Like so many other Americans, Laura Granville had trips planned to Europe this summer.
Last month's French Open and Wimbledon, which began today, were the main attractions for Granville, now in her seventh year competing on the Sony Ericsson Women's Tennis Association Tour.
Unfortunately, though, a wrist injury suffered in February forced withdrawals from both events and has stalled Granville's season.
"I was hoping it would be a lot further along," said Granville from Miami, where she trains year-round when not traveling. "Originally, I was planning on playing in the French Open and then I was hoping to get back in time for the grass-court tournaments (before Wimbledon). It's been pretty disappointing."
Granville fell awkwardly on her left wrist during the February title match of the USTA Pro Circuit event in Midland, Mich., a match she ended up winning. It also came shortly after returning from a months-long break from the tour, which she took to recharge her batteries for a promising 2008 campaign.
"I was fine the rest of the match -- I guess the adrenaline kept me going," said Granville, who won the 1996 Illinois state singles title as a sophomore at Chicago Latin and consecutive NCAA national championships at Stanford in 2000-01. "I felt really good after the break and was really excited about the year."
One tournament Granville was especially eager for was Wimbledon. The tournament offers an unmatched mix of elegance and tradition, and it's also where she's enjoyed the most success out of the four tour Grand Slam events.
Included in her six previous Wimbledon appearances are two trips to the fourth round -- the first coming in her first year on tour in 2002 and the other occurring last July. Her 10-6 career record at the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club gives her twice as many wins there than at any of the other three Grand Slams.
The run in 2002 came only months after Granville decided to skip her final two seasons at Stanford to turn pro. The great success she enjoyed in college and her experience playing in several pro tournaments previously on sponsorship exemptions made her yearn to compete against the world's best on a weekly basis.
"It was hard for me to justify staying after winning (the national title) both years," said Granville. "When I first came out (onto tour), I had a lot of confidence. And to have that kind of success at Wimbledon that early made it easy to take for granted."
Granville is now schooled in the ups and downs of being on tour. Her title in Michigan in February was the seventh circuit singles win of her career and she's also earned two WTA doubles crowns, first in Cincinnati in 2005 and in Quebec City the following year.
The highest singles ranking she's attained was 28th in the world in 2003. Granville ended that campaign 46th, a notch above where she finished the previous season. Granville has finished the last four years ranked 76th, 61st, 70th and 61st, respectively, signaling a consistent tour presence but lacking the breakthrough she's been hoping for.
"One of the hardest things to deal with on tour is the losing," said Granville. "You don't win nearly as much as you're used to and it's hard to keep that confidence up."
Another obstacle facing Granville is her age. Having turned 27 in May, she's considered a grizzled veteran by tour standards. Elite players are seemingly becoming younger - the winners of this year's first two Grand Slams are both g in their early 20s. Maria Sharapova won her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon when she was 17 and January's Australian Open three months before turning 21, while the 2008 French Open champion, Ana Ivanovic, won't turn 21 until November.
With career winnings well over the million-dollar mark, Granville lives comfortably but likely won't earn enough to retire. Because she left Stanford early, Granville is still shy of earning her psychology degree but took classes at Northwestern during her break from tour, with hopes of eventually becoming a therapist.
"As a tennis player, there's a lot of self-involvement; you always have to focus on yourself," said Granville. "It would be nice to deal with other people's problems."
Despite the tour's youth movement and her current physical setback, Granville hopes to squeeze three or four more years out of her pro career. She jokes that people have been talking about her being "old" since she turned 25 but that many players are quite competitive well into their late 20s.
"I still have a few more years left," she said. "I still think I can play at a high level and there are things I'd like to accomplish."
Indiana women's diver Christina Loukas (Deerfield) earned a berth on the U.S. Olympic team Saturday night by winning the 3-meter springboard at the U.S. Swimming and Diving Olympic Trials in Indianapolis.
Loukas, a senior-to-be who redshirted the 2007-08 collegiate season to focus on training for the Olympics, earned a comfortable win by tallying 1,092.1 points, 89.25 ahead of runner-up Nancilea Foster. Loukas, the 2007 collegiate national runner-up in the 1-meter, led the field throughout and padded her advantage by 18.8 points in Thursday night's semifinals to own 729.85 points heading into the final.
"Right now I just can't believe it has happened," Loukas said afterward. "The entire time I have been focusing on the process and not the outcome, which really allowed me to perform well."
With an Olympic spot already assured in the 3-meter springboard, Loukas will vie for a position in the 3-meter synchronized event at the Olympic Team selection camp July 2-6 in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Prior to the Olympic Trials, Loukas' most recent competition was at the Speedo USA Diving Spring Nationals in April in Minneapolis. In that event, she took second in the individual 3-meters with a finals score of 332.9 and teamed with Purdue's Amanda Miller for second in the synchronized 3-meter springboard.
She also performed well at several other national and international meets over the last year, including winning the 1-meter title at the 2007 Kaiser Permanente National Championships and a silver medal in the 3-meter and a bronze in the 3-meter synchronized at the 2007 World University Games in Thailand. Loukas also took fourth on the 3-meter springboard at the Good Luck Beijing/FINA Diving World Cup in Beijing, China in February.
Also participating at the Trials was one of Loukas' Indiana teammates, Amy Korthauer (Naperville Central). She gained valuable experience in finishing 12th in the platform with 599.50 points.
Korthauer, who will be a junior in the fall in Bloomington, finished fourth on the 1-meter platform at the NCAA Zone C Diving Championships and notched a pair of top-15 finishes on the platform (ninth) and 3-meter springboard (12th) at the 2008 Big Ten Championships. While at Naperville Central, Korthauer was instrumental in the Redhawks winning state team titles in 2004 and 2005. She also won the three-meter title as a senior in '05.
North Carolina redshirt freshman pitcher Colin Bates (Naperville Central) was the lone Chicago-area to play a prominent role for one of the teams in this year's College World Series. The Tarheels (54-14) fell one game short of this week's best-of-three championship series when they were eliminated by Fresno State 6-1 Sunday night.
Bates appeared in two of Carolina's five games in Omaha. His first outing came in a dramatic 7-3 win over LSU Friday night. In that contest, he threw 2.2 innings of scoreless relief, entering in the third and departing with two outs in the fifth. He didn't allow a hit and struck out three of the 11 batters he faced with three walks.
Bates also saw action in the fourth inning Sunday, allowing one run on three hits and striking out one. He left with his team trailing 3-1.
Bates, a right-handed reliever, appeared in 27 games this spring, compiling a 2.78 ERA and a 6-1 record. He pitched 55 innings, second-most on the team among relievers, and struck out 57 batters while only walking 20. Opposing hitters hit .216 against him.
Following the regular season, Bates was named to Baseball News' Freshman All-America Team. At the time the honor was handed out, his record was 4-0 with a 1.41 ERA.
Two other former Chicago-area standouts -- Florida State redshirt junior Ruairi O'Connor (Oak Park) and Miami (Fla.) redshirt sophomore Chris Gawenda (Lyons Township) -- were also with their teams in Omaha, but neither saw action.
O'Connor, an outfielder, appeared in 33 FSU games in 2008 with seven starts. He batted .300 with two home runs and eight driven in and scored 19 runs. He started 14 games in right field as a true freshman in 2005 and batted .296 in 2007 while playing in 44 games (29 starts). He broke his wrist early in the '06 campaign, forcing him to redshirt.
Gawenda, who plays both first base and outfield, saw action in 10 games in 2008 and went hitless in nine plate appearances. He played in six games as a reserve for the Hurricanes in 2006 and didn't play in '07.
Wheaton College women's soccer forward Taryne Lee (Wheaton Academy) was one of 11 national nominees for the Division III Honda Award, given annually to the nation's top collegiate athlete in all three NCAA classes.
The 2008 Division III award went to Willamette (Ore.) University cross-country runner Sarah Zerzan.
Lee, who will be a junior in the fall for the Thunder, has played a prominent role in Wheaton winning the last two Division III national championships. She capped the 2007 campaign by being named Division III National Player of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and also won the CCIW Most Outstanding Player award. She was only the second sophomore to win the NSCAA honor.
Lee scored a school single-season record 27 goals last fall and added nine assists. Her 63 total points also were a school single-season record. In her two seasons at Wheaton, Lee has scored 47 goals and recorded 24 assists for 118 total points.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun