Abrams coming full circle

When Geoff Abrams first appeared on my tennis radar as a 13-year-old,

he quickly inherited the "phenom" label as a junior player. But what

I remember most about him was his intelligence. I mean, this kid was

sharp. Well spoken. Maturity beyond belief.

During one of our early conversations, Abrams, who trained once a

week with the UC Irvine men's tennis team as an Ensign eighth grader

in 1992, told me he would love to play tennis professionally one day

and make a living at it. But he also said his goals included

attending Stanford and getting into medicine, one day becoming a

doctor.

Abrams retired from playing the United States Tennis Association

men's satellite circuit last year, following an All-American career

at Stanford, and now, according to his mother, Nancy, has been

accepted to medical school at UC San Diego.

Abrams, who will start medical school in September, has been

working in drug studies for Prescription Solutions in Costa Mesa for

the past year, while applying to medical schools.

A former Newport Harbor High standout who was ranked No. 1 in the

nation by the USTA in the 14s during his junior career, Abrams had

enough of the globe-trotting lifestyle on the pro tennis circuit,

while barely earning enough money to break even. He played on three

NCAA championship teams at Stanford before joining the pro circuit.

His new adventure should be quite a challenge. Congratulations.

*

The Costa Mesa Tennis Center will once again host an open

community pre-qualifying tournament for the ATP Tour's Mercedes-Benz

Cup at UCLA.

Costa Mesa is one of 10 sites in six counties throughout Southern

California, and the only facility in Orange County, to play host to a

pre-qualifying tournament. The Costa Mesa event is Saturday and

Sunday and May 10-11.

The singles winner and finalist and the winning doubles team from

each pre-qualifying tournament will have the opportunity to enter the

Wild Card Tournament July 17-20. The winner of the Wild Card

Tournament earns an automatic entry into the Mercedes-Benz Cup July

28-Aug. 3. Details: (310) 208-3838, ext. 224.

*

The Palisades Tennis Club is scheduled to face Laguna Niguel

Racquet Club on Saturday in the finals of the Private Tennis Club

Association of Orange County Club Challenge Cup.

Top-seeded Palisades, the Challenge Cup's two-time defending

champion, knocked off Ridgeline Country Club in the quarterfinals,

18-3, following a first-round bye, then topped Rancho San Clemente

Tennis and Fitness Club in the semifinals, 17-4, in April.

The four-month PTCA team competition begins in February and is

played once a month through May. Play is in women's, men's and mixed

doubles, with one team in each of the seven rating divisions -- 3.0,

3.5, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.5 and open.

"This competition is the most exciting team tennis event in the

area because it involves men and women in seven different playing

levels, from beginner to open player," PTCA President A.G. Longoria

said. "For example, after four hours of play, the deciding match in

last year's semifinal between Palisades and Laguna Niguel was

determined by a beginner 3.5 mixed doubles match that went to three

sets."

Laguna Niguel will host Palisades in Saturday's final at 1 p.m.

The public is invited to attend with no charge. Details: (949)

496-4665.

*

Speaking of the Palisades Club, the private Newport Beach facility

is taking member/guest events to another level. Any member playing in

the event May 15-18 has a chance to win a drawing for a cruise aboard

Silversea Cruise Lines.

In addition to men's and women's doubles championships, the club

will host a dinner and dance Saturday, May 17, and a barbecue Sunday,

May 18, during the member/guest finals. Details: (949) 644-6900.

*

Beginning in January 2004, the USTA will be using a Points Per

Round Ranking System to determine year-end junior national singles

and doubles rankings and monthly standing lists. The Star System will

no longer be used to determine junior national rankings or national

seeding/selection lists.

"It will make a huge difference in how kids enter tournaments,

because it's based on the matches you've won. The USTA has stepped

away from the head-to-head thing," said Annette Broersma, tournament

director for the Quiksilver (boys) and Roxy (girls) junior tennis

tournaments headquartered at the Balboa Bay Club Racquet Club May

24-27.

The USTA has concluded that a Points Per Round ranking system best

addresses the overall goal of helping players reach their potential.

By using tiered levels of importance, the USTA can weigh the events,

assign regulations that help juniors to compete often, and put the

emphasis on advancing through the draw. The simple concept of having

a player capable of categorizing an event, determining its level, and

understanding the ranking impact of success in that event allows the

player to understand what needs to be done. This is an invaluable

asset in developing tangible and measurable goals that also help the

players' preparation and motivation.

While the new Points Per Round Ranking System will not be

implemented until January 2004, all Level 1-5 tournament results from

Thursday through December 31 will be counting for points determined

by the Points Per Round ranking logic for the first Monthly National

Standings Lists, which will be published January 15, 2004.

The Quiksilver and Roxy tournaments are Level 3 events. It's

essentially two tournaments in one, with a total of 512 juniors

entered in the 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s. Broersma received some 700

entries this year and predicted that next year the tournaments will

be larger than the Easter Bowl.

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