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Monday, June 16, 2014

US Men Post Nine Wins in Opening Round of Wimbledon Qualifying, Nine US Women Begin Play Tuesday; USTA Clay Court Acceptances Out, Sectional Quota System Makes for Interesting Fields

The first day of qualifying at Wimbledon was a good one for US men, with nine of the 11 in action moving on to the second round.  Tim Symczek(3), Denis Kudla(9), Ryan Harrison(22), Alex Kuznetsov(26), Rajeev Ram(31), Dan Kosakowski, Rhyne Williams, Wayne Odesnik and Bobby Reynolds all picked up wins.  Only Chase Buchanan and Austin Krajicek were defeated in the opening round.

2011 boys champion Luke Saville of Australia upset top seed Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil, and No. 2 seed Go Soeda of Japan was also ousted, losing to Austrian veteran Martin Fischer. 

Both US doubles teams in qualifying also advanced, defeating seeded teams. Kevin King and Ryan Harrison defeated No. 3 seeds Rameez Junaid of Australia and Philipp Marx of Germany 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, while Smyczek and Kudla downed No. 2 seeds Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana of Thailand 4-6, 7-6(5), 9-7.

Nine US women, the most of any country, begin qualifying play on Tuesday. Madison Brengle, Melanie Oudin, Allie Kiick, Shelby Rogers, Grace Min(22), Nicole Gibbs, Vicky Duval(15), Sachia Vickery and Irina Falconi will join the nine remaining US men on the Roehampton courts Tuesday.  For the schedule and draws, see the Wimbledon website.

More on today's qualifying matches can be found here.

The Girls 18s Clay Courts in Memphis
The acceptances for July's USTA National Clay Court tournaments were released today, with these acceptances the first for a gold ball event under the new junior competition structure adopted by the USTA. 

To no one's surprise, the strict adherence to the sectional quotas for selection has produced some mismatched rankings and entries, with players with much higher national rankings placed in qualifying, while sectionally endorsed players with lower national rankings are placed in the main draw.

For example,  at the Girls 18s Clay Courts in Memphis, which I've covered for the past six years, No. 59 Mia Horvit, the 2012 16s Clay Court champion, is in qualifying.  Elizabeth Yao of Northern California, who is No. 14 in her section (eight get in from that section, but not all entered), is in the main draw, despite her national ranking of 812.  Alex Rybakov, who is No. 25 in the ITF world junior rankings and was a direct acceptance into the Wimbledon Junior championships, is in the qualifying draw of the Boys 18s Clay Courts, and Zeke Clark, the Easter Bowl 16s finalist, is in the qualifying for the Boys 16s Clay Courts.

This disparity was widely predicted when the system was introduced, but not considered by the USTA as detrimental to its ultimate goal of earned advancement.

It will take more than this year's tournaments to determine whether that's the case, after there is enough data to say whether these nationally lower-ranked players who get in via a sectional endorsement have lower national rankings simply because they have stayed and played within their section.   Or, if the quota system is discouraging good players from competing in the USTA system, leaving the USTA's national gold ball tournaments with fields that do not contain the country's best players.

Lisa Stone at Parenting Aces has looked at all of the acceptances for all of the Clay Court tournaments and I encourage you to read her explanation of it.

There's no question the issues raised by the Clays will be magnified significantly for the Hard Courts, where, in the 18s, a US Open main draw wild card is on the line.


Bye-Bye USTA. said...

BINGO. You are so on the money....

Or, if the quota system is discouraging good players from competing in the USTA system, leaving the USTA's national gold ball tournaments with fields that do not contain the country's best players.

Not only are many good players in qualifying, but and here's the kicker, many good players ( or their parents and coaches) just shook their heads and said forget it, we give up trying to work a non workable situation and are just playing the ITF.

Daniel said...

Main draw of Clays is a joke. What is the USTA thinking. Gold ball for mediocre players.

Another blunder by the USTA said...

Colette, it would be hard pressed to find another junior federation in the world that drives American tennis players out of their own system. I don't want to embarrass the boys players, but main draw is very unimpressive. This system is driving the best players out of the country. Did the USTA really think the best players in the US were going to stay in their section and play the same kids over and over and over again?
How is that helpful for development not to have any cross play until a gold ball event?

This is a mess said...

What a joke. This is a national tournament with the best players in the country?
Best players are not playing.

Can we go back to the old system now? said...

The old system was so great.
College players that turned 19 in the fall of their sophomore year would come back and play Clays and Hard, especially Hard during the summer.
But now...... What are they suppose to do, say to their coach, 'I can't play my college tournament, I have to go home this weekend and play my sectional".
This is really awful, and the sad part is everyone said this would happen at the listening meetings, and the USTA just ignored their entire junior population of players, coaches and parents.

Joe said...

Timing is ripe to initiate a class-action lawsuit against the USTA for discrimination. Based on the USTA's past performance, they will tuck their tails between their private parts and run like hell.

Sandy said...

It's like the Russian Tennis Federation kidnapped the USTA's body, and is running our system into the ground. What other explanation could there be to explain why the USTA would take away opportunities from kids.

Fed up said...

Lots of complaining on blogs that the small sections are benefitting from this disaster. Who knew that playing the same 4 kids over and over again is good for development? Sure our kids might get in, but do you really think they are happy that they never get to leave their section except for 3 events? Our kids would be better under the old system where they could travel around for L3's and get cross play and see different tennis styles.

Tennisforlife said...

There was a 9 stop listening tour, there was a Facebook and an online petition,,there was the "letusknow" email account, there was virtually zero support for these changes and yet the USTA in an act of incredible arrogance pushed ahead with these changes. Patrick McEnroe went on the road to support the changes yet not one high ranking PD player bothered to sign up. Elite players with resources are abandoning the US national system in droves for the ITF alternative. Dave Haggerty , this was approved on your watch - who is accountable for this mess.

In the Meadows said...

Everyone NOW is complaining?

Clay Courts, Winter Nationals & Spring Championships in Mobile NEVER had the best players competing. They always had weak fields. Now they are even weaker and everyone is up in arms over it.

The only strong fields are at ITF-Easter Bowl & Kalamazoo.

People needs to start addressing their thoughts/ideas to the White Plains (The Suits) & Palm Springs office (Jose Higueras Headquarters), not the Boca office if they want stuff accomplished.