Women's ITA Indoor Begins Friday; USTA Announces Junior and Collegiate Competition Organizational Realignment; Pro Circuit Update
The ITA Women's Team Indoor begins Friday at the Boar's Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Virginia, and I will be providing on-site coverage beginning with the two 9 a.m. matches though the two 6:30 p.m. matches.
The first two matches will feature No. 7 seed Alabama against Northwestern and No. 2 seed Duke against Baylor. At noon, top seed and defending champion UCLA will face Vanderbilt and No. 8 seed Miami meets Nebraska, who is playing in the Team Indoor for the first time in program history. When I was in Miami two weeks ago, Hurricane head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews mentioned that her team was still waiting for NCAA clearance for Monique Albuquerque, but according to the ITA preview, she has received it, and will be at the top of Miami's lineup.
Home team Virginia plays No. 3 seed USC at 3:30 p.m., which will be a test for both teams. Virginia's three freshmen have been outstanding in the fall and should give the more experienced Women of Troy a serious challenge. North Carolina, the No. 6 seed, also plays at 3:30, against Texas A&M.
The 6:30 p.m. matches feature Texas against No. 4 Georgia, who were also awaiting NCAA clearance for Ayaka Okuno the last I heard, and No. 5 Cal versus Michigan.
I will try to post brief updates here throughout the day, because waiting until the end of a very long day isn't practical with so many matches going so late.
While I was in Florida in December, there was talk of a change to the structure of the USTA regarding junior and collegiate competition. Today the specifics of that rumored change became clearer. Junior and Collegiate Competition, formerly a part of Player Development, will now be part of Youth and Collegiate Tennis, under USTA Managing Director Scott Schultz, who is under the Community Tennis area of the USTA. Today I received the following statement via email from Chris Widmaier, Managing Director of Corporate Communications for the USTA:
The USTA has decided to put a greater emphasis and focus on the Jr. Competitive pathway from 10 and under tennis all the way through to the collegiate ranks. Recognizing that Player Development's primary goal is to develop top 100 American players, we decided to create a youth and collegiate division in order to approach this important topic in a holistic and comprehensive way.
Overseeing this position is Scott Schultz, Managing Director of Youth and Collegiate Tennis, former college coach who ran a large player development program and has 30+ years in the tennis industry. To that end, we have assembled all of our volunteer committees dealing with youth tennis such as 10 and Under Tennis, Jr. Team Tennis, Jr. Competition and Sportsmanship, etc. to align within this new structure.
We have also reorganized the USTA staff structure to support the junior competitive pathway. This new staff structure allows for the all-important transition from one level to another to be more seamless. The creation of the Youth and Collegiate Tennis division has the support of our section leadership, our committees and the USTA Board.
In addition to this change, Patrick McEnroe, General Manager of Player Development for the USTA, and Kurt Kamperman, the USTA's Chief Executive of Community Tennis sent a letter to college coaches specific to their portion of the restructuring, adding the introduction of Dustin Taylor as the National Coach, Collegiate Tennis. Taylor, who has been with the USTA since 2010, will now oversee the USTA Collegiate Team, its collegiate camps, the Master U event and the junior vs. college competitions. These were previously handled by Erica Perkins Jasper, who left the USTA last summer to take the head coaching job at New Mexico, and her staff, including Elissa Hill, who remains, and will be joined by Virgil Christian and Bill Mountford in continuing the community outreach, as well as the USTA-sponsored college events.
The complete letter is available at the ITA website.
In today's Pro Circuit action, Rhyne Williams has reached the semifinals of the $100,000 Challenger of Dallas, defeating Alex Kuznetsov 6-4, 7-5. The unseeded Williams, who defeated No. 4 seed Rajeev Ram on Wednesday, will play the winner of tonight's match between top seed Jesse Levine and Frank Dancevic, both of Canada. Williams and former Tennessee teammate Tennys Sandgren are also in the doubles semifinals after a 6-4, 6-0 win today over top seeds Rik De Voest of South Africa and Marcelo Demoliner of Brazil.
At the women's $100,000 Dow Corning Tennis Classic in Midland, Michigan, most of the teenagers were eliminated, including both Vicky Duval and Sachia Vickery, but 18-year-old Jessica Pegula and 19-year-old Monica Puig both advanced to the quarterfinals. Former college stars Maria Sanchez, who beat Duval, and Mallory Burdette, who defeated Samantha Crawford, also advanced to Friday's quarterfinals. Top seed Laura Davis, 19, defeated fellow American Alexa Glatch 6-2, 6-2 and Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia, also 19, took out No. 6 seed Olga Puchkova of Russia.
Matches from both challengers are being live-streamed. See the pro circuit page at usta.com for links.