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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

USTA Names Mat Cloer National Collegiate Coach; US Girls Advance at Junior Fed Cup, Boys Fall Again in Junior Davis Cup; Grass Court Tennis in Wisconsin

USTA General Manager of Player Development Martin Blackman announced today that Mat Cloer has been named National Collegiate Coach. Cloer, who has been coaching and traveling with 2016 NCAA champion Mackenzie McDonald, takes over the position that Stephen Amritraj vacated this spring when he joined UTR.  Actually Amritraj was Director of Collegiate Tennis for the USTA when he left; Cloer may eventually receive that designation, but he will start as National Collegiate Coach. Also revealed in the release (below) is that Troy Hahn is now in the position of Lead Men's Coach at the USTA. That may not have been news to others, but I hadn't seen reference to that prior to today.

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., September 26, 2018 – The USTA today announced that Mat Cloer, a former college All-American and assistant coach who helped guide Mackenzie McDonald to a career-high No. 77 world-ranking this summer, has been hired as USTA Player Development’s new Collegiate National Coach.

Cloer will be charged with facilitating the development of American men and women in the ATP World Tour and WTA Top 100 through the collegiate pathway, reporting to Team USA Pro – Men’s and Women’s Lead National Coaches Troy Hahn and Kathy Rinaldi out of the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla.

"The Collegiate National Coach position is a very important position and role,” said USTA Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman. “It is so important for us to support our best collegiate players by working closely with their college coaches to optimize their development in college. As the game becomes more physical in both the men's and women's pro space, college tennis presents our best juniors with a great opportunity to mature emotionally, intellectually, physically and mentally before embarking on a pro career. Mat's skill as a great coach and great communicator make him ideal for this role."

For the past year and a half, Cloer has worked with USTA Player Development as a National Coach in men’s tennis, working primarily with McDonald, the former NCAA champion UCLA Bruin who reached his career-high this summer after a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon. Cloer also worked with former collegians Chris Eubanks and Kevin King, both of whom have achieved career-high rankings this past spring and summer.

Prior to joining USTA Player Development, Cloer spent three seasons as an assistant men’s coach at North Carolina State (2013-16) and four seasons at his alma mater Florida State (2007-11), where he was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s South Region Assistant Coach of the Year in 2009-10.

A native of Brevard, N.C., Cloer was a two-time ACC Player of the Year with the Seminoles, as well as the program’s first All-American. He was also the recipient of the ITA Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award and graduated with a degree in Sports Management.

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The top-seeded US girls won again today in the second day of round robin play at the Junior Fed Cup in Budapest, but the boys, seeded No. 3, were beaten again, losing to Brazil 2-1, without their injured No. 1 player, Toby Kodat.  According to the article on the ITF Junior Circuit website, the US girls have already qualified for the quarterfinals, even with another day left in round robin play. I assume the boys have been eliminated.  For all results from today, see the ITF tournament page.


Back in August, I was contacted by Tad Eckert, a prominent high school coach in Illinois, informing me there were new grass courts available for play in Wisconsin, which his New Trier team and Marquette High christened back in July. I was so busy I didn't get a chance to respond, but he reminded me of it again after I posted on the Division III participation in the Hall of Fame Invitational this month, and he offered to write about it. Below is his account of his team's experience:

The Midwest has a new public/resort grass court tennis facility in Wisconsin, as Sand Valley Golf Resort opened up their first bank of grass tennis courts on July 25, 2018 with a boys high school exhibition match between New Trier HS (IL) and Marquette HS (WI).
The college format match was played on 3 grass courts with 3 doubles and 6 singles matches.  New Trier was victorious 7-2 with rising sophomore Max Bengtsson of New Trier (#55 on Tennis Recruiting in Class of 2021) defeating Joel Pan at the 1 singles line.
Next summer the next two banks of courts will open up in a unique sand dunes setting allowing for play on 9 courts simultaneously.  There is space for 5 courts within each bank so net placement can be shifted and the usual grass court wear spots can be minimized.
“Playing on grass is on every avid tennis player’s bucket list and Sand Valley has filled that dream for our team.  It was a special opportunity to open their grass court tennis facility against our friendly intra-state rival Marquette WI and the players and coaches really felt like they were at Wimbledon.  Being an exhibition we were more concerned about the experience than winning, and at the end of the day everyone won.”  reflected Tad Eckert, New Trier Head Coach.
According to Eckert, “The grass courts at Sand Valley were in pristine condition, low bouncing, fast, but very playable.  Our players were able to hit all their usual shots but also learned to adjust.  Big serves were more difficult to return, slices skidded lower and were more effective.  Movement wise, trying to change directions quickly led to some slipping/falling, so measured steps and moving forward were rewarded.”
“During the match and on the bus ride home our players couldn’t stop talking about the cool shots they hit, skipping slices, drop shots that rolled, and even laughing about bad bounces or taking a tumble or two.  I’m not even sure where else in the Midwest we could play on grass courts, so we’ll definitely be back at Sand Valley to have our Wimbledon experience again!” exclaimed Eckert. 
Sand Valley is located 45 miles north of Wisconsin Dells in the middle of Wisconsin and offers world class golf – their initial Sand Valley course is ranked in the top 100 in the US and by 2020 they will have 4 golf courses.  With 9 courts, they have made a big commitment to grass court tennis by tapping into their turf growing & maintenance knowledge from their golf course operations.  Lodging, farm to table dining, hiking trails, bike routes, & fishing are also available at the resort.

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