April 25th, 2014
Friday Tennis Blog: Camp Next-U.S.-Tennis-Star in Daytona, Florida
Not many junior tennis camps can boast alumni such as current WTA No. 17-ranked Sloane Stephens and Vicky Duval, who at last year’s US Open beat Top 15-ranked Sam Stosur, but each are veterans of the USTA Florida Diversity Camp, which this year enters its 11th four-day Summer session in June. The unique camp requires parents to attend with their junior prospects, and education courses include life skills, parent education, and sessions with top USTA national and USTA Florida coaches. It also provides juniors and parents with a preview of what to expect as they approach collegiate careers or an attempt at the pro tour. “The fact that the camp focuses on incorporating the parent, as well as training the player, makes it even more relevant to today’s high performance players,” said former camp coach and world No. 6-ranked Chanda Rubin. “There are so many considerations in tournament play and I understand, first hand, that having a great team behind you and knowledgeable, focused support can make all the difference in a young person’s development.” Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach will host this year’s camp on June 26-29, and slots are still open.
The French Open wild card for the U.S. women will be determined this coming week at the USTA Pro Circuit event in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., the Audi Melbourne Pro Tennis Classic Presented by Revolution Technologies, where a slew of American hopefuls are in the running for a trip to Paris and a slot in the main draw at Roland Garros. The Indian Harbour Beach stop is the last of a three tournament swing that included Dothan (Ala., won by Grace Min) and Charlottesville (Va., this week, check out the live stream), making up the women’s Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge. The American man and American woman who earn the most ATP World Tour and WTA Tour ranking points at two of the three select USTA Pro Circuit claycourt events making up the circuit earn main draw wild cards into the French Open. The men’s circuit consists of the Sarasota Challenger, this week’s Savannah Challenger, and next week’s Tallahassee Challenger. American women in the main draw of next week’s final Indian Harbour stop are Melanie Oudin, Irina Falconi, Florida’s Victoria Duval, Florida’s Allie Kiick, Min, Nicole Gibbs, Julia Cohen, Chieh-Yu Hsu, Julia Boserup, and Maria Sanchez. Final wildcards are TBA but Taylor Townsend and Ponte Vedra Beach’s Josie Kuhlman are under consideration as of Friday. Min and Duval remain alive in the Charlottesville quarterfinals this week, and lead all challengers for the French wild card spot.
Florida residents the Bryan brothers were tapped to hit 100 career titles before their rumored/possible/maybe retirement following the 2016 Rio Olympics, but the California-bred pair are now on track to accomplish the feat in 2014 — maybe even before the French Open. At the Monte Carlo Masters last week they won their 98th title together (a doubles final actually televised!), and fifth tournament in a row in 2014. The 35-year-olds are currently on a 21-match winning streak. It was the fourth career Monte Carlo title for the Bryans who have now won 29 Masters-level trophies. “The bros have become good friends with Prince Albert of Monaco through the years and have spent time at the palace there in Monte Carlo, and he has come out to root them on in all their matches,” said the Bryans’ father Wayne. “He was surprised and thrilled when Mike and Bob gave him their bowls for winning the title on Sunday.” On another note, the Bryans’ poppa Wayne is asking fans to vote for the twins in the Most Valuable Philanthropist competition for their Bryan Brothers Foundation which supports kids and kids programs.
Flashback Friday: Todd Martin Stuns in Barcelona Title Win
The first couple weeks of the European claycourt season are usually an unofficial vacation period each year for the top American players, and this week’s ATP events in Barcelona and Bucharest, and WTA stops in Stuttgart and Marrakech were no exception, with no Americans entered in any of the four singles draws.
So let’s turn back the clock to one of the most improbable American claycourt runs at one of the top European claycourt events.
This week Rafael Nadal is competing in Barcelona, where he has won the title in eight of the last nine years. But seven years before Rafa’s raised his first trophy in Barcelona, American Todd Martin was the improbable victor in 1998.
How difficult is it to win Barcelona? Players raising the Barcelona trophy are more often than not either current or former No. 1 players raised on clay such as Nadal (2013-11,’09-05), Carlos Moya (2003), Juan Carlos Ferrero (2001), Marat Safin (2000), Thomas Muster (1996-95), Mats Wilander (1984-82), Ivan Lendl (1981-80), Bjorn Borg (1977,’75) and Ilie Nastase (1974-73), or former/future Grand Slams winners such as Albert Costa (1997), Richard Krajicek (1994), Andres Gomez (1990-89), Manuel Orantes (1976,’71), Jan Kodes (1972), and Manuel Santana (1970).
That is a ridiculous lineage of champions for a non-Slam, or even non-Masters level event.
Unseeded at Barcelona in 1998, Martin opened with a win over Aussie Richard Fromberg before in the second round stunning the former No. 1 and French Open champ Muster. In the third round he defeated Czech Slava Dosedel before the fourth round where he beat Spanish dirt specialist Carlos Costa. To this point the Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., native had not dropped a set, using his 6-foot-6 frame to power through the red clay as if he were playing on hardcourt, highlighted by frequent forays to the net, an uncommon sight in Spain.
In the semifinals Martin defeated Italian Andrea Gaudenzi (who had just beat Moya), and in the final he finally lost a set, needing four to subdue former French Open runner-up Alberto Berasategui of Spain 6-2, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Martin had not won a title in two years after suffering knee and elbow problems, and was ranked No. 65 at the time. He missed seven months of the previous year with elbow surgery.
“This is a very emotional win for me, not because it is on clay or against a great player like Alberto, but because it has been two years since I won a tournament,” Martin said.
They Said It
“I think we will destroy one floor, minimum.”
— French Fed Cup Captain Amelie Mauresmo when asked if her squad would be keeping others in the hotel awake that night after defeating the U.S.
“Indian Wells was far from the average community. Located in Riverside County in the middle of the desert, framed by the beauty of the Santa Rosa Mountains, Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Alfa Romeos, Jags and Mercedes-Benzes sat casually in the spotless driveways of exquisite mansions. In a place like this, a black man had to be on his best behavior.”
— An excerpt from a new book by Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena, recounting the last time the Williams’ took part in the WTA Indian Wells event in 2001.
“I just think the ‘Big Four’ will always be the Big Four: Rafa, Novak, Roger, and Murray. They won all the tournaments since many years, and you cannot change that.”
— Stan Wawrinka
Tennis on TV This Weekend
7:30am — ATP Barcelona and Bucharest, WTA Stuttgart (live), Tennis Channel
8am — ATP Barcelona and Bucharest, WTA Stuttgart (live), Tennis Channel