April 14th, 2017

Friday Tennis Blog: USTA NJTL Reaches Across Mexican Border; Azarenka Sets Date

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NJTL KNOCKING DOWN WALL WITH MEXICO


In this time of political strife and building walls between countries, one of the USTA’s NJTLs (National Junior Tennis & Learning after-school network) is reaching across the border to connect with tennis-playing kids in Mexico.

Border Youth Tennis Exchange (BYTE) offers after-school tennis to youth on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border — in the twin cities of Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales in the state of Sonora in Mexico. BYTE programming highlights the universal characteristics of the children of “Ambos Nogales,” or “both Nogales.” The program strives for “youth engagement, urban outreach, border health and wellness, cross-border interaction, and border awareness.”

Last weekend the cross-border interaction became a reality for the first time when the two programs met. Special passes were secured for the children from the Mexican program to cross the border for a day for an event hosted by the University of Arizona men’s tennis team and BYTE. “Tennis is such a social sport,” UA junior Trent Botha told The Daily Wildcat. “For them to go out and have fun with their friends, it’s the biggest thing.”

USTA COLLEGE CLUB TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS UNDERWAY AT USTA NATIONAL CAMPUS


The USTA Tennis on Campus National Championships began on Thursday at the USTA National Campus in the Lake Nona area of Orlando, where the Top 64 co-ed intramural and college club tennis teams are competing to determine the 2016-17 season national champion.

Three Florida schools are in the mix: The University of Central Florida is in Pool A with Gonzaga University, Miami (Ohio) University, and the University of Rhode Island. The University of Miami is in Pool K along with University of Pennsylvania, Auburn University, and Iowa State University. The University of Florida is in Pool N with Washington University (St. Louis), DePaul University and Rutgers University. The winners of each pool advance to the Gold Bracket, and pool losers in 2nd-4th place advance to lower brackets.

The University of Florida is the only Florida school to reach the Gold Bracket final at the USTA Tennis on Campus National Championships since the inception of the tournament in 2000. The Gators won their lone title in 2003, and finished runner-up in 2014-13 and ’11-10. Click here for results and updated info on this year’s national championships.

 

MISCELLANY

USTA Florida and Florida Tennis Center staff competed this week at the Candyland Open round robin. The winner was everyone who got to eat Starbursts between games, and the loser was stomach aches from too much candy between games.

This weekend’s Ten15 event is sold out, but if you want to experience tennis in a whole new way, and live in Orlando or South Florida, check out remaining events in April…After a 41-year run, the ATP World Tour event in Memphis is moving to Long Island, purchased by the organization that owns the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. The event will be held at the renovated Nassau Coliseum, the former home of the NHL’s New York Islanders and the NBA’s New York Nets…..Frances Tiafoe has a twin brother Franklin who plays as a freshman for the Salisbury University (Maryland) Sea Gulls…After giving birth to her first child, former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka has targeted July and the Bank Of The West Classic in Stanford as her comeback event…Former Top 10er Genie Bouchard of Canada took a wild card at this week’s $80K USTA Pro Circuit event in Indian Harbour Beach…This week 39-year-old Tommy Haas beat 19-year-old Floridian Reilly Opelka 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3 at the ATP U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston. It was Haas’ first ATP-level victory since 2015 Wimbledon, and he became the oldest man to win a tour match since 42-year-old Jimmy Connors in 1995…The Wolverine challenged Novak Djokovic to a tennis match, and the Serb said game on.





5 Americans in ATP Houston Quarters on Friday

Jack Sock

Five of the eight players in the quarterfinals at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, Texas are Americans entering Friday, and all four quarterfinal match-ups will feature an American (or two).

On Thursday No. 1 seed Jack Sock, No. 2 John Isner, No. 3 Sam Querrey, No. 4 Steve Johnson, and wild card Ernesto Escobedo all won through into the quarters. Sock, Isner and Escobedo won three-setters, as Sock outlasted former world No. 2 Tommy Haas 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

“I knew it was going to be fun to go out there,” said Sock after beating the 2004 tournament champion who is on his last year on tour. “Who knows how many [wins] he has left in him. He gave his all. I had to come through with some good tennis in the end to win.”

Friday’s quarterfinals in Houston will feature (1) Sock vs. (6) Feliciano Lopez, (4) Johnson vs. (5) Fernando Verdasco, (3) Querrey vs. (8) Thomas Bellucci, and (2) Isner vs. (WC) Escobedo. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. on Tennis Channel.

No U.S. women remain this week at either the Ladies Open Biel Bienne in Switzerland or at the Claro Open Colsanitas in Bogota, Colombia. Next week on the WTA tour will feature Fed Cup action along with the Biyuan Cup Zhengzhou Women’s Tennis Open in China.

 

They Said It

“You got these young guys, you know they are going to be around for a long time. It’s interesting to have these match-ups.”
Tommy Haas after beating Reilly Opelka in Houston this week. Opelka was born during Haas’ second year on tour as a pro.

“I said, ‘You need my help? You let me know. You got me for a day: kids’ clinics, press, opening, whatever.'”
Roger Federer talking about pal Rafael Nadal’s opening of his academy in Spain, which the Swiss attended last year

“They’re all so nice, so respectful … all hard workers. They get along well with everyone. You can’t say one mean thing about any of them.”
Sam Querrey on the new crop of Americans including Jared Donaldson and Frances Tiafoe, speaking to the Houston Chronicle

 

Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

Friday
6am — ATP Marraketch (live), Tennis Channel
1pm — ATP Houston (live), Tennis Channel

Saturday
7am — ATP Marraketch (live), Tennis Channel
2pm — ATP Houston (live), Tennis Channel
7pm — ATP Houston doubles final (live), Tennis Channel

Sunday
9:30am — ATP Marraketch final (live), Tennis Channel
3pm — ATP Houston final (live), Tennis Channel
5pm — ATP Marraketch doubles final (delay), Tennis Channel

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