The team representing the U.S. at the 2013 Master'U BNP Paribas Championships.
© Greg Patton
Marcos Giron is pumped up during his match against France.
© Marion Cordonnier
Robin Anderson (left) and Lauren Herring have fun during their doubles win over France.
© Marion Cordonnier
Robin Anderson, Lauren Herring, Sabrina Santamaria, Mitchell Frank, Marcos Giron and Peter Kobelt are six of the top college players in the country who were selected to represent the United States at the 2013 Master'U BNP Paribas Championships, Nov. 29-Dec. 1, in Aix-en-Provence, France. The event featured college teams from eight countries, including Belgium, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Russia and the U.S.
In 2013, Boise State men’s coach Greg Patton and California women’s coach Amanda Augustus coached the Master’U team together for the second straight year. Patton, who has led Team USA for five of the six consecutive years the U.S. has competed in the event, wrote a blog for USTA.com during the team's stay in France.
Sunday, Dec. 1
Team USA defeated Russia today by a 7-0 score. The U.S. has now won the International Collegiate Team Championships three consecutive years and four out of the past five years (2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013). Overall, since 2009 Team USA has posted a 14-1 record.
Saturday, Nov. 30
The cream of American collegiate tennis is living the dream. Our squad of exceptional players swept the strong host team of France today to make it to the championship match against Russia in the 2013 Master'U BNP Paribas Championships.
The tournament has a dynamic impact on our players in regards to their dreams, goals and aspirations. Former college players who have brought home the gold from France as members of Team USA include current pro players Steve Johnson, Irina Falconi and Jarmere Jenkins, to name a few.
The tournament is a Thanksgiving gift to us, for we get to play in the beautiful town of Aix en Provence on the French Riviera. The crowds are great and supportive of great tennis, and it is an opportunity for us to put our top American players in an international environment with a support group of their peers.
I am firmly convinced that the greatest pathway to success on the professional circuit is to "make friends" with your peers and countrymen and to put yourself in a competitive atmosphere, where it means something. Well, you couldn't pick a better situation for our elite players than to send them to an international tournament in which they become close to their American competitors as teammates, and, more importantly, they are put in a situation in which they are playing for each other and for a common goal.
So far, this tournament has been a great success. The final step is now to win the world championship for the third year in a row. Here is a quick rundown of our matches today:
Women's singles led the charge, with Robin Anderson winning, 6-3, 6-1, against a former top WTA player. Sabrina Santamaria followed with a 6-2, 6-1 win at the No. 1 slot. Men's singles followed, with Mitchell Frank taking his French opponent, 6-2, 6-4. We now had a 3-0 lead, and Peter Kobelt clinched the match with a 7-5, 6-3 victory at the No. 1 position.
With the team match clinched, our players still went out in doubles with an intense passion in order to prepare us for the finals tomorrow. Our women's doubles team of Lauren Herring and Robin Anderson won their match, 6-1, 7-5. The men's doubles match had the most excitement, as our team of Marcos Giron and Peter Kobelt fought back from a 7-6, 5-2 deficit to win the second set and then fell, 10-6, in the third-set super-tiebreaker.
Marcos went straight from his men's doubles match to play mixed doubles with teammate Lauren Herring, and the duo dominated the French team with an 8-1 victory.
In tomorrow's final, we play a tough Russian team, which defeated the team from Great Britain, 4-3. We are looking to win our fourth Championship in the past five years (our only loss was to France in the 2010 final). Over the past five years, our record now stands at 12-1.
Friday, Nov. 29
We are off and running. Like a morning with a beautiful sunrise, we were able to start our defense of the Master' U BNP Paribas Championships with a decisive 6-1 quarterfinal victory over Ireland. To say the least, this match was daunting (like swimming in a jungle river that could have dangerous piranha and crocodiles lurking on the bottom.) We were apprehensive, for the travel problems getting to Aix en Provence could have been a setback, but our young men and women rose to the challenge with exciting and confident play.
Tomorrow is going to be another wonderful challenge, for we have the home team of France ravishingly waiting for us in the semifinals with figurative forks and knives in hand.
Today, Robin Anderson (No. 2) quickly gave the Americans a lead with a display of artistry in a 6-1, 6-1 win.
Sabrina Santamaria at No. 1 had a rougher road, when she met an inspired and feisty Irishwoman. She fell to the Irish gal, 7-5, 1-6, 6-4, which was decided by laser-like shots fired out of a cannon in a match closer than Siamese twins.
When our men took the courts, there was no looking back. They were on a mission to uphold the legacy that the American men have established the past four years.
No. 1 Peter Kobelt won, 6-2, 6-3, dominating with his booming serve and scorching ground strokes (against a player with a similar game). No. 2 Marcos Giron breezed to a 6-2, 6-0 victory.
The matches then went to doubles, where Robin Anderson and Lauren Herring clinched the team match with a 6-4, 6-1 win.
The men's team of Peter Kobelt and Mitchell Frank was almost perfect with a display of doubles unity in a 6-1, 6-3 pounding. The final nail in the victory was a sterling 6-2, 6-4 win by Mitchell Frank and Sabrina Santamaria.
Tomorrow brings us our biggest challenge, when we face our constant foe, the French team (the French had a great 4-3 upset win over the No. 3 Chinese team). We defeated the French team in the finals in 2009 and 2011 and fell to them in 2010. They look to have one of the strongest teams we have ever faced, so we know that tomorrow is not going to be a walk in the park. Couple this with the avid French tennis fans here in Aix en Provence, and we know that this match is going to be a thriller.
Coach Augustus and I welcome the match. Our players have the resolve of Navy Seals. To be honest, we are excited about the challenge tomorrow and the wonderful opportunity to be able to reach our fifth straight championship match if we win.
Thursday, Nov. 28
Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends across the globe. I have had a glorious day with Coach Amanda Augustus and our 2013 U.S. national collegiate team here in beautiful Aix en Provence (Southern France), and I especially give thanks to having such a talented and wonderful group of college tennis players representing the USA.
Our American team rebounded from a rerouted flight that arrived 14 hours late in the early morning here due to flight problems. But I was elated to finally get our new team into Aix en Provence safe and sound.
After a short night's sleep, Team USA got up early to hit the courts for an intense and motivated practice. Our team is made up of an incredible crew of America's finest collegiate tennis players:
Mitchell Frank (University of Virginia)
Peter Kobelt (Ohio State University)
Marcos Giron (UCLA)
Robin Anderson (UCLA)
Sabrina Santamaria (USC)
Lauren Herring (University of Georgia)
We made the most of our two practice sessions at the tournament site, and I was absolutely stunned by how fast our elite athletes were able to bounce back from over 30 hours of a travel nightmare, jumping out on the courts to practice with enthusiasm and complete focus. They are definitely special.
The French truly are gracious and wonderful hosts. All the teams participated in a mile-long parade to the city hall for the draw ceremony. There we learned that we are seeded No. 1 and that we populate a very talent-laden and strong half of the draw. We play tomorrow morning against a very crafty Irish team in the quarterfinals. If we get by them, we would play the winner of No. 3 seed China (whose squad includes the No. 135-ranked women's professional and several other players with pro rankings) vs. France (whom we have played in the finals for three out of the past four years).
We have won this event in 2009, 2011 and 2012, and this year is very special in the fact that we are close to realizing a three-peat. After seeing the depth of talent that the other seven nations have sent, I know that we are in for some exciting battles.
The Master'U consists of: USA (No. 1 seed), Germany (No. 2), China (No. 3), Russia (No. 4) and Great Britain, France, Belgium and Ireland. Our diverted flight turned out to be a blessing because it allowed the members of our team to have quality time to bond and truly get to know each other.
Our team match will consist of two women's singles matches, followed by two men's singles matches. Then three doubles matches will follow, starting with women's doubles, followed by men's doubles and finally mixed doubles. The first team to win four matches will take home the victory and live to play another day in the main draw.
Our tentative lineup for Day 1 is:
No. 1 Robin Anderson
No. 2 Lauren Herring
No. 1 Peter Kobelt
No. 2 Marcos Giron
Robin Anderson/Lauren Herring
Peter Kobelt/Mitchell Frank
Sabrina Santamaria/Mitchell Frank
You can follow live scoring, but remember that Aix en Provence is eight hours ahead of us on the West Coast. We will update you with scores from tomorrow's matches and hopefully have good news that we will be playing in the semifinals on Saturday morning.
Have a great day of Thanksgiving!