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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Caroline Price Claims Girls 18 Clay Court Title

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Memphis, TN--

When Caroline Price defeated longtime rival and top seed Whitney Kay 6-3, 6-3 Sunday morning at the Racquet Club of Memphis to earn the 2010 USTA Girls 18s Clay Court championship, it wasn't her fourth gold ball or having her name engraved on the outsized trophy or her wild card into qualifying at the Club's WTA event that was foremost in her mind.

Instead, it was the promise her traveling coach Matt Walker of the Racquet Club of the South made to all the students of his high performance program in February: he would cut off his lengthy locks if any of them won a gold ball, an ITF Grade A event or a $10,000 Pro Circuit tournament.

"It was a pretty big motivation, to shave his head if I won it," said an ebullient Price a few minutes after the trophy presentation was complete. "Someone brought a razor, so we're about to do that."

On yet another steamy Memphis morning, Kay and Price, both 17-year-olds who live in suburban Atlanta, played tentatively in the opening games of the match. Price, the No. 13 seed, took a 2-0 lead, but surrendered it in her next service game, the first of four straight breaks. The left-handed Price wasn't getting a high percentage of first serves in during that stretch, but she was staying with Kay off the ground with her backhand, normally her less potent side. The strengthening of that shot was the silver lining of an injury cloud this spring.

"Easter Bowl this year I tore my (left) wrist and I was put in a cast for almost three months, so while I was in a cast, we worked on my righty forehand, so that when I came back, my backhand would be stronger. My backhand used to be my weakness, but now I feel a lot more comfortable with it. It was sort of like a blessing in disguise."

Price held for 5-3 in the first set, and Kay wasn't able to overcome two double faults in the next game, dropping serve for the fourth time in the set. She had come back from the loss of the first set twice this week however, and when she broke Price to open the second set, then held, it appeared she could force a third set, as she had done in the 2009 Easter Bowl final against Price.

Trailing 0-2 and 0-30, Price got a crucial hold in the third game of the second set, and her first serve began to provide her with opportunities to put away short balls. The only point she lost in the next three games was on a double fault, and any tentativeness she may have displayed early in the set was long gone.

"Caroline played really well, and I feel I was a little off my game," said Kay, who had beaten Price 7-5, 6-3 at a Southern Designated in February. "When I played her last she missed more than she did today, and I was making a few more errors today. She was hitting her backhand well."

After Kay held to make it 5-3, Price stepped to the line to serve out the championship, a scenario she admits she has not always handled well in the past.

"I've had a problem with getting close and then letting down, letting them come back a little bit, and I'll either lose or end up winning a tiebreaker or 7-5," Price said. "So today, you could even ask the ball kids, I was talking to myself. It's not over, just focus one point at a time. She's a great player, she could have pulled out some big shots."

Price was obviously overeager on her first match point, sending a forehand six feet long, but got the job done on the second, when Kay's return went long.

Her loss to Kay prior to her injury wasn't a primary motivating factor for Price.

"It helped, but I wasn't even trying to think about her," said Price. "I was just trying to enjoy the game, I love it. My motivation was to make Matt shave all his hair off."

Walker, who grew up in Memphis and played at the Racquet Club, was willing to keep his end of the bargain.

"The goals are important, and they came up with it," Walker said. "So I'll do it. I agreed to it."

In addition to the shearing of Walker, Price had another celebration in mind.

"We found this huge fountain nearby, and my mom said I could go run through that if I win, so I think I'm going to head over there to cool down."

In the third place match, No. 5 seed Catherine Harrison defeated No. 8 seed Gabrielle Andrews 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. No. 4 seed Kyle McPhillips won the consolation tournament with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over unseeded Whitney Ritchie. Emina Bektas was named the winner of the USTA Sportsmanship Award.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.


Joey said...

I just was told Christina McHale turned pro in May. The papers were right. I was told she was still looking, but the decision to turn pro was trying to be kept quiet but it got out.

been-there said...

Let's see Matt Price with his new haircut! Sounds like a great coach.

Brent said...

Well, looks like from the Zoo applicant list that from the players who we weren't sure whether would participate, the 'ins' are....

Evan King
Sekou Bangoura
Bob Van Overbeek
Jordan Cox
Denis Kudla
Jack Sock

...and the 'outs' are...

Ryan Harrison
Alex Domijan
Harry Fowler
Matt Kandath

I'm assuming that if they don't even show up on the 'Applicant' list, they are choosing not to participate, but maybe that is wrong. Still don't get it why anyone would pass (except maybe Harrison and even that is a stretch).

analyst said...

Fowler and Kandath were both on the original applicant list but "did not qualify" for the tournament, probably becasue they did not receive sectional endorsement because they were away at college and didn't play the required sectional tournaments. I would guess that they are therefore requesting WC's.

Godfrey said...

Cox vs Sock Tuesday morning. Zoo finals preview?

avid follower said...

Where can we find the Zoo Acceptance List?

Colette Lewis said...

It's up at ustaboys.com

Brent said...

Godfrey, good call. Although, before seeing the draw I will take Kudla vs. King. King would appear to be coming back in form after pounding Bangoura love and 2.

changes needed said...

Evan King is an Alternate? There is a real disconnect somewhere. He's considered #186 for entry purposes at the Zoo. Ridiculous. It's not like he can't make it through qualifying at a futures & beat guys like Bangoura or Nevolo. Oh wait, he just did that. It's as if the USTA is punishing guys for going to college early. Something needs to be changed.

analyst said...

King will get a WC into the Zoo for sure. The USTA may just reserve one for him to see if he gets in off the alternate list; then they can give the WC to someone else. Don't worry, King will never be overlooked by the USTA; quite the opposite.

Brent said...

Agree with 'analyst' in that it is just random that he had a few USTA points left over from last year to even show up on that list at all. I don't think there is an issue with people not getting in who should get in. The issue with seeding. Sounds like the Zoo takes more freedom to get it right than living off of a very prescribed formula which may not account well for, specifically, college results.

changes needed said...

I understand what you're saying. Guess what I should have said is that one of the automatic selections should be if you are ranked by the ITA or named to the USTA College Summer Team. Seems like that should be part of the selection process. Just like they take the top 40 players from the National list or Top X number of players from a given region. With a number of quality guys starting college earlier, it seems like they should take this into account. It would also free up a WC or two. Just my two cents.

5.0 Player said...

Godfrey: Where is Cox playing Sock? I didn't see them in any Pro Circuit draw nor where they in the qualifying at the LA pro tournament. What other tournament is going on?

avid follower said...

Cox & Sock are playing at USTA Futures of Peoria - Peoria, Ill.


Anyone know how it turned out?

avid follower said...

Cox and Sock playing:

Lewis and Clark Community College USTA Men's Futures Tennis Tournament - Godfrey, Ill.

Tennis Guru said...

changes needed

Your second post sounds more thought-out, rather than the emotional one you sent out.

Great idea regarding to the USTA considering automatic bids for the college guys, if age eligible, as this would free up more wildcards. Evan will get a wildcard for sure as well as many other college guys.

The seedings this year will be interesting. This may sound strange but I hope the seedings are done on level of the players rather than on ranking. I say this because--(example) Fratangelo would be seeded way lower than Novikov. And there are many examples like that. The Top 1000 ATP, Top 100ITF, USTA rankings, then fill in 3rd year players and college guys. This method would not work this year.

The seeding committee will get blasted more than ever this year because not sure there can be a correct list of seeds.

Most importantly, I still can NOT believe A. Domijan is not playing Kalamazoo.

abc123 said...

Ok first thing is first, Tennis Guru do you even know what you are talking about when you are saying Frantangelo is going to be seeded "way lower" then Novikov, he's only going to be one spot down, it will go Novikov, Webb, then Frantangelo... I mean is that really that big of a difference?

Ok my second question is that I have been reading Zootennis comments for the past approximately 2 years, and I just can't seem to understand but it seems like everyone Dislikes Novikov on this site and Egger. I mean ok Egger I understand latly he hasn't been showing very good results in the states or internationally either, but I mean I looked at Novikov's record and it seems to me like he's doing pretty decent internationally and has some good wins. But it seems like he's been playing not so good in the states.

Brent said...

Cox beat Sock surprisingly easy - 3 & 3.

Colette Lewis said...

There will be photos of Matt Walker without hair in the upcoming slideshow