Florida’s Andre Alexandre Lacroix Beats Kentucky’s Eric Quigley To Win Wild-Card Into Future USTA Event

ST. HELENA, Calif., (Sept. 26, 2010) – The NCAA meets USTA experiment was deemed a huge success by all the parties involved as the final day of the Land Rover Napa Valley Tennis Classic concluded at the Meadowood Resort on Sunday.

Florida senior Alexandre Lacroix started his morning beating U.S. Open champion and newly turned 18-year-old Jack Sock, 6-3, 6-1 and then mowed his way through the championship tiebreaker round beating Cal’s Nick Andrews, 10-3, and then taking out a pair of Kentucky players — Alex Musialek, 10-6, in the semifinals and Eric Quigley, 10-7, in the final, to win the 10th annual event which pitted four players from six top collegiate teams and eight top USTA juniors.

USTA Director of Men’s Tennis Jay Berger announced after the match that Lacroix would receive a USTA wild card into a future professional event. Lacroix was also honored with the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Award named in the memory of former Meadowood member Norma Miner.

“It was a great weekend for me,” Lacroix said. “It’s tough in those tiebreakers because not always the best player wins. I just tried to play smart and not make too many mistakes.”

After three days of round-robin play, the eight flight winners moved onto the quarterfinal tiebreaker round. Two USTA juniors advanced that far, including Mitchell Frank of Annandale, Va., who was the only junior on the weekend to win all three of his matches.

“You just kind of say a little prayer and hope you play well,” said Frank of the tiebreaker shootout in which he lost in the first round, 12-10, to Musialek. “It was a great weekend for me. I got some good experience and liked playing against the collegiate guys.”

USTA junior Alexios Halebian of Glendale, Calif., finished second in his flight, but advanced on to the tiebreaker shootout after Texas had to leave early. Halebian fell to Quigley 12-10 in his quarterfinal match. “I missed an easy forehand that would have given me a game-point,” Halebian said. “But what can you do? You just try and play it safe and not go for too much.”

Tournament Director Doug King said the Napa Valley event has been a huge success in the past and took a chance this year altering the format and inviting the USTA juniors. “We’ll tweak it a little bit if we think we can make it better in the future,” King said. “But all indications are it was a really great event. Everyone seemed happy.

“This is the highlight of the year for us. This is one of the premier events for the spectators and a little bit of a different venue then some of the players are used to. They get a little bit of a different flavor at an event like this.”

Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks, Calif., was one of the day’s highlights for the USTA as he beat Florida’s Bob Van Overbeek, 7-5, 7-6 (5). He finished with two wins over the collegiates during the three days and just missed winning his flight.

In another tight match Sunday, USTA 15-year-old Mackenzie McDonald of Piedmont, Calif., fell to USC’s JT Sundling (USC) in a three-set tiebreaker, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (4).

Berger said Giron could have easily gone 3-0 as he was up a set and a break in his only loss, 6-4 in the third set to Musialek on Saturday. “This has overall been an incredible event,” Berger said. “It’s something if invited back we’ll do every year. The boys have taken it all in. They’ve competed hard and they’ve had a lot of success.

“We knew our olders players would do well and were a little concerned about our younger players, but they’ve all done well.”

USTA coach Ricardo Acuna agreed: “I think it’s a good environment to see what the next level is for them. I think they’ve done pretty well and still have a lot to learn. They’re young so this kind of opened their eyes a little bit on what they need to work on.”

USTA coach Jose Higueras said he hopes there will be more events featuring both collegiate players and the top juniors.

“We’re hoping to do this a couple of times during the year,” Higueras said. “I think it’s a great way for the USTA to deliver the message that we do care about college tennis and that we want to get some pros out of college tennis just like so many other sports do. Most of the kids are going to go to college. The percentage that turn pro is very, very small but at the same time just because you go to college doesn’t mean you can’t turn pro.”

DAY 3: Sunday’s Final Round-Robin Results

Note: Bold names moved onto tiebreaker shootout

Alex Musialek (Kentucky) def. Vasko Mladenov (Texas), 6-4, 6-2

Marcos Giron (USTA, Thousand Oaks, Calif.) def. Bob Van Overbeek (Florida), 7-5, 7-6 (5)

Jean Andersen (Texas) def. Alexios Halebian (USTA, Glendale, Calif.), 7-6 (3), 6-3*

Jaak Poldma (USC) def. David Holiner (Texas), 7-6 (3), 6-4

Sekou Bangoura (Florida) def. Mitchell Krueger (USTA, Aledo, Texas), 6-3, 4-6, 6-0

Ed Corrie (Texas) def. Bruno Abdelnour (Illinois), 6-4, 7-6 (4)*

Johnny Hamui (Illinois) def. Christoffer Konigsfeldt (Cal), 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (5)

Eric Quigley (Kentucky) def. Raymond Sarmiento (USC), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4

Anthony Rossi (Kentucky) def. Jonathan Dahan (Cal), 6-1, 7-5

Daniel Nguyen (USC) def. Nassim Slilam (Florida), wo, injury

Nick Andrews (Cal) def. Hunter Harrington (USTA, Spartanburg, S.C.), 6-3, 6-1

Alexandre Lacroix (Florida) def. Jack Sock (USTA, Lincoln, Neb.), 6-3, 6-1

Bjorn Fratangelo (USTA, Pittsburgh, Pa.) def. Carlos Cueto (Cal), wo, injury

Mitchell Frank (USTA, Annandale, Va.) def. Abe Souza (Illinois), 6-2, ret.

Dennis Nevolo (Illinois) def. Maks Gold (Kentucky), 6-1, 6-0

JT Sundling (USC) def. Mackenzie McDonald (USTA, Piedmont, Calif.), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (4)

Note: Both Andersen and Corrie from Texas won their respective flights but had to leave early. Halebian and Andrews took their spots in the tiebreak tournament.

Championship Tiebreaker Round

Quarterfinals

Eric Quigley (Kentucky) def. Alexios Halebian (USTA, Glendale, Calif.), 11-9

Alex Musialek (Kentucky) def. Mitchell Frank (USTA, Annandale, Va.), 12-10

Dennis Nevolo (Illinois) def. Sekou Bangoura (Florida), 12-10

Alexandre Lacroix (Florida) def. Nick Andrews (Cal), 10-3

Semifinals

Eric Quigley (Kentucky) def. Dennis Nevolo (Illinois), 10-5

Alexandre Lacroix (Florida) def. Alex Musialek (Kentucky), 10-6

Final

Alexandre Lacroix (Florida) def. Eric Quigley (Kentucky), 10-7

The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S. and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level — from local communities to the highest level of the professional game.  A not-for-profit organization with 750,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game.  It owns and operates the US Open, and launched the Olympus US Open Series linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open.  In addition, it owns the 90-plus Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S., is a minority owner and promotional partner of World TeamTennis, and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games.  USTA Serves, the National Charitable Foundation of the USTA, provides financial support for disadvantaged youth and people with disabilities through tennis and education programs.  For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com.

A Family Affair On Randall’s Island

World Team Tennis is supposed to be fun. The format, the intensity of the season, and even the fun rules makes it a great place to take families.

With that in mind the New York Sportimes may have taken it one step further.

Coach Chuck Adams is back for his fourth season helming the New York Squad, but and like back in 2007, he will have his wife and new mother Ashley Harkleroad right next to him on the bench, making a comeback from maternity leave from the sport.

“I think it’s a good break for Ashley to come out and still be a part of the tennis,” Adams said. “If you are on the tour, it’s all or nothing, going from city to city. This is a good way to get her feet wet and see if she enjoys the competition.”

Harkleroad has been on the sidelines for the past 2 ½ years with the birth of Adams and her son Charlie, born on March 30, 2009. Taking part in the Sony Ericsson Open back in March, she lost in the first round to Alicia Molik, 6-1 6-1, but is using this World Team Tennis season to really see if she should make a full blown comeback.

“Actually it’s really fun to be back out here again, be on a team, to be coached by him because I have been out for 2 ½ years. It’s actually really exciting,” Harkleroad said. “It’s slowly coming along. When I am at home, I am only practicing two days a week because I concentrate on being a full time mom. It’s actually a good opportunity to be a good opportunity for me to play every single day here and I am not used to that. It’s great practice for me and hopefully later in the season I will play singles and get better.”

Of course Adams has the interesting predicament of coaching his wife, which means balancing the harshness of being a coach without ending up in the doghouse.

“She has a great tennis mind,” he said. “She’s been coach by Jose Luis Clerc and Jay Berger. She is so knowledgeable with tennis that I just try to organize her and try to get her to improve. And I try to work on the same things I did four years ago. I am not trying to reinvent the wheel.”

Harkleroad only played in the women’s doubles portion of the Sportimes 21-20 win over the Washington Kastles last night at on Randall’s Island to open the season. It was a sparse crowd due to the holiday as the 2000 seat Sportime Stadium was probably half full. Yet, that didn’t cut down on the enthusiasm.

Howard Stern’s sidekick Robin Quivers was in attendance as was Wimbledon Mixed Doubles champion Leander Paes, taking the red-eye in to play for the Kastles and as the two and a half week season continues expect John McEnroe and Kim Clijsters to play for New York, with James Blake, Martina Hingis, Andy Roddick, and Serena Williams coming in, playing for various opponents.

“This is a way for Claude(Okin) the owner to promote this club and this tennis facility, especially now that he has the McEnroe Academy here and McEnroe is going to play in four matches for our club,” Adams said.  “It’s a great fit. The new manager for our team John (Dado) is going to arrange some matches in the city so we can draw more than we do on Randall’s Island.  The tennis is pretty high quality. Seventy five percent of the players are pretty recognizable.”

Of course with Clijsters playing for New York on July 19th, Adams has a unique opportunity to make it an all-mothers doubles matchup with the 2009 US Open Champion playing alongside his wife.

“We can have a playpen for the kids along side of the court,” Adams joked. “I would like to Ashley to give it one more shot out there. She’s only 25 and so talented. She can give it another run.”

And the fun is just starting as World Team Tennis goes on throughout the month of July.