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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Qualifiers Make Statement in Opening Matches at Eddie Herr

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Bradenton, FL--

The qualifiers for the Grade 1 ITF 18-and-under at the Eddie Herr had the day off on Monday, and the after playing three matches in two days to get into the main draw, it was certainly a welcome day off. On Tuesday, another warm and sunny day at the IMG/Bollettieri Tennis Academy, all 16 qualifiers were back on the courts, and 9 of them earned a second round match on Wednesday with wins.

Two of the most impressive victories by qualifiers came from American boys. Anthony Delcore rolled past No. 10 seed Jannick Lupescu of the Netherlands 6-2, 6-1, and Evan Song got the better of No. 8 seed Liam Broady of Great Britain 7-5, 6-4. Qualifier Roberto Cid of the U.S. came within a point of a big upset of No. 2 seed Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador, who failed to serve out the match leading 6-5 in the third set, but survived the subsequent tiebreaker to earn a 6-1, 6-7(4), 7-6(3). Quiroz, who saved a match point serving at 4-5, was disgusted with his play, and was back out practicing a few hours later.

Thiago Monteiro of Brazil and Laurent Lokoli of France were the other qualifiers to advance to the second round, and lucky losers Mikhail Vaks of Russia and Dimitar Kuzmanov of Bulgaria also posted wins in the opening round. In addition to Delcore and Song, a third American, Alexios Halebian, posted a victory. In a battle of the 2008 and 2009 Eddie Herr 14s champions, the 16-year-old Halebian beat 15-year-old Luke Bambridge of Great Britain 6-3, 7-6(9).

The girls qualifiers had even more success Tuesday, with five of the eight earning wins, three of them Americans.

Tristen Dewar breezed through her three matches in qualifying, and continued her excellent play on Tuesday, taking down Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 7-6(5), 6-4. Liz Jeukeng, who also wasn't seriously challenged in qualifying, stormed past No. 15 seed Eri Hozumi of Japan 6-2, 6-1 in a match played at the Academy Park courts, which are separated from the main complex by some distance. The third American qualifier to advance was Elizaverta Nemchinov, who defeated wild card Oceane Dodin of France 7-6(5), 7-5.

Christina Kandler of Austria defeated 2009 Eddie Herr 16s champion Sachia Vickery 7-6(5), 5-0 ret. inj., and Ingrid Radu of Romania used her two-handed forehand and backhand to beat Annie Mulholland of the U.S. 6-1, 7-6(5).

No. 10 seed Zarah Razafimahatratra of Madagascar, joined Hozumi on the sidelines, beaten by Russian Victoria Kan 6-4, 7-6(5).

The two U.S. girls seeds, No. 5 Lauren Davis and No. 12 Madison Keys, both breezed past their opponents, losing only three games between them. Davis, who completed her defense of the Grade 1 Yucatan title late Saturday night, said she felt fresh and ready, and she certainly looked that way in her 6-0, 6-1 win over Darya Lebesheva of Belarus Tuesday.

The 12s division is down to the round of 16. There are three U.S. boys still in contention for the title, William Blumberg, a No. 1 seed, and two qualifiers, Michael Mmoh and Bailey Showers. There are seven U.S. girls in the final 16: No. 1 seeds Cristina Rovira and Sofia Kenin, Shilin Xu, Jaeda Daniel, Sofia Sewing, Nicole Conard and Usue Arconada.

The seeds took the courts in the 14s for the first time, having received byes Monday, and there were several major surprises. Top seed Juan Bisono of the Dominican Republic was ousted by Sumit Nagal of India 6-3, 6-2, and No. 3 seed Philip Gresk of Poland lost to Simon Stevens of Belgium 6-3, 6-4. Not all of the second round of boys 14s was completed, with several matches originally scheduled for Tuesday afternoon postponed until Wednesday due to the lateness of the hour.

In the girls 14s, matches were still being played late this evening, but one of the day's most anticipated matches was completed by 7 p.m. The 2009 Eddie Herr 12s champion Mariya Shishkina, seeded No. 6 in the 14s this year, was assigned to the Stadium Court, and a finals-size crowd gathered to watch her take on lucky loser Jeannez Daniel. No one left disappointed, because although Shishkina emerged with a routine-sounding 6-3, 6-3 victory, it was a very close and hard-fought battle that took over 90 minutes. Daniel was able to match Shishkina shot for shot during the long rallies, with Daniel's driving backhand a particular strength. Although the spectators were primarily there to see the 12-year-old Bollettieri prodigy, Daniel won many fans with her play, and she made Shishkina earn the victory.

The girls 16s were taking the courts for the first time on Tuesday, but a seeding problem necessitated re-doing the draw before the first match was played this afternoon. Rana Ahmed of Egypt was inadvertently overlooked for seeding, but should have been seeded No. 3. After she was seeded at that position, Ahmed played Riko Shimizu of the U.S. and lost, 6-1, 6-3. Top seed Christina Makarova of the U.S. beat Naomi Tran of Australia 6-0, 6-0, while No. 2 seed Carol Zhao of Canada defeated Courtney Colton of the U.S. 6-3, 6-3.

For more photos and stories, as well as complete results, see eddieherr.com.

Ken Thomas of radiotennis.com is webcasting this week, so log on to the site to hear his play-by-play. It is a free service.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Duval Responsible for Only 18s Upset Monday at Eddie Herr

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Bradenton, FL--

Opening day was kind to the seeds in the 18s division Monday at the IMG/Bollettieri Academy. On a warm and thankfully rain-free afternoon, there were 14 seeds in action in the 32 matches played in the ITF Grade 1 18s, and 13 of them advanced to the second round, including No. 1 seeds Mate Pavic of Croatia and Irina Khromacheva of Russia.

It's rare when a player is completely happy with his or her performance, but wild card Vicky Duval, who downed No. 7 seed Ilona Kremen of Belarus 7-5, 6-1, couldn't hide her satisfaction when reporting her score. After taking the first set with a late break and hold, Duval, who turns 15 on Tuesday, really found her form. "I played so well," said Duval, who is now training at Bollettieri's again and had Nick himself as a spectator at her match.

Duval was the only 14-year-old with any success on Monday, as Indy De Vroome of the Netherlands, Kanami Tsuji of Japan, Barbara Haas of Austria and Domenica Gonzalez of Ecuador--all 14 years old--lost their opening matches in the 18s division.

Grace Min of the U.S., who defeated Haas, 6-3, 7-6(3), was one of six U.S. girls to win. Wild cards Stephanie Nauta and Catherine Harrison earned straight set wins, as did Lauren Herring.

Ashley Dai was the last American to finish, at around 5:10 p.m., and she did it with a flourish, defeating Yuliana Lizarazo of Colombia 7-6(5), 0-6, 7-5. Lizarazo served for the match at 5-4, but didn't get a match point, as Dai dug in to get the break back. Dai refused to play tentatively, hitting both backhand and forehand flat, hard and deep, but Lizarazo stayed in the points with some excellent defense.

The match turned when at 5-6 15-30, Lizarazo had an easy overhead at the net on a desperate short lob by Dai. Whether it was the tension of the moment or the low angle of the sun, she missed it, badly, giving Dai two match points, which she didn't need. After such high quality tennis in the final games, it turned out to be an unfortunate let cord that went in Dai's favor ending the match. Lizarazo's supporters in the crowd groaned with dismay at her bad luck, but it was Dai who advanced to the second round.

On the boys side, No. 13 seed Shane Vinsant, No. 15 seed Bjorn Fratangelo, No. 16 seed Dennis Novikov and wild card Michael Redlicki were the four U.S. players to advance among the six who played. Gonzales Austin lost to top seed Pavic 6-3, 7-6(6), and Christian Harrison, playing in his first junior match since April of 2009, lost to fellow 16-year-old Lucas Pouille of France 6-4, 6-2. Harrison led 4-1 in the opening set, but was unable to sustain that level and won only two more games after taking that lead.

Few seeds in the younger age divisions played, as there were byes into the second round for the 14s seeds, and the girls 16s have yet to play. But in the boys 16s, top seed Trey Strobel of the U.S. cruised past Michal Rolski of Poland 6-0, 6-2 in a match played under the high-wattage lights on what is known as Nick's, or stadium, court.

The 12s are down to the final 32 in both boys and girls divisions. Three boys qualifiers from the U.S. have advanced to the third round: Michael Mmoh, Bailey Showers and Austin Di Giulio, while No. 1 seed William Blumberg has yet to lose a game in his two victories.

In the girls 12s, 2009 semifinalist Anastasia Nefedova, an unseeded wild card this year, has advanced to the third round, as have two No. 1 seeds from the U.S.-Sofia Kenin and Cristina Rovira. One of the day's longest matches saw Nandini Das of India outlast Soo-min Kim of Korea 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4 in over three and a half hours of play on Court 10.

Play begins at 8 a.m. on Tuesday with the third round of boys and girls 12s.

For more photos, stories and results, see eddieherr.com.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Qualifying Finishes Under the Lights at Eddie Herr

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Bradenton, FL--

The weather was perfect for the completion of qualifying in the 14s, 16s and 18s on Sunday, but with two rounds to play and the schedule still recovering from rain on Friday and Saturday, it was after 9:30 p.m. before the last qualifier was determined.

All five of the U.S. boys who qualified in the 18s division did so under the lights and in three sets. Anthony Delcore defeated fellow American Austin Smith 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 in a long, tough match, and Alex Petrone also eliminated another U.S. player, Connor Farren, 6-7(6), 6-1, 6-1. Roberto Cid of the U.S., overcame a slow start against No. 6 seed Mikhail Vaks of Russia to win his second three-setter of the day 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. Harrison Richmond defeated Vasco Mensurado of Portugal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, managine to neutralize Mensurado's lethal forehand. No. 11 seed Evan Song of the U.S. beat No. 4 seed Dimitar Kuzmanov of Bulgaria 7-6(4) 1-6, 6-3 in a match that was started on an unlighted court and moved to a lighted one. Top seed Thiago Monteiro of Brazil, Laurent Lokoli of France and Chile's Matias Sborowitz, the No. 8 seed, were the non-American boys qualifiers.

In the girls 18s qualifying, 14-year-old Liz Jeukeng of the U.S. continued her impressive play, dropping only six games in two matches Sunday. Other American qualifiers are Nadia Echeverria Alam, who beat Lynn Chi of the U.S. 0-6, 7-6(10), 6-2 in a match that was moved to an indoor court due to fading light; Elizaverta Nemchinov, who beat Natalia Maynetto of the U.S. 6-1, 6-2, and Tristen Dewar, who defeated No. 16 seed Polina Yuzefovich of Russia 6-2, 6-1. Christina Kandler of Austria, Giuliana Olmos of Mexico and Ingrid Radu of Romania also reached the main draw with wins Sunday evening. Julia Jones of the U.S. and No. 7 seed Tjasa Srimpf of Slovenia had just begun a third set when I left at 9 p.m.

The main draw of the boys 12s finally got underway on Sunday, and as usual in the youngest age division, there were a plethora of lopsided scores and several No. 1 seeds out in the first round. Qualifier Michael Mmoh of the U.S. defeated Dmitry Shatalin of Russia, a No. 1 seed, 6-2, 6-1, and Boris Kozlov downed Mortimer O'Neal, a No. 1 seed from the Bahamas, 6-1, 6-0. Niels van Dam of the Netherland Antilles was the third No. 1 seed to lose in the opening round. The No. 1 seed from the U.S., William Blumberg, defeated Bernardo Ferreira of Brazil 6-0, 6-0.

Two of the most talked-about matches of the day came in the boys 16s qualifying. In the second round match between wild card Balaji Jothishankar of the U.S. and Pedro Ruiz of Colombia, scores of spectators gravitated to court 11, attracted by the emotional intensity of the two players, and the closeness of the match. Cries of vamos carried throughout the complex and as the match reached three hours in length the applause and cheers of the spectators drew even more people, now standing three and four deep around the court. After three hours and 24 minutes, Ruiz emerged with a 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 6-4 victory, and managed to save enough energy to win his second match 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 over Justin Butsch of the U.S.

The other topic of conversation centered on the default of Stanislav Korshunov of Russia, who had a meltdown late in the second set of his second round match against Robert Shulman of Canada. Although I did not witness the default, I was told that Korshunov received a game penalty leading 6-5 in the second set, and was so angry and threatening to the assistant referee that he was given a match penalty. Still enraged, Korshunov reportedly struck a ball in the direction of the referee, and indulged in an obscene gesture, although it's not clear whether the referee was aware of either act. Shulman didn't advance through to the main draw however, losing to Stephen Watson of the U.S.

Other U.S. boys qualifying in the 16s were Ognjen Samardzic, Konrad Zieba and Brett Clark. U.S. girls qualifying in the 16s were Rhiann Newborn, Kendal Woodard, Alexandra Kiick, Taylor Lederman and Lauren Burich.

In the girls 14s, Remi Ramos, Brooke Withrow and Kellyn Abbanat qualified; in the boys 14s, qualifers from the U.S. are Austin Williams and Chase Colton.

See the tournament website for more information.

Davis Defends Title at Yucatan Cup

Lauren Davis will arrive in Bradenton for her first attempt at the Eddie Herr 18s championship with another Yucatan singles title. Davis, the defending champion and No. 4 seed, defeated No. 3 seed Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 last night in Mexico. Puig is not playing the Eddie Herr.

The boys championship was an all-Austria affair, with No. 3 seed Dominic Thiem downing No. 14 seed Dennis Novak 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. Both are also entered at the Eddie Herr.

The boys doubles champions are top seeds Juan Sebastian Gomez of Colombia and Mate Pavic of Croatia, who defeated No. 2 seed Oliver Golding and George Morgan of Great Britain 6-4, 6-1. The girls doubles title went to unseeded Estelle Cascino of France and Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium. They beat No. 6 seeds Anett Kontaveit of Estonia and Ayaka Okuna of Japan 6-3, 5-7, 10-7.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

More Rain Postpones Start of Boys 12s at Eddie Herr; U.S. Players Start Strong in 18s Qualifying

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Bradenton, FL--

An early morning rainstorm moved through Bradenton Saturday, delaying the start of the girls 12s first round. By the time the courts dried, nearly three hours of daylight was lost, and the decision was made to postpone the first round of the boys 12s until Sunday morning. That kept the boys and girls 18s qualifying roughly on schedule, although overcast skies in the late afternoon caused suspension of matches due to darkness, while those players waited for a lighted court to open.

Five of the 16 No. 1 seeds (all seeded players are given No. 1 seeds in the 12s) lost in the opening round, but both of the U.S. seeds, Cristina Rovira and Sofia Kenin, advanced easily. Rovira beat Katerina Filip of Sweden 6-0, 6-0, and Kenin defeated Mila Hartig of South Africa 6-1, 6-0.

I saw some of Melissa Plambeck's 6-0, 6-0 victory over No. 1 seed Hikaru Nonaka of Japan, and although there were some long deuce games, Plambeck, who trains at Bollettieri's, obviously won them all. Nonaka struggled mightily with her serve, often double faulting multiple times in a game, and Plambeck managed to maintain her concentration throughout. Magdalena Dobinda of the U.S. defeated No. 1 seed Iesha Shepherd of the Bahamas 6-0, 6-1, Sofia Sewing of the U.S. beat No. 1 seed Akayla Ellis-Agard of Barbados 6-0, 6-0, and Ashley Kratzer of the U.S. downed No. 1 seed Krista Cerpina of Latvia 6-4, 6-4.

In the boys 18s qualifying, a couple of wild cards who hadn't played much recently got off to good starts. Spencer Newman defeated Dor Belfer of Israel 6-4, 7-6(6), and although the future Florida Gator's left knee was wrapped in ice after the match, he said it was precautionary.

Jeremy Efferding, another wild card coming back from extended time away from competition, defeated No. 12 seed Kevin Kaczynski of Germany 7-5, 6-4. Efferding, who had an emergency appendectomy prior to the Clay Courts in July, played his first tournament since his operation at the Evert ITF earlier this month, reaching the quarterfinals, and despite a slow start today, showed his recovery can now be considered complete.

The early 0-3 hole he dug himself was primarily due to a problem with his racquet.

"I had a string malfunction, and it lowered the tension by like 10 pounds. It was like a beginner's," said Efferding, 17. "I didn't know what was going on. I was barely touching the ball and it hit the fence."

Once Efferding corrected the problem, he won four straight games, going from down a break to up a break. Kaczynski's serve wasn't imposing, so even when Efferding dropped his serve to make it 4-4, there wasn't any reason do think he had lost his opportunity for the set. At 5-5, Kaczynski was broken, and Efferding served for the set. Every point between the two was a lengthy one--the match took nearly two and half hours, despite being straight sets--and that included the final game of the first set, but a couple of good first serves got Efferding out of trouble. Of the two, Efferding was more comfortable finishing at the net, but the bulk of the points were decided from behind the baseline. When Kaczynski ventured in, Efferding hit several excellent passing shots, and that dampened the German's enthusiasm for any more trips toward the net.

In the second set, Kaczynski was down an early break, got it back, and immediately lost his serve again, giving Efferding a 4-3 lead. The racquet bounces got more serious after that, and with most of his shots going wide in the next game, Kaczynzki fell behind 5-3. He held in the next game, but Efferding took a 40-15 lead when serving for the match, double faulted on his first match point, then completed the victory by wrong-footing Kaczynski.

"I'm super happy to be back into it," said Efferding, who trains at the USTA National Center in Boca Raton. "I was out for at least a month and a little more, just zero (activity). But I have had time to get back into it. I was able to walk, jog, play a little bit every day, and now I'm back doing fitness every day."

Of the 16 U.S boys in the 18s qualifying, 10 advanced to Sunday's second round. Connor Farren defeated No. 5 seed Peda Krstin of Serbia 7-6(5), 6-2, and Harrison Richmond downed No. 7 seed Benjamin Lock of Zimbabwe 6-3, 6-3. Richmond was down an early break in the second set, but used some excellent defense and several effective lobs to take control, winning the final four games of the match.

No. 9 seed Alex Petrone and No. 11 seed Evan Song advanced in straight sets, as did Anthony Delcore, Austin Smith, Mitchell Polnet and Roberto Cid.

In the girls 18s qualifying, Liz Jeukeng ousted top seed Juliana Gajic of Canada 6-1, 6-1 and Natalia Maynetto defeated No. 3 seed Marcela Zacarias of Mexico 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. Other U.S girls advancing to the second round were No. 11 seed Denise Starr, No. 9 seed Jennifer Brady, No. 6 seed Tristen Dewar, No. 8 seed Kelsey Laurente, as well as wild card Maci Epstein, Alexandria Stiteler, Lynn Chi, Nadia Echeverria Alam and Julia Jones.

Matches are still in progress as of 9 p.m. Saturday, but for results and times, click here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Damp Start to Eddie Herr; Wild Cards, Special Exempts for 18s

Bradenton, FL--

We arrived at the IMG/Bollettieri just as a very dark and menacing group of clouds did, with heavy rain disrupting the boys 14s and 16s qualifying matches that were underway.

The rain didn't last long, perhaps an hour, but the humidity kept the courts from drying quickly, so many of the matches scheduled for later in the day were postponed until Saturday.

I was able to talk with a couple of players I hadn't seen in a long time--Melanie Oudin, who was getting away from the deteriorating weather in Atlanta, and Christian Harrison, whom I hadn't seen since I was last at Bollettieri's a year ago. Harrison confirmed that he had received a wild card into the 18s main draw, and said he was pleased with his play in the Amelia Island tournament, considering it was his first competition in 18 months, but felt his movement was the biggest area he needed to improve. He is also showing signs of a growth spurt. Oudin, who will be supporting friend Austin Smith when he plays in the 18s qualifying Saturday, said she was not playing any exhibitions during the off-season, but taking time off and preparing for 2011, beginning with the Hong Kong exhibition prior to Hobart and the Australian Open.

The wild cards for the boys 18s, in addition to the already announced Michael Redlicki and Harrison, are Mac Styslinger, Richard Del Nunzio, Daniel Khanin and Luke Bambridge. Ridley Seguso received a qualifying wild card. The girls 18s wild cards are Vicky Duval, Stephanie Nauta and 14-year-old Oceane Dodin of France. Skylar Morton received a qualifying wild card.

The special exemptions from the Yucatan Cup are all from doubles: Nik Razborsek of Slovenia, Frederico Silva of Portugal and Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium.

For the 18s qualifying draws, and all the other age divisions, click here.

Chase Curry Critically Injured in Car Accident

Granger Huntress of texascollegetennis.com alerted me this morning to the news that Chase Curry of Wichita Falls, Texas had been critically injured in a automobile accident on Thanksgiving day. More details of the accident can be found in this article from the Wichita Falls Times-Record-News. It goes without saying that everyone in the junior tennis world is keeping Curry and his family in their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Curry, who won the Wes Richards Sportsmanship trophy at Kalamazoo in 2009, had recently signed a letter of intent with Texas Tech. Cards can be sent to Curry in care of:
JP Smith Hospital
Patient Care Pavillion
1575 South Main Street
Ft. Worth, TX 76104

Updates on Curry's condition have been provided via Twitter by @jacknewmanATA and can also be found on Huntress's website.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Eddie Herr Preview, Yucatan Progress; Crying in Tennis plus Happy Thanksgiving!

One of my most research-intensive posts of the year, my Eddie Herr preview, is up today at the Tennis Recruiting Network. Just looking through the entry lists is a daunting job, with so many players from all over the world, while trying to narrow it down to a few favorites and contenders is even more challenging. Since I wrote it on Monday, I didn't have access to the USTA wild cards in the 18s, but they have now been provided to me. Michael Redlicki and Catherine Harrison have received wild cards into the 18s draw, with Jeremy Efferding, Spencer Newman and Deborah Suarez getting qualifying wild cards. There will be others granted by tournament director Rick Workman, but I haven't yet received word of those.

The Grade 1 Yucatan Cup is down to the final 16 in singles, with defending champion Lauren Davis, the No. 4 seed, still poised to repeat. She plays fellow American Lynn Chi today. Vicky Duval and Christina Makarova(10) have also reached the third round, as has Puerto Rico's Monica Puig. No U.S. boys remain in the singles draw. For more, see the tournament website.

The Tennis Mom has posted a very nuanced article about crying in junior tennis on her blog today. I had never considered the good reasons vs. the bad reasons for the tears common in the 12s, but she explores them thoroughly.

I am spending Thanksgiving with family in North Carolina on the way to the Eddie Herr, so my next post will be Friday from Bradenton. I hope you have a great holiday, filled with family, friends and gratitude.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Devvarman Wins Asian Games Gold; Final NLI Group; Rock-N-Racquets in Omaha

Somdev Devvarman of India, the 2007 and 2008 NCAA singles champion while at the University of Virginia, won his second gold medal of the Asian Games today, defeating top seed Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-1, 6-2 to add the singles championship to the doubles title he won with current Cavalier Sanam Singh. Devvarman is the first Indian to win a gold medal in singles at the Asian Games.

Colleague Josh Rey has been in Guangzhou, China reporting for the Asian Games News Service, and he wrote this article about Devvarman and Singh's gold medal, including comments from Virginia head coach Brian Boland.

This story detailing the reaction of Sanam Singh's hometown to the doubles gold is from the Times of India.

The Indian Express has this story, entitled "New High for Indian Tennis", about Devvarman's gold in singles. Devvarman also won the gold medal in singles at the Commonwealth Games held last month in India.

Before I plunge into nearly exclusive coverage of junior tennis for the next month, I'm including a few more signing announcements that have been released by some of the top Division I schools. Click on the name of the school for the official announcement.

Hunter Harrington Clemson

Jacob Lewis and Soren Hess-Olesen (Denmark) Texas

Dougie Barnard, Michael Fredericka, Wyatt McCoy Notre Dame

Andrew Adams, Ben Barnette, Chris Cox, Carl Eguez, Kyle Koch, Nick Jones(Great Britain), Lewis Barnes (Great Britain) South Carolina

Katie Goepel and Katherine White Notre Dame

Sarah Toti, Caitlyn Williams and Joanna Henderson (Great Britain) Tennessee

Nick Chappell TCU

Rock-N-Racquets, an annual exhibition which is being staged in Omaha, Nebraska December 3, has added billionaire Warren Buffett and U.S. Open boys champion Jack Sock to its participants. Andy Roddick, Pete Sampras and the Bryan brothers are the headliners. For more information, see the event's website.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pro Circuit Update; Devvarman and Singh Win Asian Games Gold; Yucatan Cup Underway

The final two events on the U.S. Pro Circuit calender for 2010 were played this past weekend, although there remain Americans scattered across the globe still trying to earn the last precious points available this year.

At the Amelia Island Futures, top seed Philip Bester of Canada took the title, his second Pro Circuit title in the past month. Bester beat No. 3 seed Adam Kellner of Hungary 7-6(2), 6-4. Former Ole Miss star Robbye Poole joined with Embry-Riddle Small College champion Mislav Hisak to take the doubles championships. The No. 3 seeds beat No. 4 seeds Dimitar Kutrovsky, the former Texas All-American, and Jack Sock 6-2, 7-6(3).

At the Champaign Challenger, the 2003 NCAA champion Amer Delic had his best result since returning from a year-long injury and recovery, reaching the final as a wild card. Returning to his alma mater, Delic scored one upset after another before finally falling to Alex Bogomolov 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-3. If it's been a long way back for Delic, it's been nearly as difficult for Bogomolov, who hadn't won a Challenger in six years. Outside the Top 100 since 2003, Bogomolov, 27, has kept plugging away and now finds himself at 201 after finishing 2009 at 313. Andrea at the blog A Change of Ends, covered the Challenger Friday and Saturday.

Marcia Frost also made several trips to the Challenger for her Big Ten Tennis blog, and filed this report on the Illini Alumni weekend this fall for Tennis Recruiting Network.

Also, congratulations to former Cal-Berkeley standout Conor Niland, who won the Salzburg Challenger last weekend, defeating Jerzy Janowicz of Poland 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 6-3. The 29-year-old from Ireland is now ranked a career-high 131. For more on Niland, see this article.

Former Virginia Cavalier Somdev Devvarman and current Cavalier Sanam Singh captured the men's double gold for India at the Asian Games today. Devvarman will play for the men's singles gold tomorrow against top seed Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan. For more on the tennis from the Asian Games, see this article from The Hindu.

The big junior tournament this week is at the Grade 1 Yucatan Cup in Mexico, where Lauren Davis is defending her title from 2009. The top seed in the girls event is Irina Khromacheva of Russia, the boys top seed in Juan Sebastian Gomez of Colombia, the Youth Olympic Games gold medalist. Americans in the boys draw include Connor Farren, Emmett Egger, Trey Strobel, Evan Song, Eric Johnson, Daniel McCall, Mitchell Krueger and Robert Livi. In addition to Davis, there are a large number of U.S. girls competing: Elizaveta Nemchinov, Gabrielle DeSimone, Alanna Wolff, Vicky Duval, Lynn Chi, Kelsey Laurente, Blair Shankle, Tristen Dewar, Julia Elbaba, Maci Epstein, Alexandria Stiteler, Christina Makarova, Jennifer Brady and Stephanie Nauta.

For complete draws, see the ITF junior site or the tournament website.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Coaches Q and A: Should I help coach my child?

Andy Brandi, who coached at the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has taken a position as a USTA National coach, so Harold Solomon is now responding to your questions. Take advantage of the opportunity to have one of the best American players of his generation and one of the nation's most respected coaches answer your questions about junior tennis and player development.

Q. When watching my daughter play at tournaments, I notice things that I think she could do better as far as strategy goes. What is the best way to talk to her about my observations? Or should I leave those conversations for her coach? He doesn't travel to tournaments with her.

Harold responds:
Unless a parent is the player's coach, I think it's important for the parent to operate as the parent and let the coach take care of the coaching responsibilities. There have been way too many disasters when parents attempt to step into the coaching role on a temporary basis. I would suggest that all communication about tennis be channeled through the coach.

If you have thoughts, ideas, or suggestions for your child's tennis I would recommend having the conversation with the coach and allowing the coach to then have the appropriate discussion. The parent can easily relate to the coach what took place on the court and then the coach can decide the appropriate way to bring up the subject and can relate it back to the work they have been doing on the court.

In my experience, the happiest families for the most part seem to be the ones where the parents stay in their role as parents and allow the coaches the leeway to get the job done on the tennis court. Usually it is very hard for kids to hear about tennis-related issues from a parent and can cause a great deal of resentment which can get in the way of the parent-child relationship in the future.

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

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Federer on Lack of Teens in Top 100; Raonic Shoots For Top 10; Can Barty Ignore the Hype?

The ATP World Tennis Finals begin tomorrow in London, and in advance of the tour's final event, there have been a lot of press interviews and stories with the eight participants. In this article by Reuters, Roger Federer was asked about the dearth of teenagers challenging the top 100, and his response was similar to what we've been hearing from others for a year or two now.

"It's become more physical and more mental and maybe they need longer to break through now," said Federer, the oldest of the world's top eight players contesting the season's finale at London's O2 Arena.

"It can be a good or bad thing depending on where you look at it from. But I'm always excited to see who is coming up."

Sweden's Robin Soderling, something of a late bloomer himself, adds:
"The sport has become a bit tougher, it's much more physical than say 10 years ago...It takes a couple of years to build up your body to be able to compete with the style of tennis now.

"I played my first ATP final when I was 18 or 19 but it was tough to cope with the demands week in week out."

The ATP also released its year-end award winners today, and as Stephanie Myles notes in her review of the announcement for her blog Open Court, the Comeback Player of the Year, Robin Haase of the Netherlands, is younger than the Newcomer of the Year, Tobias Kamke of Germany.

One of the few teenagers making an impact on the ATP tour this autumn was Canadian Milos Raonic. Raonic, who will be 20 next month, talks about his ambition to do something no Canadian has ever done before in this interview with the Toronto Star. Now ranked 156th, Raonic talks about how he developed his big weapon, his serve, and what his goals are, ranking-wise, for the first six months of 2011. He also mentions how much Rafael Nadal's praise meant to him after the two played at the Japan Open.

Raonic's junior career was not impressive, and there was little talk of his prospects a couple of years ago. Now that Ashleigh Barty of Australia has been revealed as the "once in a generation" talent that John Fitzgerald spoke about in his radio interview, she will come under scrutiny that Raonic never had. Linda Pearce writes about Barty's potential in The Age, quoting Tennis Australia head national coach Scott Draper extensively.
"I don't think that's necessarily an exaggerated call, based on her ability," says Draper. "Male or female, Ash is probably the most talented, or one of the most talented kids in terms of just hand-eye [co-ordination], skill, feel, she can volley, can slice, she's just one of those really gifted people.

"But it's a long road, and we have a history in this country lately of making kids feel like they've made it before they actually have, and that's certainly not what we intend to do. Yes, there's going to be hype around her, and yes, there's excitement that there's someone there who's as good as she is and is ticking as many boxes as she is, but it's a journey and you never really know until they're on the tour, day in and day out, competing against the best in the world."

There are currently five 14-year-old girls in the ITF World Junior rankings Top 150: Indy DeVroome(NED) 61, Barbara Haas(AUT) 76, Christina Makarova(USA) 115, Barty(AUS) 146, and Kanami Tsuji(JPN) 149. Pearce notes that junior rankings are not to be given too much weight, and mentions the semifinal appearance of Barty in the $25,000 Challenger as the best indication of her potential. It will be interesting to see how Tennis Australia handles her wild cards for the upcoming summer season Down Under.

Friday, November 19, 2010

National Tennis Center Renovation Planned; More College Signings; Ask McEnroe and Bollettieri Your Questions

The news that the USTA is planning to replace Louis Armstrong Stadium and the Grandstand Court, while adding another smaller show court, is not really college and junior tennis related. A few matches of the US Open Junior championships are played in those two facilities, but the ratio of empty seats to spectators is so great that there's really no sense of the atmosphere that can make those venues so much fun when there's a great pro match being played. The USTA has not released anything official on the plans that are outlined in this tennis.com article, but it shouldn't be long before it's obvious, with the construction on the new 3,000 mini-stadium said to begin immediately, with completion by 2011 (highly doubtful) or 2012.

With a slow news week, with few pro events and fewer juniors, I will once more post links to National Letter of Intent announcements, which still continue to trickle onto school websites. Not all the blue chips have seen their signings noted in this fashion, but many have. Links to the university announcements follow the recruit's name. Nick Chappell's signing with TCU has not been posted on the Horned Frog's website, but the Indianapolis Star published this story about Nick joining his older brother Paul in Ft. Worth next fall.

Leyla Erkan and Kerrie Cartwright Florida State

Van Damrongsri and Michael Lippens Louisville

Christopher Haworth Oklahoma State

Hunter Callahan Ohio State

Joanna Smith Arizona State

Janine Erasmus (South Africa) Texas A&M

Slim Hamza (Tunisia) Utah

Hunter Reese and Brandon Fickey Tennessee

Gonzales Austin, Joe Dorn, Suresh Eswaran, Anton Kovrigin, Jeffrey Offerdahl, and Michael Retta Vanderbilt

If you have a question about the state of American tennis that you would like to ask Patrick McEnroe or Nick Bollettieri, they will answer via a twitter chat next Tuesday at 2 p.m. To submit your question, go to this website. Peter Bodo, who will be involved, had more about the chat on his blog TennisWorld.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Team Named to Defend Master'U BNP Paribas Title; College Park JTCC Reaches Out to Locals; Must-Read Bloggers

The USTA announced the players who will be competing for the U.S. in next month's international collegiate team event in France. Austin Krajicek of Texas A&M, Sekou Bangoura, Jr. of Florida, Reid Carleton of Duke, Maria Sanchez of USC, Allie Will of Florida and Kristy Frilling of Notre Dame will compete against seven other teams December 9-12 in Rouen France in the Master'U BNP Paribas competition. Boise State's Greg Patton and Virginia's Mark Guilbeau will be this year's coaches. Krajicek, Frilling and Patton were on the team that beat France last year to claim the title. For the complete release, see usta.com.

Today the Gaithersburg, Md. Gazette posted this article about the efforts of the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md. to increase the awareness of its programs among local residents. The JTCC has been one of the most highly regarded training centers in the nation for quite some time, and was one of the first USTA Regional Training Centers, but apparently the non-profit organization's reputation is more established nationally than in its own area. Ray Benton is trying to raise the profile of the center in Maryland, and as a first step met with the local city council to consider methods of reaching potential local players.

With winter approaching, and professional tennis winding down for the year, you may find yourself with more time to read about, rather than watch tennis. I have my favorite bloggers, and ever since he won the Tennis Channel contest a few years, James LaRosa has been a must-read for me. His weekly column, Sweet Spot, is always entertaining, funny and a little bizarre, but he often makes serious points about the game and its players. This week he tackles those who are quick to pronounce a player "over", "done" or "incapable of winning a slam. Being fairly new to the business myself, I could only nod in agreement when he writes:

The practice of calling time of death on a player is unbelievably smug and, more often than not, embarrassingly uninformed.

But I didn’t always see it that way.

When I was little boy, I think it was around 2003, I’d hear people damn players to failure all the time and think, wow, these guys must be experts to be able to make such sweeping statements. Possibly even psychic! Best not speak up and betray my own ignorance or lack of magical powers. So I sat silently by when someone in the know told me, for instance, that Amelie Mauresmo would never win a Grand Slam.

Of course, she won two, so the conversation moves on to other players, certainty intact, with no acknowledgement that the unpredictability of sport is what makes it so great. And just as these experts are quick to bury current players, they are even more certain that there are no great young players ready to emerge (especially if they're American). That's one of my pet peeves, so I thank James for articulating just why that attitude is so annoying to many of us.

For a detailed look at the past year in women's tennis, check out Todd Spiker's WTA Backspin blog. I read Spiker's weekly post throughout the year, because I know there's almost no result in the world of women's tennis, junior or pro, that gets past him. I now know, for example, that Zarina Diyas, the 2007 Eddie Herr 16s champion, is the youngest player in the WTA top 200, a position previously held the past two years by Michelle Larcher de Brito. He's thorough and reliable, as well as fun to read, which is a great collection of assets.

The Tennis Mom has been on hiatus for several months, but she is back with a revealing post on the emotional stress she experiences while watching her daughter compete in tournaments. She's found a solution that works for her, and other tennis parents have added their comments on the problem.

And finally, if you are interested in some onsite coverage of the Champaign Challenger this weekend, Andrea at A Change of Ends will be there for the semifinals and finals. USC's Steve Johnson lost in the quarterfinals today to Amer Delic in two tiebreakers. In addition to Delic, Alex Bogomolov and Bobby Reynolds have reached the semis, with the final semifinalist to be decided tonight between Jesse Witten and Michael Yani.

In Bratislava, Ryan Harrison lost in a third-set tiebreaker to wild card Martin Klizan, and Jack Sock fell in three sets in the Amelia Island Futures, to doubles partner Dimitar Kutrovsky. Although Sock will not repeat as singles champion, he and Kutrovsky are in the doubles final.

For complete draws, see the ATP site.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

USTA Player Development Announces Three New National Coaches; Harrison, Johnson Win Challenger Matches; Sanchez to Compete in World University Games

The USTA today announced the hiring of three Player Development coaches, with Jorge Todero a new Lead National Coach, Frederico Rodriquez a National Coach and Marc Lucero a USTA Coach. Todero will work at the National Training Center in New York, and will report to Jose Higueras; Rodriquez will work at the Boca Raton Training Center and Lucero at the Carson Training Center, with both reporting to Ola Malmqvist, the USTA's head of women's tennis.

For the complete release, with biographies of all three new staff members, click below.

USTA release

Ryan Harrison came up with a big win today in the Bratislava Challenger, beating No. 6 seed and 93rd-ranked Dustin Brown (formerly of Jamaica, now playing under the German flag). According to his tweets today, Harrison saved two match points in the second set tiebreaker, and was down 3-0 in the final set before winning the final six games in his 4-6, 7-6(9), 6-3 win. Harrison won three qualifying matches to reach the main draw of the 106.5 euro Challenger.

In the $50,000 Pro Circuit Challenger in Champaign, Steve Johnson reached the quarterfinals with a 7-5, 7-6(2) win over Australian James Lemke. Johnson will play either top seed Kei Nishikori or Amer Delic in the quarterfinals.

The Cancun challenger has also draw several Americans. Wild card Ty Trombetta posted one of the best wins of his career Monday, beating Kevin Kim 6-2, 7-6(5). Former Florida Gator Greg Ouellette is also still alive in both singles and doubles.

At the Amelia Island Pro Circuit Futures, both Denis Kudla and Jack Sock reported through their twitter accounts that they had won their first round matches. Sock, the defending champion, beat 16-year-old Alexios Halebian, who had won three matches in qualifying to make the main draw. Wild cards Spencer Papa and Luca Corinteli both lost their first round matches.

Results and draws can be found on the ATP website.

The University of Southern California women's head coach Richard Gallien announced the signing of four blue chip recruits for the 2011-12 season. They are Gabrielle DeSimone, Sabrina Santamaria, Giuliana Olmos and Zoe Scandalis.

Also announced recently by USC is Maria Sanchez's participation in the World University Games, to be held next August in China. In addition to Sanchez, the other members of the U.S. team are: Stanford's Greg Hirshman, the team captain, Minnesota's Michael Sicora and Phillip Ardnt, Kentucky's Eric Quigley, Texas's Aeriel Ellis and Krista Damico, UCLA's McCall Jones and Memphis's Courtney Collins. The USC release can be found here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Anderson Signs with UCLA; More NLI Announcements Released; Reid Carleton in College Spotlight

The big news in college tennis today is UCLA's signing of Robin Anderson, who is the top recruit in the nation according to the Tennis Recruiting Network. When I spoke to Anderson about her plans a few months ago at the U.S. Open, she didn't offer many specifics, other than she was probably going to take a few official visits. Congratulations to Stella Sampras Webster on signing Anderson and Kaitlin Ray, and keeping pace with USC and Stanford in the recruiting race. The official announcement can be found here.

The UCLA release is just one of many that appeared today. As I did a couple of days ago, I'll post the name of the player and a link to the athletic site were the announcement can be found.

Mitchell Frank Virginia
Dominic Cotrone Florida State
Nathan Pasha Georgia
Ross Guignon, Tim Kopinski and Andrew Scholnick Illinois
Kelsey Dieters and Niki Flower Ohio State
Megan Horter and Nicole Kosakowski Baylor
Erin Stephens Ole Miss
Karen Forman Wake Forest
Jasmine Minor Georgia Tech
Lorraine Guillermo Pepperdine

This current edition of the USTA's College Spotlight focuses on Duke senior Reid Carleton. He talks about how he selected Duke four years ago, and makes an interesting point about the role college basketball plays at the school.

At the Champaign Challenger, current Illinois players Dennis Nevolo and Abe Souza lost their first round matches, although Nevolo did force a third set before falling to No. 2 seed Peter Luczak 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3. A third wild card, Steve Johnson of USC, won his opening round match today 6-4, 6-4 over John Paul Fruttero and will play former Pepperdine Wave James Lemke of Australia in the second round.

Monday, November 15, 2010

USTA/ITA Indoor Recap; Woodbridge Expecting Jump in Ranking for Tomic; Fitzgerald on Australian Player Development

Now that Tennis Recruiting Network's extensive Signing Week coverage is complete, there's room for my recap of the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in New York. I was very impressed with the venue and the organization, and I think the tournament's stature will continue to grow in the next couple of years. New York's Flushing Meadows has always represented one of the pinnacles of tennis for both professionals and juniors in the U.S.; now it has become one for college players too. I look forward to returning in 2011.

With the Australian Open just a little over two months away, the coverage of tennis in the country is starting to ramp up. Last week, John McEnroe was in Australia for a Champions event, and his remarks on Lleyton Hewitt, Pat Rafter's appointment as Davis Cup captain and the lack of Top 50 Australian men made news.

Today, Todd Woodbridge, head of men's tennis for Tennis Australia, was featured in this Linda Pearce article for The Age, which focuses on the prospects of 18-year-old Bernard Tomic. I was curious about Tomic's lack of play since September, and wondered if it was injury related, but there's no indication of that. Woodbridge calls it "probably a different formula than most people would have used," and Tomic is scheduled to compete in a Challenger in Japan next week prior to the wild card tournament for the Australian Open. Woodbridge speculates that by the end of the next 12 months, Tomic could be in the ATP Top 50. Given that Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria has won three Challengers and three Futures this year and has yet to crack the Top 100, that means Tomic will probably need some nice runs in ATP events, particularly the Australian Open.

In another article, which is actually a transcript of television interview, former Davis Cup captain and new Tennis Australia board member John Fitzgerald talks in depth about the state of the game.

Although Fitzgerald doesn't mention Craig Tiley's name, all his references to the past five years, which coincide with Tiley's tenure as head of Player Development at Tennis Australia, are positive ones. Fitzgerald also doesn't mention former AO director Paul McNamee's name, but is less enthusiastic about the way player development was handled when he was in power.

Fitzgerald is shown as reluctant to name names when asked about the up and coming young players in Australia, but does mention Todd Reid as the example of a top junior who failed in his transition to the pros. Fitzgerald does mention Jason Kubler (no longer No. 1 in the world in juniors, but formerly in that position), Luke Savile and Jay Andrijic as well as two 14-year-olds, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Li Tu.

He draws the line at revealing the name of the girl he calls "probably the best prospect we've had in 20 years in the women's game." But giving her age as 14, a little detective work reveals that he's probably speaking of Ashleigh Barty, who is ranked 145 in the ITF juniors after winning three of the five ITF tournaments she's entered this year. She also reached the semifinals of a $25,000 ITF Women's Circuit event last month.

Fitzgerald also has an interesting take on how the court surfaces in Australia have hurt development and why Spain has taken the lead in player development recently. It's a long interview, but it's definitely worth your time if you have any interest in player development.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Callahan, Austin Win Evert ITF Titles; Pro Circuit Enters Final Week in U.S.


The next two weeks will be quiet here in the U.S., as the final ITF prior to the Eddie Herr finished today at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton. Fourteen-year-old Brooke Austin, seeded fourth, took the girls singles title, her second Grade 4 title since qualifying for the U.S. Open juniors in September, with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Jennifer Brady, the sixth seed. Hunter Callahan, the 17-year-old who is starting at Ohio State this spring, won his first ITF title with a 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-2 win over No. 3 seed Roberto Cid. Callahan was the No. 4 seed in the tournament. Gabrielle Andrews and Taylor Townsend won their second consecutive doubles title with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Josie Kuhlman and Chalena Scholl, who were also unseeded. Eric Johnson and Mackenzie McDonald, seeded fifth, won the boys doubles, defeating unseeded Luca Corinteli and Richard Del Nunzio 6-0, 6-3. For complete draws, see the ITF junior website.

At the Knoxville Challenger, No. 3 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan defeated No. 6 seed Robert Kendrick 6-1, 6-4 to take the singles title. None of the current college players advanced out of the first round, although Indoor champion Rhyne Williams had three match points in his 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(6) loss to South African Rik De Voest. De Voest and compatriot Izak Van Der Merwe, the No. 3 seeds, won the doubles title 6-1, 6-4 over unseeded Alex Kuznetsov and Alex Bogomolov of the U.S. Complete draws can be found at the Challenger website.

In the $10,000 Men's Futures event in Pensacola, No. 3 seed Dennis Bloemke of Germany defeated unseeded Phillip Simmonds of the U.S. 6-1, 6-3 to win the singles title. The doubles title went to No. 3 seeds Jack Sock and Dimitar Kutrovsky, who beat unseeded Jordan Cox and Devin Britton 5-7, 6-2, 10-8.

No. 2 seed Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. won her third straight Challenger today in the $75,000 Pro Circuit event in Phoenix, defeating top seed Melanie Oudin 6-3, 7-6(5). Irina Falconi reached the semifinals before falling to Lepchenko in three sets. CoCo Vandeweghe and Tetiana Luzhanska of Ukraine won the doubles title 7-5, 6-4 over Julia Boserup and Sloane Stephens in a battle of unseeded teams.

For complete results of these three tournaments, see the usta.com results page.

Elsewhere, 2010 ITA Player of the Year Robert Farah, formerly of USC, captured the doubles title at the $50,000 Challenger in Eucador. The unseeded team of Farah and fellow Colombian Juan Sebastian Cabal defeated top seeds France Ferreiro and Andre Sa of Brazil 7-5, 7-6(3). For complete results, see the ATP site.

As I mentioned yesterday, the Pro Circuit Futures moves to Amelia Island, where Jack Sock is the defending champion, while the final Pro Circuit men's Challenger of the year is in Champaign, Illinois. Dennis Nevolo, Amer Delic, Abraham Souza and Steve Johnson received main draw wild cards. For qualifying results, see the tournament website.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

ITA Women's Collegiate Hall of Fame Induction; Christian Harrison Back Competing; NLI Signing Update

The ITA Women's Collegiate Hall of Fame is having its induction ceremony tonight at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. This year there are six inductees, led by JoAnne Russell, the Wimbledon doubles champion who starred at Trinity University and later was the assistant women's coach at the University of Illinois. Joining Russell in this year's class are five others with distinguished collegiate careers: Courtney Allen, Dave Borelli, Ed Hegemann, Barbara Hallquist DeGroot and Carrie Meyer Richardson. Interesting that there are now men in the Women's Hall of Fame, but no women in the Men's Hall of Fame, certainly because there are so few women who coach men's teams. For more on each of the inductees, see the ITA website.

It's great to see Christian Harrison's name in a draw again after 18 months out of competition due to a bone infection and surgery. If you saw my tweet this morning, you know he played Georgia's Javier Garrapiz today in the second round of the Amelia Island Futures qualifying. Garrapiz won 6-3, 6-3, but Harrison had to be pleased not just to get a win in the first round, but to simply be healthy enough to compete again. Eighteen months must seem like and eternity to a 16-year-old. I hope I'll get an opportunity to see him play at the Eddie Herr or Orange Bowl. For the qualifying draws for Amelia Island, see the ATP site.

Lots of National Letter of Intent signing announcements have been released in the past two days. You can access them by clicking on the school's name below.

Mary Jeremiah Oklahoma State
Ace Matias Utah
Ricky Baylon San Diego State
Molly O'Koniewski Virginia
Lauren Herring Georgia
Jason Tahir Duke
Eli Brown and Alex Petrone Michigan
Nicole Long Oklahoma
Emmett Egger Washington

Friday, November 12, 2010

National Junior Tennis Conference Next Weekend in Chicago; Eddie Herr, Orange Bowl Acceptances; Bangoura Returns Home for Collegiate Clay Courts

Now in its 14th year, the annual National Junior Tennis Conference put together by Care Academy's Junior Development Coach Mark Bey is schedule for November 19-21 at the Libertyville and Lincolnshire clubs in suburban Chicago. My schedule has permitted me to attend only once, back in 2005, but I found it to be a fascinating three days of competition, drills and information exchange.

Bey has again assembled some of the top minds in player development for his conference, including many Division I college coaches, such as Notre Dame's Bobby Bayliss, TCU's David Roditi, Alabama's Billy Pate, Boise State's Greg Patton, and Georgia Tech's Bryan Shelton. Kent Kinnear, a former touring professional who is now a USTA National Coach, is among the presenters, as is current ATP professional Rajeev Ram. Jeff Smith, who coaches Brooke Austin and other top juniors in Indianapolis, will be there, as will Sylvain Guichard, the former Mississippi State coach who has been working with the Redlicki brothers. Marcia Frost, who spoke at the Eastern section College Showcase in New York last weekend, will also be speaking at the NJTC again this year.

The conference has a facebook page and a website with more details. Whether you're a coach, a parent or a young player, you'll gain valuable information and contacts at the conference.

The acceptances for the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl tournaments have been released, in various places.

The entry lists for the 18s at Eddie Herr are on the tournament's ITF junior website page. Neither Daria Gavrilova nor Denis Kudla will be defending their singles titles, but nine Top 20 girls, including the U.S.'s Lauren Davis, are entered, as well as five Top 20 boys.

The acceptance lists for the Eddie Herr 12s, 14s, and 16s are available via pdf file at eddieherr.com. New this year is qualifying for 12s, which have not had a qualifying tournament previously.

The Orange Bowl 18s acceptance lists can also be found at the ITF junior site. Gavrilova, the top-ranked junior, is entered as are the other top four junior girls: Irina Khromacheva of Russia, French Open girls champion Elina Svitolina of Ukraine and Monica Puig of Puerto Rico. The top three boys, Juan Sebastian Gomez of Colombia, Wimbledon boys champion Marton Fucsovics of Hungary and Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic, are also on the entry list.

The 16s acceptance lists for the Orange Bowl can be found at the usta.com page devoted to the tournament. Christina Makarova, Kyle McPhillips and Catherine Harrison are playing the 16s, as are Maxx Lipman, Thai Kwiatkowski and Mackenzie McDonald.

The fall college season is winding down, but there are a few individual tournaments left, including this weekend's MetLife Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic in Bradenton. Mic Huber of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune posted this story on Florida Gator Sekou Bangoura Jr.'s return to Lakewood Ranch, where he grew up.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Isner, Smyczek in Charity Exhibition in Milwaukee; More NLI Signings; China Looks For Male Tennis Star

Now that the professional tennis schedule is winding down, it's time for the charity exhibitions to begin, and former Georgia Bulldog John Isner will be participating in several of them in the coming weeks. The first is next Friday in Milwaukee where Isner and Milwaukee's Tim Smyczek will hold an exhibition at Marquette University to benefit the Summit Educational Association. To purchase tickets, or to learn more about the silent auction and sponsorships, see the Summit Educational Association's website.

For those not in the area, Ken Thomas of radiotennis.com, who graduated from the University of Wisconsin, will be there covering the event through his free audio streaming service.

flyer11-17.pdf (1 page)

The next day, Isner will be in Raleigh, North Carolina for an exhibition benefiting the Duke Hospital's ovarian cancer research. The exhibition, which will include Syracuse coach Luke Jensen, former Georgia Tech All-American Irina Falconi and Georgia's blue chip recruit Lauren Herring, is being held at the J.W. Isenhour Indoor Tennis Center on the North Carolina State University campus. For more details, click here.

There have been more signing announcements released, with Emina Bektas' choice of Michigan and Jackson Withrow's selection of Texas A&M the features on the Tennis Recruiting Network today. Because Withrow is starting in January, he is not signing a National Letter of Intent this week. Those are for players entering school in the fall.

Michigan got not only Bektas, but also blue chips Sarah Lee and Kristen Dodge. For the school's announcement click here. Other major D-I schools announcing signings are Alabama (Emily Zabor), Vanderbilt (Ashleigh Antal) and North Carolina (Caroline Price).

John Roddick, head men's coach at Oklahoma, talks about his signing of blue chip Dane Webb here.

With the Asian Games starting tomorrow, the Associated Press takes a look at the dearth of Chinese men making an impact on the ATP tour. The Chinese women have established themselves on the pro and junior tours, but the men have had much less success. The goals are modest for the world's most populous country, "top 100 in two or three years," and no one is making the mistake of looking for the next Roger Federer, or even a top 10 player. But if, as many development experts maintain, professional success for a country is based on a numbers game, with the more players competing, the more likely a successful professional will emerge, China is in good shape.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Signing Day Announcements; USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Tournament Set for December

Today is the first day that college recruits are allowed to sign a National Letter of Intent for the 2011-2012 season (those who start in January do not sign NLI's), and the Tennis Recruiting Network started the day with three announcements. I wrote the article detailing Caroline Price's selection of North Carolina; sandwiched around that were two announcements by Midwest blue chips. Robert Stineman of Illinois will attend Stanford, and Indiana's Nick Chappell's choice is TCU, where former USTA National Coach David Roditi is in his first season.

The Mid-Atlantic section obtained these comments from Mitchell Frank, who announced last month that he was committing to Virginia. Frank, who is from Annandale, Va., is the No. 2 recruit in the country, according to the Tennis Recruiting rankings; Jack Sock is No. 1.

Most schools will not release their announcements until next week, but a few did post on their websites. Chase Curry's decision to attend Texas Tech is revealed on the Red Raiders website, and Baylor's two commitments, including No. 15-ranked ITF junior Mate Zsiga of Hungary, are announced here. For the second straight year, UCLA got two of the top Southern California boys. The announcement on Marcos Giron and Dennis Mkrtchian's signings is here.

The USTA will again be holding an Australian Open wild card tournament at the Racquet Club of South, December 17-19. The fields are not complete and are subject to change, but so far six men and four women have been invited for the 8-player fields. The men are: Jordan Cox, Ryan Harrison, Denis Kudla, Tim Smyczek, Jack Sock and Donald Young. The women are: Jamie Hampton, Christina McHale, Alison Riske and CoCo Vandeweghe. I expect that the final two men's spots will go to college players, with performances at the next two weeks' challengers in Knoxville and Champaign possibly figuring into the selection. All four of the women are playing in Phoenix this week, and with a win or good finish, Riske and McHale could earn automatic entry into Australia (Vandeweghe lost in the first round today to Julia Cohen). I imagine Cohen, Irina Falconi, Madison Brengle and Sloane Stephens will also be considered.

The full release can be found at usta.com.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Slideshow, Video from USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships

In a reversal of the usual order, I'm posting the slideshow and videos from the weekend's USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships before I link to my recap for the Tennis Recruiting Network. TRN's big day is tomorrow, which is Fall Signing Day, so they have plenty of announcements coming, including my Q and A with blue chip Caroline Price. So look for the recap of the Indoor early next week, and enjoy the slideshow and videos. The Indoor Center at the National Tennis Center is a fantastic venue for players and spectators, and I know many of the competitors were excited about being on the site of the U.S. Open and in New York. It was also great to have the coaches workshops, the ACE conference and the Eastern college showcase at the same time. The younger players could see great tennis while making the tournament the hub of tennis activity in the area.

For additional videos of the finalists, see the tenniskalamazoo YouTube channel:
Jana Juricova video
Steve Johnson video