American tennis is down right now. With Andy Roddick tanking and Serena Williams hurt, the U.S. is about to have no one in the Top 10 in the world for the first time since they started keeping these Top 10s.
But the future of American tennis may be here in Northern Virginia.
A stream of young NoVa tennis talent is making a big mark on college and youth tennis, with more on the way. Consider these three NoVa residents who have helped make the University of Virginia the top-ranked college team in the nation:
Michael Shabaz — Raised in Reston, now listing Fairfax as his home, the University of Virginia star is ranked fourth in the NCAA, has won the NCAA doubles title the last two seasons, won the Wimbledon boys doubles tournament in 2005, and was on the U.S. Davis Cup team in March with Roddick, John Isner and the Bryan brothers. If Shabaz wins the NCAA doubles tournament again this year, it will be the first time it’s been done in 40 years.
Drew Courtney — Robinson Secondary School grad, teamed with Shabaz for last year’s NCAA doubles crown. Also on the U.Va. team which is 29-0, hasn’t lost a team match in the ACC in five years and has won the league the last seven years.
Justin Shane — Highly recruited J.E.B. Stuart High grad, started for the U.Va. varsity as a freshman, won 28 of 36 singles matches.
But wait, there’s more:
Lindsey Hardenbergh — Robinson Secondary School grad, set a U.Va. school women’s record this season with 37 wins in 44 matches, was 11-0 in ACC matches, ranked 28th in the country.
Virginia’s tennis coach, Brian Boland, told the Fairfax County Times that his recruiting strategy isn’t going to the full-time tennis academies for talent. “Northern Virginia has been very good to me,” he told Dave Seminara just before the Cavs won their fifth straight ACC title. “I said from day one, my Number 1 goal was to make sure we recruited the young men from our back yard first.”
Boland has continued that practice by signing Annandale High School’s Mitchell Frank, the third-ranked high school player in the country by TennisRecruiting.net and rated as high as fifth in the world.
Also emerging from NoVa: Jason Luu of Fairfax High School, ranked second in Virginia by TennisRecruiting and committed to Cornell; Quoc-Daniel Nguyen of Marshall High School, ranked third in Virginia and also headed to Cornell; Michael Retta of Annandale, ranked ninth in Virginia and headed to Vanderbilt.
And coming down the pike, both the top-rated male and female players in Virginia are from NoVa: Juniors Ryan Shane of J.E.B. Stuart, ranked first in Virginia by TennisRecruiting; and Julie Vrabel of Thomas Jefferson High School.