It was a busy Wednesday for the Farmers Classic. I am so glad many of my tennis friends came out and some brought groups of people. Saw some excellent tennis on all courts and ran into a few very interesting people. One tennis legend came in late: Pancho Segura. His friend and owner of the Bobby Riggs Tennis Club in Encinitas (north San Diego), Lorne Kuhle, helped him and pushed him in a wheelchair. Pancho was in a good mood, very friendly, but at 90 years of age his mobility is not the best.
Match Harrison – Russell
Harrison wins 6-3, 6-4
The Farmers Classic Grandstand was almost full and I suspect most people wanted to see up and coming 19 year old Floridian Ryan Harrison, ranked #94 in the world. Even from the top deck of Stadium Court were people watching this high quality match. Michael Russell, ranked #110, is this relentless grinder, who came in second at Steve Bellamy’s Shotgun 21 tournament at Pacific Palisades last Sunday. Ryan Harrison had the more powerful shots and a beautiful two-handed backhand.
Very convincing and way to go, Ryan Harrison! We’re sure that power will help you against players higher up in the rankings, too.
Ryan Harrison press conference – “I’ve got a lot of energy”
Harrisonquite confidently told us he was serving really well (agreed!) and got broken by Russell only once, ergo he was pretty much in control of the match. He comes across very sincere and professional when analyzing the match and his situation. Asked about his well known temper he replies, “Temper? I’ve got a lot of energy, that’s what I call it. When I’m intense and play well, I’m alright, as long as I’m not embarrassing myself.”
Is Harrison the next big American tennis player? He admits it is good to be talked about, but, “I haven’t accomplished anything yet. However, being compared to legends of tennis motivates me to go and have better results.” Harrison likes Denis Kudla’s game. “He’s really putting in the work and I hope it’ll pay off for him.”
Harrison, who states that Pete Sampras inspired him most, agrees that the past 2 week period is the best in his career so far. He loves to see back-to-back success (Atlanta, where he lost in the Semifinals to Mardy Fish, and Los Angeles). We love your chances in LA this year, Ryan!
Meeting Jeff Richards, Calabasas’ own The Weakest Dink creator
Jeff is a long time box seat holder of the Farmers Classic tournament. Today he is not only here to watch the matches, because Melanie Bischoff, Southern California Tennis Association’s Community Development Coordinator, has “hijacked” him for a Public Service Announcement on Stadium Court tonight. The PSA is for the National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) cooperation with Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative. Each child in the NJTL program that has done 5 straight days of at least 60 minutes of activities, including 2 days of tennis, will receive a special certificate tonight.
Jeff mentioned the upcoming (August 5) Monte Carlo Night at his club, the Calabasas Swim and Tennis Club. And tomorrow, Thursday, he’ll be showcasing The Weakest Dink, his tennis clinic turned game show creation, on the practice court at around 6:40 pm. Thursday’s The Weakest Dink, Southern California’s tennis answer to American Idol, will be the final round of a series of Weakest Dink Challengers Jeff conducted in tennis clubs all over the Greater Los Angeles area. The winner will receive a pair of tickets to the Farmers Classic Sunday finals.
Yen-Hsun Lu press conference –“My wife is such a good support for me.”
Lu took out no. 3 seed Marcos Baghdatis in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 today. No surprise here, because this year Lu had wins over Hewitt, Verdasco, and Robredo, and he took out Robby Ginepri here in the first round. Lu stated he knew that Baghdatis didn’t play another match after Wimbledon and hadn’t really beaten anybody of rank this year. In front of a large Chinese contingent of reporters, Lu said he feels physically very fit. “I used to make lots of unforced errors, but today I am able to concentrate better, and have a better understanding why I need to use certain shots during the game.”
Lu adds, “To improve and become a better player, I had to change. I am telling myself every day why I’m doing certain things. And my wife is such a good support for me over the phone. She’ll be here in the US at the US Open, though. Also, mentally I feel really good right now.”
Meeting Pierre Mareschal, Tennis professional and California USPTA President
Pierreis a man of action and few words. When he saw a chance to provide his USPTA members with a trainings opportunity and support the Farmers Classic tournament, he didn’t hesitate. This coming weekend the USPTA California Division will hold a Summer Workshop with on-court instructions for their member pros. Workshop presenters Ken DeHart, Chris Ojakian, Wayne Bryan and Hank Pfister will be lecturing and the USPTA members are invited to watch Semifinals and Finals at the tournament.
Mareschal was at the tournament Wednesday for a Junior Team Tennis meeting where Southern California Junior Team Tennis Coordinators were discussing plans for the next year. He also tells us that his club, the Valley Hunt Country Club, came to the tournament the day before with 50 people. Mareschal is Director of Tennis at this club and adds, “Our members had a great time here yesterday. They watched the Gulbis / Malisse and Harrison / Berankis matches, which were pretty exciting.” Mareschal is a true friend of the game and a very classy French man!
Neighborhood Junior Tennis Program visiting from Sylmar
Steve Tscherne, tennis professional who recently retired after 29 years working for UPS, came with wife Barbara and 35 of his students in the Neighborhood Junior Tennis Program (NJTP). The NJTP is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization established in 1993 and located in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. In 2004 they were given the “Member Organization of the Year Award” from the Southern California Tennis Association. NJTP President Steve Tscherne received the West Los Angeles “Volunteer of the Year Award” from United Parcel Service in 2006 and “THE PRESIDENTIAL SERVICE AWARD” for volunteerism from President George W. Bush in 2007.
Tscherne explains what NJTP stands for, “Our goal is to give children an alternative to gangs and drugs through tennis. We stress education as well as tennis. Our motto is from the “courts to college”. We currently teach six days a week, twelve months a year. Our students’ ages range from 3 to 18. We have introduced tennis to thousands of children. Currently over a hundred kids are enrolled in our youth program. Many of our students receive lessons free of charge and those who do pay are charged a nominal fee. Our instructors are USPTA certified.
The NJTP group was happy to come out to the Farmers Classic like every year. 2011 was quite special because the kids were able to participate in the Tunnel Experience, the so-called High Five Kids Tunnel. They created a human tunnel at the player’s entrance. This was a great opportunity for them to feel the excitement at court level, giving the players “high-fives” as they enter the stadium.
Nice program. Steve is the classy and tireless tennis professional in the Valley!
Tireless volunteer Dee Henry
We caught up with Dee Henry strolling in accompanied by a bunch of people wearing LA84 Foundation SCTA/NJTL t-shirts. As a matter of fact, Henry proudly pointed out that one boy in her party, her student Ethan Faehr, is pictured on all of those official t-shirts.
Dee Henry is the Tennis Director at Biola University. Here to serve is her credo and she has been working on bringing tennis to people and communities of Southern California since 1970. Originally from Carmel, Indiana, young Dee started out hitting tennis balls against the side of a barn for 5 years. During her college years she began playing more seriously at Marion College (now Indiana Wesleyan). Between 1968 and 1970 she taught all women’s sports at the college, Field Hockey, Basketball, Volleyball and Tennis. Then she moved to California, where she became a certified USPTA Tennis Professional (United States Professional Tennis Association) in 1995, and obtained Wheelchair certification in 2008.
Henry mentioned an event coming up at Biola University August 11, the NJTL Championship Day. It actually starts a day earlier with a Carnival and ends on the 11thwith the End of the Year Championship finish. Very classy lady, our tireless ambassador of tennis, Dee Henry!
Anthony Lara “Disable doesn’t mean Unable”
While we were talking with Dee Henry and her group, one of her former students came rolling in: US Paralympics representative and motivational speaker Anthony Lara. A true wheelchair tennis legend, Lara was born with Spinal Bifida, and started playing wheelchair sports at age 9. Having played on national and international teams both as junior and adult in the sport of tennis, table tennis, and wheelchair basketball, Lara has played on the US Paralympics Team, at US Open, and many other tournaments. The sport of tennis has brought him to Spain, Australia, and China. This week he’ll be on his way to San Jose for a wheelchair tournament. Good luck, Anthony!
West Coast Beach Tennis pioneer Donny Young and wife Ginger
As a professional tennis teacher, Donny Young spends the majority of his time outdoors. Besides teaching people how to hit a regular yellow tennis ball and win matches, he is an expert in hitting low compression orange tennis balls on volleyball style courts on the beach. Donny is also the founder and manager of West Coach Beach Tennis, one of the newest Southern California Beach Tennis organizations. Loving this sport with a passion has enabled him to not only claim the number one US Beach Tennis player spot, but also to successfully petition local and regional authorities for the right to play Beach Tennis in and around Hermosa Beach. Donny’s work and his organization were subjects of two articles on the LA Tennis Examiner. The first one reported about his Hermosa Beach activities, the second one related to a Beach Tennis event organized by Young in conjunction with Farmers Classic and the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica.
Young and his partner Marty Solakas have recently won a prestigious tournament, the US Open in Beach Tennis in Chicago. He had to make some changes to his game, since ITF rules state that sanctioned tournaments have to be played with Beach Tennis paddles and Young was up to then more comfortable with his regular tennis racquet. “I spent many hours with a ball machine practicing with a paddle, and was then able to tighten up my game a lot; enough to win 12 straight sets with Marty, and the Championship.” Congratulations, Donnie!
Young mentioned that the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica is now all set with permanent Beach Tennis nets and paddles. He also reported that a large Pakistan based manufacturer of Beach Tennis paddles is ready to move into the US marketplace and shows a lot of interest particularly in the West Coast market.
Jeff Lewis grows Coto Valley Country Club tennis
Jeff Lewis is Tennis Director at the Coto Valley Country Club in Coto de Caza (Orange County) and runs very active Junior and Adult Tennis Programs there. He used to run the Vic Braden Tennis College in Florida and before that he actually taught tennis in Germany for 2 years. His mentors were Vic Braden and Steve Smith and his mantra is “back to the basics!” Jeff is proud of his accomplishments at the club and of the high teaching standards incorporating videos and the Vic Braden methodology. Coto Valley Country Club is a unique swimming, fitness, tennis sports club, and equestrian center.
“UCLA’s own Nick Meister plays at our club,” says Lewis and adds, “at Coto Valley we made a big commitment to setting up junior and adult programs. We’re using Quickstart in combination with traditional teaching methods very successfully.” Motor Learning is the buzzword, a typical Vic Braden born description of what used to be called muscle memory. Vic Braden actually uses the club as his home base in Southern California.
Lewis points out that the adult program is growing with a Saturday morning player development clinic, and a Men’s Night on Thursdays.
Coto Valley Country Club will be the location of a new event coming to many clubs in Southern California in 2012: BoomerTennis Weekend. The online BoomerTennis Club, founded by Bob Milligan and funded / supported by Stan Smith, Tony Trabert, Charlie Pasarell, Butch Buchholz, Cliff Drysdale, and Donald Dell, is a new and exciting organization for older adult and senior tennis players. BoomerTennis Weekends are designed for members to get to know each other, play tennis, and socialize with parties, dinners, and wine tastings.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS –Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Singles – Second Round
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) d [Q] Daniel Kosakowski (USA) 62 64
[SE] Ryan Harrison (USA) d Michael Russell (USA) 63 64
Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) d  Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) 63 64
 Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) d James Blake (USA) 64 76 (3)
Doubles – First Round
Somdev Devvarman (IND) / Treat Conrad Huey (PHI) d  Marcelo Mello (BRA) / Bruno Soares (BRA) 63 64
 Jonathan Erlich (ISR) / Andy Ram (ISR) d Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) / Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) 76 (4) 62
 Mark Knowles (BAH) / Xavier Malisse (BEL) d Colin Fleming (GBR) / Ross Hutchins (GBR) 61 64
Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) / Michael Russell (USA) d [ALT] Bruno Semenzato (BRA) / Marcio Torres (BRA) 60 76 (5)
Gilles Muller (LUX)/ Jamie Murray (GBR) d Alex Bogomolov Jr. (USA) / Ernests Gulbis (LAT) 36 63 13-11
Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) / Frank Moser (GER) d Scott Lipsky (USA) / Rajeev Ram (USA) 75 26 10-3
ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, JULY 28, 2011
STRAUS STADIUM start 12:00 noon
 Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) vs Alex Bogomolov Jr. (USA)
Ryan Sweeting (USA) vs  Igor Kunitsyn (RUS)
Alejandro Falla (COL) vs  Thomaz Bellucci (BRA)
Not Before 7:30 PM
 Mardy Fish (USA) vs Gilles Muller (LUX)
Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) / Alejandro Falla (COL) vs  Mark Knowles (BAH) / Xavier Malisse (BEL)
GRANDSTAND start 3:00 pm
Michael Berrer (GER) / Tommy Haas (GER) vs Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) / Frank Moser (GER)
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