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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Roundup of College Action This Weekend; Sock, Kudla Blog From Serbia

Although it didn't quite reach the excitement level of today's gold medal hockey game, it was a big weekend in college tennis, with several nail-biters, starting with the USC men's 4-3 win over Stanford in Palo Alto Saturday, in a match that is not counted in the conference standings. Because there was a chance of rain, the singles were played before the doubles, so that anything but a split of the singles would have made the doubles unnecessary. With recent history as a guide however, that was probably wishful thinking. Stanford and USC have had some very close battles in the past two years, and as USC head coach Peter Smith is quoted as saying in this acount of the match, it seems to get closer with every match played. Fifth-ranked USC trailed 3-2 with Robert Farah needing to defeat No. 14 Stanford's Bradley Klahn at No. 1 singles to get to the doubles. Farah pulled out the match 7-6, 6-7(3), 7-5, and the weather stayed dry for the doubles. Stanford won quickly at No. 1 doubles, with Klahn and Ryan Thacher defeating Farah and JT Sunding 8-4, but the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles were up for grabs, with USC of course needing to win both. USC's No. 3 team of Jaak Poldma and Peter Lucassen got a break at 7-8 to defeat Matt Kandath and Denis Lin, while Stanford's Alex Clayton and Richard Wire were just entering a tiebreaker with Steven Johnson and Daniel Nguyen. Johnson and Nguyen took control early in that tiebreaker, taking a 6-1 lead. Clayton and Wire fought off two match points, but Johnson and Nguyen converted the next, delivering the victory to the Trojans 9-8(3).

In another Pac-10 match in the Bay area that didn't count in the standings, No. UCLA defeated No. 15 Cal 4-3. The Bruins had clinched a 4-1 win, with Cal taking the final two singles matches. For more on the match, see the UCLA athletic site. The UCLA-Stanford and USC-Cal matches scheduled for Saturday were rained out.

The weather in LA wasn't much better, but the UCLA women did manage to play both No. 11 Stanford and No. 3 Cal over the weekend, winning both. The win over Stanford Friday was by a surprising 6-1 score, but in today's match with Cal, the Bruins needed three-set comebacks at No. 3 and No. 5 singles to edge the Bears 4-3. Andrea Remynse defeated Mari Andersson 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 at No. 3 to clinch the win for the Bruins.

In other Top 20 women's clashes today, No. 7 Notre Dame defeated No. 13 Tennessee 5-2, and No. 2 Northwestern beat No. 14 Georgia Tech 6-1. Tennessee, who hasn't had Natalie Pluskota in their lineup recently, didn't again today, and although they did manage to find players for all six singles matches, they forfeited No. 3 doubles against the Fighting Irish, who played without Kali Krisik. Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews, playing at No. 1 and No. 2, have been outstanding the past few matches; today, No. 23-ranked Frilling beat seventh-ranked Caitlin Whoriskey 6-2, 6-0, and the unranked Mathews topped No. 37 Maria Sorbello 6-1, 6-4. Georgia Tech's Amanda McDowell is still apparently experiencing the back issues that have kept her out of the lineup most of the dual season. Although she played today in Evanston, she retired at 3-3 in the second set against Kate Turvy.

The ninth-ranked Florida Gators shut out the sixth-ranked Duke women this evening in Gainesville and are beginning to play like the NCAA title contender we all expected them to be now that they are outdoors. No. 1 North Carolina goes to Gainesville on March 10 in what will be a test for both teams.

Gainesville was also the site of the men's match between No. 6 Florida and No. 13 Illinos. The Gators came away with a 5-2 win, despite losing the doubles point, and in this account from the Florida athletic website, Florida head coach Andy Jackson mentions the boost Joey Burkhardt at the No. 2 position got playing outdoors. That he was playing former Gator Johnny Hamui probably added something to the tenor of the match too.

In the most exciting men's match of the day, No. 2 Tennessee came back from 3-1 down to defeat No. 20 Wake Forest. After the Volunteers had captured the doubles point, Wake Forest got wins at No. 4, No. 2 and No. 3 singles. With only five outdoor courts, the sixth singles match between Matteo Fago of Tennessee and Danny Kreyman of Wake Forest couldn't begin until one of the others had ended, so it's not surprising that turned out to be the clinching point for the Volunteers. Matt Brewer gave Tennessee its second point with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Zach Leslie, and JP Smith brought the Volunteers even with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 victory over Frank "Tripper" Carleton, who has had a fantastic start to his college career, which began in January. The loss to the second-ranked Smith was his first. Fago then delivered the final point, defeating Kreyman 6-2, 6-2.

In the women's Division III action, top seed Emory defeated No. 2 seed University of Chicago 6-3 to capture the ITA Team Indoor championship. Unlike the D-III men, who have been competing in a national team indoor for many years, this is only the second such competition for women. For more on the match, see the ITA website.

The Davis Cup team has arrived in Serbia, and practice partners Jack Sock and Denis Kudla will be blogging about their experience at usta.com. Both are experienced bloggers, so it should be interesting reading. Their first entries are about what I guess are tbe inevitable travel problems in reaching Serbia.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Vickery, Gibbs Invited to Compete at Billie Jean King Cup Monday; Hewitt, Tomic Reconcile; New Junior Tennis Health and Fitness Blog

If you've been following on Twitter, or via the Twitter feed at left, you know I was in Ann Arbor last night for the Michigan women's 4-3 win over Baylor. I'll have a complete account of this improbable Wolverine victory Monday for the Tennis Recruiting Network, and on Sunday, I'll try to recap all the results from the other big collegiate matches, including Stanford vs. USC, UCLA vs. Cal, Wake Forest vs. Tennessee and Florida vs. Illinois (men) as well as Duke vs. Florida, Tennessee vs. Notre Dame, Northwestern vs. Georgia Tech, UCLA vs. Stanford and Cal vs. USC (women).

Sachia Vickery and Nicole Gibbs have been selected to compete in the BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup at Madison Square Garden on Monday night, serving as an opening act for the exhibition that will feature Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters as the main event. Last year, Sloane Stephens and Gail Brodsky were the future stars, and the year before that, it was Denis Kudla and Junior Ore. For more on Vickery and Gibbs, see this story from gvtnews.com.

Australia's Herald Sun is reporting that Bernard Tomic and Lleyton Hewitt have spoken by telephone and have resolved the feud that has been simmering between the two for over six months. Paul McNamee, who was unsuccessful in a recent attempt to win election to the Tennis Australia presidency, is said to have been instrumental in encouraging the reconciliation. That certainly makes an impressive entry on his resume, and the tug of war between McNamee and Geoff Pollard, Steve Wood and Craig Tiley, who currently direct Tennis Australia, will continue. Four Corners, which I gather is a 60 Minutes-type show in Australia, is conducting an investigation into Tennis Australia that will be aired on Monday.

And finally I'm happy to report there's a great new addition to junior tennis information on the web. Mary Jo Campbell, whom I know from her past position as a strength and conditioning specialist and athletic trainer at the USTA, has started a blog MJ Tennis Fit. MJ. as she is known, has already addressed the issue of sport specialization, growth-related injuries and pre-match warm ups, and promises many more tips and videos to help negotiate the challenges of playing such a physically demanding sport. This is a great resource for those who do not have access to a trainer and sports medicine expert, and knowing MJ, I am certain she would welcome any questions you may have. So subscribe, bookmark, or do whatever it is you do to keep up with information that is helpful to you. I'm sure her counsel and expertise will have you returning to the site regularly. And I also greatly appreciate MJ's mention of zootennis as an inspiration.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Coaches Q and A: What Strings and Tension Do You Suggest For Your Students?

Today, Andy Brandi of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida provides his expertise on the many options available in strings and tension.

What Strings and Tension Do You Suggest For Your Students?

Choosing the correct string and tension can have a positive impact on your game by giving you better racket playability, power, control and durability as well as decreasing the possibility of injury.

Strings come in different kinds, gauges and textures. For example, there are multifilaments, natural gut, hybrids and polyesters. Gauges come in 15, 16 and 17 gauge.

Mulitifilaments give you a high level of playability. Natural gut gives you the best feel and response. Hybrids give you playability and durability. Finally, polyester gives you durability and control. Some of these strings are soft in feel which is easier on your arm and some are textured to grab the ball and give you more action and control.

Luxilon is the string that is most used in pro tennis and it has revolutionized the game. With Luxilon, players are able to swing away and keep the ball in the court. Some use it in hybrid form to give a little more feel.

Gauge is the thickness of the string. 15 is the thickest and will last longer and be less responsive. Obviously, 17 is the thinnest.

The other factor that comes with the string is its tension. Racket companies recommend tension that they feel will make the rackets play the best. The lower the tension, the more power and less stress on your arm. With higher tensions, you will have more control and the racket will feel deader.

String and tension are very personal. They are as personal as your favorite color. For example, Harold and I both use VS Touch 16 gut in our Babolat Pure Drives. He strings his at 63 and I string mine at 48! The recommended tension is 62. He uses string savers and I choose not to. That is a 15 pound difference using the same string and gauge. I like the racket to do more for me. I want the racket to be lively. Harold likes the racket to be dead, believing he can control the ball better this way.

For younger players, we recommend using a string that has good playability and is easier on the arm. This could be multifilaments or hybrids. As the player grows older, we like them to make a transition to polyester or remain with the hybrids. This will allow them to hit the ball harder and keep it in the court.

My advice is to experiment. Consult your coach or the person that does your racket stringing. Try out different strings. Try it at different tensions. You will know the right one! Remember, it is very personal and no one can tell you how it feels but you.

Best of luck!

Do you have a question for Andy or Harold? If so, please send it to clewis[at]zootennis[dot]com with the phrase Coaches Q and A in the subject line.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Interview with Virginia Men's Coach Brian Boland; ITA Collegiate Hall of Fame Inductees Announced; Becker Feature

Thanks to the suggestions of Tech Girl and other commenters, I decided to do a lengthy interview with Virginia's head coach Brian Boland for this week's Tennis Recruiting Network article. Boland was very generous with his time and his hospitality when we visited Charlottesville for the Team Indoor, and I hope to do more interviews like this one; it's a great way for me to learn more about the college game. In our discussion it was clear to me that the 11 or 15 point dual match formats Boland has introduced this year is just one of many ideas he has on improving the college game. And anyone who was in Charlottesville saw what he's done to connect the community to the tennis team. Tennis programs can ensure their own survival by taking a page out of his book.

The ITA Collegiate Hall of Fame inductees for 2010 have been selected. I ran across this story on the Tennessee website announcing that former USTA head of men's tennis and former Tennessee (and Southern Methodist) player Rodney Harmon will enter the Hall of Fame this year. In addition to Harmon the others being inducted are:

Mahesh Bhupathi (Mississippi)
Daniel Courcol (Mississippi State)
Zan Guerry (Rice)
Leif Shiras (Princeton)


Jay Lapidus (Princeton and Duke)


Kent DeMars (South Carolina)
Craig Tiley (Illinois)
Steve Wilkinson (Gustavus Adolphus College)


Gordon Smith (Georgia)

Another player I expect will be in the collegiate Hall of Fame someday is Benjamin Becker of Baylor, who won the NCAA singles title in 2004. Becker, who is in the quarterfinals of both singles and doubles at the ATP Delray International this week, admits in this Palm Beach Post story that he is known to most tennis fans only as the player who sent Andre Agassi into retirement.

And while we're speaking of Halls of Fame, there's a lively discussion going on over at Peter Bodo's Tennis World about the reason Nick Bollettieri was again passed over for induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I don't understand the thinking behind that decision; regardless of how he got in the position of being the most famous tennis coach in the world (do you have another candidate?), he is, and has indisputably contributed to the global growth of tennis. But apparently it's not that simple.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Weather Disruptions Abound; 18s Spring National Fields; The Koz Interviews Isner; USTA Youth Registration

I had planned on writing about today's USTA junior girls match against the University Miami women and the big men's college match between Baylor and Ohio State, but due to rain in South Florida and cold in Texas neither match was played. The USTA - Miami match has been rescheduled for 9:30 tomorrow morning, but from the sounds of it, the Baylor - Ohio State match, which is awash in controversy regarding the suitability of the playing conditions, won't be rescheduled. The Baylor athletic website has all the details of what it is calling a no-show by the Buckeyes, with remarks from head coach Matt Knoll and referee Chuck Scott. For those of you unclear on the weather rules in place for ITA matches (and that would be most of us, I'm sure), Scott provides the details. The crux of the argument appears to be that Ohio State head coach Ty Tucker considered the conditions hazardous, while Baylor and the referee did not. I'm sure Granger Huntress at the Texas College Tennis blog will have more on this later.

The men's match between No. 6 Florida and No. 19 Florida State in Gainesville was postponed due to rain and rescheduled for March 17. The Ohio State - Notre Dame women's match did go on as planned--indoors, of course--and the No. 7 Fighting Irish made short work of the No. 17 Buckeyes, winning 7-0.

The competitors list for next month's USTA Spring Nationals in Mobile is out, and the girls field looks particularly strong. Ellen Tsay, Monica Turewicz and Robin Anderson are all entered, as are Krista Hardebeck, Whitney Kay, Lilly Kimbell, Anna Mamalat, Catherine Harrison, Danielle Collins and Caroline Price, to name just a few. This doesn't include the wild cards, who have not yet been named. The boys field has fewer recognizable names, but includes Greg Andrews, Gonzales Austin, Emmett Egger, Bjorn Fratangelo, Christopher Mengel, Nathan Pasha and Justin Shane. For the complete list, see the TennisLink site.

Dave Kozlowski was at the joint ATP/WTA Memphis tournament last week and recorded this interview with John Isner for the newly launched site 10sballs.com. The "Koz" talks with Isner about his college experience, the level of play in the SEC and who he thinks will win the conference championship this year. There is also an interview with Sam Querrey, which you can find in the right hand column.

Tennis Night in America is Monday, March 1, and in addition to a the Madison Square Garden exhibition featuring Ana Ivanovic, Venus Williams, Kim Cljisters and Svetlana Kuznetsova, the USTA is again promoting the evening as Youth Registration Night across the country. To find such an event in your area, go to the tennisnight.com website.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

North Carolina Women Move to Top of ITA Campbell Rankings; Vankova to SMU; USTA Junior Girls Play Miami; Devvarman and Mladenovic Sign with Lagardère

Another round of team rankings was released today by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, and Notre Dame's win over Northwestern caused a shakeup in the women's standings, with North Carolina taking over the top spot from the Wildcats. Northwestern fell to No. 2, followed by Cal, UCLA and Baylor. Notre Dame rose from the 17th spot to 7th. Tennessee fell out of the top 10 after a loss to Indiana over the weekend. The Ohio State women have moved up to 17th and they will have a big test on Wednesday, when they travel to South Bend to take on the Fighting Irish.

There was little change in the men's rankings, with Virginia retaining the top spot, followed by Tennessee, Ohio State, Texas and USC. Stanford's loss to Cal dropped them from 8th to 14th, while Cal vaulted from 27th to 15th. Oklahoma also posted a big gain. After a win over Alabama, John Roddick's Sooners went from 44th to 26th.

For the complete rankings, see the ITA website.

In men's action tonight, Virginia again lost the doubles point, this time to Virginia Tech, but won all six singles matches to defeat the No. 18 Hokies.

In a big rivalry match on the women's side tonight, No. 9 Florida shut out No. 15 Florida State in Gainesville.

The SMU women have added Katerina Vankova of the Czech Republic to their roster, a former top 10 ITF junior. The 20-year-old lefty, who reached a career-high 339 in the WTA rankings two years ago, played in the No. 3 position for the 21st-ranked Mustangs in their shutout of No. 32 TCU last week. It's obviously been a couple of years since I've seen her play, but she is very good, and once she adjusts to college, she has the talent to play at the very top of the lineup.

A USTA junior girls team will be playing the University of Miami women at 1:15 tomorrow afternoon in Coral Gables. I'll have more about the match in Wednesday evening's post.

And finally, the sports management company Lagardere has announced the signings of former NCAA champion Somdev Devvarman of India and 2009 World Junior Champion Kristina Mladenovic of France. Andy Roddick and Justine Henin are clients, as are many other prominent professional players, as you can see from this page of signing announcements.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Harrison Qualifies at ATP Delray Beach; Shelby Rogers Wins Family Circle Qualifying Wild Card; Furman's Europe Diary; Protest Against Syracuse Upheld

Ryan Harrison won his third qualifying match today in at the ATP's International Tennis Championships at Delray Beach, beating former Old Dominion All-American Izak van der Merwe of South Africa 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(2). Yesterday, Harrison defeated No. 2 qualifying seed Carsten Ball of Australia 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-3. Harrison has cracked the top 300--he is now at a career-high 296--and regardless of the outcome of his first round match against Ernests Gulbis on Tuesday, he will move up even more next week. According to this story in the Sun-Sentinel, Harrison declined a wild card into the main draw in order to earn his way in. He did accept a doubles wild card however, and playing with Taylor Dent, reached the second round with a win over former LSU star Ken Skupski and his partner Colin Fleming. The Sun-Sentinel
story also has Pat Rafter's assessment of Bernard Tomic's game and future for those interested in the young Australian. The Palm Beach Post also quoted Harrison in this interesting story on the value of mixing the Champions Tour with an ATP event.

The SMASH Cup concluded today and Charleston's own Shelby Rogers won the girls 18 tournament, and with it, a qualifying wild card into the Family Circle Cup, a Premier WTA event, which is scheduled for April 10-18th. The 17-year-old Rogers, seeded second, defeated unseeded Emily Gelber 6-1, 6-2 in the final. For the complete results, including all other age groups, see the TennisLink site.

The Tennis Recruiting Network has posted a great diary today from Spencer Furman, the 12-year-old who was on the trip to the Aegon Teen Tennis and Les Petits As tournaments last month in Europe. Furman does a fantastic job of providing a look at the trip from a fresh perspective and he also assesses the game styles and strengths of each of the U.S. players he traveled with. I predict he has many USTA and ITF blogs in his future.

And as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Eastern Michigan's coach Ryan Ray protested the lineup of Syracuse's head coach Luke Jensen and last week the protest was upheld by the ITA. Eastern is now showing what was originally a 4-3 loss as a win on their results page, but Syracuse has not changed their win to a loss. The No. 5 player in question, C.C. Sardinha, has played No. 1 in Syracuse's last two matches against Columbia and Princeton. Jensen as college coach is the subject of a Jon Wertheim story in the March issue of Tennis magazine. Unfortunately, there is no link available, but if you get the magazine with your USTA membership, look for it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Top-ranked Northwestern Women Fall to Notre Dame; UC-Santa Cruz Takes D III Men's Indoor; Other College Tennis News

Seventeenth-ranked Notre Dame posted a convincing 5-2 win this afternoon over the ITA National Indoor champions and No. 1 ranked Northwestern Wildcats in South Bend. I listened to most of the match thanks to Ken Thomas at radiotennis.com, and having recently been to a Notre Dame home match, I had no trouble envisioning the circumstances. Northwestern lost all three double matches, and their No. 1 player, Maria Mosolova, couldn't get on track against Notre Dame's No. 1, Kristy Frilling. Thomas called that match, and throughout, he was effusive in his praise of Frilling's game. The sophomore from Ohio dominated from the beginning of the contest, resulting in a 6-1, 6-2 victory. At No. 2 singles Shannon Mathews took a 6-2, 6-3 decision from Samantha Murray and Chrissie McGaffigan clinched the Fighting Irish's first-ever win over a No. 1 team by defeating fellow freshman Kate Turvy by yet another straight set score, 6-3, 6-2.

It's understandable that Northwestern would let down a bit after their Team Indoor title, but Notre Dame isn't a team you want to meet in that psychological state. After failing to qualify for the Team Indoor, when eventual Indoor finalist North Carolina beat them in the final Kick-off Weekend match, they've beaten seventh-ranked Michigan on the road 4-3 and now have knocked off the two-time Indoor champions. It will be interesting to see whether Northwestern falls from the top spot. I think the only highly ranked team still undefeated is Stanford, and they did not participate in the Team Indoor, and have yet to beat a Top 20 opponent. For the complete results, see the Notre Dame website article.

Speaking of Stanford, the eighth-ranked men were stunned at home by 27th-ranked Cal on Saturday. After winning the doubles point, taking the first set in four matches and building a 3-1 lead, Stanford lost three-setters at No. 1, 5 and 2 singles. Cal is now 7-1 on the season, with their only loss coming against Texas in the Kick-off Weekend final. For more on their upset of Stanford, see calbears.com.

In other big DI matches this weekend, the No. 6 Duke women defeated No. 7 Michigan 5-2 in Durham, and in Columbus, the No. 3 Ohio State men downed No. 9 Kentucky by the same score. It was the Buckeyes' 96th consecutive win at home.

The Division III Men's Indoor Championship went to NCAA champion and top seed UC-Santa Cruz, who defeated No. 3 Washington University 6-2 to claim the title. For complete results, see the Gustavus Adolphus website.

In Arizona, former UCLA star Abigail Spears, the eighth seed, captured the $25,000 Pro Circuit singles title with a 6-1 6-2 win over No. 3 Kurumi Nara of Japan.

And finally, the Tulsa athletic site recently caught up with former Hurricane Arnau Brugues, producing this Q and A, which explores his past year on the professional circuit and his immediate and ultimate tennis goals.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Min Wins Grade 2 in Chile; John McEnroe Discusses His Academy; 92s News; Santa Cruz Faces Washington in DIII Men's Indoor Final

Fifteen-year-old Grace Min of the U.S. has won the ITF Grade 2 tournament Copa Milo on the clay in Santiago, Chile. Min, seeded 4th, defeated Agustina Sol Eskanazi of Argentina, the No. 6 seed, 6-2, 6-1 in the final. Unseeded American Chanelle Van Nguyen reached the semifinals before falling to Eskanazi. Of the U.S. boys competing in Chile, Shane Vinsant went deepest into the draw, reaching the semifinals as the fifth seed, where he lost to eventual champion Facundo Mena of Argentina. For complete results, see the ITF tournament page.

At the Grade 4 in Jalisco, Mexico, also on clay, No. 2 seed Julia Elbaba reached the singles final for the second straight week. She avenged her loss last week to fellow American Ashley Dai in the semifinals, but lost in the final this week to No. 1 seed Giovanna Manifacio of Mexico 6-1, 6-3. Harrison Richmond of the U.S. won the doubles title in Jalisco with Belgian partner Joseph Van Dooren. For complete results, see the ITF tournament page.

John McEnroe is in Delray Beach, Florida, playing in a senior event held in conjunction with the ATP tournament taking place there, and he was asked about the recent news that he was opening his own tennis academy in New York. There are no dates given in this story by Harvey Fialkov for the Sun-Sentinel, but there is a location--Randall's Island in New York City.

In qualifying today in for the Delray ATP event, 17-year-olds Ryan Harrison and Yuki Bhambri advanced to the second round with wins over Luka Gregorc and Marcel Felder respectively, while Jack Sock, also 17, lost to former Florida Atlantic and University of Texas player Olivier Sajous in a battle of wild cards. See the tournament website for more information. Another of the prominent 17-year-olds, Bernard Tomic of Australia, is the subject of this Sydney Daily Telegraph story about an upcoming meeting his father has with Tennis Australia's Craig Tiley and the possibility that Tomic will be named to the Davis Cup team on Tuesday.

The final of the Division III Men's Team Indoor is Sunday, with NCAA champion and No. 1 seed UC-Santa Cruz facing No. 3 seed Washington University of St. Louis. Santa Cruz beat No. 4 Kenyon 5-4 in today's semifinals, while Washington topped No. 2 Emory by the same score. Live scoring for the match is available via the host Gustavus Adolphus College's website. For much more about the teams and Division III men's college tennis throughout the season, see the excellent blog Division III Tennis.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Clarifying NCAA Regulation; McHale Reaches Surprize Semis; Isner in Vanity Fair; Andrews Feature; Tennis Mom Survey

The Tennis Recruiting Network story about the NCAA regulation change that I linked to yesterday may have implied that the regulation didn't effect those graduating in 2010, but actually it does. For clarification:

2010 high school grads who had planned to take 1 year off will need to review the new legislation. Most likely this class will have to enroll for Spring 2011 OR cease competition 6 months after high school graduation.

One of those effected by the change will be Christina McHale, a high school senior who has retained her amateur status while competing almost exclusively on the Pro Circuit since last summer. McHale, who reached the quarterfinals of two $25,000 events last month, is the seventh seed in the Surprize, Ariz. $25,000 tournament this week, reaching the semifinals today with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over No. 2 seed Monique Adamczak of Australia. McHale's semifinal opponent is former UCLA star Abigail Spears, the 8th seed. Neither has lost a set in the tournament. In the top half, No. 1 Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. will play No. 3 seed Kurumi Nara of Japan.

The men's Pro Circuit event in Brownsville has been struggling with rain the past couple of days, and only one round has been completed.

For complete results, see the usta.com Pro Circuit page.

Former Georgia All-American and NCAA doubles champion John Isner, who has reached the semifinals of the ATP tournament in Memphis, is the subject of this short Q and A on Vanity Fair. When I'm in a small hotel room or bumping my head on the overhead bin in an airplane, I often think about how difficult it must be for him to travel. Even though his career prize money has now exceeded a million dollars, he apparently still doesn't care for the cost of first class tickets.

The Tennis Recruiting Network's Ali Jones has spoken with Gabrielle Andrews, the Aegon Teen Tennis champion, about her very successful trip overseas in this feature. Andrews collected three of the four girls titles at the Teen Tennis and Les Petits As tournaments and this past week was a finalist at the girls 16s National Open in Lakewood, Calif. And a side note: BEST, the sports management company, has signed 14-year-old Kanami Tsuji of Japan, the girls champion at Les Petits As.

And finally, the Tennis Mom is conducting a survey on the importance of 12-and-under rankings. If you have experience with this topic, please check it out.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

ITA Men's Indoor Recap; New NCAA Regulations; New Campbell ITA Rankings; All-Indoor Teams Announced

My weekly column for the Tennis Recruiting Network is a look back at last weekend's ITA Men's Indoor Tournament. And while I was covering that tournament last Friday, the Tennis Recruiting Network featured an important article from Dede Allen about two new NCAA regulations. Student-athletes were allowed a year off between high school graduation and college, but the new regulation has reduced that to six months for the high school graduation class of 2011.

Also changed was the rule prohibiting potential student-athletes from competing on professional teams. This regulation, which takes effect this coming August, allows such competition as long as the amateur athlete accepts only actual and necessary expenses. It will mean that next summer, World Team Tennis should be able to draft amateurs to individual teams. Last year, you may recall, the USTA had to have an entire WTT team of amateurs in order to comply with the NCAA rule.

The new rankings were announced today, with the ITA Team Indoor Champions taking over the top spots and the finalists moving up to No. 2. Northwestern is now No. 1 in the women's rankings, followed by North Carolina, Cal, UCLA and Baylor. Duke, formerly No. 1, has dropped to 6. Virginia tops the men's rankings, with Tennessee, Ohio State and Texas. Former No. 1 USC dropped to No. 5.

The second individual rankings of 2010 were released, with Irina Falconi of Georgia Tech and Jana Juricova of Cal retaining the top two women's spots. The top-ranked doubles team also stayed the same--Tennessee's Caitlin Whoriskey and Natalie Pluskota.

In the men's individual rankings, Steve Johnson of USC and JP Smith of Tennessee continue to be 1 and 2, but there was a change in the men's doubles, with Alexander Stamchev and Tim Puetz of Auburn bumping Bradley Klahn and Ryan Thacher of Stanford from the top spot.

For complete rankings, see the ITA ranking page.

The all-tournament teams for the Indoor championships were named today. Maria Mosolova of Northwestern was named Most Outstanding Player. The other members of the women's all-tournament team:

No. 1 – Maria Mosolova, Northwestern
No. 2 – Allie Will, Florida
No. 3 – Mari Andersson, California
Elizabeth Potkin, Duke
No. 4 – Lauren Lui, Northwestern
No. 5 – Sophie Grabinski, North Carolina
No. 6 – Cristala Andrews, USC

No. 1 – Mari Andersson/Jana Juricova, California
No. 2 – Katrina Tsang/Shinann Featherston, North Carolina
No. 3 – Samantha Murray/Kate Turvy, Northwestern

Michael Shabaz of Virginia was named the men's Most Outstanding Player. The other members of the men's all-tournament team:

No. 1 – Michael Shabaz, Virginia
No. 2 – Sanam Singh, Virginia
No. 3 – Rhyne Williams, Tennessee
No. 4 – Drew Courtney, Virginia
No. 5 – Houston Barrick, Virginia
No. 6 – Nassam Slilam, Florida

No. 1 – Davey Sandgren/J.P. Smith, Tennessee
No. 2 – Boris Conkic/Rhyne Williams, Tennessee
No. 3 – Jean Andersen/Daniel Whitehead, Texas

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sock, Kudla to Travel to Serbia with US Davis Cup Team Next Month

I've just participated in the conference call announcing the team for the U.S. Davis Cup tie in Serbia March 5-7. You've probably heard that Andy Roddick and James Blake are not playing, so it was not surprising that Patrick McEnroe selected John Isner and Sam Querrey, along with the Bryan twins.

I had heard during the Men's Team Indoor that Jack Sock would be named, so I joined the call to find out who the other player would be. It isn't always a junior player, but this time it is, with Denis Kudla accompanying the team to Serbia.

Because Querrey and Isner participated in the call, I had the opportunity to ask Querrey about his experience as a practice partner.

Q. This question is for Sam. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about Denis and Jack. I believe it's both their first times being practice partners, and what you took from that, and how you'll kind of guide them through the experience.

SAM QUERREY: I mean, Denis and Jack, I've known Dennis for a couple years, and I've hit with him probably 50 times, and he's a great kid, great player, and I definitely think he's going to have a blast over there. And Jack, I've only hit with Jack one time, but I've followed along with his results, and he's playing well, and he seems to be one of the best -- I think they're both 17, and they seem to be like the two best 17-year-olds in America. I think they're going to have great careers.

And Davis Cup is a great week. The first week I did it was I think three years ago or four years ago when we played Belgium away. It was my first time meeting Andy and James, and it was just fun to see -- watch those guys practice and just to practice with them and see what they do and how intense they are and how hard they work, to take everything that I learned from that week and apply it to my game. I think John and I will try to show them that when we're there this week or next week.

I think it's just a great experience for them because hopefully one day those two will be on the team, and they're not just going to go into Davis Cup for their first time and be surprised. Hopefully -- well, they're obviously going to be the practice partners but hopefully they can do it a couple more times and really get the vibe and get the feeling of what it's like to play Davis Cup matches, especially away like we are in Serbia.

While Querrey is correct that Kudla and Sock are among the best 17-year-olds, Ryan Harrison, who was a Davis Cup practice partner last July, is certainly in the group as well.

It was also interesting to hear McEnroe mention Isner's experience in college tennis as an advantage in playing Davis Cup.

"...John has so much experience playing in college tennis, which I think will really serve him well because he's used to that kind of atmosphere. Obviously not this many people, but you play down there in Athens with the crowd going crazy or one of those other SEC teams, they get pretty into it. So I think John will really be able to handle that well.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Indoor Thoughts; Spring National 18s Deadline Thursday: Pro Circuit, ITF Junior Update

It's an exhausting four days covering the Team Indoor Championship, particularly the first two days, when 9 am starts and 11 pm finishes don't allow much time for reflection. But it's great tennis, providing a preview (with caveats, of course) of the NCAAs in May. I've been very fortunate to cover a Georgia NCAA title in Athens (that great 2007 team) and now a Virginia title in Charlottesville, and there's no question they are two of the best venues in college tennis.

The ability to see all six courts at once is such and advantage, and the local fans at both places leave no doubt who the visitors are. The noise was especially impressive in Charlottesville, no doubt due to the indoor acoustics, and the wide variety of fans, from fraternity pledges to older alumni and residents, were loud, but very well-behaved. Virginia has yet to develop a distinctive cheer like the Bulldog bark that surfaces in Georgia's matches, and they are still developing the sense of history that pervades Athens, but all the banners at the Boyd Tinsley Courts show the progress they are making.

The lively tennis message board at The Sabre is also a testament to the interest at Virginia, and there was a lot of local media coverage of the event, from start to finish. Here's a link to the finals story from The Sabre.

The deadline for entry to the USTA Spring National 18s in Mobile, which is the next tournament I'll be covering, is Thursday at noon. See the TennisLink site for more.

In Pro Circuit action last week, Great Britain's Elena Baltacha won the $100,000 Dow Corning Classic in Midland, and France's Olivia Sanchez, who won her second consecutive $25,000 singles title in California, this time at Laguna Nigel.

This week the women are in Surprize, Ariz. for a $25,000 event, and the men are in Brownsville for a $15,000 event. Sixteen-year-old Spencer Newman has qualified for the main draw there.

For complete results, see usta.com's Pro Circuit page.

In the joint ATP/WTA tournament in Memphis, wild card Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia has reached the second round. Ryan Harrison qualified, but lost last night to John Isner 6-1, 7-5. For the tournament website, click here.

In ITF junior news, Caitlyn Williams, whose brother Rhyne was playing in the final of the Men's Team Indoor, reached the finals of the Grade 2 tournament in Bolivia before losing to Italy's Gaia Sanesi 6-3, 7-5. In the Grade 4 in Mexico, two U.S. girls reached the final, with unseeded Ashley Dai defeating No. 3 Julia Elbaba 1-6, 4-2 ret. to earn the title.

For complete draws, see the ITF junior website.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Virginia Claims Third Straight Men's Team Indoor Championship

©Colette Lewis 2009--
Charlottesville, VA--

The city of Charlottesville is known for being the home of three presidents: James Madison, James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson. It is now also the home of three consecutive ITA Men's Indoor championships, after the University of Virginia men's team defeated their counterparts from the University of Tennessee 4-1 at the Boyd Tinsley Courts at the Boar's Head Sports Club Monday afternoon.

The large Presidents Day crowd didn't have much to cheer about during the opening doubles matches, with Tennessee's No. 1 team of Davey Sandgren and JP Smith dominating Virginia's Drew Courtney and Michael Shabaz, getting an early break and then another for a 5-1 lead. Things were no better for the Cavaliers on court 2, where Houston Barrick and Jarmere Jenkins were down a break against Tennessee's Boris Conkic and Rhyne Williams after the first game, and eventually fell behind 6-2. With those leads, the Volunteers had no reason to be concerned that their team of Matteo Fago and Tennys Sandgren were trailing on court 3 against Virginia's Sanam Singh and Lee Singer. It didn't take long for Tennessee to put Virginia out of their doubles misery with an 8-1 win by Sandgren and Smith and an 8-2 victory by Conkic and Williams.

Virginia head coach Brian Boland was not pleased with his team's performance, and used the break prior to singles to let them know it.

"I felt our teams came out flat and let us down, with the exception of 3," Boland said. "We can certainly compete harder than that and make better decisions on the courts. We had a five to seven minute talk in the locker room after the doubles point, and I was pretty firm as to how disappointed I was, that this was unacceptable. If they were going to find a way to be successful today they needed to show a great deal of resilience and toughness."

Courtney was one of the players who got the message.

"We just took it as one point out of seven," said the sophomore from Clifton, Va. "Coach said the tougher team will win today and he stressed that and stressed that we should come out tougher than them, and it proved itself today."

Tennessee had altered the singles lineup it had used throughout the weekend, removing Matt Brewer from the No. 5 position. That moved Fago up to the No. 5 position, with Davey Sandgren moving into Fago's previous spot at No. 6. It didn't provide the Volunteers with the hoped for boost however, as Barrick got an early lead on Fago, Singer did the same against Davey Sandgren and Jenkins took a 3-1 lead on Williams at the No. 3 position. Only Conkic was up for the Volunteers, taking an early break from Singh at No. 2, with Shabaz and Smith at No. 1 and Tennys Sandgren and Courtney at No. 4 all even.

Shabaz was particularly impressive against the No. 2-ranked Smith, who had beaten him at the All-American in October. With an excellent return game at 4-4, Shabaz, ranked third nationally, got the only break of the set on a Smith double fault and proceeded to serve it out. By that time, Barrick had won the opening set against Fago, and a short time later both Singer and Courtney claimed their first sets.

Tennessee was going to need a lift from someone and they got it from freshman Williams, who won the final five games of the opening set against Jenkins to take it 7-5. Unfortunately for the Volunteers, Conkic couldn't hold off Singh, who won the final four games to take the first set, giving Virginia five first sets.

When Shabaz took a 2-0 lead in second set, and Singh a 3-0, two-break lead, it looked very bleak for the Volunteers, even though the other second sets were very close. But they fought back at the top, with Smith getting it back to 2-2 and Conkic winning four straight games.

Senior captain Barrick completed his 6-2, 6-4 win over Fago to counter the loss of the doubles point and Singer, who is ranked 28th nationally, downed Davey Sandgren 6-2, 7-5 to give the Cavaliers their first lead.

The 700 to 800 Virginia fans were sensing victory, and the remaining four courts each had its own whistling and applauding contingent erupting at every point won by the Cavaliers.

A key game on court 1 attracted the most support, as Smith, serving at 3-3 in the second set, fought off break point after break point until Shabaz finally secured the break.

"We played a long, long game, and I knew that game was pivotal," said Shabaz, a junior from Fairfax, Va. "It was a huge game, because if I had lost that game, it was a different kind of match. And if I won it, I was serving just good enough to get through the match."

Shabaz, who put forehand after forehand deep in the corners, making Smith play defense, not offense, served out his 6-4, 6-4 victory at love, and Virginia had a 3-1 lead. Courtney had taken an early break from Sandgren in the third set of their match, while Jenkins had earned a split against Williams. With Singh and Conkic at 5-5 in the second set, it looked as if Virginia's last point could come there, but when Conkic held and broke, all attention was turned to court 4.

Courtney, who had clinched Virginia's 4-1 win over Georgia at last year's Team Indoor final in Chicago, was in position to do the honors again. At 2-5 Sandgren held, but he needed to break the big serving right-hander, which he had only done once in the match. Buoyed by the enveloping noise, Courtney didn't allow it, with Sandgren getting only one return in play in the final game. When the 40-0 serve didn't come back, Courtney fell to the ground and was mobbed by his teammates, delaying the post-match handshake.

"Last year was a lot of fun, but this one tops it for sure," said Courtney, a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 winner. "To have so many fans, so many friends and family around to fire us up and push us through was so special."

For Tennessee, who hadn't reached a Team Indoor final since 1993, it was a disappointing loss, and head coach Sam Winterbotham also gave Virginia and its home crowd credit for that.

"They certainly had the necessary determination to try and get four (wins) and we didn't respond well enough," said Winterbotham. "We allowed the momentum to really swing in their favor, and to their credit, the crowd jumped all over that momentum, the players jumped all over that momentum and they steamrolled us. There was no doubt they were the better team today."

With its third consecutive Team Indoor title, Virginia moves into an elite group. The only other schools to claim more than two titles since the competition began in 1973 are Stanford, with 12 and UCLA, with 7.

For complete results of the Men's Team Indoor Championships, see the ITA website.

At the Women's Team Indoor in Madison, Wisc., No. 2 seed Northwestern also successfully defended its title, defeating unseeded North Carolina 4-2. For complete results, visit the ITA website.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Virginia Aims For Third Straight Men's Indoor Title Against Tennessee Volunteers Monday

©Colette Lewis 2009--
Charlottesville, VA--

The comfort level for the Virginia Cavaliers will be higher than the snow banks piled in the parking lots around the Boar's Head Sports Club on Monday. Not only are they seeking their third consecutive men's Team Indoor championship, but they will be playing on their home courts against Tennessee, whose last appearance in the Indoor final was in 1993.

Virginia, the No. 2 seeds, earned their place in the final with a 4-1 victory over No. 3 Ohio State Sunday afternoon in front of nearly a thousand enthusiastic fans. Coach Brian Boland had dramatically rearranged his doubles teams as a result of last weekend's loss to Kentucky, their first during regular season since March of 2007, yet Virginia hadn't missed a beat, winning the doubles point against both Alabama and Georgia Friday and Saturday.

Ohio State's team of Matt Allare and Shuhei Uzawa drew first blood Sunday with an 8-5 win over Virginia's Lee Singer and Sanam Singh at No. 3, but Houston Barrick and Jarmere Jenkins held a 7-4 lead at the No. 2 position over Buckeyes Dino Marcan and Balazs Novak, so it looked as if it would be the No. 1 teams deciding it. On serve throughout, Virginia's Drew Courtney and Michael Shabaz and Ohio State's Chase Buchanan and Justin Kronauge seemed headed for a tiebreaker, when at 6-7, Buchanan missed a volley at 30-40, and as quickly as that, Virginia took the match. Meanwhile, on court 2, Virginia was having a tough time serving it out at 7-5. The long game ended in a doubles point win for Virginia, when Buckeye freshman Marcan, angry at failing to convert a volley at deuce, threw his racquet, and was penalized a point, which was, of course, match point.

In the singles, Virginia came out strong, getting early breaks in several matches and a couple of big leads. Courtney had a two-break 3-0 lead over Uzawa at No. 4, as did Barrick over Novak at No. 5. Singh was also up 3-0 on Kronauge at No. 2, so the Buckeyes needed someone to mount a comeback, as only Marcan against Jenkins at No. 3 and Buchanan against Shabaz at No. 1 had enduring leads. At No. 6, Ohio State's Allare had a 2-0 lead over Singer, but Singer won six straight games to take the first set, while Courtney, Barrick and Singh kept their leads and won their first sets. Unlike their quarterfinal match, when Ohio State was down 3-0 to Florida, but in little danger of losing the match, the Buckeyes prospects were not good when Courtney and Barrick sandwiched wins around Marcan's victory at No. 3 to put Virginia up 3-1. Singh had a 5-3 lead over Kronauge, having won the first set 6-3, and he did not allow any drama. He broke Kronauge, with the final point an overrule by the chair umpire, who disagreed with Kronauge's out call, giving the Cavaliers a 4-1 victory.

"We came out and started really strong in singles, which I thought was a big key," Boland said. "We were able to get off to good starts on almost every court, and kept that momentum."

Boland admitted that the loss to Kentucky in Lexington last Saturday was the impetus for some changes.

"There were a number of factors that went on in the Kentucky match that I was very disappointed in," Boland said. "It was numerous issues, all of which are now moving forward in the right direction. It terms of my individual players, I'm very pleased with their response to what was at the time a difficult situation."

Tennessee has yet to taste defeat this year, and with a 4-1 victory over No. 8 Texas Sunday, the Volunteers have taken a step beyond their result in the Indoor last year, where they lost to Virginia 4-0 in the semifinals.

"We've learned from the experience of being in the semifinals last year," said Tennessee coach Sam Winterbotham. "Virginia was the returning defending champion and they felt confident going into that semifinal, and it was new territory for us. We came out a little nervous."

Against the Longhorns, there was no sign of similar nerves this year, even for freshmen Rhyne Williams and Tennys Sandgren. At No. 2 doubles, Williams and Boris Conkic got a quick lead over Ed Corrie and Kellen Damico. At No. 1 doubles, Tennesee's Davey Sandgren and JP Smith were knotted at 5 with Dimitar Kutrovsky and Josh Zavala and at No. 3, Matteo Fago and Tennys Sandgren were even with Jean Andersen and Daniel Whitehead, also at 5-5, so there was only a slight edge to Tennessee. Texas got the first victory with an 8-6 victory for Andersen and Whitehead but Sandgren and Smith got a late break to post a 8-6 win at No. 1. Conkic and Williams clung to their early lead and delivered the point to the Volunteers by an 8-5 score.

The singles tilted in favor of the Volunteers early, with Smith taking a quick first set from Kutrovsky at No. 1 and Fago taking the first from Vasko Mladenov at No. 6. Corrie had given the Longhorn faithful some hope with a 6-0 first set win over Conkic at No. 2, but when Williams topped Damico in the first set at No. 3 and Tennys Sandgren took his opener from Andersen, a Texas victory was unlikely.

Texas tied the score briefly, with Zavala earning a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Matt Brewer at No. 5, but in a matter of ten minutes, it was all over for the Longhorns. Williams completed a 6-2, 6-2 win over Damico, Smith posted a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Kutrovsky and Sandgren ended the match with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Andersen.

"I thought the young guys, Rhyne and Tennys, stepped up incredibly," said Winterbotham. "Tennys's performance, the turnaround from yesterday, was great. It takes a lot of confidence to come in here as a first semester freshman and play against the level these guys are asked to play against. I thought Tennys really dug into today and said, hey, I'm going to play my game. It was fantastic."

Tennessee's only other appearance in the Team Indoor final came in 1993, when current associate head coach Chris Woodruff was playing No. 1 for the team as a sophomore. The Volunteers, who lost 5-2 to UCLA that year, are hoping to end Virginia's championship run at two.

"The guys are confident," Winterbotham said. "They came into this tournament and they really felt like they could go all the way. And we're one step closer."

Boland also likes his team's chances, especially in front of what he called the "best home crowd in college tennis."

"We're playing really well across the board," Boland said. "Everybody seems to playing at a good level, and we hope for the best tomorrow. We've got a tough team in terms of playing Tennessee, so it's going to be a good match."

The championship match will begin at noon.

At the women's Team Indoor in Madison, Wisc., unseeded North Carolina has reached the final after upsetting the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils 4-3 in Sunday's semifinal. North Carolina will play No. 2 Northwestern, who is seeking its second consecutive Team Indoor championship. The Wildcats beat No. 3 seed Cal 4-3 Sunday.

For complete results, including the consolation matches, see the ITA men's and women's tournament sites.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Texas vs. Tennessee and Ohio State vs. Virginia in Men's Team Indoor Semifinals

©Colette Lewis 2009--
Charlottesville, VA--

After 13 hours of tennis on Saturday at the Boyd Tinsley Courts at the Boar's Head Sport Club, the semifinalists have been determined for the 2010 ITA Men's Team Indoor.

And except for the evening match, which saw No. 2 seed and two-time defending champion Virginia roll past Georgia 4-0, there was plenty of tension and drama in the victories of No. 3 seed Ohio State, No. 5 seed Tennessee and No. 8 seed Texas.

In the morning match, Ohio State spotted No. 11 seed Florida a 3-0 lead, but came back to earn a 4-3 win. It was an odd match, in that none of the five singles matches were close, none that is except at No. 4 singles, which was the decider. Buckeye Shuhei Uzawa, a junior, outlasted January freshman Bob van Overbeek of Florida 6-4, 7-5 to put Ohio State in the semifinals. The Buckeyes also got wins from Chase Buchanan at No. 1, Justin Kronauge at No. 2 and Balazs Novak at No. 5 to overcome the loss of the doubles point. Florida's singles wins came from No. 3 Antoine Benneteau and No. 6 Nasim Slilam.

In the Texas - Southern California match there was an early indication the Longhorns were going to pose a problem for the Trojans; Texas took an early lead at both No. 1 and No. 2 doubles and never let USC back in either match to convincingly and quickly post the first point.

The top-ranked Trojans did take four of the opening sets in singles, but Texas fought back at both No. 1 and No. 2 singles, with Dimitar Kutrovsky and Ed Corrie forcing third sets against Robert Farah and Steve Johnson. Johnson, who sat out the Fresno State match on Friday with back spasms, couldn't hold off a determined Corrie, and once Kutrovsky had earned a 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2 victory over Farah, Corrie needed only a few more minutes to take the fourth point over Johnson 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. Jean Andersen, a January transfer, had earned the Longhorns their second point at No. 4 singles, while Jaak Poldma at No. 3 and Daniel Nguyen at No. 5 posted points for USC.

In the mid-afternoon match between Tennessee and UCLA, the Volunteers won a close doubles point, but the two teams split the first sets of singles when Bruin Haythem Abid took a tiebreaker from JP Smith. Tennessee's Matteo Fago gave the Volunteers a 2-0 lead with a quick win at No. 6 singles, but UCLA's Amit Inbar made it 2-1 with a victory at No. 5. It was 3-1 Tennessee after Boris Conkic's victory at No. 2 singles, and although freshman Rhyne Williams had been taken to a third set by UCLA's Nick Meister, he had a 4-0 lead in the final set. Smith had just taken the second set from Abid to give Williams a little breathing room, and he closed out the Volunteers' fourth point with an ace, earning a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win.

By the time Tennessee was closing in on the victory, the crowd was building for the Virginia - Georgia match. It was the Bulldogs first trip to Virginia, where the Cavaliers have not lost since 2006, and a record 1600 orange-clad fans made sure Georgia knew they weren't in Athens. With several dozen fraternity pledges dressed in costumes as varied as a convict, a lacrosse player and a banana adding to the festivities, Virginia won the doubles point with late breaks at No. 2 and No. 3. And although the crowd thinned a bit after the doubles point, there was still plenty of vocal support as the home team took five of six first sets. Virginia got a quick second point from Drew Courtney at No. 4, and their third from Sanam Singh at No. 2. Virginia's Michael Shabaz and Georgia's Nate Schnugg were at 5-5 in the second set when Singh made it 3-0 and Shabaz got a break to put the match on his racquet. He served it out, giving Virginia the sweep, and their second win over Georgia in the past two Team Indoor championships.

In the women's team Indoor, North Carolina will meet No. 1 Duke in one semifinal, and No. 3 Cal will take on the winner of the Northwestern - Florida match, which is still in progress. UPDATE: Northwestern defeated Florida 4-3.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Notes From First Round at Men's Team Indoor

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Charlottesville, VA--

I hope you've been following the Twitter feed today, because I don't have much time to go into detail regarding all eight matches I saw today at the Men's Team Indoor at the Boyd Tinsley Courts at the Boar's Head Sports Club. The slide show below features the players who clinched the matches for their teams, and the scores. Complete results can be found at the ITA's tournament website.

Because it's late, I'm just going to pass along a few observations from today's action, in no particular order.

The fire alarm that disrupted Southern Cal's 4-0 win over Fresno State was caused by a basketball in the Sports Club gym hitting an emergency exit sign and breaking it.

In addition that fire alarm, my first at a tennis match, I also saw not one, but two players breaking shoelaces during a game, who needed to have new ones delivered to them before play could continue. I had never seen that happen even once, and in the space of a half hour, both Chase Buchanan of Ohio State and Alex Lacroix needed that odd repair.

The closest match of the day was certainly Georgia's 4-3 win over Ole Miss, but the majority of the matches were very competitive. Although the only upset was No. 11 Florida's 4-2 win over No. 6 Baylor, particularly surprising given that the Bears had beaten the Gators 5-2 less than a month ago, I think No. 8 Texas's shutout of No. 9 Stanford was equally unexpected. Texas dominated the Cardinal, and a match I expected to be one of the best of the day, was very one-sided.

There are 4-0 wins that are lopsided, and 4-0 wins that are anything but, and Tennessee's triumph by that score over Illinois was in the second category. After losing the doubles point and at No. 6 singles, the Fighting Illini stayed true to their nickname and battled back to force a third set in three separate matches. After dropping a 6-1 decision to the Volunteers last weekend, with Tennessee missing two starters with illness, Illinois hung tough against a much more talented opponent and made Tennessee work for every point and game. If there were a heart award for the day, it would go to Illinois.

A very impressive crowd was in attendance Friday evening for Virginia's dismantling of Alabama, and it is expected to be even bigger for the Georgia match on Saturday. The Crimson Tide's Billy Pate was probably not too happy to have to face the home team coming off a surprising loss to Kentucky last weekend, and for good reason. The Cavaliers crushed Alabama in doubles and although there were a couple of close matches in singles, most of the fans could afford to leave before the finish and not worry about missing anything.

On Saturday, all four quarterfinals will be played on the six main courts, which will make sitting in one place feasible.

The women's team indoor featured two upsets today, with unseeded North Carolina downing No. 4 Georgia 5-2 and unseeded UCLA beating No. 6 Miami 4-3. For complete results, see the ITA tournament home page.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Q and A with Me; Team Indoor Championships Begin Friday

The Tennis Recruiting Network asked me last month if I would do a question and answer piece about me and zootennis.com. In January, zootennis celebrated its 5th anniversary, so it seemed appropriate to reflect back on the origins of the site and its future. They asked the questions, I answered them, and if you are interested in how I got my start, why Andy Murray and Reka Zsilinszka are special to me, and what I'd change about college and junior tennis, click here.

The amount of snow in Charlottesville is impressive, but as far as I know, only one team had serious travel difficulties: UCLA. They have arrived, but will not get an opportunity to practice until late this evening, so their match with Kentucky has been moved to 6:30 Friday evening. The Mississippi-Georgia match will take the 3:00 p.m. spot instead.

For the complete draws, see the ITA men's tournament site. The women's Team Indoor also begins Friday in Madison, Wisc., and to follow it, see the ITA tournament site.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bodo on Sampras and the USTA; Drucker on Malivai Washington; Capra Downs Watson at Dow Corning

Tennis.com's Peter Bodo has a long and interesting post on the possibility of Pete Sampras signing on with the USTA, and when Bodo says he doesn't think it will happen, it probably won't. After all, he has written books with both Sampras and Patrick McEnroe (not yet released), so he has a pretty good idea of the personalities and politics involved. I urge all of you who have commented on yesterday's post to read Bobo's blog and to comment there as well. (I've already corrected what I felt was an unfair characterization by one of the commenters there about juniors). Bodo writes:

An endless stream of coaches and former players have volubly offered their services, but it's almost always been on their terms. When someone like Jimmy Connors, or Pete, steps forward to say he thinks he can help, certain alarms go off in the heads of the men and women in the developmental trenches. Very few, if any, of these potential fixers has anything more than some vague ideas of what needs to be done, and it's almost always based on a fairly narrow body of personal experience.

When I said yesterday that I was skeptical that Sampras could "make a champion," it for the above reasons, which Bodo has articulated very clearly.

I've always been a little envious of all the discussions about player development that surface in Australia and Great Britain, so I think it's great to have one surface here in the United States. I would just ask that you try to be constructive in your comments, and formulate your thoughts as if you were actually talking face to face to someone in the USTA.

Joel Drucker caught up with Malivai Washington for this espn.com feature, and unlike Sampras, he seems to have found many ways to fill the post-playing years. The 1996 Wimbledon finalist, who attended the University of Michigan before turning pro, is now completing his degree at the University of North Florida. How he viewed his educational opportunities then and how he views them now isn't exactly surprising, but it certainly should be required reading for all college players.

And finally, in the marquee match for junior tennis aficionados today in Midland, qualifier Beatrice Capra defeated wild card Heather Watson 4-6, 6-2, 7-5. Josh Rey was kind enough to call me to give me the score. His story on Wednesday's Dow Corning Tennis Classic action, which will include an account of their match, should be available Thursday at usta.com.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Watson to Face Capra at Dow Corning; Sampras To Help USTA?; Two New Tennis Sites

Unlike most $25,000 Pro Circuit tournaments, which feature eight, there are only four qualifying places available for the $100,000 Dow Corning Tennis Classic. Seventeen-year-old Beatrice Capra earned one of them today, by defeating 18-year-old Chieh-Yu (Connie) Hsu, also of the United States, 6-4, 6-4. Capra's opponent in Wednesday's first round is wild card Heather Watson, also 17. Capra and Watson have played once, in the semifinals of the 2008 ITF US Junior International Hard Courts in New Jersey, and Watson won what looks to have been a fantastic match, 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-5.

In this feature about Watson in the Midland Daily News, she and her mother Michelle reflect on the tour travel, the US Open junior championships and the Michigan snow (we've gotten a fresh six inches today). Mike Woody, the Executive Director of the tournament, also explains the process of selecting wild cards, and points out some of the very impressive past recipients.

For the results from the Pro Circuit, see usta.com.

Pete Sampras played Spain's Fernando Verdasco in an exhibition last night at the ATP SAP Open, and Matt Cronin of Tennisreporters.net relayed some intriguing comments from the 14-time grand slam champion on his twitter feed.

Sampras: 'These young guys are still green & I see so many things in their attitudes and games that need changing. I'm available 4 services'

Pete Sampras says he still available to coach in LA: 'I have time on my hands. If USTA wants to step up I'll make a champion.'

Cronin goes on to comment when asked by Tennis Channel's James LaRosa for reasons why it hasn't yet happened: "...both Pete and Martina(Navratilova) are very pricey and very specific under what conditions they would work."

Can Sampras "make a champion?" Mark me as skeptical, but I'm more than willing to see him try, if the USTA can make it happen.

Just a quick note on a couple of new tennis sites I've been made aware of recently. The Tennis Mom is a new site, run by Nicole, who is, you guessed it, a tennis mom. She had some very nice things to say about zootennis in her most recent post entitled, Great Tennis Site for Tennis Parents. I appreciate that, and hope she continues to build her site. Junior tennis needs all the resources it can muster.

And in that vein, there is another site, ustennistalk, that is developing a peer-to-peer network. I'm told the idea is "to build an interconnection and shared knowledge repository between all of the top people in tennis."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tomic Wins Burnie Title, McHale Makes Fed Cup Debut; DeMars to Retire From South Carolina; Other Pro News

Seventeen-year-old Bernard Tomic won his second professional title Sunday in the $50,000 Challenger in Tasmania, defeating fellow Aussie Greg Jones 6-4, 6-2 in the final. The win boosted his ATP ranking to a career-high of 209, and with an injured Lleyton Hewitt unavailable for Davis Cup in March, Tomic has a good chance of being named to the team, according to this story in the Sydney Morning Herald. Carsten Ball, another Australian Davis Cup possibility, lost to Ryan Sweeting in the $50,000 Dallas challenger final. Sweeting was the defending champion.

Once the U.S. Fed Cup team clinched the victory over France with Melanie Oudin's win over former Clemson standout Julie Coin, Christina McHale got an opportunity to play a dead rubber. Although she lost to Pauline Parmentier 6-4, 6-4, it was a close match, and the chance to perform in that setting was invaluable. Erin Bruehl of usta.com did this lengthy feature on McHale when she was named to replace an injured Shenay Perry. I think McHale is actually a few inches and a few pounds more than the 5-foot-5 and 108 that Bruehl cites, if that matters to anyone. McHale is still an amateur, and intends to retain her college eligibility, but is planning to continue to play the Pro Circuit for another year before making a decision on college. Christina's sister Lauren, who was with her when we talked in Plantation, is planning on joining the North Carolina women's team this coming fall.

The University of South Carolina announced today that men's head coach Kent DeMars will be retiring at the end of this school year. DeMars has coached the Gamecocks for 26 years, winning six conference championships, and was named national coach of the year in 1989. For the complete announcement, see the South Carolina athletic site.

There are no USTA Pro Circuit events on the schedule this week for the men, but the ATP SAP Open in San Francisco has several notable wild cards. One of them, Ryan Harrison, lost Monday night to unseeded Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-2, 7-5; another, Devin Britton, will play No. 4 seed Tommy Haas on Tuesday night. The ATP website had this recent story about Britton facing Haas after having been a ballrunner for a Haas match in Memphis nine years ago. Former Baylor All-American Lars Poerschke, who lost today, also received a wild card.

There are two events this week on the women's side, with the $100,000 Dow Corning in Midland, Mich., and the $25,000 Laguna Niguel in southern California. Main draw wild cards in the Dow Corning went to Jacqueline Cako, Heather Watson, Jamie Hampton and Courtney Dolehide, who originally had won a qualifying wild card in a tournament, but was given a main draw wild card instead. My colleague Josh Rey is doing the publicity for the tournament, and you can find his always excellent coverage at usta.com.

In California, the qualifiers are still unknown, but the draw has been released, with wild cards going to Elizabeth Lumpkin, Kaitlyn Christian, Ellen Tsay (they play each other in the opening round) and two-time NCAA finalist Lindsey Nelson, who won hers in a tournament. Nelson has drawn unseeded Olivia Sanchez of France, who, as a qualifier, won the $25,000 tournament in Rancho Mirage on Sunday, defeating Tadeja Majeric of Slovenia 7-5, 6-0.

For complete results and draws, see the Pro Circuit results page at usta.com.