Thursday, August 16, 2018

My Recap of Damm's Historic Kalamazoo 16s Title, Videos; US Open Junior Qualifying Moving From Flushing Meadows; Huge Changes Coming for 2019 Davis Cup

The Tennis Recruiting Network has been providing coverage of last week's USTA National Championships the past three days, and my account of Martin Damm's title in the Kalamazoo 16s is available now. Although it didn't occur to me on Sunday, a friend asked me Monday if Damm was the youngest player to win the Kalamazoo 16s title, and a couple of hours of research later, I was able to answer that question in the affirmative.  Damm, who will turn 15 on September 30th, takes the record from Aaron Krickstein, who turned 15 during the tournament when he won it in 1982. Although the tournament is 76 years old, the record goes back only until 1963, when the age division was changed from 15 to 16.

Below are short videos from the final.  The complete match can be viewed here.

The USTA announced today that the US Open Junior Qualifying will be held at the Cary Leeds Tennis Center in the Bronx. In the 13 years I've been covering the US Open Junior Championships, the qualifying has been held on the practice courts in Corona Park just outside the grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.  This has obvious advantages logistically for the staff and umpires, not to mention the college coaches that flock to the tournament. The ability to watch qualifying and to attend a pro match on the same day--Peter Smith, Manny Diaz and David Roditi would be just a few of those likely to do so--was a huge positive of the arrangement that was in place so many years.  Below is the release from the USTA:

FLUSHING, N.Y., Aug. 16, 2018 – The USTA today announced that the US Open Junior Qualifying Tournament, during which 64 of the world’s top 18-and-under boys and girls tennis players will compete for a chance to play in the US Open Junior Championships, will be held at The Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning in the Bronx August 31-September 1.

The main draw of the US Open Junior Championships runs September 2-9 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., and will feature tomorrow’s stars from around the world. Four US Open junior singles champions – Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Lindsay Davenport and Stefan Edberg – have gone on to win the US Open singles title, as did junior finalists Roger Federer, Boris Becker, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Martina Hingis.

The US Open Junior Qualifying Tournament features 32-player singles draws for boys and girls, with eight players on each side advancing to the main draw. The 2018 Boys’ and Girls’ Qualifying fields feature mostly players ranked in the Top 100 of the world junior rankings.

“The US Open Junior Qualifying Tournament features some of the best junior tennis players in the world, and the Cary Leeds Center is a world-class tennis facility,” said US Open Junior Tournament Director Lew Brewer. “Not only does it make a great host for the Qualifying Tournament, but it allows us to offer all of our main-draw juniors more practice time than ever before.”

In June 2015, the $26.5 million Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning opened its doors as the flagship home of New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL) in the heart of the Bronx. In April 2017, the Cary Leeds Center completed its final phase of construction with the opening of the Pershing Square Stadium, the Victor Kiam Stadium, and the Dalia and Larry Leeds Viewing Bridge. The Cary Leeds Center provides more than 6,000 hours of free tennis court time annually to the community’s under-resourced youth.

“NYJTL believes that life skills gained through tennis and education are the catalyst for long-term achievement and sees the opportunity to work with the USTA in hosting the US Open Junior Qualifying Tournament as a way to introduce tennis and inspire the next generation,” said George Guimaraes, NYJTL CEO & President. 

The ITF's General Meeting today in Orlando was highlighted with a vote on a huge change in Davis Cup, beginning in 2019.  I don't think it's a coincidence that the week-long team competition, slated for November, is quite similar to what the ITF has used for its ITF World Junior Tennis and Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup competitions for many years now. Having attended Davis Cup ties several times, I have mixed feelings about such a drastic change, but I do think it has the potential to raise the competition's profile. 

Steve Tignor at tennis.com has delineated the pros and cons of the new format, and after laying out what's gained and what's lost, it appears he would have voted no, if he had a vote. 

For more from the ITF on the calendar and format, see this article on today's vote, and these frequently asked questions.