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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Talking Pro Tennis Development with Top College Coaches; Kuznetsov, Kudla, Harrison and Duval Earn Berths in Wimbledon Main Draw; Puetz Earns Slam Debut

One of the best parts about covering college tennis is the opportunity it gives me to talk, both informally and formally, with the top coaches. During last month's NCAA championships in Athens, I spoke with three of the best--Stanford's Lele Forood, Georgia's Manny Diaz and Southern California's Peter Smith--about the role college tennis can play in the development of professional tennis players.

All three have recently had players go from college into the Top 100 of the professional ranks and I asked them about the pros and cons of developing in a college atmosphere.  Their answers are in this article, posted today at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Thursday's final round of qualifying at Wimbledon went well for the US men and badly for the US women.  Three American men--Denis Kudla, Ryan Harrison and Alex Kuznetsov--advanced to the main draw, but only one woman of the six in action made it--Vicky Duval.   No. 15 seed Duval will be making her Wimbledon debut after defeating  two-time NCAA champion Nicole Gibbs 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Both players struggled with back injuries during the match.   Irina Falconi, Shelby Rogers and Madison Brengle all lost three-setters, while Melanie Oudin fell to No. 23 seed Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada 6-4, 6-3.

Two recent girls Orange Bowl champions will be in the women's main draw for the first time next week, with 2011 champion Anett Kontaveit of Estonia and 2012 champion Ana Konjuh of Croatia getting through qualifying unseeded.  The 18-year-old Kontaveit defeated 2011 Wimbledon girls champion Ashleigh Barty of Australia 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4, while the 16-year-old Konjuh defeated Stephanie Vogt of Liechtenstein 7-5, 6-3.

No. 26 seed Kuznetsov defeated No. 3 seed Tim Smyczek 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to qualify for the second consecutive year, with No. 9 seed Kudla also earning main draw status for the second straight year, 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 over Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia.  Harrison, the No. 22 seed, was in a difficult section of the draw, but he came through Thursday 7-6(3), 6-2, 6-3 over Daniel Brands.  Ben Rothenburg of the New York Times is reporting that Harrison is now being coached by Jan-Michael Gambill.

Wimbledon's 2011 boys champion Luke Saville won the day's Iron Man award, with the 20-year-old Australian beating Yann Marti of Switzerland 2-6, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(7) 8-6.  Saville is one of three Australians to advance, along with James Duckworth and Sam Groth.

Only one German man made it into the main draw, and probably not one that was expected, with four seeded players from that country going out, while unseeded Tim Puetz survived.  Puetz, an All-American from Auburn who reached the 2010 NCAA semifinals, outlasted 2010 Wimbledon boys champion Marton Fucsovics of Hungary 7-6(3), 7-6(16), 6-1.  It will be Puetz's first main draw appearance at a slam.

The singles draws will be out at 10 a.m. London time on Friday.  See the Wimbledon website for the complete qualifying draws and articles on several of the day's winners.

Madison Keys defeated Lauren Davis 6-2, 6-1 to reach the semifinals at the WTA event in Eastbourne against Heather Watson of Great Britain.  Read more about Keys and her affinity for grass in this article from livetennis.com.

CoCo Vandeweghe reached the semifinals of the WTA 'S-Hertogenbosch Netherlands tournament with an impressive 7-6(3), 6-1 win over Garbine Muguruza of Spain.

In the ATP event in the Netherlands, Benjamin Becker, the 2004 NCAA champion from Baylor, also reached the semifinals, defeating No. 6 seed Vasek Pospisil of Canada 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-4 in the quarterfinals today. Becker was the subject of this Biofile at on the ATP site, and he gives perhaps a surprising answer when asked to name his greatest sports moment.


Ya college tennis said...

I wasn't surprised at all by his biggest sport moment being winning the NCAAs with his team. Of all the college players, only 8 or so guys/gals get those rings each year, it is an honor for this very select and exclusive group, and obviously momentous. For the NCAA champions, I would wager it is one of the biggest moments in any of their lives, not only a sports moment. Just another example of why college tennis is so great.