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Saturday, March 6, 2010

From Davis Cup to High School Tennis: Saturday's Grab Bag

There isn't a lot of hard news today, with most of the big college matches, particularly the No. 1 Virginia men hosting No. 4 Texas, on Sunday, so I'll take the opportunity to post some unconnected news items. That match, by the way, will be best of 13 points, with four doubles matches, all worth one point, and nine singles matches, also each worth a point. Sanam Singh has returned from Russia and will be playing for the Cavaliers.

One college match played today that deserves mention is the No. 14 Stanford women's 5-2 win over No. 5 Cal in Berkeley. Although it wasn't a match that will count in the conference standings, it's such a rivalry that no match between the two is insignificant. After losing 6-1 to UCLA last Friday, the Cardinal needed a boost, and today's win surely provided it.

The Pac-10 men are all off this weekend, with many playing in the 121st(!) Pacific Coast Men's Doubles tournament in La Jolla. Ken Thomas was supposed to be broadcasting it on radiotennis.com, as he's done in the past, but I was unable to find the webcast this afternoon. One semifinal will feature Brent Davis and Jeff Tarango against USC's Robert Farah and Steve Johnson; the other has Stanford's Bradley Klahn and Ryan Thacher against Pepperdine's Bassam Beidas and Alex Llompart. For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.

Despite a bout of food poisoning that left Mike Bryan unable to play today in Serbia, the U.S. won the doubles, with Bob Bryan and John Isner assuring that Sunday's first singles match will matter. Jack Sock wrote in his blog that he has a good feeling about Sunday, and I encourage you to check out the photos of Sock and Denis Kudla on the usta website. I don't know how often either of them wear suits, but they should consider it more often. And both looked very comfortable with a microphone, not a racquet, in their hands.

Last week I tweeted a link to a story on Julia Cohen joining the Division II California (Pa.) tennis team. Some of you who don't read the comments or the twitter stream may have missed it, so I'm posting the link again here.

Neil Harman of the Times devoted some space in his weekly Net Post to British junior Oliver Golding, and also mentioned that Ivan Lendl was adding tennis to his current golf academy in Florida. Harman quotes Lendl as saying, "When you’re working with promising juniors, I’ve found that it’s better to show them, not just tell them.”

And in high school tennis news, I ran across this story from the Tampa Tribune on the Wharton High School's boys team and its quest for a third straight state championship. Wharton's top player, Michael Alford, is headed to Florida this fall, and I thought it interesting that the coach, Marcie Scholl, is a woman. There are many men coaching women's teams, and plenty of women coaching women's teams, but very few women coaching men's teams. Is anyone aware of a woman coaching a men's team on the college level?


Eric Amend said...

I'm sorry but this 13 point scoring system that Brian Boland is trying to implement into college tennis, as he stated in Colette's interview, is absolutely ridiculous!!! I've been holding back my comments until now because I didn't think he was seriously going to consider this as an alternative to the present format when I saw that he used the format earlier in the year.

First of all, Men's Tennis only has 4.5 scholarships so some schools would have a considerable disadvantage in their ability to recruit a 13-15 man squad based on the cost of their tuition versus an inexpensive school.

Second, it would raise the amount of money that an athletic department would need to spend in order operate such a large squad.

Third, if a school does not have more than six courts, this will extend the amount of time a college match will take to complete. Even if they do have more than six courts, some courts might not be viewable.

Fourth, It would be more expensive for each match because of umpire costs.

I'm sure I could go on and on but those are the first thoughts that come to mind as to why this is an absolutely TERRIBLE idea!!!

There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with the present system we have in operation today!!!

wi tennis said...

Kim Bruno is coaching men and doing a fine job at Northern Arizona. Southern Illinois used to have a female coaching the men's team only.

Eric, I'm not a big Boland fan, but I don't think he's trying to change the format of college tennis. He's just doing it against non-conference schools that have huge talented rosters like theirs. Actually, it's providing more opportunity for players to play/develop. Now, how does he have a top 10 ITF guy play #9 with 4.5 scholarships...that's another issue.

The Dude said...

Colette, Greenwich HS has won the Boys CT State LL (large schools) Championships the last 5 years with Robert Wong winning the Singles Title the last 3 years. Connie Jones has been the boys coach for quite some time and has done a great job. Robert is currently a freshman at UPenn.

iluvtennis said...

Hey Eric, its exactly that kind of thinking which prevents players on some rosters from getting better. If I was a junior and I wasnt one of the best in the country I certainly wouldnt want to go play for you, unless you think they get better by sitting on the bench and watching matches.
I wouldnt exactly call your comments a great sales pitch for recruits looking at sc.

iluvtennis said...

By the way,this is called forward thinking from a coach who wants his players to get better:

Michael Center, Texas Coach:
On the unique scoring format, with 9 singles matches and 4 doubles matches
“Everyone got to play a match today. The problem with our sport is these guys work hard every day but they don’t always get to play in critical moments. We can’t get enough matches for everyone since we typically can only put six players out there. Our seventh and eighth players have to be ready to step in when needed. Today was a great opportunity to put them under the fire and see what would happen. It was a great experience for our young guys today. In thinking long-term, we wanted to see where we needed to improve. Our goal is to be the best in May, not March.”

flawed format said...

Totally agree with Eric. 4.5 scholarships for men's tennis and they want to increase the amount of players in the lineup? That's crazy. Plus, six singles matches at one time is borderline fan friendly even for die hard fans. Making a fan try to follow the flow of a dual match with 9+ matches going on would kill any type of fan friendliness that barely exists now. College tennis is not Little League baseball - you don't need to find a way to have everyone play.

And it's not a knock against Boland. He's a tremendous coach, it's just a flawed format.

getreal said...

to wi tennis

"how does he have a top 10 ITF guy play #9 with 4.5 scholarships...that's another issue" If you look at that player's record his top ten ITF ranking came from 3 tournaments over a 4 month period - Eddie Herr, Casablanca Cup, Australian Open. Then he fell off the map, typically losing in the first round. He was not a true ITF top ten and did not finshih the year even in the top 25. So it is not surprising he is at 9 in the line-up.

Eric Amend said...

wi tennis,
This is an excerpt from Colette's interview with Brian Boland. Please read it, Colette asks him what he would change in college tennis and he talks about a devising a different format to figure out which teams would play an end of the year tournament!! He used that precise format today against Texas. (Also, please read my next post about developing players in college tennis.)

CL: If you were head of the NCAA or ITA and had the power, what would be the first thing you would change?

BB: My only focus for the first several weeks on the job would be to devise a system where all players had equal opportunity to develop. I couldn't get away from the team thing totally, because I love it. But if I were able to change it, the system would allow a lot more tournaments, there would be a rating system in place, and kids would be competing a lot more often at levels that were equal, slightly below, and above them. Toward the end of the season, all those scores would be tallied and we would work out a way to have a team championship that would be an awful lot of fun.

Eric Amend said...


College tennis is not a halfway house that caters to players who sit on the bench with larger egos than their tennis ability is able to replicate on court!! I’m sorry for being brutally honest but too many players have no business attempting to play for marquee, collegiate programs.

These college teams that have unnecessarily bloated rosters of 14, 15, and 16 per squad have bench players that could be playing in the top 6 in singles at a lesser D1 program, a D2 program, or even a D3 program. The problem is that these kids have illusions of grandeur when they see these storied tennis programs and want to be on that team no matter if they have the ability to make the traveling squad of not.

In actuality, these programs with inflated squads are doing a disservice to these bench players, if they want to help them become better tennis players, by fostering false hope and procuring large rosters. To me, a proper size tennis squad would be 10 players although I could see 12 being the absolute maximum for any team!!

So, instead of coaches trying to figure out a way to include more players in a single college match, they would better serve those players, of lower ability, by telling them the cold hard truth regarding their chances of making it into the top 6 in singles and that they should go somewhere else and get better there instead of sitting on their bench stagnating and eventually complaining about their lack of match play.

That’s been a problem in this sport for a very long time; Coaches and parents telling their kids what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear. So, if I’m considered the bad guy for telling them what I think is the truth, than so be it!! At least I’m being honest and upfront with them!!

ADDENDUM: A perfect example of someone who bettered his game at the lower level is Eric Butorac, who is 28 years old, and PLAYED AT D3 SCHOOL, Gustavus Adolphus College. He's gone onto have a respectable career as a doubles player winning 7 ATP Tour Doubles titles while earning close to a half million dollars!!!!

The Dude said...

Yeah, I've seen a lot of quality juniors in our section overshoot they tennis ability by joining elite college teams that they have virtually no chance at starting at any time during their 4 years there. You wonder if the coaches deceptively recruit them as bench practice players or if they are honest and the recruit just over estimates their own prowess. It appears so obvious a mismatch by other players in their section.

just wondering said...

Eric, do you see any chance that the 4.5 will ever be changed, especially with the "creativity" some schools are able to employ vs others who aren't so flexible?

The Dude said...

From TimesOnline, comments after BRitain's embarassing lost to Lithuania in Dvis Cup Zonal:

Ian Mitchell wrote:
JD hit the nail on the head - I play club tennis and the LTA demand high fees etc for British Tennis elite, and this is their elite? Rich kids no ambition, no drive and no need! Give a poor kid with real talent a tennis racket and tell him its his way out - you will have the makings of a champion.
The LTA is a rich club supported by grass roots players - give the money to the people who deserve it
March 8, 2010 10:07 AM GMT on community.timesonline.co.uk Recommend? (4) Report Abuse Permalink

jimmy dean wrote:
thats what happens when you have a elite sport which is only affordable by the rich and middle class in britain thats why we are a joke on the world stage until the LTA money goes in to grassroots sport we will never produce players i would love to know when was the last top player we produced from the inner city areas of britain?

Simlar to USTA and Tennis Australia criticisms?

getreal said...

To Eric

I agree w/ you 1000000%. Sounds like Center and Boland just want to use their huge tennis budgets to dominate e other D1 schools by stacking their roaster. Most D1 programs don’t have the funds to take 10 players on the road.. In addition D1 schools pay for pay for rackets, shoes, clothes, strings, stringing in addition to the travel. It’s great UT and UVA have the $$$$ to do that but most D1 programs don’t. If these kids want the glory to go to a top DI program and don’t have the game to play in the top 6, that the compromise they have to make because there are a lot of other D1 programs these kids could play it. Center and Boland are acting like the 800 pound guerilla and thank goodness by keeping the lineup toy 6 at least the NCAA is doing something to keep these teams on an level playing field.

Eric Amend said...

Just Wondering,

Sorry, I'm not smart enough to know the answer to your question. That's one of many reasons I have no desire to be a head coach somewhere because I'd need to know those types of things and I just like the tennis aspect of college tennis.