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Friday, August 31, 2007

Eight U.S. Girls Advance in USO Qualifying

The complete results from today's qualifying are available at the TennisLink site and of the ten American girls competing, eight advanced to Saturday's second (and last) round of qualifying. The 14-year-olds were particularly impressive. Nicole Gibbs defeated No. 2 seed Isabella Holland of Australia in three sets, and Stephanie Vidov, who, with Gibbs and Sloane Stephens won the ITF World Junior Tem Competition a few weeks ago, rolled over No. 1 seed Misaki Doi of Japan 6-1, 6-2. Stephens couldn't quite get past fellow American Julia Boserup, but she did win a set.

Chelsey Gullickson, Alexa Guarachi, Lauren Embree, Allie Will and Kim Couts also advanced and on Saturday there is an opportunity for all eight to make it into the main draw, as none play each other. Kristy Frilling was the lone American girl to lose to a foreign player on Friday.

Australia's girls had a tough day, with Holland losing to Gibbs, No. 13 seed Alison Bai losing to Couts, and No. 6 seed Sally Peers falling to Embree. Unseeded Alenka Hubacek also lost, leaving the Australians with no chance for a qualifier and with only two girls in the main draw.

And yes, I'm shocked that Paz did in fact lose, in three sets to the Japanese wildcard Chinami Ogi. If Ogi wins on Saturday, I will be making a point to see her main draw match.

The boys results are now also complete, and of the ten U.S. boys in qualifying, six have already lost. Bradley Klahn defeated No. 2 seed Brendan McKenzie of Australia and Devin Britton beat fellow American Adam El Mihdawy. Dennis Nevolo outlasted Jarmere Jenkins and Frank Carleton upset No. 5 seeded Australian Mark Verryth.

With Giacomo Miccini and Bernard Tomic both winning today, it sets up a rematch of the 2004 Eddie Herr 12s final, the first time I saw either one of them play. Tomic won that match easily; tomorrow's will be an interesting yardstick for both of them.

The Canadian Open, the ITF Grade 1, finishes Saturday, and the girls title will be between Canadian wild card Rebecca Marino and Great Britain qualifier Jade Curtis. The boys champion will be either No. 8 seed Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania or No. 9 seed Guillermo Rivera Aranguiz of Chile. Berankis defeated top seed and No. 1 ranked Vlad Ignatic today, avenging his loss to Ignatic in the Wimbledon semifinals (and Roland Garros quarterfinals).

Inside the grounds at the U.S. Open (the junior qualifying takes place outside the gates), there weren't too many surprises. I was glued to the Djokovic/Stepanek match for most of the day, and after the Blake/Santoro contest last night, there was no claiming the first week was dull.

Wayne Odesnik went down in straight sets to Juan Ignacio Chela in singles second round action today, but in doubles, Jesse Levine and Alex Kuznetsov pulled off an upset, taking out Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra of France, the No. 7 seeds, 7-6, 6-4.

My next post will be from Flushing Meadows, where they are expecting great weather and huge crowds for the Labor Day weekend.

USO Junior Qualifying Draws, OOP Are Up

Thanks to commenter "latenighter" for finding the qualifying draws. It's a huge frustration every Grand Slam to locate junior qualifying information.

Anyway, the boys went very deep into the alternate list--33 by my count, while the girls didn't go past 15. Melanie Oudin isn't listed in the qualifying draw, so she must have received the final reserved wild card in the main draw. I think both special exemptions in the girls side were needed for Canadian Open semifinalists Rebecca Marino and Jade Curtis. Stephanie Vidov and Allie Will were recipients of the reserved wild cards in qualifying. The biggest upset of the junior tournament will be if Gabriela Paz of Venezuela doesn't advance to the main draw.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bo Seal Recruiting Profile, Kalamazoo Video; Garber on Young

My regular Thursday post for the Tennis Recruiting Network is a profile of Kalamazoo 16s finalist Bo Seal, and while we're talking Kalamazoo, I wanted to link to this short (7 minute) video montage of the 2007 Nationals produced by Lesley Platek of LIFEfilms. I believe you are able to view it without being a member of Underground Tennis, via this link. It's also a good time to mention that photographs of the U.S. competitiors in the USO Junior Championships next week will be available for viewing at ustaboys.com beginning Sunday.

And Greg Garber of ESPN.com today posted a detailed profile of Donald Young and provides some insight into the likelihood that Young will play the US Open juniors.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Is there a right time to turn pro?

The story that I mentioned speaking to Greg Garber of ESPN.com about last week was posted today, and it is a very comprehensive and balanced look at the question with many comments from prominent players with college experience. I do think Garber slights Somdev Devvarman when he says that his first round loss to Goldstein after qualifying for the Legg Mason demonstrates a need to return to school. Devvarman beat Isner not once but twice during those 12 days in Athens, and tonight even John McEnroe was calling for an Open wildcard for Devvarman after watching Isner win in straight sets to set up a meeting with Federer on Saturday. (I obviously do not agree with those commenters who have dissed Devvarman's game recently.)

And for Austin, here's one of the few stories I could find on Wayne Odesnik, from Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Junior Champions Fall in Straight Sets Tuesday

Michael McClune and Ashley Weinhold, who won USTA 18s titles a few weeks ago and earned their wildcards into the US Open main draws, couldn't continue their junior streaks today in Flushing Meadows. McClune lost to No. 20 seed Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 while Weinhold also came up short against a seed, dropping a 6-1, 6-1 decision to No. 6 seed Anna Chakvetadze of Russia.

After all the excitement of Monday's wins by Donald Young and John Isner, things were a bit more subdued today in the Next Big Thing Dept. In addition to McClune and Weinhold, wildcard Madison Brengle also went out in straight sets to fellow American Bethanie Mattek 6-4, 6-1, and Jamea Jackson lost in three, leaving Ahsha Rolle, who upset No. 17 seed Tatiana Golovin of France last night, as the only women's wildcard still in the draw.

Wayne Odesnik did pull out a fifth set tiebreaker today against Thailand's Danai Udomchoke to become the third American male wildcard to reach the second round. Ryan Sweeting hasn't played his first round match yet, nor has Australian wildcard Alun Jones, who has the unenviable task of facing Nadal Wednesday.

Steve Tignor of Tennis.com had some interesting comments after watching wildcard Alex Kuznetsov's match Monday. I really admire Tignor's ability to dissect a player's game and I also appreciated his observation about the difference in the atmospheres between Kuznetsov's match and Isner's.

And for more on the new USTA Evert training center in Boca Raton, the New York Times has a story on Chris Evert's role in and thoughts on the project.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Young, Isner Wildcard Winners at US Open

I watched as much of the Young and Isner wins as the USA Network would let me (I've got to start researching the DirecTV option, I guess) and was very impressed by the two wildcards' composure after losing their first sets in tiebreakers. Young played excellent tennis with 68 winners and only 20 unforced errors (can that be right? it's an amazing ratio) in his 6-7, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 win over Chris Guccione of Australia. The point in the fourth at 3-5 15-30 with Guccione serving to stay in the match was an instant classic, demonstrating how lethal Young's speed and court coverage can be.

Isner, of course, possesses other weapons, his first and second serve to be precise, and in his 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 upset of No. 26 seed Jarkko Nieminen of Finland, he displayed them, hitting 34 aces and averaging 114 mph on his second serve.

The other U.S. wildcards didn't fare as well. Lauren Albanese, Alexa Glatch and Audra Cohen lost in straight sets, with Cohen winning the most games, five. Jesse Levine won only five games in three sets against No. 4 seed Nikolay Davydenko, but he was the subject of an upbeat post by Peter Bodo in his Tennis World blog. His doubles partner, Alex Kuznetsov, also fell in straight sets to No. 28 seed Nicolas Almagro of Spain. (The doubles draws were released today).

Wildcards Madison Brengle, Ashley Weinhold and Mike McClune play on Tuesday.

The New York Times has a US Open blog going, and today's entries include one on Levine and one on Young. I've been approached by one of their bloggers to provide some assistance on their junior coverage and I'm looking forward to it. Something tells me I may have covered my last Young junior match after his win today.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Development Paths

The week before any Grand Slam, there's always a lot of discussion about what's the best way to assist talent development, and it often focuses on the country where the Slam is taking place. And while a couple of stories from South Florida newspapers don't amount to a tenth of the articles about the subject that surfaced in London papers last month, they do raise some interesting points. The Sun-Sentinel's Charlie Bricker (you'll be seeing many a link to his stories in the next two weeks) talked with John Roddick and Scott McCain about whether college is a viable option in this article entitled Levine will provide test case.

The Palm Beach Post's Charles Elmore looks at the philosophy driving the USTA's new training center at IMG/Evert's in Boca Raton. He makes some of the same points that Peter Bodo made in his post on John Isner, namely that winning in college builds confidence, a vital ingredient for success on the professional level.

Bricker seems surprised to learn that the High Performance Department of the USTA reports to the USTA Board of Directors, which, of course, makes it subject to the politics of a biennial change of leadership. Current USTA Chairperson and President Jane Brown Grimes vows to look at that, but I'm assuming there will be no decisions on that until a new USTA chief executive is named.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Allare Hits with Federer; Jenkins Lone U.S. Qualifier at U.S. Open

Our power's back, so I'm finally going to post the story I was going to put up Thursday. When I was watching the ATP Cincinnati Masters event on TV last weekend, I heard Mary Carillo mention that Federer was looking for a practice partner prior to a match and the person at the desk called a local high school player, who was "really good," is I think how Carillo put it. I went through a list of possibilities from my list of players from Ohio who played Kalamazoo, and thought it was probably Matt Allare, who is from Mason. I didn't think I'd get any confirmation of that guess, but on Wednesday there was this full length feature on tennis.com about Matt Allare's junior career and his session with Federer. It's too bad they didn't have a photo of Allare (I'm guessing most tennis.com readers know what Federer looks like and would rather have seen a picture of Allare accompanying the story), but I do, so I'm happy to include it here. With no coach and no entourage outside of Mirka, Federer is giving several juniors and young pros a thrill of a lifetime. (So far this year the list includes Kei Nishikori, Jonathan Eysseric, Jesse Levine and Allare).

US Open qualifying was completed today, and Scoville Jenkins is the only American to get through three matches and make it to the main draw, not a very impressive showing considering there were 15 wild cards given to U.S. players. The country with the most impressive showing in qualifying, by far, was Germany, with five men and two women. France, the next best, had three women and one man advance to the main draw.

For coverage of the qualifying tournament see usopen.org and collegeandjuniortennis.com.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Levine, Anderson Turn Pro

I still have no power, and it could be Sunday or Monday before it returns. I'm behind on all the news, but I found a computer today long enough to learn that college tennis lost two of its stars to the professional ranks yesterday.

University of Florida's Jesse Levine announced that he will accept his wild card prize money at the U.S. Open. Charlie Bricker of the Sun-Sentinel has a few remarks from Levine here.

Brad Dancer, head coach at the University of Illinois announced Kevin Anderson's decision in a press release.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

power outage

A storm came through a couple of hours ago so my iPhone is my only source of Internet access and entertainment.
I was going to link to my review of UNSTRUNG on The Tennis Recruiting Network but that is more than I can handle on this tiny keyboard. So please try to find your way over there on your own.

Also check out collegeandjuniortennis.com. Marcia Frost is covering the qualifying all week.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

New Inside Junior Tennis Podcast; Michael Russell Update

It was three weeks between podcasts with all that Kevin McClure and I had going on this summer, but we did have an opportunity to discuss the National Championships in this edition of Inside Junior Tennis. We hope to double up this week and devote an entire show to the documentary Unstrung. My review will appear tomorrow on The Tennis Recruiting Network.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Greg Garber of ESPN.com today about a story he's working on about John Isner/college tennis. Since we were neighbors in the press room at Wimbledon, (and he could hardly avoid my chatter about college and junior tennis all week), he called me to ask for my take on some of the issues. Although we didn't discuss Michael Russell except in passing, Greg seemed to know his whole biography, and when I went to the website today, I found out why. This is an in-depth feature about Russell that is down right inspirational without being sentimental. Check it out.

US Open Junior Wild Cards Announced

Thanks to David for letting me know that the wild cards have been posted at usta.com.

Boys Main Draw:
Dadamo Jeff
Domijan Alex
Formentera Lawrence
Harrison Ryan
Sandgren Tennys
Seal James "Bo"
Thacher Ryan
Trombetta Ty

Boys Qualifying:
Carleton Frank
Egger Emmett
King Evan
Kudla Denis
Katayama Sho

Girls Main Draw:
Glatch Alexa USA
Kimbell Lilly USA
McHale Christina USA
Muhammad Asia USA
Riske Alison USA
Vandeweghe Coco USA
Weinhold Ashley USA

Girls Qualifying:
Embree Lauren
Gibbs Nicole
Stephens Sloane
Ogi Chinami

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dent Signs On as Volunteer Assistant at Arizona

Today was an even slower day for tennis news than yesterday, with both the US Open qualifying and the Pilot Pen rained out, and no word on the US Open Junior wildcards (although the rumors are flying in the comments).

I did find this interesting article in the Arizona Daily Wildcat about U of A's men's team upcoming season. The subhead "Five-star recruit, former pro turned assistant make for optimistic Arizona tennis squad" got my attention, but I never expected to read Taylor Dent's name in the subsequent paragraphs. (The five-star recruit is Jay Goldman). Perhaps Bryan Roy, the reporter, wasn't aware that he was burying the lead, but this is news I haven't read anywhere else.

Also back during the late stages of Kalamazoo, I had an opportunity to talk with Todd Skovron of Tennis Live Radio about the tournament, (you can hear me pick Nate Schnugg to win just hours before he loses to Ty Trombetta), college tennis, Donald Young's prospects and other topics. Just go to the audio vault section in the lower left corner of the homepage of Tennisliveonline.com.

Monday, August 20, 2007

USO Qualifying Draw Up; Querrey Cell Phone Story

It's been a slow news day in tennis; I'm hearing that the US Open Junior wildcards will be announced tomorrow, and as with all wildcard announcements, there will be disagreement with some of the choices. Qualifying starts tomorrow--here's the link to the draws--and Ken Thomas of radiotennis.com will be calling the action from Court 11 beginning Tuesday afternoon and streaming it, for free, over the web.

I've spent most of the day getting my new iPhone working; I skipped the whole Blackberry generation, so I've got a lot of catching up to do. And speaking of cell phones, one of my first major articles for SMASH magazine, which appeared in May of 2006, featured a sampling of Sam Querrey's cell phone calls for the last half of 2005. As with most SMASH stories, it hadn't appeared online, until last week, when it was posted to the Backcourt section of tennis.com.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Young Wins First ATP match; Warburg Takes Bronx Challenger; Anderson Qualifies for Pilot Pen

Wild card Donald Young won his first ATP level match today in New Haven, Conn., defeating 2003 NCAA champion Amer Delic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 at the Pilot Pen. Young told the AP after the match that he was "relieved." He plays top seed and Cincinnati semifinalist Davydenko next.

Sam Warburg, the 2005 Stanford grad, was previously best known for defeating Pete Sampras in World Team Tennis play, but he's had a very solid summer, qualifying for Wimbledon, reaching the semis at the Binghamton Challenger last week, and winning his first Challenger level event today at the $50K in the Bronx. I assume he'll be in US Open qualifying next week and playing with a lot of confidence.

Kevin Anderson, the University of Illinois senior, won a Futures in June, reached the finals of the Winnetka Challenger last month and today won his third qualifying match at the Pilot Pen to earn one of the 48 spots in the draw. He faces Arnaud Clement of France and should he win that, James Blake. John Isner will play 2004 NCAA champion Benjamin Becker for the second time in his short pro career Monday night.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bricker Speaks with Weinhold; McVeigh's Qualifying at Pilot Pen

Charlie Bricker of the Sun-Sentinel hasn't been writing much about tennis lately, but he's shown a keen interest in the USTA's new training center at Boca Raton. With Ashley Weinhold and Madison Brengle in residence there, he's zeroed in on their progress, and this story weighs Weinhold's pro prospects following her win at the Nationals last week.

The Harford Courant talked with local junior Carolyn McVeigh about her association with the event near her home, The Pilot Pen, which is a joint ATP/WTA event, the last one before the U.S. Open.

McVeigh received a qualifying wildcard and lost to top seed Agnes Szavay of Hungary. The final round of qualifying is Sunday, and three 18-year-olds are still fighting for a main draw spot: Naomi Cavaday, Dominika Cibulkova and Raluca Olaru. Christina McHale, the 15-year-old from New Jersey, won a qualifying wildcard tournament last month, but was unable to play due to a sprained ankle, according to the draw notes.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Klein suspended, will miss U.S. Open; Sandgren prepares for New York

For the second time this summer, Craig Tiley, director of player development of Tennis Australia, has laid down the law to one of Australia's top juniors. In June, the Herald Sun reported that Bernard Tomic, the 14-year-old prodigy was sent home for lackluster effort at the French juniors. I spoke to Tiley about that decision when I talked with him at Wimbledon, and he confirmed the report was accurate. Now it is 2007 Australian Junior Champion Brydan Klein who is run afoul of the requirements for Tennis Australia support. Again the Herald Sun has the details.

Tennys Sandgren had an opportunity to talk with The Tennessean about his win in Kalamazoo and his upcoming trip to New York for the U.S. Junior Open.

It's my understanding that the wildcard selections for the juniors have been made, but the public announcement hasn't.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Kalamazoo Wrap; US Open Women's Wildcards Announced

The Tennis Recruiting Network has been covering the Nationals all week, and today the site features my wrap up of Kalamazoo. I enjoy writing about a tournament having had a few days to digest all that happened.

Tennis Week
has the details.

Main Draw:
Lauren Albanese
Madison Brengle
Audra Cohen
Alexa Glatch
Jamea Jackson
Ahsha Rolle
Ashley Weinhold
and the previously announced Australian Jessica Moore

Qualifying Draw:
Hilary Barte
Violette Huck (trade with France)
Asia Muhammad
Lindsey Nelson
Melanie Oudin
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (2006 junior champion)
Alison Riske
Anna Tatishvili
CoCo Vandeweghe

Alison Riske, the surprise finalist at the girls 18s, has obviously accepted her automatic qualifying wild card. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette talked with her about her upcoming trip to New York.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Men's US Open Wild Cards Announced

The main and qualifying wild cards were announced today on usta.com.

The main draw wild cards:

John Isner
Alun Jones (Australian trade)
Alex Kuznetsov
Jesse Levine
Mike McClune
Wayne Odesnik
Ryan Sweeting
Donald Young

Young, Sweeting, Kuznetsov and Odesnik all received wild cards in 2006.

The qualifying wild cards:
Stephen Bass
Matt Bruch
Lester Cook
Ryler DeHeart
Scoville Jenkins
Dusan Lojda (2006 Junior champion)
Bryan Koniecko
Nikita Kryvonos
Phillip Simmonds

Ryan Thacher, who earned a qualifying wild card for his runner-up finish in Kalamazoo on Sunday, must have declined it due to the family vacation he mentioned might conflict with the qualifying dates.

The only women's wild card that has been announced as of today is Jessica Moore, the Australian selection for the traded Australian Open wild card.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

US Girls Win World Junior Tennis Competition; US Boys Finish Third

While most of their peers were contending for USTA National titles, six U.S. boys and girls were in the Czech Republic last week, representing their country in the 14-and-under world team competiton.

The girls team of Nicole Gibbs, Sloane Stephens and Stephanie Vidov snared the title, the first for the U.S. girls since 1992. The ITF Junior website has a detailed account of the finals which saw the U.S. defeat France 2-1. (The format is two singles matches followed by a doubles match.) The competition has been dominated by former Eastern bloc countries for the past decade, with names such as Nicole Vaidisova, Anna Tchakvetadze and Dinara Safina among those who competed in the event. The red clay isn't a surface likely to favor the American playing style, so the win is especially impressive. Unfortunately, I can't find any other news reports about the girls' victory.

Not so the boys event, which was won by Australia, the first time that country has taken the gold medal. The Age posted this story about their victory. My husband Paul and I had gotten to know Joey Swaysland at the Junior Orange Bowl in 2005, when he played the 12s then ran into him when we were in Melbourne for the Australian Open in January of 2006, but had wondered how he was doing when he wasn't at the Eddie Herr or the Junior Orange Bowl 14s last December. It's nice to see that he is still excelling on the tennis court.

The U.S. team of Mika De Coster, Emmett Egger and Christian Harrison finished third, the highest US boys finish since 2003, when Donald Young led the U.S. to the gold over a team from Japan.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Peter Bodo on College Tennis Development

While I was immersed in all things Kalamazoo last week, Peter Bodo was talking with John Isner as part of a conference call the ATP set up with several top tennis reporters. The conversation got Peter thinking about college tennis and how it needs to be recognized as viable prelude to a pro career. I especially liked this passage:

....it is also possible that those extra years spent in college subtly mute a player's long-term expectations (in relative terms, of course). If you go to college these days, just making it as a tour journeyman is a feat, and there is something of the self-fulfilling prophecy about that. College players need to think they can attend college and come out and win Wimbledon, not just earn enough on the tour to buy a Hummer (my emphasis added). But you still get around the fact that neither Blake nor Isner was ready to play the pro tour, except to impersonate a punching bag, at 17 or 18, period. There is, after all, a natural limit to everyone's ability and potential. They key is fulfilling what potential there is - and keeping the faith long enough for that to happen.

By the way, I heard last week that Isner has been invited to join the US Davis Cup team as a hitting partner for next month's tie with Sweden.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

McClune and Sandgren Win Kalamazoo Titles

For all the upsets and the drama during the past ten days in Kalamazoo, for the second year in a row, the number one seeds in both divisions left town with the National Championship trophies.

This year Michael McClune and Tennys Sandgren survived the pressure of being the ultimate target, and even Kalamazoo's famous affection for the underdog couldn't throw them off course. For my story and photos of all the day's action, see ustaboys.com (I am also posting my entire finals story at the end of this post).
Marcia Frost of collegeandjuniortennis.com made her first visit to Kalamazoo this weekend. Please visit her site for additional coverage, as well as coverage from the girls 18s, won today by Ashley Weinhold, the runnerup in 2006.

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Kalamazoo, MI --
Tennys Sandgren and Michael McClune arrived in Kalamazoo as the targets, and after ten days and seven matches both top seeds emerged with the coveted title of National Junior Champions.

On a hot but not unbearable day, Sandgren defeated Tennessee rival James (Bo) Seal 6-3, 6-2, in a routine match that ended strangely, while McClune lost his first set of the tournament, but regrouped to outlast fellow Southern Californian Ryan Thacher 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

The usual match point eruption from both the audience of nearly 2000 and Sandgren was absent when the chair umpire ended the match with a point penalty for racquet abuse after Seal flipped it toward the net.

At 5-2, Sandgren, who had had trouble closing out matches all week, was serving for the match but was down 30-40 when Seal let a defensive lob from Sandgren go, only to see it nestle in the corner. His mood already dark from that misjudgment, Seal got no luck on the next point when a clip of the net cord caused his ball to ricochet wide. Almost casually he tossed his racquet toward the net, and seemed almost expecting the penalty, which he got.

"I don't think he did it in anger," said Sandgren, who has now won back-to-back National championships. "He didn't even seem that mad, and maybe on match point he didn't think the umpire would call it. It seemed a little harsh. It would have been nicer to end with a forehand winner, but I'm sure he feels worse about it than I do, because I won."

Sandgren cited his tough path to the final, which included four three-set victories, as instrumental in his win.

"If you go through a tournament not having any tough matches and you get to a point where you're playing someone really good and it's really close, you don't really have that edge, " said Sandgren, of Gallatin, Tenn.

"Today I felt like I had a little bit of an edge mentally because of all those tough matches I had before. Had he lost a set?" Sandgren asked. When the negative reply came, Sandgren continued.

"I don't think that helped him. All those tough matches were tiring, but I think it helped me out in the long run."

The long run for McClune and Thacher was a best-of-five-set match, a tradition in Kalamazoo that helps prepare the winner for their U.S. Open main draw contest in a few weeks.

Neither had ever played a match of that length, but the points were often short in Sunday afternoon's final, which took a little over two and a half hours to complete.

McClune started quickly, and afterwards, both players mentioned his serving as a key to his dominance in the first set.

"My served really worked well," said McClune who reached the 120s on the radar gun several times. "Especially in the beginning of the first set. It got me off to a good rhythm--I think I got four first serves in right then. Second set I didn't serve so well, but third and fourth I got a better first serve percentage."

Countering an athletic left-hander presents some special challenges, and McClune prepared for the different spins and angles by warming up with the 16s third place winner.

"I warmed up with Evan King this morning," McClune revealed. "So I could get that lefty serve down." But he also had to readjust his expectations on what constituted a winner.

"I knew every ball was going to come back," McClune said. "I knew most balls that most kids wouldn't get back, he would get back and get back with a lot of force. So I had to be patient and not go for it too early."

The third set was pivotal and despite an early break, McClune couldn't hold it, with Thacher pulling even at 4-4.

"I was pretty comfortable in the third set," Thacher said. "I got broken, but then I broke back and felt like I was playing pretty well. But I missed a couple of volleys today that I wish I had back. It's a little bit disappointing when you set up the point the way you want it and dump an easy ball like I did a couple of times. But all in all, I'm fairly pleased with the way I played."

McClune, who turns 18 in ten days and has been a professional since April, now heads home for some rest before journeying to the US Open, where his win has earned him a place in the main draw. Thacher receives a men's qualifying wild card, while Sandgren has assured himself a spot in the US Open Junior draw. But despite those prizes, all three boys will leave Kalamazoo with many of the same memories as the other competitors who didn't win quite as often as they did.

"It's all about living the dream that very few people get," said Mickey McClune, Michael's father, in his remarks to the crowd following the match. "Whether they lose in the first round of the main draw and the first round of the consolation, or whether they get to the quarters, the semis, the finals, they're all able to say, I lived the dream, I played at Kalamazoo."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

McClune vs. Thacher in 18s, Sandgren vs. Seal in 16s for Kalamazoo titles

The 65th edition of the Kalamazoo tournament comes to a close on Sunday, with the two singles championships on the line. No. 1 seed Tennys Sandgren will face No. 4 seed Bo Seal in the 16s, followed by No. 1 Mike McClune versus No. 3 Ryan Thacher in the 18s.

For my wrap up on Saturday's singles semifinals and the doubles championships, see ustaboys.com.

The girls 18s final in Berkeley California will feature Alison Riske against Ashley Weinhold. Visit ustagirls.org for coverage of that event.

And for the US Open Junior Acceptance lists, click here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Trombetta Beats Schnugg; Top Four Seeds Make Semifinals in 16s

Ty Trombetta's 6-4, 6-4 win over Nate Schnugg was Friday's surprise result in Kalamazoo, although the other three singles matches played out more predictably, leaving plenty of time for everyone to make it to the famous Clambake, which is a Lobster/Crab Leg/Steak/Shrimp extravaganza for semifinalists, their families and tournament officials and sponsors. With seating for nearly 400 on the Kalamazoo College "Quad", the festivities, which include a live band, are becoming a part of the Kalamazoo tournament's legend. I know I wouldn't miss it.

For a report on the action Friday on the Stowe Courts, see my wrap up on ustaboys.com. There are also photos of two of the Sportsmanship Award winners, Houston Barrick, who added the 18s Stowe award to the Kaplan award he won in the 16s in 2005; and Ian Chadwell, who won the Wes Richards Feed In sportsmanship award. The Kaplan award for this year in 16s has not yet been presented.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Kecki Beats Damico; 44 Point Tiebreaker in 16s Doubles Quarterfinal

The two big stories Thursday in Kalamazoo were Mateusz Kecki's victory over a cramping Kellen Damico in 18s singles and the 44 point tiebreaker in Ryan Noble and Bo Seal's victory over Lawrence Formentera and John Huang in 16s doubles.

For the details, see my wrap up at ustaboys.com.

July Aces; Wimbledon Radio

It's raining again in Kalamazoo (after a drought in June and July) so it's a good time for me to post the link to my July Aces at The Tennis Recruiting Network.

Also, although I haven't had the time to do an Inside Junior Tennis podcast for the past two weeks, Kevin McClure of The Tennis Podcast was kind enough to post the audio file of the seven minutes of discussion that Peter Bodo and I had for Wimbledon Radio about the blogging phenomenon and what it means for the future of tennis coverage.

I'm indebted to Guy McCrea, who contacted me prior to my trip to London about appearing on the show when he read on zootennis that I was covering Wimbledon for the first time. As the producer, he is the moderator you hear in this clip.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Photos of All Fifth Round Players on ustaboys.com

One of the Kalamazoo website's traditions is to photograph every player in the Round of 16 in both divisions, and with a rain-free day on Wednesday, that mission was accomplished.

See ustaboys.com for photos of all 32 players, and for my wrap up of Wednesday's action.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Four Unseeded Players Remain in 18s Singles, Three in 16s

Kalamazoo has never had an unseeded winner, but four boys in the 18s and three boys in the 16s can still hang on to that dream for one more day.

Daniel Gliner, Ryan Harrison, Zach Nichols and Oscar Fabian Matthews are still alive in the 18s, and Gliner and Harrison face off on Wednesday, assuring an unseeded quarterfinalist.

Chris Cha, John Collins and Max Stevens are the three players in the 16s that hope to keep up their great play for yet another day.

For my Tuesday wrap up, and dozens of photos from both sites, see ustaboys.com.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Gliner Downs Hamui; Photos Galore on ustaboys.com

There were two top-eight seeds eliminated today at the Nationals, one in each division, with Dan Gliner beating Johnny Hamui (5) in the 18s and Brandon Mitchell taking out Matt Spindler (6) in the 16s.

My wrap up for Monday is available at ustaboys.com.

And while you're there go to the photo archive and look at the 70 photos that my hard-working volunteer helpers, BrieLynn Hanna and Rob Sturm, added from today's action.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Courier Talks about Unstrung

Despite the rather harried evening Jim Courier had Friday night, renting a car and fighting weekend traffic leaving Chicago in order to get the the Exhibition here when his flight was canceled, he was more than happy to talk to Pam Shebest of the Kalamazoo Gazette and me about his movie Unstrung, which will be shown Monday night on the Kalamazoo College campus.

Shebest, who has been writing about the Nationals for the Gazette for 23 years, wrote this preview after our late night interview, when the three of us were fighting off the bugs descending on Kalamazoo's famous Tower, the top floor of which is reserved for media.

I hope to write my own version of our conversation after I've seen the movie. I'm planning on reviewing it later this month for The Tennis Recruiting Network.

For my wrapup of Sunday's 16s singles action at Stowe Stadium, see ustaboys.com.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Top Seeds Advance Easily in 18s Action Saturday

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Kalamazoo MI--

Saturday is the first day seeded players in the 18s take the court, and there were a few upsets, with Reid Carleton (14), Ryan Lipman (24) and Tyler Hochwalt (28) heading to the back draw, all in matches played at the Western Michigan courts. Carleton lost to Oscar Fabian Matthews 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, Lipman fell to Zach Nichols 6-3, 6-4 and Ryan Harrison outlasted Tyler Hochwalt 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

I was at Stowe Stadium all day, where the top eight seeds played under increasingly overcast skies, with no wind or heat marring the ideal tennis conditions. All eight won in straights sets and there was little drama or suspense among those victories. Top seed Michael McClune looked sharp in a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Jonathan Wolff, No. 2 seed Kellen Damico lost only one game against an overmatched Denis Bogatov, and No. 3 Ryan Thacher defeated fellow left-hander David Holland 6-2, 6-3.

Our first look at the seeds in 16s singles is on Sunday.

Usually junior tennis is its own little world, with only an occasional passing reference to whatever pro tournament is running at the same time. But today, the question on everyone's lips was seeking info on John Isner's result at the Legg-Mason. Whether it was parents, players, coaches or volunteers, everyone wanted to know if the former Georgia Bulldog could extend his incredible run in Washington D.C. And with Isner winning his fifth consecutive match via a third set tiebreaker, he once again guaranteed that Kalamazoo will be buzzing on Sunday when he meets Andy Roddick in the finals. Is there any way college tennis could have gotten a bigger boost this summer? For an in-depth account of the match, see Liz Clarke's story in the Washington Post (free registration required.)

For complete Kalamazoo draws, visit ustaboys.com

Friday, August 3, 2007

Damico and Schnugg Stage Comeback to Defeat Courier and Martin

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Kalamazoo MI--

It's a tradition on par with the famous Kalamazoo blueberries and cream--waiting for one of the professionals players to make his way to Kalamazoo for the exhibition that opens the tournament.

Friday night it was Jim Courier who was frantically racing along I-94 in a rental car when his flight from O'Hare was canceled. An hour late for the 7:30 show, Courier missed the tributes to retiring Tournament Referee David Markin and outgoing Tournament Director Timon Corwin and the tennis drills and impersonations of the Peter Burwash International tennis pros that entertained the crowd of over 2500 awaiting his arrival.

When he and Martin finally took the court for an eight game pro set against the No. 1 seeded 18s doubles team of Kellen Damico and Nate Schnugg, they raced ahead of the 2006 Wimbledon Junior doubles champions, taking 4-1 and 5-2 leads. But it was the younger legs that finished stronger with the two 18-year-olds fighting off a match point at 7-6 and taking the tiebreaker 8-7 (3).

"I sat down and Kellen said, 'Now we can start playing'", said Schnugg. "And I was like, yeah, we're only down 4-1, two breaks to Todd Martin and Jim Courier, don't worry about it," Schnugg said laughing, "we'll take this."

"And then they came over and said 'okay guys you can try now,'" said Damico. "And I said to Nate, see I told you."

"They had the match," said Schnugg. "They didn't care about winning. These guys were so much fun, it was easy to play our best."

One of the most memorable points saw Damico sprinting back and forth and literally on to court 2, sprawling after an improbable winner.

"I had an adrenaline thing," said Damico. "After I got lobbed I don't even know what happened...it was run, hit, run, hit. I wasn't playing very well and I knew I had to make a name for myself somewhere."

Courier did leave Kalamazoo with a victory however, as he defeated Todd Martin 8-4, overcoming a 3-0 deficit in the exhbition's second pro set of the evening.

"Actually the last few times we've played, he's won," Courier said of Martin, who plays on the Outback Champions tour that Courier owns. "There's no mercy on the tour owner, I just go to more sponsor meetings."

Thursday, August 2, 2007

My Kalamazoo Preview

I'm neck-deep in registration at the moment, but earlier this week I did write a Kalamazoo preview for The Tennis Recruiting Network. Not nearly as detailed as Brent's and Austin's breakdowns, I'm afraid, but I encourage everyone to check out their predictions at the Kalamazoo Nationals post.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Eyewitness Accounts of Isner's Win Over Henman

The Legg Mason website isn't providing much news coverage, but the bloggers are hard at work, and both Lynn Berenbaum at Off The Baseline and Jane Voight, who provides a detailed match report for Peter Bodo's TennisWorld, saw John Isner's upset of Tim Henman in the first round last night. (The photo posted is outstanding, although it doesn't give any sense of Isner's height).