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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Quarterfinals Set at Sumter $25K, Buffalo Futures; Reactions to Paul Turning Pro; Ostapenko Receives Main Draw Wimbledon Wild Card

The USTA Pro Circuit tournaments have reached the quarterfinals, and as was the case last week, college players are again having an impact.

At the $25,000 women's tournament in Sumter, South Carolina, NCAA finalist Carol Zhao, the rising Stanford junior, is into the quarterfinals after defeating 16-year-old wild card Alexa Graham 2-6, 6-3, 7-5. Graham had taken out top seed Taylor Townsend 6-4, 6-4 in the opening round.  NCAA champion Jamie Loeb, who received main draw entry as a lucky loser, was beaten by No. 2 seed Jennifer Brady 7-5, 6-3. Brady told me at the NCAAs that she would would not be returning to UCLA after her sophomore year.

Other quarterfinalists with college ties are Danielle Lao (USC), who beat ITA Rookie of the Year Brooke Austin 7-6(2), 6-3, No. 8 seed Sanaz Marand (UNC), who topped longtime friend Ashley Weinhold 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, and  No. 5 seed Lauren Embree (Florida), who defeated 15-year-old qualifier Michaela Gordon 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

At the men's $10,000 Futures in Buffalo, recent Georgia graduate Nathan Pasha is among the quarterfinalists, advancing when top seed Jose Statham of New Zealand retired trailing 6-2, 2-2.  Pasha will play recent NCAA quarterfinalist and Columbia grad Winston Lin, a wild card, on Friday.  No. 4 seed Wil Spencer (Georgia) and Hans Hach of Mexico (Abilene Christian) are the other quarterfinalists with college backgrounds.

You can track the Pro Circuit results of all the former and current college men at College Tennis Today.

Pasha warmed up for the Futures tournament by winning the men's singles title at the Tennessee Valley Open Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Pasha defeated University of Florida junior Maxx Lipman 6-4, 6-2 in the final and collected $3,000, more than twice what he would win if he took the Buffalo Futures singles title on Sunday.  Maya Jansen beat Alabama teammate and doubles partner Erin Routliffe 6-4, 7-6 in the women's open final. Complete results can be found in this article.

This types of tournaments are crucial to players starting out on the USTA or ITF Pro Circuit.  Big Time Tennis, a well-known stringer, was working the recent $15,000 Wake Forest Futures, and he posted this look at the expenses, estimating that the winner most likely barely broke even for the week, leaving the other 100 or so participants in the red.

This financial scenario is one that must be addressed when a player is considering whether to go to college or to go immediately onto the pro circuit.  Tommy Paul, who recently signed with Nike, has the support of his federation and a clothing contract, but no one but he and his family and advisers know all the financial considerations that had to be weighed when making his choice.

Two bloggers have addressed his decision, here and here, but without any reference to the economics, which of course they can have no knowledge of, the arguments are bound to be incomplete.  I do disagree with the second post that college would somehow "stunt" Paul's growth in tennis. It's another level, above juniors, to test your game. If you pass all the tests, you leave, with increased confidence and an entire collegiate community behind you.  I am not criticizing Paul's decision, at all. But the level of tennis played at the top of Division I college tennis isn't going to keep anyone from improving.

Wimbledon announced its first batch of wild cards on Wednesday.  As he had said in his interview with me, boys champion Noah Rubin did not request a qualifying wild card.  Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, the girls champion, received a main draw wild card, probably because her WTA ranking was already high enough to compete in the qualifying tournament.  Great Britain juniors Katie Swan and Gabriella Taylor received qualifying wild cards.  The current list (GBR unless otherwise listed):

Liam Broady
Kyle Edmund
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)
Nicolas Mahut (FRA)
James Ward
Brydan Klein
Matthew Ebden (AUS)

Naomi Broady
Johanna Konta
Anett Kontaveit (Estonia)
Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia)

Men's Qualifying:
Edward Corrie
Daniel Cox
Joshua Milton
Dan Evans (WC playoff winner)
Richard Gabb (WC playoff winner)

Women's Qualifying:
Amanda Carreras
Harriet Dart
Katy Dunne
Katie Swan
Gabriella Taylor
Tara Moore (WC playoff winner)
Naomi Cavaday (WC playoff winner)

Doubles and wheelchair wild cards can be found in the release.


AR Hacked Off said...

wow that Pasha wins more at a small non-professional event versus winning a Futures is truly sad and says alot about the ITF/USTA/ATP/WTA Pro Circuits and the pay grade.
Can not fault Paul for turning pro, good luck to him

Prize money is embarressing said...

When will USTA figure out that they lose talented players before they ever start because of the huge investment to simply play and the zero (more often negative) return when they win. Has anyone checked travel prices lately? When moving between tournaments you can't book in advance so are subject to the highest prices offered. One article compared Sock and Isner pro v college path, but Sock would be nowhere without the endless supply of WCs he received over the first 3 years. If he had to grind through tournaments like other guys, he wouldn't be around today.