2014/04/20

BNP Paribas Open announces Wild Cards Which Include Americans Young, Sock, Harrison, Johnson, Duval and Townsend

big bnp paribas open logo

INDIAN WELLS, Calif., Feb. 26, 2014 – Former top five players Nadia Petrova and Vera Zvonareva; Americans Donald Young, Jack Sock, Ryan Harrison, Steve Johnson, Rhyne Williams, Coco Vandeweghe, Shelby Rogers, Vicky Duval and Taylor Townsend; and Donna Vekic and Belinda Bencic were granted wildcards into the main draws of the BNP Paribas Open, to be held March 3 – 16 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, it was announced today by Tournament Director Steve Simon.
Russia’s Nadia Petrova has won 13 career WTA single titles and 24 doubles crowns. The former World No. 3 has reached nine Grand Slam quarterfinals, advancing to the semifinals twice. Fellow Russian star and 2009 BNP Paribas Open champion Vera Zvonareva has 12 career WTA singles triumphs and six doubles titles. The former World No. 2 also has two Grand Slam finals appearances.
In addition, nine Americans have been granted wildcards into the main draws including Donald Young, who reached the third round of this year’s Australian Open; 21-year-old Jack Sock, who advanced to the third round of the 2013 U.S. Open; Ryan Harrison, who boasted a career-high ranking of No. 43 in 2012; two-time NCAA Champion from USC Steve Johnson, who reached the third round of the 2012 US Open; Rhyne Williams, who is coming off a quarterfinals appearance at Delray Beach, pushing top-ranked American and World No. 13 John Isner to three sets; Coco Vandeweghe, a two-time ITF singles winner; Shelby Rogers, a four-time singles champion on the ITF circuit; Vicky Duval, who achieved a career-high ranking earlier this year after jumping 528 rankings places since the end of 2011; and 17-year-old Taylor Townsend, who turned professional in 2012 after reaching the top of the junior rankings earlier that year.
Two other international players receiving main draw wildcards are 17-year-old Croatian Donna Vekic, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 62 in 2013 and 16-year-old Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, who advanced to the second round of the Australian Open earlier this year.
“This year’s main draw wildcards span from established veterans, to rising American and international stars,” said Simon. “Awarding wildcards to players like Nadia Petrova, Vera Zvonareva, Donald Young, Jack Sock and others, add to the excitement for fans and provide the potential for these deserving athletes to make a run at the BNP Paribas Open.”
Qualifying wildcards were given to Americans Raymond Sarmiento, Stefan Kozlov, Clay Thompson, Irina Falconi, Madison Brengle, Grace Min and Allie Kiick, Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinaxis and the United Kingdom’s Heather Watson.
Sarmiento is a senior-standout at USC and member of two NCAA team championships for the Trojans. Sixteen-year-old Kozlov achieved a career-high ranking in February, after turning pro in 2013. Thompson reached a career-high ranking in 2013. Falconi cracked the WTA top 100 in 2011 and advanced to the second round of this year’s Australian Open. Brengle reached a career-high ranking earlier this year, and has won five ITF singles titles. Min won the 2011 US Open Junior Championship and three ITF titles in 2012, while Kiick also has three ITF singles crowns. Kokkinaxis advanced to the second round at this year’s Australian Open, where he pushed World No. 1 Rafael Nadal to three sets. Watson has one WTA singles title and two doubles titles.
In addition to the aforementioned qualifying wildcards, the winners of each BNP Paribas Challenge, the pre-qualifying event for the tournament, which takes place February 24 – March 1, will also be granted a berth into the 2014 BNP Paribas Open qualifying draw. Women’s qualifying starts March 3 and men’s qualifying begins March 4.
Share

Victoria Duval Headlines USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs

Victoria Duval

(November 19, 2013) Victoria Duval will headline the field at the 2013 USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs, being held December 20-22 at Life Time Athletic at Peachtree Corners in Norcross, Ga.

 

The 17-year old American upset the 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur in the first round of the 2013 US Open. She’s currently the youngest member of the WTA top 200, ranked at 168.

 

Other players joining Duval in the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs include, Atlanta native and 2011 US Open junior champion Grace Min (No. 153), Shelby Rogers (No. 126) and Madison Brengle (No. 150), who won USTA wild cards into the 2007 and 2008 Australian Opens, as players competing for a singles wild card entry into the 2014 Australian Open. The annual Wild Card Playoffs, will feature eight men and eight women, with the remaining players to be announced at a later date. The USTA secured the opportunity through a reciprocal agreement with Tennis Australia, where the two national federations exchanged wild cards for the 2013 US Open and 2014 Australian Open.

For more information www.australianwildcard.com.

 

Share

Shelby Rogers Claims US Open Wild Card Through USTA Pro Circuit Events

Shelby Rogers by Craig Glover / Party Rock Open

Shelby Rogers by Craig Glover / Party Rock Open

From the USTA: (July 28, 2013) The USTA announced that Shelby Rogers has earned a main draw wild card into the 2013 US Open. This year, the USTA awarded one women’s singles main draw wild card into the US Open to the American who earned the most WTA Tour Ranking points at two of three $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit hard-court events in Yakima, Wash., Portland, Ore., and Lexington, Ky. Rogers earned a combined 102 points with her best two results, winning the title in Lexington today and reaching the semifinals in Portland.

Rogers also earned a main-draw wild card into the 2013 French Open by winning the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge; in Paris, she defeated Irena Pavlovic in the first round to win her first-ever Grand Slam main draw match. The winner of the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge was determined similarly to this US Open wild card system by the player who accumulated the greatest number of WTA ranking points at two of three USTA Pro Circuit clay-court events. Rogers rose to the top of the standings by winning the title at the $50,000 event in Charlottesville, Va., and reaching the quarterfinals at the $50,000 event in Dothan, Ala.

Last year, Rogers made a run to the final of the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Las Vegas and claimed the singles title in Yakima with a victory over US Open girls’ champion Samantha Crawford. As a junior player, Rogers won the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships to earn a wild card into the main draw of the 2010 US Open for her first appearance in a Grand Slam (in the either main draw or the juniors). She trains at the USTA National Training Center – Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., and is ranked No. 143 in the world.

The USTA first used this wild card format for its 2012 French Open wild cards, won by Melanie Oudin and Brian Baker, who each advanced to the second round at last year’s French Open and subsequently broke into the Top 100. The USTA also used this format to grant a men’s and women’s main draw wild card into the 2012 US Open, which was won by Steve Johnson and Mallory Burdette, who both reached the third round of the US Open, as well as the 2013 French Open, which was won by Alex Kuznetsov and Rogers.

Ranking points from two out of four men’s events—$50,000 events in Binghamton, N.Y., and Lexington, Ky., and $100,000 events in Vancouver, B.C., and Aptos, Calif.—will be used and combined to calculate the men’s point total and determine the US Open wild card recipient. Vancouver and Aptos will be held over the next two weeks. Lexington concludes today. Alex Kuznetsov currently leads the men’s standings with 80 points after winning Binghamton.

Only players who have not earned direct acceptance into the US Open are eligible for the wild card.

Share

Notes and Quotes From Day One at the 2013 French Open

 

(May 26, 2013) A few of the quotes from the news conferences from Day 1 at the French Open.

Venus Williams

Asked about her preparation for Roland Garros:

“Extremely unideal.

“Definitely, you know ‑‑ definitely been struggling.  Just wanted to come here and try to ‑‑ you know, try to play.  I mean, I think my movement is awesome, but I just haven’t played any matches and just haven’t hit any serves, and it’s just hard to be perfect in the first match.

“I think there were periods where, you know, I found some rhythm and there were periods where I didn’t.  I tried very hard, but my opponent just played a little better.”

 

Venus admitted that problems with her back prevented her from serving with more speed:

“I can’t really serve very hard.  It’s painful when I do that.  But I’m getting better.  I just, you know, ran out of time to get better for this tournament.

“My strategy was more or less to put the ball in, and that’s very difficult for me, too, because that’s not who I am.  But that’s all I had.  So that was challenging to, you know, be conservative on the serve and then go to be aggressive during the point.  It’s like, you know, you have to, you know, suddenly change your mindset.  That’s a little challenging.

“So I’m just, you know, obviously going to try to, you know ‑‑ I want my serve back.  I’m going to try to get it back for Wimbledon.”

“Sometimes you can just play yourself into the tournaments, and maybe if I was able to win that match maybe I could have continued to play better off the ground.  I’m not sure how much better I could play off the serve.

“That’s sometimes how it works in tennis, but it’s just been a very challenging injury for me.”

Serena Williams

 

Asked about her rivalry with Martina Hingis and if her role as coach is a good thing for women’s tennis.

“I don’t know if it’s good for women’s tennis, but it’s exciting to see Martina around and see her wisdom going to another player.  And Pavlyuchenkova, I know she had a really good win today.  Tough win.  It was good for her.

“I have seen improvements already.  I think they make a great team.  They get along well.  They seem to have so much fun.  I think it’s really nice.

 

 

Pablo Carreno Busta

After his loss to Roger Federer, Carreno Busta was asked about the difference between playing the futures and challenger events versus the ATP Tour.

“Yeah, in futures the players plays good, but maybe the level was really different.  Roger is No. 2 of the world and was maybe the best in the history, so I think that it’s impossible compare the level in futures with the level of Roger.

“I think I play eight futures this year and I play really good.  I won seven, and it was very, very good for my confidence and for my level in tennis.

“But I think now for me the best time to be better is playing these matches and with these opponents.”

 

Roger Federer

 

Federer shared his opinion about the Sunday starts at the French Open:

“Well, I mean, yeah, I mean, I remember they sort of forced me to play on Sunday years back to promote their Sunday thing.  I was against it just because I felt like the way they got the Sunday, you know, first was maybe, oh, let’s try it out.  Next thing you know like they have it for a lifetime or what?  Is that how it works?

“So I didn’t agree with how things went along.  From that standpoint today, you know, it is what it is, but it is the only Grand Slam that has it.  Wimbledon does it in 13 days and the French does it in 15.

“So it doesn’t make sense, but I do understand that a weekend for tennis is very important for the people who can show up instead of ‑‑ it anyway is very odd that we do start the tournament week on a Monday where everybody goes back to work.  Doesn’t really work.

“But, anyway, it’s how we are.  So I get the Sunday start, but it’s always something that’s a debate, you know, within the ATP and the French Open.

“But I’m happy this time around.  I told them if they wanted me to play Sunday, whatever, I’m fine with it.  They took that opportunity right away, so… (He said smiling)”

Sara Errani

Last year’s losing finalist gave her thoughts about returning to the finals this year:

” I’m not thinking about that.  It’s a new tournament for me.  Also last year was unbelievable tournament, best tournament of my life, how you say.

“I don’t want to think about that.  I just want to come here and play another tournament, a new tournament like I do other week, try to think that it’s important tournament, but is only one more tournament.

“So I try to be like that, try to concentrate on my tennis, not too much about last year or what I defend and these things.”

 

Xavier Malisse

 

After his loss to Milos Raonic,Malise gave his houghts on playing Roland Garros next year:

“Perhaps I will come back, but not necessarily in the top ranks.  I don’t know.  It’s difficult really to say.  After last year I felt as though I was really done so I don’t know if I could have come back, but of course here I am.  Who knows what’s going to happen now.

“But I would like to play one more year.  It’s nice playing here because it’s all very special here because everybody is here and the Belgians are here.

“But you never know.  You never know what the future will hold.”

 

Mallory Burdette

Asked about how comfortable she felt playing on clay:

“It’s definitely a bit of a different game, but it’s nothing that we can’t adjust to.  I can’t really speak for the other players, but it’s a bit of a challenge.  You have to change up your strategy a little bit, especially if you’re a big hitter.

“It takes a little bit of effort, but it’s fun and it’s a good challenge.

 

Stanford grad Burdette was asked what advice would she give high school seniors deciding whether or not to go to college.

“I think one of the biggest things is to realize that everybody is different.  So your path may be very different from someone else’s.

“When it comes to assessing your game, I would say get a lot of opinions from other coaches, hear what they have to say.

“Also, what are you comfortable with right now?  Do you feel like you’re in a position mentally and emotionally where you can grow and develop while you’re on your own on the tour?  Then go for it.  You have a good support system, financially everything is in line.

“If you feel like you can’t do that, then school is a great option.  It’s a place where you can grow and develop and go through some tough times.  You have a team there to support you and coaches with you at all times; whereas on the tour you’re a little bit more on your own.

“So it depends on the individual.  You really just have to lok at what will work for you.”

 

Milos Raonic

 

Raonic who is now working with former pro Ivan Ljubicic commented on the difference between working with his old coach and now Ljubicic.

 

“I don’t think there is really too much difference.  I think just since it’s a new start with something, you just sort of go forward with it, with the game plan, and you sort of just lay that trust there.

“And just part of it is to be a bit more aggressive, to be quite a bit more aggressive and try to make the opponent more and more comfortable and not really settle for rally shots, trying to have more purpose on every shot, trying to sort of get that rather than waiting for my opponent to give it to me.  Sort of reaching out there and trying to take it for myself.

“Ivan is helping me out as a friend at the moment.”

 

Gilles Simon

What was going on in Simon’s mind when Hewitt evened the fifth set at 5-5:

“Well, I knew in the game I had to play against him, but unfortunately I just didn’t manage to do it at the beginning.  That’s the least I can say.

“I was feeling bad.  I didn’t have a good rhythm on the court.  It takes me a long time to find it.  Then it was better, a lot better.  I was in control.

“But unfortunately at the end he played one more time great tennis.  And it’s never easy to finish when you see the guy coming back 5‑1, 5‑2, 5‑3 after a few match points.

“So I’m just happy that I managed to win this one.  I think it was a very difficult match today for me, and I just hope I’m going to be better on the next round.”

 

Lleyton Hewitt

“It was more just blisters on my toe.  You know, it was uncomfortable but you can play through it.  He obviously stepped up his game from the start of the third set.  I was able to hang in there.  I had small opportunities.

“Broke back and got on serve at 3‑All and couldn’t quite ‑‑ if I could have kept in front in the third set and put a bit more pressure on him towards the end of the set I might have had a bit of a chance.”

“You know, would have liked to have been on the other end of it.  Yeah, disappointing, but, yeah, I didn’t obviously come here with massive expectations.”

Sam Querrey

On only his second win at Roland Garros:

“Yeah, feels great to get a win.  My other win was on this court, too, so that’s the only court I can win on here.

“The clay season has been a little rough.  Pulled out of Houston, and the Masters Series, I played well in both of them, but took two losses.  And then Nice was a little disappointing.

“I just focused on my attitude out here today and played the best match I’ve played all year on any surface.”

Shelby Rogers

 

My first Grand Slam main draw win.  And especially against a French player.  I was expecting the crowd to be against me.  I was ready for a battle.  She’s a good player and has got a lot of power.  Great serve.

“So I was ready for a battle; things turned out in my favor today.”

 

Michael Llodra

 

On whether or not he’ll retire after this year:

“I made my decision.  Because it’s still great pleasure.  So it’s going to be another year where I’ll have to play on the tournaments on which I feel good.

“But I made that decision.  I have too much fun on the court.  I’m in good shape.  And it’s always pleasant to have people supporting you, saying, Well, you’re one of the last ones playing with the kind of game you have.

“So I will probably have a lighter schedule.  But there are tournaments I like playing on, and I will continue.”

 

David Ferrer

Ferrer on his admiration of Lleyton Hewitt:

“Well, I saw what he did during his match, Hewitt, yeah.  He’s a player whom I admire.  He was like a benchmark for me from the very first day when I started playing tennis, because he’s such an excellent player.

“But, you know, at the end of the day everybody does their best, and experience counts a lot.  But the most important thing is that you have to love tennis.  Lleyton was No. 1.  Well, today he’s not got his best ranking, but he’s still fighting.

“And we, the younger generations ‑‑ or, rather, when we were young and for younger players, it’s a reference.  He should be considered as a reference.  They should look at him and see that he always reacts in a positive way.  Even though sometimes you’re down, your scores are awful, you do your best.  And this is something I admire from Lleyton.”

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

Share

Americans in Paris – Day One at Roland Garros

USdcfclogo

 

 

(May 26, 2013) Twenty-five players from the United States are competing in the singles draws of Paris this fortnight at Roland Garros – 15 women and 10 men. Americans went 4-4 in Paris on the first day of the French Open.

Here is a look at how they all fared:

First Round: Serena Williams (1) (USA) def. Anna Tatishvili (GEO) 6-0, 6-1

In 2012 Serena Williams lost for the only time in the first round of a major when she fell to Virginie Razzano in Paris. Williams did not let that happen on Sunday. Her demolition of Tashvilli saw Williams win 56 of 78 points in the match and hit 8 aces.

Serena was questioned about about the surge of women from the U. S.  in the main draw of Roland Garros – a total of 15.

“I think the quality over the past year has jumped tremendously with the U.S. players,” Williams said.  “On the female, female U.S. players.  I think last year here, outside of me, all the U.S. girls did really, really well, and I think we started to see then just so many players just popping up left and right.

“That’s 15 in the main draw?  That’s pretty awesome.  Yeah.  So it is a lot of players, but they’re all really young.  So there is still an opportunity to grow.”

Williams gets a French wild card, promising teenager Caroline Garcia next. Back in 2011, Garcia led Maria Sharapova in Paris 6-3, 4-1 before the Russian came back to win in three sets.

 

First round: Sam Querrey (18) (USA) def. Lukas Lacko (POL) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4

The No. 1 U. S. male who is 20th in the world, has equaled his best performance at the French Open by reaching the second round. In fact, the California native won Sunday’s match on the same court where he was victorious back in 2011 – on Court 7. Querrey is 1-3 on clay coming into Paris this season.

“The clay season has been a little rough,” Querrey said to media.  “Pulled out of Houston, and the Masters Series, I played well in both of them, but took two losses.  And then Nice was a little disappointing.

“I just focused on my attitude out here today and played the best match I’ve played all year on any surface.”

Querrey gets Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic next in the second round. Hajek defeated American Dennis Kudla

 

First round: Urszula Radwanska (POL) def. Venus Williams (USA) 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-4

The three hour and 19 minute match on Sunday was Williams‘ first loss in the opening round of the French Open since 2001.  She’s now lost in the first round of 2 of the last four majors. she also lost at Wimbledon. Despite the heart-breaking loss, she is not discouraged and will continue to play.

“I think that obviously it’s disappointing to lose,” Venus told media in her post-match news conference.  “It’s not what anyone is going for out here.  Coming out to win.  I’m coming out to win my matches.

“And, you know, with what I’ve gone through, it’s not easy.  But I’m strong and I’m a fighter.  You know, I don’t think I’m just playing for me now.  I think I’m playing for a lot of people who haven’t felt well.

“I think for me today it’s a positive to be able to play three hours.  I’m constantly finding ways to get better and to feel better.

“For me, I would never give up because, you know, obviously at some point everyone has to retire.  You know, that’s an asterisk, but I feel like I have to give myself a chance to continue working on feeling better.  I wouldn’t just give up just because it was difficult.

“That’s not me.  So my thing is that I’m going to keep ‑‑ continue trying.  And, you know, I had a very challenging year last year, but I had many successes, as well.

“So I’m continuing to look forward to more successes.”

Williams is still playing in the French Open, she’s competing in doubles with her sister Serena.

 

First round: Viktor Trocki (SRB) def. James Blake (USA) 6-4, 6-2, 6-2

Thirty-three year-old veteran James Blake, playing for the ninth time at Roland Garros could do nothing against Troicki. The highlight of the match for Blake was a between-the-legs shot.

Blake who came into Paris with no clay court ATP tournaments under his belt, spoke about play.

“The difference between my best and now is consistency,” said Blake to media. “I’m still trying to work on it. There are days it is good. Today wasn’t one of my best days. Off days are exposed very quickly out here.”

 

First round: Mallory Burdette (USA) def. Donna Vekic (CRO) 6-3, 6-4

Stanford Alum Mallory Burdette was making her debut on the clay of Paris. She has seen her ranking rise from No. 142 at the beginning of 2013 to No. 80.

Burdette spoke to media about her challenges in learning to play on clay.

“It’s definitely a bit of a different game, but it’s nothing that we can’t adjust to.  I can’t really speak for the other players, but it’s a bit of a challenge.  You have to change up your strategy a little bit, especially if you’re a big hitter.

“It takes a little bit of effort, but it’s fun and it’s a good challenge.”

 

First round: Shelby Rogers (USA) def. 6-3, 6-4 Irena Pavlovic (FRA)

Playing in just her second major, Shelby Rogers made her Paris debut a winning one. Beginning the year on tour at 0-6, she earned a wild card into Roland Garros.

Rogers who turned pro in 2009, reflected on the win:

“Feels really good.  My first Grand Slam main draw win.  And especially against a French player.  I was expecting the crowd to be against me.  I was ready for a battle.”

“It was really tough for a while,” said the 188th ranked player. “I wasn’t a very happy person. But I kept grinding it out every day, and I knew something had to turn around eventually. Here I am – pretty much the highest point of my career.”

 

Jan Hajek(CZE) def. Denis Kudla (USA) 6-2, 5-7, 6-0, 6-4

Kudla, once the No. 3 Junior made it into the main draw as a qualifier.

 

Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) def. Grace Min (USA) 4-6, 6-4, 7-5

The 2011 U.S. Open Girls’ champion Grace Min made it to the main draw of Roland Garros as a qualifier.

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

Share

Meet Alex Kuznetsov and Shelby Rogers, USTA Pro Circuit French Open Wild Card Challenge Winners

Shelby_Rogers_Semis_9-29Kuznetsov

The USTA held a conference call with Alex Kuznetsov and Shelby Rogers, the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge winners, who each earned a wild card into the 2013 French Open based on results over the past three weeks on the USTA Pro Circuit. Here is the official transcript of the call from the ASAPSports site:

UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE

May 6, 2013

Alex Kuznetsov

Shelby Rogers

AMANDA KORBA:  Thanks for joining us on the call today with Alex Kuznetsov and Shelby Rogers, the men’s and women’s winners of the Har‑Tru U.S. Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge, winning a wild card into the 2013 French Open later this month.
The USTA and the French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2013 French Open and US Open are exchanged.  This is the second year the USTA has held the Wild Card Challenge using the U.S. Pro Circuit events to determine the recipients.
The winner of the Wild Card Challenge was determined by the player who accumulated the greatest number of ATP and WTA ranking points at two of three USTA Pro Circuit events.  Alex earned 115 points in the challenge, winning the title in Sarasota, reaching the quarters in Savannah and Tallahassee.  Shelby earned 88 points winning the Charlottesville title and reaching the quarterfinals in Dothan.  She clinched the wild card this weekend.
Both Alex and Shelby will be making their French Open main draw debuts.  Alex reached the finals of the French Open juniors in 2004, losing to Monfils in the final.  Shelby’s last appearance in a Grand Slam was in 2010 when she won a wild card into the US Open by winning the USTA Girls 18 National Championships.
We’ll open it up for questions.

Q.  Alex, could you think back to 2004 when you were a finalist in the boys tournament at Roland Garros, give us an idea at that point where you felt your career was and maybe were you thinking back then that relatively soon you’d be in the main draw there at the French Open and what it means to you now to earn that chance to play in the main draw there.
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Obviously, yeah, back then it was a great time for me.  I was in the finals of the juniors.  I was playing some good tennis.  Going up against Gaël Monfils, I think he was ranked No.1 in the world at that time.  We were going to be playing on Court1.  I remember I was really excited.  Had my parents and grandparents over there with me, some coaches.
Yeah, obviously it was a great time for me.  But I knew it was a long road ahead of me.  I think I had a couple ATP points at the time.  I knew after that tournament I was going to be playing a lot of futures and challengers events.
But, honestly, to think I guess it’s been almost 10 years that this will be my first French Open main draw, I would have said I’d liked to have been in a couple before now, to be honest with you.

Q.  What does it mean to you to get that chance now?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  It means a lot.  It means all the hard work that I’ve put in is paying off.  I continue to keep working hard.  I know this is kind of the first step of many, I hope.  I look forward to continue playing some good tennis.  I look forward to getting over to Nice next week to start playing some tournaments over there, hopefully get some matches under my belt there.  Hopefully I continue playing well leading up to Roland Garros.

Q.  Alex, obviously we saw last year someone who had some major injuries, not exactly the same situation with you, the car accident.  I’m wondering if Brian Baker offered any inspiration for you in the last few months?  Obviously he was also a French Open junior finalist a long time ago, came back and made a big impact last year.
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Brian offered a lot of encouragement to me just to see kind of what he’s been through throughout his whole career.  I had that one major injury with the car accident, but he’s a guy who has had numerous major issues with his knees and his hip and his elbow.  This is a guy that pretty much stopped playing professional tennis, became a coach in college tennis.
To see him come back the way he did, get to the final of Nice last year, go to the French Open and win a round, then play Simon tight in five sets, that gave me a lot of inspiration to see Brian do that.
I’m good friends with Brian.  He’s come down to Saddlebrook to train in the off‑season.  To see how hard he works, how much he loves the game, it’s a great thing.  I wish him more success and I hope he recovers quickly, hopefully we can do some good things on the ATP Tour together.

Q.  At 26, do you feel like there’s still a lot of road ahead of you as a professional tennis player?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Definitely, definitely.  I feel, honestly, that I’m playing some of the best tennis of my life.  I feel strong.  I feel fit.  I’m really looking forward to the future.  I feel like I’m on the right path right now.  I feel I’m really focused on what I need to do.  I’m looking forward to continuing to work hard.  Hopefully I can continue some good success.

Q.  What is your coaching situation right now?  You said you’re training aft Saddlebrook primarily?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Primarily at Saddlebrook.  I work with a guy named René Moller.  He played on the tour.  He’s from NewZealand.  He also played at the University of Auburn.  Also I’m working with Craig O’Shannessy.  He’s been helping me out these last couple months not necessarily at tournaments but over the phone.  We’ve done some video.  He’s actually going to be in Paris with me this year.

Q.  Alex, looking back at your results this year, there wasn’t too much of a sign that the big breakthrough was going to come through for the three tournaments, particular in Sarasota.  How were you able to turn it around and what was your mindset going into this whole playoff system?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  My mindset, I wasn’t thinking about the wild card at all, to be honest with you.  I got the email from the USTA saying they were going to be doing this playoff for it with these three tournaments.  I didn’t think much of it.  I think I lost five or six matches first rounds coming into Sarasota.  I didn’t make the main draw.  I had to play qualifying.
To be honest with you, I was looking to go to Sarasota, get some confidence back.  With every match, I gained a little bit more, started playing some really good tennis midweek.  That continued even through the three weeks.  Even in Savannah, I lost to a good clay player in Hidalgo.  I was unfortunate to have a shoulder injury in Tallahassee.  I beat some good players along the way and am feeling really confident with my game right now.

Q.  Was there any particular win that you had maybe in Sarasota that you think really kind of spurred you on towards this run?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  You know, I played a lot of good players there.  I think with every match I just gained a little more confidence.  I beat Ben Becker, who is a top 100 player.  He’s been there for a while.  I beat a good friend of mine playing some good tennis this year, Tim Smyczek, in a tight three‑setter.  Then I beat Stevie Johnson, also a really good player who has been playing some good tennis this past year.
With every match, I just got more and more confident.  I think the final really showed how well I think I’m capable of playing.  I feel I still need to work really hard to attain that level with every match.
To beat Wayne Odesnik 6‑0, 6‑2, was something I definitely didn’t expect.  I was really happy with the result.  I’m really looking forward, as I’ve been saying, to the future and continuing to work hard.

Q.  You said you went into it without thinking about the wild card.  At what point did you realize that it was within your grasp?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Honestly, even after I won Sarasota, I didn’t think I was going to have the wild card.  I still knew that Wayne, he’s a great clay court player, all he really needed to do was win Savannah or Tallahassee.  I think he was capable of doing that.  Also with the fields that we had in those tournaments, there’s a number of guys that could have won two weeks back‑to‑back.
Even after Sarasota, I wasn’t thinking much about it, to be honest with you.

Q.  Shelby, can you talk a little bit about your run through the three tournaments, how you were able to get things together and pull this off.
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yeah.  Going into Dothan, I was in a similar situation at Alex.  I lost six matches this year.  I hadn’t won a round since November of last year or something.  I was just trying to get some confidence back, get some matches, get some clay court tennis in.
I thankfully carried the moment over into Charlottesville.  I was playing solid tennis, I was confident with what I was doing.  Unfortunately I had to play one of my friends I think every round at that tournament, so that was a little bit tough, playing the Americans.
But, yeah, all the cards fell in my favor that week.  I came out with the title.
Then going into Indian Harbour, I lost second round there, but it was a tough situation at the end because I was just kind of waiting for people to lose because I was at the top of the points.  I was just hoping somebody wouldn’t take the title that week and pass me.
At the same time I wanted my friends to do well there.  So hopefully I’m never in that situation again.  But I got the wild card in the end and I’m really happy about it.

Q.  Historically how comfortable are you on clay?  Have you played on European red clay before?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I grew up on the green clay in the States.  I grew up in Charleston.  I was pretty much taught on the green clay.
I’ve only played two tournaments on red clay before.  I played one ITF junior event there which I won the singles and doubles, so that was a pretty special week in Costa Rica.  I played in Acapulco earlier this year and lost first‑round quallies there.
I feel pretty comfortable on the clay.  I’m confident in my game and my movement right now.  I’m just hoping for the best.  I’m ready for a good experience in France.

Q.  Have you been to Paris before?
SHELBY ROGERS:  No, I haven’t.  This will be my first time.

Q.  What’s the first thing you’re going to want to do?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I think I have to go to the Eiffel Tower, right?  A couple other sites, I guess.  Maybe see the city a little bit.  Hopefully stay on the red clay as long as I can.

Q.  Shelby, what do you contribute all the success you’ve had in the last three weeks or so?  Has there been a change in your game, coaching, anything like that other than just hard work?
SHELBY ROGERS:  No.  I honestly haven’t changed a thing.  I had a rough start to the year.  I had a lot of tough matches against good players.  I felt like I was right there in each one of them.
I guess just sticking with it, keep believing in yourself, not giving up is the hardest part.  When you’re in a slump, you can get a little frustrated, want to not work as hard, stop what you’ve been doing to get you where you’re at.
I just kept believing in the process and I knew it was going to come, but maybe not so soon, maybe not for a French Open wild card.  But you have to keep working hard every day and something good’s bound to happen.

Q.  Are you currently working with someone in particular with the USTA?
SHELBY ROGERS:  My main coach is Sylvan Guichard.  He’s a French guy that works here in Boca with the USTA.

Q.  One of the USTA coaches will be with you in Paris?
SHELBY ROGERS:  Unfortunately, Sylvan will not be able to go this year.  But I think two or three of the other USTA coaches will be over there.  They do a great job with the whole player development.  Everybody knows all the players’ games.  They can all help me out.  All the coaches are great so I’ll be in good hands.

Q.  You’ve done well in singles, but you’ve done almost as well in doubles.  What do you contribute that to and what do you think about doubles?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I think doubles is really fun.  Singles obviously is a little more important to me.  But when I go on court for doubles.  I have good partners, we have a lot of fun on court.  It’s a little more relaxed than singles.  It’s just a good time.  You get to work on your serve, you get to come in more, a little more variety in doubles.  It’s a little bit different game, but I love it.  It’s a good time.

Q.  What about your switch to training with the USTA from training at Family Circle in Charleston?  Was that a big boost for you?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I guess it’s been a couple years now since I made that decision.  It was probably one of the hardest decisions of my life, leaving my family and everyone at home, the coach I’d been with since I was seven.
But there just weren’t any players to train with in Charleston.  I had a good setup with coaching and fitness and stuff like that.  But moving to Boca, you have world‑class players every day to practice against, a nice gym, fitness trainers.  Everything is right at your fingertips.
I think it was a good move and something that I needed to do.  It definitely helped my game.  The results show that, I think.

Q.  When are you leaving for Paris?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I’m leaving Wednesday.  I’m playing a tournament before and then I’ll head over to Paris the following week.

Q.  Shelby, looking at your results the last couple years, you’re playing a lot of challengers, having some good results, cracked top 200.  I’m sure you see a lot of WTA main draw.  Do you feel in the next year or two you can get yourself to the point where you’ll be playing regular WTA events?
SHELBY ROGERS:  Absolutely, yeah, that’s definitely a goal of mine.  Going into this year, I want to be top 100 by the end of the year.  I think as a player, getting to the WTA is pretty important because you get more points in those tournaments, you can keep your ranking up a little bit easier.
Yeah, I mean, hopefully that happens as soon as possible.  But just got to take it one match at a time, one tournament at a time, hope for the best.

Q.  Game‑wise what do you feel you need to do to get to that level?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I think a big thing for me recently has been patience, not trying to do too much with my game.  I tend to pull the trigger a little bit too much.  Patience and strategy, just grinding away every point.

Q.  Alex, can you talk a little bit about what it will take for you to get the top 100 and then maybe top 50 or so?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  I think, first off, I need to stay healthy.  That’s number one.  But then after that, kind of like what Shelby said, being consistent, playing at a consistent level week in, week out.  Obviously, nowadays with the men’s game, fitness is a big part of it.  I need to get stronger.
For me I think mentally, like I said, I just need to stay in it mentally week in, week out.  The year, it’s a long one.  I think in previous years I’ve had a few good results, then after that I’ve kind of gone away for a month or two before I had another one.  I think the main thing for me is staying in it mentally week in and week out.

Q.  Alex, I know you spend a lot of time at Saddlebrook, traveling around.  Do you get much chance to go home to Pennsylvania?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Yeah, I try to get up there as much as I can.  My parents and grandparents are still up there.  My best friends are up there.  I try to get up there at least once every couple months, even though it’s hard.

Q.  When you were growing up, learning how to play, who were your influences in Pennsylvania?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Mainly it was my dad.  My dad was kind of my main influence.  Also I worked with a guy by the name of Jason Katzer (phonetic).  He played at Ohio State.  He grew up in the area and was kind of my first tennis coach.

Q.  Could I have your thoughts on this particular process of deciding a wild card.
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yeah, I think it’s a great way of picking a wild card recipient.  It shows a little bit more the player that can be consistent with results instead of just having one good weekend or one good week.  You really have to prove yourself over three weeks, which I think is a great process.
You have to be mentally tough.  You have to bring your game throughout the whole three weeks.  I mean, it’s the same players, but you just have to win the most matches.  Ultimately, yeah, I think it’s a better way.  I’m for it.  I like it.
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Obviously I’m for it as well because I didn’t get to play for the one in Australia.  I think they chose the players they wanted in that one.  I think this is an opportunity for the player who is playing the best tennis at the time.  You’re also competing against players from different countries, so you’re not only competing against Americans.  Obviously there’s players from South America and from Europe who grew up playing on clay, so they have a lot of experience.  You deserve the wild card if you’re able to do that.

Q.  Shelby, you beat Nicole Gibbs at the 18‑and‑under championships to get your wild card into the US Open in 2010.  You didn’t go to college.  Can you talk about that decision and what the last two or three years have been like for you grinding it out on the Pro Tour.
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yeah, I had a couple good pro tournaments and decided to officially turn pro and not go to college right out of high school.
I did the whole college visit.  I went on my official visits, went to a couple schools.  I actually probably would have gone to Clemson maybe.  I was pretty set on that.
But I really had to give myself a chance on the tour.  It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl.  I can always go back to school, get my degree, take classes, but I can’t always play on tour.
We have a pretty short window of time, I’d say.  And I had to give myself a chance.  I think I would have regretted it a lot if I didn’t, especially seeing some of my friends going out and trying it, as well.
I think I would have always been wanting to play for (indiscernible) in college.  I’m happy with my decision every single day.  I don’t regret a thing.

Q.  Shelby, who do you get to train with and see on a regular basis down in Boca?
SHELBY ROGERS:  We have Madison Keys, Grace Min, Jamie Hampton, Taylor Townsend, Kim Crawford, Sachia Vickery.  I hope I don’t leave anyone out.  That would be bad.

Q.  Do you train alongside them or play against them in practice matches frequently?
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yeah, we’re always rotating.  We’re drilling together.  Playing matches together.  Fitness, as well.  It depends on who is in town.  We’re always traveling, playing tournaments.  Wherever we’re here, we help each other out.  All of us girls get along pretty good.  It’s a good environment, a good peer group for all of us to improve.

Q.  You said you’ve been at Boca for two years now.
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yes.

Q.  Have you noticed in the last couple of years whether or not the tenor or intensity has changed?  A lot of recent success coming from players down there.
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yeah.  I mean, I think, you know, we’re constantly getting better as a team.  The USTA is making a lot of improvements down here.  Everybody’s working really hard.  We give 100% every day.  All the girls are putting themselves out there.
Like I said, we help each other every single day we’re here training.  We encourage each other, push each other, because we want to be the best we can be.
I think it’s really neat that we have a lot more girls training down here now.  Before there were just a few.  We were spread out all over the U.S.  It’s nice to be able to train with them and play matches because, like I said, in Charleston, I had nobody to hit with.  I had good coaches, resources, but nobody to play against.  So it’s really important to have a good group around you and people to play with.

Q.  I wanted to ask you about Har‑Tru, the surface.  As a player, would you be interested in more American tournaments on Har‑Tru?
SHELBY ROGERS:  Like I said, I grew up on the green clay, so I’m pretty comfortable with it.  I guess if I grew up on the West Coast, I’d be more of a hard court player.
I don’t know.  I mean, the women have one tournament on green clay in Charleston, which is where I’m from, so that’s nice to have that in my hometown.
I’d be all for having more tournaments on the Har‑Tru.  I think it’s a great surface.  Brings out different parts of your game.
I guess we have an advantage being on the East Coast.  I don’t know.  Everybody can travel around the country and have an equal opportunity to play on it.
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  I would be for it, but I also think being that our main Grand Slam is on hard court, there also needs to be obviously an equal amount of hard court tournaments.
Like Shelby, I also grew up playing on clay on the East Coast.  I played at a club in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, which had indoor red clay.  I hit on it a lot.
I don’t mind playing on clay, obviously.  I think it’s a good surface to start younger kids on.  I think they develop better on a clay court than they would a hard court.
But, yeah, I’d also be for it if they had a few more events.  But I’d like for them to keep some hard court tournaments, as well.
AMANDA KORBA:  Thanks today to Alex and Shelby for taking the time to talk with everybody.  Thanks for everybody on the call.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Share

Shelby Rogers Nabs USTA French Open Wild Card

Shelby Rogers by Craig Glover / Party Rock Open

Shelby Rogers by Craig Glover / Party Rock Open

(May 4, 2013) USTA Player Development announced that Shelby Rogers, 20, of Charleston, S.C., has earned a main draw wild card into the 2013 French Open by winning the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge. The USTA awarded one women’s singles main draw wild card into the French Open to an American player based on her results on the USTA Pro Circuit. The USTA and the French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2013 French and US Opens are exchanged.

 

The winner of the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge was determined by the player who accumulated the greatest number of WTA ranking points at two of three USTA Pro Circuit $50,000 clay-court events: the Dothan Pro Classic in Dothan, Ala., the Boyd Tinsley Clay Court Classic in Charlottesville, Va., and the Audi Melbourne Pro Tennis Classic in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.

 

Rogers rose to the top of the standings by winning the Charlottesville title, reaching the quarterfinals in Dothan and the round of 16 in Indian Harbour Beach. Rogers clinched the wild card on Saturday when Alison Riske, the only player who could have overtaken Rogers, by winning the Indian Harbour Beach title, lost in the semifinals.

 

After her title in Charlottesville, Rogers, who trains at the USTA National Training Center – Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., is currently ranked a career-high No. 190. Rogers claimed one additional singles title on the USTA Pro Circuit in 2012, beating US Open junior girls’ champion Samantha Crawford in the final of the $50,000 event in Yakima, Wash. Despite missing much of the spring and summer of 2011 due to injury, Rogers managed to reach the quarterfinals at three USTA Pro Circuit events that year. As a junior player, she won the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championship to earn a wild card into the main draw of the 2010 US Open for her only appearance in a Grand Slam main draw.

 

Alex Kuznetsov, 26, of Richboro, Pa., and Tampa, Fla., clinched the men’s Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge earlier this week. Kuznetsov, a former French Open boys’ finalist, collected the most ATP ranking points at two of three USTA Pro Circuit clay-court challengers—a $100,000 event in Sarasota, Fla., and two $50,000 events in Savannah, Ga., and in Tallahassee, Fla.

Former US Open quarterfinalist Melanie Oudin and Brian Baker won last year’s USTA wild cards into the French Open.

 

WOMEN’S HAR-TRU USTA PRO CIRCUIT WILD CARD CHALLENGE STANDINGS – FINAL

*The women’s wild card is awarded from the best combined results in two of the three events below.

 

Player Name

$50K Dothan

$50K Charlottesville

$50K Ind. Harbour Beach

Total*

Shelby Rogers

18

70

10

88

Alison Riske

32

10

32

64

Allie Kiick

10

50

0

60

 

MEN’S HAR-TRU USTA PRO CIRCUIT WILD CARD CHALLENGE STANDINGS – FINAL

*The men’s wild card is awarded from the best combined results in two of the three events below.

Player Name

$100K Sarasota

$50K Savannah

 

$50K Tallahassee

Total
Alex Kuznetsov

100

15

15

115

Wayne Odesnik

60

15

7

75

Donald Young

0

29

15

44

 

Share

Former Family Circle Cup Ball Girl Shelby Rogers to Make Debut at Hometown Tourney

Charleston, SC (March 16, 2011) – Shelby Rogers, an 18-year-old Daniel Island resident, is the first player from the Charleston area to be granted a Main Draw Wild Card into the Family Circle Cup.  Rogers began her formal tennis instruction at the Family Circle Tennis Center in 2001 at the age of eight, and that year she made her Family Circle Cup stadium court debut as a ball crew member assigned to present flowers to 2001 Cup Champion Jennifer Capriati during the singles final trophy presentation.   Ten years later, she returns with a career high World No. 328 ranking and an opportunity to bring this storybook tale full circle.  Rogers will make her WTA Premier Event Main Draw debut in a player field led by World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, Samantha Stosur, Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic, Shahar Peer, Nadia Petrova, Daniela Hantuchova, Melanie Oudin, and Sabine Lisicki.  Marking the tournament’s 39th consecutive year, the Family Circle Cup is scheduled April 2-10, 2011 at the Family Circle Tennis Center in the Best Tennis Town in America, Charleston, SC.

 

“We’ve watched Shelby Rogers’ talent develop since she first began to train at our facility in 2001,” said Eleanor Adams, Family Circle Cup Tournament Manager. “She has posted some truly incredible results over the last year, including her Singles title at the USTA National Championships and her very strong play at the US Open.  Shelby has earned the main draw wild card, her record speaks for itself.  She has talent and has proven she is a future star, so we’re excited to reward our hometown standout for her outstanding achievements with a Main Draw Wild Card into this year’s Family Circle Cup.”

 

Rogers was granted a Qualifying Wild Card into the 2010 Family Circle Cup as winner of that year’s Girls 18 division in the SMASH Jr. Cup, the Family Circle Tennis Center marquis junior event. In her WTA debut, she lost a close 3-set match to fellow American Christina McHale in front of 2,500 fans, a capacity crowd, and the largest ever to fill Althea Gibson Club Court during the Cup.  She also participated in an exhibition doubles match during the Cup that year, partnering with Charleston fan-favorite Patty Schnyder to win a night match on Family Circle stadium court.

 

Rogers then went on to improve her World No. 926 ranking to her current career-high World No. 328 rank, largely on the merits of several high-profile finishes throughout her 2010 campaign.  That season included a title at the USTA Girls’ 18 National Championships, earning her a US Open Main Draw Wild Card, as well as quarterfinal or better appearances at several ITF events including Plantation, Florida, Vancouver, British Columbia, and Indian Harbor Beach, Florida.

 

“I’ve had a great year and I’m playing the best tennis of my life right now, so I’m very excited to compete against the top players in the world right here in my back yard,” said Rogers.  “When I was a Family Circle Cup ball girl back in 2001, I never dreamed that I’d have a chance to compete on the same stage as my childhood heroes.  I’ve been coming to this tournament most of my life as a spectator, and with the help of all my local fans, I hope to break through at this historic event, like so many other young players have in the past.”

 

Rogers will be scheduled to play her first round match on either Monday, April 4th or Tuesday, April 5th.

 

“I feel like I have a home-court advantage at the Family Circle Tennis Center, where I train every day,” added Rogers.

 

Ticket packages, travel packages, individual session tickets, and Game, Set, Rock! Tennis. Amplified. presented by Dove® tickets are on-sale now at familycirclecup.com, where fans can also visit for continuous updates on player commitments as the event approaches.

 

The Family Circle Tennis Center, home of the Family Circle Cup, is a public facility owned by the City of Charleston and operated by Meredith Corporation that also hosts a variety of additional events including concerts, festivals, tennis tournaments and other activities throughout the year.  Charleston, South Carolina bested 81 U.S. cities in being voted the Best Tennis Town in America in the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) 2010 contest.  The Family Circle Cup receives four days of live broadcast domestically on ESPN2, and is viewed internationally by over 25 countries, featuring over 140 hours of live and delayed global broadcast time, reaching 4.33 million viewers worldwide.  With over 21 million readers, Family Circle is one of the most widely read monthly magazines in America and is one of 14 leading subscription magazines owned by Meredith Corporation. The Tennis Center features a 10,200 seat stadium, Grand Lawn, 17 tennis courts lighted for night play, Pro Shop, and a full service event management staff capable of handling all aspects of an event including ticketing, operations, sales, marketing, public relations, and food & beverage.  For tickets or more info, call (843) 856-7900 or visit familycirclecup.com.

 

Share

Tatishvili Ousts Top Seed Lepchenko at Dow Corning Tennis Classic

Anna Tatishvili (Courtesy of Bob Spears)

MIDLAND, Mich., February 8, 2011 – The numbers were stacked against Anna Tatishvili as she opened play at the 2011 Dow Corning Tennis Classic on Stadium Court. An unheralded, unseeded player from the Republic of Georgia, Tatishvili was up against top-seeded American Varvara Lepchenko, who finished 2010 by winning 15 straight matches on the USTA Pro Circuit.

Tatishvili gave up five inches, 25 pounds and 54 spots on the WTA Tour rankings to the lefty Lepchenko. Playing on a slick indoor surface that is supposed to favor stronger players, Lepchenko entered Tuesday’s match with a 2-0 lifetime record against Tatishvili.

But matches aren’t played on paper; they’re played between the lines. Flattening her groundstrokes much deeper than her 5-foot-6 frame suggested she could, Tatishvili knocked off the No. 1 seed 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4.

“I had to play very focused, especially on the returns,” said Tatishvili, who resides and trains in Boca Raton, Fla. “She’s a lefty and her slice serve you can’t really hit back flat. I had to really look at the ball and make her play every point.”

After moving her opponent side to side with punishing returns, the Georgian broke for a 5-4 first-set lead when Lepchenko double-faulted.

But Tatishvili doubled twice in the subsequent game to concede the break back to Lepchenko, who will become an American citizen in August after migrating to the U.S. a decade ago.

“On my kick serves, I got a little tight so the ball flew on me,” said Tatishvili, who finished with seven double faults. “I need to just think about the routine I do every single day: make 2,000 serves.”

Moments after she served for a one-set lead, Tatishvili misfired long on consecutive points in the tiebreak to concede the first set to Lepchenko.

“It’s tennis and it happens,” said Tatishvili, 21. “That’s why it’s two-out-of-three. I refocused and I tried to make less errors. On the important points, I wanted to be steady.”

Lepchenko, 24, could not maintain her momentum in the second set as Tatishvili broke serve in each of the American’s first three service games. Despite service troubles of her own, Tatishvili forced a final set by holding at love.

The 129th-ranked Tatishvili opened up a 3-0 third-set lead, and then earned two match points at 5-3 after hitting the shot of the match. Lepchenko kicked a spin serve into the far corner of the Ad-court, pushing Tatishvili into the side curtains. The Georgian, however, responded with an acute angle of her own: carving a cross-court backhand return winner that crashed into the opposite curtains.

Lepchenko managed to save both match points and hold serve, forcing Tatishvili to clinch the win on her own racquet. When Tatishvili hit a second-serve about three feet long to open the 10th game, a service break appeared likely.

But Lepchenko’s comeback was not to be as Tatishvili recomposed herself, earning a third match point with a crosscourt forehand winner. She secured her first-ever win over the 75th-ranked Lepchenko when the lefty let loose on a backhand long.

“On the match points at 5-3 she played well,” said Tatishvili. “It’s not like I played bad or I choked or anything. There was nothing I could do. But in the last game of the third set, I just said, ‘You have to really focus on your serve.’”

Lepchenko’s loss marked the start of a difficult day for Americans at the Dow Corning Tennis Classic. Shelby Rogers, Christina McHale and Jamie Hampton each fell in the first round. Two-time singles finalist Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic handed Hampton a 7-5, 6-4 loss in Tuesday’s feature singles match.

Good news for the red, white and blue came in the form of USTA.com blogger Irina Falconi. The former Georgia Tech standout ensured herself two more days of writing (and competing) by breaking Katie O’Brien seven straight times in a 7-5, 6-2 singles victory. Falconi, 20, also teamed with countrywoman Alison Riske to defeat Brittany Augustine and Alexandra Mueller in doubles.

While four Americans fell in the main draw on Tuesday, four former U.S. Fed Cup team members swept the qualifying. Ahsha Rolle and Alexa Glatch joined 1998 Midland champion Alexandra Stevenson and 34-year-old Mashona Washington as the qualifying quartet.

Washington, who was born in nearby Flint, Mich., first played the Midland qualifying event in 1993. Back then, the tournament was only in its fifth year on the USTA Pro Circuit and it featured just a quarter of its present-day purse of $100,000.

Now in the Dow Corning Tennis Classic main draw for the 10th time, Washington will be wishing for a repeat performance of 2002, when she reached the singles final before falling to Australian Open runner-up Na Li.

After her mother, father and sister watched her advance through the qualifying draw, Washington was rewarded with a first-round match against a player young enough to be her daughter: 15-year-old wild card Victoria Duval.

“I’ve probably played this tournament more than anybody,” said Washington, who defeated Mueller 7-6(4), 6-3 in the final round of qualifying. “I’m very happy because this lets me know that I didn’t need a wild card. At the same time, I could have saved myself three matches and probably 100 miles on my legs (laughs).”

The first round resumes on Wednesday with 11 singles matches, highlighted by the fast-rising Riske taking on No. 7 seed Ksenia Pervak of Russia in the feature singles match at 7 p.m. on Stadium Court. Pervak won the 2009 Australian Open junior title, but should be tested against Riske, who captured three consecutive ITF titles in Europe last fall.

Following that contest, Hampton and Tatishvili will team up to take on Canadians Rebecca Marino and Marie-Eve Pelletier in the feature doubles match.

Marino will also play her first-round singles match on Wednesday against Glatch. With Lepchenko’s loss, the 20-year-old from Vancouver has emerged as a tournament favorite.

At 6-feet-tall, the second-seeded Marino is quickly becoming one of the biggest hitters in women’s tennis, smoking serves and forehands without inhibition. She arrives in Midland after a second-round appearance at the Australian Open, where she pushed French Open champion Francesca Schiavone before falling 9-7 in the third set.

Marino is one of six seeded singles players in action during Wednesday’s day session, including No. 5 seed Sorana Cirstea of Romania. Still only 20 years old, Cirstea has posted wins over current Top 10 players Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic, Agnieszka Radwanska and Schiavone.

Cirstea will meet wild card Jessica Pegula in the fourth match on Court 5.

Admission to the Dow Corning Tennis Classic is free until the 7 p.m. feature session. General admission tickets to see Riske vs. Pervak and Hampton/Tatishvili vs. Marino/Pelletier cost $12 for adults and $8 for children.

Article by Joshua Rey

Dow Corning Tennis Classic

Midland Community Tennis Center

Midland, Mich.

Purse: $100,000

Surface: Hard-Indoor

Tuesday, February 8 – RESULTS


Singles – First round

Anna Tatishvili (Georgia) def. [1] Varvara Lepchenko (United States)  6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4

Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic) def. Jamie Hampton (United States) 7-5, 6-4

Sabine Lisicki (Germany) def. [WC] Shelby Rogers (United States) 6-1, 6-3

Anastasia Pivovarova (Russia) def. Christina McHale (United States) 3-6, 6-2, 6-3

Irina Falconi (United States) def. Katie O’Brien (Great Britain) 7-5, 6-2

Doubles – First round

Gabriela Dabrowski (Canada) and Whitney Jones (United States) def. [WC] Kelli Close (United States) and Daniella Patton (Dominican Republic) 6-0, 6-2

Irina Falconi and Alison Riske (United States) def. Brittany Augustine and Alexandra Mueller (United States) 6-1, 3-6, [10-3]

[3] Ksenia Pervak (Russia) and Ipek Senoglu (Turkey) def. Christina Fusano and Sanaz Marand (United States) 4-6, 6-4, [10-7]

[2] Sarah Borwell (Great Britain) and Courtney Nagle (United States) def. Elizabeth Lumpkin and Story Tweedie-Yates (United States) 7-5, 6-4

Qualifying Singles – Final round

[6] Mashona Washington (United States) def. Alexandra Mueller (United States) 7-6(4), 6-3

[2] Ahsha Rolle (United States) def. [7] Lena Litvak (United States) 6-4, 6-2

[5] Alexandra Stevenson (United States) def. [3] Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) 6-2, 6-4

[4] Alexa Glatch (United States) def. [8] Amanda Fink (United States) 6-2, 6-2

Wednesday, February 9 – SCHEDULE

Stadium Court – starting at 10 a.m.

[WC] Brittany Augustine (United States) vs. [4] Anne Keothavong (Great Britain)

[3] Evgeniya Rodina (Russia) vs. [Q] Ahsha Rolle (United States)

[Q] Mashona Washington (United States) vs. [WC] Victoria Duval (United States)

[1] Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) and Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic) vs. Beatrice Capra and CoCo Vandeweghe (United States)

Stadium Court – starting at 7 p.m.

Alison Riske (United States) vs. [7] Ksenia Pervak (Russia)

Jamie Hampton (United States) and Anna Tatishvili (Georgia) vs. Rebecca Marino and Marie-Eve Pelletier (Canada)

Court 5 – starting at 10 a.m.

Michelle Larcher de Brito (Portugal) vs. Julie Coin (France)

Aleksandra Wozniak (Canada) vs. [6] Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia)

[Q] Alexa Glatch (United States) vs. [2] Rebecca Marino (Canada)

[5] Sorana Cirstea (Romania) vs. [WC] Jessica Pegula (United States)

Court 3 – starting at 10 a.m.

Stephanie Foretz-Gacon (France) vs. Heather Watson (Great Britain)

[8] CoCo Vandeweghe (United States) vs. [Q] Alexandra Stevenson (United States)

Madison Brengle (United States) vs. Olga Savchuk (Ukraine)

ABOUT THE USTA PRO CIRCUIT:

With more than 90 tournaments throughout the country and 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 players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. The USTA launched its Pro Circuit 32 years ago to provide players with the opportunity to gain professional ranking points, and it has since grown to become the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, offering more than $3 million in prize money. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed in cities nationwide. Among those who have played at the Dow Corning Tennis Classic are seven-time Grand Slam winner Justine Henin, former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova, reigning French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and 2011 Australian Open runner-up Na Li.

Share

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.

Share