Tag Archive: Jamie Hampton

Australian Open Women’s Qualifying Preview

Well, this is a hell of a thing. I find myself playing Anya to the editrix’s Giles, and I mean that in a wholly specific season 6 sort of way. And in fact I always thought that they should have slept together in season 6, so … this metaphor has now ended up in a totally different place to where it began. So. Let’s look at the women’s qualifying draw – because the editor won’t. For he is a massive SEXIST!!!

But I am not. In fact, some days I think I prefer women’s tennis to men’s tennis, and that’s borne out by my totally geeky thrillgasm in looking at this beautiful draw. Ninety-six ladies, twelve main draw spots up for grabs. It’s on.


It’s hard to say that any part of this draw is easy, but honestly, this might be the most loaded quarter. Top seed Coco Vanderweghe has never qualified for a Slam and is traditionally vulnerable to more experienced players. Usually the player to watch in this eighth would be Sesil Karatantcheva, formerly of Bulgaria, but Karatantcheva has failed to make it through qualifying in the last three Slams and doesn’t have a great record in Australia. This could be Vanderweghe’s moment; otherwise I look to Olga Savchuk.

British no. 2 Anne Keothavong is still working her way back from injury and doesn’t have the easiest draw, facing Kustova of Belarus in the first round followed by a probable second round against Ioana Raluca Olaru, a player with a very pretty game, while Tatjana Malek awaits in the third. Still, I have faith in Keo and her smile made of sunshine.

Go ahead, punk, make her day.

A Pliskova sister and Yung-Jan Chan lurk in the bottom quarter, but make no mistake, the qualifier will be the winner of the first round clash between Sabine Lisicki and Michaella Kraijcek (yes, that Kraijcek). These two ladies are friends and both train at the Bolletieri Academy, and neither is a stranger to a career ravaged by injury, but I’d put my money on my Licky. As a former Wimbledon quarterfinalist, she’s a class above her current ranking and worked some of the kinks from her enforced absence in 2010 out in Auckland recently. She’ll be in the main draw when Sunday rolls around.

Move, bitch, get out of her way.


Now here’s a quarter which is tough to predict, containing as it does a number of players who can do anything or nothing depending on their mood and the phases of the moon, and a number of players about whom I know actually nothing. Where do they find these people? Fourth seed Zuzana Kucova has a promising name, but I say Luxembourg’s finest, Mandy Minella, should double-bagel Great Britain’s Katie O’Brien and go from strength to strength, as Brit-beaters are wont to do.

Anastasia Yakimova is usually a good bet, but she has to contend with Stephanie Dubois and a possible meeting with Severine Beltrame. A couple of random Australians and Vitalia Diatchenko – bless her – don’t pose much of a threat, but the wildcard in this section is Sania Mirza. I recently watched her lose in the final round of qualifying to Lisicki, and formed the same conclusion that almost any Mirza match leaves me with; if she ever learns to keep her forehand inside the court more than, say, 40% of the time, she’ll be a solid pick. That  hasn’t quite happened yet, though, and her fitness doesn’t look superb to me. Yakimova to qualify from this group.

Truly funky headband notwithstanding.

And at the bottom, finally an easy segment to call. Ekaterina Bychkova may have the name, Oksana Kalashnikova may … also have the name, but Masa Zec Peskiric saunters through this draw.

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USTA AO Wildcard Playoffs Final Day Recap

Well it’s all over for us crazy tennis fans in 2010.  The Australian Open Wildcard play-offs have finally come to an end here in Atlanta and I must admit that I already miss my friends, the fans, and the players of this wonderful sport.

Personally, this was such an incredible event for me because I was able to meet so many new people who are actively involved in the tennis world in one form or another.  I got to know UVA Senior Michael Shabaz since I was the lucky one to pick him up from the airport, and what a terrific guy he is.  I found out so much about him (mainly because I can’t keep my big mouth shut and I like to ask a lot of questions).  This is what Italian people do by the way, they talk a lot. 

Anyway, Michael is a 23-year-old anthropology major and lives in Fairfax Virginia (a suburb of Washington DC).  As we conversed, and I subsequently bored him to tears, he proudly told me that his grandfather, who was a talented soccer player, went to high school with Andre Agassi ‘s dad in Iran (many decades ago).  As most of you know, Agassi’s father was an Olympic boxer. You can read more detail about that in Agassi’s autobiography “Open”, which I highly recommend by the way!  I learned to love Andre even more than I already did after I read his book, and of course his wife shares my name.  I just wish I could have a modicum of her tennis talents.  Dare to dream …

There is no better way to learn about tennis players then by spending time in the players lounge of any tournament, and the AO WC event was no exception.  I was able to talk to, and listen in on many conversations and it was truly so much fun for me as the huge tennis fan that I am.  I am a huge sports fan in general, but tennis is undoubtedly one of my faves.  In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I also play A LOT of tennis too. 

Anyway,  in the course of one day I met Ryan Harrison, Rhyne Williams, Jack Sock, Melanie Oudin, Coco Vandeweghe, Jamie Hampton, Denis Kudla, Jordan Cox and Tim Smyczek.  I learned so many neat things about these players.  For instance, did you know that Tim Smyczek  and John Isner are roommates?  They live in Tampa, Fla and train at Saddlebrook together.  And they also just played  in a charity event up at Marquette University in Milwaukee, where Tim is from. 

Coco has a mean game of table tennis, Melanie Oudin is such an absolute sweetheart, and Rhyne Williams is one BIG guy!  When he got up to play table tennis with Kudla, I was like, “Whooaa dude!”  He is very funny by the way.  Ryan Harrison on the other hand was a bit harder to get to know, which at first I took for pretention, but learned that this wasn’t the case at all.  He is a truly a very nice guy, just very serious about his profession I guess.  He was really cracking the jokes on the court and had me in stitches, really. 

So, I have to save one of new favorite players for last I guess and that couldn’t be anyone else but Jack Sock.  Not only is he one of the sweetest young men that you will ever meet, but his whole family and camp are this way.  His brother Eric, his aunts and uncles and his coach, Mike Wolf, were just so gracious and appreciative of everything you did for them. They all must have said “thank you” a thousand times and to be honest, I really didn’t think I did anything to help them, not enough anyway. 

Jack Sock serving one up at the Racquet Club of the South

I can’t wait to see all these young players go out and compete again in the near future.  The Australian Open cannot come soon enough for me, I can assure you, but we have Auckland (amongst others) to look forward to.  Smyczek, for one, will be going to Auckland by the way, and his “roomie” is the defending champion.  When I mentioned to Tim that several top 20 players are now competing in that tournament, he made it very clear that Isner was to have NO problem defending his title.  It was very, very cute.  I definitely backed off at that point and went and got myself a beer, to which Tim replied, “oh could you get me one as well?”  LOL!  To  which I replied, of course, “Regular or lite?”  No, I really didn’t say that; I just said that they all had to go out and play Team Tennis with Patrick McEnroe so it probably wasn’t a good idea. 

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The Australian Open Wildcard semis were nothing short of spectacular today.  The women’s matches were both over in straight sets with CoCo Vandeweghe defeating Beatrice Capra and Lauren Davis defeating Krista Hardebeck.  I watched more of Coco’s match than Davis’ and I’ll tell you what… that Coco is full of fire and spunk no doubt.  And boy is she tall!  She has a tremendous amount of power and Capra did not know how to retaliate against Vandeweghe’s weapons.  Should be a great final between Coco and Lauren Davis starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Now on to those fiery men who all brought their goods today for sure.  Jack Sock was unstoppable to say the very least and in such impressive form.  Even after rolling his ankle he managed to close it out in straights against Kudla, and Denis was not playing badly by any means.  I think that just says a lot about Sock; he has the talent, the spirit and the passion to become an elite player.  Mentally he is so stable.  And his touch at the net… beautiful.  He reminds me of someone so much older than an 18 year-old.  So sweet and humble.  One just hopes that he stays that way.

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