Schedule a training visit to the prestigious Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, MD by clicking on the banner above

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hodge Leaves Stanford for Australia; Husack Joins Illinois, SoCal Wins National 18s Boys Team Championships; Isner Beats Henman in Washington DC

Despite what it seems to me here at the moment, the tennis world doesn't revolve around Kalamazoo, and there's been a couple of personnel changes of note in men's D-I college tennis this past week. Dave Hodge, the Stanford assistant, leaving Palo Alto and returning to Australia, according to this story in the Herald Sun. George Husack, previously head coach at Santa Clara University, will take the University of Illinois assistant coach's position recently vacated by Kent Kinnear. Details are in this release from the Fighting Illini website.

Earlier this month, it was announced that Amanda Augustus was leaving the women's head coaching position at the University of Michigan to take over for the retiring Jan Brogan at Cal-Berkeley, Augustus' alma mater.

The USTA Boys 18 National Team Championships finished today in Champaign-Urbana, and once again it was Southern California on top, their fourth straight title. But it wasn't easy, as the 4-3 score in the final over Southern indicates. The results are available at the event's website, and Marcia Frost has been filing reports for collegeandjuniortennis.com.

And finally, John Isner defeated Tim Henman today in the first round of the ATP Legg Mason tournament in Washington DC. Isner, who recently signed a pro contract with SFX, the same management firm as Andy Roddick and the Bryan twins, won the Lexington Challenger over the weekend and only got a wild card into the DC tournament when Fernando Gonzalez, who had accepted a wild card earlier, withdrew with an injury.

Rhyne Williams Withdraws from Kalamazoo

Second seed Rhyne Williams has withdrawn from Kalamazoo with an injury. The draw was not redone; all seeded players move up one spot and Eric Quigley is awarded the 32 seed.

Bob Van Overbeek, the No. 10 seed in 16s and Shaun Bernstein, the 23rd seed in 16s, withdrew as well. Van Overbeek, who injured his knee at the Clays, was on crutches when I saw him at the Evert Academy a week ago, so I'm not surprised he has withdrawn. I haven't heard the reason for Bernstein's withdrawal. Neither seed has been replaced.

The list of participants, seeds and alternates is now available from a link on the upper left section of the home page of ustaboys.com, or directly via this link.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Q & A with Mark Riley; Inside Junior Tennis

Before I left for the Clay Courts, I had an opportunity to talk with Mark Riley about taking over the Men's Tennis program at Kalamazoo College and assuming the directorship of the Boys Nationals. The Tennis Recruiting Network published some of that conversation today.

After I returned from the Clays, The Tennis Podcast's Kevin McClure and I got together to discuss those National Championships, as well as the ITA's proposal to the NCAA to allow juniors to earn $10,000 without jeopardizing their college eligibilty, Jesse Levine and many other topics. Click here to listen, or download on iTunes.

Kalamazoo Nationals Draws Posted

Click here for the singles draws just posted at ustaboys.com.

Please use this post for comments.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Jesse Levine's Excellent Adventure

I'd heard at the Clays that Jesse Levine was in Dubai hitting with Roger Federer. Charlie Bricker of the Sun-Sentinel has the scoop.

Kalamazoo Seeds Announced

The draw is not yet available, but the seeds for Kalamazoo have been released.

In order to keep all Kalamazoo related comments in one place, I'm not allowing comments on this post. Please leave all comments on Wednesday's Kalamazoo Nationals post.

Kalamazoo 18s seeds 2007
Kalamazoo 16s seeds 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

British Talent Indentification Gets Serious

This story, from the August 2007 issue of British Tennis magazine is an in-depth look at what the new regime at the LTA is doing to improve talent identification in that country. A systematic approach is the goal of all national tennis federations I would imagine, but it sounds as if they are also trying to take some of the subjectivity out of the process. Take this excerpt:

During a fairly intensive six-hour session at the National Tennis Centre the juniors (numbering between 20-22 each day) warmed up, took part in competitive speed agility games, fitness evaluations, tennis games, tennis evaluations and non-tennis games. At the same time, the parents and coaches attended presentations by Martens, Judy Murray and other members of the Technical Support Team.

Some of the evaluation procedures are being used for the first time in this country. “We’re trying to do a very different job here,” said Lewandowski. Tennis is very much an open gauge sport. To make objective measures is very difficult. With some sports such as cycling, rowing, swimming or athletics you have your distances, you have your times to be a county player and you have to get this sort of time. To be a tennis player it’s much more difficult to objectively define these measures. And that’s what we’re trying to do here.

“This afternoon we’re doing a technical breakpoint test where the players hit balls fed by a coach to the beat of a metronome, and the kids have to hit at least 60 per cent of the balls cross court and into play. If they are successful, the beat of the metronome will be set to the next stage of tempo. Eventually they will reach a point where they don’t make 60 per cent, and that is noted as their technical breakpoint.

“This is a new and interesting test and will enable us to determine more objectively each player’s capacity to hit with control, on the move and under pressure. It will be important to see how it correlates across the different activities the kids do today. If we’d known 10 years ago that Andy Murray could pass 60 per cent with 24 beats a minute – which is actually very tough – that would have given us some clues as to why he was going to be a top player.

Are there clues to top tennis performance in numbers such as these? I think the "Moneyball" concept in baseball, which I discussed in a post last year, has in some ways discredited the stopwatch/radar gun approach to sport scouting, but on the other hand, with so few actual numbers available in tennis, aside from serve speed, quantifying some isn't a bad way to start. And if it turns out that the British successor to Andy Murray ten years from now didn't put up any better numbers than most of his fellow prospects at age 8, well, something's gained from that knowledge too, I suppose. Maybe finding the key to tennis talent is just a process of eliminating what doesn't work.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Markin and Corwin Honored at Stowe Stadium Walk of Fame

Retiring tournament referee David Markin and Timon Corwin, who is directing his final Kalamazoo Nationals tournament this year as he makes his transition to the USTA as Senior Director of Junior and Collegiate Competition, were honored this afternoon in a ceremony at Stowe Stadium.

Markin, who has been involved in the tournament for 42 years, 32 as referee, and Corwin, who for 14 years was tournament director and Kalamazoo College's men's tennis coach, were present for the unveiling of their likenesses at the base of "The Winner", the Kirk Newman sculpture of a tennis player that graces the grounds of Stowe Stadium.

After receiving keys to the city from vice-mayor Bobby Hopewell, both eloquently and humorously expressed their goals for the tournament and what their association with it has contributed to their lives and careers.

If you are coming to Kalamazoo next week, please take a moment at registration, or when checking in for your match, to stop and thank them for all they have done to make Kalamazoo the best junior tennis tournament in the world.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Closing the Clay Chapter

The Tennis Recruiting Network covered the Clay Courts from three perspectives this week. My story on the Boys 18s & 16s was posted today, Julie Wrege was in Memphis for the Girls 18s and filed this story, and Sonny Dearth of the Newport News Daily Press provided coverage of the girls 16s final between Brooke Bolender and Sloane Stephens.

Also, I've added a poll on the left sidebar. The first question seeks your opinion on the best month to hold the Clay Courts.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Kalamazoo Nationals Post

Please use this post to comment on the upcoming 16 and 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo.

If you would like to make a prediction on the winners, offer seeding advice or ask any other questions, this is the place to do it.

I will see that anyone who correctly selects BOTH singles winners gets a Nats at the Zoo souvenir, as long as they use an identifiable variation on their real name when they post their picks. (Example: if you are Richard Williams, RichW or RWill would be fine).

The draw will probably be available Sunday evening. I'll post a link to it when it comes out.

Three Families, Three Dreams of Tennis Glory

The Broward-Palm Beach New Times recently published this in-depth story on three promising 12-and-under girls in South Florida, and the decisions and sacrifices their families must make to keep them on the path to tennis greatness. Where to live, when and how often to play, which coach, what schooling, what balance, who decides--every parent with a talented junior faces these questions over and over again.

I think this story is an interesting look at how three families deal with those questions, but I was disappointed in the reporter's description of the ladders of junior tennis. None of these girls are playing ITF tournaments--the minimum age to do so is 13--so the rather breathless description of the "stepping stones" to WTA tournaments seems both naive and incomplete. There's no mention of the ITF Women's circuit, which is an essential component in earning a WTA ranking, and the age restrictions now in place make the references to Tracy Austin and Jennifer Capriati irrelevant to any 12-year-old playing today.

A special thanks to the zootennis reader who passed this article along.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Clay Courts Slide Show

Turn off your air conditioning if you want to get the full effect of this slideshow!

Monday, July 23, 2007

News Beyond Clay Courts--Nats Wild Cards, Young Wins Aptos, Proposal for allowing $10,000 in earnings for juniors pre-college

I'm glad to be back in Michigan, where the temperature is only 6 or 8 degrees cooler than Florida, but the humidity is 60 to 80 percent less. The Nats at the Zoo banners are up on all the downtown light poles and in ten days, the whole city will be buzzing with activity related to the tournament. I like the idea of a "pick Kalamazoo's winners" contest; I'll put up a post in a few days where you can select your choices for the National Champions. For the wild card recipients, see the ustaboys.com home page article, and for the list of participants, click here (green is 16s, blue is 18s).

Donald Young, who turns 18 today, won the $75K Aptos challenger Sunday, his first title on that level. The Santa Cruz Sentinel provides this very detailed account of the finals match. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a feature profile today on Young as well.

The big news for college tennis this past weekend was the announcement that the ITA was submitting a proposal to the NCAA that would "allow prospects in the sport as much as $10,000 in prize money annually before entering college. Current guidelines restrict them from pocketing any amount exceeding the expenses they incur from participating in an event," according to a story published Friday in USA Today. The article details the reasons behind such a change, which are primarily to put U.S. juniors on the same footing as young foreign players. It seems sensible to me, so sensible that I wonder if it has a chance with the NCAA.

One correction to the USA Today story; Brian Boland's Virginia Cavaliers did not finish second to Georgia this year. They lost to them in the semifinals. Illinois was in the finals against the Bulldogs.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bowles, Sandgren Claim Clay Court Crowns

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Delray Beach, FL--

Top seed Tennys Sandgren's 16th birthday present was a gold ball, earned with a 6-4, 6-4 win over 17th seed Denis Kudla in Sunday morning's 16s final at the Delray Beach Tennis Center. In the 18s, Clint Bowles added to his national singles championships with a 6-2, 6-0 romp over No. 6 seed Bradley Klahn, giving him three, and took home an unbirthday present--a main draw wild card into the ATP Delray International Tennis Championships next February.

Sandgren and Kudla led off the day of championship play with an excellent first set of tennis. The 14-year-old Kudla displayed a few nerves in the opening game and was broken, but at 3-2 he got it back. Typical of the high quality of play, which saw both players hit with great depth and pace, points were often decided by outright winners, not errors. Neither player was tentative, until a key moment when Kudla was serving at 4-4.

"At 30-15, in the ad court, he hit a serve that I think might have been out," Sandgren said. "I kind of thought they were going to call it out, I hit it, and they didn't call it out, so he missed the shot. It was a big point."

"He stopped a little bit," said Kudla, "I think he thought it was out, and then I hit the ball and it ended up going out. It was a mistake, but it stuck in my head the rest of the first set. It was stupid, but it's why I lost the first set. I wish I could go back in time and fix that."

Kudla's first serve deserted him after that and a double fault and a Sandgren forehand winner gave him a chance to serve out the set, which he did at love.

In the second set, the level of tennis dropped, and breaks were as common as holds of serve. Neither player played with the consistency they had displayed in the first set, and Sandgren had an obvious explanation.

"It felt like we were both a little tired, almost," said Sandgren, who did not lose a set in his seven matches and played only one tiebreaker all week. "We both made a lot of sloppy errors on our serves. I started feeling a little tired, I think we both got a little fatigued and that caused us to play poor on our serves."

Sandgren was up 4-2 in the second, but Kudla won the next two games, only to lose his serve again at 4-4, and again Sandgren held, this time for the championship.

"His game is really attacking and aggressive," said Kudla, from Fairfax, Virginia. "He's got one of the best forehands I've ever seen in this age group. He makes every ball, hits the lines or it goes in the corners. It's just a great game."

Sandgren had planned to fly home to Nashville, but since his father and older brother Davey, a sophomore on the University of Tennessee tennis team, had driven the 15 hours to watch him once he reached the semis, he was contemplating a change in travel arrangements.

"We're going to go out to eat now," said Sandgren, who has been accompanied by his mother and coach Lia all week. "And then I guess we're all driving back home together, so it should be a lot of fun."

Bowles also had a cheering section for his national final, when several of his Florida State teammates and their families joined his mother, father and Dwayne Hultquist, the Seminoles' head tennis coach, in supplying home state support for the Tampa resident.

The 18s final lasted only 44 minutes, and after Klahn took a 2-1 lead in the first set, he didn't win another game.

"He was making a lot of unforced errors," said Bowles, 18, who will begin classes at Florida State next month. "If I put it in his strike zone, he was just teeing off on his shots. So I had to make a lot of balls out of his strike zone, that was my game plan."

Klahn, the No. 6 seed, admitted that he had no energy and nothing in the tank to draw on when Bowles started to get more first serves in midway through the first set.

"I ran out of gas," said Klahn, of San Diego, who turns 17 next month. "The first few days were hot and humid and the heat just kind of wore on me. Clint played well, and he obviously handled the heat a lot better. It's a testament to him, he deserves it."

Bowles, unseeded in the tournament, was asked by several reporters afterward whether he was surprised by his performance. Having won his first 18s title at Mobile in 2005 as an unseeded 16-year-old, Bowles didn't put a lot of stock in the tournament's seeding, although he did express some surprise that he was the first unseeded player to win it.

"I knew if I played well I could win," said Bowles, who has won 19 consecutive matches on Florida clay in the past four months. "I don't have a high enough national ranking (to be seeded). But we all know each other; I don't think I really surprised anyone in the tournament. Maybe the people watching."

Bowles' longtime coach Nick Saviano attended the tournament, and Bowles made a point to acknowledge how important that relationship has been to his success.

"He's helped me so much," said Bowles. "Nick's been great and I owe a lot to his support and coaching."

He'll undoubtedly want his mentor at February's ATP tournament played on the hard court stadium that looms over the clay court where he earned the main draw wild card. Especially if he gets the draw he says he wants.

"I hope I draw the No. 1 seed, whoever it is," Bowles said.

The consolation finals were completed on Sunday, with fourth seed Wil Spencer taking the fifth position in the 18s for the second year in a row, defeating No. 10 seed Luke Marchese 6-3, 6-0. In the 16s, No. 2 seed Bo Seal avenged his main draw loss to No. 13 Sekou Bangoura taking a 6-4, 6-4 victory for fifth place.

The bronze ball for third place in the 16s went to No. 7 seed Ryan Noble, who downed unseeded Devin McCarthy 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. No. 5 seed Brennan Boyajian defeated Joey Burkhardt, a 17 seed, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 for third place in the 18s.

The boys 18s doubles semifinals were completed before the rains came Sunday afternoon, with No. 7 seeds Reid Carleton and Steve Johnson upending No. 2 seeds Boyajian and Zach Hunter 6-3, 7-5, and No. 9 seeds Drew Daniel and Ryan Harrison taking out the unseeded team of Jordan Bridge and Spencer Smith 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

Third place in the boys 16s doubles went to Billy Federhofer and Anderson Reed, who defeated fellow No. 9 seeds Christopher Freeman and Warren Hardie 7-6, 6-1.

Due to heavy rain on Sunday afternoon, the doubles finals in both divisions and the third place doubles match in the 18s were abandoned.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bowles and Klahn in 18s Final; Sandgren and Kudla Vie for 16s Title at Clay Courts

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Delray Beach, FL--

Last year, just a few miles down I-95, Denis Kudla captured the boys 14s Clay Court championships in Ft. Lauderdale. On Sunday, he'll play for the 16s title against top seed Tennys Sandgren. So is the 14-year-old from Virginia developing a affinity for the heat and humidity and the gritty green surface that Florida is famous for?

"Florida in July, not really," said Kudla, a 17th seed, who will turn 15 next month. "And I really don't prefer clay."

But after taking out No. 7 seed Ryan Noble of Fayetteville, North Carolina 6-2, 7-5 in Saturday morning's semifinal, Kudla could be ready to revise his opinion.

With all four semifinals being played at the same time, it was impossible to focus on any one of them, so I'll leave it to Kudla to describe how he beat Noble.

"I knew his balls weren't going very fast, but they're very low," said Kudla. "I just knew I had to get low and get a lot of topspin on my balls, get them deep and attack his shots. I ended up doing that, but in the second set my serve let me down a little bit, but I ended up winning out."

Unlike Kudla, Sandgren will be in a National Championship final for the first time on Sunday, and he credits an improved mental game for the success he's enjoyed this year.

"I haven't gotten as upset as I normally do," said the Tennesseean, a 6-0, 6-2 winner over unseeded Devin McCarthy of Ohio in the semifinals. "I'm not giving away games like I used to. I'm playing pretty good right now, and I haven't had too many tough matches."

Sandgren, who will be celebrating his 16th birthday on Sunday, is expecting a fight in the finals however.

"We've both been having a pretty good year," said Sandgren, referring to the his ITF Grade 4 win in March, his International Springs 16s title in April and Kudla's two ITF Grade 4 & 5 wins in February. "So it should be a really good match."

Although they haven't played recently, Kudla is looking for his first win over Sandgren.

"We haven't played in a year and a half," said Kudla. "This may be our third time, or fourth, I'm not sure. I haven't beaten him. He's either 2-0 or 3-0.(Having been in a Nationals final) is probably the only advantage I have over him, that experience, but it's all about who handles the nerves better."

In the 18s final, unseeded Clint Bowles and No. 6 seed Bradley Klahn will play for the national championship and a wild card into the main draw of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships next January.

Bowles repeated his recent victory over No. 5 seed Brennan Boyajian in the Florida State Closed, again in straight sets, but the 6-3, 6-4 win was not without drama. Up a set and 5-1, Bowles saw his two-break cushion disappear.

"I wasn't focusing on the things I should have been focusing on," said Bowles, "and he came up with some good shots. He made some balls, I missed some."

With Boyajian back on serve at 4-5 30-30, his approach wasn't quite good enough and Bowles struck a clean pass to earn a match point. At 30-40, Bowles' return caught the tape; Boyajian could do nothing but watch helplessly as it trickled over the net.

"Of course I was happy," said Bowles. "Who's not happy after that? I didn't mean to, but I can't do anything about it."

Klahn quickly dispatched Joey Burkhardt, a 17 seed, 6-1 in the first set, but saw the momentum swing away from him in the second, when he fell behind 4-2. But it came back late in the third and the Californian went on to take the second set 7-5.

"The first set I came out firing," said Klahn, who will turn 17 next month. "I was going for shots. He kept the ball higher, and I just had to step in. With my legs I couldn't play a three-hour grindfest. I just want to step in and take the balls early, and that's what I did late in the second set. I got a couple of key double faults and a couple of errors that gave me the break."

The only match that Klahn and Bowles played was in the first round of the International Springs in 2006, when Bowles saved three match points in a third set tiebreaker that ended at 9-7. They don't come much closer than that and even with his 18 consecutive wins on his home state's clay this spring and summer, Bowles isn't sure he has an advantage.

"He looks great," said Bowles. "I haven't really seen him play too much, but obviously he's pretty comfortable on clay if he's in the finals. Hopefully, it'll be a good match again."

The 16s doubles final and the 18s doubles semifinal did not begin and several back draw matches in progress were disrupted when mid-afternoon thundershowers came through South Florida.

See the TennisLink site for complete draws and the revised schedule for doubles.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Three Floridians in 18s Clays Semifinals; Noble Ousts Formentera in 16s

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Delray Beach FL--

The 2007 Boys 18s Clay Courts, like any good summer movie blockbuster sequel, could be entitled, "The Return of the Florida State Closed." Three of the four semifinalists in that division met last month in Daytona Beach, on clay, with Clint Bowles taking matches from Joey Burkhardt in the round of 16 and Brennan Boyajian in the semifinals on his way to the title (over Ryan Kim, whom he beat in the round of 32 here).

Bowles, who isn't seeded despite that win, set up a rematch with Boyajian by defeating No. 3 seed Reid Carleton 7-6 (5), 6-3, while Boyajian, the highest remaining seed now at No. 5, cruised to a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Luke Marchese, the No. 10 seed.

Taking an early 4-1 lead, Bowles, who will play at Florida State this fall, seemed in control. But Carleton came back to force the tiebreaker, and when Bowles' forehand went awry in the middle of it, Carleton managed a 5-4 lead with two serves coming. But Bowles didn't lose confidence in his forehand, played aggressively and hit two winners from that side in the next three points. The second set, which I caught only the last two games of, was extremely close, but at 3-3 Bowles got the break, held and broke again to earn his spot in the semifinals.

Burkhardt, a 17 seed, defeated fellow Floridian Jeff Dadamo, the ninth seed, 6-1, 6-3. Burkhardt made effective use of his drop shot early, and Dadamo's errors kept him from getting any opportunity to dig into the match. The only out of state party crasher is No. 6 seed Bradley Klahn, the San Diego area native, who defeated Florida's Wil Spencer, the No. 4 seed, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0. Klahn, the winner of the Grass Courts last month in Philadelphia, made effective use of his lefty serve and matched Spencer forehand for forehand before taking charge in the final set.

The 16s started the action on a slightly cooler day at the Delray Beach Tennis Center, although 90 degrees is only cool in relative terms.

No. 7 seed Ryan Noble upset No. 3 seed and Easter Bowl champion Lawrence Formentera 6-7 (6), 6-2, 6-1. Noble came back from 5-2 down in the first set to win the next four games, but was broken when serving for it. The ensuing tiebreaker saw Noble take a 5-3 lead, but Formentera came up with a couple of winners and an ill-fated drop shot attempt by Noble gave Formentera the set. But Noble gave no indication of discouragement and disrupting the Californian's rhythm with many a slice, Noble got ahead and stayed focused throughout the next two sets.

Noble's opponent in Saturday's semifinal is 14-year-old Dennis Kudla, a 17 seed, who defeated No. 13 seed Sekou Bangoura 6-3, 6-3. The other semifinal will feature top seed Tennys Sandgren against the surprising Devin McCarthy. Sandgren was dominant again today, beating No. 9 seed Walker Kehrer 6-1, 6-2, while the unseeded McCarthy, who had saved three match points in his upset of No. 5 seed Mousheg Hovhannisyan on Thursday, lost only two games in eliminating unseeded Daniel Ho.

The boys 16s doubles finals are set for Saturday afternoon. Kehrer and Raymond Sarmiento, the No. 7 seeds will face the No. 2 seeded team of Noble and Bo Seal, who saved a match point in the second set of their late evening semifinal against Billy Federhofer and Anderson Reed, taking it 3-6, 7-6, 7-6. Both Seal and Sarmiento had played two back draw matches prior to their doubles semifinals, and Seal was on the court nearly ten hours in his three matches.

The 18s doubles completed the quarterfinals today with No. 2 seeds Boyajian and Zach Hunter coming back for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over the unseeded team of Andrew Landwerlen and Andrew Reiff. The semifinals will be played on Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Heat Continues, Upsets Don't at Boys 18s Clay Courts

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Delray Beach, FL--

When the thermometer read 88 degrees at 8 o'clock this morning, there was no hope for any relief from the withering heat that has made the Clay Court Championships more about survival than tennis.

After the top two seeds Jordan Rux and Dennis Nevolo lost on Wednesday, any upsets in Thursday's round of 16 would pale in comparison, and as it turned out, there weren't any even minor surprises. There were also no three-setters, as the favorites kept themselves out of the sun, and avoided any drama. No. 10 seed Luke Marchese lost only one game in defeating Spencer Smith, who had shocked Rux on Wednesday. Marchese has cruised through his first four matches in straight sets, as has his Friday quarterfinal opponent, 2006 16s Clay Court Champion Brennan Boyajian, the No. 5 seed, who beat unseeded Evan Bernstein 6-3, 6-1. The other quarterfinal in the top half will pit No. 3 seed Reid Carleton against unseeded Clint Bowles. I watched quite a few games of Carleton's 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 16 seed Jon Jaklitsch, and was impressed by the quality of play despite the miserable heat. Carleton used his drop shot judiciously, and made few unforced errors, but Jaklitsch kept running shots down and getting them back, making Carleton work for every point.

Bowles, who won the Florida State Closed last month, subdued 15-year-old Ryan Harrison 6-3, 7-5, by using speed and depth, and putting away the short balls.

In the only quarterfinal that has gone to form, No. 6 seed Bradley Klahn will face No. 4 seed Wil Spencer. Spencer, who has finished sixth or better at the past three Clay Courts, beat No. 13 seed Bryant Salcedo 7-5, 6-2. Up 4-1 in the first, Spencer allowed Salcedo back in the match but at 5-5, he found another gear, and won eight of the next ten games. Klahn bested unseeded Aba Omodele-Lucien 6-3, 6-3.

Like Carleton and Bowles, the quarterfinal between No. 9 seed Jeff Dadamo and Joey Burkhardt will be Floridian vs. Floridian. Dadamo outlasted No. 17 seed Drew Daniel 6-3, 7-5, while Burkhardt followed up his win over Nevolo on Wednesday with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over fellow 17th seed Kayvon Karimi.

The day didn't end without drama however. A doubles match between the unseeded team of Spencer Smith and Jordan Bridge and No. 3 seeds Joey Burkhardt and Zach Nichols ended with a trip to the hospital for Nichols. Early in the third set, Nichols, who had won two back draw matches earlier in the day, went up for a backhand overhead and shortly thereafter complained of dizziness. A trainer was called, and he received treatment, mostly ice, for heat-related illness, but he refused to retire, although he could barely move. Eventually, having collapsed to the court once, he was kept on the courtside chairs until a EMT team could arrive to take him to a local hospital, where he was given IV's and treated for heat exhaustion. Bridge and Smith, who throughout the ordeal refused to take advantage of Nichols' obvious distress, won by the unusual score of 7-5, 4-6, 4-4 ret. inj.

The 16s, who wrapped up their last day at Broken Sound Country Club, did have a major upset on Thursday, when No. 2 seed Bo Seal lost to No. 13 seed Sekou Bangoura 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. No. 5 seed Mousheg Hovhannisyan also lost in a third set tiebreaker, to unseeded Devin McCarthy.

For complete results, see the TennisLink website.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Top Seeds Rux and Nevolo Fall in Round of 32 at Clay Courts

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Delray Beach FL--

When I arrived at the Delray Beach Swim and Tennis Club early this afternoon, I had already missed unseeded Spencer Smith's upset of the 18s top seed Jordan Rux in two tiebreak sets. But No. 2 seed Dennis Nevolo and Joey Burkhardt, a No. 17 seed, were still in the first set, and it was a match that I had wanted to see. Knowing both players' games, I thought there would be an impressive display of shotmaking, but I hadn't accounted for the heat.

Only two of the 16 man draw singles matches on Wednesday ended in retirements, but in every match I saw, the strain of playing in temperatures that reached 105 on the heat index took its toll.

After Nevolo had won the first set 7-5, Burkhardt took a 4-1 lead, and Nevolo decided to let the second set go, barely waving at Burkhardt's serves in the final game. The ten-minute mandatory rest break was an opportunity for both players to get off the dusty courts and into the shade or an air-conditioned car, but neither returned to the court with much energy.

Burkhardt got an early break and Nevolo, who had played consecutive three-hour three-setters on Monday and Tuesday, couldn't summon his best tennis, but Burkhardt was struggling too. Time between points stretched, as towels were sought, balls were gathered, and then, short bursts of activity as a point was decided.

Down 5-1 in the third, Nevolo wasn't conceding anything, and he saved five match points serving at that score, most on winners, as he successfully ended points quickly to save energy. But in the final game, Burkhardt held on, and by winning 6-2 in the third, saved himself the torture of the two-a-days in the back draw.

Both players faced the prospect of doubles matches less than two hours later, and although Burkhardt survived that with a three-set win with partner Zach Nichols, Nevolo did not. Playing with Bradley Klahn as the top seeded team, Nevolo had to retire with illness down 3-0 in the second set, after they had won the first set 6-0. He had requested a trainer, but none was available, so he retired with Klahn serving up 40-15 in the fourth game.

The 16s are playing at another site, so I won't have an opportunity to see them until Friday, when the quarterfinals in both divisions will be played at the Delray Beach Tennis Center. There have been fewer upsets in the 16s; of the top eight seeds, only No. 6 David Holiner and No. 4 Matt Spindler have failed to reach the round of 16. The doubles are nearly the opposite--No. 2 seeds Ryan Noble and Bo Seal are the only top eight seeded team remaining in the quarterfinals.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink website.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Next Best Hope

I only saw Peter Bodo for a few minutes here and there at Wimbledon, but he did mention as we said our goodbyes that he was going to do a post on Donald Young. It went up today, at Peter Bodo's TennisWorld, and for those of you who are interested in what a tennis writer that has been in the business for decades thinks of Young's career arc, it's a must-read.

And please, add your comments to his post. Most of you who are regular readers have much more familiarity with Young and his game than those who've commented.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wrapping Up Wimbledon

Before I move to another surface on Wednesday when I head to the Clay Courts, it's time to wrap up Wimbledon. My tournament synopsis for The Tennis Recruiting Network went up today, and Kevin McClure and I discussed my wet week at Wimbledon in a bit more detail on the latest version of Inside Junior Tennis.

And completely off-topic, USA Today's Doug Robson delves into a story I've always wanted to write myself--who decides what's an unforced error in tennis? From my observation, mostly confirmed by this piece, it's very young people, often teenagers, who are given a computer and a good vantage point and told to make that judgment.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Junior tennis titles do not serve as a predictor of pro success

Two of the National Clay Court titles not being decided in South Florida, the girls 16s in Virginia Beach and the girls 18s in Memphis, will be followed closely by the local newspapers if today's articles are any indication.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal, which always does a great job of covering tennis, whether at the junior, Pro Circuit or WTA and ATP leavel, has this preview with top seed Lauren Embree and Tennesseean Claire Bartlett, the no. 2 seed, getting most of the attention. The TennisLink website is here.

The Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot opened its coverage of the girls 16s with a look back at what has happened to its former champions, twenty years' worth of them. The headline (the title of this post) is not exactly startling news, but it is interesting to hear from many of the women who took a shot at pro tennis the reasons why it wasn't ultimately a lifestyle they wanted. The TennisLink website is here.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

USTA Clay Courts Begin Sunday

As with all USTA Level 1 National Championships, there are four age group titles for both boys and girls on the line next week at the Clay Court championships. Five of those tournaments will take place in South Florida: the girls 12s at Boca Raton, the girls 14s at Plantation, the boys 14s at Ft. Lauderdale, and the tournament I'm attending, the boys 16s and 18s at Delray Beach.

The Sun-Sentinel posted this preview yesterday, unfortunately, they didn't get the word that Ryan Thacher had withdrawn (he's playing qualifying at the ATP Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles). With Thacher out, and Rhyne Williams, who holds the No. 2 USTA ranking in the 18s, never in, the No. 1 seed is Jordan Rux of Kerrville Texas. Dennis Nevolo, Reid Carleton and Wil Spencer round out the top four in the 18s. Notable unseeded players are Clint Bowles and Tyler Hochwalt; fortunately they didn't draw each other in the first round, and in fact both got byes and don't play until Monday. Andre Dome is another dangerous unseeded player; he landed in Rux's quarter, while 15-year-old Ryan Harrison could face No. 7 seed Steve Johnson in Monday's second round.

Alex Domijan and Evan King, the top two players in the USTA 16s rankings, are playing the 18s (Domijan is seeded, King is not), so the top seed in 16s goes to Tennys Sandgren, followed by Bo Seal, Lawrence Formentera and Matt Spindler.

I won't be arriving until Wednesday, so I'll undoubtedly miss some upsets, but I'll be following the results until then at the TennisLink website.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Augustine Prepares for Acura Classic Qualifying; Virginia's Boland Gets St. Cloud Salute

Just a couple of quick links today, the first a San Diego Union-Tribune piece by Jerry Magee about Brittany Augustine, who has won a spot in the upcoming WTA Tier 1 Acura Classic qualifying later this month.

Last week Virginia men's tennis coach Brian Boland got the "Where Are They Now?" treatment from the St. Cloud Minnesota Times, who detail his journey from young tennis camper to D-I head coach in this article.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Gimelstob on Young; Williams Youngest US Pro Circuit Winner

Justin Gimelstob's most recent blog post on SI.com is devoted to Donald Young's past and future. There is always much lively debate on this topic, but I've always been among those who believe, as does Gimelstob, that Young's too talented to write off at the age of 17. Gimelstob discusses the need to manage expectations, and that's a lesson that Rhyne Williams, who is getting all sorts of attention in the Pro Circuit Futures stops now, will need to pay close attention to.

The "youngest" superlative is always going to raise expecatations, and thanks to Tim Curry of the USTA and Steve G, of stevegtennis.com, I was able to determine that Williams is the youngest U.S. male to win a Pro Circuit event in the United States. (The records of the circuit date back to 1998). Mario Ancic of Croatia was the youngest male ever when he won an event in Croatia at age 15. Williams is in Peoria this week, and the Journal Star filed this story on his head-turning win last week in Pittsburgh.

The Delaware State News spoke with Madison Brengle about her seven-week odyssey in Europe and filed this story.

I am still working on my Wimbledon review for The Tennis Recruiting Network, but this week I enumerate Twelve Tips for A Better Tournament Experience. They may seem like common sense, but I've been around enough tournament desks to know that even the most seasoned junior tennis player can need a refresher now and then.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wimbledon Junior Championships Slideshow

This lengthy slideshow contains photos of all Americans who reached the main draw and all quarterfinalists in singles.

Wimbledon 07
View Photo Slideshow

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Glatch, Williams Win Pro Circuit Events Sunday

To all those whose first question since I've arrived home is "how was Wimbledon?", I haven't yet formulated an appropriate answer. "Wet and expensive" seem too negative, although there's no denying it was both. But it was thrilling to see such fabulous tennis, to feel the love for the sport, and a country's obsession with the tournament. There's no way I could have expected to watch two Americans in the singles finals, and I was extremely pleased to have the opportunity to report on their progress and to see them in action again.

And although the tennis world's attention was squarely on AELTC and Venus and Rafa and Roger, there were the usual array of tournaments spanning the globe. Two here in the U.S.--the Southlake, Texas $25K for women, and the $10K for men in Pittsburgh--were won by Alexa Glatch and Rhyne Williams, who could have competed at junior Wimbledon if they were so inclined.

Glatch has been struggling with injuries since her motorbike accident late in 2005, and although she has had some good weeks since, it's been difficult for her to sustain the momentum. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram filed this story on her win.

Rhyne Williams, the 18s Easter Bowl champion, is only 16, but he has already claimed his first professional title with his win in Pittsburgh. Unseeded, Williams not only defeated No. 3 seed Jose Statham of New Zealand, who had beaten him the previous week, but took out Stephen Bass (formerly of Notre Dame) and Georgia's Travis Helgeson, two of the best players in college tennis. The Pittsburgh Tribune Review's story on Williams' win is here.

Usta.com also has a review of the results of last week's U.S. Pro Circuit events here.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Young Earns Wimbledon Junior Championship; Brengle Falls in Final

©Colette Lewis 2007—

Grand Slam Championships, even for a player as talented as Donald Young, are hard to come by.

But after 11 tries, he captured his second Grand Slam junior singles title Sunday, defeating No. 1 seed Vlad Ignatic of Belarus 7-5, 6-1 on a picturesque afternoon at The All England Lawn and Tennis Club. Young, the 2005 Australian Open junior champion, got off to a quick start, breaking Ignatic in the match’s first game. The crowd, packing the No. 3 court as they sought diversion prior to the men’s doubles and singles finals, were treated to a much tighter set than those two games would suggest however, as Young could not hold either of the two leads he had. Ignatic even managed to take a 5-4 lead, but Young picked up the pace and won the set’s final three games.

“My serve wasn’t really good today,” said Ignatic, whose first serve percentage was under 50 percent. “I’m really tired and couldn’t serve good and I think it was the key to the game. I was 5-4 up…if I serve just a little bit better, I think it’s first set for me, he’s one set down, nervous, and I’m more confident because I’m one set up.”

Young agreed.

“If I’d have lost the first set it would have been a real dogfight to come back and try to win the second, because he would have just got even more confident, hit more balls in, you know [be] loose and just go for it,” said Young.

The 17-year-old from Atlanta displayed the importance of that sense of relaxation by steamrolling Ignatic in the second set’s first three games. The two-break lead allowed Young to dictate points, position himself for forehands and attack Ignatic’s frequent second serves.

“I didn’t really have a strategy,” said Young of his first meeting with Ignatic. “I mean, hit a lot of first serves in, make him play, move him around, try to attack and just keep a lot of balls in play and put pressure on him.”

Despite being in a 5-1 hole in the second, Ignatic hung tough in the final game, staving off five match points before Young finally got the forehand he wanted on the sixth and drilled it.

Young, now working with USTA High Performance coach David Nainkin, didn’t celebrate extravagantly--a smile toward his parents and a fist pump before the handshake were enough—but the No. 3 seed acknowledged the importance of the win.

“It’s good to go out there and beat your peers,” he said. “Be able, not to dominate, but win, show you can play under pressure.”

“Today he was better,” conceded Ignatik, who will remain No. 1 in the ITF junior world rankings with his finals’ appearance. “He has a very good ATP ranking already, around 300; he’s a very good player. I didn’t feel great today, I didn’t play well, but next time I will try to show him better tennis.”

Madison Brengle showed Poland’s Urszula Radwanska some very good tennis for a set and a half, but it all came crashing down as she lost twelve straight games to the 16-year-old from Krakow, falling 2-6, 6-3, 6-0.

Brengle, the seventh seed, suffered a pulled stomach muscle serving in the second game of the third set, but she was the first to admit that the match slipped away from her well before that.

“She played well, and I just got really tight,” said the 17-year-old from Delaware. “When I was up a set and 3-0, she started serving really well, and that made it a lot harder to finish it out.”

Brengle, who had played with depth, angles and precision throughout the first eleven games saw the tide turn in the twelfth. Twice she had ads to go up 4-0, but when she converted neither, Radwanska had a glimmer of hope, and she seized it by making liberal use of what she termed her favorite shot--the drop shot.

“I saw that she was a little bit tired,” said Radwanska, the No. 6 seed. “She didn’t run like she did in the first set, and I was also playing very good.”

“She’s got really tough drop shots,” said Brengle, who has been in Europe for seven weeks and has played in seven tournaments, including five junior events and two professional qualifiers. “After a while I started feeling it in my legs. Her drop shots were extremely difficult to get to—they were just going over the net by two inches.”

With her win, Radwanska matches her sister Agnieszka’s 2005 Wimbledon Junior title, in the process becoming the first sisters to win junior singles championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. Unfortunately, Agnieszka, who reached the third round this year and the fourth round last year in the women’s draw, was not able to stay in London to watch her sister put them in the history books. The WTA’s 35th ranked player left yesterday for a $100,000 challenger in Italy next week.

“She was very happy,” said Urszula. “I called her after the final and she was very happy, like me.”

“It’s a great beginning for us that we won Wimbledon, both of us,” said Radwanska, when asked if she and her sister were aspiring to the Williams sisters’ success on the grass courts of SW 19. “We hope it is the start for us.”

No Post Monday July 9

Monday is a travel day, so enjoy the Wimbledon coverage and I'll be back on Tuesday.

Third Set Tiebreakers Decide Wimbledon Junior Doubles

©Colette Lewis 2007--

Although the rain that plagued the 2007 Wimbledon Championships was nowhere to be found on the last three days of the junior event, its effects were still much in evidence. Wimbledon, with its tradition of playing out the final set, even in doubles, was forced to a radical change, and the doubles finals were decided by the expedient ten-point tiebreaker in lieu of the third set.

For the singles and doubles champion Urszula Radwanska of Poland, who had played nine matches in the past three days, it was a relief.

"I was very happy that it was a super tiebreak," said Radwanska, who needed three sets to subdue Madison Brengle in the singles final and then played both the semifinals and finals of the doubles after that. "I didn't want a third set, because I was very, very tired, so it was good for me."

Russian Anastasia Pavylyuchenkova, the defending girls doubles champion at Wimbledon, and Radwanska had their hands full with the unseeded Japanese team of Misaki Doi and Kurumi Nara, but the No. 1 seeds prevailed 6-4, 2-6, 1-0 (7) in the evening final.

"It's quite difficult," said Pavlyuchenkova, who lost in singles to Radwanska in the quarterfinals. "You get nervous a little bit because it's only ten points, but I was happy, because I know she's tired. I tried to help her to not play so much, because I knew she was tired."

The boys doubles final didn't require one partner carry the champion, because Donald Young, who had won the singles championship earlier, did not make it that far. He and partner Johnny Hamui succumbed to eventual champions Daniel Lopez and Matteo Trevisan of Italy 6-3, 2-6, 1-0 (4) in the semifinals.

The first set featured just one break, with Young dropping serve in the second game, but the unseeded Americans, seeking a fourth consecutive Wimbledon boys doubles title for the U.S., rolled through the second, and momentum seemed to be on their side. But it didn't carry over to the tiebreaker.

"Trevisan hit three good shots, they hit the tape a couple of times and suddenly they were 5-0 up, in two seconds," said Hamui of the tiebreaker's start.

"I really wanted to win the doubles," said Young, the 2005 US Open junior doubles champion. "The first set they came out firing away. I didn't think they could play that well, to be honest. I'd never seen them play that well before, but obviously they must be pretty good players."

Trevisan and Lopez engaged in an even closer match in the finals against the unseeded team of Roman Jebavy of the Czech Republic and Martin Klizan of Slovakia, taking it 7-6 (5), 4-6, 1-0 (8). The last Italian boy to raise the boys doubles trophy was Daniele Bracciali, who won it with Canadian Jocelyn Robichaud in 1996.

Radwanska equaled her countrywoman Aleksandra Olsza's 1995 feat of winning both singles and doubles championships in the Junior Championships. Olsza teamed with Zimbabwe's Cara Black (the 2007 women's doubles champion at Wimbledon) that year for the doubles title and defeated Tamarine Tanasugarn in the singles final.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Brengle, Young Charge into Wimbledon Junior Finals

©Colette Lewis 2007--

Donald Young and Madison Brengle hope to join Venus Williams as 2007 American Wimbledon champions when they play for the boys and girls singles titles on Sunday at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club. It is the first time since 1981 that the U.S. has had a boy finalist and a girl finalist, and the precedent is a good one. Matt Anger and Zina Garrison returned across the Atlantic with the winners' trophies.

On the first truly summery day of the rain-drenched week, Brengle, the No. 7 seed, defeated unseeded Katarzyna Piter 7-5, 7-6 (3). The 17-year-old from Dover, Delaware nudged ahead several times but the leads were hard to hold. At 5-5 in the first set, Brengle reeled off five straight games and took the momentum but at the changeover, the 16-year-old from Poland called for a trainer.

"It kind of messed up my momentum a little bit," Brengle admitted. "Then I went down 4-3 5-4, 6-5, serving to stay in it, but I won those games pretty easily, most of them at love."

Brengle, who had excelled in the championship tiebreakers that decided her second round and quarterfinal matches, conceded some nerves in the conventional one she faced Saturday.

"I think both of us were really tight in it," Brengle said. "I played well, she made a couple of errors and that was the difference."

Brengle wasn't so sure that she was happy with the return of traditional scoring, especially after playing five singles matches in four days, plus two doubles contests.

"I like the third set breaker right now," Brengle said. "Everybody's kind of tired, so not having to play that third set is okay, knowing I'm going to be off the court soon."

Having lost her second round doubles match, Brengle left the interview room with a specific destination in mind. To celebrate? No, although she did admit she was "stoked" to be one of two Americans in the final. "Now, I'm off to the trainer," she announced.

Young played three matches on Saturday and won them all--taking down sixth-seeded Greg Jones of Australia in the singles semifinals 6-4, 7-5, and following that with two doubles wins.

Against Jones, a finalist in the French Open juniors last month, Young returned well, but Jones executed some very tough half volleys as he approached to keep the first set on serve. Serving at 4-5, Jones had his first hiccup; after saving one set point with a first serve that Young couldn't handle, he double faulted the set away.

"He's one of those players that goes for more on his second serve, so he has a higher risk for a double fault," Young explained. "His just happened to come at bad times."

In the second set, Jones twice went up a break, the second one putting him up 5-4 and serving for the set. In a very tense game, Jones twice saved break points, but on the third, Young displayed the variety and creativity that sets his game apart. Jones hit a strong first serve and charged the net, ready for the return at his feet. But instead Young floated a perfect topspin forehand return out of the reach of the strapping Australian.

Jones began to show signs of frustration at being unable to take advantage of the opportunities Young was giving him, and they came to a head in the next game. Jones berated himself after nearly every point,and after a particularly ugly shank of a routine Young serve, he broke his racquet and received a warning from the chair umpire.

Serving to reach a tiebreaker, Jones double faulted twice when serving to the ad court, and although he collected himself long enough to stave off one match point, on the second, Young executed a surgical forehand pass to reach his first Wimbledon final in four tries.

"I'm really happy to be in the finals," the third-seeded Young said. "Venus won, so hopefully me and Madison can win as well. It would be awesome. And Johnny (Hamui) and I are still in doubles, so I hope to keep that going. It's just an honor to be in the Wimbledon final."

Because he had played three matches on Saturday, Young had the option to play another doubles match or to ask that the semifinals be delayed until Sunday, and he chose the latter option, as did Brengle's finals opponent Urszula Radwanska of Poland, who also is still in the doubles on the girls side.

The sixth-seed Radwanska ended unseeded British favorite Anna Fitzpatrick's impressive run with a 7-6 (3), 6-3 victory, and should she duplicate her sister Agnieszka's Wimbledon girls championship in 2005, they would become the first sisters to win Wimbledon junior singles titles.

Vlad Ignatic, the No. 1 seed and French Open boys champion, engaged in the only three-setter of the day, but he managed to retain his chance at back-to-back junior slams with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 win over unseeded Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania. Ignatic, who turns 17 next Saturday, is from Belarus, but trains at John Roddick's Total Tennis Academy in San Antonio when not traveling the junior circuit. He and Young have not played.

Both the boys and girls have one half of the doubles finals decided. The unseeded team of Roman Jebavy of the Czech Republic and Martin Klizan of Slovakia are through to the finals, as are the unseeded Japanese pair of Misaki Doi and Kurumi Nara in the girls division.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Brengle, Young Win Tiebreakers to Reach Wimbledon Semifinals

©Colette Lewis 2007--

An unprecedented day without rain at the All England Lawn Tennis Club put juniors on every conceivable court, save Centre Court and Court 1, and if I could catch a few games, or more to the point, the "championship tiebreaker" that was deciding nearly every match, I was happy.

Donald Young, the No. 3 seed, started his day with an easy 6-1, 6-1 win over Indonesia's Christopher Rungkat, but in the quarterfinals the 17-year-old left-hander needed to draw on every bit of his considerable tennis experience to subdue qualifier Dimitris Kleftakos of Germany 3-6, 6-1, 1-0 (8). Kleftakos had already claimed one upset of a high profile junior when he took out No. 5 seed Jonathan Eysseric of France 6-4, 2-6, 1-0 (9) in his first match, and the tall right-hander showed no signs of being intimidated by the former junior world champion.

Young found himself down 7-4 in the tiebreaker after Kleftakos cracked three straight winners, two off the backhand. But Young picked up his serving, evened it a 8-8 and then got some good fortune. Young's first serve at 8-8, which he thought was good, was ruled out by both the service line judge and the chair umpire, and his second was called out by the service line judge. Had the call stood, it would have had Kleftakos serving at match point, but the chair umpire overruled, and Young got a first serve. Although he missed that, he made his second (in reality, his fourth of the point) and banged a forehand winner to seize the match point and when Kleftakos hit a forehand wide, Young was in the semis.

"I'm telling you, the tiebreak takes years off your life," said Young, who survived one in his second round match on Thursday. "He played well. He was running around his forehand to hit a backhand, and it surprised me. I just tried to stay focused and tell myself that I'm more mentally tough than he is, and I had to just keep plugging away."

The seventh-seeded Brengle also needed to stage a comeback in her quarterfinal match with No. 11 seed Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia, but as she did against Cindy Chala of France in her second round victory on Thursday, Brengle played her best when it mattered most--in the tiebreaker--to earn a 5-7, 6-3, 1-0 (5) victory.

"In the breaker, I played really, really well," said Brengle, 17. "I played really aggressively and served really well."

Jovanovski threw in several double faults, including on match point, but Brengle credited the maturity in the 15-year-old's game. "She hits the ball pretty big and painted the lines a lot. She's got a good inside out forehand and she really smacked it," Brengle said of the Serb, who had upset No. 2 seed Anastasia Pivovarova of Russia in her first match of the day.

Brengle's semifinal opponent Saturday is one of two girls from Poland in the final four, unseeded Katarzyna Piter of Poland, who surprised No. 3 seed Evgeniya Rodina of Russia in the quarterfinals 6-3, 6-1. Piter is the rare junior who has yet to need a championship tiebreak to advance, and with the tournament returning to traditional scoring for Saturday's singles semifinals, she won't face the prospect again.

Urszula Radwanska of Poland, at No. 6, the top seed still remaining in girls' singles, upended her doubles partner, No. 1 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 7-5, 6-1. Pavlyuchenkova was serving for the first set, but the burden of her third match of the day was too much to overcome against Radwanska, whose sister Agnieszka won the Wimbledon girls championships in 2005.

Radwanska's opponent in the semifinals is unseeded wild card Anna Fitzpatrick of Great Britain, who assured herself of a huge home country following Saturday by defeating 13th seed Ksenia Lykina of Russia in a championship tiebreak, then taking out American Gail Brodsky in the quarterfinals 6-2, 7-5. Brodsky had managed to reach the quarterfinals by surviving the horror of seeing seven match points slip away in the championship tiebreaker against Czech Katerina Vankova, then saving one herself before emerging with a 4-6, 7-5, 1-0 (10) victory.

"When I did realize what was going on, when it was like 9-7, 9-8, I tried to hit a few balls, but it was too late, I was shaking," admitted Brodsky, who was playing with a fever and coughed regularly during her two matches. "I think it was more my body playing at those two points," Brodsky said of the ace and backhand winner she hit for the match's final two points. "If I really thought about the situation I was in, I probably would dropped my racquet and walked off the court."

After that emotional roller coaster, Brodsky couldn't summon her best tennis against Fitzpatrick, and the drain of playing two matches took its toll.

"It was just a shame, because it could of been so much of a better match than it was, because I just couldn't stay in the points," said Brodsky, who though complimenting Fitzpatrick's serve and groundstrokes, added, "I would look forward to playing her again."

The boys' semifinals also will feature an unseeded player, but unlike Fitzpatrick, Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania is widely known in junior tennis circle. The 17-year-old righthander is hoping to avenge his Roland Garros quarterfinal loss to eventual champion and Wimbledon top seed Vlad Ignatic on Saturday, just as he avenged his semifinal loss to eventual Australian Open champion Brydan Klein in Friday's quarterfinal encounter. Like his unseeded counterpart Piter, Berankis has won four matches without needing a championship tiebreak.

Young will face No. 6 seed and French Open finalist Greg Jones of Australia, who has also escaped the drama of a final tiebreaker instead of a third set. Jones lost to Young in the third round of the U.S. Open juniors last year, but his aggressive serve and volley game is well suited to Wimbledon's grass.

The doubles have begun, and there have been surprises in those contests as well, with top seeds Kellen Damico, the defending Wimbledon doubles champion, and French partner Jonathan Eysseric falling via championship tiebreak to the unseeded team of Roman Jebavy of the Czech Republic and Martin Klizan of Slovakia in the second round.

There will be an All-American second round contest when Johnny Hamui and Young face Devin Britton and Austin Krajicek. Mateusz Kecki and his partner Danila Arsenov of Russia will face the winner of that match in the quarterfinals.

Brengle and partner Chelsey Gullickson won their first round of doubles, and are the only American girls remaining. They take on the top seeded team of Pavlyuchenkova and Radwanska Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Brodsky and Brengle Join Zsilinszka in Wimbledon Final 16; Young Only U.S. Boy Remaining

©Colette Lewis 2007--

The skies opened as predicted Thursday afternoon at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, leaving the boys one match short of completing the second round. But in the five hours of play that did take place, American girls Madison Brengle and Gail Brodsky survived championship tiebreakers to reach the final 16.

The tiebreakers took place simultaneously at courts nearly a kilometer apart, but thanks to the wonders of the closed circuit televisions in the press room, I could track both, although obviously not with the same attentiveness as being on court. Brodsky took the first set against Russian Ksenia Pervak, the No. 10 seed, 6-4, but dropped the second 7-5, leading to the roulette of the 10-point tiebreaker (first player to 10 by two). Brodsky got a 7-5 lead and got a line call in her favor at the baseline to make it 8-5. Pervak questioned the decision, pointing to a spot behind the thick chalk line, but the chair didn't budge, and when Brodsky pasted a backhand winner on the next point, she had four match points. The 2007 Easter Bowl champion needed only two, and next faces unseeded Katerina Vankova of the Czech Republic, who upset No. 5 seed Nikola Hofmanova of Austria 6-1, 6-7 (4), 1-0 (6).

Brengle, the No. 7 seed, easily took the first set from left-hander Cindy Chala of France, 6-1, but fell behind a break early in the second set. When I got back to the court, she was serving for the match at 5-4, but was broken at love, and lost the ensuing second set tiebreaker seven points to three. Brengle had the luxury of another tiebreaker however, and played very few loose points, while Chala's errors multiplied, giving Brengle, a 2007 Australian Open junior finalist, a 10-5 win. Her opponent in the third round hasn't been determined.

Reka Zsilinszka, the No. 14 seed, made her way into the round of 16 with a victory on Wednesday evening. If top seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia gets past Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands in the second round, Zsilinszka will meet her on Friday.

The girls lost another high seed on Thursday, when British wild card Anna Fitzpatrick defeated No. 4 seed Ksenia Milevskaya of Belarus 6-4, 6-4, in a completion of a match called for darkness on Wednesday night.

At 3:50 p.m., when play was suspended for the day, never to resume, No. 3 seed Donald Young was only four games in to his third round match with Indonesia's Christopher Rungkat. Young had survived a championship tiebreaker against qualifier Andrei Karatchenia of Belarus in his first match of the day 6-7 (4), 6-1, 1-0 (4). Unlike his first round victory over wild card Neil Pauffley of Great Britain, Young didn't serve particularly effectively, and made very little use of his superior touch. Instead, he seemed content, at least in the first set, to play clay court tennis with Karatchenia, getting in long rallies that more often ended with an error than a winner.

No. 8 seed Kellen Damico and No. 9 seed Brydan Klein engaged in a more conventional grass court battle in the third round, after Damico had squeezed by India's Rupesh Roy in his first match of the day 6-3, 3-6, 1-0 (6). Klein, the 2007 Australian Open junior champion, had himself taken a championship tiebreaker in his previous contest, and he made it two in a row with a 1-6, 6-3, 1-0 (7) victory over Damico.

Damico, playing with a new Prince racquet, was broken only once, at 2-3 in the second set, and despite having two break points in the next game, he couldn't convert either, and Klein served out the set.

The first point of the championship tiebreaker saw Klein completing a Boris Beckeresque dive volley winner; the second point had him deftly half-volleying a perfect return by Damico for a winner. But despite those impressive displays, Damico hung tough, and there was never more than a two point lead for either player. But at 7-7, Klein hit a service winner, then smashed an overhead, to earn a match point. Damico chose to pressure Klein by coming to the net, but Klein hit a clean pass to join top seed Vlad Ignatic as the only two boys through to the round of 16. Ignatic defeated Mateusz Kecki of the U.S. 6-2, 6-2, then snuck past Thomas Fabbiano of Italy 5-7, 6-3, 1-0 (8).

Due to a four-hour five-set men's doubles match played on their court, the second round match between No. 2 seed Matteo Trevisan of Italy and Mark Verryth of Australia is still in the first set, but all other second round matches were completed in the boys draw. The only boys seed to fall in that round was JP Smith of Australia, the No. 12 seed, who lost to British wild card Marcus Willis 6-4, 7-6 (8). Four girls second round matches remain unfinished.

The weather forecast for Friday is positive for the first time in days, and the doubles are scheduled to begin.