NCAA championships

NCAA Champion Cecil Loses In Opening Match at US Open

Despite losing in the first round of the US Open, Spartanburg native and NCAA champion Mallory Cecil chalks it all up to a learning experience.

Playing in front a packed crowd on Court 8, Cecil, who received a wild card into the main draw for winning the NCAA championships earlier this summer, found herself overwhelmed by the occasion and her opponent’s game. Committing 38 unforced errors, the American never managed to impose her game as she lost 6-0, 6-1 to Tathiana Garbin, the veteran player from Italy.

“I’m just really lacking experience at this point,” said Cecil. “This is all new to me and matches like these show me what I need to do to play against players at this level.”

Cecil, who turned professional this summer on August 14th, opened the match with two unforced errors as Garbin seemed content to guide down the ball the middle of the court, allowing Cecil to dictate the tempo of the match.

The American held a game point on her serve early on in the first set and held a break point one game later, but backhand errors cost Cecil the chance to get on the scoreboard, allowing Garbin to run take the first set, 6-0.

“With players like Garbin, it’s pretty much all up to you,” said Cecil. “I was trying to control the points, but also hitting shots I didn’t necessarily need to go for. It was tough to do anything with her slice because it stayed so low, but in order to be a top player, you have to learn how to handle anything.”

Cecil held serve to level the second set at 1-1, but it would be the only game she won in the contest. Committing unforced errors early in the rallies, Cecil dropped serve two more times before a missed drop shot sent Garbin into the second round on her first match point.

“I’ll obviously talk about the match with my dad and my coach, but obviously I need to try and put this behind me as quickly as possible,” said Cecil.

Despite the loss today, Cecil has shown potential this summer as she looks to break through the pro ranks. She reached the quarterfinals of a $50,000 challenger in Texas, and in the first round of a $50,000 challenger in Kentucky, served for the match against No. 63 ranked Julie Coin before losing in 3 sets.

“I can definitely compete against players in the top 100, but those were smaller tournaments and there wasn’t perhaps as much as attention as there was in this match,” said Cecil. “I’m just in a bit of a slump and need to try and move past it.”

Cecil said she plans to either play several challenger events in the US this fall, or head to France for a five week stretch of challengers. By this time next year, she plans to be in the US Open off merit, rather than a wildcard.

“By this time next year, I want my ranking to be high enough to get into the US Open qualifying (approximately No. 250) and then qualify into the main draw. Having a wild card was great, but I want to be able to do this on my own.”

A New Indian Number 1 And Kendrick Continues to Sizzle

Just a year ago, Somdev Devarman was graduating from the University of Virginia and was claiming his second NCAA Championship. Now, still in his virgin year on the ATP Tour, Somdev finds himself the number 1 ranked player in Indian and is this weeks number 201 on the ATP Rankings.

Last week in Nashville, Deverman took out super talented and feisty, Jesse Levine.  A convincing 7-6, 6-2 win showed that Somdev will certainly be a force to reckon with no matter who he plays.  Using a “never miss a ball” type of strategy, the chilly Indian, can give guys on the other side of the net fits.

Winning his second Challenger in as many weeks was Robert Kendrick.  Robert continues to roll and show the country that he is the best on the Challenger circuit this year and is now the 8th ranked American.  “Kendo” finally took out Deverman, 7-5 , 6-2 .  This was his first win against the NCAA Champ in 3 tries.  One more week in Illinois and Kendrick will be training for the Australian Open in January.

I am looking forward to working with a long time client and friend in Orlando.  Some time on the bike and on the golf course will keep Robert fresh and body healthy.  I plan on a solid strength training program which will incorporate a lot of cable machines and dumbells. The goal will be to get the big guy to crank out a dozen pullups in a row by the time January 1 comes along,  Due to persistant knee problems, Robert will have to the agility training on level grass, and incorporate massage and stretching in his everyday routine.  Kendrick has a very live arm and a tenacious fighting spirit that is a privledge to be around.

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The Journeyman: Back to Beijing!

Mark Keil, director/producer of the tennis documentary that depicts life on the tour in the late 90’s, tells us about the tour event that is being played out in Beijing, China. The stop this week takes us to the home of chicken chow mein, where the player’s travel back to the far east.

This spectacle is a great place in that the tourist attractions for the player’s are endless. In 1997, I teamed up with TJ Middleton of Dallas. It’s quite a way’s to go play an event, but the tour provides free hotel rooms for main draw player’s at each event. The only major expense is the airfare; the tournament usually has a gratis meal plan for at least two eats a day. The singles main draw competitors receive a room for the entire week. The doubles players each get their own accomodations up until the night they lose.  When that happens, the player’s usually then bunk up and share a room with another guy until they leave to go onto the next tourney. Even at the future and challenger level do the male’s receive a free hotel stay.

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The entry level tournaments to the tour are similar to the mini tours in golf, and the minor league baseball system in the states. This housing system help’s out immensely with the player’s being able to make a living. They then can pocket most of their prize money without having too many expenditures. I got a chance to visit the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. The huge mural of the late leader of China, Chairman Mao, is an awesome sight to see. The event is now played at the ‘08 Olympic tennis venue. First round, Middleton and I played Byron Black and Jonathan Stark. Bryon won the NCAA doubles championships with Eric Amend for the University of Southern California. He was a stalwart Davis Cup player for his native Zimbabwe for many years. His sister Cara Black, is currently the No. 1-ranked individual doubles player in the world, and shares that position with her partner Leizel Huber. Stark is from Medford, Oregon, and played at Stanford along with competing for his country in Davis Cup doubles. He now lives in Seattle. He actually was the most normal person that ever played tennis at Stanford. Most of the other Cardinal were very peculiar. In the second round, we beat the unusually superstitious Dane Kenneth Carlsen and America’s David Wheaton. David grew up in Minneapolis, was a Wimbledon singles semifinalist, and played for the US in our sport’s version of the Ryder Cup.  He was a good hockey player, and now has a radio show and wrote a book titled “The University of Destruction.”  It theorizes that US college’s are warping are youth’s mind’s. We played well and won 7-5, 6-7, 6-2.

In the semifinals, Middleton and I lost to India’s current Davis Cup partnership Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes. Mahesh was an All American out of Ole Miss, and used the scholarship he received there to improve his game immensely.  He now also own’s a major production company in India and  manages athlete’s and personalities.  Paes is still one of the most successful doubles player’s on the tour, having just won the US Open mixed title and reaching the men’s doubles finals’ as well.  TJ and I had great time there, cruising around the city and having a few Tsing Tsau’s in the evening’s.  We practiced hard though, and made around $7,500 each that week.  The odyssey continue’s and until next week, check out all of the result’s in the small print at the back of your local sport’s page.