On to Sasha’s first ITA

We are leaving Kalamazoo today and going to Notre Dame for a day of practice. We accepted a wild card into the ITA National Championships which is played at IU in Bloomington, IN. This is a college tournament and is the first ITA Sasha has played. We will get some good matches there and some of his future Notre Dame teammates are playing there as well.

Sasha has been playing quite well since we came back from our June break. He has won 7 out of 11 of his singles matches and 3 out of 4 of doubles. That’s consistent with his record in ITFs and is about a 66% win loss record. That’s very good. To put it in context for those not as familiar with tennis statistics, players often labeled as greatest ever (I hate such comparisons, but) Martina Navratilova’s career win loss record was 85%, Roger Federer’s is 81%. His current ITF ranking of 214 puts him in the top 10% of all ITF under 18 players. His tennis recruiting ranking (a different measure that looks at mostly American players in a given college recruiting class) puts him in the top 2% of players in his class. So his achievement to date is pretty amazing when put into the tennis world context. Bottom line, a tennis player looses a lot of matches in their career and they have to be able to weather those losses and bounce back. That’s a real problem in junior tennis. A lot of junior players can’t deal with the losses and keep challenging themselves by playing the bigger events. That hasn’t been a big problem for Sasha. Of course he cares a great deal about winning–sometimes too much like all guys–but he rebounds well and learns well from his losses. That’s a huge asset for a tennis player.

So why talk about this now, well two reasons. 1)we are heading into our second year on the ITF junior tour. This means bigger events where ,the elite of the elite are playing, junior Grand Slams, other Grade A events, Grade 1 ITFs (like the upcoming College Park tournament, Canadian Open, etc). Some players simply don’t play these events. Clearly playing them carries a high risk–win/loss record may go down, huge reward–win one of these and it’s a breakthrough). Fortunately I’m coaching a player who is a risk taker and wants to play the best players on the big stages of our sport. That takes some getting used to and we are experiencing that now. So in our view, bring on the big matches. We are looking forward to them!!!

More this weekend. Bye Kalamazoo–see you next year. We will return to win next year.

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