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Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Sodden Day at Wimbledon Junior Championships With No Matches Completed; Navarro and Paul Fall in Quarterfinals; 14U Draws Released; James Blake on College Tennis; USTA National Clay Courts Update

©Colette Lewis 2024--

Four days into the Wimbledon Junior Championships just 64 singles matches and three doubles matches have been completed, with Tuesday's second round singles washed out due to steady rain from 11 a.m. until nearly 5 p.m.

The girls first round doubles matches were cancelled before noon, and the boys second round singles matches were cancelled a couple of hours later, leaving only the 16 girls second round singles matches on the schedule. More hours of waiting ensued before the girls finally took the courts, but the sun never appeared, drops kept falling and another two-hour delay was the result. Another attempt at play began around 7:20, but the grass was slippery and although a few points were played on a few courts, none of the matches were close to finishing when play was cancelled for the day at 8 p.m.

Tomorrow's forecast still has a slight chance of rain, but is much improved for the remainder of the week, at least for now. The boys second round of singles, the resumption of the girls second round singles and the first round of doubles for both boys and girls are on Wednesday schedule, and they have moved Wednesday's start time up a half an hour to 10:30 am to facilitate getting back on schedule. 

Wednesday's second round junior matches featuring Americans:
Kaylan Bigun[1] v Thomas Faurel(FRA)
Matthew Forbes v Naoya Honda(JPN)
Jagger Leach v Jan Kumstat[6](CZE)
Kase Schinnerer[Q] v Federico Cina[3](ITA)
Cooper Woestendick[15] v Daniele Rapagnetta(ITA)

Kristina Penickova[9] v Sonja Zhenikhova(GER) 5-5, postponed
Mayu Crossley(JPN) leads Tyra Grant[4] 5-3
Iva Jovic[6] leads Charo Esquiva Banuls(ESP) 6-0, 0-2
Annika Penickova[Q] v Jeline Vandromme[10](BEL)

The Wimbledon men's and women's quarterfinals were played under the roofs of Court One and Centre Court, with both Tommy Paul and Emma Navarro unable to advance. 

No. 7 seed Jasmine Paolini of Italy defeated No. 19 seed Navarro 6-2, 6-1, while defending champion and No. 3 seed Carlos Alcaraz[3] beat No. 12 seed Tommy Paul 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.  Former Longhorn Lulu Sun of New Zealand, who helped Texas claim the NCAA team title in 2021, lost to Donna Vekic 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, with the qualifier seeing her seven-match Wimbledon winning streak come to an end.

In her press conference after the match, Navarro admitted to disappointment at the result, but was encouraged by her performance in this tournament overall.

"I played the best tennis I've ever played in my life this tournament," said the University of Virginia's 2021 NCAA singles champion. "It's really exciting to know I have that level inside of me. I know I'll keep improving on it. I know this isn't the last time I'm going to be in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam. I know I'll be back."

The last American left in singles, No. 13 seed Taylor Fritz, plays No. 25 seed Lorenzo Musetti of Italy tomorrow.

Now in its third year, the Wimbledon U14 tournament is scheduled to begin on Thursday, with five Americans in the 16-player fields.  The three US girls competing are Welles Newman, Maggie Sohns and Raya Kotseva. The two US boys competing are Michael Antonius and Jordan Lee. Although round robin play doesn't have seedings per se, Antonius is at the top of his group, and as the Les Petits As champion, a favorite for the title, as is Jana Kovackova, the Tennis Europe No. 1 in the 14s. Kovackova  defeated Newman, who is at the top of her group, in the Junior Orange Bowl final last December. Eddie Herr 14s champion Joyce Geng of Canada is also in the field.

The girls round robin draw is here; the boys round robin draw is here.

I had an opportunity to ask James Blake a question in the mixed zone that was held this morning for competitors in the Invitational Doubles tournament that was supposed to start today. When Blake went to Harvard in 1997-99, college tennis wasn't a well-regarded pathway for those who wanted to play professionally, but with all the success college players have had recently, I asked him what changes in the sport had led to college tennis's recent rise.
"I think part of it is the physicality of the sport. The fact that sometimes it takes longer to get to where you want to be and where you can be effective physically. So it takes a little more development. Going to college for a year, two years, having free training, that makes a big difference.

The other thing I see is the longevity. It used to be, especially for women, if I don't make it by the time I'm 18 or 19, I'm never going to make it, because women are retiring at 28 years old, and I don't have time. But now you can see them play after having kids, playing late into their 30s, so it gives them more ability to say, ok, I can continue to grow in college and still have a long career.

The John Isners on the men's side, he went for four years, Steve Johnson went for four years and still had very successful, long careers, so I think just seeing that and realizing that makes a big difference.

Now, very recently, the NIL (Name Image and Likeness) money can change things a little bit too. There's real money and you can get more there than if you were playing Futures, make more if you're getting six-figure deals from a big school. You wouldn't have made that playing the Tulsa Futures, or whatever. If you can do that and get the best training, have a good coach, have good training partners every day, it's definitely becomes more of a path now with NIL. 

It can actually give you a boost to start financially. Most of us when we started didn't have that. You're scraping by financially, staying four in a room, driving from Future to Future to build up those points until you can finally make it to Challengers and make some money so you can splurge on Outback and Applebee's. It's a process, and this can always jump start your process. I feel those players that had that kind of financial freedom early on, it gave them a little bit of an advantage.

Let's say they have $500,000 in the bank as a purse to work with. Now it's just a matter of budgeting it. How am I going to spend it? Am I going to spend it on a coach, a PT, a nutritionist, what about my training? And then the travel. Maybe I'm 6'4" and need to go first class because it hurts my legs, you can budget that and have that opportunity, as opposed to those that don't have that, there's only one option. I can't afford a coach, I can't afford gut string, I can't afford first class, I can only rent a car. That changes things. So if they get NIL money for a year or two, and they can use that, ok, now I can get my start. It makes a big difference."

Although the time difference makes it impossible to keep up with the USTA National Clay Courts, I did use the rain delay to check on the early round results, and thought it might be useful to provide an update on how the Top 8 seeds have fared. Click on the headings to see the draws and current results.

USTA National Clay Courts Top 8 Seeds:

1. Braeden Gelletich
2. Dylan Long
3. Ronit Karki
4. Mitchell Sheldon
5. Aidan Atwood
6. Lachlan Gaskell (out rd 2)
7. Shaurya Bharadwaj
8. Jack Satterfield

1. Gus Grumet
2. Gregory Bernadsky
3. Liam Alvarez
4. Erik Schinnerer
5. Graeme Angus
6. Omar Rhazali
7. Lucas Smith
8. Arjun Prabhakar

1. Tristan Stratton
2. Akshay Mirmira
3. Mason Vaughan
4. Luca Sevim
5. Tabb Tuck
6. Victor Pignaton
7. Gadin Arun
8. Carter Jauffret

1. Daniel Gardality
2. Evaan Mohan
3. Pranav Vignesh
4. Michael Chervenkov
5. Tony Xu
6. Blount Williams
7. Davidson Jackson (out rd 4)
8. Ayush Ananthuni (out rd 4)

1. Claire Hill
2. Anita Tu
3. Sophia Holod
4. Blair Gill (out rd 3)
5. Katie Spencer
6. Addison Bowman
7. Bella Payne
8. Lera Alexin (out rd 2)

1. Olivia Traynor
2. Alexandra Wolf
3. Carlota Moreno
4. Reagan Levine
5. Lyla Middleton
6. Riley Lepsi (out rd 2)
7. Kennedy Drenser-Hagmann
8. Lyla Messler (out rd 2)

1. Reiley Rhodes
2. withdrew
3. Enya Hamilton
4. Daniela Del Mastro
5. Allison Wang
6. Savannah Schmitz
7. Elle Groslimond
8. Emma Prose

1. Nadia Poznick
2. Leala Kramer (out rd 2)
3. Isha Manchla
4. Roxanne Luu
5. Anna Kapanadze
6. Jacqueline Nick
7. Tara Guhan
8. Violetta Mamina