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Day -1: US Open National Playoff Qualifying-Florida Tennis Blog

May 26, 2010 07:00 PM
US Open National PlayoffsUSTA Florida's Rick Vach blogs from the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Fla., the site of the inaugural US Open National Playoff Qualifying-Florida tournament:

Thursday, Day -2: The draw is released...

Two days before the USONPQ-F, and I'm packing for my trip -- Gatorade? Check. Bandannas to cry in when I get beat 0-and-0 by some 15-year-old Bollettieri student? Check.

Tomorrow I'll make the drive down and spend the night. As you tournament-savvy readers know, sometimes you don't get the best results from driving five hours the morning of, sitting motionless in a car, then expecting your legs to jet you around the court -- especially when you're 25 years past your college prime.

Last night the draws were posted, and least-happy probability realized -- I'm playing a college-age kid half my age. Heidrich Vicci of Pembroke Pines, have mercy on me. I'm calling you out! But I'm worried about Heidrich because: a) he has young college legs that tend to run fast; b) when he attended high school in Venezuela, he was ranked No. 6 in the state of Miranda; and c) he has no USTA tournament record over the last year, which means he could play futures/Pro Circuit events only?...gulp. You can't begin to intimidate me, Heidrich! Because you already are!

USTA Florida volunteer and current President Donn Davis will take his wealth of experience to the court against 19-year-old Ace Neumann of Sarasota. If both Donn and I were somehow to advance we would play each other in the second round, and I've already received inquiries from USTA Florida staff as if to whether I will "take a dive/take one for the team" against Donn. Are you kidding?!? Having seen Donn play in a doubles exhibition a couple years ago and hold his own against MaliVai Washington, and the great hands/skills he demonstrated, I don't know if I would have much of a say in that match if it even happened...

Case in point, I got beat 6-0, 6-1 in a practice match today. That's a confidence-builder. A friend said, "When you beat some 14-year-old Bollettieri kid down in Bradenton, they're going to charge you with child abuse!" Ha, but that doesn't seem like a worry now.

But enough about me, let's talk about -- my thoughts on the draw.

In the women's 32 draw, a blockbuster first-round meeting is set for 11 a.m. on Saturday when Jan Abaza, the 15-year-old former No. 1-ranked junior from Deerfield Beach who this year won the WTA Tour MPS Group Championships Wildcard Tournament, faces Josie Kuhlman of Ponte Vedra Beach, the Florida No. 1-ranked 8th grader who is coached by former world No. 3 Brian Gottfried. That will be a "popcorn match" as they say in the pros (as in, get your popcorn and settle in for a good one).

First-round byes went to lucky ladies Chelsea Underwood of Winter Park, Marina Krivonogova of New York, NY, C.C. Sardinha of Bradenton, Kim Kermet of West Palm Beach, Elena Dragut of Dania, Libby Muma of Boca Raton, and Chantal Igherighe of Tampa.

The men's draw has a multitude of interesting first-rounders -- former Duke player Alex Bose of Sarasota vs. Miami Beach's Kirk Da Silva; recent Bolles School (Jacksonville) four-star recruit Spencer Lunghino of Ponte Vedra Beach vs. Benn Marler; and former ATP Top 400 player Mehdi Tahiri of Inverness against 39-year-old David Cook, who says, "I entered this tournament for the experience" -- and he will get one at that.
Lucky first-round byes went to Zachary Goldberg of Newberry, Fla., Rudy Reunis of Port Saint Lucie, Mark Oljaca of Bradenton, Thomas Kroczek of Cortez, Bergen Hart of Ocala, and Joseph Osment of Naples.

There is no seeding at the USONPQ events, so the draw places and the byes were drawn randomly, which means some of the most interesting meetings will be from the first round on. No worries, I'll keep blogging, and include daily results, after I'm sitting on the sidelines after the first day, icing down the injuries. No major injuries after match #1 = a victory.

Got comments/input as a player or observer or internet lurker? E-mail vach@florida.usta.com and we'll get your comments in the blog.






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