UCLA’s Marcos Giron, North Carolina’s Jamie Loeb Win American Collegiate Invitational at US Open

Peter Kobelt and Marcos Giron in the American Collegiate Invitational. Photo courtesy of the USTA

FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. (Sept. 6, 2014) – A little bit of rain wasn’t going to stop UCLA’s Marcos Giron from winning the inaugural American Collegiate Invitational played at the US Open on Saturday.


The top-seeded Giron of Thousand Oaks, Calif., downed Ohio State’s Peter Kobelt, 6-1, 6-3, to win the men’s title, while North Carolina’s Jamie Loeb beat fellow New Yorker Julia Elbaba, 7-5, 6-1, of Virginia to capture the women’s championship in the eight-player event played at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center


If Giron is ranked No. 250 or higher and Loeb No. 150 or higher in the world rankings at this time next year, the pair will receive a main draw wild card into next year’s US Open. Guaranteed at least a qualifying wild card, Giron and Loeb will also get wild cards into two USTA Pro Circuit events, while Kobelt and Elbaba will get one.


Playing a dominating all-court game, the reigning NCAA singles champion Giron took a commanding 5-1, 15-40 lead on Kobelt’s serve when the rain came. Kobelt won one point, and play was suspended. “I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ” said Giron, who entered the locker room and began a 90-minute wait. “I had all the momentum to that point, but all of the sudden a rain delay can make you more relaxed once you come back out there.”


But Giron came back and took the set and eventually the match.


Currently ranked No. 419 in the ATP World Tour rankings, Giron has been in New York for two and a half weeks having played in the main draw of the pro event. “I’m ready to go back home,” Giron said. “This is a place I definitely want to be coming back to a lot in the future. This is the top of tennis, and I’m definitely looking forward to coming back and proving myself.”


Giron has had a good summer, including qualifying at the Winston-Salem tournament. “It’s attainable,” he said of reaching No. 250 by this time next year. “It’s been a steep learning curve since I turned pro, but I’m getting a grasp on it and slowly learning how to be a pro.”


Giron and Kobelt had split matches during their college days, and Kobelt said Giron has improved since he beat him two years ago. “Marcos played great,” he said. “He has a lot of confidence since winning the NCAA title and had a great summer. He’s really developed an all-around game.”


Inspired by seeing her hero Roger Federer earlier in the morning eating breakfast, Loeb was able to overcome a slow start to down Elbaba in front of a bunch of USTA Eastern Section supporters of both players, including USTA First Vice President Katrina Adams.


Unlike both men’s players who next begin life on the pro tour, both Loeb and Elbaba have started school and will be among the nation’s elite this coming season.


“I think I started off pretty slow,” said Loeb, of Ossining, N.Y., in Westchester County. “It was pretty hot out there, and it took me awhile to adjust to that. But as I got into the match I was able to get more serves in.”


Loeb said the key to the day was a break in a close second game of the second set. “Getting that break was huge,” she said, adding she felt a little nervous at the start and that might have attributed to her slow start. “I think I’m pretty mentally tough, and I’m always going to fight to the last point.”


Besides seeing Federer, Loeb her favorite memory of the week was “all the support of my family and friends. It’s great for college players to get the chance to succeed beyond college.”


Elbaba was disappointed with the loss. “I felt I left everything out there on the court,” she said. “I thought we put on a great match for all the supporters. Tennis is a big game on momentum, and I thought she just gained confidence throughout the match.”


Elbaba said her best memory was, “playing some of my best tennis in front of some of the biggest crowds I’ve played in front of.”




Jamie Loeb (North Carolina, Ossining, N.Y.) def. Julia Elbaba (Virginia, Oyster Bay, N.Y.), 7-5, 6-1


Marcos Giron  [1] (UCLA, Thousand Oaks, Calif.) def. Peter Kobelt (Ohio State, New Albany, Ohio), 6-1, 6-3


Another Super Saturday Shocker as Marin Cilic Beats Roger Federer to Reach US Open Final


(September 6, 2014) Super Saturday at the US Open had its second shocker of the day when No. 14th seed Marin Cilic used his big serve and big strokes to dominate No. 2 seed Roger Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to reach his first major final.

The match followed the first surprise of the day when No. 1 Novak Djokovic was upset 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3 by Japan’s Kei Nishikori.

Monday’s final will feature two players in their first major final – 24-year-old No. 10 Nishikori versus 25-year-old No. 14 Cilic.

“Just an amazing day for me. I feel amazing,” Cilic said. “To be able to play like this, I never dreamed of.”

“Just for the performance today from, I mean, first point to the last I was absolutely playing the best tennis of my life,” Coloc said in press.. “Considering the huge occasion I was playing in, I mean, for the second time in a semifinals of a Grand Slam, it just can’t be more special. Considering also that, you know, even I was a set up and break up, you know, the crowd was rooting for Roger to come back. You know, it wasn’t easy to deal with that, but I felt that my serve helped me a lot today, you know, to get some free points to breathe a little bit easier. It was, I mean, working perfectly.”

“It’s fairly simple: I think Marin played great,” Federer said. “I maybe didn’t catch my best day, but I think that was pretty much it in a nutshell.”

“I think he served great when he had to,” Federer said. “I think the first break was tough. I think was up 40-Love and then lose five straight points, and then had one chance in the third when I was up a break and he came straight back. Those are my two moments really. But credit to him for just playing incredible tennis.”

The Monday final will mark the first time since the Australian Open final in 2005 that neither Federer, Rafael Nadal or Djokovic is in a grand slam final.

“That’s going to be a sensational day for both of us,” said Cilic about his match against Nishikori.

This marked the first time Cilic has beaten Federer, the Swiss won on the five previous occasions.

Cilic is the first man from Croatia to reach a grand slam final since his coach Goran Ivanisevic won Wimbledon back in 2001.

“Well, it’s gonna be special day for both of us,” said the Croat. “I mean, opportunity for both of us to win a Grand Slam, to be a part of the history. It’s gonna be definitely huge emotions on the court. And we played couple times already here at the US Open. Both of those matches were extremely tough under very difficult conditions. I feel that, I mean, we have both different game styles. I mean, Kei is extremely well — I mean, he hits the ball extremely well from the back of the court. I think I’m going to have to just focus on my game to break that a little bit of rhythm and to try to serve well. I think it’s gonna be a good sort of tactical matchup for the final.”




Kei Nishikori Stuns No. 1 Novak Djokovic to Reach US Open Final

(September 6, 2014) Under brutal heat and humidity, Japan’s Kei Nishikori became the first man from Asia to reach a major final, when on Saturday afternoon, the 24-year-old shocked top player Novak Djokovic 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3 at the US Open.

“It’s just amazing, amazing feeling to beat the No. 1 player,” Nishikori said after the match in an on-court interview.

“I expected him to be able to play another five-setter because he had two days off,” Djokovic said of Nishikori’s stamina. “He hasn’t played before this tournament, so he had a big break. He could prepare himself for this tournament. He played some great tennis. I congratulate him for the effort. He was the better player today.”

Nishokori came into the semifinals having played two marathon five-set matches against top 5 players. In the fourth round the 10th seed stopped fifth seed Milos Raonic in a match which ended at 2:26 a.m. on Thursday morning. In his quarterfinal, Nishikori defeated reigning Australian Open champions and third seed Stan Wawrinka. Nishikori played more 81/2 hours combining those two matches.

“That second set my game today was not even close to what I wanted it to be,” said the Serb. “A lot of unforced errors, a lot of short balls. Just wasn’t myself.”

“I don’t want to talk about conditions,” Djokovic continued. “It’s same for both of us. I think he just played better in these conditions than I did. I just wasn’t managing to go through the ball in the court. You know, I wasn’t in the balance. Unforced errors. Even when the ball gets back to his part of the court it’s pretty short; he takes advantage of it. On the other side I didn’t. That’s it.”


“Well, this is definitely huge for Japan,” Djokovic commented. “It’s a big country. Over a hundred million people. This can definitely be a great encouragement for tennis in that country. He’s been around for last couple of years. He’s been making a lot of success. But playing finals of a Grand Slam and now fighting for title is definitely something different. You know, he has gotten to another level, and I’m sure that people will praise him.”

Nishikori will face Roger Federer or Marin Cilic in Monday’s final.

More to follow.


Peng Retires in Match; Wozinacki and Williams Move into US Open Women’s Final


(September 5, 2014) China’s Shuai Peng, appearing to have cramps clutched her right knee and limped her way over to the back wall of the court in tears while receiving serve from 10th seed Caroline Wozniacki who was up 7-6(1), 4-3, 30-40.

At the wall, a trainer, a tournament official, a security guard and a ballperson ran to Peng’s side to help her. After about a ten minute period, which included Peng being taken off court for evaluation and being treated for heat illness, she resumed play. Points later she collapsed to the ground and retired from the match, advancing Wozniacki to her second major final.

Peng was taken off the court in a wheelchair.

In her news conference hours later, Peng said she felt fine.

“I think it was the physical because today is really humid and hot,” said the 28-year-old, ranked 39th. “And then like my body is not like from like — maybe I got from I parents when I’m born. It’s not like the strong, my physical like everything. So also from like what I does in the practice and just the lot of fitness and then try to improve with everything.”

“I said, `No, no, no. I don’t want to give up. I want to try one more time,'” said Peng, when she  had to retire. “I knew I’m not going to stay maybe too long, but I just want to try, you know. I just wanted to challenge her one more time.”

“It was really hard to watch for me whenever I saw her collapse on the court,” the 10th seed Wozniacki said. “You know, tennis is great, but the health is more important. You know, to see her struggling out there, I just wanted to make sure she was okay. I got the word that she’s okay now and just getting cooled down, so that’s great to hear. I’m in the finals, which is obviously great. It’s been five years for me since my last one here, so I’m extremely happy to be back there.”

The 24-year-old Dane lost to Kim Clijsters in the final of the US Open in 2009.

The other semifinal had very little drama as No. 1 Serena Williams ran away with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Ekaterina Makarova. For Williams this will be her third straight US Open final. She’s looking to three-peat and win her sixth US Open crown on Sunday.


“I’m just really excited to be in the final,” the 32-year-old said. In the beginning of the week I definitely wasn’t sure I would make it this long. Definitely wasn’t sure I’d be here. So I’m just elated, to be honest, to have made it this far.”

“I think I played pretty well today. You know, I was able to change up my game and just keep moving forward and just keep doing what I could do today.”

Williams evaluated her match-up with Wozniacki: I” definitely expect another close match. She really knows my game well and knows how to play. She’s so consistent. I think that’s one of the things that makes her really tough. So I just have to be ready for that and, again, just stay calm and just be able to relax and be happy. You know, the beginning — the past six months I would never thought I’d be here. I think it’s just staying calm and happy.”

Williams is seeking her 18th major on Sunday which would tie her on the all-time list with Martina Navratilova and Christ Evert.



Roger Federer Saves Two Match Points to Reach US Open Semifinal




(September 4, 2014) No. 2 seed Roger Federer saved two match points while coming back from two-sets to love down to defeat 20th seed Gael Monfils 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 on Thursday night and reach the US Open semifinals for the first time in three years.

For the first two sets, the 33-year-old veteran had no answer to a focused Monfils hard-hitting Frenchman, nor did he have an answer for dealing with the windy conditions in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Federer began to dig out of a two sets down hols in the third set. The five-time US Open winner survived two match points when he was down 5-4 in the fourth set. He won five games in a row to take the fourth set and gain majors momentum in the fifth set where Monfils’ level of play took a precipitous drop.

“Well, then it was tough, because I think then my serve was not good, so it let me a bit down again at 5-All,” Monfils said. “I think maybe I hit a double fault. I think I had a point for 6-5 and could not really quite use my serve. I think the side I was was tougher because it was against the wind, so it was a bit tougher. Then rush me with his long return, so it was very tough. But then he play good. He played good. He had the set. Then physically I had a drop, five minutes. But maybe come from mentally also, because I thought that I could have play better this fourth set. For five minutes I think I had — I was a little bit, yeah, tired and mentally also tired. So then it came quick. I think then he start to be very offensive. So then it was very tough to handle it.”

Federer was asked about how he survived his match to come back and win.

“Well, it was one of those moments where you got the back against the wall and hope to get a bit lucky and you hope to play exactly the right shots that you need or that he completely just messes it up,” Federer said. Either way works as long as you get out of it. But clearly it’s not a great feeling, because you feel it’s not in your control anymore really. So I’m very, very happy to have found a way tonight.”

“I was like saying to myself, Keep it simple, you know, and try to make him play them,” Monfils discussing having two match points. “Because I knew that he will force it, like he will put the first ball in and then for sure come to the net very quick. So it was more like, you know, I be relax and just lean a bit more on my forehand return and try to make it. And then we just played those two points, and, you know, well done.”

“It’s just unbelievable to win matches like this at slams,” Federer continued. “You know, I have won other big ones in other places. But over best of five, saving match points against Gaël in an atmosphere that it was out here tonight, it’s definitely very special. I’m. Not sure I have ever saved match point before in a slam. If that hasn’t happened, I’m unbelievably happy that it was today, because I knew I could play better after the first couple of sets. I believed I could turn it around from the get-go when the third set started, and I’m so happy the crowd got into it. The rallies were incredible at times, and my game really picked up. I served great in the fifth when it mattered, and just overall an enjoyable match also to play, because it had all the ups and downs similar to the Wimbledon final.”

This was the ninth time Federer has won a match after dropping the opening two sets down, eight of them at majors.

The victory will move Federer ahead of Rafael Nadal for the No. 2 spot in te ATP race.

Federer will take on Marin Cilic in his semifinal on Saturday afternoon.



Opening Day At US Open In First American Collegiate Invitational

Danielle Rose Collins from the University of Virginia in action in the quarterfinals of the Women's Collegiate Invitational. Photo courtesy pf the USTA

Danielle Rose Collins from the University of Virginia in action in the quarterfinals of the Women’s Collegiate Invitational. Photo courtesy of the USTA

FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. (Sept. 4, 2014) – The inaugural American Collegiate Invitational began play at the US Open on Thursday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.


University of North Carolina women’s tennis player Hayley Carter described the thrill of practicing next to Serena Williams earlier in the morning while UCLA’s Clay Thompson said he fulfilled a lifelong dream before ever striking a ball.


Winners on the men’s side for the day included three from Southern California schools and a Big 10 player while on the women’s side two New Yorkers, one from New Jersey and the nation’s reigning NCAA women’s singles champion all moved on to Friday’s semifinals.


Top-seeded and reigning NCAA men’s singles champion Marcos Giron, his UCLA teammate Clay Thompson, Pepperdine’s Alex Sarkissian and Ohio State’s Peter Kobelt recorded wins while NCAA women’s singles champion Danielle Collins, her Virginia teammate Julie Elbaba, top-seeded Jamie Loeb of North Carolina, and Stanford’s Krisite Ahn each posted straight-set wins.


“I was so excited,” said Thompson. “I walked in yesterday and picked up my credential and walked on site and said, ‘My dream is complete; I’m at the US Open as a player.’ No matter what happens from here doesn’t matter. If I were to lose in the first round, I’m still on the world’s greatest stage for tennis. It’s just amazing.


“There’s no better place in the world to play a tournament.”


Loeb (Ossining, N.Y.), Elbaba (Oyster Bay, N.Y.) and Ahn (Upper Saddle River, N.J.) each call the New York-area home, and have played in the US Open before with Ahn even qualifying for the women’s pro main draw back in 2008.


“It’s awesome being here,” Ahn said. “It’s great exposure for college tennis and to be a part of the first one is such an honor. From here this event is only going to get better. It’s not quite main draw, but it’s pretty amazing.”


“It’s always exciting to play here in Flushing,” said Elbaba, who played two US Open junior events and qualified both times, but never won in the main draw. “It brought back a lot of memories being on these courts.”



University of Florida’s Olivia Janowicz felt the same way as Ahn. “I’ve literally been dreaming about this day since I was a kid,” Janowicz said. “I grew up in Jersey and I remember coming here and watching (Kim) Clijsters when she was an unknown.”


Janowicz’s college teammate Alex Cercone added: “It’s a dream come true and I’m honored to be a part of this group. The environment is different than anything I’ve ever experienced.”


Kobelt said, “Just walking around the locker rooms and seeing anyone you can name: (Milos) Raonic, (Richard) Gasquet; you name it, they’re here. Just being in the gym with them and practicing next to them is amazing.”


The winner of the American Collegiate Invitational will receive either a main draw or qualifying draw wild card entry into the 2015 US Open, based on their individual ranking. The champion will also get wild cards into two USTA Pro Circuit events, while each runner-up will get one.


Tomorrow’s meeting between Sarkissian and Giron will be a rematch of the 2014 NCAA Singles Championship finals, which Giron won, 6-4, 6-1.


Notre Dame’s Greg Andrews couldn’t believe the way the players were treated. “I felt like this was one of the best events I’ve ever been a part of,” he said. “It was so much fun. I felt like a king as a player the way they treated us. I think the fans got a chance to see that there is a lot of talent in college tennis. I really hope they keep it going.”


Despite losing, Carter still enjoyed her time in New York playing alongside the best tennis players in the world. “This has been an amazing experience,” she said. “This morning I got to practice next to (Caroline) Wozniacki, Serena (Williams) and (Tomas) Berdych. It was a tough day but I can’t hang my head too much!”


Kobelt felt much like Carter. “I came from a small town in Ohio and never thought tennis would take me this far,” he said. “If I don’t go farther in tennis I can say I played the US Open, and it’s an achievement I’ll have for the rest of my life.”



Peter Kobelt  (Ohio State, New Albany, Ohio) def. Gregory Andrews  (Notre Dame, Richland, Mich.), 7-6 (3), 6-4

Marcos Giron  (UCLA, Thousand Oaks, Calif.) [1] def. Raymond Sarmiento  (USC, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), 7-6 (8), 6-3

Clay Thompson (UCLA, Venice Beach, Calif.) [2] def. Jared Hiltzik  (Illinois, Wilmette, Ill.), 6-3, 6-4

Alexander Sarkissian  (Pepperdine, Glendale, Calif.) def. Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA, Piedmont, Calif.), 5-7, 6-3, 6-3



Danielle Collins (Virginia, St. Petersburg, Fla.)  def. Olivia Janowicz (Florida, Palm Bay, Fla.), 6-2, 6-4

Jamie Loeb (North Carolina, Ossining, N.Y.) [1] def. Jennifer Brady (UCLA, Boca Raton, Fla.), 6-3, 6-4

Kristie Ahn  (Stanford, Upper Saddle River, N.J.) def. Hayley Carter (North Carolina, Hilton Head, S.C.)  [2], 6-4, 6-1

Julia Elbaba (Virginia, Oyster Bay, N.Y.) def. Alexandra Cercone (Florida, Seminole, Fla.), 6-3, 6-4



Starting at 11 a.m. ET; Court 6


Julia Elbaba vs. Kristie Ahn

Followed by

Jamie Loeb  (USA) [1] vs. Danielle Collins

Followed by


Peter Kobelt vs. Clay Thompson [2]

Followed by

Marcos Giron  [1] vs. Alex Sarkissian



Marin Cilic Reaches First US Open Semi with Victory over Tomas Berdych

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic

(September 4, 2014) Last year Marin Cilic missed the US Open because he was suspended from the tour after testing positive for a banned stimulant. He said that took the unintentionally from a glucose tablet he purchased from a pharmacy. He tested positive for nikethamide after a match in Munich in May of 2013.

This year the Croatian Cilic who is the 14th seed, is back on tour and has reached his first US Open semifinal by defeated sixth seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (4).

“It was a great performance today,” Cilic said. “Was very tricky with the conditions. Very gusty. I mean, for both of us. We are big guys. Not easy to deal with the wind and with, I mean, the ball moving in the air. I felt that I was using the wind a bit better today. Just considering the conditions and the opening of the match went in my side, that sort of relaxed me a bit more. I felt that I’m in a good driving seat and that Tomas was all the time catching me and I was serving good in the right moments. So, yeah, it feels great to be in the semis first time after three tries in quarterfinals. Lost both times to eventual winners. Just feels great to be here.”

Cilic’s serve was the key to victory, hitting 19 aces. The Croatian hit 46 winners to Berdych’s 21.

“I start pretty terribly,” Berdych said. “It was not the way to start the match like that. Then obviously was really tough to catch up. And really my serve was off. Basically, you know, when you have a game built on a serve, then it’s really tough and difficult to reschedule it and do it a bit differently. Yeah, today was not, definitely not the day I want to have. Yeah, that’s it. That’s tennis. Just need to carry over and go forward.”

Cilic is now the first Croatian to make the semifinals of the US Open since his coach, former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic did it in 1996.

“The only matches I watched on TV was Goran’s Wimbledon matches,” Cilic said of his tennis memories as a child. “That’s the only memory, you know, from tennis at very young age. And then later I started to play with him when I was 14 few times. He was out due to his shoulder injury. He played with me and one other kid from Croatia my age, and that was, for me, huge at age of 14 to play with my idol. Was amazing. Then I think he helped me a lot with pointing me in a good direction with my coach, long-time coach, Bob Brett. I think that was a very crucial part of my career.”

“You know Goran, so Goran is everything but not boring. Yeah, I feel that it’s very entertaining. We work a lot, but we still — I mean, even some days we are preparing, you know, we would have sessions of three, three-and-a-half hours or whatever, and we always have good time. I think that’s most important. It’s, I would say, can’t be better.”

Cilic will face the winner of the Roger Federer–Gael Monfils quarterfinal in his semifinal on Saturday.


Hall of Famer Martina Hingis into US Open Women’s Doubles Final

Martina Hingis

Martina Hingis

(September 4, 2014) Martina Hingis is in the US Open women’s doubles final for the first time since winning the title in 1998.

The 2013 Tennis Hall of fame inductee and partner Flavia Pennetta reached the final upsetting third seed Cara Black and Sania Mirza 6-2, 6-4.

“Well, it means a lot to me,” Hingis said. “I only won one title here in doubles. That was a while back in ’98. I made some good matches, like some great memories, but it’s been a while. So it’s like I really cherish this moment because I have had some great matches, but also in doubles I didn’t feel like I had too many opportunities. I lost to players that actually I beat in this tournament now again, like whether it was Peschke, you know. So it felt like really far away. Also in the beginning of this tournament I think we had a really tough draw. So I think we really deserved our spot. I think this tournament it all came together for me. I played a lot better than in the previous tournaments. With Flavia I feel really comfortable being out there. I think that’s the key to success.”

Hingis and Pennetta will play fourth seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the final on Saturday.


Novak Djokovic Reaches Eighth Straight US Open Semifinal

Djokovic applauds

(September 4, 2014) Novak Djokovic stood toe-to-toe for two sets with Andy Murray until the world No. 1 took charge over the eighth seed in the third set and came through 7-6 (1), 6-7 (1), 6-2, 6-4 to reach his eighth straight US Open semifinal. The match which had many long and intense rallies, lasted three hours and 32 minutes, and finished at 1:17 a.m. on Thursday morning.

When I get to play Andy, at the Grand Slams especially, where we both try to peak with our performances obviously, I know that the matches are going to go the distance,” said the Serb.. “We’re going to have a lot of long rallies and a lot of exchanges. It’s going to be physical but also mental. I get the feeling that if I get to stay with him and kind of, you know, work, work, and, you know, not get too loose and too frustrated with points and not allow him to get into a big lead, I feel like there is a point where I feel I have that edge, you know, maybe physically. That’s where I try to always focus on and, you know, it paid off tonight.”

“I’d say definitely physically he was fresher, but towards the end I tried to hang in as best I could in the fourth set,” Murray said. “But, yeah, he was definitely — well, he appeared fresher than me. Whether he was or not I don’t know, but maybe he does a better job of hiding it than me. The pace of my serve slowed significantly towards the end of the third set.”

Murray, who underwent back surgery late last year, has not reached a Grand Slam semifinal all year, nor any other tournament.

“I’m obviously disappointed,” Murray said of the loss. ”It’s extremely late. You know, I’m tired. I don’t feel particularly proud right now. I feel disappointed. But, yeah, I think there was some good tennis. I obviously haven’t, you know, analyzed the match or had time to think about it yet, but I think there was some good tennis there. You know, hopefully I can build on that.”


Djokovic will play Kei Nishikori in the final four. Nishikori beat Stan Wawrinka in five sets.


“Well, I haven’t played Kei in a while,” Djokovic said. “He’s very, very good player, obviously. I think he’s playing best tennis of his life in the last 12 months. He started working with Michael Chang and he changed a few things in his game. He serves very efficiently. Obviously he’s very, very fast, maybe one of the fastest on the tour player. Great backhand, great forehand, all-around player. He won today against Stan, who is playing some great tennis. To be able to come back after winning against Raonic 2:30 a.m., again five sets, five sets, it’s pretty impressive. I give him credit for that. We both had some long matches in quarters, but I’m sure Uniqlo family will be happy to see us play against each other. (Both men wear UNIQLO clothing) You know, the better will win.”


In His Own Words: Patrick McEnroe to Step Down as Head of USTA Player Development

Patrick McEnroe

Patrick McEnroe

(September 3, 2014) Various media outlets reported on Wednesday that Patrick McEnroe would be resigning his position of general manager of player development for the United States Tennis Association (USTA). The USTA held a news conference after the completion of the Kei Nishikori – Stan Wawrinka match in which McEnroe did step down.

The following is the official transcript of a news conference in which Dave Haggerty, Chairman of the Board and President of the USTA, Gordon Smith, Executive Director and COO of the USTA and Patrick McEnroe participated.



Wednesday, September 3

Press Conference

Patrick McEnroe

Gordon Smith

Dave Haggerty
An interview with

CHRIS WIDMAIER: Good evening everybody. I’m Chris Widmaier, Managing Director of Communications for the USTA. I know everybody has a lot to write tonight, especially after that grueling five-set match. I do want to thank you for taking the time. Obviously we’re going to open this up, talk about Patrick McEnroe and his future and the future of USTA Player Development. But before we go to questions and answers, I think Patrick had a few words.

PATRICK McENROE: Thanks, Chris. Thanks everybody for coming. You reporters are pretty darn good, so you figure stuff out maybe before we had planned to announce it. Just to be able to talk to my staff and just talk to some other people. But the reality is that I will be stepping down from my position. Over the course of the last couple of months, as we have been looking ahead to what our plans will be in Orlando at Lake Nona for the USTA and specifically for player development, I think Gordon and I both kind of reached the same conclusion. Gordon, my boss, and Dave, his boss, that the head of player development, with the new direction that we’re heading in continuing what we have already started with our inclusive efforts and working with the developmental coaches in the private sector a little bit more, trying to do a little bit more in that area, it made all the sense in the world that the person in this position to be full-time based in Orlando. I think we both looked at each other over the course of obviously quite a few discussions over the last few months and realized that that probably wasn’t going to be me for a variety of reasons, both professional and personal, but I certainly felt, as did Gordon and Dave, that it was crucial for this person to be down there full time with the amount of resources and efforts that we’re putting into the new facility and the new programming in Orlando. So we felt that this was the right opportunity to start a transitional phase so that hopefully I can be involved somewhat over the next few months, however long that may be, to help with the direction that I think we’re going in, which I believe is extremely positive. I’m lucky enough to have a couple members of my team here. Again, I couldn’t get to a lot of them because of just the way this transpired, but they have really done tremendous work on our team and in player development. They’re going to continue to do that and continue to push forward with the direction we’re going.

CHRIS WIDMAIER: Gordon, anything to add?

GORDON SMITH: Yeah. When Patrick came to me and told me he wasn’t going to be making the move to Orlando, you know, I really reflected back, because I hired Patrick way back whenever it was. We hired him for a pretty narrow job there. It was elite player development. It was just about a very few players. Patrick realized that the United States really needed a broad-based, organized regional and national program. So now we are in such a different place because of what Patrick has done, what he’s brought to this country in terms of player development. We have a set of regional training centers around the country. We have a very organized coaching education program to raise the level of all coaches. We have much more outreach than we have ever had before. From where we started to where we are has been quite a journey, and I will tell you that Patrick has really created a foundation that we will build on. Patrick will be actively involved for the foreseeable future on the transition. He realized, came to me and said, Look, we are building this new place. We’re making all these plans. If I’m not going in, the person who is needs to be involved in that process along the way. In the meantime, Patrick will be involved in helping us find who that person will be and helping us with that transition as we continue forward.

DAVE HAGGERTY: Just to add, I think the last few years we have been focused on trying to reach out, be more inclusive, think about Team USA and think about doing what’s right for American tennis. Patrick has done a fantastic job. He’s answered everything that the board has asked. He’s really taken us in that direction. That will continue. That’s very important, that we continue to do what we’re doing. We have had some good success. Thank you for all that you’ve done. Patrick will be very helpful in helping guide us as to where we go in the future in succession.

CHRIS WIDMAIER: Opening it up to questions.

Q. Why now a full-time a person? ^ with the salary grade that you have been getting, wasn’t this a full-time salary position before? Why the change now?
PATRICK McENROE: I don’t think it’s a full time. I always saw this job as full time. I mean, pretty committed to doing what’s right for the USTA and for player development in general. Obviously I did some other things, still. Do some other things, as well. That’s obvious. I think when I initially took the job that was really seen as a positive. I know there have been critics about that over the years, and it certainly comes with the territory. But what I think it wasn’t so much about time commitment, it was more about the location and the resources being put into what we’re doing in Orlando, trying to make that really the centerpiece of player development moving forward. As you know, we have a home here that we didn’t have when I first started here. Obviously we have a presence in Southern California that we partner with. So the job really encompasses I believe the whole country, but I believe that moving forward, not just for player development but for community tennis as well, that it’s going to be moving down to Orlando. I just think it’s even more important. You could certainly argue that I should have been in Florida, living there, that I didn’t do the job. That’s your right to do that. But I think moving forward that I felt that the position needed to be in Orlando on a full-time basis. I certainly felt that I was doing the job from here over the last six years because, you know, I was able to use my energies in a lot of different places. You know, the job, as Gordon said, changed a lot over time. It changes from year to year as far as what your focuses are based on what’s happened in the field, based on different priorities. But I do think we’re headed in a very positive direction. Obviously when you look at the top of what we deal with, which is what a lot of people are interested in, is how are our top players doing? Obviously we are doing pretty well in the women’s side. We have a lot of work to do on the men’s side at the top, but I think we have a great group of youngsters coming up. I think we are all very optimistic about the future for them. So there is a lot of tentacles that go into this job. Certainly more than I realized going forward. That’s why having a great team in place and some of them here is, to me, probably the most important of having the right people in place to do the job.

Q. Dave is there any component or Patrick is there any component of this based on the fact the results haven’t been what you hoped in terms of on the court, particularly on the men’s side?
GORDON SMITH: The answer to that is no. If you look at where we are and where we have come from, I think, as I said we have a great foundation. Frankly, I think we are going to see results of that. We have 12 women in the top 100; 12 more in 100-200, far more than any other country. Many, many of those we have had a positive influence on. We are not as far along on the boys. Look at Wimbledon, we had seven out of the sixteen in the Round of 16; three out of four semifinalists, and both finalists. So we are really gaining steam, and I’m very happy with the foundation. Make no mistake, we’re going to continue the course. This is not a change in direction.

DAVE HAGGERTY: Just to add to that, I think the driving force is what we are going to be doing at Lake Nona. It’s really a change. I think this is Patrick saying, Look, I know this is going to be happening. We have to do what’s right. We have to plan for it, make a transition. And you don’t do that so soon that you can’t react and have the plan in place that you want to have. I think that’s really the key driver here.

Q. What would you say over the last six years you’re most proud of and what would you do differently if given the opportunity?
PATRICK McENROE: I’m most proud of the team that’s in place and the commitment and passion of the people working in the program and the outreach I think more recently. I think Dave was a big impetus towards pushing us in that direction to put more structure to that. We always felt that we, meaning player development, were doing that, but I think it forced us to look in the mirror and realize we needed to do things better in our outreach. I think there is a real sense that that’s headed in a positive direction. What would I do differently? You always look back and say there are things I’d like to do us to do even better in coaching education. I think that’s a huge issue for our country in general. The fact we are only governing body in world that doesn’t certify its own coaches. I think that’s a big issue. So there are always things you could have done better. I would love to see if every male player we work with was in the second week of the US Open. I’m also realistic. I also see what the world looks like. Overall, I’m just very proud of the people that have worked under me and that are dedicated to what they do. I believe I have had some influence on them and some positivity towards them. I expect that to continue from them.

Q. As a follow to that, what’s next for you?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, what’s next for me is, you know, we have a full staff meeting that we have in October with our whole team that we do every year. That was certainly a big impetus for me to announce this now, because the last thing I wanted to do would be to go with the 54 people that work in player development under false pretenses, to not let them know what was going on. That really started this discussion that I want to get this out. I want to go down there. I’m not very good at lying, so I’m pretty good at being straightforward and honest. (Smiling.) I want to continue to do that and work with the team moving forward. As much as these gentlemen want me to be to be involved I will stay involved and keep this train headed in the right direction.

Q. When we spoke a month ago in San Diego, you were making the rounds; you’d been to six sections…
PATRICK McENROE: Nine sections, but who’s counting. (Smiling.)

Q. And you were very candid. You said there was a sense that we were pissing a lot of people off trying to do it our way. Even though we thought we were doing our regional training centers the right way, a lot of people thought… This sense of having pissed off a lot of people, how did that play into your decision?
PATRICK McENROE: Oh, that didn’t play into my decision at all. I think that comes with the territory. I think that’s part of me learning on the job. I learned a lot of things. I believe I got better at what I did. Certainly I made mistakes, as we did within the program and as probably a lot of private coaches did, you know, when they are trying to work with kids. It’s difficult. It’s very difficult to create top-level players. I think I have a newfound respect for what my parents did, you know, to create two players, one who was really good and another who was pretty good. (Smiling.) But also for parents of junior players, for coaches of junior players, for the whole process, I think I never really understood it as a player. And now when you get to really see it and you see the work that goes into it and the dedication, et cetera, you realize it’s pretty hard, you know, to get to the promised land, so to speak, to play at the US Open. Obviously the world has caught up to us when it comes to the highest level of tennis. I think that’s a great thing. It’s great for tennis. It’s a global sport. We’re trying to do things better, and I think that means all of us. That means we in player development. That means in the private sector, et cetera. We’ve all got to work together. Maybe that’s one thing I wish I had grabbed on to a little bit earlier, because I do think it’s really paying off for us — not just for us, but for American tennis in general.

Q. Do you think those nine sections are ready to work with your successor?
PATRICK McENROE: Absolutely. Absolutely. There is a lot of people and a lot of dedicated people. This is not about — this program has never been about one person. It’s never going to be. It’s too big. Are is too many entities. Not just within our program, but with the sections, with the private sector, et cetera. So it has to be — to me, the job is one mostly of leadership and of vision. I think I was successful in some of those areas. As I said, coaching education has come under player development. That was something that I was certainly supportive of. I think that’s a positive. Us and my friend, Kurt Kamperman, who runs community tennis, we have worked side by side a lot more than we ever did. I think that’s a positive for tennis. I think that has to continue.

Q. What does this mean for José, Jay, and Jorge ^ ?
GORDON SMITH: Look, Patrick said it. Patrick’s created a great team and a great staff. They’re moving in the right direction. We want them to continue to move in that direction. We don’t see changes in what we are doing or who’s doing it.

Q. Thanks for all the sweat and the work.

Q. Used to be when Andre was around, whether it was in Zimbabwe or California, he was meeting the team. You know as well as anyone Roddick was a charismatic leader pulling for America. Now when you talk to John and Sam, terrific people, even all the way down to Koslov and Rubin, there is more of a culture of I’m working on my own game; that’s what I’m interested in. There isn’t that urgency of the, Hey, we’ve got to make this happen for America today. Could you comment about that? Do you sense that? Do you think that’s an issue of any kind?
PATRICK McENROE: I mean, it’s not up to the individual player to do it for their country, so to speak. It’s up to them to do it for themselves. I mean, as a Davis Cup captain for 10 years I spent a lot of time with Andy Roddick; he had an incredible energy and intensity level that was from him. That was him. Obviously he loved playing for his country. He loved supporting American tennis. I think that we have a lot of kids and a lot of players that have that. I think we just need to get better. I mean, our players need to get better. The coaching needs to get better. We want to be as much of a support as we can and a resource for all things tennis where our best players, our young coaches, we’re people getting people in the pipeline, for junior and collegiate tennis we created a separate position in the last few years just to focus solely on collegiate tennis and do what we can support the best players coming out of college. The answer to that question is I believe we have some of that. Great players obviously have certain individuality to them. I mean, look at Michael Chang out there coaching now. His intensity and energy has made a tangible difference in someone like a Kei Nishikori. We can always get better at that. I hope I answered your question. I’m not trying to skirt it. I just don’t see that it’s — I don’t look at that and say, That’s our issue. I look at it and say, We need to get better as coaches, as mentors, as players. We need to play tennis better. We need to train better. We need to be smarter, et cetera.

Q. It’s early on, but do you have any sense of a description of the job or the replacement of Patrick? Say, does it have to be a former player or just a great developmental coach? Somebody maybe with who has a business background a little bit? Do you have a sense of that yet?
PATRICK McENROE: Are you going to knock my business background, too? (Laughter.)

GORDON SMITH: Many of you saw John went to the ESPN set immediately before he came here. John said he was not a candidate for the job, so I know it’s not going to be John. Well, can we clone Patrick and get him to move to Nona? It’s going to be hard to replace Patrick. I was involved with the search when we hired Patrick. It’s a damn hard job, and it’s going to be hard to find somebody. But start with a lot of his talents and you’d have a good candidate.

Q. Would José be considered at all? Do you want a big name like Patrick?
GORDON SMITH: You know, honestly hadn’t thought about it. If you want to know the truth, the reason being Patrick and I had this discussion, we were in no rush. We simply — because he wanted it to come out on his terms. As things began to break we decided to talk tonight. We haven’t gotten that far down the road.

Q. How do you think your tenure in this sort of era of American tennis should be remembered?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, I hope it will be remembered when we have a bunch of players that will be at the top in a few years, because I think, as you have probably learned in your years now of covering tennis, it’s a long road to get to the top. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. You know, José and I have, and I fully expect Mark just to at least chime in on that for José to be involved. I’d like him to be on the court more, to be honest. I think that’s his No. 1 role is to be on the court working with players. We had already had discussions about him doing more of that in the near future, particularly some of our young boys that are coming up. But what we always talked about s wanting to put a structure in place, a structure that would help us create a good succession of high-quality players. I have said from the start in taking the job that I never suspected that we or any one person or program can create Serena Williams or John McEnroe or Pete Sampras. But I do believe that if you create a good system and a good program that’s organized, that has a coaching philosophy which we have that reaches out with the great private sector that’s out there that are in this game, that are in this world. Which there are not that many of them, by the way. There are some great ones, but there are not that many of it. That if you do that, this is a 15- to 20-year project. There is some disappointment in me to not see the whole thing through, but I have to be realistic about it about. When I first went to Orlando two years ago, as we were looking potentially for sites just for player development at that time before it became a much bigger deal for the USTA, you know, I wanted to do what I thought was right for the USTA and for tennis in the country. I’m going to continue to do that. So I would hope that some of those things have set some of the parameters in place and put some good things motion. Again, it’s a complete team effort. I hope that I have led some of that charge, that we can’t really just sit back, I believe, anymore and rely on, Jeez, we used to have half the draw at the US Open. Well, guess what? I mean, the world has changed.

Q. How much, if at all, have you tried to pick up things from other countries in the way they develop players?
PATRICK McENROE: You always try to find that balance of being we are the United States and we do want to do things our way. We do want to have the individual obviously be emphasized. But I do think that we wanted to get a bit more organized in the way we approach coaching and coach educating, et cetera. But at the same time, obviously you always look at what countries are doing that are having success, whether it’s France, Spain, Russia, et cetera. But at the same time, I don’t think we ever want to lose what we do well, which is, you know, be aggressive players, serve big, be attacking-type players. But you also have to realize that the game has changed. The game is played from the back court. You need to hit a lot of balls and be able to run and be very athletic. We have clay courts here. We have clay courts in Florida. We are going to have I a lot more clay courts – and some will be red, which will be nice – in Orlando; we have clay courts at our facility in California. We changed the Orange Bowl back to clay. You know, so there is a lot of things that tie into that to try to help our kids develop better so that they become better players.

Q. Is the transition anything more than you helping to find a successor? What’s the timeline for finding a replacement?
DAVE HAGGERTY: To me, I think, you know, a lot of this is new news. It’s something — you know, we are in the middle of the US Open, which is something that needs a lot of focus. But we will begin to plan and come up with something that really makes sense. This is not about change in strategy. We think the inclusiveness, what we are doing and how we are trying to work to develop American champions is the right formula. We have a great team. We just have to continue to move forward. How that looks, you know, I think we need a few months to figure that out. And the role that Patrick will play in it and the guidance that he’ll give us, you know, he’s learned a lot. Sometimes you have to take that learning and use it to make your decision-making.

Q. A year? Longer than that?
GORDON SMITH: I would say that’s an unknown, but if four to six months, could be longer. He will have much broader involvement than just finding a successor. He’s running the show. He’s in place. He’s going to be there to do that until this happens. He’s going to be involved in the search. He’s going to be involved in transferring the knowledge and the lessons learned. So it will be a broad involvement going forward in the transition.

Q. You talked about the developmental process, but what hasn’t been mentioned is our junior competition structure in this country. In my opinion, and in a lot of people’s opinion, that’s kind of an underlying issue with why we’re not seeing more of the top players emerge.
PATRICK McENROE: Yeah, I think it’s safe to say we’ve got some issues in junior comp. There is no doubt about that. We are certainly trying to tackle it in the best way we can. I will say — and I have sort of said this before and said it the wrong way and pissed some people off — but I will say that I don’t think that’s the reason we don’t have players at the top of the professional game. Just like I don’t think we need to have better coaching and education. All the things combined matter. I think junior competition matters. At the same time, you know, if you’re going to make that argument, which you’re welcome to make, then you might want to look at, well, how are we doing in girls? We seem to have a lot of girls in the top 100 and a lot more coming. They sort of play under the same system, as well. I think the premise of your question and statement is accurate, that we need to do a better job in that area, but I do think that it’s one of many issues.

Q. Last couple of years when you were out there looking at the Orlandos and whatever, were you aware from the start that you were basically looking for something that was going to take you out of a job, or was there a point where you thought you’d be able to stay with it?
PATRICK McENROE: I think a little bit of both. I mean, you know, obviously I feel like I have been able to do the job from here. If I didn’t think I’d be able to do the job I wouldn’t have kept doing it. But I do think — look, my interest was always in what I think was best for the program. That’s the bottom line. As I said, Gordon and I discussed potential directions to go, and I think we both looked at each other and we have worked well and we have been honest with each other for all these years. Dave since he became president, as well. I said, Look, I think this is going to work best for this position at this point to be based there. So, yeah, I guess I was my own worst enemy if I said I wanted to keep the job for as long as I could. I never looked at the job from that perspective. I looked at it as a great opportunity. I was paid well, obviously. I did my best and will continue to do my best. I made some mistakes, but I think generally speaking I’m proud of the fact that I have been able to be part of Davis Cup for ten years and this job for, you know, six-and-a-half years. Maybe it will seven by the time I sort of officially step aside. Whatever it is, that’s a pretty good run. They have treated me, the USTA, great. They have always been very honest with me. I have been very honest with them. I’m going to continue to do that.

Q. The last I guess 40 years, professional football, professional basketball, to a lesser extent hockey, baseball, has been pretty shrewd in using colleges to basically be a very seamless pipeline, cheap. Some could say exploited. But do you think that you, tennis, has done or could do a better job of exploiting the sort of infrastructures already in college?
PATRICK McENROE: There is no doubt we could do a better job. That’s why we assigned one of our coaches to specifically follow college tennis and specifically work with the players and the coaches. At the same time, I like to deal with reality, as well: If you look at the reality of the rankings of men’s and women’s tennis, the majority of the players didn’t go to college. It’s just a fact. It’s just a reality. That being said, we’re seeing some darn good players come out of college, particularly on the men’s side. Even a few on the women’s side that are doing well. That’s great. What I would really — what rang true with me is when I did some of my travels around the country and I heard from a lot of parents that that was important to them, that college tennis be a viable option. Because, you know, at nine or ten it’s pretty hard to say if you’re going to be a pro or not. So that sort of reenergized me to say, Hey, we need to make sure and do what we can to help college tennis, because a lot of — we might lose a lot of players when their kids are eight, nine, or ten that do other sports and get involved in other things and the parent says, Jeez, college tennis is, I don’t know. It’s not really viable. I think we need it to be healthy, and the healthier it can be it’s better for tennis in general. And I think it can be a pipeline, but it’s not going to be like football.

Q. Between public and private, could you talk a little bit about that relationship in terms of how that’s grown?
PATRICK McENROE: I think it needs to get better. That’s obviously been a huge push for us recently. The reason I say that is because it’s so much harder to make it. The private sector, you know, the tennis world has changed. I don’t mean professional tennis. I mean the business of tennis has changed to where clubs and academies, et cetera, they have — it’s more financially based now. It’s economics of how they can just stay in business. So the better a junior tennis player gets as a kid, 11, 12, 13, up to 17, 18, the more resources it takes for them to continue to develop. That’s where I believe the USTA can play a huge part in helping that process, be part of the process. And certainly not be the only part. We definitely know that. But at the same time, we need to send that message to those coaches out there, and they also need to receive the message I believe from the USTA that the — you may very well need us at some point, and that can be a good thing. If you think you can do it all alone, God bless you and good luck, but it’s pretty darn tough. The USTA can be a valuable resource in that process.

Courtesy of ASAPSports and the USTA.

As a media outlet credentialed to cover the US Open, Tennis Panorama News has permission to post this transcript.