bjorn again

Bjorn this way. There is a little bit of American hope left at the French Open. While Scott Lipsky teamed up with Australian Casey Dellacqua to win the mixed doubles crown, 17-year-old American Bjorn Fratangelo has made a stunning run to the boys’ singles final. Fratangelo, who holds an ATP ranking of no. 1,404 (he’s no. 21 in the ITF juniors rankings) has come through the boys’ draw by beating two seeds en route. In the semifinals, he took out local hope Tristan Lamasine 6-4 4-6 6-3.

Fratangelo, a Pittsburgh native, now faces the no. 14 seed in the final, Dominic Thiem of Austria. Fratangelo is 23-5 on the year and has had runs at the Coffee Bowl (finals), USTA Spring Championships (finals) and the Easter Bowl (SF). Fratangelo and Thiem have never met.

More: Read up on Fratangelo on the Zoo Tennis blog

Ladies in red. Meanwhile, in the girl’s final, Puerto Rican Monica Puig, the no. 5 seed, outlasted no. 2 Irina Khromacheva of Russia in the semifinal 7-5 in the third. She’ll face no. 9 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia in the final.

(Image via the FFT/RG.com)

the tsf interview with laura robson

Walking up to the grounds for day one of Wimbledon in 2009, I was surprised to hear most English tennis fans weren’t really talking about Andy Murray or the Rafa-Roger rivalry, but instead about the new starlet of British tennis: Laura Robson.

The year before, Laura had won the Girl’s Singles title at Wimbledon, becoming the first home-grown champion in the singles bracket since 1984 and launching her into a kind of celebrity that garnered her an opening-day billing on Court No. 2 at the Championships in 2009. And this just wasn’t any opening-day match, but rather one that was opening the new stadium, making Robson the name to watch on the court’s first-ever match.

Since her run at Wimbledon in ’08 and her ’09 ceremonial opening, Robson has made a habit of playing a contained schedule mixed of both girlsjunior events and WTA and ITF circuit matches. The past two US Opens, the 16-year-old Brit has bowed out in the the third round of qualifying, just short of a shot at the main draw.

This week in Tokyo, however, Robson qualified for the main draw [PDF] of a WTA tournament for just the second time in her career (Birmingham, 2010). She lost in the opening round to Greta Arn, but some say the calculated approach by Team Robson to keep the young Brit on a light schedule and continue to grow her physically and mentally (she played one official tournament between Wimbledon and the Open) could pay dividends in her future.

But before we get all crystal ball on you, we were happy to get a few questions into Laura via email. She’s an active Tweeter, with a good sense of (dry, British) humor, and has professed love for Neil Patrick Harris, Chipotle, YouTube watching, Bikram yoga, fantasy football (soccer) and much, much more.

TSF: If you could meet Neil Patrick Harris in person, what would you ask him?

Laura Robson: I would ask “How did you get so cool?”.

TSF: After winning a match in the States, are you most likely headed to a Chipotle? How many times did you go there while in New York?

LR: After a match I am most likely to head anywhere that is going to be relatively quick, Chipotle is perfect for that reason. We must have gone there 5 or 6 times throughout the whole trip.

TSF: What’s your hidden talent? Like something that would make you a YouTube star?

LR: I can juggle pretty well. Really bad singers also become popular on YouTube. I could be one of those people.

TSF: Last year it was “Party in the USA.” What song are you jamming out to at this US Open?

LR: This US Open I was rocking out to Lenny Kravitz, Drake and I listen to a lot of Dubstep music (if you haven’t heard any Dubstep, YouTube ‘Four Floors (Diplo Edit) – Sunday Girl‘). Sounds amazing on massive speakers.

More with Laura Robson, BFF to FortyDeuceTwits, after the cut. [Read more...]

and so it begins: mcenroe picks his boys

Mac assembles the army: John McEnroe took another step in setting up his eponymous Nike-sponsored tennis academy by plucking five New Yorkers for scholarships. One of the boys will receive a full ride and the other four get substantial grant assistance.

The Academy revealed the names during halftime of a sold-out WTT match between the New York Sportimes (whose roster includes McEnroe and Kim Clijsters) and the Philadephia Freedoms (Andy Roddick).

Mazel: Aleksandar Kovacevic, 11, of Manhattan, is the full scholarship winner. The others: Jameson Corsillo, 7, of White Plains, N.Y., Ethan Leon, 9, of Woodhaven, N.Y., Mitchell Ostrovsky, 12, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Lamar Remy, 14, of Roslyn, N.Y.

“I just went out and tried my best and I’m glad the coaches think I have potential, and I can’t wait to learn from the best,” said Kovacevic. “It was exciting to hit on the same court with John McEnroe and Andy Roddick, and I hope to be playing on this court as a pro one day.”

The girls will get their chance to try out on Monday, July 19, with Clijsters and Martina Hingis on hand to announce the five finalists.

(Kovacevic photo by Fred Levine/FALPhotography.com courtesy of Sportimes)

in chicago, wilson anchors duty with design

In the outskirts of Chicago, tennis – and sport – behemoth Wilson calls part of an office tower home. The space, just a stone’s throw from O’Hare Airport, is non-descript from the outside: a big, just-out-of-the-city office building, expansive parking lot, Chicago wintry winds and the red ‘Wilson’ christening the side of the top the structure, seemingly simple and corporate.

Inside, however, the space is anything but simple. And to call it corporate would only be accurate in its ability to be a functional, inspiring space. Wilson occupies five floors in the building, including the top three. The 2007 move from the building next door provided the company to make thoughtful, sustainable and modern decisions on how to utilize its new space both as a workplace and an area to encourage creative interaction by those who work there and those who visit.

Said visitors are greeted in the Wilson lobby by a vast wall that hosts black and white photos of Wilson employees, coaches, trainers, athletes and superstars. The view provides a sort of story-telling for the Wilson name over the last 100 years, since the brand launched in 1914. Images of tennis players are aplenty, their equipment and dress anchored in their era and style. There’s Lindsay Davenport rocking her mid-90s Girl Next Door look. And there’s Pete Sampras winning the Open in 2002. The expansive space beyond the wall (pictured below) displays product in a minimalist, museum-inspired way, using outside light to brighten the room and create a feeling of excitement about the possibilities of sport, and, from Wilson’s point of view, their name.

Read more about the Wilson headquarters and find out what the day in a life of a Wilsontouring team memberentails after the cut.

[Read more...]

for laura, it’s a second second

Last year’s Girl’s runner-up, Laura Robson, had her hand in the final again in 2010, falling to Karolina Pliskova 6-1, 7-6 (5) in the championship match.

Robson had a strong run in the 2010 Australian, going 9-3 in the three events she entered. She won five matches in the Girl’s draw after winning her opening Women’s Qualifier a couple weeks ago. Most surprisingly – and perhaps most impressive – was her run to the Women’s Doubles quarterfinals with unknown Aussie Sally Peers.

Robson tried to pull a Serena in the final against Pliskova, falling behind 1-6, 1-3 before rallying to take the second set to a tiebreak. It wasn’t meant to be for the Melbourne-born British 16-year-old, however, falling in straight sets.

Her remarks when receiving her second-place trophy: “I’m tried. I’m just tired.” Get some sleep, Robby. We expect big things from you this year in the senior ranks…

(photo via ao.com) (corrected version)

short balls: drugs, retirees and juniors collide!

Drug-Ball-Newsclip 
A different ‘Drug Ball’: We’re not talking tennis players ‘roiding up here, folks. More like the incarcerated using the most polite ball in sport do to the dirty work: import drugs. Tennis balls were found at a New Orleans jail that outsiders were throwing (hitting?!) over the fence to smuggle in drugs, hidden inside of the balls. Game, set, and catch, we guess.

Party like it’s 2003: Second seed and wild card Kim Clijsters defeated Meghann Shaughnessy at the Luxembourg Open today. As TSF contributor Troy Venechanos put it: “Clijsters defeated Shaughnessy? What year is this?!” It most certainly could have been 2003, the last year those two women met

More blasts from the past: Other tennis names from the past were most certainly filling the world’s sports web pages on Tuesday. Martina Hingis made it clear she was pulling no HingDavenKimHenin in the near future by ruling out the possibility of making a comeback to professional tennis. She cited her horses and home life as reasons to stay put. Meanwhile, Mats Wilander will no longer coach the Swedish Davis Cup team. Maybe it was due to such poor attendance at their spring tie? Just maybe.

Not to be left out, we dug up this video of John McEnroe being defaulted from a champion’s match last year in Newport. Talk about bringing the past to the present. And yes, we’re serious. Watch it. 

Small players, big deals: Junior female tennis players Kyra Shroff and Sloane Stephens made big news over the last week, respectively. Shroff, the 80th ranked junior in the world and a former student at Mahesh Bhupathi‘s tennis academy (is this girl an up-and-comer or what?! We’re not sure why she’s making headlines…) will be a brand ambassador for Nike Sportswear. Stephens, who has somewhat of a better noted history on and off the court, has been signed by BEST, a sports marketing company.BEST beat out Octagon and IMG, regulars in the tennis-rep realm.

The signing associates Stephens with another fresh American face, Melanie Oudin, and guarantees that Sloane, currently ranked 5th in the junior game, will play several SEWTA pro-level tournaments next year.

Rafa on the rise: Thought Rafa was popular? Not compared to gymnast Shawn Johnson. Forbes.com looks at athletes and their marketability (aka brand opportunity), and though Johnson didn’t earn gold at last year’s Olympics, she did come out on top of her fellow athletes in brand appeal. Rafa’s up there, but still has a ways to climb…

(screen grab via youtube.com)


dispatches from the open: girls' draw

The girls are heading into the quarters of the U.S. Open juniors tourney, and right now I would say Urszula Radwanska (that’s Agnieszka‘s little sis) is the favorite to win the tournament. She dispatched of her last opponent 6-0 6-3, you almost never see a 6-0 opening set, so she’s definately looking fantastic.

American CoCo Vandeweghe has also been playing fantastic tennis, however she will most likely have to beat both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds to win the tournament.

Oh, BTW Slovakian Kristina Kucova has been playing some insane tennis.

TSF contributor JNP is in New York reporting from the U.S. Open trenches. He’s been checking in with us everyday. Read his previous posts here.

JNP's eighth day: juniors and the bondarenkos

Photo: The Bondarenko sisters on the practice court. That’s Alyona giving me a look. (She smiled at me later so we were cool for sure.) Kateryna‘s digging for water.

Pretty slow day today, but I happened to get a good look at some young talent (the U.S. Open Juniors tournament started yesterday):

Polona Hercog — this Slovenian is a big and powerful all-court player; hits the ball deep.

CoCo Vandeweghe — a highly-regarded young junior out of Southern California.

Jessica Moore — the Australian has a small build but a big game. (She took out third seed Madison Brengle in the first round of the juniors tourney; she lost to Lucie Safarova in the first round of the main draw.)

Ksenia Pervak — the fifth seed is great, but needs to learn how to finish matches (she gave up three games in the second set to a much less developed girl).

TSF contributor JNP is in New York reporting from the U.S. Open trenches. He’s been checking in with us everyday. Read his previous posts here. And our U.S. Open coverage here.