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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Donaldson, Rubin and Giron Receive US Open Main Draw Wild Cards; Six Teens Collect Qualifying Wild Cards

The USTA announced the wild cards for the US Open today, with six US men receiving main draw wild cards and seven receiving qualifying wild cards.

National 18s champion Noah Rubin and USTA Wild Card Challenge winner Wayne Odesnik had already earned their wild cards; Marcos Giron was all but guaranteed one when he captured the NCAA singles title in May.

With those three spoken for, much speculation surrounded the other three, and they were given to Ryan Harrison, Tim Smyczek and Jared Donaldson.

The 22-year-old Harrison (current ATP rank of 164), 26-year-old Smyczek (current ATP rank of 92) and 17-year-old Donaldson (current ATP rank of 308) are at different stages of their careers, so there's no obvious theme regarding their selection.  It's possible that Smyczek, who is only three or four players out of the main draw, will get in on his own ranking before next week's qualifying begins, freeing up his wild card, but who that might go to is difficult to gauge. Perhaps veterans Robby Ginepri or Mike Russell, or Denis Kudla, who is the highest ranked American not in the main draw, but his playing status since announcing he has mono last month is unknown.

The reciprocal agreements between federations resulted in Bernard Tomic of Australia and Michael Llodra of France also receiving wild cards. Tomic won an ATP tour title the week after the cutoff, and is now No. 70 in the rankings; the case for the 34-year-old Llodra is much less clear, as there are several younger French players with higher ATP rankings that would have been more conventional choices.

If there is no theme in the main draw wild cards, that can't be said of the qualifying wild cards, where the oldest recipient is Virginia rising senior Mitchell Frank at 21.  Collin Altamirano was awarded his for making the 18s final at Kalamazoo, and four other quarterfinalists at Kalamazoo were granted wild cards, three of them 16: Stefan Kozlov, Francis Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz, along with 18-year-old Ernesto Escobedo. UCLA's Mackenzie McDonald, 19, rounds out the American selections, with France's Mathias Bourgue, 20, receiving a reciprocal wild card.

There are two more qualifying wild cards yet to be awarded ( one for men and one for women) with those going to the winners of the US Open National Playoffs, which begin this Friday in New Haven, Connecticut.

The full announcement from the USTA is here.


Perplexed…. said...

The USTA is sending the wrong message ONCE AGAIN with the US Open wildcards. I understand there may not be great other options, but these two are great players but undeserving this year.

1) Ryan Harrison is ranked 164. This time last year he was 102. This time two years ago he was 58. He has won only 4 Tour matches all year and barely played ALL Summer.

2) Jared Donaldson - The USTA is telling juniors that they do not have to win Kalamazoo to get a wildcard. He was won zero ATP Tour matches and only 1 Challenger match win. He is a very promising junior and done well at Future events but this is a Main Draw at a Grand Slam event. My Opinion - Too Soon.

I would have been happy with Michael Russell and Dennis Kudla, then maybe Robbie Ginepri before the above two players.

You can make arguments for every player to get one or not get one. But giving a wildcard to a junior who has never proven themselves at the main level or giving a wildcard because they are young in age with promise hasn't worked out well in the past decade or so. There are plenty of examples of those.

USTA Stinks said...

OMG the US Open Men's wild cards are a JOKE! It's time to clean house in USTA Player Development.

Franz said...

Makes sense now why Donaldson tanked out of Kalamazoo. Pretty sure Jay Berger already promised him a main draw WC, with a nod of approval from Jose "Ain't Gonna Travel" Higueras. Another fine example of USTA Player Development in action while throwing more deserving players under the bus.

When are these guys going to be cut loose? Years and years of ineptitude should be rewarded with other opportunities to screw something else up.

Ben said...

I don't understand how the USTA thinks they are doing Harrison a favor here. He has barely won a main draw tour match all year. On current form his chances of winning a main draw match at the open are slim to none. He's only 22 and there is plenty of time for him to turn things around but he needs to get out there winning matches in Challengers remembering how to win again. It's just crazy.

In the same vein Clay Thompson unfortunately seems to becoming addicted to the WC drug as well- he's played 10 tournaments in the past year, received 8 WC's and won exactly 1 main draw match earning him a ATP ranking of 2100!! What a total waste of a year! Is there any wonder US tennis is in the mess it's in. Is nobody giving these kids any sensible advice. Go out there and find the level where you can win at least 2 out of 3 matches and go from there. There are no short cuts to the top. You need to practice winning not losing

Brent said...

When I saw that Donaldson got one, I had the same reaction that they must have known at KZoo that he already had one in the bag. Taylor Dent and company were huddling with Higueras immediately after the match and no one in his camp (we were sitting right by them) seemed the least bit surprised by the sudden withdrawal (granted he had taken a medical timeout on the previous changeover but was rolling and showing no obvious signs of distress). I actually support him getting one over Kudla and Ginepri and Russell so not sure it really makes a difference, but would be interesting to know how/when the WC was communicated.

Dave said...

Donaldson is a tough call, as he didn't win zoo and there are certainly many Americans ranked higher. On the other hand, I would much rather see the WC go to an up and comer than a veteran who has been 100-200 his whole career.

It was pretty clear to me from what I watched that he was the best player at zoo, and his results this year certainly back that up. The fact that he got the wc makes his retirement v. Altamirano a little less perplexing.

And I think winning three futures tournaments is pretty impressive. He doesn't have the challenger or ATP level results because he hasn't played any, and up until now has not been granted any WC.

Ultimately it's a question of your philosophy. Do you give it to the highest ranked player regardless of age, or to a rising star? I am of the opinion that you give it to a rising star, provided he can hang at that level. There are plenty of players 50-128 that Donaldson would have a good chance to beat.

Steve Boussom said...

Winning breeds winning and I agree with an earlier post that one should play at a level where they are winning 2 out of every three matches. However, then win a future and then win a challenger before attempting ATP tour play. Wild cards have spoiled several players in various ways. Our sport is not easy and unless you get hot at the right time like a Sampras or Roddick it will be a hard grind to the highest levels of tennis.

Alex said...

I actually have lost respect for Donaldson after this....you're up 4-2 in the national quarterfinals and you give no fight at all. You just casually quit and walk off like nothing happened. And as a result you still get the wildcard that people like Altamirano, Rubin, Mmoh and the rest of the 18s field were trying to grind for. Donaldson was winning futures but what about Kobelt winning futures too? He still may get a doubles wildcard but that's certainly not guaranteed. I'm sure Kobelt under Ty Tucker would never just quit a match like that. Sure, he may have had a little injury but the fact he is already playing again means it couldn't have been that bad that he couldn't have finished the tournament. The USTA just applauded a player for bowing out at the national championships. Have a little pride Jared. Or at least get some.

Dan said...

I believe the Jared Donaldson wildcard was more of a "we need to promote a young junior" to show that USA Tennis is heading in a good direction.
Also to make the USTA PD staff look like their "coaching philosophy" is bringing up juniors even though the 4 best juniors, like Donaldson, Tiafoe, Altamarino, and Rubin was never with the USTA.

Roddick at Donaldson's age was winning Challengers. Agassi, Sampras, Chang were all winning ATP events. Make Donaldson play US Open qualifying, that is better for his development than golden spooning him a Main Draw. Just because there is no one else to give it to DOES NOT make it right to give it to Jared.

Jared may have been the best junior at Kalamazoo but he did not win it, injuries happen. Tough luck but that is tennis and the real world.

The Ryan Harrison wildcard is just plain baffling. No merit for that one. Simple question -What have you done lately? His last ATP main draw win was in March. I guess rewarding a player for going in reverse is a good standard for the USTA

Confused said...

Donaldson was the most obvious pick in my opinion. I'm a bit confused why everyone seems so surprised.

At 17, he's far outpaced his contemporaries with his professional results. He has been moving up the rankings at a rapid pace, so why not give him a taste of what the top level of the sport is like? Show him what he has to work towards.

Continuing to give wild cards to Kudla, Williams, Ram etc. is wasteful.

Wild Cards don't exist to give them to the first 5 guys who missed the cut for the main draw.

I'll take the guy who missed the cut because he's young and on his way up over the guy who has been trying to make the cut for 5 years (or more in some cases) and just isn't good enough.

Rob said...

I think Donaldson was deserving of a WC. He's clearly the most promising jr we have right now, he has had the best results, and is the highest ranked jr of the current crop of jrs, Rubin, Tiafoe, etc. He also was the clear favorite at the 'Zoo, its unfortunate that he got injured. What sense would it have made to continue playing only to have to forfeit the semis or finals because you worsened your injury by continuing to play?? I think Rubin was fortunate to avoid having to play Donaldson for the title because I don't think he would've won.

If it's too soon for Donaldson, ranked in the 300s, who's also won 3 Futures titles this yr, why is it also not too soon for Rubin, who's ranked in the 500s??

Harrison did not deserve a WC. He's had no results all year, nor has he seemingly put forth the effort to climb back up the rankings. He should've had to earn the WC by winning the summer Challenger circuit, Ginepri also.

SG said...

Regardless of whether Donaldson won Kzoo or not, I think he's deserving. 300 in the world at 17, and he beat some very good current and former college players in futures. He's had by far the best results of US juniors at the professional level.

The retirement at Kzoo was weird - maybe he knew he had a WC, and took precaution so he would be healthy for the USO. I hope the USTA didn't give WCs before the tournament ended.

The Harrison choice isn't great. But maybe he's deserving after all the terrible GS draws he's gotten in the past. Ha.

Ginepri fan said...

Robbie Ginepri should have been given a Wild Card. He is a really good veteran player who is starting to shake the rust off after multiple injuries. if any of the American Wild Cards have a shot at an early round upset or putting a good tough match together, it is him. In the last 4 months he has gone from #450 to under 200. Next week he will be in the 196--199 range. in the last year he's beaten players already in the US Open field like Tomic, Thiem, Groth, Falla, Sock, Stakhovsky, Dancevic, Kuznetsov, and Ebden. Robbie has a GREAT shot against anyone he plays in the 30 to 100 ranking. His bad ranking is based on inactivity and injury. If he played regularly he'd be in the 50s or so. He might not be up there with Isner and Sock and Johnson but I'd take him over Young or Querrey.

AR Hacked Off said...

Donaldson should have been bumped to Qualifying, also why did Mmoh not get at least a Qualy WC, he got to the SF of the Zoo and tested Rubin.
I think Ginepri would have been ok for a Main Draw WC, he is wining some matches, Harrison on the other hand needs a major reset and work his way back playing Challengers and stop being fed WC since he is not fighting enough in matches.

Bucks Fan said...

After originally being disappointed that Kobelt, Buchanan and other OSU company got left off the singles wildcard lists, I'm not too mad now. Ohio State players typically don't take too many wildcards and earn all of their prize money they collect. I have faith in Chase after watching him in Cincy (took a hometown WC into the qualy draw, can't blame him) and he earned his way into the main draw and took advantage of his opportunity. I have faith he'll take advantage of being in the US Open qualies and roll with it. Kobelt will soon have his time. Rola is already making it. Go Bucks

Timothy said...

The question that would be interesting to know is if Jared Donaldson received the wildcard because the USTA thinks he actually deserved a Main Draw Grand Slam wildcard or because there was no other deserving player so he got one out of consolation.

My guess is the latter because if Ryan Harrison received a wildcard then there must not be strong options. And if that is the case, you are not helping Jared by giving him a wildcard he isn't ready for or deserves just because there is no one else to give it to. And after reading all the posted, there seems to be a general agreement that no way Ryan Harrison should have received a wildcard.

Lang said...

Injuries happened. I see no reasons why Donaldson would not want to win Kalamazoo. It is the biggest junior event in the country and the winner gets recognition, the USO wildcard, and a picture with that big ass trophy.

If he is 100% healthy, then he would probably be playing the Winston-Salem Open Q. But he is not ready yet. His coach said that he is doing light practices this week.

IMO, he deserves the wildcard. He worked his butt off in the futures and raised his ranking from 731 to 308. He should be rewarded for his effort and get a chance to compete with the best. Even if he doesn't win , he will learn a lot from the experience. Yes folks, you can learn from a loss.

He won two USO Qualifying Rounds last year so I see no harm in bumping him to the MD given his improvements.

Jared Donaldson has the potential ... said...

Jared Donaldson is a rising star, and if the USTA is going to hand out wild cards should they give it to someone who is young and on their way up, or to someone who has spent a few years on the tour?
Either answer is correct, but I think most people want to see if being given to a younger player with potential. Anyone who watched the matches at Kalamazoo would say that Donaldson was the best player there. If he didn't get injured, he would have won. So, I think it was the right move.

Shawn said...

What's interesting about Donaldson being the best junior in the United States and the player with the best pro potential was what he didn't do......

He didn't live in the US and he didn't play in the USTA junior system. He's never had to play the same kids over and over and over again in small sectional in Rhode Island to get to Kalamazoo.
( which is what the USTA PD says is the right path for development).

And that's the problem with junior US tennis today. Our kids don't have enough cross play and don't play enough international competition.

russ said...

Can't believe how many people think Jared quit, or tanked, his match against Altamirano. Maybe, just maybe, he was injured. Give him a break folks. Keeping healthy is the toughest thing for a tennis player. Can't win a match when you're rehabilitating in a gym after a surgery.

Steve Boussom said...

I was at Kalamazoo this year and watched Donaldson. Clearly, when healthy he was the class of the field. I was convinced by the way he handled himself, the carefully placed booming serves and rocket forehand that he was the only guy within 100 miles was going to be a pro at this point.

i like the WC said...

everyone so negative. when you have a prospect like this, you give them a taste of the level where they aspire to be. this will benefit him down the line when he makes it back to the main draw (on his own merit) in that he has already been there before and knows what to expect.

people are acting like this is his 35th WC this season and hasn't won a match.

he is way more deserving than former college players ranked in the 200s

get real said...

Bottom line...Ryan Harrison has done nothing this past year to earn a US Open main draw WC. While his bad sportsmanship was given a lot of leeway when winning, his court behavior (which his father has defended as part of dealing with pressure-yea) is a real turn off, especially the older he gets. This is one US player that needs to show his merit.

Just wondering said...

What about Jarmere Jenkins? He reached the final round of the US Open qualies last year. He played the Roland Garros qualies. He also had direct entry into the Wimbledon qualies, but he didn't travel to England. This is all in his first year on tour after graduating (which he did in four years). He's ranked in the 200s in both singles & doubles and is only 23. I'm surprised he didn't receive a Qualifying WC. As far as Jarmere and others who recently played 4 years of college tennis and are actually out on tour, what message is the USTA sending? Why only help college guys still in school or only a few weeks into their professional careers?

I agree about Ginepri. He won main draw matches at every hard court ATP event he played this summer and held match points vs Isner in Atlanta. Ginepri could realistically win multiple rounds in the US Open. It wouldn't be surprising to see all our Main Draw WCs lose first round.

Lang said...

As a Ginepri fan, I'm very upset that he didn't even get a Qualifying Wildcard. Apparently, the USTA doesn't think he existed.

U = Unjust
S = Shameful
T = Tennis
A = Act

He is more deserving than Harrison. At least he is winning matches.

Bruce Milton said...

Donaldson has done phenomenal at the pro level for a teenager. He won 15 conecutive Futures matches and 3 consecutive titles. Name me one other 17 year old American who has done that. He is the one young American deserving of a wildcard. All the juniors titles, including Grand Slams and Kalmazoo mean nothing compared to what Donaldson has done on the pro circuit.