Sponsored by IMG Academy

Friday, June 26, 2015

My Interview with USTA's Martin Blackman; 23 Americans in Wimbledon Singles Draws; Study of Past Junior Slam Boys Winners; Arconada Reaches Baton Rouge $25K Semis, Rubin Advances to Tulsa Semis

Last week I had an opportunity to speak with the USTA's new General Manager for Player Development Martin Blackman, who took over the position from Patrick McEnroe on June 1.  It was my third opportunity to ask him questions, with the first during the conference call that introduced him back in April, and the second in a small face-to-face conference with two other reporters when I was in Boca Raton for the ITF Team events.  In our phone conversation last week, I had an opportunity to explore topics in more detail, particularly from the junior and college tennis perspective, and he obviously has a better feel for the direction he wants to take now that he's officially in charge.

If you have an interest in junior, college or American tennis, this Tennis Recruiting Network interview is one you should read.

The draws for Wimbledon came out today, with 16 US women and seven US men in singles.

The US men, with their opponents in parentheses:
No. 17 John Isner (Go Soeda JPN)
Denis Kudla (No. 28 Pablo Cuevas URU)
Donald Young (Marcos Baghdatis CYP)
Steve Johnson (Lukas Lacko SVK)
Tim Smyczek (No. 30 Fabio Fognini ITA)
No. 31 Jack Sock (Sam Groth AUS)
Sam Querrey (Igor Sijsling NED)

The US women:
No. 1 Serena Williams (Margarita Gasparyan RUS)
No. 16 Venus Williams (Madison Brengle)
Bethanie Mattek-Sands (Alison Van Uytvanck BEL)
Nicole Gibbs (Lesia Tsurenko UKR)
Shelby Rogers (No. 14 Andrea Petkovic GER)
Irina Falconi (No. 11 Karolina Pliskova CZE)
CoCo Vandeweghe (Anna Karolina Schmiedlova SVK)
Edina Gallovits-Hall (Urszula Radwanska POL)
Sloan Stephens (No. 27 Barbora Strycova CZE)
Lauren Davis (Polona Hercog SLO)
Alison Riske (No. 6 Lucie Safarova CZE)
Varvara Lepchenko (No. 20 Garbine Muguruza ESP)
Christina McHale (Johanna Larsson SWE)
Sachia Vickery (No. 8 Ekaterina Makarova RUS)
No. 21 Madison Keys (Stefanie Voegele SUI)

The complete draws are here. Although the schedule is not yet out, the top half of both draws plays Monday, the bottom half Tuesday.

I will be covering my fourth Wimbledon Junior Championships beginning Saturday, July 4th, and with the one Australian Open I have covered and the 11 US Opens, I have seen plenty of junior slam champions over the years.  Stefano Berlincioni recently researched and analyzed the boys champions over the period 1990-2010 and found that winning a junior slam guaranteed nothing, but most do go on to reach the ATP Top 100.  The US Open has been the most predictive of pro success and the Australian the least. Given the cost and distance the first doesn't surprise me, but I wouldn't have guessed that the US Open would beat out the French or Wimbledon.  Anyway, have a look at what he's found. He's said he will try to do a similar study for girls/women.

I didn't get the update from the Grand Slam Nations Challenge in Great Britain until today, but the US girls finished second by defeating France 5-1 on Thursday. Australia finished in first place, going undefeated in the three matches against Great Britain, France and the US.

The semifinals are set in the USTA Pro Circuit Baton Rouge $25,000 tournament, with an American assured of capturing the title.

Usue Arconada, who beat top seed Taylor Townsend in the first round, completed her second round earlier today after rain interrupted it Thursday, then went on to reach the semifinals with a 7-6(5), 6-0 win over recent Ole Miss graduate Julia Jones. Arconada will play former USC standout Danielle Lao, who beat former Penn star Connie Hsu of Taiwan, seeded No. 8, 6-3, 6-3.  The other semifinal features No. 4 seed Samantha Crawford against qualifier Brooke Austin. Crawford, who beat No. 7 seed Carol Zhao 7-5, 6-4 after finishing off a three-set win over Kelly Chen, and Austin, who beat LSU's Joana Vale Costa of Portugal are junior rivals, with Austin holding a 3-1 edge in the previous meetings, all at the junior level.

Noah Rubin has reached the semifinals of the $15,000 Tulsa Futures, his first tournament as a pro, beating No. 6 seed Ernesto Escobedo 6-4, 7-6(2). He will play No. 2 seed Tennys Sandgren in Saturday's semifinal.


Look inside Martin said...

Blackman: "This is my third week and the first thing I've been doing is listening and learning. I've been reaching out to a lot of the folks on our staff, our department heads, especially Jay [Berger], Ola [Malmqvist] and Jose [Higueras], but also reaching out a lot to the private sector...."

At least two of those department heads are the source of many problems within USTA. Good ol' boys club playing favorites and supreme rulers for a decade. Hope Blackman starts there.