At The Australian Open With Marcia Frost...

Wednesday January 19th-
Main Draw, Thru Day Three

Despite some losses, college tennis is remaining well-represented at the 2011 Australian Open.

It was a really long day for me as I got off a 16 1/2 hour Qantas flight, dropped my bags at the hotel and headed to Melbourne Park to watch matches. While I America's Grand Slam event has some definite advantages, the transportation situation here is heaven compared to the U.S. Open, where parking is at a minimum and once you do park you have a long hike to actually get to the entrance. The (free) tram has stops throughout the city and I found one just a block away from the first hotel I am staying at, the Oaks at Market. Within 15 minutes of leaving the hotel I was not only at the Tennis Center, I was within a few yards of the entrance!

There were two matches with former college players already in progress when I arrived. I went to see former NCAA Division III champion Eric Butorac, who graduated from Gustavus Adolphus, and partner Jean-Julian Rojer, a former junior tennis standout from the Netherlands, first because they were already into set two. They had taken the first in a tiebreaker and were struggling a bit in the second, finally dropping it by one break. They got it back together for the third and wrapped it up quickly, 7-6(4),4-6,6-0

At my next stop, two former college players teamed up for a first round women's doubles win. Former NCAA doubles champion Raquel Kops-Jones (2003, with Christina Fusano) of Cal joined past UCLA Bruin Abigail Spears. (above) The duo took the first set 6-3, but it wasn't quite so easy in the second and they ended up in a tiebreaker. It looked to be an fast breaker with a 5-1 lead for the collegians, but it took 7/5 to close it. I watched some of the match with Irinia Falconi, who just left Georgia Tech to turn pro. Irina deserves credit for a great run here, making it through the Qualifying before dropping her first round match to No. 24 Alisa Kleybanova.

I also watched former Illini Kevin Anderson, who is approaching Top 50 in the world. Unfortunately, he couldn't repeat his results of a few weeks ago when he made it to the semifinals in Brisbane, where he took a set from Andy Roddick. (Check out my report on Big Ten Tennis about Kevin's doubles loss with partner Victor Hanesco). From there I took a look at Portland grad Travis Parrott, who played three years at the University of Georgia, and Ken Skupski, once an LSU team member (above). They lost a tough first set in an 8/6 tiebreaker and then dropped the second and the match to Jeremy Chardy & Arnaud Clement.

It was unfortunate that the match I was most anxious to see at the Australian Open Wednesday I didn't make it to. Former Stanford players Bob & Mike Bryan went up against another past Cardinal, Scott Lipsky, and partner Rajeev Ram, who played for Illinois. That group of very talented doubles players holds seven NCAA trophies between them and, while I was disappointed it had to be a first round match, it was certainly a testament to college tennis. It also happened to be the last day match on and my jetlagged body couldn't make it! I went back to the hotel and watched onlne a bit before the top-seeded Bryans took it 6-3,3-6,6-4.

On Thursday, I will be checking out former Georgia Bulldog John Isner, Baylor Bear Benjamin Becker and Miami Hurricane Michael Russell, all of whom are into the second round of singles (Benjamin is playing doubles too). I'm also trying to arrange a trip  over to the Junior Championships Qualifying event, which is being held offsite about an hour away.

Until Tomorrow,
Marcia Frost

A special thanks to Tourism Australia and Tourism Victoria for making my Australian Open coverage possible.

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Official Australian Open Website

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