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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

First Round Complete at ITF Grade A in Mexico; Katrina Adams Assumes USTA President's Role in January; James Blake to Join USTA?

The ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano, which was moved from its calendar position at the first of the year for the first time, is underway in Mexico City, with the first round of singles now complete.

US juniors make up a large percentage of the participants, with 20 US girls (including six qualifiers) and 14 US boys in the 64-player main draws.  Unfortunately 12 of the girls lost in the first round, including No. 15 seed Mia Horvit. Those reaching the second round are Usue Arconada(4), Michaela Gordon(12), Jessica Ho(14), Alexandra Sabe, Ingrid Neel, Raquel Pedraza and qualifiers Alexandra Sanford and Hanna Chang.   CiCi Bellis, who was entered, withdrew recently. US Open girls champion Maria Bouzkova of the Czech Republic is the top seed.

Although the US boys did not have any qualifiers, with only one American in the qualifying draw, their success rate in the first round was much better, with 10 of the 14 advancing to the second round.  First round winners: Taylor Fritz(2), Michael Mmoh(3), Sameer Kumar(7), William Blumberg(12), Kalman Boyd, Liam Caruana, Nathan Ponwith, Mwendwa Mbithi, Catalin Mateas and Anudeep Kodali. Ponwith defeated No. 16 seed Benjamin Hannestad of Denmark 6-4, 6-4. Hannestad was one of only two boys seeds to lose in the first round. Sora Fuduka of Japan, the No. 6 seed, was the other, losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 7-5, 7-6(9).  That was a tough draw for both players, as Tsitsipas is coming off two Futures quarterfinal appearances in Greece the two weeks prior to this tournament.

Doubles play began today, and Mmoh and Fritz, the Pan American Closed champions, are not playing together. Fritz is playing with top seed Andrey Rublev of Russia, and they are the No. 1 seeds.  Mmoh is playing with Blumberg, and they are the No. 2 seeds. Arconada and Renata Zarazua of Mexico are the top girls seeds.

There is live streaming of center court available all day, with a link available at the tournament website. The website also posts results throughout the day and has the standard ITF order of play.

The USTA announced yesterday the incoming board for the January 1, 2015-December 31, 2016 term. The new chairman, president and chief executive officer is Katrina Adams, a former Northwestern star who has served on the USTA board for ten years. Adams becomes the first former professional player and the first African-American to be elected to the USTA's top position. Adams was inducted into the ITA Women's Collegiate Hall of Fame last weekend and this article from the Northwestern website details her many accomplishments, including the 1987 NCAA doubles title.

Three current USTA board members were not nominated again: Jeff Williams of the Tennis Media Company, Ray Benton of the Junior Tennis Champions Center and former professional player Brian Vahaly.  The four new board members are Fabrizio Alcobe-Fierro(Florida), Michael J. McNulty III(Southern), Kathleen J. Wu(Texas) and Lauren Barkinow(Northern Californa) in the elite athlete category.  The USTA release on Adams and a list of the incoming board members is here.

Last week James Blake held his charity event in New York, which was covered by Karen Pestaina of Tennis Panorama News. Blake, who has been rumored to be the first choice of the USTA for its soon-to-be-vacated General Manager of Player Development position, made a comment that does nothing to quash that rumor.  Blake clarified his role as a mentor/coach for Jack Sock, and also said:

“I also have stayed close with the USTA and with Katrina Adams becoming the new president. I’m proud of her and hopefully I’ll be able to be part of the staff soon if that comes to be we’ll see. But right now I’m mainly focusing on my family, being at home and spending a lot of time with two little girls, that definitely keeps me pretty busy.”

On the possibility of coaching more regularly Blake said:

“I like it but I don’t like to travel, I don’t like being on the road 30 weeks out of the year like I was when I was playing,” he said.

That doesn't sound like someone who would be on the road working with private coaches in a Player Development role, but if the world beats a path to the new Orlando facility, as the USTA hopes, perhaps that wouldn't be necessary.


Fred said...

The USTA is all about diversity and this just puts an exclamation point on that endeavor.

As I stated over three months ago, James Blake will be taking over the reigns of player development. Once again, another poor decision based on meeting diversity quotas and not visionary skills.

LoveTheGame said...


Can't comment on diversity quotas and James Blake may very well surprise folks and do a tremendous job, but he is absolutely not qualified to lead any business/organization at this time. Not to mention, hiring James Blake/Andy Roddick/Todd Martin is the same as hiring Patrick McEnroe. Why not hire Pete Sampras then? Have to say that it is kind of funny how USTA would even consider someone like James Blake after the McEnroe/Higueras hiring. Oh well.