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Monday, April 15, 2024

First ITF Junior Circuit Titles for Mekhael, Ikwueme and Ahmad; USTA Roland Garros WC Challenge Standings; Searle Beats Top Seed Wolf, Kuzuhara and Lilov Qualify at Tallahassee Challenger; Easter Bowl 16s Finals Videos

In addition to the three titles won by Americans at the J200 in Canada last week, which I covered on Friday and Saturday, six more titles were claimed by US players in J30s and J60s last week on the ITF Junior Circuit.  The three singles titles earned were the first ITF Junior Circuit titles for 13-year-old Izyan Ahmad, 15-year-old Ariana Ikwueme and 16-year-old Nicholas Mekhael.

Ahmad, who was a B14s finalist last month at the USTA Easter Bowl, was making his ITF Junior Circuit debut last week at the J30 in Mexico City. I'm not sure how he made the main draw without a wild card, but unseeded, Ahmad won six matches, five in straight sets, to claim the title. In the championship match, he beat unseeded Nicolas Rivera Paz of Mexico 7-6(1), 6-2.

At the J30 in Trinidad and Tobago, Ikwueme also won her first title without the benefit of a seed, although it was the ninth ITF Junior Circuit tournament she's played. The five-star freshman from Virginia defeated No. 7 seed Ciara Harding 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the all-US final. Harding did capture the girls doubles, with partner Tajaswini Narala. The unseeded American pair defeated No. 2 seeds Daisy Clifford of Great Britain and Jordane Dookie of Trinidad and Tobago 3-6, 6-3, 10-5 in the final. Colter Amey took out the top seed in the boys draw and reached the final. 

At the J60 in the Dominican Republic, Americans won three titles, including Mekhael's in boys singles. After defeating the top seed in the second round, Mekhael cruised into the final without dropping a set, while receiving two retirements. In the all-US championship match, the five-star junior from New Jersey defeated No. 12 seed Matthew Shaprio 6-2, 6-2.

Thirteen-year-old Lani Chang, daughter of Michael Chang and Amber Liu, made her ITF Junior Circuit debut and reached the final. There was no qualifying for the girls, so she was directly into the main draw, where she beat four seeds, including a victory over the top seed in the semifinals, before falling to No. 8 seed Yihan Qu of China 6-1, 6-0. 

Jordan Papadopoulos and his partner Xingyu Chan won the doubles title in the Dominican Republic, with the eighth-seeded pair beating No. 2 seeds Giancarlo Rosario and Jossting Cruz of the Dominican Republic 7-5, 6-3 in the final. The unseeded team of Regina Alcobe Garibay and Briley Rhoden won the girls doubles title, beating top seeds Ika Raju Kanumuri of Indian and Yasmin Vavrova of Slovakia 2-6, 6-3, 10-7 in the final. 

Last week's W35 in Boca Raton had an impact on the USTA's Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge standings, although Katie Volynets retains her lead from the week before. But two good weeks from Katrina Scott and Akasha Urhobo put them in the Top 5; Liv Hovde also moved into the top 4 with her title last week.

There was little change in the men's rankings, with Nicolas Moreno de Alboran(UC-Santa Barbara) continuing to lead, although Tennys Sandgren did move into the top 5 with his semifinal run at the Sarasota Challenger last week. There are two more weeks for the men (including this week) and three more weeks for the women to earn ATP/WTA points, with the best three results counting in the race.

Men's Standings after Week 2 (current rankings in parentheses):

1. Nicolas Moreno de Alboran (140) -- 63
2. Michael Mmoh (111) -- 50
T3. JJ Wolf (102) -- 25
T3. Aleks Kovacevic (97) -- 25
5. Tennys Sandgren (264) -- 22

Women's Standings after Week 2:

1. Katie Volynets (104) -- 57
2. Katrina Scott (412) -- 49
3. Akasha Urhobo (641) -- 37
4. Liv Hovde (272) -- 35
T5. Amanda Anisimova (238) -- 32
T5. Shelby Rogers (350) -- 32

The qualifying is complete and first round action has begun at the ATP Challenger 75 in Tallahassee Florida, with a big upset to start the tournament this evening.  2023 Wimbledon boys champion Henry Searle of Great Britain, currently 764 in the ATP rankings, took on top seed JJ Wolf(Ohio State) tonight and came away with the 7-5, 7-6(6) victory in a tense, well-played first round match.

Wolf, currently 102 in the ATP rankings, has lost in the first round as the top seed in the USTA Pro Circuit Challengers two weeks in a row now and is in danger of not making the main draw of Roland Garros this year.  Searle was granted a place in the main draw by virtue of the ATP/ITF Accelerator Program; ITF World No. 1 junior Joel Schwaerzler of Austria, utilizing his second straight Accelerator spot in a Challenger main draw, also got a victory today, his first, by beating Giovanni Fonio of Italy 6-2, 6-4. The two 18-year-olds will play each other in the second round Wednesday.

Young Americans Bruno Kuzuhara and Victor Lilov advanced to the main draw with final round qualifying wins over Alex Rybakov(TCU) and Ajeet Rai of New Zealand, respectively. 

Three top American juniors received wild cards into qualifying Alexander Razeghi, Roy Horovitz and Ian Mayew. Alexander Frusina and Australian Open boys champion Rei Sakamoto of Japan were also in qualifying via the Accelerator program. But only Mayew managed to win his first round match Sunday, beating former Baylor All-American Adrian Boitan of Romania 6-4, 6-4.  Mayew lost to No. 3 seed Corentin Denolly of France 7-6(4), 6-3 after leading 4-1 in the first set tiebreaker in today's final round of qualifying.

Wild cards were awarded to Stefan Kozlov, who beat 2022 Orange Bowl champion Gerard Campana Lee of Korea 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the first round today; Kaylan Bigun, who won a round last week in Sarasota as a qualifier; and Duarte Vale(Florida) of Portugal. I'm surprised no current Florida State players or alums are among the wild cards. No. 3 seed Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M) lost to Calvin Hemery of France 7-6(2), 6-3 in first round action today. 

Videos of the Easter Bowl 16s finals are below. The boys 16s is considerable longer than the girls because the boys final was played a day early and was therefore the only final going at the time, while the girls final was played while the 18s final were also in progress.  My photo gallery from the Easter Bowl is up at the Tennis Recruiting Network and can be found here.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Hovde Claims Fourth USTA Pro Circuit Title at W35 in Boca Raton; Sarasota Challenger Doubles Title for Boyer; Kentucky Men Earn SEC Championship with 4-3 Win Over Tennessee; Easter Bowl Gallery, 14s Finals Videos

Liv Hovde won her fourth USTA Pro Circuit title in her fifth final today at the W35 in Boca Raton Florida, with the 18-year-old defeating 17-year-old wild card Akasha Urhobo 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Hovde, the No. 5 seed, didn't hold serve until the fourth game of the second set, despite getting 80 percent of her first serves in; Urhobo was also unable to take advantage after that first set, however, holding just once in the final set. 

Hovde, the 2022 Wimbledon girls champion, should be close to the top 250 when the points are added, which may give her a chance at the qualifying at Roland Garros.

At the ATP Challenger 75 this week in Sarasota, unseeded Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee) was the last American competing in singles and he lost Saturday in the semifinals to No. 4 seed Zizou Bergs of Belgium 6-2, 3-6, 6-4. He then was scheduled to play both his semifinal and final matches in doubles that same afternoon, with Ethan Quinn(Georgia). Quinn and Sandgren won their semifinal, but lost in the final last night, to Tristan Boyer(Stanford) and Oliver Crawford(Florida) of Great Britain 6-4, 6-2.  It's Boyer's first doubles title as a pro, at any level; Crawford has one other doubles title, claimed nearly five years ago at a $25K. 

No. 3 seed Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia won the singles title, beating Bergs 6-3, 1-6, 6-0. 

At the ATP Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo, former collegians Joran Vliegen(East Carolina) and Sander Gille(E Tennessee St) of Belgium won their eighth ATP title, and first Masters title, beating Marcelo Melo of Brazil and Alexander Zverev of Germany 5-7, 6-3, 10-5 in the final. With the title, the pair are back into the ATP Top 20, tied for 19th and just off their career-highs of 17 and 18. For more on their title, see this article from the ATP website.

Today was the last day of regular season play for the SEC, Big 12 and ACC, with regular season conference champions crowned. The Oklahoma State women finished a perfect 24-0, capturing the B12 regular season title for the first time since 2017. The Texas men went 7-0 in the Big 12 to claim the men's regular season title.

In the ACC, the Virginia men won their fourth straight conference title, all of them with perfect 12-0 records. The senior class of Chris Rodesch, Inaki Montes, Jeffrey von der Schulenburg and Alex Kiefer are 48-0 in conference play during their four years, a remarkable accomplishment. The Virginia women will share the conference regular season title with North Carolina; both teams suffered one loss, UNC to NC State and Virginia to UNC. North Carolina receives the top seed in next week's ACC conference tournament.

The SEC women also have a shared title, with Texas A&M and Georgia both finishing the year with one conference loss. The Aggies lost to Georgia; Georgia fell to Auburn.

The men's SEC title came down to today's match between No. 5 Kentucky and No. 6 Tennessee. Kentucky had already clinched a share of the title, with Tennessee having a loss to Texas A&M, but a win today in Lexington would give the Wildcats a perfect conference record and the outright conference championship. The match was as close as anticipated, with Kentucky winning the doubles point in a tiebreaker at line 3 after the teams had split lines 1 and 2 by 7-5 scores. 

Tennessee took the first two points in singles, with Johannus Monday at 1 and Angel Diaz at 6 getting straight-sets victories over Taha Baadi and Eli Stephenson, but Kentucky tied it up when Charlelie Cosnet beat Nicholas Kobelt 7-6(7), 6-3 at line 4. That was the last match decided in straight sets, with lines 2, 3 and 5 all going three. Tennessee got the flip they needed at line 2, with Shunsuke Matsui beating Joshua Lapadat 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, but Jaden Weekes brought the Wildcats to 3-all with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win over Christopher Li. That meant two freshman left-handers would decide the match at line 5, with Jack Loutit leading Filip Pieczonka 3-1 when all the attention went to that match. Pieczonka, down 2 breaks, got one break back and a had a deciding point with Loutit serving at 4-3, but he made an unforced error early in the point, giving Loutit the hold and a 5-3 lead. Pieczonka forced him to serve it out, but he did, finishing off the match with a spectacular passing shot.

For more on the Kentucky conference title and this match, see this UK Athletics article.

The Tennis Recruiting Network published my Easter Bowl Photo Gallery today, which includes shots of the top eight finishers in all eight divisions. 

I processed the 14s videos, which, due to the simultaneous nature of the finals of the 12s and 14s divisions, are not as long as I would like. Expect the 16s and 18s videos next week.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Urhobo and Hovde Reach Boca Raton W35 Final; Exsted Wins ITF J200 in Canada; USA Advances to Billie Jean King Cup Finals; Easter Bowl 12s Finals Videos

Seventeen-year-old wild card Akasha Urhobo will play in her first USTA Pro Circuit final Sunday at the W35 in Boca Raton Florida against 18-year-old Liv Hovde, who will be competing in a USTA Pro Circuit final for the fifth time, after each posted tough straight-sets victories in today's semfinals.

Urhobo, from Ft. Lauderdale Florida, defeated No. 8 seed Maya Joint of Australia 6-4, 7-5 in just under two hours; Hovde, the No. 5 seed, ended the winning streak of last week's W35 champion in Mississippi, 19-year-old Katrina Scott, 6-4, 6-4.

Hovde, the 2022 Wimbledon girls champion, has won three Pro Circuit titles, two W35s and one W15, with her last one a W35 11 months ago. Hovde and Urhobo met a year ago in the first round of the W100 in Charleston, with Hovde winning 6-0, 6-0, so motivation should not be a problem for Urhobo.

In the doubles final, two former UCLA Bruins, Robin Anderson and Australia's Elysia Bolton, won the title, beating Rasheeda McAdoo(Georgia Tech) and Maribella Zamarripa(Texas) 3-6, 6-4, 10-8. Neither team was seeded.

Nadia Lagaev and Max Exsted
No. 3 seed Maxwell Exsted won the title at the J200 in Woodbridge Ontario today, with the 17-year-old from Minnesota defeating top seed Cooper Woestendick 6-3, 7-6(3) in the first ITF Junior Circuit contest between the reigning Australian Open boys doubles champions. It's the fourth and biggest singles title of Exsted's ITF Junior Circuit career; the 2022 Eddie Herr 16s champion has eight ITF junior doubles titles, four of them with Woestendick.

No. 4 seed Nadia Lagaev of Canada won the girls singles title, beating unseeded 15-year-old Nancy Lee 6-4, 6-1.

The USA will again have its team in the Billie Jean King Cup world final late this year in Seville Spain, after this weekend's 4-0 win over Belgium in World Group qualifying. The US team, with Lindsay Davenport in her first appearance as captain, came into today with a 2-0 lead that was hard to come by; both Jessica Pegula and Emma Navarro(Virginia) dropped their first sets to 19-year-olds Sofia Costoulas(WTA 279) and Hanne Vandewinkel(WTA 278) before claiming the victories last night. Today, Pegula clinched the win with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Vandewinkel, with Taylor Townsend and Caroline Dolehide winning the fourth point in a dead rubber of doubles. For more, see this article from the BJK Cup website.

I've completed processing of the videos of the Easter Bowl 12s finals, which took place at the same time as the 14s finals, so they are all going to be brief. The boys 12s final could not be shot from behind, so there are two separate videos of champion Jiarui Zhang and finalist Nathan Lee. The girls final is all of one, very long game in the second set.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Four Teens Reach Semifinals at Boca Raton W35; Exsted, Woestendick and Lee Advance to ITF J200 Finals in Canada; Xu and Bonding Claim British National 18s Titles; Duke Men Beat No. 7 Wake Forest

Last week, teens Katrina Scott, Maya Joint and Akasha Urhobo reached the semifinals of the W35 in Mississippi; this week at the USTA Pro Circuit W35 in Boca Raton Florida all three have again reached the semifinals, with No. 5 seed Liv Hovde joining them, guaranteeing a teen champion for the second week in a row.

Nineteen-year-old Scott, who won the title last week and received a special exemption into the main draw by virtue of that, defeated No. 7 seed Ana Sofia Sanchez of Mexico 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in three hours and 18 minutes in today's quarterfinals and will face 18-year-old Hovde, who beat wild card Ashton Bowers 6-1, 6-1. 

No. 8 seed Maya Joint of Australia, whose worse finish in an ITF women's World Tennis Tour event this year is the quarterfinals, needed three hours and 12 minutes to beat No. 4 seed Varvara Lepchenko today 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Joint, who turns 18 next week, has won two ITF WTT women's titles this year. She will face 17-year-old Akasha Urhobo, who defeated qualifier Hiroko Kuwata of Japan 6-4, 6-1. 

This will be a first meeting in both of the semifinals.

The singles finals are set at the ITF J200 in Ontario Canada, with Australian Open doubles champions Cooper Woestendick and Maxwell Exsted meeting in the boys final, while Nancy Lee will play Canadian Nadia Lagaev in the girls final.

Woestendick, the No. 1 seed, beat No. 6 seed Kase Schinnerer 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(4) in today's semifinals, with No. 3 seed Exsted having a similar challenge in his 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 win over unseeded Nicholas Arseneault of Canada. Woestendick and Exsted will be playing for the first time in ITF Junior Circuit competiton. 

The 15-year-old Lee, who won the Easter Bowl 14s title last year, defeated No. 7 seed Jessica Bernales 7-6(4), 3-6, 7-5 to advance to the biggest final on the ITF Junior Circuit. The 16-year-old Lagaev, the No. 4 seed, who defeated unseeded Ameia Sorey 6-0, 6-0, has won J100 titles, but this would be her biggest ITF Junior Circuit title.

The doubles finals were played today, with all-USA teams competing for the titles. No. 2 seeds Bernales and Kate Fakih, the No. 2 seeds, won the girls title without dropping a set, beating unseeded Kayla Moore and Vessa Turley 6-3, 6-3 in the final. 

No. 1 seeds Nikita Filin and Matthew Forbes won the boys title, defeating No. 2 seeds Schinnerer and Matisse Farzam 5-7, 7-6(6), 10-8 in the final. 

The finals of the Lexus Junior National 18s Championships in Great Britain were today, with Oliver Bonding and Mingge Xu taking the titles. 

Top seed Bonding, who lost in the finals last year, defeated No. 4 seed Charlie Robertson 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. Xu, the No. 2 seed, beat top seed Hannah Klugman 6-7(4), 7-6(7), 6-4 for the girls title. 

In addition to Wimbledon Junior wild cards, which neither is likely to need, Bonding and Xu will receive men's and women's qualifying wild cards at Wimbledon this summer.

Draws can be found here.

Eight of the Top 10 Division I women's teams were in late season conference action today, and all won their matches as expected.

In men's play today, just two Top 10 teams played, and one of them lost, with No. 7 Wake Forest losing to No. 14 Duke 4-1 at home.  

Duke won the doubles point in a tiebreaker at line 1, with Garrett Johns and Pedro Rodenas beating the ITA's top-ranked team of DK Suresh and Holden Koons 7-6(2) after Michael Heller and Andrew Zhang had taken doubles line 2.

Each team won three first sets, but Duke sophomore Rodenas, who has struggled a bit this year, at least compared to his freshman year, quickly made it 2-0, beating Sureash 6-0, 6-4. Wake Forest got its point next, with Lucciano Tacchi beating Connor Krug 6-3, 7-6(6) at line 4, and that was the last of the straight-sets matches. Andrew Zhang and Faris Khan, both of whom had lost their first sets, forced third sets at 3 and 6, and Alex Visser at 5 and Johns at 1, both of whom had won their first sets, finished off their matches, with Visser defeating Koons 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 and Johns beating Fillipo Moroni 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. 

This win helps solidify Duke's Top 16 position, allowing it to host the first two rounds of the NCAAs. The full box score is here.

The other top 10 men's team in action today is No. 5 Kentucky, who is playing No. 38 Georgia in Lexington and that match was moved indoors, where there are only four courts. Kentucky currently leads 3-1.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

USA Teams for Junior Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup, World Junior Tennis Qualifying; Five Teenagers Advance to Boca Raton W35 Quarterfinals; ITA Announces Four Sites for 2025, 2026 Team Indoor Championships; UTR Pro Tennis Tour Results

The North and Central American and Caribbean qualifying for the ITF's Junior Davis Cup, Junior Billie Jean King Cup (16-and-under) and World Junior Tennis(14-and-under) competitions begin next Wednesday in Lake Nona, with the USA rosters as follows:

Junior Davis Cup
Jack Kennedy
Carel Ngounoue
Jack Secord
Jose Caballero (captain)

Junior BJK Cup
Thea Frodin
Shannon Lam
Kristina Penickova
Georgi Rumenov (captain)
WJT - Boys
Michael Antonius
Jordan Lee
Teodor Davidov
Sylvain Guichard (captain)

WJT - Girls
Welles Newman
Margaret Sohns
Sarah Ye
Thierry Champion (captain)

Canada and Mexico will also have teams in all four competitions; the list of the three other countries sending teams to the three-day competition can be found here.

Friday's quarterfinals at the USTA Pro Circuit W35 in Boca Raton will feature five teenagers, including two wild cards. The oldest is Katrina Scott, last week's champion at the W35 in Mississippi, who received a special exempt entry into the main draw this week and beat Maria Kozyreva(St. Mary's) of Russia 6-3, 6-3 in the second round today. Scott, who turns 20 in June, will face No. 7 seed Ana Sofia Sanchez of Mexico Friday. Eighteen-year-olds Ashton Bowers and Liv Hovde will face off in the only all-US quarterfinal, with Bowers, a wild card advancing when Jamie Loeb(UNC) retired trailing 2-6, 6-3, 4-2, and No. 5 seed Hovde getting past Alana Smith(NC State) 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.  

In the bottom half, 17-year-old Maya Joint of Australia will face No. 4 seed Vavara Lepchenko, with Joint breezing past qualifier Kayla Cross of Canada 6-1, 6-1. Seventeen-year-old Akasha Urhobo defeated No. 6 seed Maria Mateas(Duke) 6-4, 7-5 and will play qualifier Hiroko Kuwata of Japan. Kuwata, 33, beat No. 2 seed Jana Kolodynska of Belarus 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 today.

After yesterday's announcement of a format change for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in 2025 and 2026, there was a second release today naming the hosts for the split opening rounds. Baylor and SMU will host the men's championships in 2025 and 2026, Illinois and Northwestern will host the women's championships in 2025 and 2026. For more details and comments from the hosting coaches, see this article.

I had vowed to provide more frequent UTR Pro Tennis Tour updates this year, but the number of events hasn't been quite as large as in years past, so there are only seven results since I posted those from January here

February 11 Boca Raton FL
Maria Kozyreva d. Cadence Brace, walkover

February 26 Long Beach CA
Christina Lyutova d. Ava Markham 6-3, 6-1

March 10 Boca Raton FL
Mia Horvit d. Malkia Ngounoue 6-4, 6-1

April 1 Newport Beach CA
Megan McCray d. Kayla Chung 7-6(1), 6-4

February 26 Boca Raton FL 
Noah Rubin d. Vito Tonejc 6-0, 6-0

March 4 Long Beach CA
Sema Pankin d. Alexey Nesterov 7-6(5), 7-5

March 24 Newport Beach CA
Miles Jones d. Thomas Brown 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(2)

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Urhobo, Joint Advance at W35 in Boca Raton; SoCal Pro Series Begins Next Month; ITA Announces Revamp of National Team Indoor Format; San Diego ITF J300 Videos

At the USTA Pro Circuit W35 in Boca Raton, two 17-year-olds who have been having success continued that trend, with No. 8 seed Maya Joint of Australia, and Akasha Urhobo, a wild card, advancing to the second round. Joint, a University of Texas signee, beat Jessie Aney(North Carolina) 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4 in three hours and six minutes; Urhobo took out fellow 17-year-old Victoria Osuigwe, a lucky loser, 6-1, 6-4. Joint's second round opponent is 19-year-old qualifier Kayla Cross of Canada, who beat Robin Anderson(UCLA) 6-1, 6-3; Urhobo, who reached the semifinals last week at the W35 in Mississippi, will face No. 6 seed Maria Mateas. 

Top seed Elvina Kalieva lost her first round match 6-3, 6-4 to Maria Kozyreva(St. Mary's) of Russia, who was a Tennis Recuiting Network March Ace for her first ITF World Tennis Tour title last month at a $50K in Brazil. 

At the ATP Challenger 75 in Sarasota, qualifier Stefan Kozlov defeated Ethan Quinn(Georgia) 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinals, where he'll play Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee), who beat Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan 6-2, 1-6, 6-2. Mitchell Krueger, a 6-4, 6-0 winner over Martin Damm, will face No. 4 seed Zizou Bergs of Belgium, who beat 17-year-old qualifier Kaylan Bigun by the same score in the final match of the day. Those quarterfinal matches will take place Friday; second round matches for the bottom half are scheduled for Thursday, with just one American, Tristan Boyer(Stanford), still in contention for a quarterfinal spot in that half of the draw.

With a dearth of $15Ks available on the current USTA Pro Circuit calendars, today's announcement that the SoCal Pro Series is back for its third year is a welcome one.  For seven consecutive weeks, beginning on May 27th, there will be an opportunity to compete for ATP and WTA ranking points at familiar venues in Southern California. That other sections have not seen the value of this kind of circuit and sponsored something similar is disappointing, but all credit goes to USTA SoCal for stepping up to the plate to provide their players with abundant opportunities to jump-start their pro careers.  

A complete list of the tournaments and locations, as well as information on the prequalifying events and wild cards (reserved for SoCal players or collegians competing in SoCal) can be found here

You can file this under "ITA issues I didn't know needed addressing," but the ITA announced today that the next ITA National Team Indoor Championships will undergo a format change, with dual sites until the semifinals. I have been hearing for many years that there are few schools bidding to host the championships; perhaps this has reached a breaking point now, but all this comes as a surprise to me, so it might take me a while to understand the implications. Here's what will happen in 2025 and beyond. 

  • Eight (8) teams will begin at each partner institution (two schools within 200 miles of each other that will serve as co-hosts)
  • Each site will host the opening two rounds of play on their campuses
  • After the second round, the two (2) semifinalists from the secondary site will travel to the primary site, while all four (4) semifinalists will be given this day off for travel, rest and practice
  • For those teams in the back draw, they will remain at the site in which they began and will play their third and final matches during this off day for the semifinalists
  • Both co-hosts will receive wild cards into the event and ITA Kickoff Weekend will be reduced from 15 sites (60 teams) to 14 sites (56 teams). The ITA notes that, with declines and passes, the last team accepted into the Kickoff Weekend Draft typically falls between #62-80 in the final rankings leaving a high probability of the final top 60 gaining entry despite this change.
I'm not sure this is ideal(I'm still ambivalent about the NCAAs going from 16 teams to 8 at the finals site) for fans who want to watch as many of the top teams as possible in a three-day stretch, but I guess I'll reserve judgement until I see who is hosting in 2024 and 2025, which the ITA says will be announced on Thursday. Stay tuned.

The ITF J300 San Diego videos are available now and are embedded below. There are two for the girls final, because there is no way to get behind the court the final was played on, with the boys final being played at the same time on Stadium Court, which does have that access. My recap of last month's tournament is available at the Tennis Recruiting Network.