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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Talking with Mallory Burdette on her Decision to Turn Pro; ESPN on the College Development Path; Lutjen Wins Southern Intercollegiates; USTA Selects Juniors for Napa Competition

As I mentioned last night, I spoke with Mallory Burdette about her decision to turn professional after her junior year at Stanford, and the resulting article was posted today on the Tennis Recruiting Network.

College tennis was a popular topic at the US Open with the success of Burdette, Novikov and Johnson during the first week and ESPN's Greg Garber spoke to several former college players about the experience as preparation for the pro tour. Once juniors make a decision to go to college or to turn pro, they rarely express any regrets about their individual choice years later (although I have heard that Duke's Phillip King, a two-time 18s champion in Kalamazoo, believes he missed his opportunity at pro tennis by deciding to stay at Duke). In this article, Liezel Huber, one of the world's top doubles players, expresses regret at not going to college, while partner Lisa Raymond, as well Burdette, Johnson and John Isner, discuss why they believe it was the right choice for them.

Although not directly related to college tennis, Tennis.com's Peter Bodo wrote about Johnson's third round loss to Gasquet, while zeroing in on what he finds appealing about the two-time NCAA champion's game. I'm usually suspicious of these snap judgments based on just a few looks at a player's game, but I think Bodo gets it right here.

In other college news, Notre Dame has been accepted as a member of the ACC in all sports but football, meaning the men's and women's tennis teams will now be a part of a more competitive tennis conference. The effective date of the move from the Big East isn't known, according to this Associated Press article appearing at ncaa.com.

University of Mississippi senior Jonas Lutjen won the Southern Intercollegiate tournament at the University of Georgia last weekend, defeating Georgia's Hernus Pieters 6-4, 6-0 in the final. The tournament is usually not at the very beginning of the fall season, but was moved up due to conflicts with home football games. For more on Lutjen's win, see the Ole Miss men's tennis site.  For the complete draws, see the Georgia men's tennis site.

For the past two years I've been covering the (now) Audi Napa Valley Classic tournament, which for those two years has been under the auspices of USTA Player Development and features eight juniors and 24 Division I collegians in 8 round robin groups, with the winners going into a shootout for the chance to win a Futures wild card.  I will not be going to Napa this year, and instead will be covering a similar event in Portland, Oregon in November with Division I women's teams and junior girls, but I will be following the tournament closely from home via updates from Steve Pratt, who will be there.

Stanford, Georgia, Harvard, Illinois, Texas and Cal will be sending players to Napa.  Here is the list of juniors who will be competing:

Henry Craig, Murrieta , Calif.
Jack Murray, Beverly Hills , Mich.
Joseph Digiulio, Newport Beach , Calif.
Konrad Zieba, Glenview , Ill.
Robert Bellamy, Pacific Palisades , Calif.
Deiton Baughman, Carson , Calif.
Gage Brymer, Irvine , Calif.
TJ Pura, Brentwood , Calif.

The juniors will be coached by Nick Fustar of the USTA Regional Training Center Eagle Fustar Tennis Academy and Brian Wilson, of the RTC Northwest High Performance Tennis.


tennismom said...

Kudos to Mallory for making her decision... Her US Open success came to her in right time. She has had quite a few wins under her belt BEFORE the 2012 US Open. So, it was no brainer for her to turn pro...
It is more difficult for those whose win at the US Open came as a surprise. Is it gonna last???? Can he/she be consistent going forward? Will USTA support the talent by helping with wild cards? There are so many unanswered questions... Uncertainty...
USTA management does not want to be involved in decision making process.
I wish we can talk to somebody who can weight all "pros" and "cons" and make it easy for a talented US player….

Mario said...

It appears the USTA scaled back its involvement with the Napa Classic. As I recall, Jay Berger as well as other top coaches attended the tournament in the past. Perhaps the absence of a Jack Sock type player is the explanation?

tom said...

IMO, the wise choice would to finish her senior year, then turn pro.

Austin said...

I agree. When you are that close might as well finish it up. If she was a freshman or sophomore I might have a different opinion. Also, I think Sharapova let her know just how far away from competing at the top level she is.

Wish her good luck though! Could be a VERY good doubles player if she doesnt find the kind of success she hopes for in singles.

Joe said...

Looks like the USTA was hurting for top ranked juniors this year for the Napa Classic. I doubt any of the group will win a match this year.

tennismom said...

Jay Berger has a different title now and more responsibilities on his plate. It has nothing to do with Jack Sock.... or anybody else.
Speaking of Sock... he never disappoints as he delivers when an opportunity is given to him. He gives it all... Did you see his match with Almagro? I did....

Blaine said...

Burdette already makes the qualifying draw at the next 3 slams with no points to defend at all.That's something alot of players never will do a few more wins and shell be maindraw at French and wimbledon. Def right decision

McMurphy said...

If you're going to turn pro, do it before you invest 3 years into a college degree. (Or do it after you earn your degree.) If it really doesn't appear that you're destined for the top 75 from your results at age 18-22, go to school, because you're probably going to end up making as much money ranked 75 plus as a hair stylist. Did Burdette's tennis skills develop at Stanford to match what she would have encountered by slugging it out in ITF events? Who seriously believes that? What are you in college for if the academics are not the top priority?

On a similar note, have a look at the academic awards that the Stanford women's tennis team earns: next to nil. These girls--at least the top players--even though they're attending one of the world's elite academic universities, clearly aren't there for the academics. I wonder if the coach cares as much about academic performance (or graduation) as some poor kid with flawless SATs who was rejected from Stanford because she couldn't swing a tennis racquet.

Athens said...

I think Burdette has to go pro because of her ranking, #159. It takes a lot of time, money & effort to build your ranking. It's huge that Burdette now gets to skip that step. She can play any $100,000 event as well as try qualifying at any WTA. There's a reasonable chance she could reach the top 100 and get main draw entry to the French & possibly the Aussie. I think she has to ride this momentum. Certainly, Burdette has areas to work on, especially fitness, but would it be helping her tennis to stay? She's proven she's as good or better than any other returning player.

Good luck Mallory! We'll be cheering for you!