Harrison Shows He Belongs

FLUSHING MEADOWS – Is Ryan Harrison America’s Great Hope?

Well, he certainly hopes so.

“I mean, hearing the good stuff is always exciting,” he said. “But I think that those guys have obviously had such extraordinary careers.  They’ve done so well for U.S. tennis.  I’ve got such a long ways to go.  Hearing stuff like that doesn’t really come into play.  I mean, I’ve never made third round of a slam.  After that you got to get second week.  It only gets tougher from there.

“The closer you get to the top, the more difficult it gets.  I have a long ways to go.  I do believe I can get there ‑‑ and I’m going to do my best to get there ‑‑ but it’s not going to be easy.”

And it won’t be easy in the second round when he get Juan Martin Del Potro, after the young American beat Benjamin Becker 7‑5, 6‑4, 6‑2 to win a round this year.


“It’s going to start with my serve,” he said. “If I serve well, everything kind of becomes a lot less, I guess, pressure on the rest of my game because I can dictate and I can actually swing out on some return games and have a little bit of a crack because there’s not as much pressure.  It’s going to start with that.

“If things go my way, then I know I can return well enough to where I can put some pressure on him.  I play good defense, so with some of his shot‑making, I can make him hit a couple extra balls on some of his service games.

“Like I said, it’s not going to be easy, but I think I have the game to do it.”

That’s great confidence and he will need it to beat the No. 7 seed, but there is work to be done. Harrison has a goal to make the second week, but he knows the obstacles in front of him. Just 20, he has a long career ahead of him and can work on his game and make this Open a learning experience.

“Obviously you want to, but I’ve got a really tough opponent next round,” he said. “I know I can do well and I know I can win this match if I play well.  It’s going to be not easy, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

“It will be fun.”

Yes it will. Watching this American always is.



The College Conundrum

Professional tennis players and especially American professional tennis players face the decision at some point in their careers. Men and women. To go to college or not go to college?

Players from outside of the United States like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal invariably choose to turn professional at an early age. There is less pressure on young tennis stars to attend college in many foreign countries than there is in the United States. There is also less precedent.

As early as 30 years ago, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors had to make the decision. Mac attended Stanford for two years and won the NCAA’s. He has never regretted his college decision.Same with Jimmy Connors at UCLA. He went for one year and also won the NCAA’s.

Three years ago, John Isner and Sam Querry burst on the scene.Isner went to the University of Georgia for four years and led his team to an NCAA crown.He finished second in singles. He wasn’t ready as a player to turn pro out of high school.Sam Querry, on the other hand turned down a full scholarship at USC. They are both about equally ranked now.

The college scene has changed dramatically over the past decade or so. More foreign players are attending colleges in the States  and that makes the competition better for Americans who continue on with their educations. Benjamin Becker is a prime example. He attended Baylor and is now No. 50 in the world.

The US Open Junior Finals this year pitted Jack Sock against Denis Kudla. Sock won the event and is torn between college and turning pro. Kudla has already turned pro. Sock and his family were approached by countless agents at the Open.

In our opinion, players should take a page from the James Blake playbook. The former Fairfield, Connecticut high school star attended Harvard for two years and then turned pro. He honed his skills at Harvard and picked up many valuable life tools in the process.He rose to as high as no. 6 in the world and was an endorsement guru. College did not hurt him a bit.

Jesse Levine turned pro after one year at the University of Florida. He stated, “You can always go back to school but not to pro tennis.” That is true but Levine has had a somewhat undistinguished pro career and probably wasn’t ready physically to turn pro when he did. Perhaps four years in college would have made Levine a better pro and a more well rounded individual.

Clearly, there is no easy answer to this conundrum facing many young tennis players.

Richard Kent is the autor of Inside the US Open and The Racket.

In Defeat Britton Keeps His Sense of Humor

As draws go, this was a tough one. Someone needed to be the sacrificial lamb to Roger Federer. And when Devin Britton heard the news, he was surely less than thrilled.

“I didn’t really believe it at first,” said the 18 year-old from Mississippi. “Thought it was just a bad joke. No, and then started getting texts on my phone and realized it was true.”

To say Britton was overmatched is an understatement and it took just one hour and 28 minutes for the best player in the world to finish off his first round match, 6-1, 6-3, 7-5.

Yet, it wasn’t always a walk in the park. The first break of the match went to Britton.

“I was pretty excited after the break,” Britton said. “And I got broken ant Love. I think I lost 13 or 14 points after that. I was thinking, I’m up a break. This is awesome. Then it only lasted about 30 seconds.”

At least he has a sense of humor. Many players would look at being Federer meat an insult, especially in their first open. Britton, though, took at is a challenge, at least not to get embarrassed.

“My goal was not to get crushed,” he laughed. “And make it interesting for a while. At least which I thought. I got up a break a couple of times and that was fun the little time it lasted.”

This was Britton’s first Open as a professional. He came to New York three years ago as a junior, but was sent home after a couple of days. Before Federer, he said he faced, Marcos Baghadatis and Benjamin Becker, but no one on the class as Federer  (Is there anyone who is?) and certainly there’s a difference.

“It’s just slightly different,” Britton said. “I mean, he’s the best. It’s a little different than those guys that were ranked 80 or 90. He’s obviously got plenty of confidence right now. This is his sixth, going for his sixth US Open in a row. I wasn’t expecting too much.”

So Britton was reduced to spectator as Federer went about his business. It took him two sets to realize that this was the US Open and was able to make a game of it in the third. By then it was too late.

Now this young man from Mississippi will hand around New York for a few days. He is looking to get into the doubles tournament as a wild card.

As for Federer, he’s off to the second round on what should be a long tournament for the five time champion. Next up is German Simon Gruel, ranked 65th in the world, which is a little higher than Britton’s 1370th ranking.

“It was a tricky match more for me,” Federer said. “I was playing a guy who had nothing to lose obviously.”

Yet this is Federer, who just never loses.