Only 2 More Days at the BB&T Atlanta Open

Atlanta OpenFriday was another great day of tennis at the BB&T Atlanta Open – Quarterfinal Day did not disappoint, even though we had a short rain delay in the first set of the first singles match of the day.

Tommy Paul came out swinging in his match versus tour veteran and Rafa-Slayer Gilles Muller, holding his own through the first few games. But, then the Weather Gods decided we all needed a little break to grab a bite to eat and do a little shopping around Atlantic Station, and when the match resumed, Tommy didn’t have quite the same firepower.

Muller went on a rampage, showing why he’s had so much success this summer. To Tommy’s credit, he kept a very positive attitude out there and battled through to the bitter end. USTA coaches Diego Moyano and Brian Boland remained

Diego Moyano & Brian Boland

positive as well, encouraging Tommy to keep going for his shots. They both seemed pleased with their young charge’s performance against the veteran Muller, pow-wowing throughout the match about what to work on moving forward.

Next up was former Georgia Bulldog and 3-time Atlanta Champion John Isner who always has tons of support at this event. As he came on court, you could hear the fans Woof-ing at the Big Dawg, which John acknowledged with a big smile and waves to the crowd.

Even though there was only one break of serve by Isner in each set, he never seem too bothered by Lacko and went about his business in less time than it takes to drive from Atlanta to Athens. Isner did face a break point in the first set. “Yea dangit that was a horrible service performance today [laughing]. No I served well. He was for a good portion of the match on me a little bit. He returned well. He takes the return early, and he hit quite a few good returns quick and right at my feet. I stayed calm at that breakpoint; hit a great serve, hit three great serves. Got out of dodge there and then was able to play a great game at 5 all to win the first set.”

The third quarterfinal of the day was perhaps the most anticipated: 25-year-old Louisiana native Ryan Harrison versus 21-year-old Atlanta native (and rising Georgia Tech senior) Chris Eubanks. Chris has had a dream run this week, using his Wildcard to its full advantage while taking out fellow NextGen players Taylor Fritz and Jared Donaldson in the first two rounds. Ryan Harrison proved too tough for the Yellowjacket, cruising to an early 5-0 lead in the first set before Chris finally held serve to get on the scoreboard. Harrison held to close out the first set 6-1 then kept his foot on the gas throughout the second set to win it 6-2.

At the end of the match, the announcer handed Chris the mic so he could talk to the very supportive crowd. He was very gracious, thanking everyone for their support, acknowledging that this was a great experience for him and gave him a chance to see what he needs to work on as he finishes up at GA Tech and prepares for life on the pro tour.

Ryan was complimentary of Chris’s play. “Chris was pretty aggressive early, and he was making a few errors,” explained Harrison. “So I was trying to focus on keeping my first serve percentage up. I know he’s got big weapons, especially with that forehand. I thought if I made first serves it would be difficult for him to control the point with it. I was really emphasizing on trying to make those. Then just you know I usually do a good job of making a lot of balls back and kind of putting that extra ball back in the court.”

The last Quarterfinal match pitted top-seeded Jack Sock against UK standout Kyle Edmund. Edmund, the twenty-two-year-old British star and Davis Cup player, seemed ready for aggressive play from Sock. He remained steady with his serve and returned the firepower with fire of his own, to come out on top. After winning the first set 6-4, Edmund took advantage of a weakened Sock – who requested a medical timeout but never seemed to recover fully despite massive crowd support – and dominated the second set, which ended quickly at 6-1.

RESULTS – JULY 28, 2017

Men’s Singles – Quarterfinals

[3] G. Muller (LUX) d [Q] T. Paul (USA) 6-3 6-1
[2] J. Isner (USA) d L. Lacko (SVK) 7-5 6-4
[4] R. Harrison (USA) d [WC] C. Eubanks (USA) 6-1 6-2
[5] K. Edmund (GBR) d [1] J. Sock (USA) 6-4 6-1

Men’s Doubles – Quarterfinals

[1] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) d H. Chung (KOR) / J. Nedunchezhiyan (IND) 6-1 6-2

ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, JULY 29, 2017

STADIUM COURT start 12:00 noon

[4] P. Raja (IND) / D. Sharan (IND) vs W. Koolhof (NED) / A. Sitak (NZL)

Not Before 3:00 pm

[3] G. Muller (LUX) vs [2] J. Isner (USA)

Not Before 7:00 pm

[5] K. Edmund (GBR) vs [4] R. Harrison (USA)
[1] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) vs [PR] J. Millman (AUS) / Sa. Ratiwatana (THA)

AJC GRANDSTAND start 12:00 noon

ALTA AA-3 CITY FINALS MIXED DOUBLES

Tickets available at www.bbtatlantaopen.com

Quarterfinal Day at the BB&T Atlanta Open

Chris Eubanks

Georgia Tech rising senior Chris Eubanks looked cool, calm, and collected in the photo above, taken during his Player Chat with Wayne Bryan on Wednesday afternoon. I’m guessing he was feeling a little less cool during last night’s Round of 16 match versus fellow NextGen’er Jared  Donaldson!

Click here for my recent podcast interview with Chris

The 21-year-old Atlanta native stayed calm enough to fight through a one-hour and 46-minute battle with his 20-year-old opponent, winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to move into today’s Quarterfinal round where he will face his 3rd American opponent this week, Ryan Harrison, the oldest of the bunch at the ripe ol’ age of 25. So far, Eubanks has defeated two of his young compatriots and hopes to make it three later today. “I really don’t know if I could do this in any place but Atlanta,” Eubanks exclaimed after last night’s victory. With his Georgia Tech coach, Kenny Thorne, in the stands, Chris represented his college and his hometown with grit and grace. We can certainly expect to see more of the same this afternoon.

Chris Eubanks

Chris Eubanks isn’t the only young player in today’s Quarterfinal round. Twenty-year-old Tommy Paul, who won the French Open Juniors in 2015 then turned pro shortly afterward, will face ATP veteran and Wimbledon Quarterfinalist, Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, to kick off the day at Atlantic Station.

Tommy spent some time chatting with Wayne Bryan yesterday (click on the Full Screen option below to enable sound):

I haven’t seen today’s schedule of Player Chats, but I will plan to do another Facebook Live session if possible, so be sure you’re following the ParentingAces page here to get notifications.

In addition to all the tennis happening on the grounds, there are also some fun activities OFF the courts. In Atlantic Station’s Central Park, USTA Atlanta and Wilson Tennis have set up the Family Zone where they are holding clinics and opportunities to try the game for young players as part of the NetGeneration initiative. In addition to the official tournament store, several sponsors and vendors have booths inside the tournament venue with samples and prizes for visitors. There is also an Interactive Zone where fans can shoot hoops or track their serve speed.  And, of course, there’s the Music Stage where Wayne Bryan is conducting daily Q&As with the pros and where fans can meet them and get autographs. There’s something for everyone at this year’s event.

RESULTS – JULY 27, 2017

Men’s Singles – Second Round

[1] J. Sock (USA) d D. Sela (ISR) 6-4 6-3
[4] R. Harrison (USA) d [PR] J. Millman (AUS) 6-7(2) 7-6(4) 7-5
[5] K. Edmund (GBR) d P. Gojowczyk (GER) 2-6 6-4 7-5
[WC] C. Eubanks (USA) d [8] J. Donaldson (USA) 6-4 4-6 6-2

Men’s Doubles – Quarterfinals

[PR] J. Millman (AUS) / Sa. Ratiwatana (THA) d A. Qureshi (PAK) / So. Ratiwatana (THA) 6-2 6-4
W. Koolhof (NED) / A. Sitak (NZL) d A. Molteni (ARG) / A. Shamasdin (CAN) 6-7(7) 7-6(4) 10-7

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, JULY 28, 2017

STADIUM COURT start 12:00 noon

[Q] T. Paul (USA) vs [3] G. Muller (LUX)

Not Before 2:00 pm

L. Lacko (SVK) vs [2] J. Isner (USA)
[4] R. Harrison (USA) vs [WC] C. Eubanks (USA)

Not Before 8:00 pm

[1] J. Sock (USA) vs [5] K. Edmund (GBR)
[1] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) vs H. Chung (KOR) / J. Nedunchezhiyan (IND)

AJC GRANDSTAND start 2:00 pm

Local Pro League Finals

Coca-Cola Fireworks show at Sundown

Tickets available at www.bbtatlantaopen.com

 

It Was A Big Day For Chris

Photo courtesy of GA Tech website
Photo courtesy of GA Tech website

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to watch 3 Young Guns battle it out for a spot in the main draw of the BB&T Atlanta Open. What an opportunity for these young players and what fun to be there seeing the future of tennis!

The first match of the day was Tobias Kamke, a 30-year-old veteran from Germany, vs. the 18-year-old American Michael Mmoh who is slated to play Kalamazoo next week. Both players held serve for the first 8 games with Kamke having several opportunities to break while Mmoh never seemed to get a good handle on the Kamke serve. Kamke finally did get the break to go up 5-4 and served out the first set, winning it 6-4.

The second set was all Kamke as he went up 4-0 before Mmoh finally held in the 5th game. Even though he had an uphill battle ahead of him, Mmoh stayed very calm and collected, going after his serve and big groundstrokes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, and Kamke took the 2nd set 6-2, moving on to the 2nd and final round of qualies.

The next match was 22-year-old Brazilian Thiago Monteiro vs. 16-year-old local Trent Bryde who received a wildcard into the qualifying tournament after winning last year’s Wildcard Playoff. Bryde is also slated to play in Kalamazoo next week. The Georgia native definitely had the crowd on his side given that his entire family, Lifetime Fitness players and coaches, and local friends were all out in force! Unfortunately, though, that wasn’t enough as the more experienced lefty Monteiro capitalized on too many errors from Bryde, running away with the first set 6-0.

At 1-0 Monteiro in the 2nd set, the rain came, and play was halted for over an hour. Bryde’s mom, Kathi, felt the rain would be to her son’s advantage since he could take a breath and get some advice from his team of coaches during the break. Once the players restarted, it seemed that Kathi was right – Bryde held serve, staying with Monteiro through the first 5 games. At that point, though, Monteiro broke and held to go up 5-2. After the side change, Bryde decided to pick up a different racquet as he served to stay in the match. One of his buddies yelled from the stand, “That’s my doubles partner!” as the players walked back on court. During that final game, Bryde’s serve just wasn’t working for him, and he double-faulted the last two points, giving Monteiro the win 6-0 6-2.

The rain held off just long enough for the 3rd match to run its course, and it was the one that had me and many of the fans most excited: 2015 Junior French Open champion Tommy Paul vs. GA Tech rising junior Chris Eubanks. Some of you may remember that Paul had committed to play college tennis at UGA before making the decision early last summer to turn pro instead.

After losing his serve in the first game of the match, Eubanks went on a roll, cruising to a quick 5-2 lead. Paul was up to serve, but Eubanks proved too strong, hitting a scorching inside-out forehand to break and take the first set 6-2.

The 2nd set started with an early Paul break of serve to go up 2-1, consolidating the break and holding for a 3-1 lead then breaking a second time to go up 4-1. At that point, it really looked like the match was going 3 sets. However, Eubanks recouped one of the breaks then held with some huge serving to bring the set back into his reach. Eubanks broke again, tying things up at 4 a piece, then held at love to take the lead for the first time in the set. Paul came on strong, also holding at love to even the score at 5-5. A third love hold, this time by Eubanks, gave him the lead again, forcing Paul to hold in order to stay in the match. A big forehand return by Eubanks gave him the early advantage, but Paul quickly evened the score after a forehand error from Eubanks. That was short-lived, though, after a Paul double fault and backhand error gave Eubanks 2 match points. Staying focused, Paul served an ace to stave off the first match point, but Eubanks drew the error off the Paul forehand in the next point to take the match 6-2 7-5. He will face Thiago Monteiro today, with the winner moving into the Main Draw.

Here are the rest of Saturday’s results plus the order of play for today:

RESULTS – JULY 30, 2016

Qualifying Singles – First Round

Qualifying – [1] T. Monteiro (BRA) d [WC] T. Bryde (USA) 60 62

Qualifying – [2] T. Kamke (GER) d M. Mmoh (USA) 64 62

Qualifying – [3] A. Krajicek (USA) d L. Glasspool (GBR) 76(6) 46 64

Qualifying – [4] M. Zverev (GER) d M. Reid (AUS) 64 62

Qualifying – [5] J. Duckworth (AUS) d J. Londero (ARG) 62 62

Qualifying – [WC] C. Eubanks (USA) d [6] T. Paul (USA) 62 75

Qualifying – [7] J. Smith (AUS) d A. Carter (USA) 63 63

Qualifying – N. Meister (USA) d [8] A. Sarkissian (USA) 57 63 64

ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY, JULY 31, 2016

STADIUM COURT start 11:00 am

Qualifying – [1] T. Monteiro (BRA) vs [WC] C. Eubanks (USA)

Not Before 12:30 pm

Qualifying – [4] M. Zverev (GER) vs N. Meister (USA)

Not Before 7:30 pm

Exhibition Match – J. McEnroe (USA) vs S. Bruguera (ESP)

AJC GRANDSTAND COURT start 11:00 am

Qualifying – [2] T. Kamke (GER) vs [7] J. Smith (AUS)

Not Before 1:30 pm

Qualifying – [3] A. Krajicek (USA) vs [5] J. Duckworth (AUS)

Coaching Character First

Wooden quote

Earlier today, I had the opportunity to take part in a conference call hosted by the USTA. On the call were Martin Blackman, the new GM of Player Development, along with French Open Junior Champion Tommy Paul, Wimbledon Junior Champion Reilly Opelka, and ITF Junior World #1 Taylor Fritz.

Transitioning from the juniors to the pro tour is never a straight-forward process, and success at the junior level doesn’t guarantee success at the professional level as evidenced by these two articles: Girls and Boys. That said, the US looks to be poised to make some noise with our current group of young players. On the women’s side, Taylor Townsend and CiCi Bellis are among the young players knocking on the door. On the men’s side, we have Stefan Kozlov, Jared Donaldson, Frances Tiafoe, Noah Rubin, Tommy Paul, Reilly Opelka, and Taylor Fritz causing quite a stir.

But we have to be careful not to put too much pressure on these young athletes to save our sport. They are, after all, just teenagers with a lot to learn about working alongside and competing against adults. There are temptations out there that sometimes lead even the most level-headed teen astray. Just look at what’s going on with 2 of the top young Australian players right now. I can’t imagine their parents are too pleased at what they’re reading in the newspapers these days.

So I asked Martin Blackman how he and the other USTA coaches are going to protect our young players. Here is his answer: “I will say that from our perspective, one of the things that we talk a lot about as a staff is coaching character first. That may seem like just kind of a feel-good thing to say, but it really translates into the development of a professional athlete in that if you’re going to maximize your potential, you’re going to have to make a lot of very good decisions. You’re going to have to make good decisions about the people you surround yourself with, about your lifestyle, about the choices you make, about when you’re faced with temptation.”

Coaching character first sounds good to me. I hope all junior coaches adopt that same approach, not just in tennis but across the board in youth sports. It’s a great step in the process of developing our next generation of professional athletes and community leaders.

Click here to read the entire transcript from today’s call.