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Friday, April 25, 2014

My Interview with USTA's Tom Gullikson; Uspensky Reaches Semifinals of ITF Grade 1 in France; Bektas, Gosea Named Big Ten POYs; Rain Causes Scheduling Headaches

Last month in Mobile I had the opportunity to sit down with Tom Gullikson, a Lead National Coach in USTA Player Development, and today that interview was published on the Tennis Recruiting Network. Gullikson's job description in Player Development encompasses nearly every age group, and as a tennis "lifer," his thoughts on what's changed and what's stayed the same in the sport of tennis in the past forty plus years were of particular interest to me. If you're curious about the theme of Dave Haggerty's term as USTA president, CEO and chairman, Gullikson explains it concisely at the end of the interview.

Dennis Uspensky hasn't played any junior events in the US since the Orange Bowl last year, and with a current ITF junior ranking of 101, the 17-year-old is unlikely to make the main draw of the two junior slam this summer in Europe unless he can improve that.  He's helping his cause this week at the Grade 1 in France, where he's reached the semifinals, despite being unseeded. Uspensky defeated No. 16 seed Domagoj Biljesko of Croatia in the second round and No. 3 seed Clement Geens of Belgium in the third round and reached the semifinals with a win over unseeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece. Uspensky will now play top seed Juame Antoni Munar Clar of Spain, who is seeking his third straight Grade 1 title in the past four weeks.

The Big Ten announced its award winners and all-conference teams last night.  Emina Bektas of Michigan and Farris Gosea of Illinois were named athletes of the year, with Michigan's Ronni Bernstein and Ohio State's Ty Tucker coaches of the year.  For the women's awards, see this release. For the men's awards, see this release.

Rain in North Carolina disrupted the ACC men's and women's conference championships, with matches still be played this evening indoors. The Duke women did avenge their loss last weekend to Clemson, posting a 4-0 win earlier today, and will play North Carolina in the semifinals Saturday.  Miami will play the winner of the Virginia - Georgia Tech match tonight in the other women's semifinal.   The men's semis will feature top seed Virginia against No. 4 seed Notre Dame and No. 2 Duke against the winner of the North Carolina - North Carolina State match tonight.

In the Big Ten, rain also caused a few problems, but all semifinal matches are set. In the men's tournament at East Lansing, it will be top seed Ohio State against No. 5 seed Northwestern and No. 2 seed Illinois against No. 6 Michigan. At the women's tournament at Northwestern, top seed Michigan will play No. 4 seed Purdue and No. 2 seed Northwestern will meet No. 3 seed Ohio State.

The women's $50,000 Pro Circuit event in Charlottesville saw only one match completed today, with rain wiping out play for the day midway through the match between Grace Min and Nicole Gibbs, which Gibbs led 6-0, 2-2.  The winner of that match will play qualifier Montserrat Gonzalez of Paraguay, who beat Francoise Abanda of Canada in three sets before the rains came. The semifinals will also be played on Saturday, so playing first today turned into a big advantage for Gonzalez.