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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bhambri, Pervak Take Australian Junior Titles; McHale Wins Girls Doubles Championship; All U.S. Players Out at Tarbes

Congratulations to Yuki Bhambri and Ksenia Pervak for their convincing wins in the finals of the Australian Open junior championships on Saturday. The top-seeded Bhambri cruised past unseeded Alexandros-Ferdinandos Georgoudas of Germany, who was contesting his first junior Grand Slam at the age of 17, 6-3, 6-1, the same score as the Russian 17-year-old's victory over fellow left-hander Laura Robson of Great Britain. Reuters posted this article about Pervak's victory. The New Delhi News got the reaction from Bhambri's family in this story.

Given Robson's status in Great Britain (the match was broadcast live on BBC radio at 2 a.m.), there were several British newspapers weighing in on her defeat, including this article from The Telegraph. Much is made of Pervak's decided advantage in age and professional experience, and rightly so, but I saw no mention of the fact that it was Pervak's first Grand Slam final, an area where Robson had the edge with her win at Wimbledon last year. This story from The Guardian, written prior to the final, gives a chronology of Robson's development and also compares her to the most accomplished current women players at the age of 15.

In the girls doubles, Christina McHale and Ajla Tomljanovic won the title in the day's most exciting match, with the No. 6 seeds defeating unseeded Alexandra Krunic of Serbia and Sandra Zaniewska of Poland 6-1, 2-6, 10-4. The boys title went to the Phillippines' Francis Casey Alcantara and Chinese Taipei's Cheng-Peng Hsieh, the No. 7 seeds, who defeated unseeded Mikhal Biryukov of Russia and Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan 6-4, 6-2. This is Hsieh's third Grand Slam doubles title (Australia and Wimbledon 2008), although the first without 2008 World Junior Champion Tsung-Hua Yang. (And thanks to our resident Australian, Andrew D, I've found out that's a stuffed wombat they are all holding.)

And as we close the book on the 2009 Australian Open Junior Championships, I'd like to commend the organizers for:

  • Improving their website coverage of the juniors, with stories on all four of the finals: boys singles, boys doubles, girls singles, girls doubles.

  • Providing live radio coverage of the junior finals via Australian Open radio.

  • Playing the junior singles finals in Rod Laver Arena, which includes use of Hawkeye.

  • NOT PLAYING THE JUNIOR SINGLES FINALS AT THE SAME TIME. Sorry for the caps, but this is a format every Grand Slam should follow. The US Open should play the boys and girls junior finals beginning at noon on Sunday with the boys, followed by the girls, and put the matches on the Grandstand. There is no good reason that spectators should have to choose between the two finals.

    At Les Petits As, the finals are set with 13-year-old top seed Nikola Milojevic of Serbia facing 12-year-old Borna Coric of Croatia, seeded 10, for the boys title and two Russian girls, No. 3 seed Yulia Putintseva, 14, and No. 4 seed Irina Khromacheva, 13, deciding the girls champion. Sachia Vickery, Vicky Duval and Joe DiGiulio all lost their quarterfinal matches. Duval and Vickery, the top seeds in doubles, lost in the final to the second seeded Czech Republic team of Sonja Liaskoska and Petra Rohanova 3-6, 6-4, 10-8.

    For complete results, visit the tournament website.


    Anonymous said...

    College Tennis - Order of Play

    Can someone please explain this. I went to see USC play against Long Beach State and against Michigan State and couldn't work out how they decided the line ups. Against LBS, USC had Fansler (ranked #38)at 1, Sanchez (ranked #22)at 2, Fink (#16) at 3 and Ramos (#36) at 5. Against MSU they had Sanchez at 1, Fansler at 2, Fink at 3 and Ramos at 5.

    How can you have your highest ranked player at number 3 and a player at number 5 who is higher ranked than your number 1 ?

    Anonymous said...

    Yesterday I watched a wonderfully played semifinal at the 10k in Plantation between Jesse Witten and Grigor Dimitrov. Witten could have closed out the match in two sets after a timely break but instead he won the match 6-4 in third after leading the third 4-0. One can't help to research and discover Witten has been a pro four years with career earnings of a little over 170k. Witten who possibly is a couple of lucky breaks away from becoming a true tour player may sit down today and watch the Super Bowl where the league minimum for a NFL player is 295,000 for 2008 and 310,000 for 2009. Yesterday in the second set after having the break to serve out the match, Witten was broken in four points and uttered in agony, “it’s not worth the time.” There are 53 active players on the two Super Bowl contending teams and 32 teams in a league that plays part of the year, or a minimum payroll of 500 million dollars, excluding the stars. How many people watched Nadal vs. Federer world wide during Wimbledon and this morning during the Australian Open? Somehow tennis needs to figure out how players ranked from say 51 through 256, both male and female, can survive while developing as professionals. Where does all the tennis money go?

    We hear that the season is too long. The tour has too few champions. There are too few surprises and draws that are too small. Why not 8 Grand Slams with more opportunities for the Jesse Wittens of the world to reach draws and afford to play on the tour. Tsonga was at a Tallahassee Florida Pro Circuit just a couple of years ago and now he's a star. Was it luck, talent, coaching, or money that put him over the top? Tennis needs more stars. Star making is exactly what Golf continues to do better than tennis. Rankings could be determined based on strength of schedule and head to head victories with minimum matches required per year. Look at the potential damage to the game at the current pace, Nadal’s knees may not last, Sharapova’s shoulder may be shot while Capriati’s shoulder forced her out of the game earlier than she would have liked. Hingis, a delight to watch left twice too soon. Tennis needs to do a better job of growing itself, marketing itself, and developing and promoting more players, while protecting the top players’ longevity.

    The women's final clearly shows there are too few quality players able to challenge an arguably part time player in Serena Williams. Thank goodness for Dokic. Thank goodness for Bartoli and her father’s engineering approach. Bartoli, a developing star with an interesting story to follow. As an American, I'm excited Serena won, but who is next for America on the women's side after the Williams’ sisters?

    "Players out at Tarbes" and how much does the USTA really care about American Tennis?

    Fans following Laura Robson want to make a big deal about her losing to a clearly eligible junior two years her senior. Their real fears should be that Laura Robson may be the next Donald Young. Most juniors in America won't likely reach their full potential because the USTA always favors youth and full time academy players over discovery and the long term development required to make players. You never see members of the USTA coaching staff out at tournaments looking for talent, they’ve already selected their names based on unknown and inconsistent criteria. USTA tournament guidelines have no limit as to how many age groups a junior can "play up." Playing up is not good for tennis. A 12 or 13 year old player clearly has an advantage if they’re on the court 6 to 7 hours a day at an academy against a 15 or 16 year old player who practices after school for 2 to 3 hours in a similar academy setting. Which player has the most long term potential? No one knows for sure. What is known is that none of these players have reached their full athletic potential. Tennis is becoming a more athletic sport. It’s also harder for the 15 or 16 year old to rationalize a loss at such a young age to such a young player while the 12 and 13 year old plays without any true pressure. The 12 or 13 year old is a Paper Champion, “look how well you did against such a bigger child,” the paper champion battle cry. Players aged 15 and 16, sign up for 18 and under tournaments when they should not or chose not to play tournaments in order to avoid the younger player who is immature throughout the match, in victory, in defeat, and is often coached by a member of the vested academy through the fence. Yet one thing is almost an absolute, none of this is good for the long term development of players. For every “playing up” Pete Sampras there are thousands of Donald Young’s. Florida academies promote playing your own age group in publications and on blog sites, yet Evert, Savianno, Solomon, and Macci academies keep playing up their juniors. Their policy seems to be “do as I say, not do as I do.”

    Soccer has age limits, swimming has age limits, boxing has weight classes, basketball has age limits, and football has weight limits. Its not tournament scarcity, distance or availability, there are local; Super Series, Designated, Sectional, and National tournaments available in the same vicinity for multiple age groups.

    Two more points, 1) check out the names on the ITA indoor college kick off tournament. Google some of those players and you continue to realize that the United States, the NCAA, and the USTA is doing a great job of supporting the continued development of the international player at the expense of USTA player. 2), this morning the head of the USTA’s development program handled the broadcast of this morning’s Australian Open Men’s Final. Was that done remotely from Boca or was Patrick McEnroe down under? A true coach would have been walking the courts in Boca or at another USTA training center.

    Anonymous said...

    "thoughts on tennis": Excellent comments. I agree with your opinion on U.S tennis development 100%.

    Anonymous said...

    Thoughts on Tennis...

    You wrote a great detailed blog, which is fairly accurate EXCEPT

    "You never see members of the USTA coaching staff out at tournaments looking for talent..."

    The USTA coaches are out at the majority of tournaments, I see them everywhere, with their players AND helping out other players as well, whose private coaches and parents couldn't attend.

    And do you think the members of the usta coaching staff should be looking at Jessie Witten? If so, that makes your last blog less credible. How old is he, have you seen his work ethic?

    However, the young player he just beat, Dimitrov, he is going to be a really good player on the ATP Tour. Now that is talent and something special.

    Lastly, I want to say again, that you did raise great points and solutions. It's your blog that makes this site fun, not just ranting, raving, and insults, like most of them are.

    Anonymous said...

    usa 10s fan,

    What tourneys have you seen the usta coaches attend. It is probably only itfs. To go so far and to say a young player is going to make it to the atp tour already is amusing. Sounds like thoughts on tennis has been around awhile and understands the development of a tennis player. Great insight.

    Anonymous said...

    get real--

    Would you like usta events, itf's, pro futures, challengers, ATP events, National Opens, Super Nationals, etc? Let me know what level and I'll try and come up with a list of the usta coaches.

    The usta didn't go to Australian Jrs. but they go to all the other slams.

    Anonymous said...

    usa tennis fan,

    Please do share. I would like to know about nationals. I do not care about itfs ect. (nice vacas for them). If you do remember the coaches what age divisions were they with. Do not care about easter bowl.

    Anonymous said...

    Get real--

    I did not see any of the usta coaches at the Winter Nationals. In my opinion, extremely weak tournament. Jack Sock was the best player there and is a great player. The usta should move that tournament back to Thanksgiving week and make it Indoors, like it was a long time ago.

    Since you don't care about Easter Bowl, rather big tournament, then there are National Clay Courts, and I saw quite a few coaches there (Berger, Sell, Merklien) covering 16s and 18s. And National Hardcourts, where I saw (Roditi, VanDaalen, Sell, Diluca), covering the 16s and 18s.

    ALL the players compete at the SuperNationals, and most at Easter Bowl. Do you think the usta coaches should cover every tournament? I'm assuming they see all the results and players during different parts of the year. But if they don't miss a player, why does it matter? Does the usta need to be involved with every player?

    Anonymous said...

    usa tennis fan-
    you obviously are saying jack sock was the best player in the 16s at winter nationals being as he def was not the best player at all of winters.

    Anonymous said...

    collete if u really want to help tennis you will stop allowing blog or monitor it somewhat. this is pathetic how u let these people rag on junior tennis players and when the kids see it, it breaks there hearts and can not help anything. u r hurting junior tennis and i hope u come to realize this.

    Anonymous said...

    "help" If you (or any junior players) do not wish to read this blog, then that is your choice. It amazes me when people complain about what is written on zootennis. I have mentioned this before..as long as no foul language is displayed, this forum should be all about comments, and opinions. Is Jack Sock going to be devastated that someone thinks he was not best player at some tournament? Geez!

    Anonymous said...

    how can federerbe the greatest player of all time if he can not even beat someone in his own era?? If federer can go through nadal for a couple more slams that would really be an amazing sight. I think colette does an amazing job with this sight and the people who coment on it can say whatever they want. I dont think it affects any junior players being as most of them dont really care what people think. Colete will you be at indoors? WE LOVE U

    Anonymous said...

    usa 10s fan,

    I think the usta should be out looking for new recruits. Does the usta have people who they answer to about funding, players ect.? If they only answer to themselves, i get the picture. I was told a few years ago 10-15 yrs. they use to have some of the officials let the coaches know what upcoming junior they should watch. That would be understandable since the usta spends $$ for 3-4 coaches to cover 1 tourney. I think this site is great with all the comments people make. That is why we live in the USA. I like when people show different points of view. We all could learn and listen more

    Anonymous said...

    If anything, Colette, has done nothing but promote junior tennis. She has been one of the biggest advocate of junior tennis . Without her blog, we won't be able to know what's going on . So, please, if you can't handle objective criticism stay away from this site.In the meantime, more power to you Colette !

    Anonymous said...

    Going to a National !6's or 18's tournament is not going to help produce a world class player. The USTA should go to local tournaments(U 10, U12), contact local coaches who have developed nationally ranked juniors and communicate with private tennis facilities to see if there are any young juniors who have the athletic ability and discipline to be a world class tennis player. Martin Blackman is the Head of Talent ID but the USTA has to get local Pro's to look for young talented juniors and than report to Martin.

    Anonymous said...

    Yes Tom C, your comments are right in line with the USTA doctrine. "If" you are playing USTA SuperNational 16's and 18's, then you have virtually zero chance of becoming a PRO, and are D 1 College material at best. That is, unless you are playing up and are 12-13 years old..of course, if you are that good, you are already on the ITF/lower level PRO (at 14) events. I am not trying to "mock you", because what you say is pretty much the way most tennis "experts" believe. When you "believe" something, sometimes it can cloud judgement and "guts" to try something different. I challenge the USTA, and all U.S coaches to IN ADDITION, not INSTEAD, try to focus and develop older talent. For those who say "no, it will not work", my question is, "why"? Whats the difference (besides age) between "11 year old Johhny" who the USTA, or Nick B has discovered who has racquet head speed, quick feet and desire, as opposed to "15 or 16" year old Freddy, who is ranked in top 100 in his own age group, but has the same attributes as Johnny? Is it a proven fact that older players cannot learn as well as younger one's, and cannot benefit as much with the confidence and competition that comes with attention from good situations? Would most success stories come from attention to the younger age groups? The obvious answer is YES. But why does that seem to eliminate in many people's minds the chances of an older player coming through with proper guidance?

    Again, do not focus on older talent instead. Only in addition. If you find one diamond out of a million, even though you put in alot of time and effort, you still have a diamond!

    Anonymous said...

    Actually my comments are not right on with the USTA doctrine they are more in line with Macci, Nick B. and Lansdorp who all have very good track records. The USTA does not have a National Training center for children under 12. Yes, they have Talent ID camps and HP camps but that is very stylish with not much substance in the growth of the juniors unlike Macci, Nick and Lansdorp or for that matter Everts who has done a great job with Madison Keys. I don't dismiss your idea, actually a friend of mine has a student who happens to be a world class athlete. The young man is 16 years old and is top 500 in the world ITF but my friend, who has developed a few professional player's, believes that with the proper training he can be top 200 in the world by the time he turns 21. The young man is that athletic but is kind of raw. So, I do believe it's possible but I don't believe it's ever happened before... from Agassi to the Williams Sisters to Capriati to Sampras to Courier to Federer to Nadal to Henin to Davenport to ... you get my point. Your idea of addition to rather than instead of makes some sense and can't hurt. Thanks for the idea.

    Anonymous said...

    I feel like at anytime if a player can get some confidence and really has the skills and determination anything is possible. Its almost impossible to pick the next great american so dont be ruling anyone out unless you want the chances to become less.

    Anonymous said...

    "Tom C".. very good points you make. I applaud your friend for having the insight to see the possibilities of a eager athletic 16 year old. What saddens me is that the coaches you mentioned (and I believe, the USTA) would never take a look at a player like that. Also, the list you have of tennis greats who excelled at young ages is very compelling, and again, I totally agree that this is the norm. Just wish their were more coaches with the philosophy of your friend, because that 16 year old boy is not the only one out there that could use that type of mentorship and direction. With the current state of development, some of these types end up either quitting (too many errors, thus losses with low percentage tennis that led to frustration)..or they end up in colleges. With more people like your friend....?

    Anonymous said...

    "Steven S"... Thanks for such a civil, adult discussion, which is rare. A few years back I was at an ITF tournament and saw this "stud" of a player... off the charts physically. My friend (same friend from previous story) and I talked to him and his parents about his future and what it would take to be a professional tennis player... 6 month plan, 1 year plan 2 year plan, 5 year plan and the day to day training. This young man was 16 at the time and again, with a few serious years of training could have been a professional, top 300. But he didn't have the desire and /or heart to be. He was content where he was. That is why good habits/discipline are best ingrained at a young age.
    But that is not to say that your suggestion/idea is wrong just a longshot. Btw, I've played a few longshots and have had good paybacks. Be well.