Tag Archive: Jordan Cox


Tamarac USA F2 Futures Update!

And so it actually, finally, began. After braving blizzards, car trouble, and a mixed bag of calamities, our brave reporter (hint: that’s me) finally made it to see some actual tennis. What a concept. I slalomed around the various nefarious Floridumb strip malls to the oasis that is the Woodmont Country Club in Tamarac, FL – the site of the second annual *deep breath* Lawrence D. Share Company $10,000 Championships at Synergy Tennis Academy. Or, if you’re short of breath, the USA F2 Futures.

The site itself is top notch, and the organization seems superb. The twenty-court facility featured play on four of its “clay” courts on this Wednesday, having caught up on a backlogged schedule from a waterlogged Monday washout. The two main courts – the innovatively-named “Court 1” and “Court 2” – are separated by a raised, wide partition upon which random chairs and ceramic-y picnic tables are interspersed; a very spectator-friendly setup. Even better, the area between the featured back courts (Courts 9 and 10, if you’re scoring at home) has a shaded gazebo under which I could protect my blindingly pasty fresh-from-the-Northeast skin. Bonus!

I arrived just in time to see one of my 2011 Challenger Tennis Player To Watch selections, Dennis Kudla start his F2-ing against the tourney’s top seed, Victor Estrella. Estrella, the 30 year-old Dominican Republican (or perhaps he’s a Dominican Democrat – I didn’t ask), had finished his 2010 season on quite a roll, winning three straight Dom Rep Futures events (15 matches in all) before losing his final match of the year. All of which was good enough to land him a career high world ranking of 211 – not a bad achievement for someone entering his fourth decade. So I was eager to see how the rising star would fare against the established vet.

Turned out, not so well. At least to begin with. Two backhands into the net and a forehand long saw the 18-year-old Virginian broken in the first game of the match. Kudla then had two breakback points straightaway in the second game (after Estrella shot himself in the foot with the dreaded mediocre-drop-shot-to-awful-lob combo), but Victor found his way out of trouble with a framed volley and an ace erase to deuce and held from there.

The top seed – who the chair umpire seemed to call “Australia” (to my ears), in an obvious fit of Grand Slam fever – looked sharp early, hitting a heavy ball and knifing away the volleys he didn’t frame, while Denis struggled to find his range and/or mojo, seeming initially uncomfortable with conditions and his game on the day. The fleet-footed Dominican prefers to favor the ad court and load up on the forehand side whenever possible, but his heavily-sliced one-handed backhand is suitable to the Tamarac court, staying nice and low. Kudla is less averse to play off both wings, and he started to settle into the match midway through the first set. Though he had a few back-breaking opportunities throughout the set, in the end he was broken a second time as Estrella took the first 6-3.

Ever the supporter of my PTW’s in distress, I bailed and decided to see what else was going on around the grounds. I wanted to see how one of my almost-PTW’s, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, was faring against Phil Simm(ond)s (I myself have a touch of NFL playoff fever – deal). Turns out, not so well. The gangly 19 year-old showed some cliched French flair (drop-shotting four times in one game, venturing to net behind cheekily sliced forehands – you know the drill), but lost the first set to the 24 year-old American, who offered up my favorite bit of vocal self-coaching: “Really? REALLY?? RELAX!!!” It worked: Simmonds took the first set 6-4.

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USA F1 Futures Recap – (Ab)normal Service Is Restored

Apologies for my MIA-ness of late – I ran into a little bit of trouble down south (and no, that’s not a euphemism). Nothing big – just logistical snags for the most part. I see that gauloises and Christina Marie did a fantastic job of taking up the “toiling in semi-obscurity” torch I passed to them and running headlong with it into the enveloping darkness. Your checks are in the mail, ladies, but I’ll take it from here!

Well, I know that a few days ago I announced my impending absence/scarcity due to upcoming travel, moving and re-situating, and I know there are no challenger tournaments for the next two weeks… so why do I feel so guilty having been off the internet radar for 2 days? Who knows (and, probably more to the point, who cares)? All I know is, I’m here in Florida, I’m somewhat situated, and I’m ready to type things at you again. Look out, world!

So what have I missed? Tons. Tennis, it turns out, did not have the common decency to cease and desist whilst I was in transit. There may be no challenger events, but I am supposed to be covering the futures these next few weeks, after all. Plus, Australian Open qualifying holds no small amount of interest to Challenger Tennis fans – I’ll be typing more about the men’s qualifiers and what that achievement means later on, I premise.

For now – and finally, in the fourth paragraph (and possibly beyond) – let’s look at the past few days of futures, OK? We’ll start with The Plantation Open aka the USA F1 Futures in Plantation, Florida. Remember that one? It’s the one I was ostensibly supposed to cover for you in person. Well, that ship has sailed now. But let me tell you what went down while I wasn’t around. When I last left you, the Quarterfinals Were Set (actual article headline) – which means that you had to survive without me chaperoning you through the QF’s, semis and finals! I don’t know how you survived, really, but I applaud your courage.

In the quarterfinals, Slovenian Lukas Gregorc put an end to the oft-alleged scourge Wayne Odesnik’s run, 2-6 6-7(5) 6-4. So Big Wayne leaves Plantation $290 richer and with 2 brand spanking new ATP points to call his very own, and I’m not sure where he went after that, as he’s not playing in the USA F2 in Tamarac this week. What I am sure is that an anagram for “Wayne Odesnik” is “Disown Yankee.” Draw your own conclusions about that.

Meanwhile, one of the many Top 500 Dans of British Tennis (Smethurst variety), continued his fine play for the week into the QF’s, upending Phillip Simmonds in a decidedly trouncy fashion 6-2 6-2. Matej Bocko of the Slovak Rep continued his stellar comeback from an 8-month layoff, beating the previously unstoppable-seeming Alexander Domijan in straight sets, 6-4 6-4. And lucky loser Olivier Sajous continued his cinderella story of lucky loserdom with an improbably easy 6-1 6-2 romp over Venezuelan David Souto to round out the final four.

Incidentally, during his stay at the F1 tourney, the 18-year-old Souto wrote one of my favorite tweets of 2011 so far. To friend and player Jose De Armas, he typed: “jose estoy aqui en el imperio! Tu donde estas?” Or: “Jose, I’m here in The Empire! Where are you?” That made me giggle.

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USA F1 Futures Update – Plantation Open First Round Results

All of the first round matches have now been played at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, Florida, and the scores have finally been postedAnd there are lots of interesting results to chew on:

[Q] Andrea Collarini USA #580 d [1] Jesse Levine USA #289 4-3 ret. – A forearm injury for the top seed, here. But 2011 Challenger Tennis Player To Watch Andrea Collarini is now a perfect 4-0 for this season, having come through qualifying, so I’m feeling pretty good about that pick right now. Thanks, Andrea, for making me look good! The Americanized Argentine will play Slovenia’s Luka Gregorc (#464) in the next round. Gregorc beat qualifier Chris Kwon (#844) 6-4 6-0.

W] Wayne Odesnik USA d [Q] Teodor-Dacian Cracian ROU #602 6-2 3-6 6-3. For some reason, people are paying a lot of attention to this unranked player. I won’t do that (for now). Odesnik will play the formerly Sideshow Bob-haired qualifier Thomas Cazes-Carrere #582 in R2.

Dan Smethurst GBR #497 d [4] Nicholas Monroe USA #348 7-5 7-6(5). The 20-year-old Brit is, I feel, much better than what he’s currently ranked. Coming off a fairly abysmal 29/24 season in 2010 that saw his ranking slide 160 spots from a high of #337 in May, this win sees the inconsistent former Top 30 world junior start the year in a direction more reflective of his promise.

Conversely, Nick Monroe is someone who ended his 2010 campaign with some promising results, winning 9 straight Futures matches in Canada in September and qualifying for the main draw of the Knoxville Challenger, making it all the way through to the semifinals before going down to Kei Nishikori. This obviously won’t be the start he was looking to have, but as I said, Smethy is a better player than his ranking and I don’t think this result is as much of an upset as it looks on paper.

[Q] Christian Harrison USA d [W] Jeremy Efferding USA 6-4 7-5. While older brother Ryan was off playing strip tennis with Michael Llodra, John McEnroe and Henri Leconte, Christian racked up his first ATP point here. Normally this would be a good achievement in its own right. But considering the 16-year-old is returning to competition here after being sidelined for 18 months, I’d say it’s a fantastic achievement.

[Q] Phillip Simmonds USA #570 d [Q] Andrei Daescu ROU #814 2-6 6-4 6-2. OK, this wasn’t a very interesting result. But that’s just because the 24 year-old Simmonds has been near the Top 200 in his career and is by far the more experienced campaigner. Hey – how many interesting results do you need in the first round of a 10K Futures, anyway? Tough crowd! Moving on…

[6] Roman Borvanov MDA #431 d Daniel Garza MEX #454 6-0 6-4. An unusually lopsided score, for two players ranked so close to one another (Garza just missed being seeded here). Sure, the 28 year-old Borvanov has now won the last 7 matches against his 25 year-old opponent, but 4 of those matches have been 6-4 in the third or closer. This one wasn’t.

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The final qualifying round of the $10K USA F1 Futures has been played, and here are your results:

Christian HARRISON (USA) defeated Thai-Son KWIATKOWSKI (USA) 6-3 6-1
Dennis ZIVKOVIC (USA) (2) defeated Jack CARPENTER (GBR) 6-3 7-6(5)
Andrei DAESCU (ROU) (11) defeated Olivier SAJOUS (HAI) (3) 7-6(9) 2-6 6-3
Phillip SIMMONDS (USA) (4) defeated Alexander RITSCHARD (SUI) 7-6(5) 6-2
Andrea COLLARINI (USA) (5) defeated Daniel KOSAKOWSKI (USA) (9) 6-4 6-2
Thomas CAZES-CARRERE (FRA) (6) defeated Devin MULLINGS (BAH) 6-2 6-3
Teodor-Dacian CRACIUN (ROU) (7) defeated Jan KUNCIK (CZE) 6-3 6-7(2) 7-6(2)
Chris KWON (USA) (12) defeated Marcos GIRON (USA) 4-6 6-3 6-3

Ryan’s little bro making a name for himself, getting through over the precocious 15-year-old KwiatkowskiZivkovic continues the kind of play that saw him reach the semis of four Futures events last year, again at the expense of a game, young British competitor (he beat Oliver Golding in a tough first round on his way to the Mexico F8 semis this past November).  Sajous, the Plantation-based local fave who lost to Wayne Odesnik in the wildcard tourney, takes a tough loss at the hands of erstwhile Oklahoma Sooner Andrei Daescu.  Challenger Tennis 2011 Player To Watch Andrea Collarini with a decisive victory over UCLA freshman Kosakowski. 

Collarini has now drawn top seed Jesse Levine in the main draw.  I’m excited to see how Andrea fares in that one.  Zivkovic goes from second seed in quals to facing the main draw second seed in the form of Mr. Alex Bogdanovic.  Daescu slated to meet Simmonds in the main, in a Q v Q clash.  Harrison gets to test his mettle against fellow promising junior Jeremy Efferding.  Craciun gets a crack at Odesnik in the first round.  And Kwon gets the big Slovenian Luka Gregorc.

Other notable main draw Round One matches:

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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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