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Monday, November 6, 2017

Longtime Kalamazoo Nationals Photographer Helen Handelsman Passes Away; USTA Australian Open Wild Card Standings

The USTA Boys 18 and 16 National Championships lost one of its most recognizable and significant supporters late last month, when photographer Helen Handelsman passed away at age 85.  For 47 years, Handelsman and her Nikon captured not only the on-court drama and action of the country's most revered USTA tournament, but what the tournament meant to the Kalamazoo community. The volunteers, the picnics, the sponsor receptions; the Player of the Day awards, the opening ceremonies, the sportsmanship awards; the efforts of the ballrunners, the officials, the maintenance staff--all were woven into a tapestry that could be viewed every year in the elaborate and yet free program that the tournament produces every year.

After raising her family in Kalamazoo, Handelsman moved to San Francisco in the 1980s, but returned to Stowe Stadium every summer to chronicle the nation's top junior tennis players as they navigated a rite of passage in their tennis careers.

Handelsman was in her early 80s when her illness forced her to relinquish the grueling job to YourGameFace.com, but her love of the tournament kept her coming back to spend time as a tower assistant and to reconnect with the friends she had made over the decades.

I'll always remember how much Handelsman enjoyed getting to know the players and how fond she was of them, both as a group and individually. Working in tandem with Dr. Don Flesche, who in addition to his work as the Voice of the Tournament, is responsible for organizing the program, Handelsman took the job of archiving the event seriously, understanding what the tens of thousands of photographs contributed to the sport and its history.

Former Kalamazoo tournament director Timon Corwin called Handelsman a pillar of the tournament, and I think that's exactly the right word. Reinforcements have been added since she retired, but the support she provided for decades will continue to be part of the tournament's structure.

The obituary that appeared in yesterday's Kalamazoo Gazette is available here.

The USTA released the standings for its Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, with the women's race wrapping up this week at the $80,000 tournament in Waco Texas.  Kristie Ahn, who leads after winning the Tyler tournament title yesterday, is entered in Waco, but Danielle Collins, who is tied for second with Vicky Duval, is not.  Duval is in qualifying in Waco, facing 18s National champion Ashley Kratzer for a place in the main draw on Tuesday.   The men are in their second week of the race, with most of the contenders in at the $75,00 Knoxville Challenger, including leader Tim Smyczek and second place Tennys Sandgren.  Other tournaments are also being counted for the men, and Austin Krajicek is playing in a Challenger in Japan this week.

Women's standings:

Men's standings:


College Fan said...

Colette, Sandgren is now ranked #85. Seems highly unlikely he will need a WC into the Aussie Open. Not sure he needs to be in the list.

Lisa S said...

Colette, I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend, Helen. Sending thoughts and prayers to her loved ones.