2014/07/31

Levine To Play For Canada

Jesse Levine (Photo by Erik Gudris)

Jesse Levine (Photo by Erik Gudris)

(December 19, 2012)  Tennis Canada has announced that 25-year-old Jesse Levine, currently ranked No. 104 on the ATP World Tour has decided to represent his birth country and play for Canada on tour.

“We are pleased that Jesse has decided to play for Canada,” said Tennis Canada President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Downey. “We believe he can strengthen our Davis Cup team and add depth to our roster when he is eligible to play.”

Levine was born in Ottawa and spent the first 13 years of his life in Canada before moving to the United States.

 

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Keys and Levine Book Their Spot into 2012 Australian Open Main Draw

By Erik Gudris

NORCROSS, Georgia – For the players in today’s Men’s and Women’s Finals at the Australian Open Wildcard Playoffs, there was only one goal – win the match and earn the right to walk right into the main draw of next month’s Australian Open.

Madison Keys (Photo by Erik Gudris)

The Women’s Finals featured two young American players, Madison Keys, who won the U.S. Open Wildcard earlier this summer, and Gail Brodsky who is currently ranked No. 229 on the WTA Tour. Keys went in as a slight favorite and her huge serve and powerful groundstrokes allowed her to dictate the tone of the first set. Going up a quick 4-1 on a double break, Keys briefly allowed Brodsky back into the set but managed to serve it out at 6-3.

Brodsky did her best to keep fighting with Keys who often had the last word in some of the longer rallies. Brodsky managed to get two break point chances in the second set at 4-2, but Keys fired off two consecutive aces to hold for a 5-2 lead. But when Keys was serving for it at 5-3, she just let up on her intensity enough to allow Brodsky to break back. Keys resumed her momentum in the next game and on her first match point, she hit a sizzling forehand winner to clinch her wildcard berth into Melbourne with a 6-3, 6-4 win.

Brodsky said afterwards that she didn’t feel that Keys played with any pressure on her. Keys agreed with that thought and spoke about her recent success and how her young age actually helps her when competing, “I’m one of the younger ones still so I’m not really supposed to be winning matches. I’m the underdog when I come into matches so I usually try to play like that but I’m also trying to play more free. That helps me keep it all in perspective.” Keys now plans to travel to Iowa, Boca Raton and then California before heading down under.

 

Jesse Levine (Photo by Erik Gudris)

The Men’s Finals featured a first time meeting between Jesse Levine of Boca Raton, FL and Kennesaw, GA native Robby Ginepri who is working his way back into the sport after injury sidelined him for most of this year. Local fans were hopeful that Ginepri could delight them with a win today, but unfortunately Ginepri had one of those days that all tennis players can relate to in that nothing worked for him on court. Levine played a steady match throughout while Ginepri often saw his shots sail wide or found him making unnecessary errors on what looked like easy winners.

After losing the first two sets in quick succession, Ginepri took an extended bathroom break before the third set to change his clothes and hopefully change the match. Despite Ginepri mixing up his game with some serve and volley, Levine remained consistent while the errors continued to mount for Ginepri. After breaking Ginepri for a 4-1 lead in the third set, Levine stayed the course and earned a convincing 6-0, 6-2, 6-1 victory that assures him a wildcard berth into the main draw of the Australian Open.

“I was in the zone today and was trying to stay with it,” said Levine about his performance. “After that first set, I was thinking can I keep this up? Robby is a really great competitor and he’s in really great shape. Honestly I was hitting the ball as solid as I could hit it and it all worked out for me today.”

Levine has played mostly challengers during 2011, but his recent results including today has him excited for next year. “I had a really good finish to the year and winning the title in Knoxville was a big boost to my confidence. And so getting back into the big leagues again proves all my hard work is paying off. I’m really excited to be back in the big show again. It feels good.”

Erik Gudris writes and moderates Adjustingthenet.com, a tennis news site. Follow him on Twitter @adjustingthenet.

Tennis Panorama News will be media covering next month’s Australian Open in Melbourne from January 16-29, 2012.

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Brodsky Surprises as Levine and Ginepri Set Up Finals Clash for Australian Open Wildcard

Madison Keys (Photo by Tom Grason)

By Erik Gudris

NORCROSS, Georgia – Semifinals Day at the Australian Open Wildcard Playoffs held at the Racquet Club of the South had the feel of a community tennis event with kids practicing their serves on outer courts while spectators wandered around the merchandise and food vendor areas inside the indoor court complex of the club. With all this activity going on around them, the semifinalists must have had to concentrate even twice as hard to keep focus on their main goal – a coveted wildcard berth into next month’s Australian Open.

Both Women’s semifinals went the distance but the tone and decibel level of each match was decidedly different. Madison Keys looked sluggish and distracted during the first set in her semi against No. 2 seed Alison Riske who used her low crosscourt forehand to great effectiveness taking the first set. But Keys found her huge serve and didn’t look back for the rest of the match as she went on to secure a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win.

The second semi featured No. 1 seed Coco Vandeweghe against Gail Brodsky. Despite Vandeweghe’s ability to hit heavy flat winners at will, Brodsky handled Vandeweghe’s pace and supplied plenty of her own in their rallies. Both women split the first two sets 6-3, 3-6 and as the third set started, the vocal outcries from both players showed how much they wanted it. Brodsky jumped out to an early 3-1 lead, but Vandeweghe fought to pull even at 4-4. The next game proved to be a marathon with multiple deuces, but with a break point opportunity, Vandeweghe found herself at net with several chances to end the point. Instead it was Brodsky who chased down a short volley and hit a stunning pass that brought the crowd to its feet. Brodsky finally claimed the game to go up 5-4, first with an ace that was called a fault then corrected as good by the umpire and then the ad point when Vandeweghe hit long.

Both players questioned what seemed to be poor line calls late in the match, but Vandeweghe appeared to be the more frustrated of the two, even at one point engaging in a long conversation with the umpire before the start of a game. That frustration, plus having to serve from behind in the final set proved too much for Vandeweghe as Brodsky passed her at net on her first match point to claim a 6-3, 3-6, 9-7 win.

Afterwards, Brodsky talked about the issues with the officiating saying, “I wasn’t that upset about the calls because I can understand the situation as it was pretty dark inside and we both hit the ball pretty fast so I can understand where the mistakes would come from. But obviously it’s hard to deal with obvious errors when the match is that close.” Brodsky later credited her recent off-season training with the USTA for giving her the stamina she needed to pull off the upset.

On the men’s side, both semifinals saw convincing wins with the same scoreline. No. 2 seed Jesse Levine defeated No. 3 seed Denis Kudla 7-5, 6-2 that saw Levine close out the match with an ace. Levine, who since September has climbed 300 spots in the ATP rankings to No. 164, credited his new fitness trainer Austin Brock and a new coaching team that includes Tarik Benhabilies with helping him stay healthy.

 

Robby Ginepri (Photo by Tom Grason)

Levine will now face in the finals local favorite Robby Ginepri who defeated Rhyne Williams 7-5, 6-2 in the other semifinal. “It’s going to be a really tough match, said Levine, “I’ve never played Robby in a competitive match before. He’s a great player and he moves extremely well and it’s best three out of five tomorrow too so I’m going to rest up tonight. Obviously there’s a lot at stake for both of us. Three out of five sets is always a physical and mental battle so I will prepare myself the best way that I can.”

Sunday’s finals schedule will start at 1pm EST with Gail Brodsky against Madison Keys followed by Robby Ginepri against Jessie Levine.

Erik Gudris writes and moderates Adjustingthenet.com, a tennis news site. Follow him on Twitter @adjustingthenet.

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Fields for USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs Announced

 

USTA Player Development has named the eight men and eight women who will be participating in the Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs. They include in the Women’s draw – Melanie Oudin, Coco Vandeweghe, Madison Keys, Jamie Hampton, Gail Brodsky, Alison Riske, Grace Min and Taylor Townsend.

 

The men’s field consists of Robby Ginepri, Jack Sock, Bobby Reynolds, Denis Kudla, Steve Johnson, Daniel Kosakowski, Rhyne Williams and Jesse Levine.

 

The playoffs will be held at the Racquet Club of the South in Atlanta, one of the USTA Certified Regional Training Centers  from December 16-18.  The winners will receive main draw singles wild cards into the men’s and women’s draws at the 2012 Australian Open through a reciprocal agreement with Tennis Australia.

 

Seeding for the playoffs will be based on the ATP World Tour and WTA Rankings.

 

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2011 USTA Pro Circuit Season-Opener at Plantation Open

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., January 11, 2011 – The USTA announced that the 32nd season of the USTA Pro Circuit began today with the Plantation Open, a combined men’s and women’s clay court event in Plantation, Fla. In total, the 2011 USTA Pro Circuit will feature 88 events — including a record 30 tournaments scheduled to be played on clay — and a total prize money purse in excess of $3 million.

The Plantation Open begins a string of four consecutive $10,000 men’s Futures events and two consecutive $25,000 women’s events to be played on clay in Florida.

American Jesse Levine and Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal are the No. 1 seeds in their respective entry fields at Plantation.  Levine, a former All-American at the University of Florida, reached the third round at Wimbledon in 2009, while Larcher de Brito had advanced to the third round of the 2009 French Open as a 16-year-old qualifier.

Other players scheduled to begin their season in Plantation include: 2010 US Open boys’ finalist DMichelle Larcher de Brito, who reached the third round of the 2010 US Open; Christian Harrison, who won the boys’ 16s title at the 2008 USTA International Spring Championships as a 13-year-old and was sidelined for much of 2009 and 2010 with injuries; Shelby Rogers, the reigning USTA Girls’ 18s National Champion; University of Virginia freshman Alex Domijan, who spent much of 2009 as the No. 1 player in the USTA Boys’ 18s national standings; and Julie Ditty, the all-time leader in career USTA Pro Circuit titles with 36.

With prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis professionals, and a frequent battleground for established players. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed on the USTA Pro Circuit for valuable ATP and WTA Tour ranking points.  Administered on the local level, it is played on local tennis courts as part of the fabric of communities nationwide–an opportunity for current and new fans to experience the excitement and intensity of the professional game in their neighborhood.

Since 1979, 15 USTA Pro Circuit alums (including five Americans) achieved the No. 1 world singles ranking. Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, Lindsay Davenport, Jelena Jankovic, Pete Sampras, Justine Henin, Jim Courier and Andre Agassi are among the game’s top stars who began their career on the USTA Pro Circuit. The past few years have seen breakout performances by USTA Pro Circuit players, including that of Melanie Oudin, Sam Querrey and John Isner.

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