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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Midwest Defends Boys 18s National Team Title; Odds and Ends from All Over

The finals of the USTA Boys 18s National Team Championships were today at the University of Illinois, with the No. 2 seed Midwest section team defending its title with a 6-1 win over top seed Southern (note: correction made, initially shown as 5-2 final score on TennisLink). Because results are difficult to find on the TennisLink site, I'm including a screenshot of today's results.

The girls final is also between Southern and Midwest, but the results will not be available until much later, because it is being played in Claremont California. The TennisLink site is here.

Because for most of the next six weeks I will be reporting almost entirely on the tennis matches I am watching each day at the tournaments I am covering, this is a good day to post a series of quick links on items of interest I'm not going to have time to delve into.

Southern California won the USTA Intersectional Team competition for 16s earlier this month, beating Midwest 6-3.  For more on the final, see this article from the Shreveport Times.

I was in Europe when the last of the US Open National Playoff tournaments finished and wasn't able to post on the final five sectional champions. Articles on those tournaments can be found here. A screenshot of all the winners is below.

Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How, has written this article about reconciling the nature/nurture "impasse" that always surrounds any discussion of developing skills. The REPS gauge is certainly a feature any tennis coach or parent should consider.

Josh Rosen, who is now one of the top high school quarterbacks in the country, was a tennis player before he chose to concentrate on football full time. As much as he appreciates his current sport, he says tennis is the sport that produces the best athletes in this article from USA Today.

Clay Thompson, the recent UCLA graduate and former No. 1 player in the country, will play with OTZ Sports' new EcoGrip and its vibration dampener.  OTZ is a longtime sponsor of ZooTennis. More on Thompson's agreement with OTZ can be found here.

There is a new tennis academy in the Orlando, Florida area, with former Winthrop University coach Andrew Stubbs and former Top 25 ATP pro Tim Wilkinson serving as managing director and director of coaching respectively. For more on the Bishops Gate Academy, see the website.

Rising Stanford sophomore Carol Zhao, who qualified over the weekend for the WTA Bank of the West Classic held on the campus where she attends classes, won her first round match when Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium retired trailing 6-2, 1-0.  It is Zhao's first win in a WTA main draw. For more, see the Stanford website.  Sachia Vickery, the 2013 18s USTA national champion picked up her second WTA main draw win yesterday. The 19-year-old from Florida, who won a round as a wild card at the US Open, defeated Shuai Zhang of China, the WTA's 30th ranked player, 6-1, 6-2. She will play her second round match against Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, who upset No. 7 seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-3, 7-5 today.

Francis Tiafoe's ATP debut produced several articles on his prospects for professional success.  Steve Tignor of tennis.com wrote this piece after watching the match on the Tennis Channel.  Jeff Sackmann of the Heavy Topspin blog was in Washington DC, and he wrote this assessment. As someone who's seen Tiafoe play scores of tennis matches, it's interesting to get the perspective of someone watching him for the first time, but it's important to remember--and I'm sure both writers realize this fact--that one match is a very small sample size on which to base a considered opinion.

The University of Texas has still not found a permanent replacement for Patty Fendick-McCain, who retired as the Longhorns' women's head coach in June. Fendick-McCain's assistant Darija Klaic has been named interim head coach while the search continues.


Bobby M said...

Wow these journalists aren't too high on Tiafoe's technique. All that coaching and they can't figure it out. Why is this kid so hyped up than? Your not going to change his fundamentals at 16. Can't see him cracking top 200 by age 18 so he needs to go to college

Dave said...

Technique is way overrated in today's game.

With the string/racquet changes of the last ten years producing more spin, pros can return serve and defend in rallies way more consistently, and the extreme angles produced from that spin make the court much wider. As a result, champions now have to be ridiculously athletic but not necessarily have classic

Give me an elite athlete with a warrior's heart first. If a kid is talented, they are going to overcome many (but not all) technical flaws with superior timing (see Nadal).

The kid is 16. He's not a finished product, not even close. You could have poked holes in just about anybody's game at that age. The 2nd article makes it seem like Coric and Zverev were destined to be beating top 50 players at age 17, but there were a lot of questions about those two a year ago also.

Tiafoe, like Kozlov and Donaldson, has had incredible results for such a young player. All three have different strengths--Tiafoe's athleticism and power, Kozlov's incredible feel for the game, Donaldson is the most polished and cleanest ballstriker. But all three are a long way away from actually competing to win a major. Let them develop and enjoy the ride.

ClarkC said...

What are all the technical flaws in Nadal's game that he has overcome?

Tiafoe better work on technique while he still has time. The fact that everyone who sees him play comments on this issue makes you wander about the junior coaching he received.