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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Austin, Collins, McDonald Lead USA Master'U Team's Quest for Fifth Straight Title; Nava to TCU; USTA Announces Lendl, Fish and Craybas as Coaching Consultants for Player Development

The United States has won the past four Master'U BNP Paribas tournaments, an international collegiate team event now in its tenth year. This year they will again be the favorites, with six of the top American college players heading to Rennes, France for the eight-team competition December 3-6, 2015.

The men on this year's team are Mackenzie McDonald of UCLA, Tom Fawcett of Stanford and Austin Smith of Georgia. The women's team will feature Brooke Austin of Florida, Danielle Collins of Virginia and Maegan Manasse of Cal.

Last year's champions were Noah Rubin of Wake Forest, Thai Kwiatkowski of Virginia, Nathan Pasha of Georgia, Julia Elbaba of Virginia and Robin Anderson and Chanelle Van Nguyen of UCLA. 

For the fourth consecutive year, Amanda Augustus of Cal and Greg Patton of Boise State will serve as coaches for the team.

The USTA Clay Court Invitational concluded on Sunday, with North Carolina State's Martina Frantova and South Carolina's Gabriel Friedrich winning the top flight titles in women's and men's singles. Results from all the flights can be found at the TennisLink site.

At the Big Ten Indoor Championships in Iowa, Kalamazoo resident Davis Crocker, a redshirt sophomore at Michigan, won the title, defeating Nebraska freshman Toby Boyer 6-3, 6-2 in the final.

The eve of signing day is usually pretty quiet, but there was big news out of Fort Worth, Texas with TCU announcing that Eduardo Nava will join the Horned Frogs beginning in January. Because he is starting in January, Nava isn't part of the National Letter of Intent process, but he is eligible to sign a financial aid agreement, which according to the TCU release, he has done.  Nava, a quarterfinalist this year in Kalamazoo, played mostly ITF Pro Circuit events this year from his training base in Spain. His current ATP ranking is 978. With Alex Rybakov joining TCU in January, and Cameron Norrie and Guillermo Nunez, both preseason Top 20 players, returning, TCU is poised to return to the Final Four again next spring.

USTA Director of Coaching Jose Higueras with Jill Craybas at 2015 Easter Bowl
The USTA announced today that Ivan Lendl, Mardy Fish and Jill Craybas will be working on a part-time basis in Player Development.  Lendl has already begun working with 15- and 16-year-olds in Florida, Fish will be working with young pros in Carson during the offseason and Craybas will be doing the same in Boca Raton.  When I spoke to new PD General Manager Martin Blackman this summer, he mentioned his interest in tapping former pros more systematically, and this is the first of what I expect to be several similar announcements.  The complete USTA release is below:

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., November 10, 2015 – The USTA today announced that eight-time Grand Slam singles champion Ivan Lendl, former world No. 7 Mardy Fish, and former American Olympian Jill Craybas will begin coaching with USTA Player Development as part of its strategy to involve former champions and top American players in the development of current American pros and juniors.

Lendl, Fish and Craybas will work with USTA Player Development on a part-time basis beginning this fall and winter. Lendl began working with a group of top 15- and 16-year old boys at a training camp held last week at Windsor in Vero Beach, Fla., and will continue working with the group through several USTA Pro Circuit and junior tournaments in November and December, and into next year. Fish will help lead several weeks of offseason training at the USTA Training Center – West in Carson, Calif., with a group of professional men. Craybas will begin working with a group of pro women during their offseason training at the USTA Training Center in Boca Raton, Fla.

The coaching partnerships are initial steps in USTA Player Development’s effort to be more deliberate in engaging past champions and former American professionals as coaches, advisors or mentors. In addition to Lendl, Fish and Craybas, USTA Player Development has also worked with or is planning to work with other former and current American pros, including Michael Russell, Brian Baker, Marianne Werdel and Ann Grossman-Wunderlich, among several others.

“We have done this on an informal basis – Andy Roddick, Jim Courier and Billie-Jean King, most notably, have been very generous with their time and willingness to work with our young pros – but we need to be more intentional about our outreach to former champions and top professionals,” said USTA Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman. “They have been in the second week of a Grand Slam or even hoisted the trophy on that final Sunday, and that is invaluable. We need to cultivate a culture that is characterized by a champion’s mindset, and when one of our young women or men spends time with a former champion, it creates a cultural connection that cannot be over-estimated.

“We are just in the beginning stages of our outreach, and there are American champions that we have not yet connected with, but so far the response has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Lendl, 55, is a former world No. 1 who won three US Open, three French Open and two Australian Open titles from 1984-90, and his 94 ATP World Tour titles rank second all-time. From 2012 to early 2014, Lendl coached Andy Murray to his first two Grand Slam singles titles, at the 2012 US Open and 2013 Wimbledon. Fish, 33, climbed to No. 7 in the world in 2011 and won six ATP World Tour titles in his career. He retired following a second-round finish at the 2015 US Open. Midway through his career, Fish committed to a disciplined approach to his conditioning and nutrition, which resulted in his best achievements and career-high ranking. Craybas, 41, played on tour for 18 years and represented the U.S. in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She won one singles title and five doubles titles on tour and won the NCAA women’s singles championship while at Florida in 1996.


Ace said...

A note to the tennis community. Two more schools have cut their tennis programs, University of Hartford and UMBC (University of Maryland Baltimore County). Both are DI programs that were in the America East conference, but joined the Missouri Valley when the AE fell under number schools required to keep the Automatic Qualifier for NCAA's, along with Stonybrook University.
Our community must rally to fight to save these two, but also any others that might be in jeopardy. The long term viability of our sport is being eaten away, one tennis program at a time.
We must fight!

Here is a link to the UMBC announcement.