Category Archives: Nationally Ranked Players

Who’s Up and Coming in U.S. Tennis

USTA Announces Travel Teams for Aegon Teen Tennis and Les Petits As 14-and-under Trip This Month

Colette Lewis (Zoo Tennis)
The USTA announced today the names of the four girls and four boys selected to travel to Europe for the Aegon Teen Tennis tournament in Bolton, England and Les Petits As tournament in Tarbes, France.

Noah Makarome Vs. Sam Riffice – both selected to the team

The Rubins

RubinTrophyI have written a bunch of articles that have mentioned Noah Rubin.  Noah, who at age 16, is currently #7 in the world on the ITF (International Tennis Federation) junior rankings and 1052 on the ATP World Tour.  He has only played a handful of ATP events with his biggest win coming over Jason Jung (USA) 4-6, 6-3, 2-0 RET.  Jung is ranked 591st in the world.  His biggest win in a non retirement match was a 7-6(6), 6-3 win over 716th ranked Matthew Short of Great Britain.

Jessie Rubin plays for the University of Binghamton.  Jessie was praised recently on the Binghamton Women’s Tennis web page for her selflessness.  “It has truly been an inspirational story of how one can stay so positive and optimistic through a struggling chapter in one’s athletic career….With the Patella Femoral Pain Syndrome, Jessie was forced out of training from 2010-11, in total an entire 18 months….Through her injury, she has been completely selfless and comes out and cheers on her teammates during practice, workouts and matches.” –  Read the whole story – HERE

The next part of this tennis family is Eric Rubin, the dad.  Eric was the #1 player at Martin Van Buren High School in Queens as well as being Captain.  He was also a ball boy at the U.S. Open.  He is also Noah’s coach, along with Lawrence Kleger of the John McEnroe Tennis Academy at Sportime Randall’s Island.

Noah’s mom – Melanie Rubin also is heavily involved in tennis.  She received the Ron Smyth Parent Sportsmanship Award from the USTA Eastern Section.  “She helps promote street fairs, the corporate challenge and the Long Island Regional Awards Dinner, and is always eager to participate in every aspect of promoting the game of tennis.” (Long Island Tennis Magazine).

jesse_rubinThe Rubin’s also have ties to the Capital District area.  They met here, while attending college at the University at Albany.  From Dutch Quad, to the #1 player in the country on Tennis Recruiting.  I will watch for more tennis greatness from the Rubins in the years to come.

Related articles

USTA National Ranking System – How did ever come to this?

An interesting article in “Parenting Aces” blog on how we ended up with the current rating system and National tournament system. Here are some excerpts:

Thirty years ago Nationally titled play was  limited to the 4 National Championships.  The Easter Bowl was a fifth event that had the prestige of a National Championship without the restrictions imposed on national events by USTA.

The reason that there were only 4 Nationally titled events (Indoors, Clay Courts, Hard Courts, and The Nationals) was that there were no limits on results that could be counted for National ranking.  Any USTA sanctioned tournament match, regardless of location, could be submitted as part of a player’s record.  There was a National circuit which included major open events like the Florida Open, Midwest Open, Texas Open, etc., but since all matches counted for National ranking, there was no need to designate them as “national”.

One major problem arose:  as the USTA moved to computer-generated rankings, it became obvious that capturing all tournament results for inclusion in rankings was a Herculean task for the Junior Competition staff, so what could be done?

Junior Competition decided that there needed to be hierarchy of tournaments, and only results from events near the top of the food chain should be included in “National” rankings.

Read the whole story – HERE

USTA National Indoor Open

The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center just hosted a National Indoor Open Tournament that attracts many top college players as well as top juniors and teaching pro’s.  This is a gold ball event and it was fun seeing so many familiar names in the finals.  Some of these players I know from tournaments, some from coaching them at zonals.  It was fun to see that Cameron Silverman, who I had on my team for 14’s zonals, win the Men’s Open with 256 players entered.  Cameron currently plays for Elon.  Amada Muliawan, Women’s Open Finalist,  has been up for many tournaments and I coached her brother James at 16 zonals in St. Louis.  Amanda goes to Princeton.  Julia Elbaba has also been up for many tournaments at our club and in our area.  She teamed with Nicole Stracar to win the Women’s Doubles.  Through the years I have visited Sportime on Long Island and Eastern Excel Tennis Camps.  Nicole was often there since  her dad Lawrence Kleger was co-owner of Eastern Excel and Executive Director of Tennis for the Sportime Clubs.  Lawrence is also Noah Rubin’s personal coach.  At 16 years old, Noah is currently the #6 Junior Player in the World (ITF).  Read all about this great tournament at Zoo Tennis (CLICK HERE).

In the past few days we have been highlighting “The Changeover” tennis blogs year end article on the best written tennis stories of 2012 and 10 blogs the author always reads.  Zoo Tennis was featured in the article, and rightly so.  Zoo Tennis is the best source for information about the National Junior tennis tournament scene and about college tennis.



Winter Nationals

Max Benson played the USTA Winter Junior Nationals in Tucson, Arizona which went from December 27th to January 1st.  He started with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Hunter Hootman (Albuquerque, NM).  Max was knocked out of the main draw in the second round when he lost to the 13th seed –  Thomas Jahn (Montgomery, AL) 6-1, 6-2.  The tournament was run as a compass draw which means that losers in a given round go into their own separate draw.  In the first compass round Max lost to co-17th seeded Kevin Zhu (Pearland, TX) 6-2, 6-3.  That put another draw where he beat Boris Lunin (Chesapeak, VA) 6-0, 6-0 and lost to Joshua Leopold (Santa Clara, CA) 6-1, 6-2.

In doubles, Max teamed with regular doubles partner Michael Sun (Livingston, NJ) for a 6-3, 6-1 win over Akhil Katragadda (Sylvania, OH)/Rian Ta(Fremont, CA) before losing to Tristan  Boyer (Altadena, CA) /Brandon Nakashima (San Diego) 6-4, 2-6, 10-7.  Max and Michael were the co-9th seeds.

Ronan Jachuck ran into a seeded player right off the bat.  He lost in the first round to co-#17 seed William Woodall (Washington, DC) 7-5, 2-6, 6-0.  In the first compass round he beat Niroop Vallabhaneni (Scottsdale, AR) 6-3, 6-0 and Clark Safran (Stanford, CA) 6-2, 6-3 before losing to Blaise Bicknell (Miami, FL) 6-1, 6-0.

In doubles, Ronan played with Ronald Hohnmann (Oyster Bay, NY) .  They were also co-9th seeds.  They won their first round match against Hunter Hootman/Miko Pasimio (Ls Vegas, NV) 6-3, 6-4.  next was a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Maximo Lawlor (Litchfield Park, AZ)/Clark Safran.  In the round of 16 they had a close 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 victory over Stefan Dostanic (Irvine, CA)/Gocind Nanda (Redlands, CA).  They lost in the quarter finals to the 3rd seeded team of Matthew Fenty (Washington, DC)/R.J.Fresen (Short Hills, NJ) 7-5, 6-3.

Ronan is currently ranked #319 in the country, Max is ranked #379.  Both play in the 12 and unders.

Ronan plays the Orange Bowl

Junior Orange BowlRonan Jachuck recently competed in Orange Bowl.  No he didn’t play for Florida State or Northeastern, he played the 51st Annual Junior Orange Bowl International Tennis Tournament.  Recent Champions of this event include: Bernard Tomic, Ryne Williams, Ricardas Berankis, Juan Martin del Potro and even Justin Henin.  If you go farther back, there’s Andre Agassi and Chrissie Evert.

Ronan won his first round match against Kris Hernandez Mariona 6-2, 4-6, 6-0.  Kris is from Guatemala.  He lost in the second round to Andre Schoeman of Saint Petersburg, Florida 6-0, 6-2.  Andre is ranked 69th in the country for 7th graders on Tennis Recruiting and is a 5 star recruit.  Ronan is the 29th ranked 6th grader on Tennis Recruiting.

Northern Region – National Ranking

It’s been a while since I did a posting on local junior tournament players.  This time I will go over nationally ranked juniors from the Northern Region.

As always, I start off with the Boys 12’s where we have 63rd ranked Ronan Jachuck from Slingerlands, Max Benson (Albany, ranked 87th) and Conners O’Brien from Rensselaer who is ranked 784th.  The Boys 12 and Under age group is where the Northern Region has it’s strongest showing with 2 players in the top 100 nationally.  In the Girls 12’s we have Elise Wagle who is 741st but Elise just turned 9 in September, so expect to see her ranking improve as she plays more 12 and under tournaments.

In the Boys 14’s Michael Haelen (New Baltimore) is 645th, while Jason Tang (Niskayuna – 1540) and Michael Zhu (Guilderland – 1543) are also ranked.  The Girls 14’s is all Niskayuna.  Nisha Detchprohm is ranked 1241st and Lesley Santos is ranked 1491st.

We only have Girls in the 16’s.  As a matter of fact, it’s all Girls Sectional Finalists with Scotia’s Claire Schmitz ranked 482nd and Albany’s Shannon Mukerji ranked 1168th.  Shannon (Shaker) won the Section 2 High School Tennis Championship by beating Claire (Emma Willard).  Claire is also ranked 1707 nationally in the Girls 18’s while last years Section 2 Champion – Cat Crummey of Shaker (currently at U Albany) is ranked 1643rd.  Mitali Das of Loudonville, another Emma Willard girl is ranked 1889th.

The Boys 12 and unders may be the age group where we have the most top 100 players, but the Boys 18 and unders is where we have the most ranked players.  Of course the best place to start is with the Van Cott’s from Unadilla. Alex is 59th in the country, while Ian is 218th.   Jake Crawford of Clinton was 1661st.    The Junior New York Buzz junior team tennis team was well represented.  In addition to Claire Schmitz and Mitali Das – mentioned above – Emerson Kelby (Oneonta -1708th); Rohine Bose (Slingerlands – 1799th);  Josh Jachuck (Slingerlands – 2068th) and Rob Schmitz (Scotia- 2164th) are also ranked.  Jake is playing for University Of Chicago, Josh is playing for Rochester and Rob is playing for Saint Lawrence University – all Division 3 colleges.  More on these players in the article below.  Niskayuna also had 2 players with national rankings.  Erwin Lin is 2020th while Brendan Service is 2019th.

I hope for continued success on the court for all of our players whether it’s USTA tournaments or College tennis.

What’s Going on with the Junior Schedule

Read the open letter regarding the USTA National Tournament proposals.  Thanx to Lisa Stone at Parenting Aces.

Editors Note: While I respect these people in this group they do seem to all represent the same point of view.  I hope the USTA get input from others in the tennis community that might have slightly different views from either side.




















USTA Junior Competition Changes may not be a Done Deal

According to Zoo Tennis:

“The USTA released a statement today suggesting the junior competition changes passed back in March may be revised or at least revisited.”  This was from a blog posting on Thursday, September 20th.  Today the USTA clarified their position further. “There has been no representation, implicit or explicit, that changes will be made. However, it is certainly possible modifications may be appropriate and/or that parts of the schedule of implementation may need to be adjusted.”

In a further discussion of the matter, Colette Lewis of Zoo Tennis states:

“No one has asked me, but I would much rather the USTA go to the standard worldwide tennis format of qualifying tournaments immediately preceding any and all major national events.  If the majority of selections are made by sectional endorsements/rankings and a national ranking list, I would be delighted to see a 128-draw with 16 qualifiers, just like the US Open, here in Kalamazoo for the boys 16 and 18 Nationals.”

Everyone who follows Junior Tennis at the national level follows Colette’s blog.  We had this discussion at the U.S. Open when we met.  The more I look into it, the more I am convinced that a qualifying tournament with a 128 main draw is the way to go.  It’s not that she set out to try to convince me on the idea.  I actually brought it up before she did.  The more I’ve looked into this, the more I’ve come to believe that National Championships need qualifiers.

Albany is not a huge tennis market.  It’s not a big metropolitan area.  We have a few area kids that make it to Nationals but they were not ranked in the top 100 going into Nationals so it came as a surprise to me when I saw these players coming out on the winning side of quite a few non competitive matches.  I consider a match where a player gets 3 games or less to be non competitive (like 6-3, 6-0 or 6-1, 6-2 or 6-1, 6-0).  This got me wondering.  How many non competitive matches are there at national tournaments? How does that compare to other junior tournaments or even pro tournaments.  Here is what I found.

First, the parameters.  I only counted completed matches.  I didn’t want injuries to skew the results.  I tried to compare a variety of tournaments.  Also, I only looked at singles.

So first to Boys 12’s at Little Rock.  The tournament that got me started on this.  Forty three percent of the first round matches – 27 out of 63 – were non competitive.  I thought that was a really high percentage for a national tournament.  Next I looked at the Boys 16’s at Kalamazoo where it was thirty seven percent – 17 out of 46.  Remember, the seeds all get first round bye’s at Kalamazoo so that’s players getting blown out by unseeded players.  I also looked at the Girls 18’s where it was twenty eight percent.  Again, seeds don’t play the first round.

So how does this compare.  To be fair, I looked at a Canadian national junior tournament and there were 13 non competitive matches and 10 competitive ones which is clearly worse than our national events.  I also looked at the Wimbledon Men’s Draw.  There was only 1 non competitive match.  Bonus points to anyone who knew it was Roger Federer – the eventual winner’s first round match.  Again, in Kalamazoo, the seeds don’t even play the first round.  So how about the America slam?  At the U. S. Open the Girls had 9 non competitive matches in the first round out of 32 completed matches, the Boys had 1 out of 31 matches completed.

Based on my sampling, I concluded that too many players were qualifying for these tournaments that maybe should not have been there.  So would a qualifying draw solve the problem? I looked at our Eastern Sectional Championship events in June.  These events have a qualifying round.  On the average, they were much more competitive.  The Boys 18’s had 18% non competitive, the Girls 16’s had 16%, Girls 14’s had 19% and the Boys 12’s had 19%.  Although it is not true in every case, it seems that main draw with a qualifying events produce  more championship caliber match ups.  You would expect the highest level of tournament – Wimbledon, which has a qualifier – to be the most competitive tournament, but you wouldn’t expect the Sectional tournaments to be more competitive than national tournaments.  In the Eastern Section, any player can play the Sectional Closed but the top players go into the main draw, the rest go into the qualifier.  The national tournaments have a selection process that limits who can enter based on tournament results so they should be more competitive, but they aren’t.

I am also puzzled by the USTA Regional tournaments.  Almost every sport has some sort of local play which qualifies players or teams for regional play.  The winners at the regional level go on to compete for the national championships.  Look at Little League and Babe Ruth baseball.  We now have regional tournaments, but they will not qualify players for national tournaments and it is the only thing in junior tennis in this country that works that way.  The Little Mo has Sectional Championships that qualify players for Regional Championships with the top players at Regionals moving on to Nationals.  The USTA’s Junior Team Tennis and Adult League Tennis also work that way.  I believe, if we make our players win at the Sectional level to qualify for the Regional tournaments and then take the top players from the Regionals and put them in the main draw, while the next tier of players fights their way through qualifiers to get to the main draw, we will have much better national tournaments and the kids in our Nationals will be the kids who truly belong in our Nationals.

I highly recommend that anyone interested in the new National Rules read Colette’s Blog (link’s below) and the Parenting Aces blog articles on it.



The Taylor Townsend Decision

The USTA decided to discourage and not support Taylot Townsend’s entry into the U.S. Open Juniors.  Not only is Townsend the top American Junior Tennis Player, she is #1 in the world.  The reason the U.S. doesn’t want her to play? The USTA says they benched Townsend because of her fitness.  ESPN W online sums it up pretty well.

It was the day of the women’s semifinals at the U.S. Open, yet much of the buzz and attention was on a junior player who had just lost in the quarterfinals of the girls’ event.

Her name is Taylor Townsend, and she is an American who currently is the world’s top-ranked junior. But that wasn’t the reason reporters were practically spilling out of the interview booth where her post-match news conference was being held.

It was because news had broken that Townsend had been told by USTA coaches earlier in the summer to stop competing until she got into better shape.

That also meant the organization had declined to pay Townsend’s expenses for competing at the U.S. Open, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

There was some back-and-forth between the two sides as the controversy grew. Townsend and her mother, Shelia, a former college player, said the Chicago-born teen had missed the U.S. girls’ nationals, where she would have had the opportunity to earn her way into the U.S. Open. A request for a wild card into the main draw or qualifying at Flushing Meadows also was turned down.

The article is very well written – read the whole article – HERE

Among the comments was one by Maurice Pogue – a professor at Michigan State University. If fat Serena can whoop up on the WTA in 2007, utterly demolishing Sharapova in ways that make the 2012 Olympic Final unremarkable (make no mistake about it, she was clearly out of shape and played her way into shape), and Venus can be competitive with Sjögren’s syndrome, both over the age of 30, then there is absolutely no excuse to snub the #1 juniors player IN HER OWN COUNTRY. I would think that after a watching the WS win 20+ majors through three decades (yes, it has been that long) we would be well past racial/body politics of female players. This story is repulsive in so many ways. Shame and disgrace upon the USTA. It’s not like they’ve produced the future of men’s or women’s tennis in the US anyway.  And while most of us are not old enough to remember Martina Navratilova, you might recall when Lindsay Davenport and her stout figure that could produce enough power to run the WS (Williams Sisters) off the court.

Speaking of Martina Navratilova and Lindsay Davenport, they also weighed in on the matter:

“You cannot punish someone for their body type,” Davenport said.

“I’m livid about it. Livid,” Navratilova said. She added: “It speaks of horrible ignorance.”

That from a Wall Street Journal Interview (CLICK HERE)

“For a female, particularly, in the United States, in particular, and African-American, to have to deal with that is unnecessary. … Women athletes come in all different sizes and shapes and colors and everything. I think you can see that more than anywhere on the tennis tour.” – Serena Williams (AP) – CLICK HERE

From “The Grio”

Townsend said she was devastated when her USTA coaches told her she couldn’t compete in the U.S. Open.

“It was definitely shocking,” the teen said. “I was actually very upset. I cried. I was actually devastated. I mean, I worked really hard, you know, it’s not by a miracle that I got to number one. I’m not saying that to be conceited or anything, but it’s not just a miracle or it didn’t just fall upon me just because my name’s Taylor.”

After her Australian Open win, the Chicago teen who now lives at the USTA center in Florida, ditched fast food and incorporated running and weight-lifting into her training routine. But the wasn’t enough for Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of the USTA’s player development program. McEnroe explained why the USTA refused to finance Townsend’s slot in the Open.

“Our concern is her long-term health, number one, and her long-term development as a player,” he explained the Wall Street Journal. “We have one goal in mind: For her to be playing in [Arthur Ashe Stadium] in the main draw and competing for major titles when it’s time. That’s how we make every decision, based on that.”×9

This is a comment on the Fox Sports article (


I rarely write on any forum but it’s troubling to see so much misinformation. The fact that some people are calling for McEnroe to resign is ridiculous. What nobody is saying, and what the USTA is not allowed to say, is that Taylor Townsend is anemic. Prior to the US Open she could not run more than one lap around a tennis court and doctors advised her not to play. The USTA is not allowed to say this due to HIPAA and so they used the word “conditioning.” Everyone is running around making this a weight issue, a gender issue, a racial issue – when the USTA was actually trying to think of her long term health. They have been funding her for YEARS and the fact they get blasted by clueless journalists like Greg Couch is unfair.

From “”


Australian Open junior champion Taylor Townsend of the United States didn’t have medical clearance to play, which is why the USTA declined at first to send her to the U.S. Open, has learned. Townsend was recently diagnosed with low iron, and the USTA did not feel it was safe for her to play until her doctors gave her the go-ahead.

RuthB 5 pts

When I read the first sentence of Cronin’s article about Taylor’s not having “medical clearance” to play, I was sadly preparing to read about some heart condition or some serious joint issue that had been discovered. Low iron? Really, PMac and USTA. As JMac would say, “You cannot be serious!” Have they heard of Sampras’s much more serious anemia problem which he kept a secret as he played and won. Or of Venus’s playing with Sjogren’s? I’m glad to hear that it’s the easily mamnageable low iron/anemia problem that would not normally result in an athlete’s being prohibited from playing his/her sport.. As for the separate matter ofTaylor’s fitness/weight/ whatever, let’s hope that she, her family, and the USTA can work together on this issue without, as someone mentioned, creating another one of those candidates for eating disorders about whom we read in so many post-career bios of athletes from many sports, including tennis.

Eastern to Honor Juniors at Open

Reprinted from the USTA Eastern web page.
USTA Eastern will honor 27 junior players on August 27 for their outstanding performance in section tournaments and provide them with free grounds passes to see the best players in the world compete on Opening Day of the US Open.
The juniors, in the 12 to 18 age divisions, will be honored at the section’s Junior Awards Gala, an annual event recognizing those players who finished the best in section tournaments in the first half of the year.Among those being honored is Jamie Loeb, who received a wild card into the main draw of the 2012 Jr. US Open and won her first pro tournament this year — capturing singles and doubles titles at the Sargent & Collins, LLP Women’s $10,000 Championships on July 1. Also being honored is Louisa Chirico, who received a wild card into the Jr. US Open qualifying tournament and also won her first pro tournament this year, capturing the singles title at the $10,000 Palmetto Pro Open on May 27.

In addition, many of the juniors being honored traveled across the country this summer to represent the Eastern section in team competitions.
“These juniors are not just great individual competitors, but also outstanding team players,” said Julie Bliss, Director of Competition and Player Development for USTA Eastern. “They recognize the importance of playing local tournaments and representing the section on Eastern teams in places like Michigan, North Carolina, and California.”
This year, the section is also recognizing ten Eastern winners of the USTA NJTL Arthur Ashe Essay Contest. The winners were selected by a section committee of staff and volunteers, and wrote essays responding to the question – If Arthur Ashe were alive today, what do you think would give him hope?”
The gala will be held at the Indoor Training Center at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Junior Award Gala Winners
Boys’ 12
1. Gary Fishkin (Staten Island, NY)
2. Brian Shi (Jericho, NY)
3. Daniel Pellerito (Syosset, NY)
Girls’ 12
1. Dasha Kourkina (Brooklyn, NY)
2. Aleksandra Bekirova (Brooklyn, NY)
3. Hannah Zhao (Syosset, NY)
Boys’ 14
1. Sam Turchetta (Pound Ridge, NY)
2. Matthew Gamble (Webster, NY)
3. Alex Knaff (New York, NY)
Girls’ 14
1. Stephanie Schrage (Millburn, NJ)
2. Brianna Williams (Brooklyn, NY)
3. Courtney Provan (New Providence, NJ)
Boys’ 16                                  &n​bsp;                        &n​bsp;          
1. Shawn Hadavi (Dobbs Ferry, NY)
2. Daniel Grunberger (Great Neck, NY)
3. Kyle Mautner (Greenwich, CT)
Girls’ 16
1. Jacqueline Urbinati (Harrison, NY)
2. Eva Siskova (Cornwall, NY)
3. Madison Stevens (Mendham, NJ)
Boys’ 18
1. Andrew Yaraghi (Mill Neck, NY); Josh Levine (Syosset, NY)
2. Jonathan Carcione (Franklin Lakes, NJ)
3. Vihar Shah (New Hyde Park, NY)
Girls’ 18
1. Emily Safron (New York, NY)
2. Louisa Chirico (Harrison, NY); Hannah Camhi (Woodbury, NY)
3. Jamie Loeb (Ossining, NY); Lexi Borr (Westfield, NJ)

USTA Eastern Arthur Ashe Essay Contest Winners


Skyla Forrester, Girls, 10 and Under
Bronx, NY (New York Junior Tennis & Learning)
Brandon Torres (National Winner), Boys, 10 and Under
Bronx, NY (Co-Op City Tennis Club)
Asia Shedrick, Girls, 11-12
Queens, NY (New York Junior Tennis & Learning)
Zachary Arthur, Boys, 11-12
New York, NY (Harlem Junior Tennis & Education Program)
Taylor Jean-Jacques, Girls, 13-14
Greenwich, CT (Jerry Alleyne Memorial Foundation)
Jonathan Agyeno, Boys, 13-14
Yonkers, NY (Harlem Junior Tennis & Education Program)
Mindy Hugo, Girls, 15-16
Mount Vernon, NY (Jerry Alleyne Memorial Foundation)
Jordan Drake-Griffiths, Boys, 15-16
Fayetteville, NC; formerly of Haverstraw, NY (Reach for College)
Amina Dickson, Girls, 17-18
Maplewood, NJ (Reach for College)
Christopher Charles, Boys, 17-18
Valley Stream, NY (Long Island Junior Tennis League)

Our #1’s – The Girls 12’s

If you follow my blog you know I recently coached a team at the BG12 Northeast Zone Team Championships.  There were 4 Eastern teams and a total of 12 teams altogether.  I thought it would be interesting to see where our Eastern kids, who played at the #1 position, did at Nationals just after playing at Zonals.  Did they live up to their rankings? Did they exceed their rankings? Here is what I found.

First of all, my #1 player – Leah Ma – did not play Nationals but Leah came into Zonals as the lowest ranked of the Eastern player who had a National Ranking – she was ranked 193rd.  The field for Nationals was choosen before Zonals were played.  She played #1 on my team by virtue of her Eastern Ranking which was 11th in the Section.

Dasha Kourkina was the highest Nationally Ranked #1 Girl at Zonals.  She came into the event ranked 62nd and came out of it ranked 41st. So which ranking is closest to where she belongs.  If you go by her results at Hardcourt Nationals, it’s 41st. She beat Slade Coetzee (209), Lost to 17th seed Aleksandra Bekirova (37), Beat Yakatarina Alferova (85), Peyton Pesavento (75), Tia Mukherjee (53), Jessica Tsukiji (70), Abigail Forbes (169).

Michelle Sorokko lived up to her ranking and exceeded it by a little, whether you go by her pre-zonal ranking of 105th or her post zonal ranking of 82nd.  She beat Slade Coetzee (209), Lost to 17th seed Aleksandra Bekirova (37), Beat Yakatarina Alferova (85), Peyton Pesavento (75), Tia Mukherjee (53), Jessica Tsukiji (70), Abigail Forbes (169).

Lastly, there was Chelsea Williams.  Ranked 96th going into Zonals, ended up ranked 65th after Zonals.  She beat Carmen Corley (64), Lost to Meg Kowalski (17th seed) (31), Beat Lahari Yelamanchili (192), lost to Zoe Hit (73), lost to Jessica Tsukiji (70).  She exceeded her pre-zonals ranking of 96th, but didn’t quite live up to her 65th ranking because of the last two losses.

Looking at these results it seems that the Eastern Section players are a little underrated by the current point system, but that Zonals tends to even things out for those girls who play.  The results, when based on there post zonals ranking are almost exactly where you would expect them to be based on the rankings at that time.

Lets look at other players from other sections who played #1 on their teams.  Christina Hand – Middle States beat Samantah Lugtu (222), Lost to 12th seed Angel Carney (16), Beat Carolyn Brooner (115), Lost to Katelyn Thomas (17th seed) (43).  Christina was 93rd before zonals and 55th afterwards.  Alexis Almy came into zonals ranked 139th and left ranked 123rd.  She beat Addison Brown (214), Lost to Abigail Markel (9th seed) (19), Beat Jenna Dean (202), Kolie Allen (67), Lost to Carolyn Brooner (115), Abigail Forbes (169).  The combined record of these two players would seem to indicate that either ranking, before or after, were correct as either way, there was one more loss to a player ranked below, than there was wins against players ranked above – virtually even.

So why do players skip Zonals to better prepare for nationals? For one thing, it is the higher ranked players that skip Zonals and they might not improve their rankings.  All of these players did improve their rankings.  As a matter of fact, all 12 #1 players had better rankings coming out of zonals, then they did going in.  The other factor for the higher ranked girls who skip Zonals is Tennis Recruiting which uses head to head results instead of points.  Some higher ranked players do not want to risk a bad loss at an event like Zonals.  Lea Ma is now ranked 25th for 6th graders on the National Recruiting List at Tennis Recruiting, Dasha Kourkina is ranked 12th, Chelsea Williams is 21st and Michelle Sorokko is ranked 31st.  They are ranked 1, 2, 3, and 4 in New York State on the Tennis Recruiting site.  Maybe after seeing these results, the rankings bump and the ratings bump that these players got from Zonals, more of the top ranked players from the Eastern Section will choose to play zonals next year.  If they do, look out, we had the 4 best teams there already.

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