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Jared

TCU Tennis - 2016-17

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Just now, Jared said:

I've been to Australia (Sydney) but never New Zealand.  My parents did both (and both islands in Kiwiland) and raved about it.  On Norrie's twitter page is the phrase "Te Whenua o Aotearoa" which is a Maori phrase which means (apparently) "Land of the White Clouds."

My first husband and I got married there, on the south island. We stayed a month and drove around both islands, staying in cottages, never hotels. It was a dream. Not the marriage, just the wedding trip. The Maoris were fascinating. If you ever go, you've got to see one of their "welcoming" ceremonies. Terrifying!

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In other TCU tennis-related news, the #1 rated British women's tennis player, Johanna Konta, announced that she was parting ways with her coach, TCU grad Esteban Carril, saying that she and Esteban have "mutually agreed" to terminate their relationship after 2 1/2 years of learning the TCU way of winning tennis.  When Esteban took the job, Konta had a WTA World ranking of 147 and now she's up to #10 in the world and #1 in the U.K.  She won the WTA's Most Improved Player award for 2016 and she's the first U.K. woman to achieve a top 10 rating since Jo Durie did it in 1984.  The British media was "surprised" at the parting of the ways given Konta's obvious improvement after working with Carril.  While this has to be disappointing to Esteban, the fact that he had rather obvious success is a good sign that he can continue as a premier tennis coach if he can find another player that wants to vastly improve their game and ranking.  Carril is based in Spain, his home country, and prior to working with Konta, he coached Roberto Bautista Agut, currently #14 in the ATP rankings.

 

And, another way of assessing Cameron Norrie's level of play is to look at his ATP ranking compared to other U.K. men tennis players.  Although he's only 21, he's already the 6th highest ranked player, trailing only Andy Murray (#1), Kyle Edmund (#45), Dan Evans (#66), Aljaz Bedene (#102) and Edward Corrie (#272).  Norrie advanced 20 spots with his recent play and he's now at his career high of #278.  Being 6th best is right on the cusp of being a Davis Cup team selection.  And the U.K. won the Davis Cup in 2015.  (Argentina's parade two days ago welcoming their heroes' arrival in Buenos Aires rivaled the Cubbies in Chi-town).  And Alastair Gray is 28th highest in the U.K. already.  The reason Norrie's considered a U.K. player is because, a few years ago, New Zealand failed to provide him financial support the way many countries do with their outstanding juniors, but the U.K. did; providing him a professional coach and giving him free access to practice facilities and other benefits.  His Dad is Scottish although he was born in South Africa and grew up and still "lives" in New Zealand; hence he was eligible (and he then obtained U.K. citizenship in 2013).

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Not that we really care, but Ryan Shane, the ex-Virginia 2015 NCAA champ, beat Illini Jared Hiltzik 2-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 to win the Waco singles title; this was after he beat TCU friend Luke Bambridge in the semis.  And in doubles, Welsh player and Illini Farris Gosea and ex-ACU player Hans Hach won the championship 7-5, 6-3 over the Baylor duo of Benitez/Lenz, which was the team that beat Nunez/Norrie in the semis.

 

Nick Chappell will be at the Tallahassee Futures tourney this week.  His ATP ranking has climbed to #655.

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When Alex Rybakov tweeted that he was done for the year and was going to do some off-season work, what he apparently meant was that he was going to the brand new Lake Nona tennis center just outside of Orlando.  He tweeted yesterday that he was there and included a picture of him with some friends (including Tommy Paul, who he's known since juniors) and he was wearing a TCU shirt (another good sign that he'll be back on the team in January).  Lake Nona is the new home of both the USTA (moving from their long-time home in White Plains, N.Y.) as well as the Florida Tennis Association (which has thousands of members) and some other tennis groups and it's intended to be like the Olympic centers (in Golden, Colorado and elsewhere) where athletes can go and get quality workouts in and have a chance to compete with other elite athletes.  It's got over 1000 courts and special areas and programs, for kids, juniors, college players, seniors, and pros.  Ground breaking was last June and although construction is still ongoing, a lot of it has been finished and they had their grand opening last month.  Florida is a good locale for a national tennis center because you can play year-round and Orlando is a little less humid than the prior location (for the Florida association) in Coral Gables.  The idea of having a national tennis center is to help build tennis across all levels so that the U.S. can be more competitive worldwide.  Serena Williams has kept pace internationally for the women, but the American men haven't really been very competitive since Andy Roddick retired.

 

So Rybakov will be one of the first players to start taking advantage of the new facility at Lake Nona.  Maybe he'll also be one of the first Americans to become more competitive internationally as a result of this national effort.

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On 12/5/2016 at 0:59 PM, Boston Frog said:

Even Andy Roddick wasn't really that good. It has been a long time since Pete Sampras ruled. 

Yeah, Roddick never achieved a season-ending #1 in the world and he only won one Grand Slam - the 2003 U.S. Open - but he did make several Slam finals and he was definitely one of the top pros of his era (retiring in 2012).  But it's been awhile since Sampras, Agassi and Courier were active and the U.S. had several pros at the top level.  John Isner, our current top player, is #19, with a career high of #9. He's certainly a good player, but he's not really a huge threat to win a Slam, and most Americans probably aren't even aware of him. As of today's ranking, Rybakov is #791 in doubles and #926 in singles.

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In international team tennis pro competition, there's the Davis Cup (for men) and the Federation Cup (for women).  For college/university players, there's a (relatively) new competition called the Master'U, which was founded by the French Tennis Federation in 2006 and takes place annually in Marcq-en-Baroeul and was just played this past weekend.  It's a 3-day team tennis competition between 6-member teams from 8 national teams representing, this year, the U.S., China, France, the U.K., Russia, Belgium, Germany and Ireland.  This year's U.S. team was coached by Boise State's Greg Patton and Ohio State's Melissa Schaub and the six players selected were Stanford's Tom Fawcett, Northwestern's Strong Kirschheimer, Georgia Tech's Christopher Eubanks,  Ohio State's Francesca Di Lorenza, North Carolina's Haley Carter and UCLA's Ena Shibahara.  And on Sunday, they beat Russia in the finals and won the U.S.'s 6th Master'U competition in a row (and the U.S.'s 7th out of the past 8).  USA!  USA!  USA!

 

This is an indication that, at the collegiate level, the U.S. is very competitive internationally.  And it's relevant to TCU because Coach Roditi (who tweeted about it) has been involved in this (when he was working for the USTA) and he knows the coaches well and because both Stanford and Northwestern are on our schedule this year.  And Fawcett and Kirschheimer are rivals of Norrie and Rybakov and we'll be opening with NU in about 6 weeks and will play Stanford on our western swing. 

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21 hours ago, Jared said:

Yeah, Roddick was never #1 in the world and he only won one Grand Slam - the 2003 U.S. Open - but he did make several Slam finals and he was definitely one of the top pros of his era (retiring in 2012).  But it's been awhile since Sampras, Agassi and Courier were active and the U.S. had several pros at the top level.  John Isner, our current top player, is #19, with a career high of #9. He's certainly a good player, but he's not really a huge threat to win a Slam, and most Americans probably aren't even aware of him. As of today's ranking, Rybakov is #791 in doubles and #926 in singles.

Didn't Isner win a marathon match at Wimbledon a few years back? 

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3 hours ago, Boston Frog said:

Didn't Isner win a marathon match at Wimbledon a few years back? 

Yeah, the "Endless Match" at the 2010 Wimbledon between Isner and Nicolas Mahut (from France) is, by far, the longest tennis match in history.  After 3 days and 11 hours and 5 minutes of play, Isner finally prevailed 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-3) and, incredibly, 70-68 in the final set (with no tiebreaker).  The final set was, in itself, longer than the previously recorded longest match.  Needless to say, the match set all sorts of records, including 216 service aces (113 by Isner).  Isner wrote a book about it and they even wrote a song about it, parodying the ump's call of the score at the end of the match.  It was covered live on the BBC and the entire U.K. (and much of the world) was riveted throughout.  Isner, who played college tennis at Georgia, will undoubtedly be remembered for that match more than anything else he's ever done or will do.

 

And, Nick Chappell was upset today in the opening round at the Tallahassee Futures tourney 3-6, 5-7, falling to Andrew Carter, a former player for Louisville.

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The Division 1 tennis committee has recommended some major changes to the NCAA championship tournament which are expected to be implemented to take effect for the 2019 tourney.  Currently, there are 16 regionals and the winners advance to a 16-team 6-day event at the championship site (this year, it will be back in Athens and next year Winston-Salem).  The new recommendations will change it to something like college baseball, with the 16 winners advancing to 8 super-regionals and, after they're held at the higher seed's venue, the finals will therefore only have 8 teams.  This will shorten the finals which, with the individual singles and doubles tourneys tacked on afterwards, usually last for more than two weeks.  And it will therefore put less pressure on the finals site.  It will also avoid the sort of weather problems that usually arise (like last year) when some matches are moved indoors or to alternate sites during the tourney.  Teams will also be seeded geographically (like baseball, sort of) and they've changed the schedule such that the actual finals won't be played on Tuesdays, which have rendered attendance problems because fans usually don't show up for Tuesday finals mid-week.

 

The old system will still be used this year and next year, but after that, it'll start to resemble the baseball format.  This definitely would have helped us last year because we were moved indoors against Cal, who is/was a far better indoor team than we are/were.  And it'll place more importance on exactly how high we will be seeded - like baseball, we will want to be in the top 8 so as to assure a super-regional hosting opportunity.

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I checked the dates on the Maui Challenger in January and it's scheduled to run from 1/21 to 1/29 at the Royal Lahaina Tennis Ranch in Ka'anapali (I've actually played on those courts).  This is a massive problem if Cameron Norrie is going to play there in that it conflicts not only with TCU's opening match at Northwestern (1/20), but also with our 3 subsequent matches at Tulsa (1/22), home against Pacific (1/28) and home against either Utah State or Wichita State (1/29) (the latter two both being part of the ITA Kickoff tourney, which is the precursor to the National Indoors).  This means that Cameron will miss not just one match, but possibly four, and it also could negatively impact us in potentially qualifying for the National Indoors, which is very important for early season rankings and for overall schedule strength.  The semis and finals will be on the 28th and 29th, so if he loses early, he could still be back to TCU for the latter two matches.  Coach Roditi said he was going to be flexible because he'd rather lose Norrie for just a few matches rather than forever and I can understand why Norrie wants to play in Maui, but I'm concerned.

 

It will give Roditi a chance to play most everyone else - we have a 10-member team and only 6 play singles - especially Escobar and Gray, whom we've never seen actually play for the Frogs.  And we're still a strong team without Cameron.  The projected singles line-up would be something like Rybo at #1 (if he returns), Nunez at #2, Lopez at #3, Gray at #4(?), Escobar at #5(?) and Johnson at #6, with Stalder/Johnson as 1 doubles team, maybe Rybakov/Nunez at another and the other unknown?  But we're extremely better with him - he's the highest rated (ATP and UTR; 2nd in the ITA) player in college and we really need him to be an elite team.  What do y'all think?  Should we root against Norrie in the Maui Challenger?  Should Roditi be flexible and "allow" him to do it?  Should we just sit back and relax and let Cameron do what he wants?  This is like if pro football players like Dalton (or Boykin) could still play college ball, but had this little thing like the Super Bowl which they wanted to play in rather than return to TCU...

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Here are the year-end ATP rankings for TCU's "pro" players:

 

Cameron Norrie - singles (#278); doubles (#534)

Alex Rybakov - singles (#930); doubles (#791)

Alastair Gray - singles (#1057); doubles (#1387)

Guillermo Nunez - singles (#1643); doubles (#1274)

Jerry Lopez - singles (#1761); doubles (NR)

Felipe Escobar - singles (NR); doubles (NR)

Reese Stalder - singles (NR); doubles (NR)

Trevor Johnson - singles (NR); doubles (NR)

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TCU’s Norrie, Aledo’s Krueger part of good year for area tennis

BY RUSTY HALL

crhall@star-telegram.com

 

The U.S. Open got a new look with a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium this year, but 2016 was also a year of change on the local front, with new management taking over the McLeland Tennis Center, and two local players making their mark on the Challenger circuit at the pro level.

 

TCU’s No. 1 player, Cameron Norrie, helped lead the Frogs to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year, but he also made an impact on the pro level, playing as an amateur.

 

In March, Norrie advanced through qualifying to reach the main draw of the Irving Tennis Classic, where he eventually lost to Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-4, 6-3. Muller heads into 2017 ranked No. 34 in the world.

 

Norrie went on to win back-to-back Futures events in Tulsa, Okla., and Wichita, Kan., in June, then tacked on an appearance in the finals of the USTA Challenger in Aptos, Calif., in August. He made the quarterfinals at the Columbus Challenger in Ohio in November and reached the doubles final at that tournament, playing with fellow Brit Luke Bambridge.

 

Norrie is from New Zealand, born in South Africa and plays under the flag of Great Britain. The lefty began the year ranked No. 717 and ends it ranked No. 278. He is the sixth highest-ranked British player behind No. 1 Andy Murray.

 

“That was a huge jump when you consider he was in school most of that time,” TCU coach David Roditi said. “He’s done exactly what those top tennis players are hoping do when they go to the top college programs, to make that transition from lower-rated tournaments to the main draw of Challengers, and he did it.”

 

It was a good year for Aledo’s Mitchell Krueger as well. Krueger reached a career-high ranking of No. 210 in October and is No. 218 as 2017 approaches.

 

Krueger’s year was highlighted by an appearance in the final of the Binghamton (N.Y.) Challenger, and he made the quarterfinals in four other Challenger events. He also won a Futures tournament in Jinan, China, in June.

 

In doubles, the fourth-year pro won the doubles title at the Winnipeg Challenger in Canada in July, playing with fellow American Daniel Nguyen, and Krueger reached the semifinals in doubles at four other Challengers.

 

Local tennis fans will likely get a chance to watch those two, and more top up-and-coming pros this spring at the RBC Tennis Championships, Jan. 30-Feb. 4 at T Bar M Racquet Club in Dallas, and at the Irving Tennis Classic, March 13-19, at Four Seasons Resort and Club in Las Colinas.

 

McLeland Tennis Center will hold a wild-card tournament for the Irving Tennis Classic on Feb. 4-5. Winners will earn a spot in the ATP Challenger event. McLeland manager Matt Hanlin said he is expecting players from TCU, Baylor, SMU and the surrounding area to complete for the wild card. The event is free for spectators.

 

TCU tennis

When the Frogs begin the 2017 spring season next month, Norrie and the Frogs will be joined by the addition of top British junior Alastair Gray from Twickenham, England.

 

“Alastair is a very good student and he wants to play professional tennis someday,” Roditi said of Gray, who competed in the junior division of three of the four Grand Slam events. “We love that he is a student of the game and loves the process of getting better. … He has a very aggressive game with a lot of different shots and can also play great doubles someday.”

 

TCU’s men’s team kicks off the spring season on Jan. 20 at Northwestern, with the first home match scheduled for Jan. 28 against Pacific in the ITA Kickoff Weekend. The TCU women’s team will at home Jan. 13 in the TCU Invitational.

http://www.star-telegram.com/sports/other-sports/article121447287.html

 

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That's a really good article!  It's rare to see the Startlegram cover TCU tennis so well!  Maybe they'll cover our historic run for the national championship this Spring too.  (I wonder if Rusty Hall has been reading this thread).

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6 hours ago, Jared said:

That's a really good article!  It's rare to see the Startlegram cover TCU tennis so well!  Maybe they'll cover our historic run for the national championship this Spring too.  (I wonder if Rusty Hall has been reading this thread).

The Skiff had a superb tennis reporter in the mid-'90s. Handsome, too. 

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On 12/17/2016 at 1:51 PM, PurpleDawg said:

That's why I posted it, because it is so rare to get coverage in the paper. I bet Rusty is reading TFH and getting his good info from you.

The reason I think Rusty might have read this thread is that he included the "Norrie is ranked 6th best among U.K. players" thing.  I didn't actually read that anywhere, I actually went through the rankings and counted the Brits that were ranked until I got to Cameron.  And it was because Norrie had tweeted that he wanted to play Davis Cup for the Brits ("someday maybe") and I wanted to see how far away he was from his goal (not far).  Another way of looking at it is that he's currently the 2nd highest rated Scot; trailing only #1 Andy Murray.  But the Scots don't have a separate Davis Cup squad.

 

If he is actually reading this thread, I don't mind in the slightest.  But he should realize that I'm a TCU homer...

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12 hours ago, Boston Frog said:

He disappeared. Nobody knows what happened to him. 

I heard that that famous tennis reporter is going to re-surface for the crucial upcoming TCU v. Dartmouth match in February in Hanover.  That is, if he can overcome his fears that rural New Hampshire in the midst of winter doesn't resemble some sort of Stephen King novel.

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The ITA Coaches Convention was held over the weekend in Naples, Florida and a lot of topics were discussed.  First, unlike prior years, there wasn't much talk about scoring changes - sadly, that means that no-ad is here to stay.  The (one) good thing about that is that it definitely shortens matches, which means that spectators won't have to sit through multiple-hour matches, so I guess that's fan-friendly.  Second, the format changes for the NCAA championship tournament (with super-regionals, like baseball) seem to be a foregone conclusion starting in 2019.  Third, replacing the "Roditi Rule," there will be a whole set of new rules for spectators; especially for fellow team members.  If you've ever been to a highly-attended match between competitive college teams, you will have noted that the players themselves tend to be the most vocal fans and that they tend to line up on the court nearest the deciding match being played and yell vociferously after each point.  And sometimes, they tend to yell derogatory things like "Whoops" or "Choke" especially after a missed first serve.  The new rule allows the ump to call a let if that happens and the server will get another first serve and it also means that the players will have to remain in a designated area defined before the match starts rather than their (now) usual gang-up area.  That will usually be the first row of the seating area; not the next court (although that's malleable depending on the court layout).  There'll be one warning point; violations afterward will cost a point penalty.

 

Spectators will be allowed to say such things so long as they aren't "offensive" or amount to harassment, which will be in the ump's discretion.  The ump can issue a "crowd warning" and afterwards assess a point penalty and the offending spectator can be ejected.  This is sort of the opposite of the "Roditi Rule," which encouraged crowd participation.  Apparently, some well-heeled bluehairs objected to the constant yelling (mostly by the players, but not always) that the Roditi Rule engendered - there was a particular incident at the BNP Paribas Collegiate Challenge at Indian Wells, which really riled some bluehairs.  So, they've clamped down because you've got to keep those moneyed elite happy (or they'll stop giving all the money).  To paraphrase Dune, "the spice must flow."

 

Fourth, there will also be a new weather rule.   The "old" rule was that matches were required to be moved indoors (or canceled) if the temperature is under 50 degrees or if the wind exceeds 20 mph for two hours in a four-hour period.  They've changed that to two-hours in a three-hour period.

 

There was also discussion about a number of topics although no conclusion was reached.  They talked about expanding the fall-ending National Indoor Intercollegiate from 32 participants to 48 (or 64) because it seems a little too elite now.   They discussed whether to regulate/prohibit players playing in pro tourneys during the Spring season (the article above mentions that several TCU players are likely to try to qualify for the Irving Futures tourney in February for example).  They also discussed possibly imposing a 6-month grace period after a recruit's HS graduation where s/he would be required to enroll or lose eligibility.  And they talked about why 7 men's programs and 4 women's programs were cut following last season and what could be done about it.  

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