Todd Paul article in Stamford Advocate!!
Todd Paul, Marc Powers prepare for Pilot Pen Qualifying draw
By Rich DePreta
Posted: 08/17/2009 09:26:29 PM EDT
Updated: 08/18/2009 08:44:00 AM EDT
STAMFORD -- It has been a long summer for Stamford residents Todd Paul and Marc Powers. However, all their hard work on the tennis court will be rewarded this weekend as both have earned berths in the Men's Singles Qualifying Draw of the 2009 Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament at the Connecticut Tennis Center.
The qualifying draw has not been finalized, but Paul and Powers will probably play Saturday morning in New Haven if tournament officials follow their usual format.
For Paul, it will be the third consecutive year he takes part in the Men's Singles Qualifying Tourney. For Powers, it will be his first appearance.
Paul, who had an illustrious college tennis career at Wake Forest, has been busy toiling on the US Futures Tour and the Challengers Tour since April.
"The travel wears you down. After four straight weeks on the road, you want to go home," Paul said. "But by playing this much, I've learned that every week is different. Things can click at any time. I've learned that I can't get too down on myself if adversity comes."
As is the case with every young tennis player who wants to play alongside Roger Federer, James Blake, Andy Roddick and Rafael Nadal on the big stage, it is all about the rankings.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound lefty Paul, who will turn 24 the day after Christmas, is currently No. 681 in the singles rankings.
Where Paul has made great strides this summer is in doubles. Playing with former Wake Forest
teammate Cory Parr of Jericho, N.Y., Paul is at No. 429 in the doubles rankings.
In fact, Paul and Parr have won titles at the last three USA Futures Tour doubles events they've competed at.
"Cory and I played some matches together at Wake Forest. We talked before Cory graduated that we'd be good together in doubles," Paul said. "Cory and I put an application in for a wild card into the Pilot Pen doubles. We'll see what happens."
All of the doubles activity has had an effect on Paul's singles strategy.
"All the doubles play has helped me cover the net better," Paul said. "Before I just tried to beat singles opponents from the baseline. But now, if I get to the net it puts pressure on the opponents. It forces them to make shots."
The other benefit to Paul of his partnership with Parr is it makes both the travel and the day-to-day goings-on at each tournament easier.
"It means a lot to me to have a best friend to travel with," Paul said. "It also good to have someone to hang out with during downtimes at tourneys."
What makes Paul's approach to reaching the ATP Tour a bit unique is that his parents, Rovitta and Frantz Paul, are subsidizing Todd's tennis dream. Todd played some events in Canada last spring as well as played in events in Sweden and France last fall.
"My parents have been so good to me to give me this opportunity to play tennis all over. I don't know what I'd be doing without their support," Paul said. "It's been great to be home these last few weeks. It's going to be great to have a short (45-minute) car ride to get my tournament for a change."
Paul is hoping for a better outcome at the Pilot Pen. He lost 6-3, 6-2 to Davis Cup veteran Ramon Delgado of Paraguay in the opening round of the 2008 Pilot Pen Men's Singles Qualifying Draw.
"It's all about the draw," Paul said. "But I have a feeling this year's Pilot Pen draw will be even tougher."
As for Powers, New Haven is becoming the new center of his universe.
This fall, Powers will be a freshman at Yale University as well as a member of the Bulldogs' men's tennis team.
In fact, the Greens Farms Academy graduate won the Men's Singles title at the Yale Summer Tennis Championships back on July 12 to earn his spot in Pilot Pen Men's Singles Qualifying Draw.
Powers defeated former Yale Summer champ Kabelo Maleka, 6-3, 6-4 in the finals.
"It's an incredible opportunity. I've also wanted and dreamed about playing in the Pilot Pen. And now, it's here," Powers said. "All the training and all the work I've put in this summer is paying off. I couldn't be more excited."
It has been a wonderful summer for Powers, who finally had time to relax after choosing to attend Yale.
"There was so much stress over the 18 months when I was trying to decide on a college," Powers said. "I had four schools to consider. All had fine academics, good athletics and outstanding facilities. But in the end, the decision came down to Yale coach Alex Dorato and the guys on the team. Yale is the perfect place for me. I have peace of mind."
Powers, who is coached by John DeFilippo of Stamford Indoor Tennis Academy and trains with Ben Prentiss at Body Tuning in Darien, has had a light tennis schedule. Besides the Yale Summer Championships, Powers played two rounds of singles at a USA Futures event in Rochester, N.Y.
"I wanted to focus on the Yale Championships because of the Pilot Pen," Powers said. "I beat some guys I had faced in USTA Junior tennis and a few solid college players. But the finals against Maleka were nervewracking. The opportunity was there for the Pilot Pen and I didn't want it to slip away."
For both Powers and Paul, Saturday can't get here soon enough.