Thursday, March 24, 2016

USTA Pro Circuit Announces Collegiate Series; Carson Preview; Kingsley Receives Qualifying Wild Card for WTA Volvo Car Open; Pro Update

The USTA Pro Circuit was not officially involved in the new Futures and Challengers that took place on college campuses last year, but that is changing this year, with the following announcement today:

The USTA today announced that the USTA Pro Circuit is launching the USTA Pro Circuit Collegiate Series, a circuit of more than 10 tournaments held on or near college campuses nationwide to provide a platform for college players to gain pro experience and transition to the pro ranks. The USTA Pro Circuit Collegiate Series will consist of events that complement a college player’s schedule, with most events being held in the fall semester, and will give players the chance to collect valuable ATP or WTA ranking points. 

The Collegiate Series is scheduled to begin the week of June 6 with a $25,000 men’s Futures event held at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., followed by a $25,000 men’s Futures event at Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C. The series will then continue in the fall with further men’s and women’s tournaments to be named with prize money ranging from $25,000 to $50,000. Ohio State will host a $50,000 men’s Challenger in mid-September, while two $25,000 men’s Futures events will take place near the University of California, Berkeley, in October.

All of the specified events above are men's events, but it sounds as if the women's events will be included in the fall segment.

Stephen Amritraj, the head of the Player Development Collegiate Division, has worked hard to provide these kinds of opportunities for college players in the past two years and it's fantastic that all the Pro Circuit resources can now be accessed by this initiative. The complete release can be found here.

Steve Pratt, the longtime media aide for the ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships in Carson, has provided his annual preview, which can be found here. Caty and John McNally have both withdrawn, but are still entered in the Grade B1 Easter Bowl the following week. Kayla Day and defending champion William Blumberg are scheduled to play in Carson, but will, along with Usue Arconada and Sonya Kenin, travel to China the following week for the ITF Junior Masters.  Amanda Anisimova, who will be the top seed in Carson, withdrew from the Easter Bowl.  The list of wild cards for Carson is here.

The qualifying wild cards were announced for next month's WTA Volvo Car Open in Charleston, with Raveena Kingsley receiving one, along with Ellie Halbauer, Laura Robson of Great Britain and Patty Schnyder of Switzerland.  Kaitlyn McCarthy of Duke, who was awarded a wild card into qualifying as a finalist of the Shape Invitational, is not able to use it, with Duke playing ACC matches against Virginia and Notre Dame the weekend of qualifying.  The complete release is here, although it mistakenly says that Kingsley received her wild card for making the finals of the Shape Invitational, which she did not play due to an injury.

It wasn't a great day for Americans in Miami or Naples.  Madison Brengle, Denis Kudla and Serena Williams did advance, as did Tim Smyczek, who beat fellow qualifier Tommy Paul 6-4, 5-7, 7-5.  Paul saved a match point with Smyczek serving at 5-4 in the second set and went on to force a third, but was broken in the opening game of the final set.  He got the break back to make 4-4 with some outstanding play, but at 5-all, Paul's first serve deserted him and he was broken, with Smyczek serving out the match in the next game.  Smyczek had beaten Paul in the final round of BNP Paribas qualifying 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, so I imagine Paul would have preferred a different opponent this week.

Late last night, wild card CiCi Bellis lost to Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

At the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Naples, all four remaining Americans were beaten today. No. 5 seed Katerina Stewart, Maria Sanchez, wild card Victoria Emma and Grace Min all fell in straight sets.

At the $25,000 USTA Men's Futures in Calabasas, Ernesto Escobedo, Eric Quigley and Mitchell Krueger have advanced to the quarterfinals.