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Thursday, May 9, 2019

UTR Announces Open Series; NCAA Reveals Fields for Division III Individual Championships; Division II Regionals Begin This Weekend

One of the major frustrations for players interested in playing in Open tournaments has been finding out about them with enough advance notice to work them into their schedules. These money tournaments are a significant source of funds for some players, who must find ways to augment their earnings from the ITF events that provide the points necessary to advance to the ATP and WTA tours.

UTR today announced that it is now providing a no-cost platform for organizers of these Open tournaments, as well as those hosting wild card events, to display and manage their events, with the goal of providing more opportunities for players who are not able to navigate the ins and outs of the new ITF World Tennis Tour.

I spoke with UTR's Chief Tennis Officer Stephen Amritraj earlier this week about this new Open Series initiative.

"We got a lot of outreach from prize money events and wild card events from across the country that utilize our rating," Amritraj said.  "Because they're pulling in juniors, collegiate players, future-level pros and they've been using our rating for a handful of years to see where those players are on a single platform. So as we built out a tournament management platform, we are aggregating and consolidating all these Open tournaments on our platform, to basically create a one-stop shop for players looking to play at that level."

"That target group, former Future players, collegiate players, high-level juniors, is what we've noticed have had a lack of opportunities due to various changes, so we're trying, basically, to give them back these opportunities through consolidating these tournaments in the ecosystem."

Amritraj said there are over 100 events on the platform, which provides tools and technology for tournament directors.

"We've waived fees for organizers to run prize money events over a thousand dollars or events that have a wild card attached at the next level," Amritraj said. "We have some pretty interesting ones in there; we have the ATP Hall of Fame Newport, pre-qualifying for that; we have some in the $15-to-35-thousand dollar range. CenterCourt in New Jersey is running a $50,000 winner-take-all event. That's a pretty big check, like an ATP 250 finals check. But the vast majority are in the $1000 range in total prize money. The hope internally is that this is a lot more opportunity for players, making it economically viable and fun for organizers and the members of the club. We're trying to cut out the red tape completely, and we're making sure all these results are counting for UTR."

The red tape Amritraj was referencing was primarily from the organizers end, but on the portal, there is detailed information on what the prize money rules are for both potential and current NCAA student-athletes.

"This is, in my mind, the democratization and micro-financing of tennis," Amritraj said. "You're giving the tools and technology to pretty much anyone in the world who wants to create an open tournament, create more opportunities for players and have those results count on a global scale."

For a list of Open series tournaments through June, click here. Signing in to your UTR account will give you access to a complete list of the prize money tournaments currently scheduled.

The NCAA Division III Individual selections were announced yesterday, with 32 singles players and 16 doubles teams receiving entry in the three-day tournament, which runs from May 24-26 at Kalamazoo College.

Four-time women's singles champion Eudice Chong of Wesleyan (who reached a ITF World Tennis Tour $25K final last weekend and is in the quarterfinals of a $60K this week) has graduated, so a new women's champion is a certainty, but 2018 finalist Victoria Yu returns with a chance to keep the title at Wesleyan. 2017 champion Lubomir Cuba of Middlebury and 2018 champion Grant Urken of Bowdoin will be aiming for a second men's singles title.

For the complete list of women's participants, click here. The men's selections are here.

The NCAA Division II selections were announced this week, with the regionals beginning this weekend.  The Division II tournament finals are May 21-24, in Altamonte Springs Florida. The men's regional selections are here; the women's regional selections are here.  Division II does not hold individual championships.