First round win at International Hardcourts

August 18, 2014

Sasha won his match 6-3, 6-2 today. He played smart against Vitalli Shcherba and moves on.

I will post all the tournament results later along with the order of play.

Here is the doubles draw:

ITF International Hardcourts

August 18, 2014

We arrived in Baltimore on Saturday and had two good practices here in College Park. Sasha plays not before 10:30am this morning. The draw and order of play link is below:

Order of play

A great week of play in Bloomington!!

August 11, 2014

Sasha played the number 2 player from Wake Forest today. He played well and competed hard but ultimately lost 4-6, 6-7(2). This guy has a huge serve. A good player for sure!! It’s still been a great week of tennis. We will go to Notre Dame for a couple more days of practice and fly to Maryland for the ITF Grade 1. With this level of confidence, Sasha could do very well there.

ITA update

August 11, 2014

A long day in Bloomington!!! Sasha played Brian Page who plays for Illinois. This match was outside and first on. He played very well. Won 6-4, 6-4. He served great, played the big points very well. There was a little over an hour break scheduled. But the rains came. So indoors we go and here come the delays. We had time to go to “darn good soup”. Next opponent, Jai Corbett from Virginia Tech, a talented lefty from Australia. But with Sasha’s considerable practice with Alex Lawson and a few weeks ago with Michael Genender, this opponent was beatable. 7-6 (2), 6-3. So was that it, no!! Now dubs. First dubs–8-1, lost second dubs match in a tie break. (Good). Focus on singles tomorrow starting at 10am against Jon Ho from Wake Forest.

This has been a great tournament thus far. Sasha has played some of his best tennis to date. Very complete, very aware, good decisions, very good fight back when necessary!

ITA National Championships

August 10, 2014

We are here in Bloomington, IN at Indiana University. Sasha took a wildcard into the tournament. Matches were scheduled to begin this morning and Sasha was scheduled to play at 10am. However it rained most of the day and the matches had to be moved indoors onto 8 courts. So he didn’t play til 4pm. He played Stuart DePaolo a University of North Carolina player. He won 4-6, 6-0, 1-0(7). Was a good win in many ways. He served very well. Got a bit sloppy in the middle of the first set, but the good news is he used some good recovery techniques and got back on track. A good match. Weather is supposed to improve and tomorrow should be outside. Here is the draw:

Great day of practice at Notre Dame

August 9, 2014

We had 2 great practice days here at Notre Dame. It’s sooooo nice here. Sasha has played great tennis in practice only cementing my view that he needs practice against consistently bigger, stronger, better players. We had dinner at a farm to table restaurant that Ryan recommended. Then we went for a long walk around the campus. Wow, this is such a beautiful place. Great architecture. Incredible old trees. Just beautiful. It’s a welcoming place. This environment, the team’s and coach’s warm welcome and support only further convinces me that Sasha will have a great under graduate experience here!!!

Here is a link to some Notre Dame pictures we took on our walk and of course some obligatory food pictures.

On to Sasha’s first ITA

August 7, 2014

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.

Kalamazoo Sunday match

August 4, 2014

Hey loyal blog followers (Brazil and Germany- please who it is! I’m sorry that I forgot your name, but are you the woman I met on the plane from Frankfurt to Nice? 😉 ),

—> Thom insisted that I write the blog entry today, in order to reflect on my thoughts about the match 🙂

Today was a pretty unusual day haha. To start off, we knew who I was playing more than 2 days in advance, which is something you would never see in ITF.
To add, Francis is a big name player, having reached a high of #2 ITF, won countless tournaments, and played in an ATP 500 event at just 16. Obviously, the hype before the match was something I don’t typically experience: a lot of people talked to me and Thom simply because I was playing the top-ranked American.
[Also something not often covered (no pun intended) is the live coverage feature of playing on a Kzoo show court… Hopefully we’ll be able to snag a recording of the match, a luxury we didn’t have last year ….]
—> So, with all of these things in mind, we were set for a big match, against a big opponent, with his big image, in front of a big crowd. !

Needless to say, I felt a bit overwhelmed, and at times,
out of sorts. The rhythm that Francis imposed on me, combined with the formalities of playing in Kzoo, and having a TV crew and chair umpire, ALSO mixed with a fickle crowd, made the experience pretty momentous. I felt a bit like I didn’t belong, while Francis was right in his comfort zone.

Thom conceded the fact that my court presence was not strong today, and that despite my big stature, I had the passiveness of a mouse. This is also something that separates the top ITF players from the rest; when you play them, you don’t just play them, but also their image and who they’ve beaten in the past. Definitely something for me to add to my repertoire. 😉

It was a very good match for me because I can see now why Francis is at the top and what he does to stay there. He’s extremely mentally strong and obviously physically gifted, but he also has this disconcerting presence that he fools you and the umpire with right up until he hits you with a huge wide serve to save break point. 🙂

I think it was pretty good too that I didn’t necessarily throw the towel in after being down in a few situations. Once I was down 0-40 on my serve and held, and down 2 match points (15-40) at 1-5 in the second, i held serve again. In and of itself, not calling it quits down 4-1 and 5-1 also speaks volumes, as does continuing to play his service games tight up until the very end.

We live another day… Tomorrow’s match vs. Alexander Knight (FL) is scheduled at the very deserted WMU (in comparison to Stowe, of course… Haha). It should be fun!

Talk to you guys later

~Sasha, aka Leb


August 3, 2014

We are about to go to bed after a relaxing day with a great practice with Walker Duncan. And a great dinner of tuna steaks, broccoli, and blueberries. Sasha is playing great and tomorrow will be a good match. The match will be on a TV court at around 2pm. If you want to watch go to:

Right there on the front page there is a tab for Stowe Stadium Webcam. Don’t think this is some low quality webcam as it used to be, this is high quality video with a commentator that is quite knowledgeable about tennis. Enjoy!!!

Kalamazoo draw

August 2, 2014

There are two links below, one for,the draw, one to Colette Lewis’s blog. Sasha will play Francis Tiafoe on Sunday. I’m relatively sure it will be on the main stadium and quite likely will be a broadcast match @ Colette’s column has a reference to Sasha so I’m throwing in a pointer. We are not playing doubles here so tomorrow is a practice day.