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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sock, McHale and Falconi Get Big Wins Wednesday at US Open

Jack Sock became the first Kalamazoo champion to win a match at the US Open since 1995, and Irina Falconi and Christina McHale both took out Top 16 seeds Wednesday in an exciting day for American tennis at the US Open.

Sock, in one of the last singles matches of the day session, beat French veteran Marc Gicquel 6-4, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 to reach the second round. Since 1995, when Justin Gimelstob did it, no Kalamazoo champion had managed to get out of the first round at the US Open.

Last year Sock took a set from Switzerland's Marco Chiudinelli, yet he never looked entirely comfortable on the court in his grand slam debut. But after claiming the US Open boys title, which gave him plenty of time to experience the atmosphere at Flushing Meadows, and having a year of physical growth and maturity, he looked at ease in the first two sets of the match, which was played on the new Court 17. Sock served better than Gicquel and showed no nerves, getting the only break of the first set with Gicquel serving at 4-5. In the second set, Sock saved two break points against him in the third and fifth games, then broke Gicquel in the sixth game, which was again the only break Sock needed.

Sock lost his serve for the first time in the match in the second game of the third set, and once his serve went off, so did the rest of his game. Gicquel, who at 34 was the oldest man in the draw, played less tentatively, while Sock lacked energy and focus. When Sock dropped his serve in the third game of the fourth set, it was hard to escape the feeling the match was slipping away from the teenager. But Sock's first serve started to set up his forehand again in the fifth game, and he broke Gicquel in the sixth, putting the pressure squarely back on the Frenchman. Gicquel held his next service game, but serving at 4-5 he cracked. At 15-30, he netted a forehand, and although he saved one match point with a good serve up the T, he put a backhand into the net on the second match point to give Sock the win.

While Sock was setting up his second round meeting with the winner of the Andy Roddick and Michael Russell night match, Irina Falconi was battling to stay in her match with No. 14 seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia. They had split sets in the match, which was moved to Arthur Ashe Stadium when Venus Williams withdrew due to illness, with Falconi forcing a third set with a 6-3 win in the second, after Cibulkova had taken the first 6-2. The 21-year-old former Georgia Tech All-American, who grew up in New York, trailed 4-1 in the final set, but came back to win the next five games, breaking Cibulkova at 4-4 to serve for the match. She didn't get to match point, with a costly double fault at deuce contributing to the break, but Cibulkova returned the favor, double faulting at game point to give Falconi another chance. This time Falconi put her nerves aside, taking a 40-0 lead, but hit a forehand long on the first match point.

On the second match point, Cibulkova brought Falconi into the net with a short ball very near the umpire's chair that Falconi had to sprint to, but she got there and while wide of the umpire's chair, hit a sharply angled shot along the net, which fell in near the far sideline to give her the point and the match. She began jumping for joy almost immediately, and the crowd, which had been behind her throughout the day, roared. Falconi went to her tennis bag to pull out an American flag before talking with Pam Shriver.

In the press conference, Falconi was asked about the flag gesture.

"I've heard so much about media talking about American tennis, and I really wanted to portray that there's a huge wave of American players. I have an American coach and trainer, Jeff and Kim Wilson. I strongly believe in all that is USA, and I wanted to represent it and show the world that it's coming. It's coming. No need to wait any longer."

That statement was also made earlier in the day by Christina McHale, who continued her outstanding summer by beating No. 8 seed Marion Baroli of France 7-6(2), 6-2. McHale has now beaten Caroline Wozniacki, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Marion Bartoli in the past three weeks, and she is projected to reach the Top 50 for the first time when the post-US Open rankings are released.

Falconi will meet No. 22 seed Sabine Lisicki of Germany in the third round, while McHale will face No. 25 seed Maria Kirilenko of Russia.

Although she didn't win her match today against No. 27 seed Lucie Safarova, Madison Keys also made a statement about her place in American tennis' future. Keys dominated the first set and although she lost 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, the power and poise of the 16-year-old impressed anyone who saw the match on Louis Armstrong Stadium.

NCAA champion Steve Johnson lost a tough one, playing great tennis for the first half of his match with Alex Bogomolov, but he was unable to sustain it and lost 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-3. Bogomolov was serving for the fourth set at 5-4, but Johnson fought back, getting the break and forcing the tiebreaker. But Johnson began to cramp early in the tiebreaker, and although his movement improved somewhat after he received treatment at the set break, he couldn't play at the same level as he had in the first four sets. Bogomolov deserves tremendous credit for keeping his composure during both Johnson's highest level, which Bogomolov called "brilliant tennis", and Johnson's physical struggles.
Johnson's serve, which produced 23 aces, was impressive, as was his defense, but Bogomolov never stopped believing he could win the match and made it happen. He will next play lucky loser Rogerio Dutra da Silva of Brazil, who went in for No. 6 seed Robin Soderling, who withdrew with an illness.

In women's doubles, the wild card team of Jessica Pegula and Taylor Townsend won their first round match, beating the Polish team of Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Alicja Rosolska 6-2, 6-3. US National 18s champions Keys and Samantha Crawford lost to No. 6 seeds Sania Mirza of India and Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-2, 6-0.

For complete draws see usopen.org.

Thursday's schedule will feature Sloane Stephens, who will try to join McHale and Falconi in the third round. Stephens' second round opponent is No. 23 seed Shahar Peer.

There are also mixed, men's and women's doubles on the schedule, with NCAA champions Jeff Dadamo and Austin Krajicek of Texas A&M and Hilary Barte and Mallory Burdette of Stanford among those playing their first round matches.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stephens Reaches Second Round at US Open with Tense Victory; Interesting Wild Card Teams in Mixed Doubles

Eighteen-year-old wild card Sloane Stephens isn't going to be able to claim superior experience over many opponents, but today Stephens did have an advantage over 20-year-old qualifier Reka-Luca Jani of Hungary in their first round match. Jani was playing her first main draw match in a grand slam, while Stephens had been in her shoes this year at Roland Garros, having won three qualifying matches to earn her first spot in a slam. Stephens lost that initial attempt, falling to Great Britain's Elena Baltacha 7-5, 6-2, but after beating Jani this afternoon 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(3), Stephens said that loss in Paris had taught her a valuable lesson.

"I was so anxious and nervous and uptight, I couldn't say to my self, Stop, look, this is what you have to do," Stephens said in the postmatch press conference. "Everything was so overwhelming. I'd never been in that situation before, so it was all new to me. I definitely used it to, you know, better myself and better my game."

I watched the match on usopen.org, and the first set went so quickly, it didn't seem like any drama was likely to develop. Jani was overwhelmed by Stephens' power in the opening set, but she collected herself and played well in the second set, eliminating errors and targeting Stephens' backhand. Down a break early, Stephens had six chances to get the break back in the second set, but couldn't convert any of them. In the third set, Stephens got behind a break at the start, got it back, but was broken again at 3-3. Jani served for the match at both 5-3 and 6-5, but didn't get to a match point either time.

Stephens had the crowd on her side throughout the match of course, and when she broke to force a tiebreaker they roared loudly. It then got very quiet as the players changed ends at 3-3. Stephens won the next three points, as the pressure began to get to Jani, and Stephens ended it on the next point, showing more focus and fewer nerves than the Hungarian.

"At 3-all in the tiebreaker, I was like, I am not going to get nervous. I'm going to go for my shots, execute, do what I have to do. And I won every point after that."

Next up for Stephens is No. 23 seed Shahar Peer of Israel.

Stephens was the only wild card to win on Tuesday. National 18s champion Lauren Davis lost to Germany's Angelique Kerber 7-6(3), 6-3 in her first round match, and wild card Alison Riske was blitzed 6-2, 6-0 by No. 11 seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia but CoCo Vandeweghe and Vania King both posted wins. Vandeweghe beat Alberta Brianti of Italy 7-5, 6-3, while King downed Greta Arn of Hungary 6-1, 6-4. Wild card Jamie Hampton retired down 5-1 in the third to Elena Baltacha of Great Britain.

The other surviving wild card, 16-year-old Madison Keys, plays her match against No. 27 seed Lucia Safarova of the Czech Republic on Wednesday. Vandeweghe is also in action against Samantha Stosur, the No. 9 seed, from Australia. Both matches will be on show courts. Irina Falconi, who plays No. 14 seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, and Christina McHale, who plays No. 8 seed Marion Bartoli, are also in action, and all four matches should be available via the live streaming atusopen.org.

The first round of men's singles always extend into Wednesday, with NCAA champion Steve Johnson and Boys 18s national champion Jack Sock finally taking the court tomorrow. Johnson and Alex Bogomolov will be on Court 11, and Sock will play France's Marc Gicquel on the new Court 17. Both are television courts.

Some women's doubles matches are on Wednesday's schedule, with wild cards Jessica Pegula and Taylor Townsend in action against the Polish team of Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Alicja Rosolska. Keys and her partner Samantha Crawford, who won the girls 18s doubles title and the wild card that goes with it, play No. 6 seeds Sania Mirza of India and Elena Vesnina of Russia.

A few men's doubles matches were played Tuesday and there was no success for the four wild card doubles teams in action. Michael Shabaz and Ryan Sweeting lost to No. 6 seeds Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski of Poland 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. Bradley Klahn and David Martin fell to No. 7 seeds Robert Lindstedt of Sweden and Horia Tecau of Romania 6-4, 6-4. Rhyne Williams and Robby Ginepri were beaten by No. 5 seeds Rohan Bopanna of India and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan, and boys National champions Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow lost to No. 15 seeds Mark Knowles of the Bahamas and Xavier Malisse of Belgium 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1.

The mixed doubles draw has been posted, with several interesting wild card teams. Sock will play with Melanie Oudin, Johnson with Falconi and Donald Young Jr., who won his first round match today in singles over lucky loser Lukas Lacko, will team up with one of his father's former pupils, Taylor Townsend.

Complete draws can be found at usopen.org.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Keys, Falconi and McHale Post First Round Wins at US Open; Davis, Stephens and Men's Doubles On Tap for Tuesday

Thanks to the live streaming on usopen.org, I was able to watch three matches I was very interested in, beginning with Ryan Harrison versus No. 27 seed Marin Cilic. Although Cilic was objectively the favorite, quite a few were picking Harrison to upset him, given that Harrison had reached two ATP semifinals this summer, while Cilic had struggled on the hard courts. Cilic took control early and although Harrison served for both the second and third sets, he let both slip away, falling 6-2, 7-5, 7-6(6).

Harrison didn't use his net game much, and was way behind the baseline during many rallies, which he recognized as a problem in his post-match press conference.

"You know, I guess the volleying is kind of a finishing shot from the groundstroke and my positioning was pretty far back. That was partly due to the fact I wasn't feeling very good hitting the ball so I wasn't feeling like I was able to step up and hit my shots the way I normally would."

Harrison also displayed his temper early and often, and although he was never penalized by the chair, his behavior was drawing a lot more attention than his game, all of it negative, at least in the instant feedback loop that is twitter and blogs. For an interesting look at Harrison and his coach's views of his on-court behavior, see this article that appeared today on ESPN's Grantland. It's a fine line to walk between competitive spirit and annoying immaturity and Harrison needs to find it soon. For the complete transcript of his press conference, see usopen.org.

The next match I watched was Madison Keys and Jill Craybas on the Grandstand. At 16, Keys, who won the USTA tournament in College Park to earn her wild card, was playing in her first grand slam main draw, while Craybas, at 37, was competing in her 45th straight slam thanks to a wild card. Keys used her powerful serve and forehand to maximum advantage in the first set, then overcame a challenge from Craybas in the second to win the match 6-2, 6-4. Keys was up 4-1 in the second set, and had two break points to take a 5-1 lead, but Craybas held, broke back and evened the set at 4. Keys didn't falter however, holding for a 5-4 lead, then breaking Craybas to win the match. For a much more detailed account of the match, see Geoff Macdonald's post at the New York Times Straight Sets blog. Keys will play No. 27 seed Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in the second round.

I wasn't able to watch Irina Falconi's match with Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic, because it wasn't on a television court, but Falconi won her first grand slam match in five tries with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory. She will face No. 14 seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in the second round.

This evening, Christina McHale, who has had an outstanding summer, beat qualifier Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4 on the new Court 17, which is a televised court. The contrast between McHale's demeanor on court and Harrison's couldn't be more pronounced, with barely any reaction from the 19-year-old from New Jersey, certainly not when she made an error. Trailing 2-0 in the third set, after losing something like 12 points in a row, McHale never showed any evidence of frustration or despair and soon enough she had won four straight games and taken the lead for good. Wozniak, who was ranked as high as 21 in the world two years ago before injuries sent her ranking tumbling, didn't go away in the final games, but McHale's superior movement and her confidence was enough to close out the match. She will play No. 8 seed Marion Bartoli of France in the second round.

Eighteen-year-old Bernard Tomic of Australia has not had a great hard court summer, but he did win his opening match today against US qualifier Michael Yani 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and will get his shot at Cilic in the second round.

Tuesday's schedule includes the US Open main draw debuts of Sloane Stephens and Lauren Davis. Davis plays Angelique Kerber of Germany first on Court 4, which means no streaming, while Stephens plays qualifier Reka-Luca Jani of Hungary fourth on Court 11, which will be streamed.

Men's doubles also begins on Tuesday, with national 18s champions Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow playing fifth on court 14 against No. 15 seeds Mark Knowles of the Bahamas and Xavier Malisse of Belgium. Rhyne Williams, Michael Shabaz and Bradley Klahn are also in doubles action on Tuesday with partners Robby Ginepri, Ryan Sweeting and David Martin respectively.

The men's doubles draw is here.

The women's doubles draw is out too, but no matches are scheduled for Tuesday. NCAA champions Hilary Barte and Mallory Burdette play Alexa Glatch and Jamie Hampton, in a battle of two wild card teams, while 18s national winners Samantha Crawford and Keys face No. 6 seed Sania Mirza of India and Elena Vesnina of Russia. Nicole Gibbs and Lauren Davis received a wild card, as did Taylor Townsend and Jessica Pegula.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Notes From All Over Before Start of US Open

The next two weeks will be devoted primarily to coverage of the US Open, with onsite coverage of the Junior championships beginning Saturday, so in today's post I'll be doing some quick updates on other tournaments, articles and resources, with just a few related to the US Open.

Congratulations to Denise Starr, who won the ITF Grade 4 US International Hard Courts in New Jersey, beating Chalena Scholl, also of the US, 6-2, 6-3 in the final. Top seed Marco Aurei Nunez of Mexico won the boys title, beating unseeded Ognjen Samardzic of the US 6-2 6-3. Scholl and Katrine Steffensen won the girls doubles, with Jordan Daigle and Daniel Kahnin taking the boys doubles.

The Grade 1 Canadian Open is underway in Repentigny, with Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic and Ashleigh Barty of Australia as the top seeds. Only two US boys are in the draw--qualifier Richard del Nunzio and Mitchell Krueger--but there are 9 US girls in the 48-player draw: qualifiers Blair Shankle, Sachia Vickery and Alexandra Morozova, as well as Kelsey Laurente, Allie Kiick, Grace Min, Tristen Dewar, Julia Elbaba and Christina Makarova.

As I tweeted just a few hours ago, Brett Clark has earned one of the two US Open boys wild cards still available by winning a tournament at Boca Raton, according to this brief story in the the Naples News.

Hayley Carter was given a wild card into the juniors earlier, along with seven other American girls. Carter is the subject of this feature in the Columbia, South Carolina The State. Having never once seen Carter play, she is near the top of my must-see list, along with Wimbledon girls champion Barty.

This Shreveport Times feature on Ryan Harrison, who plays his first round match against No. 27 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia first thing Monday on Louis Armstrong Stadium, provides an interesting glimpse into the mindset of the confident 19-year-old.

Doug Robson of USA Today looks at the global reach of tennis and how that has, or should have, changed the expectations for American success in the sport. I don't really agree with Billie Jean King's final quote, because I don't think it's even possible to identify future champions at a young age, but getting more youngsters playing and competing can't hurt.

New Yorker Lena Litvak, who played at Harvard for a year before turning pro, is the subject of this article in the Riverdale Press.

Eight-time Grand Slam champion Ivan Lendl has opened a tennis academy on Hilton Head Island with New Zealand's David Lewis the director of coaching.

Larry Lauer, the Director of Coaching Education and Development
The Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University and a co-author of the USTA Mental Skills and Drills Handbook, has started a new blog entitled Tennis Mental Edge. His first posts explore the attitudes of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nada, and on the reasons Mardy Fish is a true US Open contender.

And finally, there is a new website, a part of Find The Best, that provides information on tennis clubs to assist those looking for a play to play, whether on vacation, after moving to a new community, or as an alternative to their current club.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Q and A with Georgia's Manny Diaz; College Coaching News; Frank, Townsend Features; Martin, Fusano Win Mixed WC; USO Order of Play for Monday

While he was in Kalamazoo, I spoke with Georgia head coach Manny Diaz for a question and answer piece that appeared yesterday on the Tennis Recruiting Network. Although I've found it challenging to find the time to schedule these interviews with college coaches, as I have very little down time when I'm covering tournaments, the many rain delays at Kalamazoo this year had the silver lining of this conversation.

Summer is traditionally full of coaching musical chairs, and this year is no exception. Penn State has announced a replacement for men's head coach Todd Doebler, who is moving to Division III Colorado College, with Wake Forest's men's head coach Jeff Zinn taking the position.

Several of the prominent assistant coaching positions have also been filled. Former Texas A & M All-American Conor Pollack has been named men's assistant at Georgia Tech, former Boise State star Luke Shields has been named women's assistant at University of Washington and Mark Merklein has left USTA Player Development for the University of Michigan's men's assistant coach position. Kelcy Tefft, an All-American at Notre Dame just a few years ago, is now the women's assistant at her alma mater and Melissa Schaub, formerly a coach at Middle Tennessee State, has been named women's assistant at Ohio State.

The University of Maryland women's head coaching position, vacant since Howard Joffe left for Texas A & M, is being filled on an interim basis by assistant Dianne Matias.

The Fairfax County Virginia Times recently published this feature about 2011 Kalamazoo finalist Mitchell Frank, who is beginning his collegiate career at the University of Virginia this fall.

And today, the New York Times published this article about Taylor Townsend, who lost a heartbreaker to Laura Robson yesterday in the second round of qualifying at the US Open. Townsend led 5-2 in the third set and served for the match at 5-4, but was broken in that game and in her next service game as well. Townsend was able to break Robson when she served for the match at 6-5, but lost the tiebreaker quickly 7-0 in the 6-3, 46, 7-6(0) loss to her fellow left-hander.

The finals of the US Open National Playoffs for the mixed doubles main draw wild card were held today in New Haven, Conn., with top seeds David Martin and Christina Fusano defeating Eric Roberson and Yasmin Schnack 2-6, 6-1, 10-5. Fusano, who played at Cal, and Martin, who played at Stanford, have competed in Grand Slams before in women's and men's doubles, but this is their debut in mixed doubles.

The US Open's order of play for Monday has been posted at usopen.org. Americans on the schedule are Mardy Fish, Venus Williams, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Varvara Lepchenko, Ryan Harrison, Christina McHale, Melanie Oudin, Michael Yani, Irina Falconi and Madison Keys and Jill Craybas, who play each other.

Friday, August 26, 2011

US Open Qualifiers By The Numbers

With hurricane Irene looming Saturday, the US Open qualifying had to be completed today, requiring six women and four men to play two matches today to finish. While watching the live scoring, I had some time to do a little research about the qualifiers, not all of whom are familiar to me, and I decided it would be fun to do a slightly different post tonight, a by-the-numbers look at the just completed tournament. The complete qualifying draws can be found here.

0--number of qualifiers in 2011 who qualified in 2010

1--number of US players qualifying, out of the 32 who started play Tuesday. Michael Yani beat Rajeev Ram, also of the US, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) to reach the main draw.

2--number of Irish players qualifying. With Conor Niland and Louk Sorensen earning main draw berths today, it is the first time in history two Irish players will be in the US Open main draw.

3--number of final qualifying matches decided in third set tiebreakers. Yani defeated Ram, Vasek Pospisil of Canada beat Grega Zemlja of Slovenia 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5), and Karin Knapp of Italy downed Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(1).

4--number of French players qualifying, the most of any country. Stephanie Foretz Gacon, Augustin Gensse, Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy and Romain Jouan will play on next week.

6--number of men's seeds, of 32 who began the tournament, making it through to the main draw, including No. 1 Joao Souza of Brazil

--number of women's seeds, of 32 who began the tournament, making it through to the main draw, including No. 1 Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan

17--age of youngest qualifier, Laura Robson of Great Britain

--in minutes, length of first game of the third set of Robert Farah's final round qualifying win over Dominic Meffert of Germany

31--age of oldest qualifier, Jean-Rene Lisnard of Monaco

87--best current WTA or ATP ranking of any qualifier, belonging to Voskoboeva

614--worst current WTA or ATP ranking of any qualifier, belonging to Sorensen

Here is some basic information about all 32 qualifiers, with their qualifying seeding in brackets:

Women's USO Qualifiers:

Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) [1] age 26, WTA 87
Marina Erakovic (NZL) [2] age 23, WTA 90
Silvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP) [25] age 23, WTA 142
Romina Oprandi (ITA) [17] age 25, WTA 132
Reka-Luca Jani (HUN) age 20, WTA 220
Alexandra Panova (RUS) age 22, WTA 154
Stephanie Foretz Gacon (FRA) [7] age 30, WTA 115
Urszula Radwanska (POL) [8] age 20, WTA 116
Michaella Krajicek (NED) age 22, WTA 183
Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (THA) age 19, WTA 156
Laura Robson (GBR) age 17, WTA 173
Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS) [24] age 21, WTA 141
Yung-Jan Chan (TPE) [13] age 22, WTA 126
Ekaterina Bychkova (RUS) age 26, WTA 215
Karin Knapp (ITA) age 24, WTA 194
Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) [18] age 23, WTA 134

Men's USO Qualifiers:

Joao Souza (BRA) [1] age 23, ATP 90
Jean-Rene Lisnard (MON) age 31, ATP 542
Marsel Ilhan (TUR) [3] age 24, ATP 100
Jesse Huta Galung (NED) [31] age 25, ATP 160
Sergei Bubka (UKR) age 24, ATP 210
Augustin Gensse (FRA) [23] age 28, ATP 149
Louk Sorensen (IRL) age 26, ATP 614
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) [20] age 21, ATP 145
Go Soeda (JPN) [9] age 26, ATP 122
Malek Jaziri (TUN) age 27, ATP 184
Connor Niland (IRL) age 29, ATP 199
Robert Farah (COL) age 24, ATP 282
Romain Jouan (FRA) âge 26, ATP 230
Frank Dancevic (CAN) age 26, ATP 183
Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy (FRA) age 24, ATP 250
Michael Yani (USA) age 30, ATP 208

The qualifiers have now been placed in the draws, which can be found at usopen.org.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

US Open Draws Released; Rain Disrupts Second Round of Qualifying

The draw show on ESPN was no help, and the less said about it the better, but once the US Open draws were posted on usopen.org this afternoon, there was a chance to start anticipating some of the first round matches next week.

Unlike years past, when Devin Britton drew Roger Federer (2009) and Chelsey Gullickson drew Caroline Wozniacki (2010), no sure-fire Arthur Ashe-worthy matches were drawn for the junior and college players this year. Current NCAA champion Steve Johnson will meet Alex Bogomolov, whom, I learned in this recent interview
, he did not know until last month. The two were put together as a wild card doubles team in Cincinnati, and reached the quarterfinals there last week, beating the Roland Garros champions Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor in the second round. Any element of surprise Johnson may have had as an unknown wild card won't be present against Bogomolov now.

Kalamazoo champion Jack Sock will not get his wished-for rematch with Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland, who is still in qualifying, but his draw of Marc Gicquel of France, currently ranked No. 96, isn't a bad one. If Sock were to win that, he would likely face No. 21 seed Andy Roddick, who plays Michael Russell in the first round.

Ryan Harrison plays No. 27 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia in the opening round, while his potential 2nd round opponent, 18-year-old Australian Bernard Tomic, faces a qualifier.

Johnson, Sock and Harrison are three of the six US wild cards. Donald Young and Robby Ginepri drew qualifiers, while Bobby Reynolds, who won the US Open wild card playoff, will face David Nalbandian of Argentina.

On the women's side, Lauren Davis, the National 18s champion, drew Angelique Kerber of Germany, with Sloane Stephens, who also received a wild card, getting a qualifier. Madison Keys, the 16-year-old winner of the wild card tournament, will play 37-year-old wild card Jill Craybas in her main draw grand slam debut. Former Georgia Tech star Irina Falconi plays Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic.

The women's draws are here and the men's draws are here at usopen.org.

Today's second round of qualifying had barely gotten underway when rain began falling in New York, and it was nearly six hours before play resumed. Many of the matches scheduled for later were cancelled, and there are still ten matches on the courts as of 10:30 p.m. Michael Yani, Rajeev Ram, Taylor Townsend and Chichi Scholl were among those whose second round matches were cancelled.

Bradley Klahn advanced to the final round of qualifying with a 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3 win over No. 14 seed Matthew Ebden of Australia. Klahn served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but never got to match point. In the third set, the 2010 NCAA champion from Stanford got a break with Ebden serving at 2-3 and this time he held on to it. He will play unseeded Frank Dancevic of Canada in the third and final round of qualifying.

It was a good day for Pac-10 players current and former. In addition to Klahn, USC's Robert Farah(COL) advanced to the third round, with a 6-2, 6-0 win over former Pepperdine star Andre Begemann, and former Cal Bear Conor Niland (IRL) defeated former ITF world junior champion Tsung-Hua Yang of Taiwan 6-2, 6-3.

Rhyne Williams fell in straight sets to Guillaume Rufin of France 6-2, 7-5 and Blake Strode also lost to a French player. Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy beat the National Playoff winner 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-1.

Ashley Weinhold lost to former Wimbledon girls champion Noppawan Lertcheewakarn of Thailand in two tiebreaks, while Jessica Pegula lost to No. 4 seed Edina Gallovits-Hall of Romania 6-4, 6-4.

Mitchell Frank, Denis Kudla and Greg Ouellette were still on the court as of this posting.

Due to the threat of hurricane Irene arriving on Saturday, the schedule for Friday calls for those who did not play today to play two matches on Friday.

Qualifying draws are available at usopen.org

College Tennis Player Jovana Vasic Killed in Automobile Accident

I'm indebted to two readers who left comments to alert me to the tragic death of Jovana Vasic, who was on her way to Northern Arizona University where she had transferred for her junior year after playing for two years at St. Petersburg College in Florida.

The accident occurred in Texas, and this is the online report about it from the Amarillo newspaper.

Northern Arizona University has an extensive tribute to Vasic on its website.

There are no words to adequately describe the shock and sadness of her sudden and untimely death. Please remember her family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wild Cards Townsend and Pegula Win First USO Qualifying Matches; USO Mixed Doubles Playoffs Begin; Sandgren Turns Pro

American wild cards Taylor Townsend and Jessica Pegula recorded two significant wins in the first round of US Open qualifying today. Townsend, 15, beat No. 11 seed and the WTA's 122nd-ranked Arantxa Parra Santonja of Spain 7-6(2), 6-3, while the 17-year-old Pegula topped WTA No. 174 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-3, 7-6(1).

Townsend broke Parra Santonja for the second time to take a 5-2 lead in the second set, but was unable to serve it out. That apparently didn't bother her, as Townsend went on to break Parra Santonja again for the victory. Townsend, who has never played above the $50,000 challenger level, will play unseeded Laura Robson of Great Britain in the second round on Thursday. Pegula's second round opponent is No. 4 seed Edina Gallovits-Hall of Romania.

Townsend and Pegula were the only women's wild cards to advance to the second round. Liz Jeukeng, Robin Anderson, Nicole Gibbs and Krista Hardebeck lost their opening matches today, as did reigning US Open girls champion Daria Gavrilova of Russia and reigning Wimbledon girls champion Ashleigh Barty of Australia. (Gibbs is the subject of this feature by Marcia Frost for the Tennis Recruiting Network). Hardebeck's loss, by an unexpectedly stark 6-0, 6-2 score, was inflicted by fellow American Chichi Scholl. Scholl was in qualifying on her own ranking, which is now 186, and it's surprising that with her recent excellent results she wasn't in the College Park wild card tournament for the main draw prize. But there are players who prefer to play their way in, and she may be one of those. Scholl will play No. 6 seed Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic Thursday. Julia Cohen, the only other US woman in on her own ranking, lost to No. 17 seed Romina Oprandi of Italy.

On the men's side, three former college players advanced to the second round, joining Rhyne Williams, Bradley Klahn, Mitchell Frank, Denis Kudla and Blake Strode, who won their first matches on Tuesday. Greg Ouellette, the former Florida Gator and one of the last players into the qualifying draw, beat Juan Sebastian Cabal of Colombia 6-4, 6-2. He will play No. 2 seed Paul Capdeville of Chile on Thursday. Former Duke star Michael Yani took out No. 16 seed James Ward of Great Britain 7-6(2), 6-4 and in one of the last matches to finish tonight, former Fighting Illini Rajeev Ram beat Ricardo Hocevar of Brazil 7-5, 6-3. Yani plays Pablo Galdon of Argentina, and Ram gets alternate Carsten Ball, who got in when Marinko Matosevic, who was the No. 22 seed, took Lleyton Hewitt's main draw wild card. It's just a coincidence that Ball is also an Australian.

American men falling in the first round today were Zack Fleishman, wild card Dan Kosakowski and Alex Kuznetsov.

After the first round, half of the men's seeds have lost, although the top three are still in contention. The women's seeds have done slightly better, with 19 surviving the first round, including the top four.

The draws are available at usopen.org. The order of play for Thursday is here. The usopen.org recap of the day's action is here.

The ITA is tracking the current and former college players in the US Open qualifying on its website.

At noon on Thursday, the main draw will be revealed on a special one-hour edition of ESPN's SportsCenter. I will be tweeting matchups of interest regarding the junior and college players in the draw.

The National Playoffs for the US Open main draw mixed doubles wild card began today in New Haven, with only 15 teams in the draw, and one of them didn't show up. The Southwest section winners Nicole Melichar and Sam Harrison weren't among the participants, giving top seeds David Martin and Christina Fusano a bye, and Southern California winners Jeff Tarango and Patricia Taribini didn't show, giving the Midwest runners-up Michaela Kissell and Jacob Eddins a walkover. In today's action, No. 2 seeds Blake Strode and Whitney Jones were beaten by Yasmin Schnack and Eric Robertson. Strode was commuting to New Haven from New York on his day off from singles qualifying. One of the matches is still in progress, but the draw can be found at the New Haven tournament website. The live scoring for the women's event also includes the National Playoff results.

And finally, the Tennessean made official what has been rumored for several weeks. Tennys Sandgren is turning pro and will not return for his junior year at the University of Tennessee.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Frank, Kudla and Williams Salvage Gloomy First Day of US Open Qualifying for Americans; McHale Reaches New Haven Quarterfinals

Today's first round of qualifying at the US Open started dismally for the US players, with seven losses posted before wild card Mitchell Frank finally recorded a win. Gail Brodsky went out first, losing 6-0, 6-0 in 40 minutes to No. 3 seed Stephanie Dubois of Canada. Tim Smyczek, wild card Julia Boserup and No. 27 seed Alex Glatch all went out in straight sets, while Madison Brengle, Nick Monroe and Lauren Albanese all lost three-set battles. Wayne Odesnik, the No. 19 seed, who has been a persona non grata in tennis since returning from his suspension for HGH possession, lost to Australian Greg Jones after winning the opening set, but Frank broke the string with his 3-6, 7-5(5), 7-5 win over No. 13 seed Kenny De Schepper of France. It was a harrowing final game for Frank, who needed by my count, six match points to end it, saving one break point in the seven-deuce game.

Frank's friend and former neighbor and training partner Denis Kudla had an even more exciting final game, saving two match points in the third-set tiebreaker to beat Italy's Andrea Arnaboldi 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(7). Kudla trailed 6-5 and 7-6 in the tiebreaker. Should Frank and Kudla win their second round matches on Thursday, they would play each other for a place in the US Open main draw.

In addition to Frank and Kudla, three other wild cards made their way into the second round. 2010 NCAA champion Bradley Klahn beat fellow wild card Tennys Sandgren 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-2, while Sandgren's former Tennessee teammate Rhyne Williams, the 2011 NCAA runnerup, avenged a recent loss by beating No. 10 seed Rik De Voest of South Africa 6-4, 6-4. Blake Strode, the former Arkansas All-American who won his wild card in the National Playoff competition, beat No. 27 seed Niloa Ciric of Serbia tonight to advance to the second round of qualifying for the second year in a row. Jesse Witten, in another late match, lost to Ilija Bozoljac of Serbia, leaving the US men with a 5-7 mark on the day.

Bjorn Fratangelo and Marcos Giron, the two other wild cards in action today, lost in straight sets. Dan Kosakowski, the final wild card, will play his opening round match on Wednesday.

Ashley Weinhold, who received entry based on her ranking, kept the US women from being shutout on the first day, taking a 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-2 decision from Liana Ungur of Romania in a late evening match. With Weinhold's comeback, the US women were 1-5 on Tuesday.

Sixty-four more first round matches are scheduled for Wednesday, with eight of the nine wild cards, including 2010 US Open girls champion Daria Gavrilova and 2011 Wimbledon girls champion Ashleigh Barty, in action. US women on the schedule are Julia Cohen, Chichi Scholl, Krista Hardebeck, Jessica Pegula, Robin Anderson, Nicole Gibbs, Taylor Townsend and Liz Jeukeng. American men playing their opening matches are Zack Fleishman, Michael Yani, Rajeev Ram, Alex Kuznetsov, Greg Ouellette and Kosakowski.

A recap of the first day of qualifying can be found at usopen.org. But pay no attention to the sentence about Frank "turning pro." It's obvious that the writer doesn't understand the distinction between playing professional events as an amateur and actually giving up collegiate eligibility.

The complete order of play is at usopen.org, as is the men's qualifying draw and the women's qualifying draw.

Although there wasn't much good news on the women's side of things at the US Open, Christina McHale continued to build on her excellent summer, reaching the quarterfinals of the New Haven Open with another win today. McHale, who beat lucky loser Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain tonight, had beaten No. 6 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia yesterday, her second win over the two-time Grand Slam winner this year. McHale will now play world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki for the second time in two weeks. Last week McHale upset Wozniacki at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

For more on New Haven, see the tournament website.

Monday, August 22, 2011

US Open Qualifying Begins Tuesday; Jenkins with Three Top 200 Wins; Peter Smith Feature

The qualifying draws for the US Open were released this evening and there are 18 American men and 14 American women in the 128-player draws.

Except for Daniel Kosakowski, who lost in the final of the USTA main draw wild card tournament yesterday, all the men's wild card recipients will be in action on Tuesday, including Blake Strode, who won his wild card last night in New Haven at the US Open National Playoffs.

The wild cards are all bunched in the bottom quarter, with only Kosakowski and Rhyne Williams not in that group of 32. Two of them, 2010 NCAA champion Bradley Klahn and 2011 NCAA semifinalist Tennys Sandgren, play each other. Mitchell Frank has drawn No. 13 seed Kenny De Schepper of France, Denis Kudla's opponent is Andrea Arnaboldi of Italy, Bjorn Fratangelo will play Fritz Wolmarans of South Africa, Marcos Giron meets Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy of France and Strode faces No. 27 seed Nikola Ciric of Serbia. Williams, in the third quarter, plays No. 10 seed Rik De Voest of South Africa. Kosakowski's opponent on Wednesday will be Charles-Antoine Brezac of France.

Other Americans in the draw due to their rankings are: Wayne Odesnik, the No. 19 seed, Zack Fleishman, using a protected ranking, Michael Yani, Tim Smyczek, Alex Kuznetsov, Nick Monroe, Greg Ouellette, Jesse Witten and Rajeev Ram.

The women's schedule is much lighter on Tuesday, with only six of the 14 American women in action, and only one wild card, Julia Boserup. Boserup will kick off play on Show Court 13 tomorrow at 11 a.m. against Elitsa Kostova of Bulgaria. Alexa Glatch(27), Madison Brengle, Ashley Weinhold, Gail Brodsky and Lauren Albanese, the last three of whom are former National 18s champions, will also play their opening matches on Tuesday. Brodsky has drawn No. 3 seed Stephanie Dubois of Canada, but the others all face unseeded players in the first round.

Along with Chichi Scholl and Julia Cohen, who received entry based on their own rankings, the six other American wild cards will open play on Wednesday. (Daria Gavrilova of Russia and Ashleigh Barty of Australia also received qualifying wild cards). Krista Hardebeck has drawn Scholl, while Taylor Townsend, making her US open debut, will meet No. 11 seed Arantxa Parra Santonja of Spain. Nicole Gibbs, Jessica Pegula, Robin Anderson and Liz Jeukeng, who received Madison Keys' vacated wild card, will open their quest for a spot in the main draw on Wednesday.

See usopen.org for the men's draw, the women's draw, and Tuesday's order of play.

There are huge numbers of "open" tournaments throughout the country and throughout the year that offer prize money to those in a position to take it and competition for amateurs who would like to retain their collegiate eligibility. It is extremely difficult to keep track of these events, because there is no central place to go for results, but occasionally an article from a local news source pops up with a notable result. That was the case with this article from the Delmarva Daily Times, which describes University of Virginia junior Jarmere Jenkins' title in the Jack Purnell-Chris Thomas Memorial Tennis Tournament. Jenkins is the first amateur to collect the winner's trophy in 25 years, and along the way he beat three Top 200 players: 169th ranked Yuichi Sugita of Japan, 122nd ranked Grega Zemlja of Slovenia and in the final, 147th-ranked Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium. All three of those players are in the US Open qualifying draw.

Recent Texas Longhorn Kellen Damico and longtime friend Nate Schnugg, who completed his eligibility at Georgia in 2010, won the double title. An account of their win over Roman Borvanov and Jesse Witten is near the bottom of this article.

From the coverage, this is obviously a very important tennis tournament in Salisbury, Maryland.

I don't expect to see much college tennis coverage on tennis.com, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this feature about University of Southern California's Peter Smith entitled "Dean of the Dynasty" on the website's front page.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Keys and Reynolds Win US Open Wild Cards; Anderson, Strode Take US National Open Playoffs for Qualifying WCs

Madison Keys and Bobby Reynolds earned main draw wild cards into the US Open today at the USTA's Wild Card tournament in College Park, Md.

The 16-year-old Keys, the No. 7 seed among the eight players, came back to beat No. 5 seed Beatrice Capra, who won the inaugural tournament last year in Boca Raton, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 to claim her first spot in the main draw of a grand slam.

The best-of-five men's final was moved indoors at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park due to rain, with the 29-year-old Reynolds, defeating No. 3 seed Daniel Kosakowski, the 19-year-old former UCLA Bruin, 6-2, 7-5, 6-4. Reynolds, who played collegiately at Vanderbilt, has not been in the main draw of the US Open the past two years, losing in the second round of qualifying last year and not playing in 2009.

For more on the event, see Steve Pratt's story for the USTA. More photos and coverage of the tournament can be found at the TennisMaryland blog.

The prize wasn't quite as big in New Haven, Conn. today, but Robin Anderson and Blake Strode can take a bow for getting through two separate tournaments to claim US Open qualifying wild cards. The unseeded Anderson, who won the Middle States sectional title, beat No. 2 seed and former UCLA All-American Yasmin Schnack 5-7, 7-2, 6-1 in today's women's final. Anderson, an incoming freshman at UCLA, beat top seed Marie-Eve Pelletier of Canada in the first round, and then added to her challenge by also playing in the qualifying of the WTA New Haven Open, which was going on at the same time. Anderson won her first round of qualifying, but lost in the second round yesterday, so she only had one match today. The 18-year-old from New Jersey was able to recover from losing five straight games in the opening set after getting out to a 5-2 lead. Anderson, who qualified for the US Open junior championships last year and reached the quarterfinals, beating Laura Robson along the way, will be playing in the qualifying for the first time.

Top Blake Strode defended his title, beating unseeded Nathan Healey 7-6(8), 7-6(4) in a match delayed by rain. Strode, who has twice deferred entering Harvard Law school since graduating from the University of Arkansas in 2009, won one round in the US Open qualifying draw last year.

For more on the US Open National Playoffs, see usopen.org. Complete draws of this weekend's competition can be found at the New Haven Open website.

The National Playoffs for the Mixed Doubles main draw wild card at the US Open begins on Wednesday in New Haven.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Conversation with NCAA Champion Steve Johnson

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I was in Cincinnati Friday for the Western and Southern Open, which is now a ATP/WTA combined event, and one of the most significant tournaments in North America.

NCAA champion Steve Johnson of USC was given a wild card into the qualifying, as was NCAA finalist Rhyne Williams, and Johnson used it to earn his first ATP Top 100 win in the opening round, defeating France's Jeremy Chardy, who was No. 61 at the time, 7-6(9), 6-4. Johnson was given a wild card into the main draw of doubles (more on that below) and he and Alex Bogomolov beat James Blake and John Isner in the first round, and No. 2 seeds and Roland Garros champions Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor in the second round, both by 10-7 scores in the super tiebreaker. Yesterday Bogomolov and Johnson were up a set and a break on Colombian Juan Sebastian Cabal and German Florian Mayer before falling 1-6, 7-5, 10-7 in the quarterfinals. Were he not an amateur, Johnson would have split over $19,000 in prize money with Bogomolov.

After the match, I spoke with Johnson, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound righthander, about his experiences this summer and this week, the decision he faces regarding returning to USC for the dual match season in 2012 and his preparation for the US Open. Johnson, 21, was named a main draw wild card recipient for the US Open on Wednesday. Below is a slightly edited version of our conversation.

Q: What are your thoughts about receiving a wild card into the US Open main draw?
A: I've been preparing all summer for the pro tour, getting ready, and all the hard work on the fitness has been paying off, so I'm really looking forward to getting to New York and seeing that lifestyle again.

Q: What's your experience been like here in Cincinnati?
A: It's been fantastic. I've been here 10 days already. It's such good practice, guys to hit with. You kind of learn how to be a professional tennis player around these guys. They're all veterans, they all know what to do, how to take care of their bodies, practice with intensity. It's definitely been a very good experience for me this week, and hopefully I can take that into the Open and into the rest of my game.

Q: What are your plans for the next 10 days leading up to the Open?

A: As of now, my plan is to stay here and fly to New York on Monday, train for a week and get ready for the main draw in singles. I was planning on going to North Carolina (for the ATP Winston-Salem Open), but we did really well here in doubles, so qualies start tomorrow (Saturday), so it was too quick of a turnaround to go from one place to the next. And it's such good practice being here, and I can stay here with Mardy (Fish) and (USTA National Coach) David Nainkin and try to get better in the next couple of days. Being with these guys, you can learn so much.

Q: How did you and Alex Bogomolov get together? It was your first time playing together, right?

A: Yeah. I met Bogie about three weeks ago in LA (Johnson received a main draw wild card at the ATP Farmers Classic there) but other than that...I know who he is, but didn't really know him or anything. This week, since I was staying, Jay (Berger, head of USTA men's tennis) called me Sunday and said hey, you can probably get the wild card if you sign up with an American guy, except for Rhyne (Williams) because he had to go back for the wild card tournament. Sweeting's gone, Smyczek's gone, there's no other American guys in. Blake and Isner are already together, Mardy's not going to play, Harrison's not going to play, so he said let me call Bogie, and then called me back to say you guys are good, we'll see if we can get you in. We ended up getting in and playing James and John. That was quite an experience to say the least. We were on Court 9, it was a packed house, and both those guys were college guys, with so much knowledge on whether it's a good time to go pro.

Q: Did you talk to them about it?
A: Yes, I talked to John a bunch about it. He said you've got to do what's best for you. Set goals and if you exceed those goals, think about not returning, but if it's not going as well as you think, go back and go for the four-peat. He's gets it, he's very smart. The one thing he told me was, you're not going to be too old. Look at the guys now, the older guys are doing much better, so set goals, prepare and try to get better.

Q: Do you think your showing here helps your chances of getting a wild card into doubles at the US Open?
A: I think so, but you never know. I know Irina (Falconi) and I are going to sign in for a mixed doubles wild card, and we'll see what happens. Maybe if they think Bogie and I should play, then we'll play. I know about as much as you.

Q: Are your parents coming to New York for your singles match?
A: My dad's coming out this Thursday, I think, but unfortunately my mom can't make it the first Monday or Tuesday. She's a college professor and she has to teach her first day of classes or she gets dropped as a professor. So she either goes and watches my match or gets dropped for the whole semester. She says there will be plenty more, and I said I hope you're right, and you can come to the next one.

Q: You hit quite a few aces today. Does that help you believe it's good enough for this level?
A: Yeah, it's something that Peter (Smith, USC head coach) and I really worked on the last year since the US Open (qualifying)-- more free points on the first serve. Last year at the US Open, 95% of the balls were all coming back and he's (Noam Okun) getting an ace or two a game. It's mentally tough just to try to win four points every game, when he only has to win two. So we worked on it really hard, and throughout the college season I felt my serve was pretty dominant and I would go out there and hold every game. Out here it's a little tougher, but this week in doubles, guys have very good returns and we're not getting broken, so I look at it as another signal that I'm here and I can play with these guys. There's a little bit of a difference, but it's not big, and it's only a matter of time. I'm looking forward to next year this being my full-time job, working everyday for this.

Q: Do you think your perspective will change then? Right now it's not your whole life, it's still just a part of it.
A: It's tough, because I have a good win first round here in qualies and then in the second round...it's like I just want to be at this next level already. It's tough, I was more caught up in trying to hit too many good balls rather than just playing my game. But you can't take the wins and the losses too hard. You're going to play well, you're going to play bad, it can't be a life-or-death situation. You've got to be able to have fun. The more fun you're having, I think you're going to do better. That's how I look at it and how I'm going to go about it.

Q: How do you assess your performance this summer?
A: It's been an up-and-down summer. Mentally it was harder for me because I had such a successful year in college (ending it on a 35-match winning streak), didn't lose and now to be losing on a consistent basis, not that I'm not also winning, but in college it's one match, one match. So it's kind of hard to expect to win every tournament out here, unless you're Djokovic. But it's been a little mentally tougher, just because you have to deal with losses.

But that's all part of tennis and I've had that my whole life. When I played (Gilles) Muller in LA, I'm up a set and first game (in the second set), I'm up 40-love on his serve and I get into two of the points and he hits winners that clip the line. These guys have done this forever, and they know this is what they are supposed to do. It's just kind of a matter of time until I start to play the bigger points better at this level. I felt like in college, the big points, I would win every one. Now out here, the guys will come up with something good, or they're not going to miss and you've got to come up with something good. So it's different, but it's been a great experience, and I'm really looking forward to 2011.

Q: So nothing that's happened this summer has discouraged you?
A: Oh no. It's pretty much all encouraging. I'm right there with Muller, semifinalist at an ATP tournament the week before, here I beat Chardy, who is a top 100 player. I feel I'm here with these guys, it's just a matter of time until I get enough matches under my belt where I start playing the bigger points better. It's been awesome, so I'm just taking it all in.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Kalamazoo Recap, Slideshow and Videos

I spent the day at the Cincinnati Masters event, watching two men's doubles, one women's doubles and Mardy Fish beat Rafael Nadal. I probably don't watch enough top-level professional tennis live, so my first trip to this pro tournament was a good opportunity to study the differences between that level and the junior and college tennis I usually watch on a regular basis. I interviewed NCAA champion Steve Johnson after he and Alex Bogomolov lost in the quarterfinals of doubles today, and I intend to write more about that match and Johnson's plans in tomorrow's post.

My recap of the Kalamazoo Nationals, posted today, concludes the Tennis Recruiting Network's coverage of Championship Week. Below is the slideshow and videos of champions Jack Sock and Ronnie Schneider. The videos of finalists Mitchell Frank and Luca Corinteli are available by clicking on their names to be taken to the tenniskalamazoo YouTube channel.

USTA Announces US Open Junior Wild Cards

The USTA released the names of the six boys and eight girls who have received wild cards into the US Open junior championships. Two more boys wild cards will be named later. I know Spencer Newman, who won the backdraw at Kalamazoo, was hoping to receive an invitation to compete in New York.

The boys and their ages:
JC Aragone, 16
Gage Brymer, 16
Luca Corinteli, 16
Connor Farren, 16
Dennis Novikov, 17
Ronnie Schneider, 16

The girls and their ages:
Hayley Carter, 16
Samantha Crawford, 16
Krista Hardebeck, 16
Liz Jeukeng, 15
Allie Kiick, 16
Peggy Porter, 16
Taylor Townsend, 15
Sachia Vickery, 16

The qualifying wild cards were also announced.

There were four boys and six girls given junior qualifying wild cards, meaning two additional boys wild cards have been reserved.

Jennifer Brady
Catherine Harrison
Hannah King
Jamie Loeb
Denise Starr
Yuki Ito (Japan)

Nikko Madregallejo
Michael Redlicki
Noah Rubin
Shotaro Goto (Japan)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Seven of Eight US Open Women's Wild Cards Announced; Anderson Tops Pelletier at USO National Playoffs: More McEnroe Player Development Discussion

The USTA today announced seven of the eight women's wild cards for the US Open. The five Americans receiving wild cards are: Jill Craybas, Lauren Davis, Jamie Hampton, Alison Riske and Sloane Stephens. Casey Dellacqua of Australia and Aravane Rezai of France received the reciprocal wild cards.

The eighth wild card will be given to the winner of the tournament being held in College Park, Md. this weekend. The tournament began this afternoon, but rain pushed the first round matches to Friday.

Qualifying wild cards were given to: Ashleigh Barty of Australia, the girls Wimbledon champion, Julia Boserup, Daria Gavrilova of Russia, the 2010 US Open girls champion, Nicole Gibbs, Krista Hardebeck, Madison Keys, Jessica Pegula and Taylor Townsend. Gibbs, Keys and Pegula are all competing in College Park this weekend. For more on the tournament, see this USA Today article.

The ninth qualifying wild cards for both men and women will be decided this weekend in New Haven, and that tournament did get underway today as scheduled. The top four seeds in the men's draw, Blake Strode, David Martin, Chris Wettengel and Damon Gooch, all advanced, as did 2010 finalist Cecil Mamiit and Nathan Healey, who beat Eric Quigley 6-3, 6-4.

The big surprise came in the women's draw, with Robin Anderson knocking out No. 1 seed and WTA No. 336 Marie-Eve Pelletier of Canada 6-3, 7-5. No. 2 Yasmin Schnack, No. 3 Macall Harkins and No. 4 Amanda McDowell, all former college stars, reached the second round.

Anderson was also given a wild card into the WTA event's qualifying tournament, so she will play two matches on Friday. Other wild cards into qualifying include Asia Muhammad, Connie Hsu and Allie Will. Sloane Stephens is in qualifying based on her ranking.

For a complete recap of today's results, see the New Haven website.

A conference call organized by ESPN yesterday featured the McEnroe brothers, both of whom will be part of the network's coverage of the US Open. I wasn't on the call, but there were several questions about player development which can be found in this transcript at Tennis Panorama.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

USTA Announces 7 of 8 Men's US Open Wild Cards; Tournaments for Main Draw WC and Qualifying WC Begin Thursday; McHale Beats Wozniacki

The USTA announced the men's wild cards for the US Open this morning, with five Americans among the seven named. Ryan Harrison, Robby Ginepri, Donald Young, Steve Johnson and Jack Sock will play in the main draw in New York, as will Lleyton Hewitt and Julien Benneteau, who received the reciprocal wild cards given to Australia and France. The eighth wild card will be determined this weekend in College Park, Md., in an eight-player single-elimination tournament. The women's US Open wild cards are scheduled to be announced on Thursday.

The men's qualifying wild cards were given to: Mitchell Frank, Bjorn Fratangelo, Marcos Giron, Bradley Klahn, Dan Kosakowski, Denis Kudla, Tennys Sandgren and Rhyne Williams. Seven of these eight will be playing in tomorrow's wild card tournament, with Marcos Giron the only player not going to College Park. Instead, Bobby Reynolds will be the eighth player, and the No. 1 seed. He will play Klahn(8), Kudla(2) will play Fratangelo(7), Kosakowski will play Frank(6), and in a rematch of the NCAA semifinals this year, Sandgren(4) will play Williams(5).

Speaking of Sandgren, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported yesterday that Sandgren is likely to turn pro. You don't have to read between the lines much to get the impression Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham isn't exactly enthusiastic about that decision.

Donald Young, originally announced as a participant, will obviously not play now that he has been given a main draw wild card.

In the women's event, three of the women originally announced are not in the draw: Jamie Hampton, Alison Riske and Alexa Glatch. Glatch played doubles today Cincinnati, which may account for her withdrawal, but it could be that Hampton, Riske and Glatch were all given, like Young, main draw wild cards. The eight women and their seedings are: Julia Cohen(1), Ashley Weinhold(2), Gail Brodsky(3), Ahsha Rolle(4), Beatrice Capra(5), Jessica Pegula(6), Madison Keys(7) and Nicole Gibbs(8).

TennisMaryland will be covering the tournament and the order of play can be found on that website. They also have a twitter account: @TennisMaryland. Steve Pratt is the media relations contact for the USTA, and he will be tweeting scores from the @usta account.

Also beginning tomorrow is the US Open National Playoffs, which is for a wild card into qualifying for the winners of the men's and women's tournaments. The fields were decided earlier this summer in sectional events all over the country, leading to this weekend, when all 32 players will be in New Haven, Conn. for the finals. Former Arkansas All-American Blake Strode, who won the men's event last year, is the top seed, with David Martin No. 2. Jackson Withrow, who just won a main draw USO doubles wild card here in Kalamazoo, is in the field, as is Eric Quigley, the University of Kentucky All-American. Two of the sectional winners, Pacific Northwest's Alexander Vlaski and Texas' Artem Baradach are not playing, with the finalist in those tournaments taking their place in the draw. Cecil Mamiit, last year's finalist, is not seeded, having spent the past year primarily serving as a hitting partner for Maria Sharapova, and Nathan Healey is also a dangerous unseeded player. He plays Quigley in the first round Thursday.

Marie-Eve Pelletier of Canada is the No. 1 seed in the women's draw, with former UCLA All-American Yasmin Schnack seeded No. 2. Skylar Morton, Caroline Dailey and Robin Anderson are prominent US juniors competing.

For draws and the order of play, see usopen.org.

The big news from the Cincinnati Masters today was Christina's McHale's 6-4, 7-5 win over world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. It was the 19-year-old McHale's first WTA Top Five victory. She will play veteran Nadia Petrova of Russia on Thursday. For more on McHale's win, see the tournament's website and the WTA website.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Burdette and Hoh Win ITA Summer Circuit Titles; Bodo on Confidence; McEnroe Family on Player Development

Mallory Burdette of Stanford and Stephen Hoh of Illinois won singles titles at the ITA National Collegiate Summer Championships in Bloomington, Ind. today. Burdette, the top seed, beat incoming Michigan freshman Emina Bektas, a No. 5 seed, 6-4, 7-6, and Hoh, a No. 9 seed, beat No. 2 seed Daniel Whitehead of Texas 5-7, 6-1, 10-8. Courtney McLane and Taylor Lindsey of Alabama, a No. 5 seed, won the doubles title, beating Georgia Tech's Alexandra Anghelescu and Caroline Lilley 9-8(3). The men's doubles title went to Ohio State's Peter Kobelt and Connor Smith, the top seeds, who defeated No. 2 seeds Ricky Doverspike and Carlos Taborga of Alabama 8-2. Anghelescu has transferred from Georgia to Georgia Tech, and Smith has transferred from Florida State to Ohio State since the end of the 2010-11 school year.

With their wins today, Burdette and Hoh have received wild cards into the main draw of October's ITA All-American championships, as have McLane and Lindsey and Kobelt and Smith. Bektas and Whitehead will receive qualifying draw wild cards, as will the doubles finalists.

Complete draws can be found at the University of Indiana's iuhoosiers website.

The ITA has also recently announced the departure of Jason and Allie Berney, with Josh Rey, one of my freelance writing colleagues, joining the organization, along with former Alabama media relations employee Nick Snow. Ellah Nze, who concluded her playing career at Duke in May, will be joining the ITA as an intern. For more on the staff changes, see the ITA website.

I'm still catching up on all the usual tennis reading I miss when I'm covering a tournament, but here and a couple of interesting links.

Peter Bodo at tennis.com has some very interesting things to say about the nature of confidence and ambition. He is writing about the extraordinary year that Novak Djokovic is having, but it is relevant to any player who is on a notable winning streak, which right now would include both Catherine Bellis and Peggy Porter, who each won the Clay Courts and followed that win with a championship at the National Hard Courts three weeks later.

Confidence is both an appetite booster and suppressor; winning begets the desire for more winning, but it also consistently reminds a player that winning is not just possible, it's probable—at maximum flow, confidence might even make winning appear. . . pre-ordained. Confidence makes a player less greedy, because he knows he can eat all he wants.

Richard Evans discussed the state of player development in the United States with all three McEnroe brothers in this piece for FoxSports.com. HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel is also looking into the decline of tennis in the US tonight at 10 pm. The preview of that show can be found here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

National Championship Review; USTA Wild Card Tournament Begins Thursday in College Park, Maryland

Well, that was an ugly week of weather for the Boys 16s and 18s National Championships, but despite countless rain delays, the tournament fortunately did not have to be extended until Monday, as it did in 1990 when Ivan Baron beat Will Bull 7-6 in the fifth to win the 18s title.

I tried to keep everyone up-to-date via twitter on the other National Championships around the country, and the Tennis Recruiting Network will have recaps of them all beginning on Tuesday with the Girls 14s and Boys 12s. Below are the results of the finals. For the USTA review of the National Championships, including the doubles winners, see this release.

Boys 12s:
Alex del Corral(2) def. Nathan Perrone(1) 6-2, 6-2
Girls 12s:
Catherine Bellis(1) def. Michaela Gordon(5) 6-1, 6-1

Boys 14s:
Cameron Klinger(2) def. Jake Devine(14) 7-6(8), 4-6, 6-1
Girls 14s:
Lauren Goodman(1) def. Mia Horvit(6) 6-2, 6-2

Boys 16s:

Ronnie Schneider(2) def. Luca Corinteli(4) 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-2
Girls 16s:
Peggy Porter(3), Dallas, def. Alyssa Smith(15) 7-6(8), 6-4

Boys 18s:

Jack Sock(1) def. Mitchell Frank 6-3, 6-0
Girls 18s:
Lauren Davis(1) def. Nicole Gibbs(4) 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-4

Schneider and Porter receive main draw US Open junior wild cards, while Sock and Davis get main draw US Open men's and women's wild cards. Mitchell Frank and Nicole Gibbs receive men's and women's qualifying wild cards. For the complete list of USTA wild cards awarded for junior tournaments, see usta.com.

I had heard rumors earlier this spring that 18s National Champion Lauren Davis had suffered a freak head injury at the WTA Family Circle Cup, but never saw a reference to exactly what happened. This story from ESPN W profiles Davis and gives a few more details, with the severity of her concussion obvious. It's great to see her back on the court and winning tournaments again; in addition to the National 18s championship, she has also taken titles at two $10,000 Pro Circuit events this summer.

Pam Shebest provided her usual excellent coverage all week for the Kalamazoo Gazette. Her article on Sock's win can be found here, and her article on Schneider's win is here.

A local television station was on hand for the finals and posted their video report and interview with Sock on YouTube.

I also was invited to review the tournament for the local public radio station WMUK this morning and that interview can be found on the station's website.

Prior to winning the 18s National Championships and the US Open wild cards that go with it, Lauren Davis and Jack Sock were named as participants in the US Open Wild Card tournament, which begins Thursday at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md. With their wins there are now two additional spots, but here are the players announced:

Denis Kudla
Alex Domijan
Bobby Reynolds
Rhyne Williams
Dan Kosakowski
(Just announced:)
Bjorn Fratangelo
Donald Young
Mitchell Frank

Madison Keys
Alison Riske
Jessica Pegula
Alexa Glatch
Gail Brodsky
Jamie Hampton

Ticket information for the event can be found here:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sock Repeats as 18s Champion, Schneider Battles Back for 16s Title as Soggy USTA Nationals Conclude

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Kalamazoo, MI--

The 2011 USTA National Boys 18s Championships ended Sunday the same way they started—with a rain delay and Jack Sock as champion.

Sock, the defending champion and top seed, defeated second seed Mitchell Frank 6-3, 6-0 on a cool and damp afternoon at Kalamazoo College’s Stowe Stadium. In order to get his chance to repeat, Sock was required to complete his semifinal match with No. 4 seed Marcos Giron at 9 a.m. Leading 7-6(5), 3-2 and serving when rain halted play on Saturday, Sock negotiated past his toughest opponent of the tournament in 20 minutes Sunday morning, securing the 7-6(5), 6-3 victory.

“I was fortunate to get on the court and get off the court pretty fast to conserve some energy,” said the 18-year-old from Lincoln, Neb. “But it was still a lot of matches for me in a row with the doubles last night, the singles this morning, getting up early again and playing another match today against a guy who doesn’t usually miss much.”

Frank, who will begin his college career at the University of Virginia in just a few weeks, had beaten Sock the last time they played, in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Orange Bowl. In that match, Frank had controlled the points with his groundstroke depth and lack of errors, while Sock was erratic, especially on his serve.

In Sunday’s final, which was delayed nearly three hours by two separate showers that interrupted the 16s final and was shortened from best-of-five sets to best-of-three due to the weather, Sock’s serve was both big and reliable. He reached the mid-120s on the radar gun multiple times, and his forehand had its usual pop. Frank’s opportunities came early—he had a 0-40 lead with Sock serving at 1-1—but Sock hit three forehand winners and an ace to get out of that tight spot.

“Things obviously could have been a lot different if I had gotten broken there,” said Sock, who needed only an hour to retain his title and collect his 23rd gold ball. “I was fortunate to get out of that game.”

Frank also had two break points with Sock serving at 3-1, and there were several questionable service line calls overruled and replayed—or not—in that game.

“I had a break point and he double faulted,” said Frank, who won the Allen B. Stowe sportsmanship award. “They didn’t call it and I couldn’t quite get that one out of my head for a bit, and it cost me. With a player like him, you have to be focused the whole time, and I kind of lost my focus there.”

Sock went on to hold, and Frank did not get another break point opportunity in the set, or the match.

“I felt I was dictating a lot of points and I feel when I’m dictating a lot of points, hitting a lot of forehands in the middle of the court, I’m going to do pretty well,” said Sock, who ended the match with a 125 mph ace. “With serving well, and putting a lot of returns back in play, getting in points, I think I was able to force some errors, and the momentum just took it.”

Frank, who had battled back to win fifth-round and quarterfinal matches after losing the first set, made too many uncharacteristic errors against Sock to climb back into the match.

“In the second, I just couldn’t find the court,” Frank said. “He’s too good of a player. If you can’t find the court, he’s going to capitalize on it.”

Sock will play his first grand slam as a professional with the US Open wild card the USTA awards to the National 18s winner, and after losing a four-setter to Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland last year, Sock would like another shot at him.

“That would be great,” said Sock, although Chiudinelli would have to make his way through the qualifying draw first. “I think my overall game is probably a bit more polished this time. Last year, there were definitely a lot of nerves starting that match. This year, I’m obviously going there to try to win some matches, not go there and settle for a first round loss. That’s not what I want to do.”

Frank will also be in New York, a week earlier than Sock, as he intends to use the qualifying wild card that goes to the 18s finalist.

In the 16s final, No. 2 seed Ronnie Schneider was serving for the first set against No. 4 seed Luca Corinteli at 5-3, but proceeded to lose six straight games. That didn’t stop him from collecting the title however, as the Bloomington, Ind. resident came back for a 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-2 victory.

“I got down 4-1 30-love on his serve,” Schneider said of his precarious position in the second set, ”and I was just thinking to myself, if you make him play, he’ll get tight, and I ended up just playing better.”

Corinteli, who at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds has at least seven inches and 70 pounds on Schneider, still served for the match twice in the second set, at 5-4 and 6-5, but neither time did he get to match point. He double faulted at 6-5, 30-40 to send the set to a tiebreaker, and Schneider raised his level there, while Corinteli struggled with his serve, double faulting twice, including on the second set point.

After a 10-minute break, the match resumed, yet there was no change in momentum, as Schneider broke Corinteli to start the third. Schneider was leading 1-0 when a light rain caused a 40-minute suspension of play, but again Schneider continued to dominate, moving out to a 4-0 lead before another delay of nearly an hour.

“I didn’t mind the first one,” said Schneider. “But the second one, I was surprised by it. I was up 4-0 and I was rolling, and I was like, oh man, I just want to get this done.”

Corinteli got on the board in the first game after play resumed and saved four match points serving at 1-5, but Schneider closed it out on his serve, saving one break point in the process, as Corinteli hit several eye-popping winners to pressure Schneider.

“I think if I would have started the third set with the way I ended the match, it could have turned out to be even better,” said Corinteli, a 16-year-old from Alexandria, Va. who trains at the USTA National Center in Boca Raton. “I have to work on closing out matches like this. I thought I was serving pretty well, so keeping my emotions and nerves in check I think would have won me the match for sure.”

Schneider credited his experience in the 2011 Easter Bowl final with helping him collect his first singles gold ball on Sunday.

“Even though that didn’t go well, it really helped,” said Schneider, who lost in three sets to Gage Brymer. “I was a little more sure of myself.”

Despite his top national ranking, Schneider is convinced he needed to win the 16s title to receive a wild card into the US Open junior championships.

“I’m not one of those USTA kids,” Schneider explained. “He and Nikko (Madregallejo) and Thai (Kwiatkowski) are going to get wild cards into either the main draw or qualifying, no matter what. I knew this whole week I can’t leave it in their hands. I had to take care of it. I felt like I deserved it anyway, but who knows?”

Schneider has never been to the US Open or to the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center, and is excited about the prospect.

“I could not be happier,” said Schneider, after confirming it was indeed a main draw wild card for singles. “Main draw check in is Saturday, so I’m sure me and my coach will be out there Wednesday or Thursday to take it all in. Hopefully I can get Yale (Goldberg) into the doubles. I know that’s not guaranteed,” said Schneider, who won the doubles title Saturday night.

“I think it’s going to be a great experience.”

Third place and consolation winners were decided on Sunday as well, with Spencer Newman and Connor Farren taking fifth place. Newman, the No. 14 seed, beat No. 8 seed Alexios Halebian, avenging his main draw loss, by a score of 6-1, 7-5 to win the 18s. Farren, the top seed in 16s, beat No. 3 seed Noah Rubin 7-5, 6-1.

The bronze ball in the 16s went to No. 6 seed Nikko Madregallejo, who beat No. 13 seed JC Aragone 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4. Ninth seed Mac Styslinger took third place in the 18s, when Giron was unable to play due to injury.

Complete results can be found at ustaboys.com.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Schneider and Corinteli for 16s Title; Rain Leaves Frank's Opponent in 18s Final Still Undecided


The final day of the 2011 USTA Boys 16 and 18 National Championships will dawn with only three of the four finalists determined.

A Saturday marred by lightning and multiple rain delays ended with both doubles finals being played indoors after tournament officials decided to postpone the completion of the Marcos Giron – Jack Sock semifinal until Sunday morning.

Awaiting the winner of that match is No. 2 seed Mitchell Frank, who managed to complete his 6-3, 6-0 win over Mac Styslinger before the day’s third rainstorm halted further outdoor play for good.

“The rain delays actually loosened me up, which is usually not the case,” said Frank, who was up 5-3 in the first set when the day’s second thunderstorm arrived. “I just started to come through the ball more and played really solid. I was lucky he didn’t play his best the rest of the way.”

Frank had never played Styslinger, the No. 9 seed, but he had a few scouting reports: one from his doubles partner Junior Ore, who had lost to Styslinger in the quarterfinals, and another from Bjorn Fratangelo, who beat Styslinger in the semifinals of the International Spring Championships in April.

“He gave me some advice too,” said Frank, who is starting classes at the University of Virginia in a few weeks. “I’m trying to get him to become a Cavalier. But I’m glad I got some revenge for Junior.”

Frank was looking forward to a best-of-five-set match, but the usual format for the boys 18s final has been reduced to best of three due to the continuation of the second semifinal.

Frank beat Sock in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Orange Bowl, and although he has no recent meeting with either Sock or Giron, Frank is familiar enough with their games.

“I know their games really well. I know how they both play,” said the Annandale, Virginia resident. “At this point there’s not going to be many surprises.”

Sock and Giron were in the first game of their match when that second storm arrived, and when they returned around 3:30 p.m., neither seemed to be able to get any rhythm on their usually very effective serves. From the third game to the seventh, neither player held serve until Giron held to make it 5-3.

After Sock held, Giron served for the set, but at 30-40, Sock hit a backhand winner down the line to make it 5-5, celebrating the shot with a loud cry of ajde.

In the tiebreaker, every point went to the server until 5-5, when Giron just missed a forehand wide. On set point, Sock hit a series of ever-bigger forehands, which Giron scrambled to handle. Sock let the final Giron reply go and it went long, by no more than four inches, but it gave him the set.

Giron was broken in the opening game of the second set, but he battled through his next two service games, both of which went to deuce. With Sock serving at 3-2, the very ominous-looking clouds approached, bringing with them an unnerving darkness for the middle of the afternoon. Play was suspended with Sock up 3-2, 40-30 and within a few minutes, it was raining heavily for the third time in nine hours.

There is still suspense in the 18s, but the 16s final is set, with No. 2 seed Ronnie Schneider facing No. 4 seed Luca Corinteli in Sunday’s championship match. Schneider led No. 6 seed Nikko Madregallejo 6-1, 1-0 when play was suspended, and he had no trouble picking up where he left off when the match was sent into Kalamazoo College’s Markin Racquet Center, dispatching Madregallejo 6-1, 6-2.

“I was a little bit more loose because I was up that break (in the second set),” said Schneider, a 16-year-old from Bloomington, Ind. “I play indoors five months out of the year, and I don’t think he knows what indoor courts are, because he never plays on them. So I was confident going in there and I really picked up my serve.”

Corinteli had come back from a set down in his previous two matches, so when he fell behind No. 13 seed JC Aragone, in a match that was played entirely indoors, he still believed he could win.

“It’s good to get through something like this. It shows a lot of hard work coming back three matches in a row down the first set. It shows mentally how I’ve improved,” said Corinteli, who recorded a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory. “It feels good inside, not just because I won or am in the finals, but because I know I can actually stay in matches now.”

Corinteli credited a change of strategy for the final result.

“JC hits huge,” said Corinteli, a 16-year-old from Alexandria, Va., who now trains at the USTA’s Boca Raton Center. “He’s the biggest hitter I’ve played so far in the tournament, and to try to have an ego match with him, try to outhit him, I realized the way he was playing in the first set, and the way I was playing, that wasn’t going to happen. At 3-2 me in the second set, I realized I had to start slicing more, junking, trying to mess up his rhythm. I started serving better and he kind of leveled off. It was good mentally to get through something like this, when your opponent’s playing that well.”

Corinteli has never lost to Schneider, but their most recent meeting was in the 2010 Easter Bowl.

“He’s playing unbelievable right now, and competing really well,” said Corinteli. “Blowing people off the court. He’s one of the smaller guys, but he’s hitting as big as anybody in the draw. For me to win, I’ll have to be on my A game for sure.”

In the boys 16s doubles final, which was started outdoors but moved indoors after the first set, Schneider and partner Yale Goldberg, the No. 1 seeds, defeated No. 5 seeds Joseph Di Giulio and Gregory Garcia 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-3.

Playing indoors against two Southern Californians had its advantages for the two Midwesterners, but Goldberg felt the move to the indoor courts had another benefit.

“Just the break, and letting ourselves relax,” said Goldberg, from Beachwood, Ohio. “It’s tough to recover from losing the first set in a tiebreaker. You’re so close.”

“We didn’t face any break points that first set,” said Schneider. “We had a couple games when we had break points against them, so it’s good to just start over. And we counted. Yale did not miss a single return once we went inside.”

Goldberg and Schneider, who also won the Clay Courts last month, have played together so long they have a hard time remembering just many years it’s been.

“We were trying to figure that out this morning,” said Goldberg. “But we know it’s been over three years. And we know each other really well, so when things aren’t going well, we can help each other out.”

The 18s doubles final was played after the completion of the 16s, and again the No. 1 seeds collected the gold balls. Sock and Jackson Withrow defeated No. 5 seeds Frank and Ore 7-6(5), 6-3 to win the title and a main draw wild card into the US Open.

Sock was broken serving for the first set at 5-3, and they also were unable to convert a set point in the next game with Ore serving. In the tiebreaker, Sock and Withrow trailed 3-0 before fighting back for 5-5. Withrow’s return of an Ore serve gave them a set point, which they won when Sock’s backhand drop volley caught the net cord and trickled over.

“I told him before the point ‘you’re clutch, you’ve got this,’” Sock said of the 5-5 return by Withrow. “And he hit one of the best returns of the week. He put in a good serve at 6-5 and I got low for a volley, the tennis gods were with me and helped me with a little net cord. Something went my way today.”

In the second set, Ore was broken in the first game, and he and Frank were unable to recover, with Sock and Withrow holding throughout the set and breaking Ore in the final game to claim the title and the trip to Flushing Meadows later this month.

“I’m really excited for New York,” said Withrow, a freshman at Texas A&M. “I’ll be learning through him, that’s for sure. He’s the guy that’s the role model for me. I’m going to do the best I can to raise my level of game, and hopefully we can try to get a W that first round.”

Sock, who now has 22 gold balls, has already played the Bryan brothers this year, partnering Ryan Harrison at the Sony Ericsson and winning only one game from the top-ranked team.

“I think it helped playing that match, knowing what the level is, what the expectations are,” said Sock, who was teaming with Withrow for the first time. “You can’t take any points off or they’ll be on top of you. I ‘ll take from that I need to have energy and be positive, and enjoy it.”

Sock, who is now a professional, will be able to accept the money earned by reaching the main draw in New York, while Withrow will not.

“I’ll take you out to dinner,” Sock joked. “Nice return at 5-all, I’ll take you out to dinner.”

The third place doubles matches were also played indoors Saturday afternoon and evening. In the boys 16s, unseeded Conrad Harron and Samuel Shropshire won the bronze balls with a 2-6, 6-1, 14-12 victory over No. 12 seed Christopher Vrabel and Anton Zykov. The match tiebreaker was played in error; it should have been a full third set.

In the boys 18s third place match, Emmett Egger and Styslinger, the No. 8 seeds, defeated Nick Chappell and Marcos Giron, the No. 7 seeds, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

For complete results, see ustaboys.com.