Monday, April 13, 2015

This Week in American Tennis: 26 (short) takeaways

1. Jack Sock wins his first ATP tournament in Houston. Been a huge Sock guy for a while. Not only extremely talented, but has a knack for winning.

2. Sock has a shot at a seed at Roland Garros. Just 3 tourneys this season and already up to #35 in the Race. New career-high ranking of #36. And he beat 2 top-20 guys (noted America-killers Roberto Bautista Agut & Kevin Anderson) in the process.

3. Eye of the tiger.

4. Final for Sam Querrey. Sure he coulda done better in that final but he played great nearly all week. First final since 2012 - that's huge!

5. Then Querrey dropped out of Monte Carlo. Which is totes understandable. Such a tough turn-around for Americans, who need to decide whether they're coming home afterward or staying in Europe through the end of Wimbledon.

6. I know, the Aussies are all like "cry me a river, mate."

7. Madison Keys continues to impress. Sure she shoulda held from 40-0 at 5-5 in the 3rd set but still, a second premier final, the one on Charleston clay, with a very-near-win against a higher ranked player, and a new career-high ranking of #17!

8. (And a Road to Singapore ranking of #8!)

9. In praise of Austin Krajicek. Singles title at the Leon Challenger. Doubles title at the Leon Challenger with Rajeev Ram. New career-high ranking of #121. Race ranking of #71! I'm of firm belief that Krajicek could be a Top 10 doubles guy if he focused just on that. But I love what he's accomplishing in singles. One or two good results during the USTA French Open Wild Card Challenge could get him direct entry to Wimbledon. And I think his game could put a scare into a couple of guys on the grass.

10. Speaking of the USTAFOWCC ... It started today in Sarasota for the men! Draw here.

11. And Mike C. is back on the mic!

12. The Little Giant towers in Leon. First career title for Danielle Lao at the $15K, saving at least 6 match points in the semi!

13. For the second straight US Futures tournament, all four semifinalists at the were American. Six of 8 quarterfinalists, too (it was 7 of 8 in Calabasas). The big winner was Alexander Sarkissian, the 2014 NCAA finalist who is now just 4 points behind the 2014 NCAA champion, Marcos Giron (sadly out of commission). Blog favorite Eric Quigley was the other finalist, with blog favorite Wil Spencer a semifinalist.

14. And most out-of-nowhere, Jeremy Hunter Nicholas - the Utah-originating, former Aztec - qualified and won his first career main draw match. Then his second. THEN HIS THIRD - over #1 seed Dimitar Kutrovsky (who had his own crazy adventure in the first round). And he won the doubles title with Deiton Baughman. Impressive.

15. RG prospects: Grace Min's rough start to 2015 means she'll likely miss the Roland Garros main draw cut-off. But we should still have 15 women directly in (assuming Bethanie Mattek-Sands still has the option of using a special ranking), plus the wild card. 6 men will make it directly, not counting the wildcard.

16. Sock, Querrey, CoCo Vandeweghe & Sloane Stephens all with a chance at a Roland Garros seed depending on the how the next few weeks go.

17. Well hey there Claire Liu. Lookit you, winning the Easter Bowl at 14.

18. Taylor Fritz is the Truth. I can't even tell you how impressive it was for him to win the Easter Bowl given that he was playing in China a couple of days before. No, the competition wasn't quite what it was in Chengdu. But his opposition came to play, starting in the first round with qualifier Caleb Chakravarthi. Just such an amazing title.

19. Especially given that third round situation against Patrick Kypson.

20. Oh and he was called Taylor Swift :D

21. Francis Tiafoe signs with RocNation. Apparently there's a fellow with the initials JZ and it's a big deal that he's getting into tennis, because the cool kids will now be all hip to that.

22. Did we say Francis? We meant Frances.

23. Frances Tiafoe registers two tough wins over American veterans (then qualified today) in Sarasota.

24. US women reached triple digits in wins. Last year it took them until Madrid to get there. More on that in subsequent posts.

25. Denis Kudla did well to qualify for Monte Carlo and drew another qualifier! (Unfortunately, that was a resurgent Benoit Paire. Kudla out.)

26. Captain Mary Joe Fernandez selects Serena Williams and Venus Williams for Davis Cup against Italy. Shrewd! Alison Riske and Christina McHale also will be making the trip. It should be a terrific tie. I'll try to get a preview up by the end of the week.

Gold stars: Cameron Klinger (great run to the Easter Bowl quarters where he pushed Fritz to a third set with some brilliant play), Sam Riffice (Easter Bowl final), Alexa Guarachi & Caitlin Whoriskey (Jackson $25K doubles champions), Rianna Valdes (Jackson semifinal), Sania Mirza (yes, she's not American, but whatevs, I AM GIVING HER A GIANT GOLD STAR ANYWAY).

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