Tag Archive: Jarmere Jenkins


Challenger Tennis Top Ten Players To View (Part III)

Since my esteemed Players to View series was rudely interrupted by the weekend, just as it was picking up some e-steam, I’m hoping that I can quickly get back up to speed by profiling a couple of speedsters today.

No Relation To Alejandro or Santi, Who Spell Their Surnames G-O-N-Z-A-L-E-Z

No Relation To Alejandro or Santi, Who Spell Their Surnames G-O-N-Z-A-L-E-Z

You know, for all our talk in tennis about forehands, backhands and volleys, the game is mostly about movement. After all, it doesn’t matter how good your shots are if you can’t get to the ball first.

When I first started getting serious about the sport, both from a playing and viewing perspective, I was obsessed with shotmaking. But these days, there’s nothing I enjoy more than watching a fleet-footed player glide and/or scrap his way around the court.

The two guys I’m profiling today are very similar players — not just fast, but fit, athletic and agile. Both righties in their early 20s, currently ranked in the mid-200s, they can crank serves and forehands (albeit a tad inconsistently) and are somewhat steady and even occasionally transitional with their double-handers.  Once they figure out how to be more imposing and less defensive off the ground, they’ll start to have some very solid results, I believe.

Until such time as they become ATP Tour-level regulars, treat yourself to watching them motor around the court on the HD livestreams. There’s hardly anyone better to watch at the challenger level, movementally. Also, if you play the game yourself, you’ll find a lot that you can ingest and incorporate into your own play.

Ben Mitchell

I’ve been watching Ben buzz about the baseline since late 2009, when he’d just turned 17 and was playing the Australian Open Wildcard Playoffs. Shortly thereafter he made the Wimbledon Boys final as a qualifier, losing to Marton Fucsovics. I then got to see him blazing to the Bendigo Futures final in 2010, where he lost to Player to View Number OneSam Groth.

I won’t bore you with all his results since then, but he’s somewhat stagnated after a blistering 60/20 first-year-as-a-pro season as an 18-year-old in 2011, during which he won four Futures titles and rose almost 400 spots in the rankings to No. 214.

Ben Mitchell All Smiles

Now 21, he currently sits at #250, which — while no longer precocious — is still good enough for Top 20 in his age group. He’s weathered a nine-match losing streak in 2012 and a six-match loss streak in 2013 to steady himself and start to get some decent results again.

But however unbalanced his recent results may have been, Ben is hardly ever off balance during a rally, keeping a wide base and bent knees as he careens about the court, his center of gravity low and constant as he seamlessly shifts between big and small steps, posture upright throughout.

Though hardly ideal, this YouTube vid shows a little of what I’m talking about with regard to his fluid footwork:

Another video of somewhat dodgy quality, but this is a very good match Ben played recently against countryman Luke Saville:

If you do nothing else, go to 17:30 in the above vid and watch the scrambling Mitch does in the far court.

The next chance to watch Ben will be at the Guangzhou Challenger next week.

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Sup, peeps. And jeez, what an uninspired bunch on this week’s W.A.T.C.H. List, for the most part. Almost as uninspired as the Super Bowl, from which I’ve yet to recover.

But enough about me. Let’s have a look at Who’s Achieved Their Career Highs This Week:

Player NATIONALITY Age New High Why
Bradley Klahn USA 23 80 others lost points
Jesse Huta Galung NED 28 92 others lost points
Dusan Lajovic SRB 23 101 Davis Cup – R1 L
Nick Kyrgios AUS 18 157 Davis Cup – R1 L
Matt Reid AUS 23 183 Burnie W
Tak Khunn Wang FRA 22 265 Egypt F2 SF
Juan Ignacio Londero ARG 20 268 Chitre R2
Jarmere Jenkins USA 23 278 Burnie SF
David Rice GBR 25 307 GBR F2 F
Jose Pereira BRA 23 322 Egypt F2 SF
Martin Vaisse FRA 26 324 Israel F2 F
Roberto Ortega-Olmedo ESP 22 330 others lost points
Joris de Loore BEL 20 360 others lost points
Dennis Novak AUT 20 364 others lost points
Wilson Leite BRA 22 371 others lost points
Yoshihito Nishioka JPN 18 377 others lost points
Christian Garin CHI 17 379 others lost points
Alexey Vatutin RUS 21 380 others lost points
Ivan Arenas-Gualda ESP 23 385 others lost points
Thanasi Kokkinakis AUS 17 399 Davis Cup – R1 L

Woof. What a bunch of others-points losers, by and large. Since there were only two Challengers last week — Burnie and Chitre — there were scant opportunities from which to scavenge ATPoints. And most who did well in those two tournaments didn’t gain enough to points to post a career high.

So we’ll ignore the OLPers, as ever.

Therefore, first on this week’s List are a pair of peeps who — sort of like kids on recreational soccer teams — got trophies (in the form of ranking points) just for showing up for their teams’ games. Since Davis Cup World Group participants receive 10 points win or lose, Dusan Lajovic, Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis all were boosted to career high heights despite losing efforts on the world stage.

Although, it must be noted, none of said losses were anything to sneeze at. Lajovic took a set off of World No. 3 and Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka before falling in four. He also won a dead rubber* against Michael Lammer.

It Ain't No Laj - Dusan Celebrates His Win Vs. Lammer

It Ain’t No Laj – Dusan Celebrates His Win Vs. Lammer

Kyrgios went down to No. 9 Richard Gasquet and No. 30 Gael Monfils, and Kokkinakis was nak’ed*** down by the capable hands of No. 39 Julian Benneteau.

The biggest winner of the week was Aussie Matt Reid, who took the title at the $50,000 Burnie Challenger. The 23-year-old has come full circle from the time less than a month ago when he said that he didn’t “know how to win anymore.”

Do You Reid Me? Matt Reid Turns It Around

Do You Reid Me? Matt Reid Turns It Around In Burnie

He entered the tourney on a six-match losing streak and proceeded to win five matches, clinch the championship and attain a personal best ranking in the process. Not a bad effort. As ever, Aceland Tennis has all the details of that match and all things Aussie.

Lastly, a special mention goes out to former University of Virginia standout Jarmere Jenkins, who showed some scorching form in Burnie, making it to the semis before he burned out vs. Hiroki Moriya. Earlier last week I was pointed to this terrific Q&A with the erstwhile ITA National Player of the Year.

The Rankings Door Is Now A Jar (photo by UVA Athletics)

The Rankings Door Is Now A Jar (photo by UVA Athletics)

In the above-linked article Jenkins says, “Being an elite athlete is all about how well you’re willing to suffer.” In his remarkable 6-2 6-7(7) 7-6(13) quarterfinal win against Matthew Barton, in which he recovered from a double fault at match point in a second set that he eventually lost, Jenkins seemed to really put those words to the test, earning an eventual career high ranking in the process.

*my second least favorite phrase in tennis, just behind “Red Foo**”

**which is my second least favorite color of Foo, just behind brown

***pronounced “knocked down”, of course. Why? What were you thinking it was?

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