Renowned Names of Roehampton

Tommy Paul in action at Roehampton. Photo courtesy of Ben Rothenberg.

Tommy Paul in action at Roehampton. Photo courtesy of Ben Rothenberg.

A week before the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world is played, 128 players gather for a chance to qualify into Wimbledon. Unlike each of other three major tournaments, Wimbledon’s qualifying matches do not take place on site at the All England Club. In an effort to the protect the grass courts before main draw play begins, all qualifying rounds(including doubles!) are played at a the cozy if not cramped tennis club in Roehampton.

For passionate nerds and diehards, Roehampton is often considered the pinnacle of tennis viewing: there is a fantastic combination of finesse, grinding, choking, and overall drama. Players compete at vastly different stages of their careers; from young guns(#NextGen?) to journeymen, every year there a more than a few great stories that go unnoticed. Before final round qualifying begins Thursday, let’s dig into a few of the more compelling players left in the field. To provide some perspective, we’ll attempt to paint a picture of each player’s style of play, career highlights and realistic potential going forward.

In effect, this list will have no real order, but the best stories will told last.

Franko Skugor(CRO) 

Have your heard of him? This writer had seen Skugor’s name in draws, but never actually watched him hit a ball. After some digging, the Croatian’s story is pretty remarkable. At 28, his two straight set wins have put him into Final Round Qualifying for the first time in his career.(never played main draw) He had played 11 times prior in slam qualifying, with an overall record of 4-11. He has won one challenger title in his career, all the way back in 2010. In recent years he has found some success in doubles, with a career high ranking of 92. Skugor began playing professionally in 2005, and has earned just under $400,000 in prize money in his career.

Based on some youtube searching, it appears that Skugor is a decent player on fast surfaces. His service motion is strange but somewhat effective. His strokes are pretty flat which should help on the grass. His movement does not seem to be…elite.

Realistically, this is the probably the best chance he will ever get to play in major singles draw. He will have his hands full with Gerald Melzer, who possesses a fair amount of talent. Can you imagine waiting 10 years to realize a dream, and then having one match to potentially decide your fate? #Pressure

 

Bjorn Fratangelo(USA)

On the other side of the spectrum, Bjorn Fratangelo could possibly be playing his final year of slam qualifying. After a strong 2015, the 22 year old American has impressed this season, notably taking World #1 Novak Djokovic to three sets in Indian Wells. After earning a Wildcard into the French Open, Fratangelo made good on it and took out Sam Querrey in straight sets. That result, however, was not all too surprising. Clay is Fratangelo’s favorite surface, and he would definitely tell you that Grass is his worst. Typically players like Fratagelo who play with a lot of spin tend to struggle on grass. He picked up a good win over Ryan Harrison(solid on grass) in the first round, and rolled in sets 2 and 3 over Michon.

Here’s a recent interview with Fratangelo in Surbiton: 

Fratangelo recently cracked the top 100 for the first time, and while he currently sits just outside, an FRQ win could serve as a gateway to automatic main draw entries for some time to come. With his new coach Brad Stine, Fratangelo is trending upward quickly, and could be a full time Tour-Level player as soon as this year.

Luke Saville(AUS)

Saville is as much a grass court specialist as there is in the draw. A former Junior no. 1, the Australian won the Wimbledon Junior title in 2011 and was the runner up in 2012. After turning pro, however, Saville has struggled mightily. Some of the small weaknesses in his game have become large holes. His forehand is at times mechanical, and his movement is laborious on other surfaces. But the second he steps back on a grass court, he is dangerous. I still haven’t quite figured out why, but he always seems to look way more confident on the green stuff. He has a good slice, and overall plays very smart on grass. His only main draw win came at Wimbledon in 2014, where he beat now a top 10 player, Dominic Thiem.

He has not lost a match in his career at Wimbledon quallies, and he’ll need to continue that trend if he wants to springboard his career back to where many thought it belonged-the top 100. I would consider him the favorite over Bachinger in FRQ.

Edward Corrie(GBR)

British players in Wimbledon qualifying are always great to watch, and the fans in Roehampton rally behind them strongly. Ed Corrie, 28, is an interesting story; he’s never cracked the top 200. As a WC, Corrie has picked up quality wins over Tommy Paul and Michael Berrer. Corrie was a two time All-American at Texas, and has continued to grind it out on the lower circuits for a few years now. It’s always cool to see the college guys having success on the tour. He has a pretty good serve and forehand, but tends to counterpunch.

Fun fact: he was the guy Darian King was playing before his infamous default in Charlottesville: 

Corrie will have the opportunity of his tennis career in FRQ, as he has never played in a slam main draw. His draw is not bad at all, with Olivetti having just played a marathon, 8-6 in the third match on Wednesday.

Mohamed Safwat(EGY)

These last two names are the most interesting in Roehampton. Safwat pulled off a shocking upset over the talented Georgian Basilashvili in the second round. The Egyptian #1 had never even won a match in slam quallies until this week, no less the main draw. Safwat has played the majority of his tennis on clay courts, and before this week he hadn’t played *ONE* match on grass. Tamer El-Sawy was the last Egyptian player in a grand slam at the 1996 US Open.“It’s such a passion to be participating in such a big tournament. And Wimbledon in Egypt is very big, so that’s the ultimate,” Safwat said after the match.

Here’s a fairly epic (and loud) video of Safwat playing Gulbis in Davis Cup: 
Once again, a win in FRQ would likely change Safwat’s career. The amount of nerves these guys are facing is pretty remarkable, and that’s exactly why it’s great to watch.

Marcus Willis(GBR)

On both a personal and public level, this is by far the best story of Roehampton. Hopefully some of my readers have heard of Willis, who I will now refer to as Cartman for the rest of this piece. Cartman, a nickname from the famous “South Park” character, came about during the U.S. Challenger swing in 2014, when Willis had a fair amount of success, and fired back at the haters on twitter who were commenting on his weight. Cartman is pretty much a complete legend, and one of the funniest guys on the challenger circuit. His ability to make fun of himself is unmatched.

Here’s a taste.

Cartman is an incredible player to watch. No really, he is. His feel around he court is truly incredible. He plays the most deft half volleys, and will slice the opponent to oblivion when he’s on. He’s the definition of crafty, and his serve is left serve is very effective. Obviously movement is not the strongest part of his game, but he anticipates really well and can be extremely frustrating to play against.

Many will forget that Cartman actually started a crowd funding campaign in 2014 labeled, “Willis for Wimbledon”. Willis wrote that playing in the main draw of Wimbledon has always been his childhood dream. Well, he’s one match away. #AllezCartman

The Tweener Podcast, Episode 5: College Tennis Special

In Episode 5 of The Tweener Podcast, we have a special college tennis focus! After the tweener of the week, they are joined by Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today to discuss many aspects of the sport, including last week’s National Indoors tournament. Why should you be more interested in college tennis? Well, listen to Joey and Zach tell you why! Finally, we announce the winner of our second Stick It Wear?! competition.

Podcast Shortcuts

(WILL BE UPDATED SHORTLY)

Tweener of The Week

 

The Tweener Podcast: Episode 4

It’s episode 4 of The Tweener Podcast, and Joey and Zach are back at it following a week off post-Australian Open. Tweener of the week is followed by an interesting debate regarding Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. We then try out a create-your-own player game based on nationality. Finally, we introduce the 2nd installment of our Stick It Wear?! competition, this time taking place in Rio de Janeiro. Enter your picks before main draw play begins to have a chance at a free t shirt! Read below for all details on how to enter.

Podcast Shortcuts

 

00:00–Introduction (It’s funny this week)

01:53–Tweener of the Week

03:42–Discussing this poll
 Shirt of The Week: “The Man”
theman

The Tweener Podcast: Episode 3

It’s Episode 3 and we are wrapping it all up from the Australian Open. We give out our tweener of the week and talk about our lasting impressions from the year’s first grand slam. Featured this week is a discussion with Ben Rothenberg, a New York Times contributing writer who has been working hard in Melbourne. We talk about the culture that surrounds the tennis media. Finally we announce the first winner of our Stick It Wear?! Competition and give a sneak peak into next week. As always, all feedback is encouraged and appreciated!

Podcast Shortcuts

Intro–00:00
Tweener of the Week–01:19
Ben Rothenberg Opening–03:05
BR: Match Fixing–04:20
BR: Media Reaction–08:58
BR: Tennis Media Culture+Conflicts of Interest–12:20
BR: Big Brother Cams in Australia–21:49
Australian Open Look Back–23:55
Stick It Wear Shirt Winner Announced–31:30

Tweener Of The Week


(Tweener of the week honorable mention)
giphy (1)

Stick It Wear Shirt of The Week

90sHAIR
Australian Open Competition Winner: Kevin Craig

Fratangelo Wins Launceston Challenger, Breaks Top 200

Fratangelo watching from the stands in Melbourne. Photo via; Ben Rothenberg

Fratangelo watching from the stands in Melbourne.  Photo via: Ben Rothenberg

Bjorn Fratangelo had a strong 2014 season. He won five futures titles and reached the quarterfinals of two challengers. The 21 year old finished the year with a career high ranking of 261. Fratangelo’s ranking was just on the border of making the Australian Open Qualifying cut, and when The Tennis Nerds spoke to Fratangelo back in November, the Pittsburgh native seemed pretty confident he would make that cut.

Fast forward to January. Fratangelo flew to Melbourne after a decent week at the challenger in New Caledonia. He practiced with many fellow Americans, including his friend Bradley Klahn. As the days wound down, some players began to withdrawal and Bjorn was getting closer. Finally, the qualifying draw had come out; Fratangelo missed the cut by a mere two spots.

“It was brutal to be two out. It hurt, but in a way it motivated me. I tried to take positives and make it a good training week. To just be around that atmosphere is unbelievable,” Fratangelo told The Tennis Nerds Monday.

Despite missing the cut, Fratangelo stayed in Australia for three more weeks and played two $50,000 Challengers; Burnie and Launceston. He won two matches in Burnie before falling to Alex Bolt in the quarterfinals.

However, Fratangelo’s trip down under was capped by the biggest accomplishment of his professional career, as he won his maiden challenger title in Launceston, defeating a promising 18 year old, Hyeon Chung, 4-6 6-2 7-5.

“This win makes it all worth it. I put in a lot of work in Melbourne and it paid off,” Fratangelo said. “I thought (the final) was a good match from both of us. The ball striking was great. I think the crowd enjoyed it as well.”

Chung is already nearing the top 10o, and had just won the title in Burnie the week prior. The level of play from both, especially in the third set, was incredibly solid. Fratangelo had many chances in the third set, and finally broke serve after a marathon game at 5-5. On one deuce point, the two engaged in a very long exchange that ended with the American receiving some good fortune.

“That crazy drop shot I hit at 5 all got under his skin a bit. That was the luckiest shot I’ve ever hit,” Fratangelo said.

The title earned Fratangelo 80 ranking points, and he soared up the ATP rankings to a career high of #172 Monday. By comparison, in June of 2014, the American was as low at #535. The new ranking gives the American more opportunities to play higher level events.

“The ranking is definitely higher than I thought it would be,” Fratangelo said. “I’m gonna try to ride the wave out where I basically have no points coming off. Im gonna play Indian wells qualifying and then Irving(challenger). Now that I’m up there a bit I wanna keep testing myself against guys close to the top 100.”

Fratangelo’s roommate in Florida is fellow young American Mitchell Krueger, who himself has had a nice start to 2015. You can read our Q&A with Krueger here. Krueger won the doubles title in Launceston with Radu Albot, taking out the team of Hubble/Statham 11-9 in the third set super-tiebreak.

Fratangelo and Krueger have spent a lot of time together through juniors and now professionally.

“We’re like brothers. We’re sarcastic towards each together, and we have fun together,” Fratangelo said. “He’s an easy guy to get along with and live with. He’s helped me a lot as far as traveling goes. He can go for months, where I start to lose it a bit after a few weeks, but traveling with him has made me calm down a lot.”

Full match replay of Launceston Final:

http://new.livestream.com/accounts/5057055/events/3782996/videos/77163414/player?autoPlay=false&height=360&mute=false&width=640

Question and Answer: Mitchell Krueger

Krueger in action at USC.

Krueger in action at USC.

Mitchell Krueger celebrated his 21st birthday back in January, and he did so in style, winning the $15,000 Los Angeles Futures title on the same day he became legally allowed to order an alcoholic drink. Krueger had a successful junior career before turning pro at the age of 18. Now starting his third year on tour, the Dallas-Fort Worth native has reached a career high ranking of 311 in the world, and should move a few spots higher after picking up a win at the Burnie Challenger. The Tennis Nerds spoke with Krueger about his adjustment to life on tour, goals for the future, and much much more.

(Editors note: Make sure you read to the bottom, the quick fire questions at the end are some of the best)

The Tennis Nerds: You’re in Australia AGAIN! You’ve spent quite a bit of time over there the last 12 months. I know you joked it was almost your FIRST home at this point. What goes into your scheduling decisions? Does playing in an English-speaking country make you feel more comfortable? Give the average fan a short breakdown on why you schedule the way you do.

Mitchell Krueger: Yeah I’ve definitely spent a lot of time down in Australia. I honestly think I’ve been there more over the last four months than I have in Florida(laughing).

Well for one, I’m not afraid to travel outside the U.S. and leave my comfort zone a bit. I feel like too many Americans get comfortable just staying within North America and end up limiting themselves. To me, it gets a little tiring playing the same guys each and every tournament. A huge part of being a professional tennis player is enjoying the travel and I think my game benefits from seeing different competition, surfaces, and conditions all the time.

TTN: You started the year with a title at the $15k in LA, beating some strong players in the process. Do you see that result as a springboard for things to come? Does it take some pressure off in the coming weeks knowing you started the year well?

Krueger: That result was definitely huge for my confidence going into the beginning of the year. It’s always a great feeling to win a tournament, and for it to happen so early in the season gives me some added belief that I can really take a big step forward this year. I’m really excited for 2015.

TTN: What was your offseason like this year? Where did you train and what were you focusing on?

Krueger: I actually didn’t have a traditional offseason this year because I ended up playing a tournament in the Dominican Republic right before Christmas. The past two years we’ve always shut it down right around Thanksgiving and had a solid four week training block to get ready for the coming year. But this year I only really had two weeks. I was down in Boca Raton and managed to get some good fitness work in with Pat Etcheberry and court time with my coach Stan Boster. I actually think having such a short offseason helped me continue to play good tennis into the new year because the break between tournaments wasn’t too long.

TTN: Often times when you’re traveling to these tournaments you’ll go with a group of either fellow Americans or other players. Who are your favorite guys to travel with and why? Who provides the most comedic entertainment?

Krueger: I’ve definitely spent the most time traveling with Bjorn(Fratangelo), Brad(Klahn), and Jarmere(Jenkins). We all get along with each other great and know how to push one another to get better. It’s never a dull moment when we’re all together that’s for sure. I mean it’s hard not to give the comedic crown to the guy that has several hundred thousand views on a YouTube video of him face planting on concrete. It made me laugh so hard I started crying the first time I saw it(laughing).

TTN: When I talked to Bjorn(Fratangelo) a couple months ago, he said he had just finished stringing a racket. Do you string any of your own rackets?

Krueger: As much as my mom has begged me to learn, I still don’t know how to string rackets. When I’m training, the absolute last thing I want to do in my free time is string a racket. To me, that extra thirty minutes of sitting on the couch is worth the price of getting it strung by someone else(laughing).

TTN: American men’s tennis has gotten plenty of negative attention in the last few years. Does that motivate you guys? What is your view on the years ahead for American tennis?

Krueger: It’s a huge motivation to me. Very few people that report that kind of stuff actually realize the amount of work and sacrifice that goes into being a world class tennis player. It’s very frustrating when people talk about how Americans just don’t want it bad enough. I think in the next few years these same people will start to eat their words. I’m very optimistic and excited for the future of American men’s tennis. I’ve seen the work that myself and many others have put in, and I know it’s just a matter of time before the rest of the world is able to see it too.

TTN: I know the debate between turning pro or going to college was relevant in your life and it’s been a big talking point lately. Now that you’ve spent a couple years on tour, what are your thoughts looking back on that decision?

Krueger: Obviously being an American, going to college and getting an education is something most kids are taught to strive for from a very young age. I can only speak for myself because everybody’s situation is different. I have absolutely no regrets in my decision to turn pro. The fact that I can wake up every day and devote myself 100% to getting better without any other distractions is amazing. Whenever I’m done playing tennis, I can always go back to school somewhere and get a degree if I want. There’s no age limit. The window for a person to make a living playing tennis is so small when compared to the rest of their life. I’m glad I made the decision to give myself the absolute best chance possible to reach my dreams.

TTN: There was a rather funny twitter exchange where your mental strength was discussed. It’s always seemed like one of the stronger points of your game. Where does that come from? How much did your upbringing and environment influence that?

Krueger: (Laughing) That tweet actually took me a bit by surprise because I seriously consider that one of the strongest aspects of my game. And I take it that Jarmere agrees with me because he actually had my back for once (laughing). I’ve always been insanely competitive in anything I do. I’ve never tanked anything in my entire life. I pride myself on never giving up on anything, whether it’s on court or off. Anyone that knows me can tell you the exact same thing. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I knew I could’ve given a little bit more effort. Win or lose, I can always rest easy knowing I gave it everything I had.

TTN: Which part of your game are you working on most specifically to improve right now?

Krueger: Right now I’m working mostly on really owning all my shots and understanding the ways I can use my game to win points and matches. Over the last couple years I’ve put a ton of time into strengthening both my serve and my forehand, and I think this next piece will really bring my game together. I’m very happy with the progress I’ve made and I’m excited to keep it going through the rest of 2015 and beyond.

TTN: You’re about to hit a career high ranking just a few spots outside the top 300. What are some of your short and long term goals ranking wise?

Krueger: Well my first really short term goal is to break top 300. After that, my goal is to make qualies of the slams this summer. I’m obviously getting close right now but I don’t like to put too much pressure on myself to hit a certain number. I know if I keep putting in the work and giving myself opportunities each week, I’ll keep moving up the rankings.

————————————————————————————————

Quick Fire Q’s

Favorite airline?

Krueger: American Airlines all the way. Hit platinum for the second year in a row.

Go-to drink and/or snack on flights?

Krueger: Either water or sprite. Sometimes Apple juice.

Again, on flights–Music, movie, book, or something else?

Krueger: I usually go all three. Movies if it’s a long flight. Music when I’m trying to sleep. And a book if I run out of good movies to watch.

Favorite challenger you’ve played?

Krueger: Gotta be Challenger of Dallas. Can’t go against my home tournament! Maui is a very close second though.

Favorite futures you’ve played?

Krueger: Probably some of the futures in Italy because of the food. Love the pizza.

Dallas Mavericks or Dallas Cowboys?

Krueger: This is tough. Probably gotta say Cowboys just because it’s easier to follow while I’m traveling because of their shorter season. I’ve been to more Mavs games though.

Tony Romo or Demarco Murray?

Krueger: Tony Romo all the way. Screw all the haters.(laughing)

Better NFL prospect: Stefan Kozlov or Nathan Ponwith?

Krueger: Koz probably won’t like this, but I gotta say that Ponwith’s catch off my perfect pass while being defended was a thing of beauty. At this point though, the Dolphins could definitely use Koz on offense. I really hope he reads this. (laughing)

Eat out or cook?

Krueger: Definitely eat out. As Bjorn can vouch for me, living with an Italian for the last few years has made me not want to embarrass myself in the kitchen.

Federer or Nadal?

Krueger: Federer for sure. He’s a GOAT.

 

A Conversation With Stefan Kozlov

Kozlov and good friend Noah Rubin pose with the American flag after the Wimbledon junior final. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Kozlov and good friend Noah Rubin pose with the American flag after the Wimbledon junior final. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

It’s no secret, American tennis(especially on the men’s side) has struggled mightily over the last ten years. So, naturally, everybody is looking for the next big American star. A name that has been talked about heavily is Stefan Kozlov, a 16 year old from Pembroke Pines, Florida. The American lost a tight three setter to big serving Sam Groth 6-3 6-7(5) 4-6 in the first round of qualifying at the Citi Open.

Born in Macedonia, Kozlov lived overseas until the age of one, when his family made the move to the United States. His game is a change of pace for American tennis fans. He doesn’t possess an enormously powerful serve, and although his forehand is a very good shot, but he is very solid in all aspects of the game. His biggest strength may well be his two handed backhand, which he can take very early. Kozlov recently reached the final of the Wimbledon Junior champaionship, losing out to good friend Noah Rubin in three sets. The Tennis Nerds(Joey Hanf) had a chance to sit down and talk with Stefan about a wide range of tennis subjects.

The Tennis Nerds: So you lost a tough three setter to Groth on Saturday, and you also lost a close three setter to Michael Pryzniezny last year in Newport. How much different is the level of play on the ATP tour?

Stefan Kozlov: I think it’s more about maintaining a high level. Whenever I get an opportunity to play in these tournaments my level rises so much. I think that I’m there with these guys to be honest. I should have beat Groth, and I think I maybe even should have qualified. Once you put yourself in that spot, you never know what can happen. My goal is to train hard and put myself in more positions like that

The Tennis Nerds: It seems like you’ve started to get a little more emotional on the court recently. Are you making a conscious effort to fire yourself up?

Kozlov: Recently I’ve been really focused, trying to win more matches. At this Wimbledon I put an emphasis on playing well and going deep in the tournament. I’ve gotta keep moving forward because this is my last year of Junior slams. Every match gets more and more important. I’ve always been emotional, it just depends what match I’m playing. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve been an emotional guy. I feel like especially at tournaments like here it helps me a lot, I can get the crowd involved.

The Tennis Nerds: You, Francis(Tiafoe), and Michael(Mmoh) have been playing together for a very long time now. What’s it like to compete alongside two friends as you try to make your mark on the ATP World Tour? How much do you guys push each other.

Kozlov: I think it’s great that it happened. Every one of us wants to do better than the other. It’s really just a natural habit; we want to do better than each other. It’s been a lot of fun.

The Tennis Nerds: Last year you got the quarters of Wimbledon(Juniors) and this year you reached the final. How much do you like the grass?

Kozlov: I’m really comfortable on grass. I think it’s one of my best surfaces. Actually, I think it is my best surface. I’ve always felt comfortable on it. There’s not too many weeks on grass for me, only two, so hopefully I’ll be able to play more(grass court tournaments).

The Tennis Nerds: You and Jared(Donaldson) recieved at wild card to play doubles in the main draw, and you drew the Bryan Brothers. How excited are you about that?

Kozlov: The first day I found out I was really excited. Now it’s kinda sunk it a little bit, and it’s still pretty surreal. I’m just excited to play. I’m not really happy(about drawing the Bryans) because I know it’s going to be a tough match, but I honestly think we can win. So that’s how confident I am in myself and Jared. If we play well, you knew never know.

The Tennis Nerds: I assume with this being your last in junior slams that you won’t be going to college?

Kozlov: No, I’ve already turned pro.

The Tennis Nerds: With your ranking in the 800’s…..

Kozlov: I haven’t really played too many pro events yet, so I think I’m much higher than my ranking shows.

The Tennis Nerds: Yeah you’re still playing some juniors. What’s your plan for the future, what events are you going to be playing?

Kozlov: I’m going to play the US Open(Juniors), Kalamazoo–hopefully I’ll do well in Kalamazoo so I can get a Wild Card into the Open. But yeah I’m trying to play more ATP events, hopefully get into some qualifying draws, and then some challengers and futures.

The Tennis Nerds: The state of American men’s tennis has been discussed a lot obviously, and everybody wants to know who is next. How much pressure do you feel being perhaps the most talked about name for the future?

Kozlov: I feel zero pressure. We don’t have that many top Americans, but I don’t compare myself to them. I compare myself to the best in the world. I think the fact that we don’t have a top American motivates everyone, but I don’t really feel pressure because of it you know what I mean?

The Tennis Nerds: Yeah I understand what you’re saying.

Kozlov: It’s kinda weird, I just try to focus on what I need to do to become number one in the world. I don’t really look at the top 100 to see how many guys we(United States) have there. I know we’re going to get better and better, and we’ll have more guys there soon.

The Tennis Nerds: What part of your game have you worked on the most over the last six months? It looks like you’re fitness is improving.

Kozlov: Yeah, me and my dad have tried to get after that. Moving forward, tennis is a very physical sport, and with my height and size matches are going to be really physical. So I’ve definitely worked on my fitness, but others things as well.

The Tennis Nerds: About that, it seems like you’ve grown a little bit. How tall are you?

Kozlov: 6 feet

The Tennis Nerds: Are you still growing?

Kozlov: Yeah I think I’m definitely still growing. I’m trying to grow everyday, you know.{laughing}My dad is helping me out, giving me a lot of vitamins, and we’ve been focusing on stretching.

The Tennis Nerds: The typical American game these days usually involves a big serve and a big forehand. You play much more of an all court game. How did that come about?

Kozlov: You’re going to have to ask my dad that{laughing}. I had no control over that to be honest. Whatever my dad taught me, I listened. So yeah, you’ll have to ask him.

The Tennis Nerds: About your dad, I know he coached you for most of your life. How much a balance do you have right now between your dad and the USTA?

Kozlov: I’ve been with Gully(Tom Gullickson–USTA) the last two weeks. My full time coach is Nicolas Todero, but his wife is having a kid so he hasn’t been traveling. I would say it’s a 70/30 ratio. 70 percent with the USTA, and 30 percent with my dad. I think me and my dad have a really good connection, so everything is working well so far.

The Tennis Nerds: Thanks Stefan.

Kozlov: My pleasure.