January 23rd, 2015

Friday Tennis Blog: Which Americans Remain After Week 1 at the Aussie Open?

Friday Blog
Sofia Kenin in the Olympic village at last year's Youth Olympic Games in China (photo: Art Seitz)

Sofia Kenin in the Olympic village at last year’s Youth Olympic Games in China (photo: Art Seitz)

THE U.S. SURGE IS COMING? — American men’s tennis is struggling with only five players making the main draw cut at the Australian Open, but help is apparently on the way. While pundits are lauding the wealth of up-and-coming Top 100 women’s talent (currently 13 U.S. women in the WTA Top 100, including former world junior No. 1 Taylor Townsend, and last year’s first-time WTA title winners Madison Keys and CoCo Vandeweghe), a number of U.S. boys are waiting to make the ATP jump. According to USTA Florida junior tennis contributor Colette Lewis, writing at tennisrecruiting.net, “There’s no denying 2014 was a great year for juniors from the United States. Stefan Kozlov reached two junior slam finals; three of the four Wimbledon semifinalists were from the US, producing the first all-American boys final since 1977. The last three Grade A events of 2014 were won by US boys Kozlov, Taylor Fritz and Michael Mmoh, all of whom finished in the ITF year-end Top 10. Reilly Opelka won two ITF Grade 1 events in the second half of the year. Mmoh, William Blumberg and Gianni Ross won the Junior Davis Cup. [CiCi] Bellis claimed the ITF World Junior Championship title, Sonya Kenin captured the Orange Bowl over American Ingrid Neel, and Bellis, Kenin and Tornado Alicia Black won the Junior Fed Cup.” Seems the incoming USTA head of professional development will inherit a full plate of future pro talent.

crawford-tweetCONFIDENT VICKERY’S STREAK ENDS IN DAYTONA — This time last year, teenager Sachia Vickery was in Melbourne, competing in the Australian Open women’s draw after winning the USTA wild card tournament. This year she is in Florida, grinding out points on the USTA Pro Circuit after a solid off-season of training that resulted in the USTA Pro Circuit title in Plantation, Fla. “I think this is just the best move for me right now just because I wanted to get more matches in at the beginning of the year,” she told USTA Florida on Thursday in Daytona Beach, where her six-match winning streak came to an end after a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Swede and two-time WTA tour title winner Sofia Arvidsson at the Florida Tennis Center. “I had to get back in my match mode, because I hadn’t played in two months,” Vickery said. “Last year I played Australia and had no training block, so this year I took six weeks to train. I like to see that my off-season training is paying off so early in the year.” And about that “mani-pedi” she promised pal and former USTA Professional Development training partner Samantha Crawford after beating her in the Plantation final? “No we didn’t get that,” the 19 year old said, “but we were going to try and make it to Disney because it’s not too far away — but I definitely still owe her one.”

Mia Horvit (left) winning the Girls' 18s feed-in consolation at the Florida state junior championships

Mia Horvit (left) winning the Girls’ 18s feed-in consolation at the Florida state junior championships last year

FLORIDIANS AT AUSSIE OPEN JUNIORS — 17-year-old Mia Horvit of Parkland, Fla., leads the home-grown talent this weekend when the Australian Open Junior Championships kick off in Melbourne. She will attempt to become the first American Aussie Open junior winner since Taylor Townsend in 2012. Also in the girls’ qualifying draw are Madison Bourguignon (17, Boynton Beach) and Ally Miller-Krasilnikov (17, Delray Beach). No U.S. players who claim Florida as home are in the boys’ draw, but four from the U.S. will compete in No. 5-ranked Taylor Fritz (17, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.), No. 7-ranked Michael Mmoh (16, Temple Hills, Md.), William Blumberg (16, Greenwich, Conn.) and Sameer Kumar (17, Carmel, Ind.). The last U.S. player to win the boys’ title? Donald Young in 2005. Florida’s Stefan Kozlov was a finalist last year. All U.S. juniors playing in the singles main draw of the juniors receive a stipend from USTA Player Development to help offset expenses, as do their coaches as part of the TEAM USA initiative.

Americans Remaining at the Australian Open

Men — 3rd Round:

(19) John Isner vs. Gilles Muller (LUX)
Steve Johnson vs. (15) Kei Nishikori (JPN)

Women — 3rd Round:

(1) Serena Williams vs. (26) Elina Svitolina (UKR)
(18) Venus Williams vs. Camila Giorgi (ITA)
(30) Varvara Lepchenko vs. (6) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
Madison Keys vs. (4) Petra Kvitova (CZE)
CoCo Vandeweghe vs. Madison Brengle

They Said It

Caroline Wozniacki and Serena Williams selfie-it-up at the Mariah Carey concert in SingaporeFor me and Venus, not playing junior tennis was good for us. I asked [Caroline Wozniacki], ‘What was it like to play the juniors?’ I never knew junior Wimbledon existed until I was a few years on tour, I’m embarrassed to say. I didn’t realize that there was actually a junior event.”
Serena Williams speaking to ESPN

“They only call you if it’s bad news. I had a missed call from my dermatologist in the middle of a practice and I knew. When I got the all clear, that was the best day of my life. I walked out of the hospital, they said, ‘You’re good to go, go to Australia, have a good time.’ So when I’m on the court now, I’m a little extra grateful.”
— 24-year-old American Madison Brengle, who had a cancerous growth removed from her leg, and has a benign tumor in her jaw, at the Australian Open

“This is something that is not very common in the sport today, you know, where media and people generally emphasize on the rivalries, feisty, aggressive kind of approach to matches. It’s nice to have something that is greater than sport itself, you know, the sportsmanship and fair play.”
Novak Djokovic on American Tim Smyczek granting Rafael Nadal a do-over on a serve after a spectator yelled out late in the fifth set of their match at the Australian Open


Tennis on TV This Weekend
(times subject to change)

TV multi colorFriday
7-9pm — Australian Open (live), Tennis Channel
9pm-7am — Australian Open (live), ESPN2

7-9pm — Australian Open (live), Tennis Channel

9pm-7am — Australian Open (live), ESPN2

7-9pm — Australian Open (live), Tennis Channel

9pm-6:30am — Australian Open (live), ESPN2