Tennis Prose



A Day At Eddie Herr

Turtle lays eggs and watches Eddie Herr action yesterday.

Dominik Hrbaty, the former top 15 player, was on the grounds at Eddie Herr, as he is coaching the young Asian player Chun-Hsin Tseng, 18 years old and ranked 310 ATP.

There was a question I wanted to ask Hrbaty for years that I kept forgetting to the rare occasions I see him about once or twice a year at US Open, Miami Open or Delray Beach Open.

One of my favorite stories was seeing Hrbaty hammer Kafelnikov at US Open 63 61 61 in the afternoon on old grandstand when the Russian was top 5 in the world back in 2002. Hrbaty performed a near perfect domination on Kafelnikov that day – with the assistance of four cheering college or high school kids who without a doubt influenced the match. I was there at the court that day, very impressed by their spirited cheering and supporting which boosted Hrbaty and annoyed Kafelnikov. I rank it as the best tennis cheering I ever saw, the most spirited and inspiring.

The kids told me that day Hrbaty met and liked them the week before at Hamlet Cup on Long Island and Hrbaty promised them tickets to US Open if they cheered for him as they did at Hamlet. Hrbaty confirmed it and said they went out to eat back then and made such a strong connection that they are all still friends and in maintain contact today!

When I remarked how much those kids seemed to help him play so well that day, Hrbaty replied that he had 12-3 record vs Kafelnikov and his style matched up well to his. He seemed to downplay the kids support factoring into the match. But I looked at the head to head, which was actually 9-4 for Hrbaty and it showed that Kafelnikov had won their three previous meetings in 2001 and 2002 including a Kafelnikov rout at Wimbledon 2002, 76 62 62.

I saw Whitney Osuigwe practicing with her dad and Shelby Rogers on the next court with Pat Harrison who later worked with his son Christian, who told me he’s back injury free.

Clervie Ngounoue, the 13 year old American, a wildcard into the 18s, is into the quarterfinals after beating 4 seed Canadian Melodie Collard today in straight sets. Clervie, a finalist last year in the 14s, beat 15 seed Russian Diana Shnaider 57 64 63 in the second round. Clervie, who trains in Florida and in Nice, France at Mouratoglou is the big buzz American player right now, behind Coco Gauff. Clervie plays tomorrow in the QF vs Eva Lys of Germany.

Clervie could be on a collision course to meet 2 seed in the final, Linda Fruhvirtova of Czech Republic, who beat her here last year in the 14s final in straight sets.

The best match I saw today was a four hour marathon Mi Lan beat the no. 1 seed in the 16s Vivian Ovrootsky, the 2019 Easter Bowl champion, 64 46 75.

You won’t see a better match, pro or junior, than what these two titans played today. Lan was down 2-5 in the third set but like Todd Martin said Pete Sampras could do, she pushed a button and raised her level. Down 2-5 she never showed any hint of negativity and willed her way back to 5-5.

Then with Lan serving the 5-5 game, Ovrootsky surged to a 0-40 lead but Lan managed to fight back and take the game. The quality of tennis was simply spectacular. Mentally crushed, Ovrootsky had lost four games in a row. She tried a seven minute injury time out for her back but the delay tactic didn’t work and Lan broke her to advance to the semifinal vs Qavia Lopez tomorrow. Lan, who lost to Clervie 75 in the third in the 14s QF last year, just beat Lopez 76 62 in the Boca Raton ITF.

Lan of China is one of the mentally toughest players you will ever see. Her technical game could use some refining from a coach who has pro level experience, a coach who has competed professionally and produced and developed professional players from junior level.



  • Jon King · December 6, 2019 at 12:20 am

    Yes sir Scoop, Clervie is going to be a problem. Girls like her are why we do a boat load of strength and conditioning work!

  • Dan Markowitz · December 6, 2019 at 5:33 am

    NIce account. Do you mention where Eddie Herr is taking place? I find it fascinating how different girls and boys’ junior tennis is. i’ve heard of Clevrie Ngounoune, I probably mis-spelled it. Wow, a 13-year-old getting to the finals of the 18’s event. I would imagine that’s never happened in the history of Eddie Herr boys’ 18’s event.

    Now I thought Lan was from New Jersey not China. I know you have questioned her coaching decisions, but if she’s knocking off the no. 1 seed in the 16’s, this Adams chap must have her on the right path.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 6, 2019 at 7:54 am

    Dan, Clervie is into the QF today, not finals yet. Lan really has not improved much technically, same game, same serve but she is mentally tougher and stronger now. What we wonder is how much better could she be, how could her rate of improvement grow with a world class coach who actually has played pro tennis and who has developed pro players? Who has knowledge in bio mechanics? She’s beating all these players because of her own fighting spirit, desire and mental toughness. She just trains at his courts. A major league prospect deserves better than a minor league coach. Pete Sampras was getting input from four different coaches at the samw time. Why should a major league prospect be forced to listen to just one single minor league coach because his ego won’t allow any other coaching input? If he truly cared about this player’s future and trusted his own ability, he would not fear other coaches helping this girl reach her full potential.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 6, 2019 at 7:59 am

    Hrbaty knew his head to head with Safin too, I mentioned that he gave a nice memory of his rivalry with Safin for my Facing Safin book and he instantly said, 8-8. Some players can’t even remember if they played certain guys or how many times and Hrbaty is instant with his head to heads.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 6, 2019 at 8:03 am

    Jon, Collette Lewis told me this is Clervie’s second ITF and at 13 she’s into the QF. No sign of Mouratoglou, guess he just comes around when there are TV cameras )

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 6, 2019 at 8:16 am

    While I was leaving yesterday I saw a turtle digging a hole with his rear legs on the grass next to the courts. TO lay eggs just a step off a footpath. The turtle was facing the courts too. Looked like the turtle was multi tasking – laying eggs and watching the tennis matches. Amazing. I posted a photo of the tennis fan turtle digging her hole on the tennis prose instagram.

  • Jon King · December 6, 2019 at 8:31 am

    Clervie is a very early maturing girl, both physically and mentally. She speaks with the poise and smarts of a much older person. Now the thing with early maturing girls in tennis is we do not know how quickly they reach their ceilings. Some can look scary at age 12-13 but flat line quickly in their improvement. It will be interesting to watch how her tennis future progresses. But so far, she looks like she will be big time.

    Lan we saw months ago. Not sure about her. My gut feeling is a great junior due to her strong legs and competitive spirit but maybe not going to get a ton better from here. There was something robotic about her strokes when we saw her.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 6, 2019 at 8:49 am

    Clervie is the real deal but Jon, Lan is 0-3 vs Clervie and each match got closer, 3 and 4, 4 and 5 and then 7-5 in the third last year. Lan is just a slight notch below Clervie. Coco Gauff lost in the 12s final at Herr four years ago to Noa Krznaric who is here this week, lost second round in 18s to Fruhvirtova. Krznaric was watching some of Lan vs Ovrootsky yesterday. Yes Lan needs refining for her form but mentally there is no one stronger and you can’t teach that part. Myself and Hans Gildemeister believe Lan’s development can take off if she gets a world class coach instead of a minor leaguer. Hans has two boys in the dubs semis today, Felipe Lopez and Gonzalo Bueno. They play at noon.

  • Jon King · December 6, 2019 at 9:03 am

    Noa Krznaric we first saw play as a little one when she played Charlotte Ownensby in a Little Mo match. They put on quite a show at a very young age.

    Be fun to watch both Clervie and Lan as time goes on. I have given up on trying to predict tennis futures with certainty with the girls. Seen too many through the years who look like all timers at various ages and some just dead end in what seems like months. You just never know who will keep progressing and who will hit a brick wall.

  • forum · December 6, 2019 at 9:08 am

    The Eddie Herr International Junior Championship is a selection-based tournament. Registration submission does not guarantee entry into the tournament. There are only 128 qualifying draw invites and 64 main draw invites per group.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 6, 2019 at 9:09 am

    Jon, the most important quality is the mental toughness. Lesser players, lesser talents can beat better players by being mentally tougher, stronger and smarter. Mental toughness can’t be taught. Burning desire can’t be taught. The person has to have that inside them. These rare gifted players have a “desire that’s beyond comprehension” to normal people. Trust me, I know all about it and I’ve heard all the comments from the normal people for years. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jon King · December 6, 2019 at 9:28 am

    Scoop, great point. If you go to enough junior tournaments you see countless mental break downs. You can see the matches totally change as one kid after another loses their mind.

    You see a kid go up 3-1, lose the next game, have a melt down…and you know they will not win another game that match. Sure enough, they lose 6-3, 6-0. Happens pretty much every weekend.

  • Hartt · December 6, 2019 at 9:33 am

    Scoop, thanks for this report. I enjoy hearing about the youngsters who could be the stars of tomorrow.

  • catherine · December 7, 2019 at 1:18 am

    Talking of young players – Jannick Sinner will play 12 tournaments next year before the start of the grass season. Obviously he’s not bothered about burn-out ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hartt · December 10, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    I understand that Kayla Cross won both the 14s singles and doubles at Eddie Herr. In a report by Colette Lewis, Kayla talked about working with Nathalie Tauziat:

    “She just starting coaching me about a month ago,” Cross said. “I think for 15 weeks she’s coming to help us out. She’s been helping me a lot because I’m one of the older ones there. I get to hit with her a lot and she’s really good to travel with, she gives really good feedback. I love coming to the net, so she always encourages me, where some coaches don’t like that.”

    Her comment about some coaches not liking players coming to the net was telling, given the discussions here about the lack of variety in girls’ tennis.

  • catherine · December 10, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    I can’t believe coaches actually discourage girls from coming to the net. Don’t young players ever want to see how Navratilova played, or BJK or various other legends of the s/v ? Or do they think that’s the stone age and you can’t play like that now ? If Nadal can come to the net and volley I don’t see why junior girls can’t. It’s ridiculous.

    I didn’t see Kayla go in much when she played Clervie but maybe Nathalie can start fixing that now.

  • Jon King · December 10, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    I have never seen a coach discourage a girl from coming to the net, in fact its pretty standard to include it in every practice from groups for little kids to privates for older kids. Every tournament during the warm ups the girls give each other volleys. We always joke that the only time girls ever hit volleys at tournaments is during the warm ups.

    But girls rarely come to the net. Its not the coach, its winning and losing. The girls win early with their baseline style and stick with it. Perhaps she ran into a coach who was also about early wins and loses and instead of taking the early loses that happen with net play, the coach discouraged her.

    But 99% of the time its the girl or her parents who resist learning how to come in because they want to win as early as possible and those early wins come from cautious baseline play.



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