2015 Master'U BNP Paribas: U.S. team blog

December 7, 2015 06:25 AM

Related: 2015 Master'U photo gallery

Stanford sophomore Tom Fawcett, UCLA junior Mackenzie McDonald, Georgia senior Austin Smith, Florida sophomore Brooke Austin, Virginia senior Danielle Collins and Cal junior Maegan Manasse are the six top college players selected to represent the United States at the 2015 Master'U BNP Paribas Championships, which is taking place Dec. 3-6 in Rennes-Saint-Gregoire, France. The event features college teams from eight countries: Belgium, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Russia and the U.S.

Boise State men’s coach Greg Patton and California women’s coach Amanda Augustus are coaching the Master’U team together for the fourth straight year and will try to lead Team USA to its fifth straight Master'U title and its sixth in the last seven years. Patton, who has led Team USA for seven of the eight years the U.S. has competed in the event, is writing a blog for USTA.com during the team's stay in France. Stay tuned for daily updates.

Sunday, Dec. 6

USA wins 4-1!!! Dreams definitely comes true, and nothing beats the "true grit" of our American collegiate players. Today, our players were absolutely phenomenal in defeating France, 4-1, in Rennes, France.

It was a miraculous tournament, in which Team USA fought back against team match points in the semifinals against Germany. Today, Tom Fawcett and the women's doubles team of Brooke Austin and Maegan Manasse also fought off intense adversity and setbacks to win their matches and assure the USA its sixth world championship.

This was an extremely gratifying tournament, especially when thinking back to the semifinals, when Germany had a team match point to defeat us with the score at 3-2 for Germany. In doubles, in the third-set tiebreaker, they were serving for the team match, which we won (thank God).

Today had to be one of the longest matches in the history of the Master'U. We started at 10 a.m. and, after five matches, ended at 9 p.m. Right when the team returned to the hotel, it was off to the tournament banquet and to packing for flights home Monday. The tournament was a glorious flash that flew by at the speed of sound.

I was so blessed to be able to coach such a wonderful group of dedicated student-athletes. We spoke about this tournament as one of the most positive ways to build an exciting future.

We have now won the Master'U in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. 

Today, we won at No. 1 women's singles (Danielle Collins-Virginia), No. 1 men's singles (Mackenzie McDonald-UCLA), No. 2 men's singles (Tom Fawcett-Stanford) and women's doubles (Brooke Austin/Maegan Manasse). When we clinched the team match with women's doubles, we canceled the men's doubles and mixed doubles.

Thanks for following along with us in our blog. It was another fantastic experience at the Master'U!

Go USA!!!

Saturday, Dec. 5

My friends and fellow tennis lovers:

Forgive me, but I am euphoric and also blissfully exhausted.

Our day started with breakfast at 8 a.m. here in Rennes, France, with the match starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 10 p.m. That is one heck of a tennis day, so I am not going to get into any details but only tell you that we have six ecstatic American collegiate tennis players who gave their heart and soul to our countrymen, to their love of tennis and to their respective colleges and teams.

As has happened in the past seven years that I have coached the American team, we were on the verge of disaster only to miraculously scratch and claw our way to win the final mixed doubles match against an incredible German team. We defeated the Germans, 4-3.

Our team was down 3-2 and had to pull out come-from-behind victories in tiebreaks in men's doubles and a tiebreak win in the decisive mixed doubles to be able to represent the USA in the final.

This is our seventh appearance in the final, and we have won five out of the past six championships. What a statement about our collegiate players. Don't think for a moment that this tournament is easy. The caliber of teams includes players as high as Top 300 on the ATP circuit and Top 120 on the WTA.  

Since I have to go to bed for the finals tomorrow, let me bullet point the match:

Our women's singles got us a 2-0 team lead, when Maegan Manasse (No. 2 singles) and Danielle Collins (No. 1 singles) won. Maegan won, 6-4, 6-3. Danielle fought back to a third-set win, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

The men were caught in firestorms with the German singles players, literally blasting the fuzz off the balls. No. 2 singles player Austin Smith lost a heartbreaker, 7-6, 4-6, 7-5. In the first set, Austin won a set point, but the official didn't see the point, so Austin had to play the point over again.

Our next singles player, Mackenzie McDonald, lost to a 6-foot-7 serving machine, 7-6, 6-2.

Now things got very exciting. We were cruising in women's doubles with our team of Maegan Manasse and Brooke Austin, and we were up 6-1, 3-1, when the German women had out-of-body experiences and played flawless doubles to come back and defeat us, 1-6, 7-5, 10-8 (third-set tiebreak).

With our backs against the wall, our men's doubles team of Mackenzie McDonald and Austin Smith were absolute saviors by climbing out of the Death Valley of tennis to win 5-7, 6-4, 10-8. In the tiebreak, we were down 0-4 and 5-8 but played with the determination and grit of steel workers in a mine.

Now our team match was tied at 3-3, which has happened in four of the past six years. Our team of Tom Fawcett and Brooke Austin put on a mixed doubles clinic to pull out the team victory, 6-4, 7-6!!!!

Tomorrow we play host team France, whom we defeated last year in the final. We are expecting over a thousand fans. It will be such a glorious day. The fans, the tournament staff and all the countries and their teams are absolutely awesome.

Send some good old red, white and blue magic over the Atlantic to us!!

Friday, Dec. 4

Today was Day 1 of competition at Master'U in Rennes, France.

The adage that drives our coaching machine is: "Great people make great teams. Great teams make great players." We definitely have great people, who care deeply about representing the USA in international competition, and the proof is in the pudding by our 7-0 victory over the United Kingdom.

This is one sleep-deprived tennis marathon for Coach Amanda Augustus and myself. (I know that it is a long-distance race for the players, but hopefully they are getting more sleep than the coaching staff.)

We basically play seven matches (two women's singles, two men's singles and one women's doubles, one men's doubles and one mixed doubles). Our team match starts at 10 a.m., and we usually end near 8 p.m. Now that is like binging on a Netflix series.

We started the tournament today with our first-round (quarterfinal) match against a very, very good English national team. The nuts and bolts of the day lies in the fact that our team of top American players is very, very good, as well. We dismantled the UK team, 7-0, and didn't drop a set the entire day.

In my opinion, there are several reasons we do so well here.

  • Our players are so indoctrinated in playing team tennis.
  • We have been doing many team-building and bonding exercises the three days that we have been here.
  • All six players are incredibly motivated to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity provided to them by USTA Player Development and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
  • The team is motivated by the fact that the tournament is so competitive. There are eight great teams here, and we want to win the championship for the sixth time in the past seven years.
  • The fact that several great American professionals (Steve Johnson, Irina Falconi, Lauren Embree, Austin Krajicek, Jarmere Jenkins, Noah Rubin, to name a few) have played on this team makes this an elite few who are part of a legacy.

No. 2 Women's singles: Our match started off with a bang, with Brooke Austin (University of Florida) coming back from a 1-3 deficit to win her match, 6-4, 6-3. She is the comeback kid, for she was down in both sets 1-3, showed no shakes or self doubt in coming back to give the USA a 1-0 lead.

No. 1 Women's Singles: Maegan Manasse (Cal) was a torpedo fixed on the target, as she completely dominated play with consistency flavored by one of the deadliest down-the-line winners that she tapped endlessly. She quickly won, 6-2, 6-1.

No. 2 Men's Singles: Tom Fawcett (Stanford) had a down-home street brawl in his match, which was punctuated with sonic booming serves and characterized by two heavy weights throwing massive groundstroke punches at each other. Tom gave the USA a 3-0 lead with his 6-2, 6-4 victory.

No. 1 Men's Singles: Our team match clincher was UCLA star Mackenzie McDonald, who dazzled a good-sized French crowd with his 6-4, 7-6 victory. This match was a humdinger, for both players made shots that were made of awe and Wonder. The intensity could have lit up the lights of eastern France alone.

The singles matches were followed by the three doubles matches. Although we already clinched the team match victory, we were determined to compete hard and viciously in the doubles in order to determine who we should play in our doubles lineups. Basically, what I am saying is that we wanted to see what our doubles combinations were made of.

Womens Doubles: The women's doubles team of Danielle Collins/Maegan Manasse was fabulous, winning 8-6. This was an interesting combo that was delightful to behold. Maegan was a mad dog at the net, chasing and attacking every flying tennis ball there. Danielle complemented her net-playing Ninja Warrior partner by displaying some of the most consistent and tricky baseline shots that befuddled the English women.

Men's Doubles: Tom Fawcett and Austin Smith started off slow and were behind in a break for the eight-game pro set, but when they got accustomed to each other's style of play they became invincible to take an 8-7 tiebreak victory that left the crowd salivating over the intense doubles. The match had the same feel of a "live match" (when the team match is still on the line). That is exactly what we wanted – the players competing as though the team match was in jeopardy.

Mixed Doubles: We have a saying: "Finish Strong." And our mixed doubles team of Danielle Collins and Austin Smith were perfection in an 8-0 victory over the Brits. What can I say, but it was exquisite tennis from Danielle and slam-bam-bangball from Austin. Just the right way to end an eight-hour day on the court with a demonstration of the perfect couple.

Here are a few words from our Stanford standout Tom Fawcett: "Coming to France, I didn't really know what to expect. So far it has been an unbelievable experience. The team and coaching staff has been amazing to be around. Everyone is extremely close. It was great to see everyone play so well today and get the win over Great Britain. I am excited for the days to come and to see how the next few matches go for our quest to win the world championship."

Tomorrow the USA will play No. 3-seeded Germany (a 7-0 victor over Ireland) in the semifinals. Stay tuned!  

By the way, the USA team is now 18-1 in the Master'U championships over the past seven years. Believe me, this has not been an easy task, for the teams are made up of heavy weight players who have had successful professional careers in the ATP and WTA.  

You can go to the Master'U BNP website and Facebook page for awesome updates and photos!

P.S. Click here to see a photo of Austin Smith, Mackenzie McDonald, Tom Fawcett, Meagan Manasse and Danielle Collins sitting with just a few of the hundreds of children who came to watch our match today. I am not kidding. The French schools brought kids by the truck loads to behold tennis at the highest level, and our Americans were their favorite team. Yaeeee!

Also, famous tournament umpire Pascal Maria, who is the head umpire at all the Grand Slams (Wimbledon, US Open, French and Australian), was here for the action today. He just officiated Great Britain's victory against Belgium in the Davis Cup final. Austin Smith and Tom Fawcett took a selfie with Pascal with the goal of getting many more photos with him on the courts of the Slams as professionals.

Go USA!!!

Thursday, Dec. 3

Whew, when you are traveling and spending 24/7 with some of the most talented, intelligent and ambitious collegiate tennis stars ... well, an old-time tennis coach like me has got to fasten his seat belt to keep abreast of a journey like this.

Our national team of six of the top American college players arrived in Rennes, France, on Tuesday, and this is just the first minute that I have been able to catch up to send the homeland a report.  

First and most important, our team consists of three women and three men whose primary goal is to bring the Master'U championship team trophy back to U.S. soil for the sixth time in the past seven years. Somehow, someway, our American collegians have managed to do the impossible to dominate this tournament, which consists of the top players from the world to win this prestigious event.

Our Jedi Warriors include:

Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA)
Austin Smith (Georgia)
Tom Fawcett (Stanford)
Brooke Austin (Florida)
Maegan Manasse (Cal)
Danielle Collins (Virginia)

They are the best and the brightest of American collegiate tennis!!

The Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia leading our tennis warriors into tennis battles at the toughest team collegiate tournament in the world is the unsinkable Cal women's tennis coach Amanda Augustus, who has led the Cal Bears to the pinnacle of women's tennis in her tenure at Cal. I will be joining Amanda as coach for my seventh straight year, and I still find the heart a-pumping and the adrenaline flowing throughout my body.

Our main goal is to use this trip and tournament as a golden pathway for the continued improvement of our players and grow a seed that will constantly nourish our players' love for this game and inspire them to pursue and excel at tennis on the professional level, as well as provide an exhilarating experience of playing for our country that will resonate in their lives and create an exciting future for them.

We hit the ground running when we landed in Rennes on Tuesday. After we arrived, we started off our trip by going straight to the courts for a hit to prepare for the intensive battles that start on Friday. After that, it was straight to dinner, and then it was miraculous to see young collegians who, right after dinner, headed straight to their hotel rooms to get some treasured sleep and shut eye. Usually college students are burning the candles at both ends of the stick and staying up all night. It's amazing to see the power of a red-eye flight that gets young people to jump into bed right after dinner.

Wednesday and Thursday were full of team practices, team meals, team meetings, team games and team building and bonding. The most important part of these past two days was basically providing an environment of camaraderie, intensive training and non-stop team competition for our Stupendous Six. This is most definitely family-building time. As our USTA T-shirts state across our chests, we are "All In."

Practices have been sizzling. For these players to practice with their elite-level peers from across the nation is like going to a music festival and singing with all the music greats (think Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, Taylor Swift and any other favorites) on stage for five days in France. You can't beat that, and our players are taking advantage of this.

Tonight, we went to the draw ceremony and learned our destiny for the title. Due to our wins over the past four years, we are seeded No. 1. Our first match is against an always talented and lethal Great Britain team. If we get by them tomorrow, we will play the winner of No. 3 Germany vs. Ireland.

As I mentioned, we are strapped in for an intensive rocket ship launch into non-stop team matches till Sunday evening with the world championship at stake. Can't think of anything better.

Most importantly, the best part of this trip, besides the world-class tennis, is the opportunity to make friends with players from the seven participating nations as well as the fantastic French tennis officials and staff who are putting on this great team event that will draw humongous crowds of French tennis fans.

Oh, the photo above is of the U.S. team with our British competitors after we learned that we are playing each other.

Go USA!!

Coach Patton