Sunday, July 3, 2005

Americans Win Boys' Doubles:: Wimbledon.org

Americans Win Boys' Doubles--

Perhaps understandably, as Andrew Kennaugh is British, this story is told from the losers' perspective, but I've got to be careful about calling the kettle black here, as I write nearly everything on this site from an American point of view. And it doesn't hurt to give the losers their due, especially when they played two matches on Sunday, winning the first in a 15-13 final set, just to get to the Championship match.

Jesse Levine and Michael Shabaz are a rarity in boys junior doubles, where most world-class players change partners more often than Tom Cruise. The two 17-year-olds have been playing together for nearly a year now, and have won the Grade 1 Eddie Herr and the North American Closed and made numerous finals and semifinals at other top junior events. Despite their impressive record over the past ten months, they weren't seeded at Wimbledon, and didn't even have to beat a seeded team to win. The doubles seeding was almost comically inept, focusing as it did on the rankings of the players as individuals (which is hardly a proven approach) to the detriment of established, consistently good teams like Levine and Shabaz. Result: One seeded team made it out of the first round. (But before I savage the seeding process any further, let me point out that the one and two seeded teams in girls doubles met in the finals, with the top seeds winning).

Doubles seeding is a crapshoot, and not just at the junior level. The Wimbledon men's doubles title was won by Huss and Moodie, who had to qualify, and the mixed doubles championship match featured two unseeded teams. Could this capriciousness be part of the reason the ATP has pretty much thrown the doubles game as we know it overboard?