Wednesday, July 15, 2020

2022 Youth Olympic Games Postponed Until 2026; USTA Southern Cancels Sectional; Krajicek and Dabrowski Join World Team Tennis's Orange County Breakers

The Youth Olympic Games are a strange animal, with very little history, having begun in 2010. When there are four years between competitions, a great many juniors (in tennis and all other Olympic sports) are precluded from competing in them based on their birth dates alone; if, in 2019, you were 16 when you got high enough in the ITF junior rankings to think about qualifying, you would be too old to compete in the next scheduled competition in 2022.

That bad luck got even worse for the current crop of promising ITF Juniors, with the International Olympic Committee's announcement today that the 2022 Youth Olympic Games in Senegal would be postponed until 2026. Now a player would have to be born in 2008 or later to be eligible for the next Youth Olympic Games, meaning that those players are currently 11 or 12 years old. For example, Les Petits As champion Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic, who turned 13 this year, will be too old to play when the next Youth Olympic Games are held. I've never been a fan of tennis in the Olympics, even when pros can play in several of them due to the length of their careers, the Olympics seem more of an afterthought in a sport like tennis. For juniors, their introduction 10 years ago seemed particularly misguided given the age penalty so many young athletes would pay through no fault of their own. I don't know the motivation behind the decision to establish the Youth Olympic Games in the first place, but today's announcement just emphasizes how fundamentally unfair the system is.

After Friday's announcement that the USTA Southern California Sectional was being postponed and Monday's announcement that the USTA 16s and 18s National Hard Court Championships were not going to be played this year, it is no surprise that the USTA's Southern section announced yesterday that its Sectional Closed events, scheduled for July 30-August 5 at various venues, are off.  The letter explaining the cancellation of these events is here. As the letter says, travel is what makes these events dangerous and confusing, not the tennis itself, and local play can continue. I hope other sections are also encouraging this model.

The safety of the actual tennis being played was not a concern of the USTA Medical Advisory Group, therefore USTA Southern will continue to encourage State Level Tournaments 3-6 to continue, since these are local tournaments where traveling is not encouraged, and draws are smaller in size.

The World Team Tennis Stadium Court at The Greenbrier
World Team Tennis is halfway through its first week of competition at The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. The Orange County Breakers, who were to have Milos Raonic on their roster before he withdrew, were down to four players, and after they lost their first two matches, they have added doubles specialists Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and 2011 NCAA doubles champion Austin Krajicek(Texas A&M). Correction: Both played today in the Breakers third loss, with Dabrowski playing both mixed, with Krajicek, and women's doubles with Jennifer Brady. 

For an interesting look at how the testing is going in the Greenbrier bubble, and who is still waiting for clearance to come out of quarantine, see this tennis.com article

And for those interested in the current status of 2017 US Open boys champion Yibing Wu of China, Jon Wertheim's weekly mailbag at SI.com has an update.