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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Six U.S. Players Reach Round of 16 at Les Petits As

There have been a lot of interesting comments posted recently on whether the Junior Orange Bowl or Les Petits As is the most prestigious title for 14-and-under tennis players. I'm leaning toward Les Petits As myself, although I've never been there, just because Hanna Orlik felt that she needed to play it, even though she won the Eddie Herr and Junior Orange Bowl back-to-back last year.

To no one's surprise, Orlik is through to the round of 16, as are all four U.S. girls who made the trip to Europe--Grace Min, Nicole Gibbs, Ellen Tsay and Sloan Stephens. Min, a qualifier, upset the third seed Wednesday in straight sets, while Tsay, who also qualified, took out the 15th seed, losing only two games in the process. Stephens, seeded 12th, and Gibbs, at No. 8, also posted easy wins on Wednesday. Gibbs and Stephens are paired in doubles, and the No. 4 seeds advanced to the quarterfinals with a straight set win on Wednesday.

Emmett Egger and Christian Harrison, who lost in the doubles final at Teen Tennis last week, have also reached the quarterfinals in doubles and the round of 16 in singles. Egger, seeded 7th, and Harrison, seeded 8th, have recorded straight-set victories the past two days in singles and survived a third set super tiebreak in their first round doubles match. The sixth seeds won in straight sets Wednesday to set up a quarterfinal clash with the third seeded team from the Czech Republic on Thursday.

The tournament's website is here.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Junior Tennis documentary coming soon (no, not that one)

Still no word on the release date of the Jim Courier-backed documentary on junior tennis, tentatively titled The Zoo which was filmed throughout 2005 and culminated in Kalamazoo that August.

But there is another documentary on its way, called 50,000 Balls, that focuses on junior tennis from the 12-and-under perspective. It was filmed last spring and summer, and although there isn't a release date yet, there is a website where you can view a trailer and get other information regarding the film. To visit the website, click here.

Hoop Dreams set the bar for sports documentaries awfully high, but tennis has plenty of inherent drama too, and I'm glad there are entrepreneurs willing to take a shot at getting it on film.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Win gives UF's Levine a reason to skip class:: Florida Sun-Sentinel

Jesse Levine is on Florida's roster and attending classes, but he may not make the Gators first dual match Wednesday night. This story details his success in the qualifying rounds at the ATP Delray Beach International Tennis Championships, and in the convoluted format that they are experimenting with there (can you tell I'm not a fan?), I think he's advanced to the round robin portion of the competition.

According to this ATP website story, both Levine and Sam Querrey have gotten through the "main draw elimination" phase of the event, and will join the likes of James Blake and Tommy Haas in round robin play. Querrey absolutely crushed Konstantinos Economidis of Greece, losing only two games, while Levine had little difficulty with Poland's Lukasz Kubot. Levine's 6-3, 6-2 victory was his first win at the ATP level.

Andy Jackson spoke to the media in his weekly press conference, but no one asked him how Levine's wins might affect the likelihood of his remaining in school. The fact that the Gators were given the top spot among all the 2007 recruiting classes didn't figure in the conversation either. Jackson certainly can't be happy about the Delray tournament's website referring to Levine as the "former University of Florida star." Ouch.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Memorable Saturday for Michigan Tennis

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Ann Arbor--

When we arrived at the Varsity Tennis Center Saturday evening the atmosphere was already upbeat. Although the 400-plus fans had yet to gather for the men's match with Texas, the buzz from the women's exciting 4-3 upset over twelfth-ranked Vanderbilt earlier in the day was still in the air. Amanda Augustus, the new head coach at Michigan, could hardly have asked for a more satisfying win in her debut. The mgoblue site has the details of the women's match here.

The Longhorns also arrived in Ann Arbor ranked twelfth, so the Wolverines, at No. 32, were definitely underdogs, but their 5-2 win was so decisive that it seemed as if the rankings were reversed.

The doubles point was closely contested and decided late, but Michigan won all three matches. The nation's second-ranked doubles team, Michigan's Brian Hung and Matko Maravic kept the maize-clad fans in suspense but ultimately capitalized when they needed to, taking a 9-7 win from Miguel Reyes Varela and Jon Wiegand of Texas and clinching the point. At No. 2 doubles, Ryan Heller and Andrew Mazlin got an early break and cruised past Bernhard Deussner and Josh Zavala 8-5 for the first Michigan win. And although they were down a break almost from the beginning, freshmen George Navas and Mike Sroczynski fought back to take the No. 3 match in a tiebreak 8-7(6).

The team that wins the doubles point can experience a letdown once singles play begins, but it certainly didn't happen to the Wolverines. They quickly took the first set at No. 6, No. 3, No. 2 and No. 5, and it was Mazlin at No. 5 that gave the Michigan a 2-0 lead, with his 6-4, 6-2 win over Jonah Kane-West.

I watched the No. 1 singles contest between Hung and Dimitar Kutrovsky, and although Hung had the advantage in experience--senior vs. freshman--it was very tight match. Kutrovsky, from Bulgaria, hits two-handed on both sides, mostly flat and hard. Hung didn't want to trade those type of strokes with the 19-year-old right-hander, so he hit slices and topspin and came to the net on occasion. Hung had the advantage in first serves, and in several tight spots he cracked aces to get himself back in the game. His 6-4, 6-3 win came just seconds before his doubles partner Maravic gave Michigan its fourth point with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Milan Mihailovic.

It was one of those dual match moments when you can't sit down, and many of the fans were moving from one side of the tennis center's second level to the other in an attempt to view the points that would decide both the matches and give Michigan an insurmountable lead. (Texas won at No. 4, with Varela beating Navas in straight sets, while the other two matches, at No. 3 and No. 6, were completed with 12-point tiebreaks in lieu of a third set.)

Bruce Berque, now in his third year as Wolverine head coach, was pleased with his team's performance, and credited the women's team for inspiring his players.

"We had a brief hit this morning, and stuck around for their win, and then they were here for us. They are so supportive. It's a good day for Michigan tennis."

Now 3-0, the Wolverines host Western Michigan and Harvard next weekend, and Berque knows the win over Texas gives them more than just a dual match victory.

"It's a good win over a strong team and a great program. It gives us a lot of confidence atarting the season."

For a complete recap, see mgoblue.com.

Michigan's win over Texas wasn't the only upset of the weekend in men's tennis. Boise State defeated Stanford 5-1 in Palo Alto on Saturday. The details are here.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Unseeded Klein Wins One for The Home Team

Australians didn't have much to cheer about in Melbourne during the second week, but they can claim at least one champion--Brydan Klein, who defeated No. 2 seed Jonathan Eysseric of France 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 in Saturday night's boys final.

Klein, who just turned 17 last month, played lots of junior events in Europe last summer, but did not travel to New York for the U.S. Open junior championships in September; instead he stayed in Australia and concentrated on Futures events. Such was his success that he got his ranking inside the ATP Top 1000, and despite being unseeded, he was far from unknown in the Australian tennis community.

Klein's win over Eysseric had to be especially satisfying, as the 16-year-old from France had beaten him in straight sets in the quarterfinals of the Grade 1 Nottinghill tournament last week. And it is widely agreed that he will be invited to join the Australian Davis Cup team for its tie next month in Belgium. It was an honor conferred on Nick Lindahl last year, after he reached the boys' final, and according to this account, Klein was considered last year, but his temper cost him that opportunity.

There was also some junior tennis history made in the boys' final, one I hadn't thought of when I briefly mentioned last night that the match would be played in Rod Laver Arena. It was the first junior match to use Hawk-eye, and apparently Klein used it to advantage--twice. That tidbit comes from this match account at The Age. There is very little available about the girls final, since there was no Australian in it, and the above story mentions Pavlyuchenkova having match points in the opening set, so maybe it's just as well there wasn't more detail. I urge you to read Andrew D's comment on the girls' final below.

The ITF covers both matches, of course and has over a hundred photos from last week's play available for viewing.

For a local take on Madison Brengle's charge to the final, and her parents trying to follow it from Delaware, click here.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Pavlyuchenkova Defends Australian Open Title

Although I obviously didn't see a single point of the Australian Open Junior Girls Championship match, I can say that it was much more exciting than the Serena Williams demolition of Maria Sharapova I just watched on TV.

Pavlyuchenkova defeated Madison Brengle 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3) to win her second straight Australian Open and her second consecutive Junior Slam; she won the U.S. Open Junior title last September.

As I watched the scores change on my computer, I could tell that Brengle let a lot of opportunities slip away, but of course I have no idea if Pavlyuchenkova raised her level to contribute to that. Neither could rely on holding serve, so it was no surprise when Brengle had set points in the first set when Pavlyuchenkova was serving at 4-5 and then again in the tiebreak at 6-5. In the second set Brengle took a 3-1 lead, lost the next four games, but somehow managed to stave off defeat when Pavlyuchenkova was serving at 5-3, 40-0. Brengle saved four match points in that game, and when the 16-year-old from Delaware held and broke, she was serving for the second set. But Brengle got no closer than 30-30 in that 6-5 game and in the deciding tiebreak, the 15-year-old Russian didn't repeat her mistake of letting Brengle back in the match, taking 3-0 and 6-3 leads and finishing on her first opportunity.

Brengle was the first U.S. girl to reach the finals of the Australian Junior Championships since Lindsay Davenport in 1992, and it might offer her a little comfort to know that Davenport also lost. And not to a junior with six grand slam titles either (Pavlyuchenkova has won three in doubles too). It was Joanne Limmer of Australia, whose highest ranking on the pro tour was 141, who beat the three-time Grand Slam champion 15 years ago.

The boys' final between unseeded Australian Brydan Klein and No. 2 seed Jonathan Eysseric of France is scheduled to take place after the men's double final and in Rod Laver Arena, a new twist this year. So I won't be updating that result until Saturday.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Tampa Review; Latest Inside Junior Tennis Podcast

My article this week at The Tennis Recruiting Network is two stories in one. First I wrap up the Tampa Futures and then look back at the Florida 18s Winter Sectional. I've also been busy on the first of three Recruiting Class rankings that TR.Net is planning for 2007. Check the site on Monday for the men's list.

This week's edition of Inside Junior Tennis is a short one, where the bulk of the conversation is about the Australian Open Juniors and Teen Tennis, although we do clarify a new rule about when scheduled matches are called and when players who have not checked in go "on the clock."

Friday's Australian Open junior action doesn't get started until late this evening here in the U.S., so no updates on that, but the U.S. players all bowed out at Teen Tennis today in Great Britain. Christian Harrison lost to the No. 2 seed, Sean Berman to the No. 1 seed and Harrison and Emmett Egger lost in the doubles final. Nicole Gibbs also lost in the semifinals of singles.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Brengle Reaches Australian Open Junior Semifinals; U.S. Has Three Teen Tennis Semifinalists

Madison Brengle didn't have much luck in the main draw of the Australian Open when she drew No. 8 seed Patty Schnyder in the first round and lost 6-3, 6-4. But the 16-year-old from Delaware hasn't lost a set in her four junior matches, and the 16th seed reached the semifinals on Thursday with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) win over 8th seed Evgeniya Rodina of Russia. Brengle faces No. 3 seed Ksenia Milevskaya of Belarus in Friday's semifinal match. Milevskaya, also 16, had a surprisingly easy time with Urszula Radwanska of Poland, winning 6-3, 6-3. Defending champion and top seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia defeated Orange Bowl winner Nikola Hofmanova in straight sets and meets No. 6 seed Alize Cornet of France, who eliminated unseeded Chelsey Gullickson.

The home country was assured a semifinalist in the boys' division when unseeded Brydan Klein met No. 5 seed Greg Jones. Klein ended up winning a tight match on Thursday and with his upset of No. 1 seed Martin Klizan on Wednesday, he got the attention of the Australian press. Here's one of the milder accounts of his victory over Klizan. Klein will meet 16-year-old Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania, the tenth seed, who upset No. 3 seed Roman Jebavy of the Czech Republic Thursday 6-3, 6-1. The other two boys quarterfinals were still in progress.

In Great Britain, the U.S. has two players in the boys' Teen Tennis semifinals-- Sean Berman and Christian Harrison-- and one girl, Nicole Gibbs. Harrison and Emmett Egger are also in the doubles semifinals.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

College Update

There are lots of interesting stories coming out of college Sports Information Departments now that school is back in session.

Today I learned:

that Steve Forman has started early at Wake Forest;

that Georgia Rose is playing some outstanding tennis for Northwestern;

that Okalahoma State and Boise State earned the last two spots at the ITA Team Indoor next month in Chicago;

and that I'll be one of many spectators in Ann Arbor for the Michigan/Texas men's dual match on Saturday.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Four U.S. Girls Make Australian Open Juniors Third Round

Reka Zsilinszka, Madison Brengle, Chelsey Gullickson and qualifier Julia Boserup all advanced to the round of 16 with wins on Tuesday at the Australian Open Junior Championships in Melbourne.

Only Brengle, the 16th seed, did so in straight sets; the other three went the distance, although neither Gullickson nor Boserup lost a game in their final sets. Boserup scored the first big upset of the tournament on Monday when she took out No. 7 seed Sharon Fichman of Canada. The other U.S. girls who made the trip--Kim Couts, Julia Cohen and Missy Clayton--all won their first round matches, but lost in second round action Tuesday.

The girls' side saw two notable upsets on Tuesday. No. 2 seed Yung-Jan Chan, who was such a lofty seed based her WTA ranking of 75, lost to Ling Zhang of Hong Kong and No. 4 seed Ayumi Morita went out to Australian wild card Alison Bai.

The U.S. boys, only five of whom were in the draw, have all been eliminated with Mateusz Kecki's loss on Tuesday. He was the only American boy to win in the first round.

The talk of Australia has been Bernard Tomic, who upset No. 6 seed Jose Roberto Velasco of Bolivia on Monday. If you don't think Australia is starved for tennis heroes, read Eleanor Preston's account for the ITF junior site. On Tuesday, Tomic lost to Kevin Botti of France in three sets and Isabella Holland was put out by Boserup. I'll be interested to read the reaction to those results in the Australian press.

For complete draws in Australia, including doubles, see the Australian Open website.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

An International Flavor: My column in this month's Racquet Sports Industry

I've written enough here on the topic of foreign players in U.S. colleges to leave no doubt where I stand on the issue for regular readers. But I was given the opportunity to reach another audience, that of Racquet Sports Industry, and I jumped at the chance to clarify and amplify my thoughts on this very controversial subject. The column is available online by clicking here.

There has been an no-holds-barred discussion raging over at Underground Tennis that addresses many of the issues I mention, and some I've never even considered. Every popular tennis message board has its own version of this debate. Here's a thread from Tennis Warehouse.

It's rather strange to write an opinion piece that comes out strongly in favor of the status quo. Those who want scholarship limits for international players have a much tougher task; they must issue calls to action and get the current rules changed. I hope they don't succeed.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Illinois Downs Pepperdine; Georgia Perfect on Day 1 of SEC Indoor

The marquee matchup of a very busy weekend of college tennis was Friday night's clash between No. 5 ranked Illinois and No. 10 ranked Pepperdine in Urbana. The Illini came out on top, but the 4-3 score suggests that Pepperdine will not be relinquishing their NCAA title without a battle. There are two accounts available--Illinois' and Pepperdine's.

At the SEC Coaches' Indoor Championships, Georgia had a memorable day on Friday, winning every match they played--eight singles and four doubles. Saturday's results were also impressive. Georgiadogs.com has the details. A more personal account can be found at Underground Tennis, where Bobby Cameron of Tennessee is blogging from New Orleans.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Australian Open Juniors Preview

Helen McFetridge of the ITF recently filed this preview of the Australian Open Junior Championships, which I am, sadly, not going to be covering live. (I also have heard recently that juniortennis.com has changed its plans and will not be there either--coverage will be confined to the ITF and whatever the Australian Open website gets around to posting).

There isn't much to disagree with in her handicapping, although I would probably favor Cornet or Paszek, not Pavlyuchenkova, given that they made it through qualifying in the main draw in Australia, while she fell a match short. I also would mention Evgeniya Rodina of Russia, who is ranked 222 by the WTA computers, a number that might earn her a seed, despite an ITF ranking of 60.

The girls event is unquestionably deeper than the boys, primarily because many girls eligible for main draw qualifying made it worth the trip by entering the juniors too. (None of the boys in the juniors would have had a prayer of getting in qualifying without a wild card). In that category is Madison Brengle, who won the USTA's main draw wild card tournament as a last-minute replacement in December, and had the misfortune of drawing No. 8 seed Patty Schnyder in the first round in Australia. The other U.S. girls in the junior draw are Julia Cohen, Reka Zsilinszka, Kim Couts, Chelsey Gullickson and Missy Clayton. Unlike last year, when five U.S. girls qualified, there will not be appreciably more when qualifying is complete; only Julia Boserup (who had a huge win over world No. 3 Ksenia Milevskaya of Belarus in the quarterfinals of this week's Nottinghill Grade 1) and Brittany Augustine are in the qualifying draw, although both won on Friday.

Only four U.S. boys made the long journey Down Under: Dennis Lajola, Johnny Hamui, Mateusz Kecki and Austin Krajicek. The ITF's top-ranked U.S. boys, Kellen Damico (5), Donald Young (9) and Rhyne Williams (42) passed on the opportunity. Young and Williams are playing the Futures events in Florida this month. The only American in qualifying is Drew Daniel, who was the last player not to get in on his ranking (at the time of acceptance 129, now 66), meaning he will be the first "lucky loser" in, now that he has won his first round in qualifying (I'm pretty sure that's how it works in Grand Slams).

For the qualifying draws, check here. If you are interested in the acceptance list, there is a tab at the top of the page for that (scroll down a bit once you land on that page).

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Eight Intriguing Questions for 2007

Last week I looked back at 2006, this week I peer into the future with these eight questions for 2007.

The latest Inside Junior Tennis podcast is now available. Kevin McClure and I briefly discuss the Clay Courts situation, the Tampa Futures, the Florida Sectional and the young players making news in Australia. But most of the show is devoted to a list I prepared called Twelve things you can do for a better tournament experience. Although it is geared to those just beginning to play sectional or national tournaments, I think it contains some valuable reminders for all players. You will definitely improve your popularity with tournament directors if you take the advice to heart.

The spring college season is getting underway now, and I wanted to pass along this story about Purdue's new tennis facility, which saw its first action last weekend, and will host the men's Big Ten Championships in April.

Those of us interested in Jesse Levine's college career can get their first look at him as a Gator this weekend at the SEC Coaches Indoor Championships in New Orleans, where he is the fifth seed. LSU is hosting, the preview story is here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Jeff Szekely's Statement on Clay Court Resignation

Many of you have asked me for information about the resignation of Boys 18s & 16s National Clay Court Tournament Director Jeff Szekely. I received his permission to pass along this statement:

First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone who either called or sent an e-mail and expressed their concern, kind thoughts and appreciation. I did not expect such an outpouring, in either the volume of responses or the words of affection. It surely humbled me.

In reply to your e-mail request, Colette, as to why I am retiring from the USTA Clays, the following is a copy of an e-mail that I sent last week to friends associated with junior and collegiate tennis:

In a message dated 1/11/07 6:37:18 AM, jeff@ustaclay.com writes:

Dear Friends, fellow Tournament Directors and lovers of junior and
collegiate tennis,

After careful consideration and much reflection, I have tendered my
resignation to the USTA as the tournament director of the USTA National
Boys' 18 & 16 Clay Court Championships as of January 3, 2007.

It was a joyous 10 years, and Shelley and I met some terrific people
(starting with the recipients of this e-mail).

It was great fun, hard work and much more rewarding than Shelley and I ever expected.

At this time in my life, I would like to spend more time with Shelley in
Naples, Fl and New England where we will have homes and scale down my financial consulting practice in Maryland. There are also some health issues that I need to address.

I would especially like to thank the Wreges (Julie, Doug, Dallas and
Shannon), Rollie Shea, Dede Allen, Manuela and Jeff Davies for their many years of help with the Clays. I could never have done it without their support.

I wish everyone a great time on and off the court.

Take care-Jeff

Jeffrey W. Szekely
Tournament Director
USTA National Boys' 18 & 16 Clay Courts
1401 Rockville Pike, Suite 560
Rockville, MD 20852
Telephone: 301-309-2022
Facsimile: 301-309-2271

I always believed I was a "PLAYERS" Tournament Director meaning the PLAYERS came first even before parents, junior coaches, college coaches and the media . The four areas that I wanted to address in being a tournament director for the players were: (1) combining the Boys' 18 & 16 into one event, (2) the ATP wild cards ( for B-16 and B-18) to a $1,000,000 ATP Legg Mason event (which would bring the best players) (3) and the best players would then bring in the top college coaches, last year in excess of 140 college coaches came to see the best players (4) and have a certified umpire on each court, to level the playing field. I believed all the above would really benefit the players in their junior career.

Finally, the decision as to who will be the new Tournament Director and where it will be held will be totally up to the USTA and the Youth Competition and Training Comm. (YCTC). I know it will not be held at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md.

In conclusion, it was a very difficult decision for me and my family, but one that was necessary for me to make at this time.

I am sure the new home of the Clays and the new tournament director will be terrific.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

From Sand to Ice

About 18 hours after watching the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico at Clearwater Beach, we were treated to a different kind of beauty on our arrival in Michigan. The usually barren trees were sparkling like diamonds on mirrors, with the low-angle midwinter sun refracting through the glaze of ice coating every branch. When you are in a warm car driving on dry pavement, it's easy to appreciate the splendor of such a sight. But the power outages and accidents reveal an uglier side to what nature can bring.

Enough weather philosophy. When I was at the Florida sectional in Tampa, I spoke briefly to Sloane Stephens who is one of four girls representing the U.S. in the two big tournaments in Europe this winter--Teen Tennis and Les Petits As. She said the team was leaving on Wednesday and will be gone nearly three weeks, and told me who else would be going on the girls side.

There has already been discussion about the boys selections in a series of comments on this unrelated post.

I'm posting a slide show of the six players I have photographs of. Although I'll be busy keeping track of the Australian Open, I'm also going to track the progress of these younger players.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Burkhardt, Kambourelis win Florida Winter Sectional 18s titles

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Tampa, FL--

Two youngsters captured the David Barkesdale Junior Dixie Winter Sectional 18s tournament Sunday, when 16-year-old Joey Burkhardt and 15-year-old Kelly Kambourelis won semifinal and final matches on a warm and cloudless Monday.

Burkhardt lived up to his top seeding, defeating second seed Joseph Cadogan 6-4, 2-6, 4-1 ret. in the final, but Kambourelis, seeded No. 9, was something of a surprise winner, and she continued her run through the final, defeating No. 5 seed Rachel Saiontz 6-4, 6-1.

"I didn't have really anything to lose," said Kambourelis, who also took out No. 4 seed Jordan Jenkins in the quarterfinals on Saturday. "She was seeded higher than me, and I had to keep my head on straight, and make sure I wasn't intimidated."

Saiontz had upset top seed Monica Arguello in a semifinal match that took an inordinately long time to play given the 7-6 (5), 6-1 score. Arguello's counter-punching style produced many lengthy points, and the clay courts also were a contributing factor. Less than two hours later, Saiontz faced another such player in Kambourelis, who had survived a grueling three set win over 15th seed Alexandra Cercone in the semifinals.

"I like to just get a lot of balls back," said Melbourne's Kambourelis, who plays a two-handed forehand and backhand. "Sometimes I can disguise where I'm going on short balls more, because they can't tell where I'm pointing to. But you have to be a little faster on the forehand to get to the shots, because you don't have the wide reach."

The quiet Kambourelis displayed that speed, deception and accuracy throughout the final, much to the dismay of the 17-year-old Saiontz, who could be heard shrieking and talking to herself several courts away.

While Kambourelis and Saiontz had not played since the 10 and unders, according to Kambourelis, Burkhardt and Cadogan are frequent foes, having played three times in 2006 alone.

"I've always had close matches with him," said Burkhardt. "It's never really been just two sets."

Burkhardt, from St. Augustine, had not dropped a set in the tournament; in fact, he hadn't lost more than three games in any set in his first five wins. Cadogan, on the other hand, had dropped the first set in his quarterfinal and semifinal victories, the latter a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Bryan Swartz earlier Monday morning.

The first set featured only three holds of serve, and Burkhardt got two of them to take it 6-4. In the second set, Cadogan picked up the pace on his shots, and using the one-handed backhand that he decided to go with exclusively during the past few months, he streaked out to a 5-1 lead before Burkhardt finally held his serve for the first and only time in the 6-2 set.

The toll of the five sets of tennis Cadogan had played on Monday began to show early in the third set, however, and after Burkhardt took a 2-1 lead, Cadogan asked for a medical timeout. After several minutes, play resumed, but Cadogan was broken, Burkhardt held and Cadogan retired with a sore left arm.

"He usually gets tired near the end of matches," said Burkhardt, "and I was just able to hang in there."

Burkhardt came out with a specific strategy which kept him from being troubled by all the service breaks. "I wanted to start out the point a certain way, so I could work it to his backhand," he said. "He has a heavy and good forehand, and I just didn't want to take a big chance on the serve."

Winning a tournament as the top seed was a new experience for Burkhardt.

"In the 14s, I was never really near the top, then in the 16s I was starting to get there," he said. "By the time I started doing well in the 16s, I started playing up in the 18s. I was a top four seed in my last couple of tournaments, so I'm starting to get used to it."

With two years left in the 18s for him and three years remaining for Kambourelis, there's plenty of time for both to keep winning from any position.

In the third place matches, Alexandra Cercone (15) defeated Monica Arguello 6-2, 6-0 and Bryan Swartz won over Billy Federhofer 4-6, 5-1, ret. injury.

For complete draws, including consolation tournaments, see

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Lammer, Jidkova Win Tampa Futures

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Tampa, FL--

Switzerland's Michael Lammer and Alina Jidkova of Russia took 2007's first Pro Circuit titles on a summer-like day at the City of Tampa courts at Hillsborough Community College.

Lammer engineered a remarkable turnaround to defeat 17-year-old Donald Young, 1-6, 6-3, 6-1, while Jidkova was never threatened in her 6-2, 6-2 victory over Olga Blahotova of the Czech Republic.

Young began the finals as he had finished his semifinal victory on Saturday--confident and consistent. Although he was broken in the match's opening game, he reeled off the next six games to the take the set, and when he broke Lammer to open the second set, prospects looked bleak for the 24-year-old Swiss.

But Young, the No. 8 seed, began to show signs of fatigue after winning that multi-deuce game, and was quickly broken himself in the next game; he managed to hold serve only once the rest of the match.

"In the second set I was hitting the ball a little bit harder," said the third-seeded Lammer, who also eliminated the unforced errors that plagued him in the first set. "The rallies were tougher, but I felt in good physical condition. It was a tough set, but in the third set he got a little tired, and I kept up the level, and it was the difference."

Young admitted that he was unable to sustain the focus that he had demonstrated in his four previous wins.

"I got tired in the middle of the second set and he didn't," said Young, who was playing in his first professional singles final. "He made me hit a lot of shots and he didn't miss anything. I was really tired and I didn't have enough energy to do what I was doing in the first set."

Lammer had a small cheering section consisting of his aunt, who lives in both Switzerland and Naples, Florida, and his grandmother, who was visiting her daughter. He also has a new coach, which explains why Lammer is in Florida instead of Australia, where last year he qualified for the Australian Open.

"I changed coaches, and came to practice here in Miami in December and we decided to start the season with the Futures here and play more tournaments in the U.S., get a lot of matches, and build up the season like that."

Lammer is off to an excellent start in the new year, as is Young. Although disappointed with the finals result, Young cited several reasons for optimism.

"I got to my first final," Young said. "I would have liked to win it, but I went three sets. I went a round further than I have before, so it's an improvement and a good to start 2007."

The women's final started the action on Sunday, and it didn't produce much suspense, as Jidkova, a former Top 60 WTA player, dominated throughout. As a qualifier, Jidkova needed three victories to reach the main draw, but until she lost the second set in the semifinals against Julie Ditty, the 29-year-old righthander had barely been tested. Blahotova, 30, could not keep pace with Jidkova and failed to capitalize on the few opportunities she had to draw even.

The round of 16 and the quarterfinals were played Sunday in the boys and girls 18s sectional tournament at HCC, and the No. 1 seeds in both divisions advanced to Monday's semifinals with a pair of straight set victories.

Top seed Monica Arguello bested No. 11 seed Lindsay Dvorak 6-4, 7-6 (1) and unseeded Malika Rose 6-3, 6-2 on the green clay courts. Arguello will meet No. 5 seed Rachel Saiontz in the semifinals. The other semifinal features Kelly Kambourelis (9) against No. 15 Alexandra Cercone. Cercone defeated unseeded Maria Belaya, who in the round of 16 had upset second seed Jamie Mera in a third-set tiebreak.

Joey Burkhardt, the No. 1 boys' seed, took out Evan Bernstein (16) 6-2, 6-2 and Dashiel Neimark (12) 6-2, 6-3. Burkhardt's opponent in the semifinals will be unseeded Billy Federhofer. Federhofer easily defeated No. 6 seed Robert Pietrucha and No. 11 seed Erik Hannah to earn his spot in the semis.

Another unseeded semifinalist is Bryan Swartz, who had no trouble with unseeded Chris Reiman and ninth seed Michael Anders, defeating both in two quick sets. He will face No. 2 seed Joe Cadogan, who played only one match on Sunday due to a walkover in the round of 16, but that one match was a three-hour marathon. Cadogan won the final four games of the match to survive his battle with No. 5 seed Luke Mojica 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.
For complete draws, including consolation draws, see the TennisLink tournament page.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Young and Lammer meet for Tampa Futures title Sunday

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Tampa, FL--

Seventeen-year-old Donald Young reached his first professional singles final on Saturday with a dominating 6-1, 6-2 performance against Conor Niland of Ireland. The women's finalists were also decided under Saturday's balmy skies, with Olga Blahotova and Alina Jidova earning a chance at the year's first Pro Circuit title.

Young, whose previous best result in a Pro Circuit event was the semifinals at last January's Futures in Boca Raton, has yet to drop a set in his four victories this week.

"I've been playing really well all week," said Young, the tournament's No. 8 seed. "A lot of good wins. First time I ever beat Kryvonos was yesterday, and Ruben Gonzales (in the first round), I got revenge on him. He beat me when I was like 13, my first ever ITF. I qualified into Kentucky and he beat me 1 and 1, so it was good to get him."

Niland, who was unseeded, had taken out top seed Benedict Dorsch of Germany in the first round, but he had no answer on Saturday for the consistency of Young.

"He missed a lot of shots, but I think he felt because I wasn't missing a lot, he had to go for more," Young said. "The first tournament of the year, to make the finals is pretty good, especially when I lost here in the first round last year, to (Marcus) Fugate."

Young's opponent in Sunday's final will be No. 3 seed Michael Lammer of Switzerland. Lammer once again required nearly an hour per set to complete his victory over unseeded Adriano Biasella, eliminating the Italian 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 in a battle of the one-handed backhands. At this time last year Lammer, 24, was in Australia, having qualified for the main draw of the Australian Open, where he lost in the first round to Andy Roddick. He has one Futures title to his credit, in 2005, and reached the finals of another in October of 2006.

Less than two years ago, Jidkova was No. 51 on the WTA tour, but her ranking had fallen so dramatically that she was forced to qualify for this Futures event. The 29-year-old Russian displayed some of the grit required to start that climb, when she overcame a 4-1 deficit in the third set to defeat No. 7 seed Julie Ditty of the U.S. 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.

In Sunday's final Jidkova will face fellow unseeded veteran Olga Blahotova, who won her fourth consecutive three-set match with a 6-3, 0-6, 6-3 decision over No. 6 seed Andrea Petkovic of Germany. The 30-year-old from the Czech Republic also reached the women's doubles final, but she and partner Andrea Hlavackova fell to Angelika Bachmann of Germany and Tetiana Luzhanska of the Ukraine 7-5, 6-2.

The men's doubles final saw amateurs Somdev Devvarman of India and Treat Huey of the U.S. take the title with a 6-0, 7-6 (6) victory over James Cerretani of the U.S and Antonio Ruiz-Rosales of Mexico. The University of Virginia teammates saved four set points in the second set--two at 4-5 and two in the tiebreak; down 4-6 in the tiebreak, they swept the final four points of the match.


The Florida Designated 18s tournament's first two rounds were also played on the City of Tampa courts at the Hillsborough Community College Saturday, and the top three seeds in both boys and girls divisions reached the round of 16.

Joey Burkhardt (1) and Joseph Cadogan (2) each lost only five games in two matches, and No. 3 seed Zach Hunter also advanced in straight sets. No. 4 seed Jeffrey Morris fell to Dilip Kamath in the first round.

Top seed Monica Arguello dropped only one game in her two matches, but second seed Jamie Mera struggled in her second round match against Kaysara Mandry before pulling out a 0-6, 6-0, 6-3 win. No. 3 seed Holly Johnson and No. 4 seed Jordan Jenkins advanced in straight sets. Olivia Janowicz (6) was ousted by Kendra Higgins and Cassandra Herzberg (7) fell to Malika Rose in first round action.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink website.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Young, Ditty Reach Tampa Futures Semis

Tampa, FL--

Friday was another perfect day for tennis at the first Pro Circuit event of January, with temperatures reaching the mid-70s and no threat of rain, or even any humidity.

The day's first four quarterfinal matches provided most of the drama, with the two women's matches three-setters. Andrea Petkovic of Germany, the sixth seed, defeated unseeded Lina Stanciute of Lithuania 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-4. She will face Olga Blahotova of the Czech Republic, who eliminated Christina Schiechtl of Austria 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.

While those two matches were being played, I concentrated on the men's quarterfinal between third seed Michael Lammer of Switzerland and sixth seed Michael Yani of the U.S., on the "show court", court nine. Lammer took the first set 6-3, but fell behind 5-2 in the second set. Yani failed to capitalize on his many chances to even the match, and Lammer got the break back when the former Duke Blue Devil couldn't hold serving for the second set at 5-3. The tiebreak that ensued seemed to take at least 30 minutes to play, with Yani saving a couple of match points, and Lammer several set points. The match ended with a Lammer ace at 9-8, although Yani, a reserved sort, did not believe the serve was good and was still debating it as he left the court.

Lammer's semifinal opponent will be unseeded Adriano Biasella of Italy, who wasn't threatened by Pierrick Ysern of France, cruising to a 6-2, 6-4 victory over the 2005 NCAA finalist from the University of San Diego.

The match between Donald Young and Nikita Kryvonos drew a large crowd, and with Kryvonos the higher seed, No. 4 to Young's No. 8, and winner of their last meeting in a Futures early in 2006, he was the favorite. But Kryvonos found himself down a break early in both sets, and Young didn't falter, taking a 6-4, 6-3 decision over the 20-year-old from New York. Young's ability to protect his serve was the difference. The 17-year-old from Atlanta was broken only once, serving at 3-2 in the second, while Kryvonos lost his serve four times.

This is the second time in his career that Young has reached the semifinals of a Pro Circuit event and he will face unseeded Conor Niland of Ireland on Saturday. Niland overcame a slow start to defeat University of Virginia junior Somdev Devvarman of India 3-6, 6-4, 6-0. Niland's strategy to close the net against the consistent baseliner paid dividends later rather than sooner. When Niland, 25, squandered a 3-0 lead in the second set, a third set seemed unlikely, but at 4-4, he held his serve despite facing numerous break points then quickly broke Devvarman to even the match. Devvarman began to make uncharacteristic errors while Niland rarely missed and the third set was over much more quickly than the first two.

In the late matches on the women's side, Julie Ditty, who is second all-time on the Pro Circuit with 25 titles in both singles and doubles, defeated University of Miami junior Audra Cohen 6-1, 6-4. Last year alone, the 27-year-old Vanderbilt graduate won eight titles, and her experience showed against Cohen. While the 20-year-old Cohen struggled with her serve and her forehand in the first set, Ditty played flawless tennis from the first point. The left-hander from Kentucky then patiently waited for her chance in the second set, a set that produced no breaks until the last game, when Cohen played a few loose points and Ditty pounced. In the semifinals however, Ditty will face a much more seasoned competitor in
Russian Alina Jidkova, who only two years ago held a WTA ranking in the 50s. Jidkova, an unseeded qualifier, had no trouble with No. 5 seed Sunitha Rao of the U.S., taking a quick 6-0, 6-1 decision. Jidkova, who turns 30 next week, has yet to lose a set in her six matches this week.

For full draws, including results of the women's doubles, see the Pro Circuit page.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

New Podcast; Clay Courts Looking for a home; My look back at 2006

Kevin McClure and I discuss the Winter Nationals in the latest edition of the Inside Junior Tennis podcast, available via this link.

The Boys 18 & 16 Clay Courts are looking for a home in 2007, with the recent announcement that Jeff Szekely would be resigning as tournament director. The USTA would like to keep the two age divisions together, according to Lew Brewer, Director of Junior Competition, but as of now, no decisions have been made by the committee.

And I recently completed a look back at the questions I was so eager to have answered in 2006 for the Tennis Recruiting Network. Next week, I'll be posing questions for 2007.

Quarterfinals Friday in Tampa Futures

Tampa, FL--

When matches began this morning at the Futures event at the City of Tampa courts at Hillsborough Community College, the weather was perfect--sunny, just a slight breeze, temperatures in the 60s. As promised, I went straight to the Somdev Devvarman/Pavel Chekhov match, and though the tennis wasn't consistently outstanding, it was certainly close, with Devvarman taking a 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5) decision. The battle of qualifiers took nearly two and a half hours, and by the second tiebreak, the wind began to insert itself into the action. Serving down match point (4-6), Chekhov twice had to restart the point when first a bottle blew on the court, causing a let, and then a a chair tipped over leading to another let on the same point. Chekhov kept that scenario from repeating again by delivering an ace, but his wide forehand on the next point gave Devvarman, a junior at the University of Virginia, his sixth straight win.

Devvarman was able to keep the 18-year-old Russian from teeing off on his forehand, using a variety of pace and spin. Chekhov's serve can also provide him with free points, and it did, especially at the beginning of the match, but Devvarman began to read it more successfully and return more first serves as the match progressed. Devvarman's next opponent is Conor Niland, a former star at Cal-Berkeley, who defeated Marcus Fugate 6-3, 7-5. Fugate served for the second set and had two set points at 5-4, but couldn't extend the match.

All of the seeded men advanced, including No. 4 Nikita Kryvonos and No. 8 Donald Young, who will meet in Friday's quarterfinals.

Kryvonos defeated Fritz Wolmarans of South Africa 7-5, 6-2; Young outlasted wild card Dmitri Vlasov of Russia 7-6 (9), 4-1 ret.

Young needed six set points to finish off Vlasov in the first set, missing an opportunity to avoid a tiebreak when he couldn't convert on one set point when serving at 5-3. Vlasov managed to wriggle free four more times in the tiebreak, often coaxing an error with a sharply angled shot short of the service line, but he was warring with the chair umpire as much as he was with Young, and received a point penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct by the second set. Broken strings, let cords, balls from the next court causing inopportune lets--nothing seemed to go right for the 24-year-old right-hander, and his will to fight all the bad luck evaporated by the time Young had a two break lead in the second set. A trainer was never called; instead, ITF supervisor Jim Handly was summoned, and after a brief discussion, Vlasov retired.

Also advancing was former Duke star Michael Yani, the No. 6 seed, who defeated Mashishka Washington 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. His opponent on Friday will be No. 3 seed Michael Lammer of Switzerland, who also overcame a first set loss, eliminating qualifier Antonio Ruiz-Rosales 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-2.

Three women from the U.S. remain in the women's draw--Julie Ditty, Audra Cohen and Sunitha Rao. Ditty dropped the first set against qualifier Sorana-Mihaela Cirstea of Romania but rebounded 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 and on Friday faces Cohen, who used strong serving to roll to a 6-3, 6-1 win over former University of Alabama standout Robin Stephenson. Rao also had little difficulty, eliminating Romana Tedjakusuma of Indonesia 6-0, 6-2. Rao plays qualifier Alina Jidkova of Russia, who upset No. 2 seed Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic. Top seed Pauline Parmentier of France was also ousted, leaving Rao, at No. 5, as the highest seed left in the women's tournament.

The men's doubles finals are set, although the match won't be played until Saturday. Devvarman and fellow Virginia Cavalier Treat Huey upset the top-seeded team of Dusan Vemic and Goran Dragicevic 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 and will meet another unseeded pair: James Cerretani and Antonio Ruiz-Rosales. Cerretani and Ruiz-Rosales dispatched Chris Wettengel and Michael Yani 6-1, 6-2.

For full draws, including women's doubles, see the Pro Circuit home page.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Too Late for Tennis in Tampa

Tampa, FL--
We couldn't refuse Northwest Airlines' offer of vouchers to take a flight three hours later, so all the action at the Futures event was over when we arrived just before sunset. The top two seeds in the men's division are out--No. 1 Benedict Dorsch lost to Conor Niland on Tuesday and No. 2 Todd Widom was beaten today by Chris Lam.

Thursday I'll be at the Hillsborough Community College courts bright and early, which is 10 a.m. in the non-junior time clock, and I'm going straight to court 13, where two qualifiers, Pavel Chekhov and Somdev Devvarman, will meet to see whose winning streak extends to six. Chekhov finished 2006 as the No. 10 ranked junior in the world, while Devvarman, a finalist at last year's NCAAs for the University of Virginia, is currently eighth in the college rankings. I'm also interested in checking out the Conor Niland - Marcus Fugate match and Donald Young versus Dmitri Vlasov.

The women's side features very few familiar names or faces, but I'll be watching Audra Cohen take on Robin Stephenson and Julie Ditty against qualifier Sorana-Mihaela Cirstea of Romania. The top two seeds in the women's event, Pauline Parmentier of France and Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic, reached the second round with straight-set wins. For complete draws, see the Pro Circuit home page.

Florida's junior tennis authority Bobby Curtis was busy taking phone calls while preparing for the designated events in the section this weekend, but we managed to get together at Rick's on Davis Island for a very tasty and filling Italian dinner. (Rick's isn't exactly the name you'd expect for such a place--Luigi's or Antonio's, of course, but Rick's?)

Earl Olson, who helps direct the tournament on behalf of the City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department, joined us, and we caught up on what's been happening in the two years since we've been in town. The community college sits on a very valuable piece of property across the street from Raymond James Stadium, where the Bucs play, and next to the Yankees' spring training site, and proposed construction projects, including dormitories and a hotel, may affect the tennis center. It's a fine facility and one that can host men's and women's futures simultaneously and handle a junior tournament too shouldn't be taken for granted.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Tampa Futures Qualifying Complete

The women's qualifying was completed Tuesday morning and Lauren Albanese and Sorana-Mihaela Cirstea were the only two juniors to advance to the main draw. I've added the two of them and Olga Govortsova, who will be 19 this year, to the slide show in the post below.

Audra Cohen, who today received the No. 1 ranking in women's college tennis (no surprise there), was given a wild card; in her first round main draw match today, she defeated the third seed Marie-Eve Pelletier of Canada, ranked 226 by the WTA.

For some reason Tuesday men's results and Wednesday's schedule aren't up, but here's the link to the Pro Circuit home page.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Tampa Futures

My next trip is soon, Wednesday in fact, for the first Pro Circuit event of the year, a 10K for men and a 25K for women at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa. The semis and finals coincide with an 18-and-under Florida section designated for boys and girls that we've attended for six of the last seven years. We missed last year due to our trip to the Australian Open. My husband and I run the desk, so I don't get to see as much tennis as I would like, but this year we're going early to watch some of the Futures action.

The men's qualifying is complete; for the draws and schedule, see the Pro Circuit home page. I've put together a short slide show featuring five of the eight men's qualifiers. I don't have photos of Christopher Brown, Ruben Gonzales or Adam Kennedy. Two of the qualifiers are juniors: 15-year-old Rhyne Williams and 17-year-old Reid Carleton. Carleton, a finalist at the recent Winter Nationals, didn't drop a set in his four qualifying victories, while Williams battled through two three-setters to earn his place in the main draw. Pavel Chekhov has aged out of the juniors, with last month's Orange Bowl his last event and he will meet wild card recipient Tyler Hochwalt, 17, in the main draw. Donald Young also received a wild card into the main draw.

The women's qualifying is only a 64 draw, not a 128, and it doesn't end until tomorrow. Juniors Allie Will, Ashley Weinhold, Sorana Cirstea and Lauren Albanese are all still in the mix.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

USTA Guide to Tennis on College Campuses; Gullikson Scholarships

At the ITA Coaches Convention at the Doral Resort in Miami last month, I spied a newpublication by the USTA entitled USTA Guide to Tennis on College Campuses. Although hard copies won't be available until later this month, the online pdf version is now available. It is a detailed look at both varsity and recreational tennis options at NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA schools, and also provides a short chapter on careers in the tennis industry. It's a great resource in itself, and also supplies many references to other sources of information that are vital to those interested in pursuing college tennis. It opens with a foreword by James Blake:

When I made the decision to go to college, I had already had offers to turn pro, but I knew I wasn’t ready either
mentally or physically for the pro scene. Going to college gave me the opportunity to mature, study, meet great friends, and play tennis for the pure joy of the game. I wouldn’t trade my time in college for anything.

There has been much criticism lobbed at the USTA for ignoring college tennis as a development option, some of it deserved, but recent steps, like this guide, are evidence of a change.

As a member of the Midwest section, I also wanted to mention that applications are now being accepted for the Tim and Tom Gullikson scholarships, administered through the Midwest Youth Tennis and Education Foundation. One boy and one girl from the section will receive $2500 "to advance their educational and tennis interests." Please click here for more information.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Winter Nationals Lives Up to Its Name:: The Tennis Recruiting Network

Julie Wrege of The Tennis Recruiting Network has a great summary of the entire Winter Nationals, and it couldn't have been easy to cover the 18s, 16s, 14s and 12s, as the latter two divisions were played in Tucson, while the older players were in Phoenix, two hours away.

There are photos of all the winners, including those that I didn't have for the slide show: Emily Gelber (18s), Nathan Pasha (14s) and Jerricka Boone (12s). And if you wonder how Sponge Bob became a spectator at the girls' 12s final, Wrege has the details.

Marcia Frost of collegeandjuniortennis.com is now in Tucson covering the Copper Bowl, which includes both girls and boys in all age divisions. Her updates and photos are here.


Friday, January 5, 2007

British Tennis Magazine interview: Graeme Dyce

I stumbled across this story which is from the November issue of British Tennis, a publication I admit I didn't know existed until today. I also didn't know who Graeme Dyce was until this year's Eddie Herr tournament, where I started to recognize him as part of the Bollettieri "Top Gun" group, as this story describes the highest level of juniors at the IMG Academy. At the Eddie Herr, Dyce beat the sixth seed, Jose Roberto Velasco of Bolivia, in the first round then lost a long three-setter to Radu Albot of Moldova in the second round.

It's interesting that he's from Scotland and "managed" by Judy Murray, Andy's mother. The reason why he chose Bollettieri's over the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona, Murray's alma mater, is understandable; it's interesting that Murray is now training often at Bollettieri's and that Murray's coach, Brad Gilbert, has a son there, who is Dyce's roommate. Dyce is also wisely keeping his college options open, and I'm sure there were many coaches watching his two matches at the Eddie Herr with great interest.

I had to chuckle though, when the story referred to Dyce's getting away from a country where tennis is a "minority" sport. Although tennis is big in Bradenton, it's certainly not a "majority" sport in most of this country.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Tomic and Orlik Harvest Jr. Orange Bowl Titles

My first article for The Tennis Recruiting Network in 2007 is my tournament report on the Junior Orange Bowl, and like most of my tournament reports for TR.net, it's a handy synopsis for those who missed the daily reports I filed when I was in Coral Gables last month. My article next week for Tennis Recruiting will be something completely different--a look back at my 2006 "Intriguing Questions."

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Cohen Claims Third Casablanca Crown

The first ITF Grade A, the Casablanca Cup, is played during the holidays (it's officially a 2007 tournament, even though it finished on December 31) and just weeks after the last Grade A, the Orange Bowl, assuring that the event in Mexico will be given less attention than it usually warrants.

But the ITF staff in London did this wrap-up, and there is a small slide show of photos on their site, so there is some information to be had.

There is something about the Casablance Cup that agrees with Julia Cohen. She has won three of the last four singles championships, the first when she was just 14 years old, and her success there has helped keep her in the top twenty of the ITF rankings for a long time. This year she also won the doubles title, with Valeria Pulido-Velasco, who like the boys' champion, unseeded wild card Eduardo Peralta-Tello, was from the host country.