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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Townsend, Brodsky Complete Women's Field at USTA's Australian Open WC Tournament; Smarr Retiring at Rice; More on Maryland Men's Tennis Cut

Taylor Townsend and Gail Brodsky complete the women's field at the USTA's Australian Open wild card playoff next month at the Racquet Club of the South. Brodsky, 20, is currently ranked 229 by the WTA, while the 15-year-old Townsend is ranked 428. Previously announced competitors in the event, scheduled for December 16-18, are: Jamie Hampton, Madison Keys, Grace Min, Melanie Oudin, Alison Riske and CoCo Vandweghe.

The names of the other five men's participants should be released soon. The three players previously announced are Robby Ginepri, Denis Kudla and Jack Sock. For more on the event, see the tournament website australianwildcard.com.

It's been widely known for some time that Ron Smarr, head coach of the Rice men's team since 1998, was retiring at the end of this season. Smarr coached for more than 40 years, including 13 years at South Carolina and ten years at Colorado prior to joining Rice. Efe Ustundag, who has served as Smarr's assistant for the past seven years, will assume the head coaching position when Smarr leaves. For more on Smarr's career, see this article from the Houston Chronicle.

Kelyn Soong has been following the University of Maryland athletic cuts closely and I spoke to him several days ago about the prospects for keeping the men's tennis team. Having seen both Arizona State and Colorado drop their men's tennis programs in the past five years, I wasn't optimistic about Maryland's prospects for survival, and this was before I had heard the president's announcment yesterday. Soong also spoke to Liz Clarke of the Washington Post about the cuts, and he wrote this article about the situation for the USTA Mid-Atlantic section.