Laura Robson, the Surprise of the Open

FLUSHING, NY – Move over Andy Murray, there’s a new Brit in town.

Laura Robson has become the feel good story at this Open, after she won her third round against Na Li, 6-4 6-7 6-2 to advance to the fourth round.

And this comes after she sent Kim Clijsters into retirement.

Call her the Giant killer.

“When the draw first came out I wasn’t really looking past the first round,” the 18 year-old said. “ And then, you know, when I heard that I was playing Li Na after I played Kim, I didn’t really think anything.  I just knew that it was going to be an extremely tough match, which it was, and that she’s a great player.

“So I knew I had to play well; that’s what I did.”

So far in 2012, Robson seemed to take a step back. After making the second round last year at Wimbledon and the Open, she was one and done at the other majors this year.

But that isn’t stopping her here.

She fought Clijsters in straight sets, 7-6(4) 7-6(5), in the second round, sending the three time US Open champion into full time motherhood.

And now she took down Li, who was seeded ninth at the Open and many expected to make the second week.

“I have had a fairly tough draw, haven’t I?” she asked with a smile. “Well, you know, you have to beat who is in front of you.  That’s what I managed to do so far.  I think I play [Sam] Stosur now, who is defending champ.  That’s going to be really tough.  I’ve never played her before, so, you know, I’m going to just work hard tomorrow and recover as best as I can for the next one.”

Ah yes, the defending champ. That would be a tough matchup, but they said that about Clijsters and Li. In today’s match, Robson easily took the first set and then lost a tie break in the second to give Li life, even though she was up 3-1 at one point in the breaker.

Then in the third, she took control with a 6-2 cruising, putting her on the map. The funny thing she never gets down on herself, which many 18 year-olds do.

“I’m only 18, so if I was that negative, you know, last year or a year ago, then who knows what I’m going to be like in a few years,” Robson said. “But, no, I have always thought that I can play with the top girls.  Whenever I’ve practiced with, you know, Caroline or Maria, I’ve always felt that the level was there.

“It was just taking that onto the match court and keeping the level up for the whole match.  That’s what I have worked on.  Yeah, that’s been the biggest difference.”

Well maybe Murray can give her pointers now on handling on the British press. Well on second thought, the way she took care of them today, she will do just fine.

Tennis Reacts To Roddick’s Retirement

The news of Andy Roddick’s retirement sent some shockwaves through the tennis world and many of his contemporaries gave their thoughts on what the 2003 US Open Champion meant to them.

James Blake was getting ready to play when the press conference happened. He wasn’t told by Roddick but did see the presser before his second round win.

“I had an inclination from the beginning of the year,” he said. “But I really thought his success at Eastbourne, success at Atlanta, the fact he was playing well again could have possibly changed that.

“To be honest, I thought it would have changed his mind when he beat Federer in Miami. To me that showed he could still beat the top guys.”

Serena Williams, said she knew about the announcement, so it didn’t come as a surprise.

“He told me a while ago, last year, this would be it,” Williams said. “I was at his house at Austin and we were talking about it.

“He’s been great for American men’s tennis, great for the US Open, doing so much and playing so well, just being a great player. A great attitude, incredibly fun to watch. You know, I know a lot of people look up to Andy Roddick. That’s who I want to be like.”

Sam Querrey also described him as his idol and a great help.

“He’s been my biggest role model the last 10 years playing tennis,” Querrey said. “He’s been a great guy, great leader to us all. Nice and kind. Real generous to the up-and-comers.

“For me, for [Ryan] Harrison, for the 18 year-olds now, he’s just been an unbelievable champion, a Hall of Famer, just a great guy, great person for the sport of tennis.”

Then there is Roger Federer, the man he just never could beat.

“Look you are always going to have someone around,” he said. “I had many guys who denied me many things. That was the last thing that came to my mind when he told me he was going to retire.

“He was happy to go into retirement. He had an amazing career. Some expected better; some expected worse. But I am sure he is happy with what he achieved because he achieved everything he wanted.

“Maybe to lose that Wimbledon title potentially, but let’s forget about that. He was in those Wimbledon titles. He could have gotten that title. That’s what I said when I beat him in ’09. He deserves this title as well. In my mind, he is a Wimbledon Champion as well, a wonderful ambassador for the game.

“I’m thankful for everything he’s done for the game, especially here for tennis in America. It’s not been easy after Agassi and Sampras, Currier, Chang, Connors, McEnroe, you name it.”

Family Comes First For Kim

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Cross Sports Journalist off the list of potential careers for Kim Clijsters. When asked tonight, she gave a very quick, no.

“I definitely read the press in my first few years that I was on tour, and then I completely ignored the press,” Clijsters said.  Also because positive, negative, I didn’t want it to get to me.  It did when I was younger whether there was negative press, positive press.”

Well she will have plenty of time to decide after her second round loss to Brittan’s Laura Robson, 7-6 7-6, because that’s it for the three-time US Open Champion as she calls it a career.

“Now that I’m almost completely finished, you think about when I first stepped on tour, you know and met Steffi Graf and Monica Seles,” she said.  “First in Belgium when I was able to practice in a tennis center against Sabine Appelmans and Dominique Monami.

“It’s been an incredible journey, and a lot of dreams for me have come true because of tennis.  As a little girl, I got tennis racquets under the tree and outfits of Steffi Graf and Monica Seles and I would want to wear them to bed I was so excited.

“So for me to have been able to have been a part of women’s tennis, and on top of women’s tennis for so many years, now that I think back ‑‑ you know, you don’t think about it when you’re in it.  You’re kind of on automatic pilot.  You don’t think about those things anyway.

“Now that I think about it, it’s been a crazy rollercoaster at times, as well.  All of a sudden when you’re 15, you kind of get thrown in the spotlight, you go through puberty in the spotlight, you have your first boyfriend in the spotlight, you know, everything.

“It’s not just the tennis side of things that you think about now, it’s about life.  We’ve had a lot of things happen in these last 15 years that I’ve been on tour.  I’m able to look back at them, and I’m very happy with the progress that I’ve made.”

And what a career it has been. Three US Open Champions (2005, 2009, 2010), one Australian Open Championship (2011) and two French Open Finals (2001, 2003) and add to that two doubles majors at the French and Wimbledon in 2003. She, of course retied once and came back looking better than ever.

More importantly, though she goes out on her terms, as she retires for the second and final (we think) time.

She is obviously an all-time great up there with her contemporaries like the Williams sisters and Justine Henin, and and even can be compared with  her idols like Graf and Seles, who inspired her to become a tennis player.

“I hate to lose,” she said. “ My husband and I, we play ping‑pong in our garage and I don’t even want to give him a point.  I hate to lose, but I’m very aware or I understand and appreciate when you have an opponent who’s playing really well and plays good tennis.

“I always try to be better than my opponent.  I always try to find a solution to try and win a match, but I was also aware or understood that, you know, players can be better than you on the day.

“Losses have always motivated me more to go back.  I have a little gym in my basement downstairs.  Even when I was supposed to take a few days off, I would go into the gym and just run and do intervals and workouts to try and be better next time after a loss.”

But not this time. With her daughter Jada getting older and going to school, the travelling is just too much. Clijsters wants to be a good mother and there for her child while growing up. It makes it difficult to do that and go out on tour.

That’s may be her greatest legacy. The wins are one thing, but to balance being a mother, staying in shape after giving birth and coming back even stronger puts her in the echelon of Margaret Court.

“When I hear it, it is special, and I feel proud that I was able to win a slam as a mother, just because I know how much work it took after I had Jada to get back physically, tennis‑wise, and mentally to get back into the sport,” she mused.

“On the other hand, I never thought about that when I was playing.  You know, there were moments that it was hard.  Especially when I first started coming on tour it was hard to find the balance between figuring out ‑‑ when I was home, I was still working out, practicing hard, but I was 100% mom.

“If Jada was sick, I would call up and say, I need to be home now.  During a tournament, I can’t call the tournament director and say, Hey, can you move my match because I need to be home for Jada or something.

“Again, you know, you have a team that you work with.  Nicole, our nanny, has been maybe the most important member of our team because she’s given me so much comfort knowing that my daughter was with somebody I trust.

“When I want Brian to watch me play, Jada is with her.  Whether they’re in the hotel or sitting somewhere in the stadium, it’s so comforting knowing that she’s okay.  Knowing that, that’s when I’m able to play tennis and go to practice.  It got a little bit easier for me to leave home when she started going to school because I didn’t have to feel that guilty of leaving her behind when I had to go to practice.

“It’s been tough at times, too.  As a mother, you feel guilty if something happens that you can’t be there, good things or bad things.  Unfortunately, those kind of things have been there.

“On the other hand, I know with our lifestyle I’m maybe more with her than parents who work hard and who work from 9:00 to 5:00.

“But, yeah, I think as a parent you always feel like you miss out on things or feel a little bit guilty and you want to do better and be the perfect parent.”

That’s why she is leaving. She was smart enough to know the window was closing to play professional tennis and now her life becomes her family.

At the age of 29, she made the smartest decision of them all, to be a full time mother.

She will be missed at the Open.

 

 

 

 

The Sharapova Express Derails

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – The Maria Sharapova Express hit a derailment today.

The 2006 US Open Champion was supposed to go pretty far in this tournament after fully coming back from her shoulder surgery and receiving the No. 3 seed.

But Italian Flavia Pennetta had something else to say about that with a 6-3 3-6 6-4 win over the Russian by the way of Florida in the third round of the US Open.

“I made way too many unforced errors,” she said.  “I fought back to get myself back in the match in the third set.  I think the first three, four games on every game I had a chance to win that game, whether it was a breakpoint or it was a game point on my serve, and I didn’t win those games.

“When you’re done 1‑4 and you get yourself back in a position where can you win again and start making errors, it’s just too inconsistent to win the match against her.”

Sharapova committed 60 unforced errors with 29 coming in the first set and 12 double faults in the match compared to only 35 self inflicted wounds by her Italian counterpart and only six giveaways.

She said she didn’t “feel comfortable” all game and just couldn’t get on track.

And when she got it in the third Sharapova couldn’t sustain her undefeated 2011 in third set. And even with that kind of confidence, it didn’t matter.

“I never think I’m going to lose the match, no matter if I’m 1‑4 or 0‑5,” she said. “I don’t have that mentality that I’m going to lose no matter how bad or how good I’m playing.  You can’t have that mentality.”

And thus another disappointing Open for the Russian. Even though she went to the Finals at Wimbledon, the 24 year-old leaves Flushing before Labor Day with the hopes of maybe a better Asian season this fall.

“I’m not really looking forward to a 14‑hour flight in a couple of weeks,” she said dryly.  “Yeah, the year is not over.  We’ve still got ‑‑ I think I still have three tournaments to go or so.

“Yeah, once they come then it will be time to play again and raise my level.  Until then, I just have to, you know, keep working in order for me to go out in the match and raise it.”

Wozniacki Ignores Love Advice And Advances

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – The Williams sisters are a great resource for any tennis player. After all, they have seen it all on the courts. Been there, done that.

When it comes to relationship advice…well take it with a grain of salt.

No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki learned that today before her second round win over Danish native Arantxa Rus, 6-2 6-1.

“Well, we were all in the locker room,” she said.  “I was going to get some treatment.  She was sitting there with Venus and talking.  And then, I don’t know, it just came out that we were talking a bit and we had a laugh.  We were just kidding around a little bit.

“I think I should not listen to her or Venus (laughter).  She was not better.”

The Great Dane has very open about her relationship with Irish golfer Rory McIlvoy. It’s been in all the papers and the US Golf Open Champion has been attending Wozniacki’s matches last week in New Haven. With her own US Open at hand can her love life become a distraction?

Not so, said the 21 year-old.

“Well, tennis is my first priority and I’m focused on the tennis when I’m on court, that’s for sure,” she said.   “You know, what I do off the court, I know that I’m a public person, so a lot of things will be seen by the public.

“But, you know, I don’t really think about it.  You know, I think we have our limits and we know where they are.  So as long as we both keep the feet on the ground and, you know, we both have our careers, which are important to us, I think it’s working well.”

With that out of the way, Wozniacki is focused on her third round match against American Vania King.

“She’s definitely getting a lot of balls back,” Wozniacki said if King. “It’s important to stay aggressive, but not too aggressive.  You know, I just need to dictate, but have control over the points.

“She’s definitely a player that is not easy to beat.  So I’m looking forward to the match, and hopefully it can be a good one.”

And you can be sure Rory will be watching.

Wozniacki Determined At This Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Caroline Wozniacki now has a real challenge. Not only does she have the tough task of winning her first major and not only is expectations sky high for her at this US Open, the Great Dane also has to keep up with her boyfriend US Golf Open Champion Rory McIlroy.

“Definitely trying to keep up,” she said with that sunshine smile. “I’ll definitely do my best, but I still have six tough matches to go, so it will not be easy.

“You know, he has something I’m looking for and I have something he’s looking for.  He wants to be No. 1.  So it’s good to have something on each other.”

With the field wide open this year with Kim Clijsters out of the tournament, this may be the 21 year-old’s year to win the Open. Of course when you have played at a high level over the past few years and not captured a major crown, questions do arise about the ability to take it all even a player has been ranked No. 1 for the past 46 weeks.

But Wozniacki doesn’t seem to be phased by the questions. In fact see seems amused.

“I won six tournaments this year already,” she said. “You know, I should definitely not be complaining.  I’m in a good position.  I’m in a good spot.  I’m happy, healthy, and I can go out there and compete.  That’s what’s most important.

“I’m winning a lot of matches, which is why we practice.  We practice to win.  Yeah, I’ve won a lot of matches, and that’s what satisfies me.”

But a US Open win would be the ultimate for the Danish Princess. And to accomplish that she considered hiring Martina Navratilova as her coach, but took on a male mystery coach for these two weeks.

She’s not revealing who that person could be.

“Yeah, well, I have to respect him as well,” she said.  “So if he wants to be in the background and not have his name out, I have to respect that. He’s been watching me play and telling me a few things.  It’s good.  It’s working well.”

It’s seems to be working for Wozniacki as she comes off her fourth straight title in New Haven. It’s an event she particularly enjoys because of the similar age bracket of the students moving in to Yale.

“It felt very good being there,” she said.  “I think that’s why I play well there.  There are a lot of young people around, a lot going on.  It’s nice to see them move into their dorms with their mattresses.  It’s definitely a cool feeling.  It feels like you’re part of it actually the week that you’re there.  Definitely.”

Today when she disposed unseeded Llagostera Vives in straight sets, 6-3 6-1, she had the same confidence she exuded in Connecticut last week. Something she hopes holds throughout the Open.

“They can say what they want,” she said.  “I’m the type of player I am.  I’ve won a lot of tournaments.  I’m No. 1 in the world, and of course I can still improve.  There are a lot of things to my game I can still improve, but everyone can.

“You know, I’m on the right track.  I just go out there and I play the way I do, and, you know, hopefully that’s good enough.”

Well, she has to keep Rory happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maria Through The First With Good Open Chance

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – It’s pretty easy for Maria Sharapova to blame her sluggish start today on the weather.

Sure today’s conditions were perfect, but this past weekend kept her indoors.

“I think the last couple days have been tough on players,” said Sharapova after she downed the unseeded Heather Watson 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. “Obviously none of us practiced yesterday.  The day before was raining.  Everybody was trying to get 30 minutes on an indoor court, which is always a little bit tough.

“So I think it was just going out there and trying to find that consistency.”

So the 2006 US Open Champion spent yesterday in her hotel room, playing with her dog, going to the gym and taking in what was open in New York City.

Yet, her dog may have been trying to tell her something during the storm yesterday.

“My dog kept like going back to his little bag,” she said.  “It kind of freaked me out because that’s a sign he wanted to go home.  Maybe the hurricane was going to be bad.  We were lucky, yeah, that it was just a little rain.”

New York was lucky yesterday and the No. 3 seed was lucky today when she survived the match with British Watson, even though she committed 58 unforced errors (39 in the first set) and eight double faults.

“I don’t think I did enough to make her feel like she had any pressure in the first set,” Sharapova said.  “You know, I’d hit one, two good balls, then hit an error.  Whether it was a centimeter or two out, it doesn’t matter, it’s still an error.”

Even with the slow start, Sharapova was too much for Watson. Using her power game, she was able to squeak by in the second set and then dominate the third to advance in this version of the US Open. She is the new Maria, someone who is older, wiser and out to prove she isn’t washed up at the tender age of 24.

Instead, after years of injuries and inconsistencies, Sharapova is ready to dominate again. A year of resurgence saw her win in Rome and then Cincinnati, while losing the finals in Miami and of course Wimbledon. It was good enough to rank her No. 3 in Flushing, and one of the odds on favorites for the tournament.

“Well, I just feel like this year I’ve improved,” she said. “Last year I felt like I would play a couple good matches and then I’d play a bad match.  I didn’t have that sense of consistency, and that’s something I felt like something that has changed this year.”

Even at her still young age, Sharapova is the grizzled veteran on the circuit. And much like any other sport, she has made adjustments. Where she was a pure power player before, the Russian by the way of Florida is now a more complete player, with a defensive game to go with her attack.

During her journey back, which she called it “the process” she had many pitfalls, but her hard work is now looking like it is paying off.

“Well, it’s just great to still be a tennis player,” she said.  “I’ve said this many times.  I’m very fortunate to do what I do, obviously, to do it at a high level and to win tournaments and to win big matches obviously.

“It gives you tremendous amount of confidence and delight that the work you’ve put in, you know, is paying off.  It’s the time that you spend away from the courts, the time that people don’t see what you put into the sport of trying to get back there.  Just to play a match, and then do it over and over again, not many people experience that feeling, see it.

“So to be able to prove to yourself that you’ve put in that work and there you are at that stage again, giving yourself these opportunities to win Grand Slams again, it’s a good feeling.”

And now with the first round hiccup out of the way, Maria Sharapova seems poised for her Open run.

Of course let’s hope there are no more hurricanes.

Lineup For Indian Wells Announced

With the Australian Open concluding this weekend, the next major stop on the tennis calendar will be the BNP Paribas Open, the most-attended tennis tournament outside of the Grand Slams. Once again the tournament, to be held March 7-20 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, will feature hundreds of the best players in the world, including the top three players on both tours – Rafael Nadal and Caroline Wozniacki (No. 1), Roger Federer and Vera Zvonareva (No. 2) and Novak Djokovic and Kim Clijsters (No. 3).

Nadal, who had an incredible season in 2010 capturing three of the four majors, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, will be in search of his third crown in Indian Wells (2007, 2009), and would join Jimmy Connors, Michael Chang and Federer as three-time winners of the BNP Paribas Open. Wozniacki became the 20th World No. 1 in WTA history last year, and captured six titles. A finalist at the 2010 BNP Paribas Open, she is seeking her first Grand Slam title this week at the Australian Open and is into the semifinals.

Federer, who is the only man to ever win the BNP Paribas Open three years in a row (2004-2006), bookended 2010 by winning the sixteenth major of his career in Australia in January and the ATP World Championships in the final week of the season. A win this week would continue to increase his all-time leading major title record. Zvonareva had a fantastic 2010 reaching the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open, and climbing to an all-time high ranking of No. 2 in the world. The 2009 BNP Paribas Open champion has another shot at a major title this week at the Australian Open.

Djokovic had another strong campaign in 2010, and entrenched himself further into the Serbian history books  by helping his country capture its first ever Davis Cup title with a win over France in December. The 2008 BNP Paribas Open champion is trying to capture the second major of his career this week in Australia, with the first coming in 2008 in the land down under. Clijsters, who has three major titles, including the last two US Open’s, will look to become the only woman to ever win the BNP Paribas Open singles title three times (2005, 2003). She is currently in the hunt this weekend for her fourth Grand Slam title and her first at the Australian Open.

In addition to these six stars, the fields will feature a host of others who have captured titles in Indian Wells including the last six women to win the title – defending champion Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic (2008), Daniela Hantuchova (2007, 2002), Southern California resident Maria Sharapova (2006), Zvonareva and Clijsters. On the men’s side, defending champion Ivan Ljubicic and Lleyton Hewitt (2001-2002) join Nadal, Federer and Djokovic as former champions in the draw.

In addition to these champions, numerous other top ten stars such as Robin Soderling (No. 4), Andy Murray (No. 5), Tomas Berdych (No. 6), David Ferrer (No. 7), American Andy Roddick (No. 8), Fernando Verdasco (No. 9), Mikhail Youhzny (No. 10), Samantha Stosur (No. 6), Francesca Schiavone (No. 7) and World No. 9 Victoria Azarenka will also vie for the title. Other American stars that will compete include Mardy Fish, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Sam Querrey, Melanie Oudin, John Isner and the World No. 1 doubles team, Mike and Bob Bryan, who will be seeking to capture one of the few titles that have eluded them in their record-setting career.

One of the new additions for the players and fans this year will be the addition of Hawkeye replay technology and video displays on all match courts. While most tournaments feature Hawkeye replay technology and video displays on one, two, or three courts, none have made it available on eight match courts.

The women’s qualifying draw will take place March 7-8 and the men’s qualifying rounds will be held March 8-9. There will be 48 players in each draw vying for 12 spots in the main draws. First-round play will begin Wednesday, March 9 for the women and Thursday, March 10 for the men. The men’s and women’s singles championship finals will be held on Sunday, March 20. For information or to buy tickets, visit www.bnpparibasopen.com, call the Indian Wells Tennis Garden at 800-999-1585, or visit the box office, 78-200 Miles Avenue, Indian Wells, CA 92210.

ATP Launches Art Series

LONDON, ENGLAND – The ATP has commissioned the world’s top tennis players to create a series of one-of-a-kind self-portraits in celebration of their qualification for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be played at The O2 in London from 21-28 November.

The world’s leading players used their tennis skills to create individual masterpieces by hitting paint covered tennis balls against large art canvases. Each canvas was overlaid with a stencilled image, which, when removed, revealed a unique self-portrait showing one of the player’s signature moves on court.

The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals sees the Top 8 men’s tennis players in the world battle it out against each other for the last title of the season. Players compete for South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings points throughout the season in a bid to earn one of the eight coveted berths and a chance to win the $1.6m prize money on offer for the winner.

The artwork created by the final eight players will be exhibited for public viewing in Central London in early November, and during tournament week at the new Fan Zone at The O2. The artwork then will be auctioned off for charity with tennis fans around the world getting the chance to bid on a rare piece of art created and signed by their favourite player.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have already qualified for the tournament. The remaining six places are still up for grabs, as a chasing pack featuring the likes of Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick continue to battle for rankings points at ATP World Tour events during the remainder of the season in order to finish among the Top 8.

Nadal, the 2010 Wimbledon, Roland Garros and US Open Champion, is looking forward to returning to London in November. “Making the artwork was fun and something I’ve never done before. It’s a great way to celebrate the World Tour Finals coming back to London. Last year the crowd and the stadium were amazing although I didn’t play my best tennis. Hopefully this year I will arrive playing well again and will try to do my best in front of the London fans who add such a special feeling to the event,” said the World No.1.

Federer, a four-time winner of the season-ending tournament, has qualified for the event for a ninth consecutive year. “They staged a fantastic event at The O2 last year and I look forward to returning in November and finishing the season strong. It was great fun being invited to create my self-portrait and I’m excited to see how the finished artwork looks hanging in the gallery,” said the Swiss.

The tournament is the world’s biggest indoor tennis event, where each of the top eight players are drawn to play a minimum of three round-robin matches to determine which four players advance to the knockout semi-finals. Tickets are available online at www.BarclaysATPWorldTourFinals.com.

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.