Sunday, March 28, 2010

Irina Falconi in College Spotlight; Pat Cash To Assist Tennis Australia; British Juniors and Scottish Academy Features

Irina Falconi of Georgia Tech, who has been No. 1 in the ITA Campbell rankings since the first rankings in January, is the subject of the Collegiate Spotlight at usta.com. Falconi is 27-2 in the 2009-2010 season, having lost only to Jana Jurikova of Cal in the ITA Indoor final, and Caitlin Whoriskey of Tennessee at the Team Indoor, where she avenged her earlier loss to Jurikova. With 2008 NCAA champion Amanda McDowell still unable to play due to a back injury, the Yellow Jackets have certainly appreciated the nearly automatic point she gives them at No. 1. This Q and A is of particular interest to me, as I recently interviewed her coach, Bryan Shelton, for an upcoming Tennis Recruiting Network article. Her comments about Shelton are particularly perceptive, I think, closely matching my own impressions.

USTA.com: Your coach, Bryan Shelton, is one of the most successful coaches in college tennis. What have you learned from him since coming to Georgia Tech?

Irina Falconi: Ha, what haven’t I learned? Not only have I become a much smarter player on court, but I’ve learned to become a better person. I’ve never met anyone who has said something negative about Coach Shelton, and the fact that I get to be around him every single day – I’m definitely blessed.

It's been a difficult couple of years for Shelton and Georgia Tech, with McDowell's injury and several unexpected transfers, but I don't believe that you'll sense any panic when you read the interview next month.

While I was busy in Mobile, Tennis Australia announced that it had signed Pat Cash to work with some of its top juniors. Whether this is another move in the chess match between Craig Tiley and Paul McNamee for control of the organization's future, I can't say, but Cash had been critical of the current TA leadership in some stories I read. For those Cash will work with, and when, see this article from the Sydney Morning Herald.

The LTA has come under a lot of criticism for many things in the past decade, but one thing I've always appreciated is their comprehensive tracking of British players on their website. This Week in British Tennis is a must for following all levels of professional play, and they have recently added a Junior Watch, which tracks what tournaments British juniors are competing in. They also have begun a "Rising Stars" section, which this week features 2009 Eddie Herr 14s champion Luke Bambridge, as well as a Bollettieri Academy profile, an article on Talent Identification opportunities and a Future Star diary.

This story in the Scotland Herald features a look at 12-year-old Maia Lumsden, who recently won the Super 12 tournament in Auray, France, a major European title. (The draw can be found at Core Tennis, but I believe the girl Lumsden defeated in the final is from Canada, not the USA). The story also focuses on the nuts and bolts of the academy where she trains.


been-there said...

Why did the girls transfer from Georgia Tech?

Charlie said...


I know people want to be boosters and I realise that Irina is a very good player, but don't you think we're currently in a low period in women's college tennis?

I've been watching college tennis for near on 30 years and it really does seem that, compared to just a few years ago when we had Audra Cohen, Kristi Miller, etc, etc it's a big drop. Compared to a few years prior to that when we had Amber Liu, Alice Barnes, Cristelle Grier, Alexis Prousis, etc, etc it's an even bigger drop.

Perhaps it's due to the girls who would have lifted the standard having turned pro? Girls like Vania King, Glatch, Brengle, Weinhold and Albanese.

wi tennis said...

I agree, Charlie, that there are not always the big name Americans, as much. However, including internationals, there are some stud players. Maybe, they don't have the ATP/WTA points for the rankings, but that doesn't mean they couldn't achieve it.

I do like the parity this year among the teams...so many teams have a shot to win it. I can't wait for Athens!