Friday, March 12, 2010

Harrison on the Rise

The only 17-olds to ever win a match at Indian Wells are Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, and Michael Chang. Add Ryan Harrison to that list, after his 6-3, 6-4 victory over Taylor Dent last night.

Yesterdays victory was bitersweet for 17-year-old American Ryan Harrison, as he had to dash the hopes of his friend, practice partner, sometimes doubles partner, and mentor, Taylor Dent in order to secure safe passage into the second round. But when you're 0-4 in ATP events on the year, a win is a win is a win.

While it is disappointing to see Taylor Dent sent packing so early in the tournament, the win is a nice milestone for Harrison, who become the eighth player 17 or younger to compete in the Indian Wells main draw. Now, as he prepares for a 2nd round tilt against veteran Croatian Ivan Ljubicic, excitement is starting to build around the young Bollettieri protege.

Brad Gilbert tweeted the following: "Harrison pulls off the upset. I think he can do it back to back with a good chance to beat Lubo in the 2nd round. Nice to see new talent." He added: "American tennis is looking bright with teen talent: Sloane Stephens & Ryan Harrison."

You can get more info on Nick Bollettieri's IMG website. The legendary Bollettieri has spent a lot of time with Ryan and his younger brother Christian over the past few years.

Ryan was previously known for being one of three 15-year-olds to win an ATP level match this decade, along with Rafa Nadal and Richard Gasquet, but if he can manage a few more wins like last night, the No. 284 ranked Shreveport, Lousiana native will have more than just his age to boast about.

Getting his first win of the season is a great accomplishment for Harrison. He's done well in challengers, going on a hot streak late last summer that took him through 13 consecutive matches and 2 futures titles before he finally lost in the Sacramento challenger to fellow American Jesse Levine.

Thus far this season he has qualified for the Australian Open (lost to Tipsarevic), Memphis (lost to Isner), Delray Beach (lost to Gulbis), and drawn wildcards into San Jose (lost to Istomin) and Indian Wells.

Tomorrow, when he faces Ljubicic, he'll undoubtedly have a lot more on his plate strategically. From playing with Taylor Dent so regularly, there's no doubt that Harrison knew what to expect last night.

His next challenge will be knowing what to expect even when he hasn't seen it before.

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