Coco Vandeweghe


2012 Australian Mixed Doubles Champion, and her war paint, Bethanie Mattek Sands (above).

After a great Australian Championships, where across the board the very best seem to have won things that would rightfully be theirs, America does not go away poorly represented.  Americans won majors in Mixed Doubles and the Juniors with some very worthy play, and very nearly saw the Bryans set the record for most career majors together, further cementing them as an all-time best doubles team.  The win would have given Bob and Mike their twelfth major together, 2 more than the all-time team of John McEnroe and Peter Fleming.  Unfortunately for the Bryan brother’s, who came up with a clutch tie-breaker and fought off a match point in the Semi’s, they did not make the shots and hit far too many second serves in a match that saw Radek Stepanek and Lenader Paes, who we met at the US Open and who was very cool, the career doubles slam.

The Paes team dominated on points and on serve, holding the Bryans to 0-2 on their only break chances.  But the Bryans didn’t play badly, and made only 3 errors in the match.  But they didn’t play well enough Saturday, and that is going to happen sometimes in doubles, because the game is moving so quick that you are not going to see a lot of chances to break, and poor serving better right itself quickly or else you are going to get blown out.  Make no mistake, the Bryans are an elite doubles team.  They have had sustained success, and have been essentially the best team for 6-7 years.  They are no doubt going to go on and get their twelfth major soon enough, and then beyond.

Paes and Stepanek were the better team on Saturday, by a little, but by enough, and by and by, had the better tournament on the whole as well.  Worthy Champions indeed.  And many would say Paes is getting all the credit due to the career slam, but Stepanek was a huge part of this team, coming up with at times brilliant tennis.  Here is a very smart player with a great deal of flair.  This may be a very good team going forward.

The Bryans get this criticism sometimes that they dropped 2 Wimbledon and French Open finals, and that they maybe should have seized those titles, but it would be crazy to doubt the Bryans well earned status as an elite team.  Everyone loses a few finals.  Sure we are disappointed whenever they lose, but in total, they have won 11 majors and been to five other major finals.  Very rarely does a team give us so much great doubles.  That is why real fans of the game have to be satisfied by all the tremendous doubles that we have been treated to by the Bryan brothers and the Williams sisters.  Truly phenomenal. The Bryans have also been the absolute lynch pin in Davis Cup, making the US squad a virtual contender every year, and playing and winning on the winning American team in 2007, also secures them as an all-time team, that may well be, at the end of the day, equal or better to McEnroe/Fleming, who played phenomenal tennis on their way to dominating the early eighties.

Taylor Townsend, the Girl’s Champion, the 14th seeded exciting American lefty, played very collected tennis when she needed to, and dominated at net, which she got to 23 times more than the 4th seeded Putintseva.  Aside from a period where she seemed to zone out, early in the second set, Townsend thoroughly outplayed the the very ill tempered Putintseva, who would not speak to reporters after the match.  Townsend is very athletic, and she plays the right way, which is refreshing.  Hopefully she is now considered a top prospect by the powers that be, i.e. Patrick McEnroe and Mary Joe Fernandez, because she soon needs to be on a very professional training regimen, with a top coach.  Might be fun, considering her style, that she get Tim Gullickson, who would encourage her to use the approach, which she does so well.  As for Putintseva, she has to grow up a bit.  She seemed to develop some kind of beef with Townsend, and the behavior was completely unbecoming on this stage.  The kid simply can not behave that way at a major final.  Good for Townsend, who we want to see more of.  She showed great poise, guts, and touch, and the USTA should now fast track her.

Then there’s Bethanie Mattek Sands, who we’ve, let’s say, assessed rather bluntly at times, but who we have also given her due, seeing her play some very brave tennis over the years, and making the utmost out of the talent she has by playing the angles, playing creative, and playing at net, the most exciting ways to play.  Sands became a major champion Friday, as she and the excellent Roumanian player, Tecau prevailed, with her doing more than her fair share, denying the very solid team of Paes and Vesnina in straight sets.  Sands played sick tennis, making several big crosses, on Paes’s serve, which many men failed to do throughout the fortnight.  This is very nice due for Sands, who has truly maximized her tennis, and who does her best to play an interesting, exciting match every time out, and who always maximizes her talent.  As we said earlier in the week, if you could put her brain into one of the younger, taller up and coming American females, then we might as a nation be taking the right to steps to get some resemblance of respectibility  as singles nation.  We are especially referring to Coco Vandeweghe and Melanie Oudin (though she isn’t very tall), though we must note that we also give due to Oudin for winning the mixed at the US Open.  She’s another one we’ve killed, but frankly, she plays tiny tennis.  She doesn’t try to win, and so, unless she is getting gifted 20 doubles by Sharapova or error upon error by Petrova, she’s not going to win.

Good job by this group to see that the nation had some noteworthy success at this major.  We enjoyed it.

Crack (http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

We were very lucky to sit front row at the US Open yesterday for American hopeful Sloane Stephens (serving above) and Reka-Luca Jani of Hungary.  From everything we saw prior, Sloane Stephens looked to us to be if not the best, then the 2nd best American tennis prospect in the land, and her 6-2 lead after one set seemed to bear that out.  And then the middle set and a half came.  Though the 18 year old Stephens gutted out the victory by winning a break of serve while Jani was serving for the match, and although she trailed 3-2 in the deciding breaker and then reeled off the last 5 points, we’d rather be hard on her than easy.  Let’s be real.  Is Stephens to be lauded for beating a 5’4 girl 2 years older than her who also never won a match at a major (or even competed in one before yesterday) and who is ranked about 225th in the world?

Stephens looked great early on.  She was so quick around the court, stalking the baseline, and it seemed like Jani could not hit an out and out winner.  Stephens was getting to everything.  The first set came and went and Jani looked headed for home.  In the 2nd set, Stephens looked tight, went down a break, and got no traction whatsoever on Jani’s service games.  She lost the set 6-3, and frankly, she looked like she was a junior again.  A lot of credit goes to Jani for the turn around.  Stephens has a laser beam forehand, not a lot of spin, that she gets on top of and that’s clearly her kill shot.  Jani has tactics, and variety, and against a one dimensional player, it was almost enough.

On American hards, Stephens has no business losing to a player like this, despite her limitations, to this point.  Did irk us that she hit only 3 volleys and blew an easy overhead?  Totally.  And by the way, if you are reading the match stats that counted her as 11 for 20 on her approaches, a poor percentage indeed, you might want to take more seriously the percentage than the credited approaches because she was moored to the baseline and we have good reason to question that stat.  Stephens is uncomfortable anywhere inside the tennis court.  Jani’s best play all night was the drop shot, which was a horrible sitting duck most of the time, but since Stephens can only go side to side and hates taking her hand off the racquet, just about every dropper hit to her backhand worked out for Jani, even when the droppers made the service line.

It’s not like Jani is Roger Federer.  She employed a little topspin, a lot of short balls, some approaches and some slice.  Stephens bashed flat forehands and hit looping backhands.  We can’t recall her hitting one slice backhand or taking her hand off the racquet, even for a lunge, once.  And she did not go for any winners on the backhand side.  It’s no way to win a match and at about the 1:40 mark, it looked like it had lost her the match, down a break at 4-5 in the 3rd.  Stephens did have a pretty live first serve, and she is well conditioned, and when doubt crept in for Jani in that 10th game, Stephens picked it up.  She had to or she was going home.  And she had the crowd, though there was a small but hardened Hungarian contingent annoyingly yelling out calls and shushing the rest of us, who we were happy to see, get shushed in the end.

I was preparing some comments to heckle Stephens with, or rather, constructive criticism, to nail her with if she lost.  I was gonna yell, “No variety Stephens!”  That would have been putting it kindly.  She’s only 18 and she has time to get comfortable with her secondary shots and develop more tennis sense and work on her backhand.  But still, I was not that impressed.

We’ve been away.  Now we’re back.  Odds for today’s tennis out at Flushing:

12:30 PM EST

__ __ __

Juan Martin Del Potro:  – 10000

Filippo Volandri:  + 2500

____________________________________

Rui Machado:  + 600

Robin Haase:  – 1200

____________________________________________

Denis Istomin:  – 175

Ryan Sweeting:  + 125

_________________________________________

Shuai Peng:  – 400

Tsvetana Pironkova:  + 250

__ __ __

1:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Alex Bogomolov:  – 1200

Steve Johnson:  + 600

___________________________________

Somdev Devvarman:  + 2500

Andy Murray:  – 10000

_________________________________

Marion Bartoli:  – 225

Christina McHale:  + 165

__ __ __

2:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Ricardo Mello:  + 1000

Gilles Simon:  – 2500

__ __ __

2:30 PM EST

__ __ __

Robby Ginepri:  – 180

Joao Souza:  + 130

______________________________

Nadia Petrova:  – 300

Polona Hercog:  + 200

_____________________________________

Coco Vandeweghe:  + 700

Sam Stosur:  – 1500

__ __ __

3:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Dominika Cibulkova:  – 400

Irina Falconi:  + 250

__________________________________

Venus Williams:  + 110

Sabine Lisicki:  – 150

__ __ __

4:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Jack Sock:  + 185

Marc Gicquel:  – 275

_____________________________________

Yanina Wickmayer:  – 375

Alla Kudryatseva:  + 235

__ __ __

4:30 PM EST

__ __ __

Angelique Kerber:  + 550

Agnieszka Radwanska:  – 1000

_________________________________________

Flavia Pennetta:  – 400

Romina Oprandi:  + 250

__ __ __

5:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Marcos Baghdatis:  + 200

John Isner:  – 300

__ __ __

7:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Andy Roddick:  – 1500

Michael Russell:  + 700

__ __ __

9:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Anastasiya Yakimova:  + 1200

Maria Sharapova:  – 3000

……

A couple of things to mention here.  How often does Venus get a plus next to her name?  Nightmare matchup for Lisicki.  We’d like to see ugly 2-handers, Peng and Bartoli, out of here.  Especially Bartoli, facing young Jersey girl Christina McHale.  Angelique Kerber defeated our little darling, Lauren Davis.  We could see her being a nice bet against Radwanska who seems to be an awfully big favorite.  Who’s betting 1000 to win 100 on a Radwanska girl?  We’d like to think Coco and Jack have a shot today.  Especially Sock, against the very ancient Gicquel.  We are liking Hercoq against the burly Petrova, especially after she steamrolled Mattek-Sands, 1 and 3.  We like Falconi over Cibulkova, thinking she’s played well and that it’s a great matchup for her.

Romina Oprandi in action after predictably taking out Oudin (does she have to get bageled in every loss?).  Isner-Baghdatis might be the best match of the day.  We like Steve Johnson, USC’s NCAA champ, against Bogomolov, who we have never seen as – 1200 against anyone, and maybe never even seen as a favorite. 

Big day for USA potentially.  And Madison Keys could have gotten us off very well by finishing off Lucie Safarova.  Not to be, once again showing it takes more than defense to win at this level.

Crack (http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Fort Lauderdale, Florida native Sloane Stephens (above) raises her arms after notching her 1st major upset yesterday.

Eighteen year old American tennis prodigy Sloane Stephens is on a roll.  At the Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad, California, Stephens has put together what seems to be her first two match win streak, with victories over Shuai Zheng of China and Julia Goerges of Germany, who has been one of the it girls on the tour in recent months with her meteoric rise to world #2o.  Stephens is yet to lose a set this week, and blitzed the 7th seeded Goerges 6-3, 7-5 in the 2nd round round, earning her a date with Wimbledon darling Tamira Paszek in the round of 16.

Stephens played the better tennis yesterday on both sides of the ball, sharp in both her serve and return games.  The summer hardcourt swing is the season for young Americans to make waves, and Stephens is taking advantage.  She was quick all over the court and showed the consistently solid play she has only flashed at times until now.  Prior to this week, Stephens had only one barely quality win, which came in the spring over Melanie Oudin.  But you know we don’t think highly of Oudin at all, who is plummeting in the rankings after bursting on to the scene two summers ago.  Oudin fell to world #111 this week and was unceremoniously bounced with a bagel and a breadstick, 6-0, 6-1 by Britain’s Elena Baltacha in the 1st round.

While we never saw much in the tiny, pop gun hitting Oudin besides a balloon waiting to burst, Stephens is another story.  Stephens is almost 5’9, a height enough to get some stick on her serve, and she is a practiced doubles player who has great court sense and feel on the court.  In 2009 on the junior circuit, Stephens nearly completed the Grand Slam in doubles.  She took the trophy with Timea Babos of Hungary at Roland Garros, Wimbledon, and the US Open.

We have been campaigning for Stephens’ inclusion over Oudin on our severely downtrodden Fed Cup squad, and she seems on the road to claiming a place on the team, which would further accelerate her development. 

It’s also been a good week for a couple of other young Americans.  Christina McHale is nto the 4th round where she will face Agniezska Radwanska and Coco Vandeweghe, neice of former Knick Kiki Vandeweghe and local product, who is hovering right around the top 100, should move up after consecutive wins that will see her face off with Sabine Lisicki today in the 4th round.

Crack (http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

Canadian wunderkind Milos Raonic (above).

When play commences on the lawns next week, tennis fans will be treated to some very good matchups.  With the Wimbledon draws announced today, we figured we’d let you know what to look out for in the first couple of rounds.  Ladies first:

 

Ladies Singles–1st Round

_______________________________

(15) Jelena Jankovic vs. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez

Akgul Amanmuradova vs. (23) Venus Williams

Alison Riske (USA) vs. (2) Vera Zvonareva

(6) Francesca Schiavone vs. Jelena Dokic

Christina McHale (USA) vs. Ekaterina Makarova

(18) Ana Ivanovic vs. Melanie Oudin (USA)

Coco Vandeweghe (USA) vs. Eleni Danilidou

Aravane Rezai vs. Serena Williams

Laura Robson vs. Angelique Kerber

(5) Maria Sharapova vs. Anna Chakvetadze

 

Mens Singles 1st Round

________________________________________

Ryan Sweeting (USA) vs. Pablo Andujar

Fabio Fognini vs. Milos Raonic

Donald Young (USA) vs. Alex Bogomolov Jr. (USA)

Radek Stepanek vs. Fernando Verdasco

Tobias Kamke vs. Blaz Kavcic

Sergiy Stakhovsky vs. Daniel Cox (GBR)

Ivan Ljubicic vs. Marin Cilic

Ivo Karlovic vs. Janko Tipsarevic

Alexander Dolgopolov Jr. vs. Fernando Gonzalez

John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut

David Nalbandian vs. Julian Reister

Robin Soderling vs. Philipp Petzschner

Kei Nishikori vs. Lleyton Hewitt

Marcos Baghdatis vs. James Blake

…..

The women’s draw features Mary Joe Fernandez’s rag tag crew of hack Fed Cuppers, in Oudin, McHale, and Vandeweghe.  Oudin should get dusted by Ivanovic, who, should she lose, should probably hang it up already.  Coco’s got a glimmer of hope against Danilidou.  McHale should get shredded by Makarova.  FYI, Vania King, who has played well, is in the main draw, as is Alison Riske, who has a very tall order in Vera Z.  Who knows?  Grass is Riske’s best surface, and maybe the Pensylvania product gets lucky.  Zvonareva looked dead during her QF at Eastbourne versus Stosur, after winning 8 of the first 12 games and virtually having the match in the bag.  Zvonareva has played a lot of tennis this year.  Could that bode well for the American who should be installed on our FC squad, especially considering America’s woeful state of affairs and relegation from the World Group?  Journeywoman American by way of Russia Varvara Lepchenko did upset 18th seed Flavia Pennetta at Roland Garros, so we’ll give her a bit of a chance here against 19th seed, Yanina Wickmayer.  Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, one of the few women with the stones to consistently attack, has a great shot to upset Jelena Jankovic.  The Spaniard is 2-1 lifetime versus the gutless, annoying Serb.  Also, it would be nice to see young Brit Laura Robson win her first round match with Kerber.  Kerber will be favored.

Not to run on about the men, but we do feel it’s high time that Ryan Sweeting, with his ranking up to 66th, notch his first ever match win on grass.  We’re very interested to see our boy, young beast Milos Raonic on the grass.  The possibility of a 3rd round match between Raonic and Nadal would make for appointment television.  As would a possible Del Potro/Nadal round of 16 affair.  Nice to see DP in the top 25 again (24).  Tommy Haas looks for his first win of the year, and we welcome him back, as well as David Nalbandian, who won 2 rounds at Halle.  We also welcome back Chilean ball crusher Fernando Gonzalez who might be a big problem for Dolgopolov, who seems to adjust poorly to specialty surfaces.  We love Stepanek, a nice net player, as an upset special in round 1.  We’d love to see James Blake do something in the spot versus Baghdatis, but Blake is even more disappointing than usual at Wimbledon.  Things look good for former boys champ Donald Young, in a very winnable 1st round match versus another American Alex Bogolomov.  We always love watching talented 1-hander Segiy Stakhovsky, who gets diminutive British hack Daniel Cox in round 1.  We hope Soderling has a good run here but it wouldn’t shock us if Philipp Petzschner, a very good grass courter and last year’s doubles champ gave him a good go.  Our favorite techno tennis player, Janko Tipsarevic has his hands full with ace machine Ivo Karlovic.  We might put a few dinari on Dr. Ivo.  It would be a good time for Marin Cilic to wake up, though we don’t have much confidence in that.

And in maybe the most celebrated first round rematch ever, we look for Giant John Isner, whose ranking has fell to near 50, to get back on track and take care for Mahut before it gets to 70-68 in the 5th.  Isner has weathered the clay season, and can not be faulted for taking Nadal to 5 hard sets at Roland Garros in round 1.  We look for him to have a great summer starting here, and carrying over to the American summer hardcourt season.

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http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/marathon-man-mahut-returns-to-play-doubles-after-world-record-longest-singles-match/

http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/marathon-record-man-isner-falls-easily-in-2nd-round-wimbledon/

Crack (http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)        

USA Federation Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez with tennis power broker husband Tony Godsick (above), who is part of Roger Federer’s management team.

After three days and 8 straight sets of losing tennis, America finally got on the board, taking the first set in doubles at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart, Germany.  Too bad for our Federation Cup team, our national pride, and the state of American tennis that by then it was too late and obviously too little, as the team of Liziel Huber and Vania King still lost in 3 sets to cap one of the worst weekends in American tennis history.  Needing to win the tie to remain in the World Group of Federation Cup, from which we have never been relegated, Captain Mary Joe Fernandez trotted out an FC squad that did not boast one player of distinction, worthy enough to present a decent challenge to any members of the German squad, including world #156 Sabine Lisicki, who dusted Jersey native Christina McHale in mop up duty yesterday, filling in for Julia Georges, who would have been, at that point, risking her health unnecessarily by continuing to play in a tie that was academic, a glorified exhibition, but one that featured less talent than an actual exhibition.

That’s right.  Playing America is now unnecessary.  The Americans are irrelevant in the women’s game, led by Captain Mary Joe Fernandez, who not so long ago had her contract extended for another two years.  Has the team’s production on the court warranted an extension?  It’s debatable, but we certainly do not think so.  Fernandez, part of the dazed and confused American tennis establishment, is the first captain to ever preside over a relegated team in the history of the Federation Cup.  And we’ll give her little credit for reaching finals in her first two seasons, and losing, but more credit indeed because of the power her husband wields behind the scenes in the game, which in all likelihood, in combination with her profile as an ESPN tennis personality, is what got her the gig.  Because she certainly didn’t win the job on the basis of her success as a player or coach.  In 2010, we especially fault the American squad for losing the championship tie on “hardcourts” in San Diego to Italy.  But in part thanks to Fernandez, California doesn’t have any real hardcourts anymore, and so the ladies played on a track of soft blue foam (the dreaded Plexicushion) that gave the Italians as much of an advantage as the prior year when America could not take one match at Calabria, Italy on outdoor red clay.

How do we get around to blaming Fernandez for everything from California’s putrid tennis courts to the quality of our Fed Cup teams that have failed miserably and continue to do so, to the point that we are out of the world group?  Easily.  She’s the captain.  Not only has she been the captain for 3 years, but before that, she sat at then captain Zina Garrison’s obese elbow for a good year, playing Stan Laurel to Garrison’s Oliver Hardy.  We are tired of it all.  Fernandez obviously endorsed and worked with a Garrison led group that produced zero in terms of titles and developed no meaningful players.  That’s what we mean when call her part of the establishment, for you do not get the captaincy if you do not support the horrid regime that came before you, and the horrid surfaces that big business looks to slap down.

The nonsense about Serena and Venus not playing?  We’ve had enough.  The Williams sisters, when young, led us to our last two Fed Cup titles in 1999 and 2000.  Then they lost interest in the FC, their commitment to it, and the competition.  People want to blame the sisters for that, who had been there and done that.  Part of the whole ‘Let’s rip Venus and Serena for having fashion lines and enjoying the limelight’ craze that swept the nation and still reverberates in some circles.  What people do not get is that the sisters never burnt out on tennis, and continued to play their asses of at majors, in singles and doubles, regardless of any and all outside factors, even when injured.  For players who have won the Federation Cup, or the Davis Cup, there is no legitimate criticism that can exist should they have reasons for skipping the competition.  And while we have criticized Roger Federer in this space for skipping Davis Cup regularly, despite being coached by Swiss DC captain Severin Luthi, Roger obviously has himself a plan to win majors, and Davis Cup runs counter to that plan.

So our body of incompetent tennis minds here in America, with which even we are associated (proud USTA members, LOL–the deals on tennis tickets are too good to pass up!), chooses Garrison, another loser, to guide our squad.  Why?  Because they thought that hiring a black woman would give them a leg up on convincing the Williams sisters to play.  That’s just plain racist.  Frankly, the Williams sisters have a lot more respect for great tennis minds than they do for black women.  Just ask Asha Rolle.  Instead of blaming the Williams sisters for making choices appropriate for their careers, the USTA should have been working a lot harder on developing talented players like Venus, Serena, and Lindsey Davenport–who aside from the Williams sisters, is the last American female to win a title of any sort, as far as we can recall.  And she won it as a ghost, fresh from retirement, further highlighting America’s lack of meaningful young talent.

Yesterday comes news that Venus Williams has withdrawn from Rome and Barcelona, citing her lack of readiness.  There’s no real time table on Serena, and while we know she will return, any projection would be optimistic considering the travails she has endured since cutting her foot.  At least she is up and about (click on the link above to see her and a friend on South Beach recently).  So basically, we are stuck with this piss poor Fed Cup squad and its captain.  Mary Joe Fernandez is not a winner, but is a better politician than Garrison.  Patrick McEnroe, a much worse tennis talent than both, also owes his job to television, politics, and probably a healthy dose of nepotism (his brother lobbied for his appointment, though John John probably wouldn’t have him on his list if you asked him right now, after seeing the state our game go unchanged for years) .  These are the people in whose hands the national tennis program and developmental programs rest in.  Thankfully, Patrick McEnroe has stood aside and Jim Courier, a real winner, has taken on the captaincy of the Davis Cup squad, and is off to a great start, defeating Chile in tough conditions.  As you can tell, we don’t give Patrick McEnroe any credit for squeezing 1 DC title out of a team that boasted a 1 time #1 in Roddick, 2 perennial top 10 guys in Roddick and Blake, and the #1 doubles squad–a huge advantage in team competition.  We should have won more.  But at least McEnroe, roundly criticized, even by big brother John, had the sense to pick fast tracks to play on as the host nation that are advantageous to Americans and our style of tennis.

Fernandez gets no credit.  She’s been around this team for 4 years and we’ve seen all we need to see of Oudin, McHale, Vandeweghe, and the like.  People want to shower MJF with praise for spotting these players, but these players would go unnoticed anywhere else, with good reason.  They have no talent.  They are grinders who can not even play on clay.  Pop gun players who can’t serve and have no true tennis talent.  What is the population of Germany?  How is it that our top player can’t take a set from any decent German woman?  How is it that none of our players could even make the German squad, who was also competing to avoid relegation?  This is not a Steffi Graf in her prime led German team.

McHale, for a nice run she made at Indian Wells last month, will get some buzz, but if she is the young face of our game, we need a makeover.  Fast.  Forget Venus and Serena.  Act like they don’t exist.  Oudin?  Since that summer where she played way over her head, she hasn’t existed.  We need new blood, new ideas, new coaches, new courts…and a new captain.  Probably the best young American, Alison Riske, who separates herself from her poor pusher peers with her big serve, is not a product of the USTA, but rather, a kid who came up playing in the Pennsylvania high school system.  Exactly John McEnroe’s point when he denigrates the work that his brother is doing, the state of the American game, and the homogenization of the American game which is now one dimensional baseline half tennis.

Since Fernandez won’t be fired, especially with a new pact in hand, here’s some advice for her: pick Decoturf, a surface which will speed up her players’ 80 mph 1st serves and slow groundstrokes.  It’s the national surface for a reason, and Americans play better on it than any other nation does.  And feature the girls with actual potential, like Lauren Davis, Riske, and Sloane Stephens.  McHale and Oudin haven’t exactly done wonders for the nation.  Riske at least has a bigger game and a bigger frame with which to cover the net, and Davis and Stephens have expectations in place, and are used to dealing with expectations, as they are the only true budding pros we have of note.  We’d also probably put a veteran doubles player like Craybas or Mattek-Sands (when healthy) with Huber and work on locking up at least 1 match in every tie.

For future reference, the captain does not need to be a woman, and if it is, it needs to be a woman with a real winner’s pedigree, which means, probably not an American.  Richard Williams has produced the two greatest American women of our time.  He should be on the short list.  As should Monica Seles, who is a fixture in the game and who actually commands the respect of young players based on her merits.

Crack (http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, http://www.crackbillionair.com)

World #173, American Ryan Harrison (above).

Ryan Harrison, the 18 year old standout American tennis prospect and Texas product now living in Florida, defeated 2010 US Open Junior Boys Champion and New York Junior Tennis League alum Jack Sock today in 4 hard fought sets, 7-6 (3), 6-2, 6-7 (7-4), 6-4 at the finals of the USTA’s Australian Open Playoff Final in Norcross, Georgia today.  Harrison has now played his way into a 2nd consecutive Australian Open wildcard, defeating Jessie Levine in the final last year.

Harrison was eliminated in the main draw by the entertaining Janko Tippsarevic, who famously took Roger Federer to 5 sets in the 3rd round of the 2008 Australian Open, and who had Roger down 2 sets to 1 before the great man made his charge, in an electricity charged night match on Rod Laver.  Harrison has now qualified for his 3rd major and second consecutive major, having made the main draw of the 2010 US Open where he won his first round match against Ivan Ljubicic before dropping a tough 5 setter in round 2 to a one-hander we’ve had our eye on for his impressively fluid game, Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky.

We feel Harrison is supremely suited to the forgiving Australian Open Plexi-cushion surface, which is rated kindly as medium fast.  Harrison’s speed around the court should be on display, and he could do some damage should he not face a top 5 calibre player in round one.  In fact, we are going to go out on a limb and say Harrison turns in his best major showing to date next month in Melbourne.

Tough break for Sock though, who will rebound and who is sure to make New York and Nebraska proud. 

http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/12/19/harrison-and-sock-square-off-for-wildcard-berth-into-main-draw-of-the-australian-open/

http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/coco-vandeweghe-moves-up-59-spots-after-best-week-yet-us-ladies-in-top-500/

http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/nyc-product-coco-vandeweghe-stuns-rezai-goerges-in-japan/

http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/young-american-coco-vandeweghe-stopped-in-tokyo-by-azarenka-camel-toe-shot/

Also a tough break today and a bit of a surprise for Coco Vandeweghe, who has had quite an end to her season, as the 19 year old scored impressive victories over quality opponents such as French top 20 player Aravane Rezai, and who had caught the eye of US Federation Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez.  Vandeweghe hung tight in the Fed Cup final where she replaced Venus Williams, and gave 2010 French Open Ladies Champion Francesca Schiavone quite a run for her money, despite several hiccups on her service games.

Today 17 year old Lauren Davis of Ohio who is currently world #444 and who trains in Florida at the Evert Academy, routed Vandeweghe 6-2, 6-2 in a non comppetitve match, earning the younger player her first entrance into the main draw of a major.  We’ll say it again: several young Americans are deserving of discretionary wildcards, including Vandeweghe, Sock, Young, Rhyne Williams, and hard serving Pennsylvania native Alison Riske.

The US and Australian Tennis Federations have a reciprocation agreement in which they trade each other 1 discretionary wildcard on both the men’s and women’s side, so we think there’s a good chance for Sock and Vandeweghe.  As for one of our favorites, Donald Young?  At this point he has had so much hype and so many chances, we doubt we’ll see him, unfortunately, anywhere on the main tour outside of the United States until he can earn his way in.

Crack (http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

Coco Vandeweghe (above).

Curr Prev Name DOB Nation Rank pts Tours
1 1 Williams, Serena 26/09/81 USA 6995 14
3 3 Williams, Venus 17/06/80 USA 5795 15
59 61 Mattek-sands, Bethanie 23/03/85 USA 1017 16
69 68 Oudin, Melanie 23/09/91 USA 922 23
78 80 King, Vania 03/02/89 USA 835 24
87 96 Lepchenko, Varvara 21/05/86 USA 761 24
106 110 Mchale, Christina 11/05/92 USA 656 21
113 172 Vandeweghe, Coco 06/12/91 USA 617 21
122 121 Craybas, Jill 04/07/74 USA 577 29
146 142 Hampton, Jamie 08/01/90 USA 446 23
149 147 Riske, Alison 03/07/90 USA 441 28
168 168 Cohen, Julia 23/03/89 USA 368 39
185 184 Brengle, Madison 03/04/90 USA 312 29
186 174 Perry, Shenay 06/07/84 USA 310 16
196 188 Osterloh, Lilia 07/04/78 USA 288 23
199 194 Lee-waters, Lindsay 28/06/77 USA 285 26
211 211 Capra, Beatrice 06/04/92 USA 261 12
221 219 Stephens, Sloane 20/03/93 USA 246 12
234 238 Albanese, Lauren 01/10/89 USA 230 27
261 274 Spears, Abigail 12/07/81 USA 195 18
281 288 Falconi, Irina 04/05/90 USA 177 8
282 286 Couts, Kimberly 09/05/89 USA 177 24
284 256 Glatch, Alexa 10/09/89 USA 175 17
308 336 Ditty, Julie 04/01/79 USA 149 16
311 315 Rolle, Ahsha 21/03/85 USA 148 15
322 325 Elie, Jennifer 22/09/86 USA 140 17
324 335 Boserup, Julia 09/09/91 USA 138 16
337 342 Stevenson, Alexandra 21/12/80 USA 131 26
338 344 Rogers, Shelby 13/10/92 USA 129 14
340 343 Washington, Mashona 31/05/76 USA 129 19
345 346 Gullickson, Carly 26/11/86 USA 126 17
363 361 Gibbs, Nicole 03/03/93 USA 109 12
378 374 Cako, Jacqueline 30/08/91 USA 101 15
379 375 Granville, Laura 12/05/81 USA 100 6
381 377 Harkins, Macall 05/02/86 USA 99 16
389 382 Litvak, Lena 15/11/88 USA 97 25
404 396 Hsu, Connie Chieh-yu 14/01/92 USA 90 17
416 440 Mueller, Alexandra 14/02/88 USA 84 14
436 436 Hardebeck, Krista 14/09/94 USA 75 4
457 457 Haynes, Angela 27/09/84 USA 69 17
465 498 Brodsky, Gail 05/06/91 USA 67 8
466 437 Muhammed, Asia 04/04/91 USA 67 11
472 491 Fink, Amanda 04/12/86 USA 66 19
488 519 Weinhold, Ashley 20/06/89 USA 63 13

http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/page/RankingsNSingles/0,,12781~0~193,00.html

Great to see Vandeweghe climb, and the state of the American women’s game seems to be improving, in terms of our young players.  We really like Allison Riske (# 149), Vandeweghe, Madison Brengle (# 185), and Irina Falconi (# 281).  Obviously Beatrice Capra impressed us at the US Open, despite her lack of weapons.  Speaking of which, the Oudin clan can’t be happy with Melanie’s progress, or lack thereof, as she now finds herself out of the main draw at tournaments with a 56 girl field.  Oudin is # 69 right now, and it is our feeling that some of the taller young Americans will be passing her by because of Oudin’s lack of power and weak first serve.

http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/nyc-product-coco-vandeweghe-stuns-rezai-goerges-in-japan/

http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/young-american-coco-vandeweghe-stopped-in-tokyo-by-azarenka-camel-toe-shot/

http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/baltimores-beatrice-capra-to-face-sharapova-in-round-3-at-the-open/

http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/09/05/maria-treats-american-capra-to-double-bagel-jankovic-out-with-a-whimper-again/

http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/young-american-alison-riske-to-face-sharapova-in-semis-at-birmingham-see-videos/

http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/sharapova-gets-by-american-riske-in-birmingham-semi/

http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/american-melanie-oudin-upset-by-jarmila-groth-of-australia-in-round-2-wimbledon/

U-S-A!!!!!!

Crack (http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

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