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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Entry Lists for Kalamazoo, San Diego USTA Hard Court National Championships Released

2013 champion Collin Altamirano is in qualifying this year
Yesterday I promised an update of last week's Pro Circuit and ITF junior results, but that was before I realized the acceptances for the upcoming Nationals would be released today.  For some reason, I had thought that entries closed this Thursday, but it was last Thursday, with the selections posted today on the various TennisLink sites.

Most people familiar with the sectional endorsement process, after seeing what happened at the Clay Courts, are not surprised to find many of the best 18-and-under competitors in the 64-player qualifying tournament. 
Those in the boys 18s qualifying draw, meaning 128 boys are considered more worthy of main draw places than they are, are:

Collin Altamirano, 2013 18s champion and ATP 847
Jared Donaldson, 2013 18s finalist and ATP 343
Eduardo Nava ATP 1143
Alex Rybakov ITF 26
Logan Smith ITF 43
Deiton Baughman ATP 1043
Noah Rubin ATP 536,  2014 Wimbledon boys champion

Others still age eligible who were not accepted and therefore will need one of the eight wild cards are:

Stefan Kozlov ITF 2, ATP 861
Francis Tiafoe ITF 6, ATP 1172
Michael Mmoh ITF 11, ATP 1149
Dennis Uspensky ITF 68
Ernesto Escobedo ATP 593
Spencer Papa ATP 1673 (will rise after reaching a Futures final last week)

Other notable names missing from the entries are Alfredo Perez, Catalin Mateas, and 2012 16s finalist Alexandru Gozun; there are probably others who have slipped my mind.

Obviously a selection process that does not take into account the ITF or ATP/WTA rankings is going to produce headaches, and it is now virtually impossible to seed the tournament until the qualifying is over, since not all of these top players can be given wild cards. 

As I said over and over during the junior competition restructuring, I thought the old system, while not perfect, was good enough. It allowed the very best juniors to compete internationally and professionally to test themselves, while still recognizing their presence in the USTA national fields enhanced the competition for everyone. Now they are being marginalized, sent to a qualifying tournament where they don't belong. I'm sure they are confident of qualifying should they not receive main draw wild cards, but those who play against them are not really being given a fair chance.

Lisa Stone at the Parenting Aces blog is promising more analysis of the selection process later this week.

The complete list of competitors can be found at the TennisLink site.

The girls 18s qualifying also has some of the country's most accomplished players, including:

Brooke Austin, WTA 578 and semifinalist in San Diego last year
Louisa Chirico, WTA 250 and semifinalist at 2013 French and Wimbledon juniors
Christina Makarova, former ITF 11, WTA 594

Others who are age eligible but not among the acceptances and therefore needing wild cards if they wish to play:

Tornado Alicia Black ITF 4
Sofia Kenin ITF 30
Dasha Ivanova ITF 35
Katrine Steffensen ITF 51
Raveena Kingsley ITF 62
Johnnise Renaud ITF 80
Taylor Townsend WTA 144
Josie Kuhlman WTA 669
Ellie Halbauer WTA 701
Karina Vyrlan WTA 776
Liz Jeukeng WTA 883

Other notable names absent are: Ingrid Neel, Meredith Xepoleas, Terri Fleming, Abi Altick, Cassandra Vazquez, Brooke Broda and Madison Bourguignon.

The complete list of girls 16 and 18 competitors can be found at the TennisLink site.

Vicky Duval, the 2012 National Hard Court champion, is still eligible to play, as she doesn't turn 19 until November, but by moving into the WTA Top 100 this week, she wouldn't need a US open wild card. 

Unfortunately, Duval has recently been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and will be undergoing treatment this summer.  Anyone who knows Vicky is pulling for her to make a speedy recovery and return to the game, which will miss her engaging personality.


Wow!! said...

All I can say is Wow!! Tennis Europe must be laughing all the way to the bank.

Joe said...

Isn't it a tad ironic that Zoo qualies will be much tougher than the main draw. Maybe it's time to find a good law firm and sue the USTA for incompetence and misuse of funds for putting these idiots in charge

I'm taking my talents to…. said...

Didn't Noah Rubin win Wimbledon Juniors through the qualifying? He was also in the qualifying at the French Open. He didn't qualify by being the required ATP 500.

These players are not in the main draw because they didn't play the required tournaments to earn them into the main draw. If these tournaments were that important earn them a main draw entry, they would have made sure they qualified.

I do not feel bad for them. I am not saying there is not a clitch in the usta system but the rules were out there for everyone to follow.

Most importantly, Kalamazoo will have to wait until the qualifying is completed before they can make the main draw, so some who qualify should be seeded.

In addition, all these "top" players who are in qualifying will be in different sections of the draw, so they all have a great chance to qualify.

Bottom line, the best player will still win the tournament, not because he may had to play qualifying but because they were the better player for those two weeks.

K. Minor said...

I agree there are significant issues with the changed system. The reduced draw was a big mistake. While I like the reduced quotas, we should have kept the draw size or even rounded up to 256 but pulling more from the NSL than quotas. Most of the 'strength' dilution comes from the bottom of the Sectional quotas. In such a draw, many of the players listed in your article would have been included in the main draw as they also maintain a National USTA ranking.
But we need to be careful with the list of players omitted.
These players did not even apply:
Dasha Ivanova
Ellie Halbauer
Johnnise Renaud
Taylor Townsend
Karina Vyrlan
Katrine Steffensen
So the assumption is lack of interest or knowing that they might not make the main draw selection decided not to apply.

These players must have withdrawn after applying as they would have made the Qualifying draw if they didn't withdraw:
Tornado Alicia Black
Sofia Kenin
Raveena Kingsley

Either they changed their minds about playing or for them it was main draw or bust. Can't assume either but I can understand both reasons.

These players were on the applicants list but also must have withdrawn since they aren't listed as alternates. These players wouldn't have made the Qualifying draw if they stayed in as their USTA National ranking was below the last player in the Qualifier:
Josie Kuhlman
Liz Jeukeng

Again, only they can state their desire to play this event, but they either changed their minds or withdrew once they knew where they fell in the selection process.
I don't think we should cater to players that have simply moved on from Junior competition and are focused on Professional events.
However, we should focus on making the USTA events of greater value (experience, affordability, etc) so that those playing ITFs are also motivated to play the USTA system.
How do ITF events often provide hospitality to players including hotel vouchers where we struggle to get hotel arrangements for under $120 or higher / night (w/ taxes) at some of the most expensive locations in the country for top National events?

When will the madness stop? said...

It's too bad that junior tennis will suffer the consequences of these changes for 10 years - another generation of tennis players - before the messes they are making now are changed again. The national ranking means nothing anymore, only ITF ranking has merit. That is a reverse of years ago, when a top USTA ranking meant everything. Now, people don't even know where to find it on the maddening USTA website.

ITFs actually use their money to support their tournaments and players, that is how and why they provide housing. They also require host countries to provide housing if they are to have ITF tournaments of certain grades in their country. USTA eliminated several fall ITF events 4-5 years ago because they did not want to pay for the housing requirements imposed by ITF. So we lost tournaments and can now spend more $ to travel out of country to them, but Patrick got another new car.

How the USTA can implement a quota system that destroys the institution of Kalamazoo is astounding. For those that don't see issue with it, they may when they spend $2000 for little junior and themselves to travel to the event only to be slammed by one of these players in qualifying. But if it gives them a false sense of achievement just being there, that is all some parents want. Maybe USTA can start giving out participation ribbons at Kalamazoo. Better yet, give every one who attends a gold ball since they started handing them out like candy this year.

The best are fleeing the USTA system with its watered down events and they should flee faster. Expecting players of this level to play their section is beyond stupidity, most blue chips are well beyond their sectional counterparts. But then using this as a requirement to get into historic Kalamazoo and destroying its reputation as the best tournament for the best players is just tragic.

Brent said...

Dave had a good post a couple days ago about the impact of the new selection process and a ranked favorites list for 18s at KZoo. As a follow up to that and Colette’s post from this morning, from how I see it, I think there are 7 names not on the list at all that are likely to apply for direct wild cards. I would rank them in the following order (Kozlov, Escobedo, Tiafoe, Papa, Mmoh, Gozun, and Uspensky). I think there are 8 boys in qualifying who will be applying for a main draw wild card. I would rank them in the following order (Donaldson, Rubin, Altamirano, Rybakov, Baughman, Opelka, Smith, Nava). All 15 of those names are worthy of a wild card but there obviously aren’t enough to go around. I think the first five names on the first list (Kozlov, Escobedo, Tiafoe, Papa, and Mmoh). So, then it comes down to decisions like – Uspensky and Gozun are clearly worthy of wild cards but less than Rybakov and Baughman – so do you give the main draw WC to Rybakov and Baughman and tell Uspensky and Gozun that they are out of the tourney altogether? Or do you tell Rybakov and Baughman that they have to play qualies because Uspensky and Gozun were either too lazy or entitled (or some other reason) to sign up in the first place? Are there a separate slate of qualifying WCs that will be granted (that could help mitigate the Uspensky/Gozun problem)?

Someone also raised the question about seeding. Do you hold the draw until qualifying is complete because, under almost any state of the world, you will have multiple qualifiers deserve seeding? If you don’t, you can just add to the list of issues – could Kozlov (granted a wild card and seeded #1 amongst the non-qualifiers) have to play Rubin first round (theoretically)? Further, will they seed qualifying and if so, how? If they use the same guidelines they have in the past of using ATP, ITF, and then USTA, will we be left in a situation where they are refusing to use that criteria for entry into the tournament but then relying on it for seeding? How could that ever make sense?

Brent said...

From a ranked favorites perspective, assuming everyone gets into main draw, I would put together my quick favorites list in roughly the following order…

1. Donaldson
2. Kozlov
3. Rubin
4. Escobedo
5. Altamirano
6. Tiafoe
7. Fritz
8. Paul
9. Rybakov
10. Wiersholm
11. Papa
12. Mmoh
13. Baughman
14. Kerznerman
15. Ponwith
16. Opelka
17. Smith
18. Arconada
19. Hiltzik
20. Stewart
21. Kumar
22. Boyd
23. Griffith
24. Nava
25. Uspensky
26. Gozun
27. Oosterbaan
28. Staggs
29. Klinger
30. Langmo

Anybody I’m forgetting? Any college guys coming back to play that would add to this chaos?

Colette Lewis said...

There is seeding in the Clay qualifying, so I imagine there will be in Kalamazoo too.
There are no wild cards for qualifying.

get real said...

Bottom line - both the USTA boys and girls national championships should be about the best juniors competing, and the selection process should reflect that. THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE! Automatic entries should include top 50 ITF and top 500 ATP and put those weak sectional players as automatic entries in the qualies.

So true said...

absolutely @get real..They wanted smaller draws, all they had to do was use same selection they had, make a 64 draw and move the next 128 to qualies.

National Championships have sadly become an oxymoron.

Earn your way said...

Still believe the USTA should be put importance into the other SuperNationals, like Winter & Clay Nationals. The more draws we can get like Kalamazoo & Easter Bowl, the better for our players.

If you put a US Open Main Draw WC in one, you at least need to put an ATP Wildcard in the others. Minimum 100K Challenger.

This is the wrong year to ask for a wildcard if you forgot to enter. With no qualifying wildcards, I believe those players should not get a main draw wildcard.

I still believe that the players who earn their way through their Sectional tournaments should get rewarded with Main Draw entires to Nationals.

Why can't the "better" players play their sectional tournaments? There should be an exemption within their Sections (not for Nationals) for the top itv & atp players gain entry to qualify for Nationals.
There are not THAT good not to take one week from their schedule to play Sectionals.

Not even close said...

If you have raised a top national player, you understand the difference. Sorry @earn, you are wrong, they are that good and they are so much better. A top national player can blow the doors off of anyone in their section. It is a total waste of time for top national players to spend a minute in a sectional tournament. The problem is people in the sections think their player is close to someone that wins nationals when their player has never won a national or even gone deep in them. Night and day. Top sectional players are total rec league compared to top national players. Sorry, that is reality. And the top 10 national players are an entirely different level than the next 10, next 25 and so on. By the time you get to just a sectional player, they are so far removed. Being good in your section is just that, it does not mean that you are good enough on for the national stage. Unless of course, you lower the level of acceptance into the nationals which is what they are doing. Do these sectional players really feel accomplished getting into a tournament they are not worthy to play? My guess is the junior players know it has been rigged so they can play too, just like in grade school gym class, but the parents are living in the land of Oz feeling that little junior has landed. Only so many know the truth - the ones with top players - the rest haven't been down the road to understand it, they just fantasize their kid is better that they are.

Tennisparent6 said...

You should know the rules before you mouth off. First of all if you do not play your sectionals they cannot endorse you. So no, players did not withdraw. They entered with a high national ranking and cannot even get in qualies for not playing a sectional. And yes a top ITF player is wasting their time playing a sectional. By the way the national rules say, a professional player may not play sectionals just nationals. Some states like Florida allow their players to play in sectionals which is not allowed by the national rules once you turn pro. But the rules are ignored in some states! So all professional players have to receive wild cards for super nationals.

Dave said...

I agree playing sectionals for the top 10-20 kids on this list is a joke, especially if they come from a weaker section. You're gonna make Jared Donaldson play New England sectionals in June and play five kids he will barely lose games to, when he could be getting much tougher matches in futures or challengers and collecting tour points?

As a coach I do love the idea of sectionals and playing against your peers in your own section and the pressure a kid has to face with that. I do think 99% of kids should play sectionals if they can. But there definitely is a point when it becomes ridiculous, and a kid who is already competing in futures or high level ITF simply has nothing left to prove at the sectional level.

It is absurd that they don't have some sort of exemption process in place that can qualify these top players based on ATP or ITF results and keep Kalamazoo what it should be: a true national championship.

Brent said...

Isn't it a fairly simple solution the following - just use the same guidelines for seeding that they have used in the past to also apply to entry into the tournament - if you are top 1000 ATP, top 100 ITF, or top 150 ITA (for the young college freshmen still eligible), you automatically get entry into Nationals. That then reduces the strain on the wildcard numbers. You could probably reduce the number of wild cards from 8 to 4 at that point. There would still be an impact on lowering the sectional quotas a little bit but shouldn't be huge. I guess the USTA would argue that it pushes some kids out of the USTA system and into the ITF/ATP system but that was happening anyway. What argument would there be against this change?

just wondering said...

How often has the 18s champ returned to the Zoo to defend his title, much less been denied Main Draw entry?

As others have mentioned, it's too bad that some in qualifying will spend the money to go to Kalamazoo just to be wiped off the court in their first or second match against one of these top guys.

Antonio Mora said...

It's all very simple: the mistake is using ill-advised sectional quotas as the ONLY way to get into level 1s. The old system had quotas, but they only accounted for about half of entries. It was an imperfect system, but it didn't allow for some of the ridiculous outcomes we've seen in selection for hard courts and clay courts.

Had it with the USTA said...

Best players just gave up up with the USTA's ridiculous system and left period to go to ITF's. It is expensive to play tennis, and juniors and their parents ( who are paying the bill) don't want to be dictated to.....

How many people here went to a "listening" meeting and were ignored? Everyone.

So, now we have a system in this country that doesn't even work. My son who turns 19 this fall ( October birthday) was a high 5 star player when he graduated. He plays in the middle of his D1 lineup, and he can't play in Kalamazoo because he didn't play his sectionals back home during his freshman year of college???? CAN THIS GET ANY STUPIDER FOR THE USTA?

Been there, seen it. said...

As an American parent of a high ranked junior who resides the majority of the time in Europe for work, it is easy to see why European junior players are overall far better players than the US counterparts.

And when I say overall, I am excluding Noah Rubin, Francis, Koslov and Mmoth
( the 4 really good US players, and btw... I don't see them playing their sectional, but playing in Europe).
It's simple, there is just more tournaments to play... Cuts, quotas, that's an American invention to ruin tennis.
And the cost is not prohibitive to play either. My player was going to play the ITF Easter Bowl this spring, but when I saw the hotel rates, it just was too expensive to justify.
So, to my fellow Americans, if you want your son or daughter to become a better player, leave the US.

Are they that clueless? said...

What a watered down mess the USTA has made of the national tournaments. Players who are ranked 1000 in a national tournament? Wasn't this what they were trying to avoid to begin with... only the best players should play nationals.
Colette, did they even realize that the US kids would just go straight to the ITF route?
Is there anyone at all at the USTA who he even thinks what might have happened when they cut the draw sizes? Did they really think that players wanted to play the same players over and over again?

Dan said...

Colette, very nice job of keeping us abreast of how these changes are playing out now. Unfortunately, the USTA doesn't care about any of this. They have a few good American players right now and that's all they care about... a few kids.

getreal said...

To Brent - if the goal is to "award" automatic entry to the "best" juniors who are not playing sectionals then there needs to be a high bar to make that exception - top 750 ATP (not top 1000 ATP as it is not that difficult for a good player to earn a point), top 30 ITF (not top 100 ITF because field gets progressively weaker after top 30 and top 100 for an 17 or 18 year old is really not that impressive) and top 40 ITA as college players today in general not that strong and I would even limit it to top 25 ITA. If you want the best competing have the requirements reflect that

Norm said...

FYI..... To be top 1000 ATP.... Right now a player needs approx 12 ATP Points......it's not an easy task to accumulate 12 points and be in the Top 1000. Players need to get a good coach, have a great support group, practice to improve their skills, and play where ever they can( be it in the section, at a National, or an International al Event). You are only good as your next match. You have to "Win" where ever you play. Win=points. Lose= 0. Practice,improve, and play some one.

Say it ain't so said...

Sock beats Isner 4,6 in Newport? Isner had only 2 Aces on Grass and had a 68% first serve? What is this.... April Fools in July?

Can't climb out now... said...

They don't have to create anything new! Just go back to how it was 2 or 3 years ago. An algorithm that incorporates all the rankings, ITF, ATP, USTA, etc., it was done this way successfully for years! It was a little bit of a mystery how one person could be seeded above another, but it wasn't so off that anyone could scream about it like this mess is. It has been quite a build up to the current state of junior tennis. The steps to this historic demise:

1) 2010 elimination of fall ITF series in US (allowed them to control more points/ranking/events without them and begin the demise of the tournament structure)
2) The elimination of grade 2s/3s everywhere and traditions like Copper Bowl. 2011/2012
3) Endorsement/ranking/tournament overhaul 2012/2013
4) Consequences of actions above - a watered down mess of a tennis system. 2014
5) Apathy

It's just sad, they are so far down this hole and the most negative impacts are still ahead.