Saturday, August 28, 2010

Falconi and Kendrick Join Harrison in US Open Main Draw; Monday's Schedule Released; Sock Interview

The 32 qualifiers for the U.S. Open have been determined, with wild card Irina Falconi and Robert Kendrick earning victories this evening to join Ryan Harrison in the main draw. Kendrick, the No. 22 seed, defeated Tatsuma Ito of Japan 6-3, 6-3 and Falconi repeated her recent win over Stephanie Dubois of Canada, posting a 6-3, 6-1 victory. Dubois was the No. 25 seed in qualifying.

Steve Pratt, who is working for the USTA in New York during the tournament, provided these quotes from Falconi after her match today.

On playing in front of the New York crowd:
“They were very loud. It’s nice to be in front of your home crowd.”
I moved to Florida from New York when I was 14 so I still keep in touch with a lot of them. A lot of them were here today so it was just so nice to get up from the changeover and see and hear them pumping me up the whole time.”

On beating Stephanie Dubois earlier this month in Vancouver:
“That absolutely helped me. I had some great notes from that match and I just played so solid. I took what I had learned the first time and just developed it even more.”

On being in the U.S. Open main draw:
“It’s a little bit surreal. I don’t think it’s quite hit me yet. I think once I see my name in that draw it will. It’s been quite a journey and I’m very excited.”

“I came here once at a kid. That’s the sad part. It’s my favorite all-time tournament and I didn’t come that much. So it’s really strange to be playing here. I was very young when I came the first time.”

On losing last year in the first round of qualifying:
“Last year was more of a deer in the headlights kind of feeling for me. Now I feel that I really belong here and after each match I feel more comfortable just with the crowds and the atmosphere and everything that goes with that.

“I’ve always dreamed of playing a high seed at Arthur Ashe in a night match. Who knows, that would be fun.”

For more on Kendrick's match, see the article on usopen.org.

Although only three American players got through the qualifying, that is actually as many as any other country advanced, although with all the wild cards, the U.S. started with many more. Canada also advanced three: Rebecca Marino, Peter Polansky and Milos Raonic, as did the Czech Republic and France. In all, 20 different countries had players advance to the main draw.

It is also interesting to note that of the 64 seeded players that began the qualifying, only 12 of them-6 men and 6 women-actually won three matches. I'm not sure what that means, but perhaps it's an indication of how little difference there really is between the 105th and 240th ranked players.

The schedule has been announced for Monday, and neither the junior champions nor the NCAA champions are on it, nor is Ryan Harrison Wild card Christina McHale and Vania King will play on Court 13, and Tim Smyczek, the winner of the USTA wild card tournament, will take on No. 26 seed Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil on Court 11.

Falconi and Kendrick don't have much rest time, as each will be back on court on Monday. Falconi is playing No. 19 seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy on Court 11, and Kendrick will take on No. 17 seed Gael Monfils of France on the same court.

Two former U.S. Open boys champions will meet on Monday, with qualifier Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania, the 2007 champion, meeting wild card Ryan Sweeting of the U.S., the 2005 champion. The 2006 champion, Dusan Ljoda of the Czech Republic, also reached the main draw, beating former USC Trojan Robert Farah of Colombia 7-5, 6-4 today.

Monday will also see two of the high profile qualifiers meet each other, with Portugal's Michelle Larcher de Brito facing India's Sania Miraz.

The rematch of the 2007 NCAA semifinal between Virginia's Somdev Devvarman and Illinois' Kevin Anderson is also scheduled for Monday, on Court 7.

For complete draws and Monday's schedule, see usopen.org.

Dave "The Koz" Kozlowski provided this interview with Kalamazoo champion Jack Sock prior to his U.S. Open debut at Tennis Ledger.


love-tennis said...

Even though Rebecca Marino is Canadian, she came down to the Pacific Northwest for several tournaments in the juniors. In fact, as I recall, she even played zonals for the PNW. That same tournament, the boys team didn't have enough players, so her mostly-hockey-playing brother also got to play zonal tennis. Very nice family.

Unknown said...

I'm so happy for Irina Falconi. I was, and still am, a hacker from the Imwood Park tennis courts where she palyed her first tennis. What an entusiastic and talented player she was at 10! And now, 10 years later she has come back to fight through the qualies and play at her first grand slam. Go Irina!

Unknown said...

We at the Inwood Park tennis courts, where Irina Falconi hit her first tennis balls, are all very proud of her. Go Irina!

Washington said...


But look at the highest ever ranking of the women who made it through the qualifying. Outside of Peers, Falconi, Minella, Marino and Kucova all of the rest have been ranked inside the top 100 (Kocova's best is 101). That's 12 of 16 who have been top 100 players. Plus, eight of the qualifiers have been ranked inside the top 50. At the end of the tournament the cream rose naturally to the top.

Eric Amend said...

Since the qualifying is over, and the MD starts tomorrow, I thought today would be the perfect opportunity to recognize something that's out of the ordinary for me on this blog, so please indulge me. I'm going to call attention to (boast, brag, aggrandize, or whatever you'd like to call it, but the word I like to use is "applaud") a Trojan tennis player because I think what he has done to catapult himself onto the tour as an up and coming player is nothing short of Herculean in today's game where the competition is fierce and the talent pool is extremely deep!!

Yesterday, Robert Farah completed his summer tournaments with a final round loss in the qualifying that won't register on most tennis fans' radar as much of an accomplishment except when you take into consideration what he needed to do just to be accepted into the qualifying draw in the first place, you'll understand, and appreciate, just how special the past two and a half months truly have been from a player, coach, and fans perspective.

First of all, Rob started his professional career in the qualifying of a futures tournament on June 5th, at the absolute bottom of the barrel, with NO RANKING and NO POINTS!!! This was a mere six days after retiring from his quarter-final match in the NCAA's with a severely sprained ankle so he wasn't anywhere near full strength.

The entry deadline for the U.S. Open qualifying is four weeks prior to the start of the tournament (Aug 2nd) so any ranking points earned after that date only helps for a player's seeding in the qualifying tournament. Last year's cutoff for qualifying was originally 262, but later fell to 316 after withdrawals. I don't know what this year's cut off ended up being so I'm using that as his guide and, so was he before the tournament.

Over the next five weeks, he qualified in all three of the futures he entered, winning two of them, qualified and lost in the semi-finals of a $50,000 Challenger and then he utilized a WC into a $125,000 Challenger in Bogota where he went on to win the tournament. Winning that Challenger in Bogota moved his ranking up 320 places in one week, from #594 to #274, where it stayed through the deadline for the U.S. Open qualifying.

Robert continued to earn points by qualifying for two more Challengers, and winning MD rounds in both, before flying to NYC. His ranking is now stands at #215. But his success over the summer needs to be measured with the previous five months of play while in college.

Since January 1, 2010, Robert has won 67 of the 76 singles matches he has played; 33-4 @ USC and 34-5 on the ATP Tour for a combined winning percentage of 88%, and his combined doubles record on the year is 45-9, or 83% (15-2 on tour). Add both singles and doubles together; 112-18 (86%). WOW!!

John Isner had a eerily similar and meteoric rise his first 3 months out of college but John did it a little better. He went from #745 to #416 to #193 in the span of three weeks and ended up just outside the top 100 by the end of 2007.

Before this summer, Robert Farah had not played any Futures, Challengers, or Tour events since 2006, when he had a singles record of 6-14 which prompted him to go play college tennis. Also, instead of playing ITF or ATP tournaments on his summer breaks, he taught tennis lessons. Rob went to school all four years.

The point I'm trying to include is that college tennis IS INDEED a springboard into the pro tour. But only IF you utilize the opportunities that are afforded to you and you have to have the right attitude. Robert Farah has the right attitude and drive to be successful at whatever he so chooses!!!

tennisviewer said...

With the US Open right around the corner, I wanted to bring something to light. Did everyone realize that in the past three months five National Coaches have left the High Performance Coaching Staff? Hugo Armando, Andres Pedroso, David Dilucia, Sarah Taylor and David Roditi have all left for different positions. The hired replacements outside of Andy Brandi are coaches who have limited/almost none development experience. There is something bad going on in Boca and Carson. It seems that experienced coaches don't want anything to do with the USTA. I wonder how the absentee leadership of McEnroe and Higueras are dealing with all the defections. I am sure that Pat Mac has a few book appearances and tv commentary to occupy his mind. Hey, who cares if the program is going no where and the US Davis Cup team probably won't qualify for the World Group in 2011 if they lose to a tough Columbian team on clay! But the key is that Patrick gets his $700,000 a year from the USTA. In his two years in charge of the USTA Program, Patrick has gone from Boy Wonder to Boy Blunder.

The Dude said...

Nice story, Eric, thanks.

UVa fan said...

To Eric, Devvarman had a similar start, but without the help of any wildcards. After winning the NCAAs, Somdev won his first two Futures events. He then went through the qualifying and won his first Challenger in Lexington. That victory got him an SE into the next week's Challenger in Vancouver, where he reached the quarters. So once he graduated & turned pro Somdev won his first 20 matches. He then went to the ATP event in DC, qualified & reached the quarters.
While Somdev did not make the Open qualifying, he won 25 of his first 27 matches as a pro & got his ranking to the low 200s by mid August.
Interestingly, the top 3 college guys from Somdev's era, including Isner & Anderson, are all now in the top 100
Congrats to Farah. That's a great accomplishment. It goes to show that if you're a dominant college player, you're prepared to hit the ground running in the pros. I think it also makes the argument about how beneficial confidence (which comes from winning) can be. All those guys won a bunch of pressure matches. Go college tennis!

peanut said...

Thanks Eric, what a great story...love to hear success stories of the up and coming players, no matter what path they have chosen. People need to be open and not so critical. What works for one may not work for the other...we should just hope the Best for all of the American Players out there trying to make a go of it!!!! Go USA!!!!

Bornintheusa said...

Tennisviewer..Maybe they will hire some AMERICAN coaches who can teach an attacking type of game which is the essence of what American tennis has always been about. Far too much counterpunching baseline tennis from the Americans these days. We dont need to develop clay court players. Lets get back to playing American type tennis in America. I have a hard time believing we need to keep hiring all these foreign baseline coaches and that there arent plenty of good American coaches.

The Dude said...

Bornintheusa, my sentiments, exactly.

West Nott said...

Eric Amend says, "The point I'm trying to include is that college tennis IS INDEED a springboard into the pro tour. But only IF you utilize the opportunities that are afforded to you and you have to have the right attitude."

Unfortunately most kids get lost in all the distractions of college life. Eloquently said Eric and in paragraph form!

David Roditi said...

to tennisviewer and others, I know it may seem like coaches are not happy at the USTA and therefore are leaving. I can only speak for myself and I will say that I could not have been happier with my job at the USTA. The leadership from Patrick, Jose, Jay and Ola and administrators could not be better. It was the hardest decision I have ever made and I would not have left if It wasn't the fact that I have always wanted to be the Head coach at TCU. I thought about it for 3 months and finally made my decision. USA tennis is on the rise, there are a lot of young female pros coming up and Ryan Harrison along with some other young males will be making a strong move in the near future. I can see how it can look, I am just saying all this for the record. Good things are happening all around the country with young tennis players. Some are coached by individuals, some are coached by the USTA, some are coached by academies and some are coached by universities and all of us will be enjoying new american players in the pro rankings!!
Enjoy the US Open!!!