His results have nothing to do with the fact that he is only, according to you, "practicing" once a day. Heaven forbid. Or playing golf. Or, even worse, having a girlfriend!

maybe we should be glad said...

IMG gives nearly all it's WCs to foreigners at the Sony Open

russ said...

USA Tennis: I think jose higueras must be feeling the pressure. Not only is he losing sleep over the sorry state of American tennis, he’s taken to knifing his own players in the back: ““We are lacking competitiveness in our players,” he said. “They’ve got good backhands and forehands and serves, but they lack an understanding of how the game needs to be played. We have good coaches, but the culture of our players needs to improve..."

So who is he talking about? The same set of people the anonymous source derides for having life easy in the futures and challengers? Or are they talking about the Jack Socks, the Steve Johnsons, the Donald Youngs? Or the Daniel Kosakowskis, Nick Meisters, and Bradley Klahns? Who? The juniors they coached like Alexios Halebian whose game became worse under USTA tutelage? Who? I simply can't take any of this seriously until names are given. And if they as coaches think that WC's are harmful to their game, then why are they giving them to these players?

As for American players having all the physical tools to compete but lack the heart and guts and work ethic to do so, I question that as well. I saw Dominic Theim play Meister and Kosakowski at Indian Wells and his physical tools surpass both of them. Better forehand, backhand and serve. As for Steve Johnson and Jack Sock, both have very mediocre backhands that get them into trouble. Donald Young's issues and physical limitations are well known. So it must be Querrey among the big names whose backhand is solid enough to warrant a dig at his heart. And if it is Querrey, name him. Or maybe he's thinking of Ryan Harrison? But there's a couple of things I've never heard about him: lazy and lacking competitive fire.

At any rate, USTA PD is definitely feeling the heat, especially after Jon Wertheim went after McEnroe last year just after the US Open. Strange how a little criticism from a credible source has turned McEnroe and the rest of PD into tweeting, meeting fiends. But the bottom line of Higueras' lament: USTA PD failed to get results and the only recourse left is to blame the failure on the players, "“When a high percentage of the coaches want it more than the players,” he (higueras) said, “we have a problem.”

I, on he other hand, wonder if the problem is the coaches who try to absolve their own shortcomings by blaming the players.

USA Tennis said...

Small Lebowski

I am closer to his camp than you think. I will never blame a player for accepting one wildcard or several wildcards. But 20 of 25 in USA atp tournaments? Yes I will blame the player. What do you think his repetition in the locker room is?

Jack is a very talented player and being Top 100 is great but not when you should be Top 50.

Golfing is great, having a girlfriend is great but not when it limits you from your job. Not reaching your potential is not great. Not being fully vested is not great. He choose this as his profession, to not go to college and turn professional.

Do you disagree with any of this?

Do not ask me who i am because I doubt the name on your birth certificate is Small Lebowski.