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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Restructuring at USTA Player Development Creates Team USA-Pro; Men's Team Indoor Draws; Nefve, Mandlik Win Grade 4 Titles in Mexico; Fritz Defeats Mmoh in Memphis

The USTA announced a restructuring of Player Development, which includes a new division specifically created for professional players ranked from 100-500. Tom Gullikson will head the men's division, and Kathy Rinaldi will lead the women's division. Geoff Russell will move from Player ID and Development to become the Team USA-Pro operations administrator.

From the release:
The Team USA – Pro department was created to provide professional players ranked between Nos. 100 and 500 resources and assistance similar to what has been available to junior players since USTA Player Development first began to incorporate the Team USA philosophy into its junior development structure in 2014.

Additionally, the USTA National Coaching structure will change, with coaches assigned to pro, collegiate or junior teams.  Andy Brandi (see my recent interview with Brandi here) and Richard Ashby will lead the junior divisions, Brandi for the boys and Ashby for the girls.

I have heard complaints that the USTA doesn't support young pros who need funding as they try to work their way up the rankings, so I gather from this initiative that Player Development has heard these complaints as well. How this translates into dollars and cents, or coaching hours, remains to be seen, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.

The complete release, with quotes from Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman, Head of Men's Tennis Jay Berger, Head of Women's Tennis Ola Malmqvist and Jose Higueras, Director of Coaching, can be found here.

The draw has been released for the ITA Men's Team Indoor, which begins Friday in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Unlike the women's draw, all teams are given a seeding. Here are the top 8, based on unpublished rankings from today. Oklahoma is the defending champion.

1. Virginia
2. Texas A&M
3. North Carolina
4. USC
5. TCU
6. Ohio State
8. Oklahoma

Unlike Wisconsin, the host of the Women's Team Indoor, Virginia will have live streaming on six courts. Links will be available at the ITA's tournament website. The lineups for the 16 teams are here.

With Midland and the Women's Team Indoor, I neglected the junior results most of last week.  The tournaments featuring the most US juniors were the Grade 2 in Peru and the Grade 4 in Mexico.  Taylor Johnson(2) and Morgan Coppoc(4) reached the semifinals of the Grade 2 Inka Bowl.  Lara Escauriza of Paraguay, the No. 3 seed, defeated Orange Bowl 16s champion, No. 8 seed Maria Lourdes Carle of Argentina, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the girls final.

In the boys draw, JJ Wolf, the No. 2 seed, lost in the third round; No. 12 seed Sangeet Sridhar reached the quarterfinals, where he lost to eventual champion Yuta Shimizu of Japan, the No. 4 seed.

Dalayna Hewitt and Kariann Pierre-Louis won the doubles title, beating Viktoria Morvayova of Slovakia and Anri Nagata of Japan 6-4, 6-3 in a final between two unseeded teams.

At the Grade 4 in Mexico, the US came away with two champions, with Axel Nefve and Elli Mandlik winning their first ITF junior titles.  The 15-year-old Nefve, seeded No. 8, defeated No. 12 seed Tomas Kopczynski 6-3, 7-5 in the all-American boys final.

The 14-year-old Mandlik, daughter of four-time slam singles champion Hana Mandlikova, defeated top seed Alexia Coutina Castillo of Mexico 6-1, 6-4 in the final. Mandlik was the No. 10 seed.

This week's Grade 4 in Mexico also has an array of Americans in both the boys and girls draws. Three American girls are through to the third round of the Grade 2 in this week in Bolivia.

Tonight at the Memphis Open, Taylor Fritz won his second ATP level match in two attempts, beating Michael Mmoh 6-3, 6-4.  Fritz had 10 aces and saved all three break points he faced. Fritz, who won his first ATP match last summer in Nottingham, had beaten Mmoh 6-2, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of Kalamazoo last August.  Mmoh was making his ATP tour debut after qualifying.  Fritz will play No. 2 seed Steve Johnson in the second round. For more on the match, see this article from the ATP website.

Tommy Paul, who, like Fritz, received a wild card, will play former Baylor NCAA champion Benjamin Becker of Germany later this evening.


Brent said...

Wow, kind of a crazy draw for Men's Indoor. The rankings haven't settled yet and leads to some unfortunate early matchups. Great for the fans but too bad they have to play that early. From my own unscientific ranking of the squads going on, accounting for results to date but also for injuries and likely results going forward, I would rank them...

1. Virginia
2. Oklahoma (assuming Harris plays)
3. Ohio State
5. Georgia
6. TCU
7. Baylor
8. North Carolina
9. Wake Forest
10. Texas A&M
11. USC
12. Illinois
13. South Florida
14. Columbia
15. Texas Tech
16. San Diego

Really rough for Georgia and UCLA to have to play first round and same for OU and Wake, and then to be in the same quarter as UVA. OSU/Baylor is brutal first round as well.I will go with the following for a prediction...

1 UVA over 16 San Diego 4-0
8 Oklahoma over 9 Wake Forest 4-3
4 USC over 13 USF 4-2
5 TCU over 12 Illinois 4-3
6 Ohio State over 11 Baylor 4-2
3 UNC over 14 Texas Tech 4-1
7 UCLA over 10 Georgia 4-3
2 Texas A&M over 15 Columbia 4-2

1 UVA over 8 Oklahoma 4-1
5 TCU over 4 USC 4-2
6 Ohio State over 3 UNC 4-2
7 UCLA over 2 Texas A&M 4-3

1 UVA over 5 TCU 4-2
6 OSU over 7 UCLA 4-3

1 UVA over 6 OSU 4-1

Big Mike said...


I'm not supporting your position that the OSU/Baylor match will be a brutal first round. Baylor is extremely overrated this year. They haven't been able to find any 26 year-old freshmen to bail them out. I predict OSU will steamroll Baylor 4-0 after getting off to a quick 3-0 lead within the first hour and a half of play.