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|
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.