Friday, October 28, 2011

Live Blog for Indoor Intercollegiate; Wil Spencer in College Spotlight; Davis Helps Elton John's Team Win at Smash Hits; Washington Sets HS Record

I've been covering the ITA Indoor, which is now called the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, since 2004 and although it's always been distinguished by a very high level of play, given the 32-field draws, it really didn't have a lot of exposure or buzz until the USTA began its official sponsorship and started devoting its resources to improving the tournament's visibility. Hosting it at the USTA's Indoor Training Center in Flushing Meadows helps, and a trip to New York, even for those on the West Coast, adds a special excitement to the hours not spent at the courts.

Last year was the first year, and although I know there were complaints about the live scoring and a few other issues, mostly centering on transportation, I thought the tournament went very smoothly. It should be even better this year, with more players and coaches familiar with the venue, and with both the host school of Columbia and the USTA staff now having previous experience.

Today it was announced that there will be a live blog everyday via the "Cover It Live" technology, which is the internet chat software that I believe men's tennis SID Amanda Pruitt of the University of Tennessee pioneered for Division I college tennis a couple of years ago. The link has already been set up, and is available here. You can request a reminder via email now. If you can't make it to the tournament, join in. It's a great way to keep up with what's going on, and to get to know others in the college tennis community, if only by their chat nickname. For the USTA's release on the competitors, focusing on the Americans in the draw, as well as local players, see usta.com

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association has also stepped up this year, providing its own preview, photos of all competitors, including doubles teams, with links to their school's bio page. It's a great help in getting to put faces with the names you've been seeing in the draws this fall. See the ITA tournament page for all this and more.

A college tennis recruiting information session is also scheduled for Sunday morning. For more on that event, see this article from usta.com.

One of the participants at the Indoor, Georgia's Wil Spencer, is in the College Spotlight this week, and he explains the initiation to a new team, which he did twice--as a freshman at Texas A&M and again last fall, as a transfer to Georgia. Spencer also talks about missing competition, what he's learned from head coach Manny Diaz, and what he is working on now to improve his game.

Lauren Davis participated in last night's WTT Smash Hits, hosted annually by Elton John for AIDS charities, this year held in Cleveland, near Davis' hometown of Gates Mills Ohio. According to this account at the WTT website, Davis' 5-1 win over CoCo Vandeweghe in women's singles, helped John's team to a 19-18 win over Billie Jean King's team, although Andy Roddick also played a key role in the victory.

And congratulations to Amber Washington, who set a Minnesota state high school record with her sixth state title. This article from the Pioneer Press was prior to Washington's win, but she went on to beat Sonya Das 6-4, 7-5. For more on that match, see this article, also from the Pioneer Press.