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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Har-Tru Sponsors USTA French Open Wildcard Challenge; USTA Junior Competiton Changes Passed by Sections; Kiick Verbally Commits to Florida; Virginia and Duke Men Meet Friday in College MatchDay

A few days ago the USTA announced it would again distribute its French Open men's and women's wild cards by WTA and ATP points earned in upcoming Pro Circuit events.  With those events on Har-Tru, the prevalent clay surface in the US, it makes sense for that company, based in Charlottesville, Va., to sponsor what is called the Wild Card Challenge, and they have signed a three-year deal to do so.

The two best results from three April tournaments will decide who gets the reciprocal wild cards, with ATP or WTA points the method of keeping score.

The men's tournaments are the Sarasota $100,000 Challenger April 15th, the Savannah $50,000 Challenger April 22nd and the $50,000 Tallahassee Challenger April 29th.

The women's tournaments are all $50,000 tournaments: April 15th in Dothan, April 22nd in Charlottesville and April 29th in Indian Harbour Beach.

Brian Baker and Melanie Oudin won the French wild cards last year and it was the first time the USTA used that method to decide the recipients. I think it has been a popular change, with players not sacrificing possible ranking points for a separate tournament, which is how the Australian wild card is decided (although it is at a time of year--December--when there are few tournaments).  The USTA also instituted the same method for distributing one of its US Open wild cards last summer, with Mallory Burdette and Steve Johnson earning those. Current college players will not be in the running for the French wild card, due to the time of year, but I'm sure many former ones will be competing.

The complete announcement is here.

The USTA junior competition revisions were passed by the sections during the annual meeting in Florida, and await approval from the board, which meets next month, before implementation can begin.  For more on the changes and the timeline, see this article at usta.com.

Prior to playing Madison Keys in the first round at the Sony Open last night, a match she lost 6-0, 6-0, Allie Kiick was featured in this article in the Miami Herald.  Although her two qualifying wins may have given her second thoughts, Kiick reveals that she has verbally committed to the University of Florida for this fall. 

For more on wild card Vicky Duval's first round win on Wednesday, see this Miami Herald article by Sandra Harwitt.

Top-ranked Virginia will host No. 8 Duke on Friday at 3 p.m. in the second of this year's USTA College MatchDays. Whether it is played indoors or outdoors has yet to be decided, but Ken Thomas of radiotennis.com will be on hand to provide live play-by-play of the ACC opener for both teams.


FYI said...


Mehdi Bouras, one of the greatest players in UNLV men’s tennis history, died Thursday after becoming ill this week. He was 24.

Bouras was in Costa Mesa, Calif., to play in an International Tennis Federation futures event when he became sick.

Bouras had a 66-36 match record with the Rebels. As a senior in 2011, he became the first UNLV player since 1997 to compete in the NCAA singles and doubles tournaments.

“I loved the kid so much, and everyone that met him loved him,” UNLV coach Owen Hambrook said in a statement. “Mehdi just had unbelievable character, was a model student-athlete, a great tennis player and a wonderful ambassador for UNLV. Our sincerest condolences go out to his family. He will never be forgotten by all of us who knew him.”

UNLV basketball player Justin Hawkins tweeted: “And there goes my day RIP Mehdi Bouras you will truly be missed.”

Former UNLV football player Aaron Reed tweeted: “RIP to a great friend and a better athlete. Mehdi Bouras you will be forever missed my brother.”

Bouras in 2011 was named Mountain West men’s player of the year as well as the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Mountain Region Senior Player of the Year. In 2009, he was the conference Freshman of the Year.

Bouras lost a season of eligibility at UNLV because he had a year of academic residence. He was an outstanding student, a two-time ITA Scholar-Athlete and three-time Academic All-Mountain West. Bouras was named UNLV’s top scholar-athlete in 2009.

He was born in Algiers, but signed with the Rebels out of Paris.

At the time of his death, Bouras was ranked No. 986 in singles in the ATP World Tour and No. 1,321 in doubles. He had been living in Miami.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.