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2011 Junior US Open champ Grace Min has really stepped it up since claiming the girls' title. She still hasn't turned pro, but I imagine that she will be seriously considering it soon. American girls are very tentative to jump into the big leagues without going to college these days, so I'm sure it is a difficult decision!

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American girls are very tentative to jump into the big leagues without going to college these days, so I'm sure it is a difficult decision!
USTA :facepalm: People of Grace's caliber would only end up at college for 2 years before going pro.

Good result for US tennis! This 25K had like a 50k or maybe 75K field.

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Here's an article on Grace Min after her double bagel against Riske in the Oz Playoff, that was published last week, not sure if anyone caught it.

Optimism, but Mixed Results, at the Vanguard

By Mike Tierney

DULUTH, Ga. — As Grace Min’s eyes followed the flight of her serve toss, about two dozen spectators in folding chairs formed a single row at courtside. Most were friends and extended family, lending support.

The setting at Racquet Club of the South, primarily a tennis training facility, bore scant resemblance to Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows. The unseeded Min, 17, left there in September with the girls title at the United States Open, and the heightened expectations that accompany it.

Even in the subdued surroundings, the eight-player event last month in the Atlanta suburbs carried magnitude. The winner would claim a wild-card entry into the Australian Open, which begins next week. Min could accelerate her desired transition to professional.

Barely an hour later, a dazed Min trudged away, having been shellacked by Alison Riske in the opening round, 6-0, 6-0. A consultation with Kathy Rinaldi, the national coach with the United States Tennis Association, could not wait. The two huddled in an aisle leading from the court as well-wishers walked by, offering a hug or pat on the shoulder.

“It’s one match,” Rinaldi told Min. “You can’t let one match define you.”

Rinaldi encouraged her to find some humor in the defeat. “I can’t beat myself up over it,” Min said unconvincingly minutes later, with no trace of levity in tone or expression, after absorbing the first double-bagel loss since her preteens.

Min is among a coterie of candidates poised to fill the void in American women’s tennis soon to be created by the Williams sisters, both in their early 30s. The U.S.T.A., having invested heavily in Min, is paying close attention.

She has spent two and a half years, expenses paid, in the association’s full-time residency program in Boca Raton, Fla., for players ages 13 to 18. Stays must be renewed annually, and few have been approved as often as those of Min, a lifelong Atlantan who started playing tennis when she was 8.

The U.S.T.A. rolled out the residency program in 2007, installing a universal coaching philosophy that mirrors the blueprint of thriving tennis nations like Spain. Regional training posts designed for ages 8 through 13 have sprung up as potential feeders to three full-time sites.

As the U.S.T.A. strives to replenish the depth that once was a hallmark, Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of player development, said, “The root of our problem lies with the leaders.”

Noting that juvenile Americans’ ball-striking is as effective as anyone else’s, McEnroe said the typical young player “doesn’t understand the game of tennis, the type of shot to play at a specific time.” Eighty percent have “major technical flaws in their games,” he added.

That is where consistent coaching comes in, McEnroe said, to correct those habits at an early age through the development plan before they become irreversible.

Admittance to the center in South Florida thrilled Min and eased the financial burden of her parents, who immigrated from South Korea. Min’s father repaired shoes for a living until recently and now works in building maintenance. Her mother is a seamstress. Coachable and scholarly, Min is a model enrollee, fitting comfortably in the tennis-intense environment. Her grade-point average is 3.98, the only flaw a first-year B in algebra that she said has haunted her.

The constant striving for perfection has served as virtue and vice.With an advanced forehand and dandy footwork, she has carved out a credible juniors résumé, winning national tournaments regularly since she was 10.

At the same time, owing to a contemplative nature, the 5-foot-4 Min acknowledged overthinking strategy.

The tendency has most often surfaced against taller players, who increasingly govern the upper tiers of the sport. Riske’s range — 5-9, with a considerable wingspan — proved daunting.

“You go through moments of doubt: why can’t I play like they do?” she said on the eve of the Riske match. “Smaller players have to be more agile and have more variety in their game. You have to work with what you have. Mix up your shots. Make them move up and back. You can’t be trying to hit a million-miles-per-hour serve. Keep things simple. That’s my main motto.”

Adhering to that motto, she acknowledged, “is a daily struggle.”

Ola Malmquist, the U.S.T.A. head of women’s tennis said: “She had gotten a little bit lost, playing the wrong way — like a big girl. She’s starting to be on the right track.”

Rinaldi holds up Min’s run at Flushing Meadows as evidence to support her optimism about her tennis future, even with the size disadvantage.

“I certainly don’t think that is not something that can’t be dealt with,” Rinaldi said. “Grace is in a good place. There is no rush.”

With the U.S.T.A. training enterprise, Min is a human laboratory rat, being taught when to make what sort of shot against what type of opponent.

“At her size, she’s not going to go out and blow people away,” McEnroe said. “To take it to the next level, she needs to grind it out a little more.”

Near Min’s match at the club was one featuring Melanie Oudin, a fellow Atlantan who became the toast of New York at the 2009 United States Open. A similarly short, little-known teenager, she gutted her way into the quarterfinals of the main draw. She returned home to a No. 44 world ranking and a promising future.

Oudin’s career arc has since flattened out. Now 20, she is ranked 166th.

McEnroe and Malmquist say they think Min will someday cracking the top 100, now occupied by seven Americans, with Serena Williams at No. 12 and Venus Williams at No. 100.

As the bar is raised, Min admits to questioning if her rate of improvement can keep pace.

Introspective beyond her years, she finds reassurance by writing entries in a journal. They begin by addressing an obstacle, like missing too many forehands. Beneath them, she authors a “new story” in the form of a positive spin or optimistic outlook on the obstacle.

The excitement of living away from home has given way partly to homesickness. Min, who says she has not ruled out attending college, finds the separation more difficult each year.

She reminds herself of the dream to become No. 1 in the world and lead the generational change of American women’s tennis.

“Ultimately,” she said, “it’s all worth it.”
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