2014/09/02

The US Open Series Begins this Weekend in Atlanta

 

BB&TAtlantaOpen

By Herman Wood

(July 17, 2014) ATLANTA – Preparation for the US Open is underway.  The BB&T Atlanta Open gets things started on Saturday, July 19th for the men.  Qualifying begins at 10 AM.  The BB&T Atlanta Open is an ATP 250 event, with a 28 player draw, four of which come from the qualifying tournament.  The qualifying field will have 32 players.  The doubles draw is a 16 team field.  Last year’s champ, John Isner, is returning, along with fellow Americans Sam Querrey, Wimbledon doubles champ Jack Sock, and Donald Young.  Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet, Radek Stepanek, Ivo Karlovic, Ivan Dodig, Lleyton Hewitt, and the other half of the Wimbledon doubles championship team, Vasek Pospisil, are also expected in the tournament.  The tournament aspires to be a mini US Open, with the venue set among the skyscrapers of downtown Atlanta at Atlantic Station.  Atlantic Station is a community within downtown that provides homes for 10,000 people integrated with shopping, restaurants, and retailers that make it a hit with the players.  Besides the attractive venue, players will get a jump on the US Open Series Bonus Challenge, where nearly $40 million in prize money is up for grabs.  This is the third year the tournament has been held at Atlantic Station.

It is a familiar place for Americans, with Isner winning last year, Roddick in 2012, and Fish in 2011.  It has also been comfortable for big man tennis- last year Isner, at 6’10”, overcame Kevin Anderson at 6’8” in three tiebreaks.  Fans in the first couple of rows certainly had to pay attention with the huge serves coming their way.  It is especially familiar for Isner, who competed collegiately just an hour down the road for the University of Georgia Bulldogs, leading the team to a national championship and winning every possible team title in 2007.  He’s usually a fan favorite, with at least a couple of barks from Georgia fans in his favor at each match.  Isner may not be the only recipient of barks; University of Georgia player Austin Smith has accepted a wild card into the main draw. The sophomore from Cumming, Georgia excelled this season as the Bulldogs captured the 2014 SEC Championship. Smith finished with a 35-12 record, and went 9-1 in SEC matches. He has won four USTA Pro Circuit matches. A tournament qualifier in 2011, Smith will be playing his debut ATP main draw match.

Another American, Jack Sock, could very well get on a roll at this tournament.  After winning doubles with Pospisil at Wimbledon, he rolled into Newport and eliminated Isner in the Newport Hall of Fame event on grass just a week ago.  Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t able to keep that momentum and was eliminated by the veteran Lleyton Hewitt, who went on to win the tournament.  Hewitt’s feisty shouts of “C’mon!” have endeared him to the Atlanta fans in past years.  Fresh off his renewed success at Newport, he could very well win Atlanta.  The main draw was just rounded out with the addition of Ryan Harrison and Robby Ginepri.  “We’re ecstatic to welcome back two of our fan favorites in Ryan Harrison and Atlanta metro resident Robby Ginepri,” Tournament Director Eddie Gonzalez said. “One of our goals is to highlight American talent and both of these players are great examples of the fine players this country has produced.”  Harrison won the doubles last year, partnering with Matthew Ebden.  Ginepri appears for the fourth time, with a onetime ranking of fifteen.  He is a graduate of Wheeler High School, just a few miles north of Atlantic Station.  He currently resides in Kennesaw, another couple of miles north.

The draw will be finalized over this weekend with the completion of the qualifying tournament.  Promising American junior Francis Tiafoe has accepted his first tournament qualifying wild card. Tiafoe, 16, is a talented young prodigy who rose to No. 2 in the world junior rankings this spring. Georgia Tech’s Nathan Rakitt and Alabama’s Becker O’Shaughnessey have also accepted qualifying wild cards. Rakitt, a Marietta native and All-ACC selectee, is competing again for the second year. O’Shaughnessey of Macon, Ga., led the Crimson Tide in singles wins (22) this season.

Herman Wood is in Atlanta covering the BB&T Open action from around the grounds for Tennis Panorama News, follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/hermanewood.

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Roddick Wins Second Title of Season at BB&T Atlanta Open

By Audraine Jackson

Atlanta, GA USA – Under a brutally hot July sun in the deep south 29-year-old Andy Roddick raised the BB&T Atlanta Open championship trophy into the air before a capacity crowd after defeating Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2. It was a gesture he has repeated many times in his professional tennis life with 31 ATP World Tour titles already under his belt, but at this stage in his career, titles taste sweeter and number 32 felt like a steady cool breeze on a summer day.

 

“Being a tennis player, a lot of people, they see it on TV. They think about it in terms of one match but it’s almost like a lifestyle. You’ve got to eat right, sleep right. It’s a constant kind of battle when you are out there by yourself a lot,” said Roddick. “To kind of now be approaching numbers that basically tell the story of consistency over time… it’s something I’m proud of. I work pretty hard. I don’t know that I have been able to pull off the shots that Roger or Rafa or someone like that can pull off. But I feel like I’ve done pretty well with what I was given. I sleep well knowing I haven’t really cheated myself.”

 

This title came no easier than many others in a match that lasted two hours and 13 minutes in 91 degree humid conditions under a blazing sun. Roddick had to get past a competitive match with No. 1 seed John Isner that went late into the night to make it to the final. Muller, a left handed player whose highest world ranking reached 42 has experienced an incredible run among marquee players with career victories over Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Roddick in 2005. Despite jumping out fast with a 6-1 victory in the first set forcing two service breaks he lost a close battle in the 2nd when Roddick was able to edge him out in second serve points won and second return points.

 

“I played very well in the first two sets. At the end of the second set, I got very tight,” Muller said.  “I felt like I was in a position to win that match. I was too nervous to close it and then Andy started to play better. He started to return my serves and put a lot of balls in the court. And I started to miss a lot. Maybe I lost the belief in myself to win that match too quickly.”

 

By the third set Roddick became more aggressive, forcing errors and placing balls at speeds and angles difficult to get to. Service points won reached 84 percent while Muller managed only 50. “I know by now the score of a set is irrelevant,” Roddick said. “Whether it’s 7-6 or 6-1, it still counts the same. With most other sports, you get way up in the first quarter and it actually means something in regards to the rest of the game. In tennis, it’s not really the case too often, with the exception of momentum. You just try to start over and put some holds together. I was able to out the second set and I think he might have gotten a little tired in the third.”

 

Roddick won his second title of the season and his second ATP World Tour victory in Atlanta, the last coming in 2001 on clay. He has an early points lead in the 2012 Emirates Airline US Open Series Bonus Challenge Standings earning 70 in the tournament. He will head to London to join fellow USA teammates in singles and is paired with rival John Isner for doubles, a sight he admits few opponents want to see coming.

 

The BB&T Atlanta Open doubles title went to Matthew Ebden (AUS) and Ryan Harrison (USA) who defeated Xavier Malisse (BEL) and Michael Russell (USA) 6-3, 3-6, 10-6. Both teams knocked off talented top seeded duos to reach the finals. Ebden said it took confidence to pull off the win. “We had a few chances in the second set and felt like we weren’t playing our best tennis. We were pretty confident if we lifted our level a little, we’d come through. We’re very good friends. I think it helps on the court. It’s great to find someone you really enjoy playing with. You get a lot out of it. Not just the wins, but you get improvements in your game.”

 

Harrison, who is also headed to London to join Team USA Tennis, said aggressive play made the difference. “The way we play, we always try to push forward and play aggressive. That’s the way both of us are comfortable playing. It comes down to execution for us. It doesn’t matter if its singles, doubles, triples or whatever it is. If you win titles, you can always build off of it, so we’re really fired up.”

 

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Audraine Jackson covered the BB&T Atlanta Open for Tennis Panorama News July 14-22, 2012. She is a sports blogger, digital journalist and tennis addict. Follow her personal twitter account @atlstoryteller.

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Roddick Halts Isner’s Third Run for a Title at BB&T Atlanta Open

By Audraine Jackson

Atlanta, GA USA – In 2001 Shirley Franklin was elected Atlanta’s first female African-American mayor.  The Braves defeated the Houston Astros in the National League Division Series and an 18-year-old aspiring tennis champion named Andy Roddick  won his first ATP World Tour title in the city when the tournament was played on clay. Eleven years later with a former No. 1 ranking under his belt, a wiser, more experienced 29-year-old Roddick defeated top seeded John Isner  6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4 to move a step closer to earning the title a second time at the BB&T Atlanta Open. “I think it’s good. It was a long time ago, a different surface, a different time of year,” Roddick said. “There are not a lot of parallels but I can say certainly it’s nice to be back in the finals here.”

Both players had loud and vocal fans present as they took the court in a packed, sold out arena under threatening skies that caused a 30 minute rain delay. Isner managed 26 aces to Roddick’s six but the difference was his opponent’s ability to convert points off serves. “I took care of my serve. I did what I was supposed to do. You’re not going to beat John if you get broken a lot.  I was able to play off a little bit of trouble there at the net in the first set. I just competed well. I stayed in it even when I wasn’t real happy about whatever was going on. I kept it together and competed well.”

Isner has made the finals for the past two years losing to Mardy Fish while missing the finals this year in a loss to Roddick. “It didn’t go my way. He was the better player tonight. That’s why he won,” Isner said. “It’s pretty disappointing. Three years in this tournament I lost to two Americans, good friends of mine and it’s tough. I’ve always wanted to win this tournament but it wasn’t to be. It’s really no shame to losing to either one of those guys.”

Roddick will compete for the singles title against Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller, a lefty with a big serve that defeated 8th seeded Go Soeda of Japan 6-4, 6-3 to gain a spot in the finals. Muller’s serve dominated the match with 17 aces, winning over 90 percent of his first serve points in only 74 minutes over his 54th ranked opponent.  Muller said he had no plans to watch the semis but understood he would face a good player in the championship match. A victory would mark his fist title at the Atlanta tournament.

At stake is a trophy along with an $86,270 check for the winner with the runner up receiving $45, 435 and 150 ranking points. Roddick has faced Gilles at least three times losing once in 2005 but readily admitted that loss was a long time ago. “I’m going to have to put a lot of returns in play against him. He will probably try and come to the net more often than John (Isner) and his serve will be coming from a different angle.”

Two American players will compete on opposing teams in the doubles final. Matthew Ebden (AUS) and Ryan Harrison (USA) defeated 1st seeded Colin Fleming (GBR) and Ross Hutchins (GBR) 6-4, 6-4. Xavier Malisse (BEL) and Michael Russell (USA) earned a spot in the finals by defeating Raven Klaasen (RSA) and Donald Young (USA) 6-7(2), 6-4, 10-5.

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Audraine Jackson is covering the BB&T Atlanta Open for Tennis Panorama News July 14-22, 2012. Audraine is a sports blogger, digital journalist and tennis addict. Follow her live updates on @tennisnewsTPN and personal twitter account @atlstoryteller.

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Atlantic Station is a winner for fans at BB&T Atlanta Open

John and Robert Frierson at BB&T Atlanta Open

By Herman Wood

ATLANTA, Georgia – Atlantic Station is a hopping place! The first semifinal has been completed, with Gilles Muller over Go Soeda 6-4, 6-3 and Ebden/Harrison over Fleming/Hutchins 6-3, 6-3. The stadium has emptied into Atlantic Station, where folks are shopping, eating, drinking, and generally having a great time. Kids are shooting hoops at the Atlanta Hawks tent, playing tennis at the 10 under courts and playing tennis at Publix family zone. John Frierson was taking the opportunity to teach tennis to his son Robert on the 10 and under courts. He was looking forward to the showdown tonight. Olympic folks are here with interactive booths for adults and kids to try their skills in various Olympic events.

Michael Koenig and Jack Hendry

Michael Koenig and Jack Hendry tried their skills at basketball, Paralympic style! The event had them set up in wheelchairs trying to shoot baskets. They found the going significantly tougher than their typical basketball games, but several baskets were made. Their parents were having dinner at a restaurant somewhere at Atlantic Station while they had all kinds of fun! I asked if they were rooting for anyone in particular tonight. “Roddick!” Not for the Georgia boy John Isner? “No, Roddick is the best American.” I’m sure some Georgia Bulldog fans will have something to say about that. I expect a lot of barking!

Eduardo and Andrea Baetti, with Ricardo and Alejandra Hein

Eduardo and Andrea Baetti, with Ricardo and Alejandra Hein, took in the first semifinal match today. Eduardo was sporting a Georgia hat. They didn’t have tickets for the night session but were planning lots of fun at Atlantic Station. He was definitely pulling for John Isner.

The official shirt vendor for the tourney pulled off a major coup overnight. They were able to work with John Isner and his foundation to have T-shirts printed out that say “Team Isner” in Georgia red and black. A portion of sales will go to Isner’s foundation. Sales were moving very briskly as they were already sold out of size large before the afternoon session was done.

 


Everyone seemed to be having a great time and we’re all very happy to be at Atlantic Station. It seems the players weren’t the only ones serving aces.

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Herman Wood is in Atlanta covering the BB&T Open action from around the grounds for Tennis Panorama News, follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/hermanewood

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Isner, Roddick to meet in BB&T Atlanta Open

By Audraine Jackson

Atlanta, GA USA – John Isner moved closer to reaching the finals for the third straight year at the BB&T Atlanta Open winning a hard fought battle over 19-year old wild card Jack Sock 7-6 (7), 6-4. Isner’s opponent made the first set a grueling match with powerful forehand winners that landed him into a tie break after an hour rain delay. “I came out really flat after the rain delay and that made the set anybody’s set,” Isner said. “I think had it not rained maybe I could have won that set a little bit easier.”

 

The two were only 27 minutes into the match before it was halted by rain. Conditions became more humid as they resumed the first set with Isner up 4-1 and Sock serving. The first set alone helped pushed the match to over 2 hours, adding in the rain delay it finished well beyond midnight.

 

“That took a little bit out of me. I focused so hard to try to win that second set. I let it slip away a little bit. The second set, it was gross out there. We were both sweating like pigs. Honestly, it was just disgusting. I can’t imagine playing a third set right now.”

 

Isner thanked fans for hanging around under tough conditions late into the night. “I never want to be the last match,” Isner said. “And it’s raining. Thanks for staying until the end. I probably would have left.” With Mardy Fish out due to a turned ankle, Isner will not get the much anticipated rematch with last year’s champion he’d hoped for but will face rival Andy Roddick in a marquee match up to advance to the finals.

 

Roddick made the semis by defeating fellow American Michael Russell 6-3, 6-4 in a two set match that lasted only an hour and 12 minutes. Two-time Olympian Roddick, clad in American stars and stripes tennis shoes, used his powerful serve landing 12 aces to dominate Russell in the match. “I felt good. The hot weather helps. It gives you different options.” Roddick said. “You can kind of go with kicks, slices because everything works in this hot weather. I felt like I could make some speeds pretty accurately. I compare it to pitching a good ballgame. I felt like I could throw any pitch for a strike tonight.”

 

Number 8 seed Go Soeda upset fellow countryman 3rd seed Kei Nishikori in a historic match to advance to the semis 6-2, 6-1. The two players met for the first time in Open Era history (since 1968) with the match broadcast live in Japan during the wee hours of the morning. The only other time two Japanese players met was in 1973 when Jun Kuki defeated Takeshi in Osaka.  Playing with nothing to lose, Go Soeda, 27, overpowered his higher ranked opponent with aggressive ground strokes that pushed Nishikori, 22, far beyond the baseline.  He will face Gilles Muller of Luxembourg who defeated Matthew Ebden of Australia 6-4, 6-4. In doubles action, Colin Fleming (GBR) and Ross Hutchins (GBR) will square off with Matthew Ebden (AUS) and Ryan Harrison (USA) while Xavier Malisse (BEL) and Michael Russell (USA) will see Raven Klaasen (RSA) and Donald Young (USA) to determine who will advance to the finals.

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Audraine Jackson is covering the BB&T Atlanta Open for Tennis Panorama News July 14-22, 2012. Audraine is a sports blogger, digital journalist and tennis addict. Follow her live updates on @tennisnewsTPN and personal twitter account @atlstoryteller.

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Meet Amber Lynn Smith – Super Tennis Fan, Super Roddick Fan

By Herman Wood

ATLANTA, Georgia -Fans of any sport can be rabid. If you go to LSU for a football game dressed in opposition colors, you’ll be taunted with chants of “Tiger Bait”. In Athens, Georgia, home of the Bulldogs, you’ll be barked at. Duke basketball fans are famous for their imaginative cheers. Tennis fans? If the NCAA Collegiate Tournament is held in Athens, there is some barking and there’s a certain collegiate coach who famously held fans at bay from atop a car with a wooden racquet back in the day, though that’s another story. Professional tennis fans are usually a laid back lot (unless it’s Davis Cup!) They clap politely for any good shot and sigh with disappointment at near misses. Ask who they’re cheering for and you’re likely to get a shrug.


Then there’s Amber Lynn Smith. Amber is a typical college student, hoping to become a teacher, drinking lots of milk. Milk? I really don’t know if she drinks milk or not, but it has a lot to do with her being a tennis super fan. When she was ten, she got interested in the game because of friends, but took a special interest in Andy Roddick. In fact, she fell in love with tennis because of his passion for the game. She wanted to hit the ball as hard as he did, so she wanted to be a better athlete. There was one of the milk promotional pictures at her school, so she asked for it at the end of the school year and it was given to her. It’s huge and covers one wall of her room. She got another poster and put it up in her locker at school.

She was able to make it to Roddick’s first match in the BB&T Atlanta Open and had a chance to meet him. We’ve all heard of the spoiled athletes who won’t take the time for a kid, much less an adult. It makes them hard to cheer for. That wasn’t the case here. Roddick couldn’t have been more gracious. He noticed Amber. She was wearing a shirt she had made with a super “R” and “Roddick” above the logo. On the back, it says “Forget those other superheros…” He complimented her on the shirt and took time to take a quick picture before his press conference. She had to wait around because they didn’t realize the picture didn’t take the first time until after. Roddick was more than happy to pose again and to spend a few minutes talking with her and to autograph her shirt.


Amber hopes to become a teacher, and I expect she’ll be a very good one, especially if she brings the same passion to her chosen profession. She also hopes to one day be able to teach tennis to children so they can start at a younger age than she did. She thinks the current under 10 initiative would have helped her greatly. She feels if children start at a younger age, they’ll grow up healthier.

Herman Wood is in Atlanta covering the BB&T Open action from around the grounds for Tennis Panorama News, follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/hermanewood

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Blake Outlasts Harrison in BB&T Atlanta Open

By Audraine Jackson

 

Atlanta, GA  USA – In a contest pairing a seasoned veteran with a rising power player, experience prevailed as James Blake outlasted 6 seed Ryan Harrison 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 at the BB&T Atlanta Open Tuesday.  Blake, still adjusting to knee surgery last year to correct a problem with tendentious, found a way to pull it out after only winning one game in the first set. “The first set was closer than it seemed. There were a lot of break points in the first game. I think I had a lot of break points later and a lot of game points I couldn’t close out,” said Blake.

 

“I think I was doing a great job defending. I wasn’t as accurate with my shots. I wasn’t putting balls away. I wasn’t closing points. He can run away with it then. His serve is big enough to get free points. Luckily I’ve been in matches like that before. I’ve been down before. I didn’t let it get to me. Once its one set whether its 6-0 or -7-6 it’s over. I tried to fight back and got a lead in the second set and tried to hang on to that.”

 

Harrison, who is heading to the Olympic games after this event used a power serve to dominate the first set but was not able to capitalize on breaks in the 3rd. “He played a pretty good game. I missed a couple of returns and he made some first serves,” said Harrison. “The 4 all game, I held a good game and then he played a good game at 4-5.  It’s a tough spot.  When you put yourself in that type of position the game can go either way. It’s been going my way some this year. Tonight it didn’t. It’s not devastating. I still have confidence in myself. I still had a pretty good season. It’s one match. I’m going to learn from it and try not to make the same mistakes again. I guess there are some times in there I lost concentration but ultimately in the match I kept it together and I was trying to do my best and it didn’t go my way.”

 

Blake acknowledges he is young in the real world but aging in the tennis world. “32 is old in tennis years. I definitely try to keep that in perspective. I’m one of the lucky ones who get to retire when I can still enjoy playing golf and throwing a ball with my kids so I’m definitely lucky in that regard.”

 

He was clearly the crowd favorite but recognizes the potential in the talent of a younger player. “As they get to know players like Ryan, he’s on been on tour for a couple of years, they might not know as much about him. He’s a good kid so I’m sure they will start cheering for him a lot more. He’s improved a lot. He’s matured a lot. He’s doing a lot of the right things. And that’s what I’ve said before about him. I’m terrible at judging talent. I hate making predictions about someone going to be top ten, top 100.  But one thing I will predict about him is he will get the most out of his talent. He is a hard worker.  Wants to learn. Is curious. He’s doing things the right way. Tonight he lost a close match and I’m sure he will learn from them. I’m sure he will figure out what maybe he could have done better. He’ll get the most out of his talent and his career and that’s all you can hope for.”

 

 

He may be correct in that assessment. As Blake left the lockeroom a few fans waited outside for autographs and photos. One lady who lagged behind held a photo of Harrison in her lap. She was waiting for him to come out so he could autograph it. Play continues today with 4th seeded Andy Roddick and men’s doubles.

 

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Audraine Jackson is covering the BB&T Atlanta Open for Tennis Panorama News July 14-22, 2012. Audraine is a sports blogger, digital journalist and tennis addict. Follow her live updates on @tennisnewsTPN and personal twitter account @atlstoryteller.

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Blake finds new motivation to win

By Sam Crenshaw, Special to Tennis Panorama News

ATLANTA, Georgia – James Blake will be the first to admit that his first round victory at the BB&T Atlanta Open was match that he was supposed to lose. The 32 year-old tour veteran out lasted 20 year old Ryan Harrison for a 3 set win that delighted the crowd at the Atlantic Station venue.

On paper it didn’t seem close..Harrison is 20 years old, ranked 43rd and bound for London for the 2012 Olympics. Blake, at 32, has seen his ranking slip out of the top 100 to 110. “I starting to play guys who grew up watching me”, said a smiling Blake after the match.

Blake is not considered a threat to win ATP titles, but he remains a crowd favorite and on this night he showed that his wisdom, remaining skills and even couple of friendly bounces off the top of the net can result in victory..

Health has been an issue for James, who talked about his knee surgery back in November. He looked to be moving well. His serve was not as crisp as his fans would remember. That is due to a shoulder injury that he continues to play through..

But after the match he told me about his new inspiration to play good tennis, the recent birth of his daughter. Blake said” This is the first match that I have won since she was born. Tonight her daddy is a winner.”

Great playing “Pops”.. You did your baby girl proud…

Sam Crenshaw is a 25-year veteran of sports broadcasting. He started his career in Augusta, Ga., working as a sports reporter for WRDW-TV and later worked at WFMY-TV in Greensboro, N.C. He moved to Atlanta in 1997 to become a sports broadcaster at WXIA-TV and is now the weekend sports anchor for WXIA covering amateur and professional sports statewide.

Read his sports blog Sam’s Passing Shots and follow him on twitter @samcrenshawwxia.

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Stringer Stories in Atlanta

Adam Queen from Your Serve Tennis, Photo by Herman Wood for Tennis Panorama.

By Herman Wood

 

ATLANTA, Georgia – At Atlanta’s BB&T Open, players are on a plane far above the recreational, league player or even teaching professional. Yesterday, Jack Sock recorded a 141 mph service ace while playing Alexander Bogomolov. Bogomolov had a few thunder claps of his own (or was that the usual Atlanta summer thunder storm that interrupted the match?). I know they’re bigger, stronger, and certainly better conditioned, but how is it possible to hit a ball 40 mph faster than the average Joe USTA? The racquets are the same, right? They’re using the same string, aren’t they?

I spoke to Adam Queen, stringer from Your Serve Tennis, the official stringer for the tournament to find out. “All the players are particular. They know what works best for them for different courts, balls, and conditions.” Conditions? “Most go up on tension with heat & humidity because the ball tends to fly.” Unlike you or I, professionals don’t need the stringers’ advice. They’ve experimented with different strings, tensions, number of knots and everything else you can imagine. Queen’s job is to meet those specs, unlike in one of his stores, where he’ll talk to a customer to find out what they need. Just like you and I, the pros want quality and consistency, but they want it to a high level. As an example, most players want their racquets done as close to match time as possible. Mardy Fish wants the second racquet he’ll use delivered ten minutes after the match starts! How would that make a difference?

It turns out that strings lose tension with time, not just use. Polyester string can lose thirty percent overnight! Alright, I could get my racquet strung just before my match if I could hit a 140 mph serve!

“That could be kind of tough on your arm if you use the same string the pros do and you’d have to restring for every match.” I asked Queen why it was tough on the arm. “Almost every pro uses polyester. Polyester string loses tension relatively quickly and becomes dead. Professionals’ shoulder, wrist, and elbow are better able to handle the demands of daily play and demanding equipment.” So that’s why my shoulder hurts when I hit with that year old polyester string! “They restring every time out.” That sounds expensive! So what else do they do differently? “Jack Sock strings at 40 pounds. James Blake uses 63 pounds. Both use polyester.” I guess that means I can play like Sock if I string at 40 and like Blake if at 63? Oh, I forgot- I don’t practice for hours on end every day and do physical conditioning for hours on end. What can I do?

“Be willing to experiment. Talk to your stringer. Give polyester a try, but be willing to cut it out after a few weeks even if it doesn’t break.” You think maybe I can hit that 140 mph serve, just once?

Herman Wood is in Atlanta covering the BB&T Open action from around the grounds for Tennis Panorama News, follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/hermanewood

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Pair of American Wildcards Dominated Day 3 at BB&T Atlanta Open

Steve Johnson photo by
Audraine Jackson for Tennis Panorama

By Audraine Jackson

Atlanta, GA USA – The BB&T Atlanta Open may be a new experience moving tennis into an urban environment but it hasn’t fared well for some local favorites as a pair of American wild cards ruled day 3 of tournament play. Nearby collegiate players made hasty exits Sunday leaving two time NCAA singles winner Steve Johnson in a position to shut down hometown favorite Donald Young winning in three sets 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Monday’s tournament activities included a salute to the US Military with a video presentation and appearances by a military Color Guard and a Wounded Warrior.

Young played below his level as his losing streak continued at 14, a serious slide after reaching as high as 38 in 2011. The timing was great for Johnson who admitted to a few nerves winning his first main draw ATP match. “The second set I had a chance to break at 2 all, I missed both returns, then he played a good game to break me. That’s kind of the way men’s tennis is. If you don’t capitalize on your break points – he will,” said Johnson.

“In the third set I thought I served good except for I guess the one game at 3-1. I think I got broken at love but to come right back and break back and have two strong service games was good for me to kind of settle my nerves down trying to win my first ATP match. In the end it was a great learning experience and I’m really glad I got the win.”

Ryan Harrison photo by Audraine Jackson for Tennis Panorama

An hour and a half rain delay didn’t dampen play for 19-year old Jack Sock who defeated seventh seed Alex Bogomolov 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. “I hoped for all 1st serves after the rain delay but didn’t happen.  Bogomolov returned well,” said Sock. “It feels good to be back on tour. I haven’t had a lot of matches but hope to get more.” Sock relied on a powerful forehand and drop shots near the net to capitalize on opportunities in a match lasting two hours and 14 minutes. The match included a medical break when Sock required assistance for a finger scraped by a racquet string that drew blood.

Americans Johnson and Sock will face each other in singles but not before being paired as doubles today against Bogomolov and Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller.  Another key matchup will be between US Olympic team member Ryan Harrison and James Blake who brings an aggressive baseline style to his matches.

Ryan, who turned pro in 2007, talked about what it will be like facing the veteran for only the second time in his career.  “James is great. James has been a very, very top professional caliber player in all sense of the word.” said Harrison. “Being a great guy, a great athlete, competitor all the way through and I’ve looked up to him for a long time. It’s my second time playing him. I played him in Houston in 2008 when I was 15 which was pretty young. He put a good beat down on me. But it’s been a long time since then. I know he’s got a lot of game, a lot of skill. I’m hoping I’ll play my best tennis and like any match I play, I believe if I play my best tennis I will give myself a chance to win.”

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Audraine Jackson is covering the BB&T Atlanta Open for Tennis Panorama News July 14-22, 2012. Audraine is a sports blogger, digital journalist and tennis addict. Follow her live updates on @tennisnewsTPN and personal twitter account @atlstoryteller.

RESULTS:

Monday Singles Rd 1

 

[W] J Sock d [7] A Bogomolov Jr 6-2, 4-6, 6-4

 

[5] K Anderson d P Lorenzi 6-4, 6-3

 

G Muller d M Matosevic 7-6(5), 6-4

 

N Mahut d P Capdeville 6-3, 3-6, 6-4

 

Monday Doubles Rd 1

 

X Malisse/ M Russell d J Fruttero/ D Tursunov 1-6, 6-1 10-3

 

[4] J Delgado/ K Skupski d O Charroin/ A Shamasdin 2-6, 6-4, 11-9

 

 

 

Monday Qualifying Rd 3 Results

 

[1] R Bemelmans d [8] R Hocevar 6-2, 6-2

 

[3] S Bubka d [6] T Smyczek 6-3, 6-4

 

[2] R Berankis d [5] R De Voest 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3

 

[7] A Kuznetsov d [4] R Mello 6-1, 3-6, 6-4

 

Sunday Qualifying Rd 2 Results

 

[7] A Kuznetsov d L Margaroli 6-2, 6-0

 

[4] R Mello d [W] M Ndimande 6-4, 6-2

 

[3] S Bubka d C Gard 6-4, 7-6(6)

 

[5] R De Voest d [W] K King 6-7(3) 7-6(4) 6-4

 

[6] T Smyczek d O Sajous 7-5, 6-3

 

[8] R Hocevar d O Charroin 6-4, 7-5

 

[1] R Bemelmans d [W] L Dlouhy 6-1, 7-5

 

[2] R Berankis d [WC] D Bernstein 6-4, 6-1

 

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