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Friday, September 29, 2017

My Conversation with USTA Head of Men's Tennis Brian Boland; ITA All-American Pre-Qualifying Draws; Shane, Craig and Schneider Reach Futures Semifinal

Brian Boland, Ola Malmqvist and Martin Blackman at US Open Press Conference
photo courtesy USTA

Earlier this month at the US Open, I had an opportunity to sit down with former University of Virginia men's head coach Brian Boland, who recently took over the position of USTA head of men's tennis from Jay Berger.  I have known Boland since I began covering college tennis in 2005, and watched as the Cavaliers became one of the elite programs in Division I tennis during his 16 years.  I spoke with Boland about college tennis at length in this interview for the Tennis Recruiting Network back in 2010, and talked with Boland's former assistant Tony Bresky about building his program at Wake Forest for this Tennis Recruiting Network article last year.  While those two conversations obviously focused on building college programs, this one centered on Boland's plan for not for a school but for a nation of tennis players, a challenge he says he relishes. 
I wouldn't have taken a job I thought I had all the answers for; I wanted a challenge, so I certainly have to lean on others to support this process.
For Boland's thoughts on the college tennis pathway, what the goals of American men should be, the experiments with formats underway in the sport and many other topics, read the entire article here.

The pre-qualifying draws for the upcoming ITA All-American Championships have been released, with both men's and women's matches beginning on Saturday.  Notable women's participants in the pre-qualifying draw in Pacific Palisades California tournament include USTA girls 18s finalist Kelly Chen of Duke, Alexandra Sanford of North Carolina, who won the Oracle Masters on Sunday, and Sophie Whittle of Gonzaga, who beat WTA No. 114 Francoise Abanda of Canada at the $60,000 tournament in Templeton California (Whittle lost to Great Britain's Laura Robson last night).

With a 256-draw, the men's pre-qualifying in Tulsa is open to anyone who enters.  Julian Zlobinsky, a recent transfer from Texas to Wake Forest who qualified and won a match at this month's ATP Challenger in Cary North Carolina, is in the pre-qualifying, as are freshmen Jacob Brumm(Cal), Roy Smith(Baylor), Andres Andrade(Florida) and Matthew Lord(Virginia).

The ITA preview of the tournaments is available here.

Three former American collegians are through to the semifinals of the $15,000 Futures in Fountain Valley California: Ryan Shane(Virginia), Henry Craig(Denver), and Ronnie Schneider(North Carolina).  Last week's Futures champion Shane, the No. 5 seed, beat Belgium's Michael Geerts(Arizona State) 6-3, 6-4 and Craig outlasted qualifier Arthur Rinderknech of France(Texas A&M) 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-0.  That means yet another meeting between Craig and Shane, who have already played three times this year in Futures tournaments, including in last week's final. Shane is 2-1 in the head-to-head.  Schneider defeated No. 2 seed Benjamin Lock of Zimbabwe(Florida State)6-4, 7-6(3) and will face Brazil's Igor Ribeiro Marcondes, who beat qualifier Karue Sell of Brazil(UCLA), when Sell retired with a back injury.

Due to Sell's injury, Schneider claimed his second consecutive doubles title, with he and Elliott Orkin(Florida) getting a walkover over Martin Redlicki(UCLA) and Sell in the final. Schneider and Shane won the doubles title last week in Laguna Niguel.

For more on the semifinals at Fountain Valley, including comments from Shane and Schneider, see this article from tournament press aide Joel Beers.