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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Miscellaneous Open Notes

Miscellaneous Open Notes--

  • First congratulations to Scott Oudsema and Alex Kuznetsov who were given a main draw doubles wild card and made the most of it, defeating Tommy Haas and Alex Waske in straight sets today. It looks like Kuznetsov is recovering from his broken leg in record time, and a couple of warmup doubles matches are just the thing to prepare him for the Junior Open. Despite not having played all summer, he is still ranked in the ATP Top 500, so it will be interesting to see if he's seeded by the ITF.

  • The men's doubles draw also features the wild card team of Sam Querrey and Donald Young, a pairing that appears to be a USTA concoction. To my knowledge, they've never played together, and although each has had many partners the past year, they are still searching for that Levine-Shabaz kind of chemistry. The latter did not receive a main draw doubles wild card, by the way.

  • A belated congratulations to Vania King, who, like Andy Murray, has gotten to the second round of the U.S. Open as a qualifier. King's run is more stunning, as she needed a wild card to get into qualifying, but I've never forgotten what Annie Paton of juniortennis.com said about King at last year's Orange Bowl. (I'm paraphrasing). "Other players fear Vania, nobody wants to play her, she just doesn't realize herself how good she is. Once she does, watch out." It can't hurt having a brother who won Kalamazoo back-to-back and, after graduating from Duke, is now plying his trade on the Pro Circuit.

  • In addition to Peter Bodo's Tennisworld, Tennis Magazine's managing editor Steve Tignor is also writing a blog from the U.S. Open and his opening paragraph on Day 1 had me laughing out loud. I now consider myself a veteran of tournament first days, and I always feel adrift and anxious, instead of reveling in the sheer pleasure of the situation. I'm vowing that I'll take a better attitude to the outer courts at the NTC on Sunday.

  • And I can't resist this upbeat New York Times (registration required) story about Scoville Jenkins, who plays Nadal tonight in Arthur Ashe. The difference in talent between his first round opponent, Bastl, and Nadal will be evident, but Jenkins has proven his grit and fitness, and not just Monday evening. I haven't seen him play since last year's U.S. Junior Open, but I understand his serve is better now. Alas, so is Nadal's. But as Gilles Muller so vividly demonstrated last night, just going out to have fun can produce some surprising results.

  • Tuesday, August 30, 2005

    Crowd Pleaser: Jenkins Wins Five-Set Thriller::Tennis Week

    Crowd Pleaser: Jenkins Wins Five-Set Thriller::Tennis Week-- And now for something completely different.....African-American teenager from Atlanta wins a thrilling five-set match in main draw of U.S. Open. I was cheering like crazy last night, when USA showed a few glimpses of Scoville Jenkins' tiebreaker, from what looked to be a handheld video camera. The producer could have noticed, at around say, the four-hour mark, that this might be a match worth watching and gotten a real camera over to court 4, but Jenkins will get his evening in the spotlight on Wednesday, when he plays Nadal in Arthur Ashe stadium.


    Peter Bodo once again cites zootennis, but you should read his take on Donald Young anyway, because it is both considered and balanced, quite an accomplishment amidst the chaos of a Grand Slam media center. The one contention that I firmly disagree with, although I hear it often, is that Young dominates junior tennis and can no longer find competition there.

    Young is a great junior player, but dominating was what Gael Monfils was last year--winning three of four Grand Slams. Young, after winning Australia,--which features a much weaker field due to the expense of travel to it--lost in the first round at the Italian Open, the second round in Paris, and in the semifinals at Wimbledon. I have seen him play six top-level junior events, and he has won one of them--Kalamazoo this year. He is always a threat to win, and is confident he can, but he is not playing at a level above the other top juniors.

    The media circus is not about to fold its tents on the subject of his future, but if I had a wish, it would be that he dominates, Monfils-style, junior tennis next year and then plays, and wins, enough Futures and Challengers to earn his place in the draws of all the Grand Slams in 2007.

    Another respected columnist, who writes only occasionally about tennis, Ian O'Connor of USA Today (and the Westchester Journal News) also watched Young's match yesterday, which led to this column. It certainly provides yet another reason to admire Andy Roddick.

    Monday, August 29, 2005

    The US's great Young hopeful - The Boston Globe (free registration required)

    The US's great Young hopeful - The Boston Globe-- Not too many Boston Globe stories are datelined Kalamazoo, but Globe sportswriter Amalie Benjamin was indeed here during the Nationals working on this piece on Donald Young. It seems that every publication with national aspirations feels a compulsion to take a stab at the phenomenon Young has become. But I always learn something or gain an insight I didn't have previously, even though I'm sure the "not-another-one?" dismay registers on my face when I hear who they are profiling.

    During Young's straight set loss to qualifier Giorgio Galimberti this afternoon in the first round of the Open, USA Network's Ted Robinson and Jim Courier had a very thoughtful conversation about Young's development and prospects. (Rather curious that John McEnroe chose to vanish the moment they began coverage of the Young match). Courier was quick to point out that this was a wild card Young had earned with his Kalamazoo victory when Robinson seemed to paint it with the same brush as the other six ATP wildcards Young has accepted this year. But if you saw the packed stands at Court 11, you know what the tournament directors of those six events were thinking. It will be interesting to see if the New York fans are as eager to see him in the junior event.

    Sunday, August 28, 2005

    Steak and ice cream is Andy's reward::Telegraph | Sport |

    Steak and ice cream is Andy's reward-- No, not Andy Roddick, Andy Murray. After reading this "blog" of Murray's mother Judy, it's no mystery where he gets his candor and verve. A textured and lively review of the four days of qualifying, she's made this as much fun to read as anything a bona fide tennis journalist has produced leading up to the Open.

    In a Times story today, Murray also displays an unwillingness to take the high road when there are scores to be settled. I don't doubt that he's been dissed by those he mentions, and the rudeness he cites is appalling, but relax a bit Andy--everyone in Great Britain's tennis establishment will be taking orders from you soon enough.

    Saturday, August 27, 2005

    Oudsema has look for Open::Kalamazoo Gazette

    Oudsema has look for Open-- Pam Shebest manages to coax a few quotes from Scott Oudsema, but nothing specific about his being passed over for a qualifying or main draw wild card. Nor does his agent, Colin Smeeton of SFX, have anything to say about the snub. But there's plenty about his marketability in this story. Also, here's a link to Tennis Magazine's interview with him (last story on the page) for their U.S. Open preview issue.

    Friday, August 26, 2005

    US Open Qualifying::collegeandjuniortennis.com

    US Open Qualifying-- I don't arrive in Flushing Meadow until next weekend, but my friend and colleague Marcia Frost is on the scene, covering the qualifying tournament. Andy Murray earned his way in, not losing a set, as did another junior, Vania King, although she lost three sets en route. Marcia has followed King's dramatic journey all three days; I'm sure they are both glad to have the weekend off.

    Thursday, August 25, 2005

    Teenager Glatch reaches semifinals at Forest Hills:: TENNIS - CBS SportsLine.com

    Teenager Glatch reaches semifinals at Forest Hills:: TENNIS - CBS SportsLine.com-- Alexa Glatch lost in the girls 18s final to top seed Mary Gambale two weeks ago in San Jose, but she's had no trouble this week in one of the two WTA events being played in the New York area. Glatch beat the top seed Akiko Morigami, the WTA's 43rd ranked player, yesterday, and followed with a straight set win in the quarters today over 71st ranked Martina Sucha. Granting her a U.S. Open wild card seems prescient now.

    Wednesday, August 24, 2005

    US Junior Open Wild Cards

    US Junior Open Wild Cards--As the Andrew Murray wild card furor demonstrates, everyone has something to say about wild cards. Here's the US Open Junior main draw list:

    WC Arnould Dylan USA
    WC Hamui Johnny USA
    WC Hunt Jamie USA
    WC Lajola Dennis USA
    WC McClune Michael USA
    WC Schnugg Nathaniel USA
    WC Seguso Holden USA
    WC Spencer Wil USA

    There are a few surprises,--Matt Bruch, Spencer Vegosen and Marcus Fugate relegated to qualifying despite their Top 100 ITF rankings; Arnould, Seguso, Hamui and Lajola getting wild cards despite undistinguished performances in Kalamazoo.

    Here's the US Open Junior qualifying wild card list:

    WC Buchanan Chase USA
    WC Chin Waylon USA
    WC Hochwalt Tyler USA
    WC Jenkins Jarmere USA
    WC Nevolo Dennis USA
    WC Niki Takuto JPN

    If anyone out there knows who Niki Takuto is, and why he got a wild card, I'd love to know. I'm a big fan of the other five players, all of them 16 or younger. I think Hochwalt could have gotten the nod over Hamui or Lajola for a main draw spot, as he did have two impressive Legg-Mason qualifying wins AND won the 16s Clays. But the real injustice is the omission, from either list, of Steve Forman, who has had an outstanding summer and was runnerup in the 16s in Kalamazoo. He's proven he can play with the best of his age group. He should have been given a wild card.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2005

    Murray and rock 'n' roll New York are made for each other::Telegraph (registration required)

    Telegraph | Sport | Murray and rock 'n' roll New York are made for each other --
    Haven't posted an Andy Murray story in a while, and this one looks to explain why Murray prefers the U.S. Open to Wimbledon. Short answer: youth. While the controversy swirls over his failure to received a wild card, I've been told that yes, Philippoussis was a straight trade for a U.S. wild card for Australia, but that the LTA /AELTC wouldn't agree to a similar deal regarding Murray. Seems a bit unsporting of them to give all their wild cards to marginal ATP pros and then let the USTA take the heat for excluding their one legitimate candidate for tennis success when he needs assistance in New York.

    Monday, August 22, 2005

    Jankovic upset; Jenkins notches first ATP win (AP)

    Jankovic upset; Jenkins notches first ATP win--
    I visit the tennis-x.com website occasionally even though their junior coverage/knowledge is unimpressive, to put it kindly. And putting it kindly is something they themselves seldom do. They'll say just about anything about anybody, (today's barb calls attention to the weight gain of Federer's girlfriend) and are the embodiment of the good and bad facets of the wild and woolly world of blogging. After the US Open wild cards were announced they criticized the USTA for giving Donald Young and Scoville Jenkins spots and overlooking Andy Murray. I agree that Murray would have been a good choice, over say, Gambill, but Young earned his by winning Kalamazoo, and Jenkins has been steadily moving up the ATP rankings in the past year.

    Jenkins' win, over Nieminen, is his first over anyone ranked in the Top 100 and gives the USTA more credibility than tennis-x has right now on the subject of U.S. Open wild cards.

    Sunday, August 21, 2005

    Sundling the lone titlist in T.O. trio:: Ventura County Star (registration required)

    Sundling the lone titlist in T.O. trio:--There is no question that JT Sundling is the gold (ball) standard in boys 14s right now (and I have to wonder why he wasn't representing the U.S. in the 14 & unders in the Czech Republic at the World Junior Tennis Championships). But I wholeheartedly agree with his decision to play the 16s at the Winters, even though he would be going for the 14s Grand Slam. As his loss of only 18 games in seven matches shows, he's more than ready for the next level.

    In the section about Querrey, I have a couple comments. I don't understand how he is going to play both the Pilot Pen and U.S. Open men's qualifying. The two events run simultaneously. And as Rhiannon Potkey well knows, he won't be 18 until October.

    Saturday, August 20, 2005

    The Best Player I Haven't Seen--

    The only 12s tournaments I've attended were last year's Eddie Herr and Jr. Orange Bowl and Jack Sock wasn't among the entrants. But he just completed the 12s Grand Slam-- winning all four USTA events in singles and doubles, an astonishing achievement. I know they're gearing up for football in his home town of Lincoln Nebraska, but couldn't the Journal Star have done a little better than this?

    Sock wins 10th gold ball

    Lincoln 12-year-old Jack Sock completed his sweep of this year's four national championships by defeating Emmett Egger of Issaquah, Wash., 6-4, 6-0 in the finals of the USTA 12-and-under Hard Court Tennis Championships in North Little Rock, Ark., Sunday.

    Sock also finished off a Grand Slam in doubles as he and his partner Mika De Coster of Coto De Caza, Calif., downed Christian Harrison of New Braunfels, Texas, and Robbie Mudge of Huntersville, N.C., 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 in the finals. Sock has won the doubles title in the last six national tournaments he's played.

    This was Sock's last tournament in the 12-and-under division. Sock, who now lives and trains at the Wolf Tennis Academy in Overland Park, Kan., turns 13 next month.

    Friday, August 19, 2005

    Our Most Memorable Moments of 2005 (ustaboys.com)

    Our Most Memorable Moments of 2005 (ustaboys.com)--For five years, we've been coming up with this MMM story, and it is always fun to sort through the hundreds of digital photos and all the sights and sounds that echo in our heads. The Zoo Movie made this year more special than most, but the crew was usually so unobtrusive that it didn't get in the way of the drama of the tennis.

    Thursday, August 18, 2005

    US Open Men's Wild Cards Awarded To James Blake, Former Top 10 Player Mark Philippoussis, Jan-Michael Gambill and a Talented Group Of Young Americans

    US Open Men's Wild Cards Awarded To James Blake, Former Top 10 Player Mark Philippoussis, Jan-Michael Gambill and a Talented Group Of Young Americans--
    Except for Gambill, I can't really quibble with any of the wild card selections. I assume Philippoussis getting one for our Open means that Australia will reciprocate next January. But am I the only one shocked that the face of Open clothier Polo, Scott Oudsema, isn't getting a qualifying wild card and juniors Clayton, Levine, Smyczek and Querrey are?

    Wednesday, August 17, 2005

    US Open Junior Acceptance Lists Announced (usta.com)

    US Open Junior Acceptance Lists Announced-- I'm a little confused by this story as it touts Robin Haase of the Netherlands as a favorite, but he's not showing on the acceptance list. Also intriguing is a name at the bottom of the list, Alex Kuznetsov, who broke his leg in an auto accident in May. Is this his Triple A rehab assignment, or just wishful thinking?
    UPDATE: I've been told that Kuznetsov is back on the court and practicing.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2005

    Documentary-in-progress features teen tennis stars in 'real' reality show (Kalamazoo Gazette)

    MLive.com: Search A feature about the "The Zoo" movie, with a more details about the production and distribution. One correction--Jesse Levine's mother's name is Brenda, not Debra.

    17-year-old Querrey wins in Bronx opener (AP)

    mlive.com: NewsFlash - 17-year-old Querrey wins in Bronx opener--
    Glad to hear that Querrey won his first match at the Bronx Challenger--I was a little worried that he might be as tired as I was after Kalamazoo. He is, after all, 17, though he is most assuredly NOT 6-foot-3. He's six-foot five. And he's ranked 14th in the world in juniors, not 18th. With all the speculation about whether Young would get a main draw wild card if he didn't win Kalamazoo, I never once heard anyone float the idea that Querrey might. Until now.

    Monday, August 15, 2005

    Bright Spots on a Dark Horizon:: PETERBODOSTENNISWORLD.COM

    PETERBODOSTENNISWORLD.COM--After an exhausting week at the world's best junior tennis tournament (I haven't seen them all, but I've seen enough to say that with utter conviction), I was in dire need of a big virtual hug. Peter Bodo provided that today, citing me and my finals story in his daily blog post. I thank you Peter, and junior tennis thanks you too.

    Sunday, August 14, 2005

    Young Captures 18s National Championship with Three Set Win over Querrey (ustaboys.com)

    Young Captures 18s National Championship with Three Set Win over Querrey --
    And earns his wild card into the U.S. Open main draw in a couple of weeks.

    Schnugg Battles Back to add 16 Singles Title to Doubles Championship (ustaboys.com)

    News - View Article - Schnugg Battles Back to add 16 Singles Title to Doubles Championship--
    Nate Schnugg had the toughest draw in the 16s singles tournament, beating--from the round of 16 on-- the 10th, fourth, second and third seeds to win the title. Add the doubles title to that, and Nate Schnugg is definitely the King of Kalamazoo.

    Saturday, August 13, 2005

    Young & Querrey Battle for 18s Title Sunday; Forman and Schnugg Meet for 16s Crown

    News - View Article - Young & Querrey Battle for 18s Title Sunday; Forman and Schnugg Meet for 16s Crown--
    If you don't feel badly for Jesse Levine after losing TWO matches today 7-6 in the third, your heart must be made of stone.

    Friday, August 12, 2005

    Top Seeds Chart Course Toward Finals (ustaboys.com)

    News - View Article - Top Seeds Chart Course Toward Finals--
    A note to subscribers: Technical difficulties the past two days have resulted in no email alerts being sent. Please visit ustaboys.com for daily wrapup stories of the USTA Boys 16 & 18 National Championships.

    Thursday, August 11, 2005

    Rain Disrupts Quarterfinal Singles; 16 Doubles Quarterfinals Move Indoors (ustaboys.com)

    News - View Article - Rain Disrupts Quarterfinal Singles; 16 Doubles Quarterfinals Move Indoors--
    It was an gloomy, damp day in Kalamazoo, not what we wanted as Executive Producer of "The Zoo" movie, Jim Courier, made his first visit to Kalamazoo since his 1987 appearance in the championship match. All the rain Thursday means that Friday will be packed with great matches---weather permitting.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2005

    Top Seeds Bend But Don't Break in Wednesday's Fifth Round (ustaboys.com)

    News - View Article - Top Seeds Bend But Don't Break in Wednesday's Fifth Round--

    Wednesday is always a very long and eventful day, but fortunately, the skies cleared early and all matches went on without a hitch. There was some great tennis played today at Stowe Stadium, with still more to come.

    Tuesday, August 9, 2005

    Shields Pulls Annual Nats Upset in Fourth Round Tuesday (ustaboys.com)

    News - View Article - Shields Pulls Annual Nats Upset in Fourth Round Tuesday--

    Clancy Shields is once again the big story in Kalamazoo. Wednesday he'll face Jamie Hunt for a place in the quarterfinals.

    Monday, August 8, 2005

    Neilly Eludes Upset in 18s, but Guzick Succumbs in 16s (ustaboys.com)

    News - View Article - Neilly Eludes Upset in 18s, but Guzick Succumbs in 16s--
    A rogue thunderstorm played havoc with a heavy match schedule on Monday, so this story doesn't address the late results. Click here for updated draw results.

    Sunday, August 7, 2005

    Seeds Struggle but move on in 16s Second Round Play Sunday (ustaboys.com)

    News - View Article - Seeds Struggle but move on in 16s Second Round Play Sunday-- The weather certainly wasn't to blame for the sluggish performance by most of the top seeds in the 16s division Sunday. It was once again sunny, high 80s, low humidity. But facing the weekend crowds at Kalamazoo can be daunting for any 15 or 16 year old, making Mateusz Kecki's clinic in his debut match on Stowe's front courts even more impressive.

    Tyler Hochwalt: Junior Spotlight of the Week (usta.com)

    Tyler Hochwalt: Junior Spotlight of the Week-- I haven't been able to visit all my usual sites with any regularity since Kalamazoo has begun, so I thank Tyler Hochwalt's mom Debbie for mentioning this. But she laughed when husband Bill was cited as a "touring" pro. He believes "teaching" is the appropriate adjective.

    Saturday, August 6, 2005

    Sondhu Drops Seguso in second round 18 singles upset (ustaboys.com)

    News - View Article - Sondhu Drops Seguso in second round 18 singles upset-- Today's weather was nothing short of perfect and the tennis was exceptional too, as we got a look at most of the top seeds for the first time. Few were tested, only one top 16 seed lost, and Young and Querrey drew large and appreciative crowds. On Sunday, the 16s seeds begin play and the 18 doubles matches will get interesting.

    Friday, August 5, 2005

    Dent, Philippoussis Draw Full House for RX Optical/National City Exhibition (ustaboys.com)

    News - View Article - Dent, Philippoussis Draw Full House for RX Optical/National City Exhibition
    Friday is always a long, long day with matches starting at 8 a.m. and the exhibition running until 10 p.m. But with two tennis superstars, a wheelchair tennis demonstration, the Wimbledon Junior doubles champions and perfect weather, it ranked right up there with the best opening evening I can remember.

    Thursday, August 4, 2005

    Courier behind the scenes in `The Zoo' ::(Kalamazoo Gazette)

    Courier behind the scenes in `The Zoo' -- Jim Courier talked to local daily newspaper reporter Pam Shebest a few days ago about the documentary that has Kalamazoo buzzing. This is part of the special section that the Gazette does every year prior to the tournament.

    Wednesday, August 3, 2005

    NCAA tennis faces international issue:: Star-Telegram | 08/02/2005 |(registration required)

    Star-Telegram | 08/02/2005 | NCAA tennis faces international issue-- In keeping with the college tennis theme, here's an interesting story on the globalization (or foreign domination, depending on how you look at it) of college tennis. On a normal, quiet day in tennis, I'd have a lot more to say about this, but the day before registration at Kalamazoo is not conducive to reflective thinking.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2005

    Open The Door to College Players

    Before I get too wrapped up in the Kalamazoo tournament, I wanted to direct readers to a column by friend and colleague Marcia Frost, of collegeandjuniortennis.com.

    Frost's column urging the USTA to rethink its US Open wild card direction appears in the current issue of Racquet Sports Industry. It is available via pdf format, through a link on the itatennis.com home page. There are encouraging signs that the USTA is considering college an important option in player development, starting with the Collegiate committee and the newly created position of Senior Director, Junior and Collegiate Competition. Let's hope Marcia's suggestions are considered.

    Monday, August 1, 2005

    Young, Lajola Head Strong Fields at 2005 Nats (ustaboys.com)

    News - View Article - Young, Lajola Head Strong Fields at 2005 Nats--
    I'll be doing a lot of linking to the Kalamazoo website in the next two weeks, much as I did when I was writing daily wrapup stories for the Clay Courts. Stay tuned, we're in for a great tournament!

    Reston's Simmonds Plays In to Main Draw:: (Washington Post--registration required)

    Reston's Simmonds Plays In to Main Draw--
    I'm glad to see Daniel Lyght, who covered the Clay Courts for the Washington Post, is still on the tennis beat, with this story about Phillip Simmonds qualifying for the Legg-Mason and Tyler Hochwalt falling just short. I hope he'll be assigned to the Alex Clayton vs. Bobby Reynolds match in the main draw on Tuesday, because he'll have a context another reporter would lack.

    Nats Draws now posted

    Kalamazoo draws are now available at ustaboys.com Click here to view.