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Monday, February 28, 2005

Back to future as Ball boy joins Australia

Back to future as Ball boy joins Australia
(Link no longer active)

Our hosts in Germany have a DSL connection, so I thought I would give this a try. A very interesting story on Carsten Ball´s decision to play tennis for Australia.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A vacation break

I'm taking a vacation to Germany, so entries for the next ten days are unlikely, as I probably will have neither the time nor the opportunity to access the internet while there. We do plan to look in on an ITF Grade 2 event in Nurnberg next week and to follow the Davis Cup ties next weekend, so it is not tennis I'm taking a break from, just the site.

Note to subscribers: I am still experiencing occasional disruptions in email subscriptions, and haven't been able to determine the cause of it. So please scroll through recent stories to make sure you haven't missed anything. I'll try to get to the bottom of the problem when I return.

Davis Cup still very much on Henman's mind --Telegraph | Sport |

Telegraph | Sport | Davis Cup still very much on Henman's mind (registration required)

Henman`s take on junior Andrew Murray, who was named to the Davis Cup team, but may or may not play. Murray is experiencing back problems, which, according to his agent Sian Masterton at Octagon, are minor--perhaps related to a recent growth spurt. He retired in his first match in a Portugal Futures event this week, but that may have been a precaution. He is undoubtedly very excited about the possibility of playing in the tie with Israel, but I'm not as enthusiastic about the prospect as he and Henman are.

Although Murray won four Futures events in 2004, they were all on clay. And he lost 6-1 to John McEnroe in an exhibition late last year. McEnroe is 46 years old. Contrast that to Donald Young, who beat thirty-four-year-old Jim Courier in a recent exhibition, but has been administered two shellackings in recent first round ATP matches. If Donald Young were being considered to play second singles to Andy Roddick, it would smack of desperation. That it is unthinkable simply shows the respective states of tennis in the two countries.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

L.A. Daily News - Wimbledon Can`t Wait

L.A. Daily News - Wimbledon Can`t Wait (story no longer available at host site as of 3/8/05)

Two top-flight juniors playing high school tennis? With California`s Sam Querrey joining Ohio`s Justin Kronauge, it may be a trend. But as Querrey`s coach says, “most people in his situation wouldn`t even consider playing high school tennis.” querreyusopen04
I was happy to read that the Querreys have hired Grant Doyle as Sam`s personal coach. Having a full-time coach/travel companion is often a key component in a junior`s development. And Sam has loads of potential, as he has already demonstrated in winning the 16s in Kalamazoo and reaching the US Open junior quarterfinals last year. But he hasn`t done much international travel and though he`ll be near home for the April ITF events, with their deep and strong fields, he will feel the added pressure of needing wins to raise his ITF ranking (now 99) to the top 50 to avoid having to qualify at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Junior News and Notes

Junior News and Notes

  • Oudsema selected as Polo model
    According to his father Bill, Scott Oudsema has recently completed a photo shoot for Polo tennis clothing. The tennis line is expected to make its debut at the U.S. Open, though it is unclear whether Polo will be named the official clothing sponsor of that event, replacing Fila, who decided not to renew their contract after 2004. Oudsema, 18, previously modeled for the Abercrombie & Fitch magazine last summer with close friend and sometime doubles partner Phillip Simmonds. This is, however, Oudsema's first major endorsement deal since signing with SFX in December.
  • Vahid Mirzadeh will return to Kalamazoo
    According to his father Moe, who attended the USTA/ITA Indoor Team event in Chicago to watch his elder son Hamid, a senior at Florida, Vahid is planning on returning to Kalamazoo for his final year of eligibility. He will be the first player ever to participate for six straight years, and with Hamid's appearances in 1998 & 1999, the family will have an eight-year streak. Vahid, 18, has won two doubles titles in Kalamazoo, in 2002, in the 16s with Nick Rinks, and last year, when he teamed with Phillip Simmonds to win the 18s championship.
  • Carsten Ball has been named a hitting partner for Australian Davis Cup tie vs. Austria
    Ball, 17, who lives in Newport Beach California, has been playing in Australia most of 2005. Reports have him seeking Australian citizenship, in hopes of following in his father`s footsteps. Syd Ball played Davis Cup for Australia in 1974.
  • Spencer Vegosen will hit with US Davis Cup team and travel to Brazil
    Shari Vegosen, whose husband Jon chairs the USTA Collegiate committee, relayed that their son Spencer is currently in Carson California training at the High Performance center and will remain there through the Davis Cup tie with Croatia. He is expected to hit with Roddick, Agassi and the Bryants when the team arrives in Carson for practice. He will return home to celebrate his 17th birthday, then, accompanied by his mother, will head to Brazil for the Grade A Banana Bowl and Grade 1 Gerdau Cup.
  • Matt Bruch attends USTA/ITA Indoor Team event to observe future team
    Bruch, 17, of Lake Forest IL, committed to Stanford during last November‘s early signing period. He did not see Stanford tennis at its best, however, as the Cardinal lost all three of their matches over the weekend to Virginia, Oklahoma State and Southern Cal.

  • Monday, February 21, 2005

    Everything I Know About College Tennis I Learned Last Weekend

    Everything I Know About College Tennis I Learned Last Weekend
    ©Colette Lewis 2005

    Well, not quite. I did cover the ITA Individual Indoor Championships in Ann Arbor for collegeandjuniortennis.com back in November and did some research on the NCAA regulations when I wrote my Oudsema college vs. pro story, (for that story click here).

    But compared to my exposure to and grasp of junior tennis, the gulf is wide and unlikely ever to close. So the following five observations gleaned from my visit to the USTA/ITA Team Indoor at Mid-town Tennis Club in Chicago are to be read with that caveat.

    College tennis is all about team
    Jesse Witten of Kentucky avenged his loss to Illinois‘ Ryler DeHeart in the Ann Arbor final, when he beat DeHeart at number one singles in their teams‘ first round match. But Illinois prevailed 4-2, and Witten was taking no solace from his win. ”It wasn‘t enough, though,” were his first words after being congratulated on his victory.

    Coaching adds to tennis
    Davis Cup is the only top level competition that allows it, but in college, coaches move from match to match, coming up with strategies on the fly, giving vocal support, interceding with umpires when disputes arise. deheartdancer In juniors, where arguably it is most needed, coaching isn‘t allowed, which surely is taking the machismo of the sport‘s individualism too far.

    There is home court advantage, at least if you are Illinois
    Though the finals on Sunday between Baylor and Virginia were well played and well attended, the electricity left the building when Illinois lost in the semifinals to Baylor 4-3 on Saturday night. The match came down to number four singles, with Baylor sophomore Matija Zgaga outlasting Illinois freshman Monte Tucker 6-4 in the third, much to the dismay of the 1400-plus partisans crowded around the deciding match. illinicrowd

    With a team featuring four freshmen (at 2, 3, 4 and 6 singles), Illinois coach Craig Tiley must be satisfied with his team‘s progress, as they took the top-ranked Bears to the final set. There are advantages to serving as tournament host, as all three of the Illinois matches were scheduled for 6 p.m., assuring maximum alumni attendance.

    Foreign-born players will continue to dominate, and polarize, college tennis
    Though remedies have been introduced, including a rule requiring all college players to begin their education by age 20, recruiting philosophies of individual programs are likely to keep the overseas pipeline open. baylor
    Baylor features no US players on its squad, and its number one player, senior Benedict Dorsch of Germany, is 24 years old. Few object to foreign players on principal, and those programs, like Virginia and Illinois, who have them in proportion to their school‘s non-athletic student population, are supported whole-heartedly. But there was a definite Davis Cup feel to the Illinois vs. Baylor and Virginia vs. Ole Miss (no American-born players) matches. The irony is that the influx of foreign players has created a better game, and non-alums are free to take sides on the basis of nationality if they choose.

    Tennis is a lonely sport, though less so if you‘ve played in college
    The bonds formed playing a team intercollegiate sport are strong ones. I saw Patrick McEnroe hit up Stanford associate head tennis coach Dave Hodge for a Cardinal T-shirt at the Orange Bowl this year, and McEnroe left Palo Alto in 1988. Amer Delic, the 2003 NCAA Division 1 singles champion while at Illinois, was at the Mid-town tennis club for all three of the Illini matches, cheering the squad that featured only two players remaining from that national championship year. The Bryan twins recently played an exhibition at their alma mater Stanford, in conjunction with a Cardinal dual meet. That collegiate esprit de corps may very well be what Andy Roddick and his barnstorming, Davis-Cup-playing friends Mardy Fish and the Bryans are attempting to recreate in the uber-individual world of professional tennis.

    In short, college tennis has much to recommend it, and those seeing it for the first time cannot argue its relevance or value, or maybe, most importantly, how much fun it is.

    Sunday, February 20, 2005

    The Tennis Channel: Kronauge

    The Tennis Channel: Kronauge
    Justin Time
    Throwback jerseys may be all the rage, not so prevalent are throwback juniors. Justin Kronauge plays high school tennis, not ITF junior events, a decision that will likely cost him an opportunity to ever compete in a junior Grand Slam. With his first major National title at the USTA 18 Winter Championships, however, he earned a wild card into the qualifying of the ATP Scottsdale event. That he won but two games is beside the point. As a junior, he cannot be courted in person, but he will be one of the most sought-after players in the country next fall. Because coaches know he is not even considering turning professional, any and all top programs will try to find a scholarship for him. I haven't seen him play since last August in Kalamazoo, when he lost (twice) to the very talented 16-year-old from Southern California, Michael McClune, in the 16s division. Kronauge still has a lot of physical maturing to do, making his recent results all the more impressive.

    Saturday, February 19, 2005

    Young, 15, gets pass to pro tennis event

    Young, 15, gets pass to pro tennis event

    Due to technical problems, subscribers didn't receive emails the past two days. Because of that, I'm adding this story, even though the IMG/Tennis Channel wild cards were already covered here on Friday.

    Friday, February 18, 2005

    East Valley Tribune | Daily Arizona news

    East Valley Tribune | Daily Arizona news for Chandler, Gilbert, Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale
    Tennis Channel Buys Arizona Tournament
    I am in Chicago this weekend at the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor (more on that later), but I had to correct all the errors at the end of this story. The reporter obviously confused Donald Young with Brendan Evans. Evans isn't the junior anything, as he turns 19 in April. IMG got all of its young clients wildcards-- perhaps as part of the sales agreement?

    Thursday, February 17, 2005

    Murray fears worst over cup debut--Telegraph | Sport |

    Telegraph | Sport | Murray fears worst over cup debut (registration required)

    Andrew Murray, the reigning U.S. Open Junior Champion, does not play much tennis in Great Britain these days, but that has not led to any slackening of interest by the press there. Perhaps Murray is being modest, but usually he errs on the side of candor. Maybe he knows he should be a longshot to represent Britain in a Davis Cup tie. That kind of pressure is best left to the Nadal-types, who have already beaten Roger Federer before playing Davis Cup, and have a plethora of top 50 teammates mitigating the stress.

    Please use the Google search box at left to find other zootennis.com stories on Andrew Murray.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2005

    Tuesday at the Club--commercialappeal.com - Memphis, TN

    commercialappeal.com - Memphis, TN: Tennis (registration required)

    Krajicek Playing Well Lately

    Though this particular sidebar features Michaella Krajicek, she and fellow teenager Nicole Vaidisova are splitting the attention in Memphis this week. Krajicek has the Wimbledon champion brother and Vaidisova the Bollettieri hype and two WTA victories before turning 16. With the other precocious entry, Sesil Karatantcheva, exiting early, Vaidisova's draw has opened up, with only Shaughnessy seeded in her half.


    Tuesday, February 15, 2005

    Young Outgunned --commercialappeal.com - Memphis, TN

    commercialappeal.com - Memphis, TN: Tennis

    From the headline I thought at first this was another story about Donald, but it is a match recap, and a good one, of the Jenkins-Kim and Baker-Mirnyi marathons in Memphis.

    Roddick on Jenkins --commercialappeal.com - Memphis, TN

    commercialappeal.com - Memphis, TN: Tennis

    You'll need to scroll to the bottom of this sidebar, to hear Andy Roddick‘s take on Scoville Jenkins.

    Wozniak-The Rest of The Story (Montreal Gazette - canada.com network)

    Montreal Gazette - canada.com network

    It is as if someone at the Montreal Gazette read my mind. If the CP story was the tip of the iceberg, this is the Antarctic. I have never seen such a detailed accounting of a junior's finances nor have I ever read such a frank assessment of a father/daughter tennis relationship. Call me naive, but I was shocked by the reporter's characterization of tennis as “filled with lurid stories of older men and their young, impressionable charges.” An exaggeration, I hope.

    Monday, February 14, 2005

    Jenkins Makes Debut.....Again

    Scoville Jenkins had to breathe a sigh of relief last week, when the draw at the ATP tour stop in Memphis came out and his name wasn't paired with Andy Roddick’s. The only other time Jenkins received a wild card into a tour event was last August, when, after winning Kalamazoo, he drew the defending U.S. Open champion in the first round. Although an overwhelmed Jenkins took a 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 prime-time televised pasting from the second seed (a result assuaged by Roddick's subsequent blitzing of Nadal, Canas and Robredo), the first African-American to win the Boys National Junior Championship was officially in the spotlight. Drawing Roddick momentarily looked like bad luck, but it raised Jenkins’ profile and gave him an opportunity to see firsthand two sides of the professional tennis media coin--attention will be paid, at least until you lose.

    Though still eligible to play Kalamazoo this year due to a September birthday, Jenkins is not expected to return. He has not played junior tennis since the U.S. Open, where he lost in the quarters, and his results in the Futures and Challengers over the past four months have alternated between good and bad, not unusual for newly minted pros. But he’s experienced no Monfils-like breakthrough.

    And though his 6-4, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4) loss today in Memphis to Kevin Kim, who won Kalamazoo in 1996, isn’t going to be that Top 100 belt-notch, it is encouraging. Kim has been playing very well of late, making the third round in Australia and the quarters in Delray and is currently at a career-high 67th on the entry ranking list.

    I confess to being an unabashed fan of Scoville Jenkins, and have been since watching him play his first matches in Kalamazoo, when he was 14 years old. This link is the story I wrote when he won Kalamazoo. The list of players who have won Kalamazoo is impressive, but not nearly as glittery as the list of those who haven’t. (McEnroe, Agassi, Courier, Sampras and Roddick did not). It provides no assurance that Jenkins will ascend to their level.

    And the exposure he received for his “first” and for playing Andy Roddick hasn’t translated to fortune and only brief fame. (Case in point—I’m writing this entire post without a link because I couldn’t find one. Compare that to Young-Ginepri). So now it’s back to the grind of becoming a self-supporting professional tennis player. If character, work ethic and confidence are part of surviving that stage and moving to the next, Scoville Jenkins needn’t worry. He’ll get there.

    Saturday, February 12, 2005

    Tennis One-The Refreshing Mr. Roddick

    TennisOne - The Refreshing Mr. Roddick

    I'm taking a break from junior tennis today to link to Joel Drucker's recent salute to Andy Roddick. I also want to recommend Jimmy Connors Saved My Life-A Personal Biography, Drucker's courageous and beautifully written memoir, published last fall.

    I had never met Joel Drucker, though I've since learned we were both working at the U.S. Open last year. But after reading his book, I contacted him through his publisher, and received an immediate email from him, and shortly thereafter had a fascinating telephone conversation with him about Connors, Kalamazoo, mental illness, Donald Young, Wimbledon, writing and a host of other topics. I'm very grateful for his advice, his encouragement and especially for his interest in junior tennis. Believe me, that interest is rare in the tennis journalists' club, and this dismissive attitude, while I try not to take it personally, baffles me.

    JCSML is very honest, yet it never descends into gossip or exhibitionism. Although I have never shared Drucker's infatuation with Connors, his description of how it inspired him to pursue his own dream is compelling. Anyone who cares about the sport of tennis, Jimmy Connors fan or no, should read this. We may not have gotten the official biography of Connors that Drucker had hoped to write, but we got something better--the story of how a world-class tennis journalist learned about himself and the game, then used that knowledge to enhance the sport for all of us.

    Friday, February 11, 2005

    Canada's Wozniak wants to finish junior tennis career with a Grand Slam (CP)

    Yahoo! News - Canada's Wozniak wants to finish junior tennis career with a Grand Slam
    Instead of yet another story about Donald Young, how about one on Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada, who shared the winner's platform with him at the Casablanca Cup, and did him one better by winning the girls doubles title too?

    Now ranked third in the world after reaching the semifinals in Australia, Wozniak is looking for a tennis angel. The details in this story aren't unusual, but in these cases, I always find myself asking where is the (insert country name here) Tennis Federation and why aren't they helping this junior? I realize they can't help everyone, but once a player wins a Grade A event and has reached the Top Five in the world, I've got to believe it makes her one of the best juniors in Canada. If she's gotten to her current level training in Quebec with her father as her coach, you'd expect a semester at a tennis academy in Florida to be worth the cost of the tuition.

    Though "no money" is often not the sum total of reasons a junior fails, it shouldn't even be in the equation in developed countries with tennis federations and Olympic sponsors. Am I missing something here?

    Thursday, February 10, 2005

    Moorestown's Sell finds success coaching tennis

    Moorestown's Sell finds success coaching tennis
    I'm delighted to share this profile of one of the USTA's best and brightest, Mike Sell. When you love what you're doing it shows, and Mike radiates joy in coaching tennis. If the USTA's two recently filled vacancies in High Performance coaching come anywhere near his skill and credentials, relax. American tennis development is in capable hands.

    Telegraph | Sport | Tough start for teen sensation put in his place

    Telegraph | Sport | Tough start for teen sensation put in his place
    Circus act? Did he say circus act? That seems a bit of an odd characterization coming from a member of British press; in that case, their coverage of Wimbledon must be deemed Siegfried and Roy-like, with just about that much relevance to the actual tennis tournament they purport to follow. And, no, Young did not sign with IMG at age 10, though I believe he began to wear Nike shoes and apparel then.

    Wednesday, February 9, 2005

    TennisOne - Introducing, Donald Young

    TennisOne - Introducing, Donald Young
    Joel Drucker, one of the world's best tennis writers, saw Donald Young's match against Robby Ginepri at the SAP, and filed this definitive story for TennisOne.com. Though Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated voiced similar sentiments in this week's Mailbag, Drucker thoughtfully expands on it to encompass junior tennis styles and how they develop. And, as an added bonus, he doesn't refer to American tennis as needing a "savior."

    Buchanan Wins Title at Les Petits As

    ©Colette Lewis 2005

    Without the John McEnroe endorsement of Donald Young at a very tender age, would any of us know this much about him? Or would he have been as Chase Buchanan is now, one of the very best 14-and-under tennis players in the world, with unlimited potential and time to develop it outside the glare that is sports celebrity in the United States?

    Donald Young won the Les Petits As, a 14-and-under competition in France that has Nadal and Hingis among its champions, two years ago, at age 13. Buchanan just matched that, at exactly the same age. In beating Lazare Kukhalashvili, (for more on him, see my story News From Over There) in what must have been a terrific match, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, Buchanan has just added another prestigious title to an already stellar junior resume. (See juniortennis.com's compilation by clicking on Buchanan's name when using this link)-- Les Petits As

    I've only seen Buchanan play once, at last year's Jr. Orange Bowl, because he hasn't yet entered Kalamazoo. I spoke with his coach Al Matthews, who works with Buchanan in Columbus Ohio, and he was quietly confident of his protege's chances against anyone in the 14s draw. Matthews mentioned Buchanan's grasp of the game's nuances as one of his strengths, and I had no trouble confirming that in the straight set win I watched. Seeded third, Buchanan eventually lost in the finals to Richard Berankis from Lithuania, who had earlier in the month won the Eddie Herr, and has graduated to the 16-and-unders this year.

    Coping with pressure is undeniably one of the most important skills any junior can learn. But winning international titles and national championships, competing against peers at the highest level of the sport, provides that opportunity. I don't think any junior benefits emotionally from pressure exerted by those outside the competitive arena.

    So what I wish for Bernard Tomic and Chase Buchanan and Ryan Harrison and any other talented tennis prodigy is this: time to learn about the game and themselves, from those with wisdom and purity of motives. To quote John Lennon, "Imagine."

    And no, the irony of this website isn't lost on me. One of my goals in starting this site is to raise the profile of junior tennis. One unintended consequence of this may be to spotlight those who are better off in the relative obscurity now enveloping most of junior tennis. I can only counter with the hope that the intentions of this site's users are as benign as mine.

    Tuesday, February 8, 2005

    Rough debut for teenager MercuryNews.com | 02/08/2005 |

    MercuryNews.com | 02/08/2005 | Rough debut for teenager
    There were several very similar stories filed on the Ginepri-Young match. I chose this one because it features a quote from Mike Sell, the USTA High Performance Coach, who is one of the nicest guys I've met in junior tennis. The quotes from Ginepri are interesting too. There's no question that the biggest difference between juniors and touring pros is the serve, and it is usually age 17 & 18 that it ramps up--or doesn't. Let's hope this brief foray into the ATP gives Young a yardstick and a goal for his forthcoming junior matches. I wish that after his victory at the Australian someone had asked him about winning the Junior Grand Slam this year.
    2/11/05 Update
    The ITF's Faye Andrews was kind enough to let me know that someone did indeed ask Young about his Grand Slam chances after the Australian.
    Q. Gael Monfils almost won the junior Grand Slam. You have one now. Is that a goal of yours?:
    A. Yeah. I think that's most people's goal when they win the first one. See
    how it goes. Yeah, but I'm not going to try to put the extra pressure on

    Monday, February 7, 2005

    Tennis phenom making racket (Inside Bay Area - Sports)

    Inside Bay Area - Sports
    Ah, yes, a fresh face to save American tennis, which hasn't had one since that 22-year-old has-been Andy Roddick. Though the story has an interesting take on the multicultural revolution of sport, the sense of entitlement behind this kind of hand-wringing irritates me. Often these sentiments are voiced by those who aren't truly conversant with tennis and this story certainly doesn't indicate much familiarity with the global nature of the game or the strength of the boys junior program in the United States.

    Herald Sun: Ball's in Fitzgerald's court [07feb05]

    Herald Sun: Ball's in Fitzgerald's court [07feb05]
    Love the headline. Carsten Ball has been steadily moving up the ITF rankings (22 at the end of January), but with four Americans ahead of him (counting Kuznetsov, who is no longer playing junior events), he probably sees his future as a Davis Cup participant more likely on the Australian side of ledger. With his father's background, it isn't that surprising, but all you need to know about the condition of Australian junior boys tennis vs. that of the United States is contained in the reporter declaring this a "huge windfall for Australia."

    HoustonChronicle.com - Tennis Notebook: Future bright for junior champion

    HoustonChronicle.com - Tennis Notebook: Future bright for junior champion
    Wonderful story about guess who? Young beating Courier is news, exhibition or no. And I love the quote from Donald Sr. questioning the significance of Australia. Ditto the reference to the Williamses. One thing that impressed me about Young's debut in Kalamazoo last year was that he played the consolations. It's been my observation that those high profile players who deign to do so genuinely love to play tennis. And as juniors go, profiles don't come much higher than Donald's.

    Sunday, February 6, 2005

    Tennis.com - From the Mouths of Babes

    Tennis.com - (Exp:5:29:31 PM) - ProGame - Full Story

    Yet another story about Donald Young, this one actually interested in his tennis skills, as well as his youthful candor. I can't really argue with the comparisons to McEnroe, but I will object to the inclusion of volleying as a significant part of Young's game. He spends very little time at the net in singles, and though his touch is beyond argument, his relative lack of success in doubles suggests he needs work in that facet of his game (or maybe he just needs a regular doubles partner).

    Saturday, February 5, 2005

    The Sunday Mail QLD: Look out, Lleyton! [06feb05]


    It was just a matter of time before Bernard Tomic began getting this kind of attention. He was the first 12-year-old I ever saw in sanctioned competition (I consider Sampras 13 when he first played Kalamazoo, as his birthday was just days away); I saw Tomic's semifinal and final matches at the Eddie Herr last year and it took me about one set to realize that he was not playing the same game as the other 12-year-olds. And when he lost one game in the final, absolutely dominating a fine player from Italy, I was certain there was no one in his age group who could challenge him. Had I lived in London, I would have run straight to a betting shop and put a substantial wager on him for the upcoming Jr. Orange Bowl--I would, in fact, have bet my house that he'd win it.

    I sat next to Robert Seguso for a few games at the Jr. Orange Bowl, played at Miami's Tropical Park. His son Ridley had the misfortune to draw Tomic in the first round, after having lost to him in the second round at the Eddie Herr 6-2, 6-0. Though Ridley played very well the first few games, the result was never really in doubt, and Tomic won 6-2, 6-1. When Robert told me, matter-of-factly, 'this kid is going to win the tournament', he wasn't making a prediction, he was simply confirming what we both knew.
    Tomic never lost more than 4 games in any set during the tournament. The 6-3, 6-3 second round win over Shaun Bernstein sent me to Bernstein's consolation match, just to see the skills of a player who could win six games from Tomic. (Bernstein is a very promising player from New York.)

    It is not just Tomic's considerable skills and shot selection that impress; it is his self-possession, his confidence, his almost eerie composure that suggests he is beyond special. Of course, he never really faces a big point, so perhaps poise comes more easily in that scenario. I have noticed that he's playing 14-and-under and 16-and-under tournaments in Australia now. He obviously has no more reason to play 12-and-under events, and needs the challenge of older competitors. But I appreciate that he played and won in his own age division, assuming the pressure of being the indisputable top player there, before moving up to post pubescent competition. I would love to see him play the U.S. 12-year-old phenom Ryan Harrison, who is just a few months older than Tomic, but Harrison has been playing in older age divisions and competed in the 14s at the Jr. Orange Bowl. I'm already looking forward to next December, when that match is likely to be played during the Jr. Orange Bowl 14s.

    Friday, February 4, 2005

    Young Ready to Fulfil Promise -Times Online - Sport

    Times Online - Sport
    It is true that Young's tennis skills are light years removed from Roddick's. But with Roddick's notable lack of success against, admittedly, only Federer and Hewitt, he should be more aware than anyone that power is not the only way to win a tennis match. I've told anyone who would listen that I think Young's game can be compared to that of Martina Hingis. Here's hoping he's not out of the game by age 22

    Thursday, February 3, 2005

    Stakhovsky Downs Ancic in Milan

    ©Colette Lewis 2005
    The Monfils bandwagon has been overbooked since his win over Enqvist in Paris last year, but you could still get a bargain fare on the Sergiy Stakhovsky ATP Express--until today. Stakhovsky, 19, has been producing some impressive results in European challengers, bringing his ranking up to near 300, but he's really emerged this week after qualifying in Milan. The Ukrainian beat Christophe Rochus in the first round and then stunned third seed Mario Ancic, 7-6 in the third today.

    Stakhovsky was the forgotten junior at the 2004 U.S. Open, when the British press treated his loss in the junior finals as a mere footnote to their coronation of Andrew Murray as the prince of potential (see my [more balanced] story in the September archives). But if you saw Stakhovsky beat Donald Young in the first round or Andreas Beck in the semifinals, as I did, you would be unlikely to dismiss him that easily. His strategy in the Murray match was dubious, as he seemed unaware that Murray's court quickness would negate the drop shot arsenal that was so effective against Beck, a powerful baseliner. And he served poorly, as he pointed out repeatedly in his post match news conference (no British press in attendance).

    Am I surprised he beat Ancic? Yes. Who can take that giant step from junior success to pro impact and who cannot remains the sport's supreme mystery. But who doesn't love a whodunnit?

    Wednesday, February 2, 2005

    Head Captures Junior Titles at Melbourne

    HEAD Team Elite
    It's a slow junior news day when you feature a PR release from a racquet company, but it does provide a different perspective (they really should find a different font though)

    Tuesday, February 1, 2005

    Daily News - Jimbo v Mac again

    Daily News - Jimbo v Mac again
    If anyone knows that "six to eight weeks a year" doesn't a tennis player make, it's Jimmy Connors. Whether his intensity and competitive ferocity can be translated to British juniors remains to be seen, but I can see him in a Bobby Knight-like cameo here.